If you are just starting out with SMS or have recently thought about giving it a try, you are likely to have lots of questions. SMS marketing campaigns are quite different from other marketing methods and you may not know where to start. The most important thing to know is that SMS marketing has up to 98% open success rate which puts it way above other more traditional methods for targeting subscribers.
For those of you who would like more information about SMS marketing messages, we at TextAnywhere have put together some answers to our frequently asked questions.
1. Do customers want to receive SMS messages? Is it spammy?
Marketing professionals will usually pause to consider any negative impact on how they reach their target market. This is because consumers are quite vocal about spamming and no organisation wants its name to be associated with spam marketing. We receive so much marketing communication through a variety of different channels daily. It’s easy to become saturated and your campaign can get lost. This is the main reason why email marketing campaigns are 4 times less successful than SMS.
Feedback on SMS marketing text messages indicates that recipients prefer it to any other method of communication. Statistics show that 77% of consumers opt-in to receive coupons or to hear about deals and sales. 66% said they had even redeemed a special offer via text within 7 days of receiving it. Perhaps that’s why 64% of consumers think that companies should contact them more often through SMS marketing messages. We know that these statistics reflect how communication has changed over recent years. On the whole, people have little time to talk on the phone, have no time for lengthy emails, and are not prioritising mail through the door. Why would they? All the important stuff is on their smartphones.
Remember that all of your subscribers are opt-in engagers and they can opt out to cancel their subscription with you at any time. So, the only thing you need to concentrate on is how to keep them opting in. TextAnwhere can offer you lots of helpful hints, tips, and best practices to avoid writing SMS messages that are spammy or intrusive.
Explore the relationship that people have with their phones, what do they use them for? For most smartphone owners, the text messages they typically send and receive are exchanged with friends and family. Take care with your SMS marketing copy and make sure that it hits that same vibe. Be more like a mate than a business.
2. Do I need a specialised SMS marketer to run my campaigns?
As long as you or perhaps your marketing team have an understanding of how to click simple buttons, input mobile numbers and can type out a message, you can do it, there is no need to hire a specialist. The key to getting it right, is to make sure you seek out a reputable SMS platform with the right level of support for your campaigns. TextAnywhere has experts who can help you with all of your SMS marketing needs and guide you along the way. Not only that but, we also have a huge bank of resources on our website for you to use free of charge.
3. Where should I start?
The key to launching a successful SMS campaign is in preparation, so generating a customer database is crucial. What is the quality of your current database? Is it up to date and are your subscribers interested in your brand? To get your SMS marketing program initiated, you will need to put your efforts into customer data collection. Without this careful preparation, your campaign will have nowhere to go.
Encourage SMS take-up
You can drive opt-ins to sign up to receive your SMS messages in many different ways:
- Competitions – This can take place in-store, on social media channels, on business cards and flyers, on products, etc.
- Website data capture – Adding a consent tick box to a form that already needs to be filled in, is a simple solution. These can often be found at the checkout point of an online sale. At this point, you know that the customer already likes your brand.
- Events – If you join events outside of your business, this could be the perfect opportunity to canvas new subscribers.
- Social media sites – Show your followers the additional benefits that they can experience once they join your sms marketing list.
- In-store – It is quite common to promote your SMS campaigns at sales points in stores. Shortcodes are particularly useful here, rather than lengthy form filling to save time.
- Feedback cards – Some restaurants leave cards on tables requesting feedback via a shortcode or QR codes. The waiting staff can be incentivised to encourage SMS opt-ins by talking to their customers about the benefits of being a subscriber and adding their name to the card. The customer then adds the name of their waiter to their sign-up which in turn helps staff to receive a reward.
As well as these simple methods you can also increase your SMS database by using an effective cross-channel marketing strategy. If you already have a successful email marketing campaign and social media sites, you can incorporate these with your initial SMS marketing program. The recipients will be familiar with your brand and campaign, so it gives continuity if you can tie them together.
Once you start to grow your database with new subscribers, it’s a good time to introduce them properly to your brand. Make them feel welcome and valued, and let them know what you are all about. For this period of the consumer relationship, you need to develop a welcome series. This will comprise a series of texts that the new subscriber could typically expect to receive at the start of their journey. Unsurprisingly, it kicks off with a welcome SMS, thanking them for joining and letting them know what they can expect to receive in the future. To be followed up with important information about your brand to nurture the relationship and achieve customer loyalty.
4. Can SMS work alongside email marketing?
Marketers may worry that SMS could spell the end for email marketing. Although statistics show that only 22% of consumers prefer to receive emails from companies, it’s not a number that should be ignored. Marketing messages sent via email have proven successful in the past. Luckily, you don’t have to choose. The two can work together for the best results. SMS marketing messages can deliver clear, concise, and quick messages at the click of a button for subscribers on the go. This is good because texts are often more urgent and time-critical. Whereas, email delivers more content for those who have time and the call-to-action does not need to be immediate, which is helpful to catch the deliberators . It covers all bases. The great thing is, that because texts are so cheap, there is no reason that you can’t use both within the same campaign. With good continuity, they can complement each other.
5. What SMS messages do subscribers want to see?
The type of sms marketing messages you use will depend heavily on what type of subscribers you have and what is more likely to tick their boxes. Most subscribers are lured to opt-in with the promise of special offers and discounts so that is an important element. For this reason, it’s good to send this content early on to maintain opt-ins and loyalty. Once you have their attention, it’s time to slowly build your relationship and invite them to learn more about your brand.
Your initial SMS messages will be the drivers for your campaign. Following on from that, you are likely to utilise automated SMS. Automated SMS is simple! Depending on the purpose of your engagement, there are a few different ways it can work. For most options, you will need to purchase a designated number to launch your SMS message from. Any responses from the recipient will be texted back to the designated number and either triggers a further pre-set message response or feedback to your database.
Your SMS platform will allow you to automatically send out marketing messages to your subscribers and customers based on several factors such as purchasing habits and demographic group. Some examples of automated SMS include:
- Appointment reminders
- Abandoned cart reminders
- Feedback requests
- Loyalty bonus
- New product launches
- Back-in-stock alerts
Two-way communication with our favourite brands is something we would all like to have more of. So many consumers complain that companies are happy enough to take your money, but that you can’t talk to them when you need to. This is one of the biggest turn-offs for consumers and a driving factor when hunting for products and services. Employing two-way SMS helps to build your relationship with your subscribers. It strengthens their level of trust in you. It boosts your reputation to attract customers. You become more accessible to the end-user. Remember, you are interacting using their most preferred method of communication.
As well as nurturing leads using two-way SMS, some online retailers use two-way SMS to deal with account issues. Customers are encouraged to text a short code with their queries. The two-way SMS will pick up the contact and respond instantly instructing the client on the next step.
Some of the two-way communication currently available through SMS messaging is automated and they rely on keywords. As customers crave a more personal experience, more brands will be looking to extend to real human interaction. This will boost customer relationships and enhance brand loyalty. By employing these tactics, companies can boost sales and nurture leads more effectively. It will also help to cut the time taken to make a sale. Whilst automated services are always going to help to reduce staff costs, having staff interact with customers via SMS will still help to reduce those costs.
Customers are far more likely to engage with you when you address them personally, it can break down barriers of communication. There are 2 great ways you can personalise the messages you send out to your subscribers:
- SMS messages can contain the recipient’s name, details of their enquiry, and dates and times that are relevant to the interaction.
- Separate your subscribers into groups based on their demographics and interests, to ensure that they are only receiving marketing messages that are specifically for them and not everything.
Segmenting helps to minimise your opt-out subscribers. When you separate your audience into categories you can ensure that your messages are uniquely tailored. You must differentiate your customers to avoid bombarding them with irrelevant information. For example, if you were a travel agent, why send a deal for an over 55’s holiday to all of your subscribers? With targeted messaging, you are much more likely to optimise your level of engagement.
This works well when sending bulk SMS. Providing your database contains the right information, the messages will automatically be sent out to the right people and at the right time. Targeting only those you want to reach will save you time and resources too. Ways you should look at segmenting your audience:
6. Is there a good or bad time to send a marketing SMS?
There are good and bad times to send out sms marketing messages. With the luxury of using automated SMS and bulk SMS, you can schedule your texts to arrive at convenient times to suit your audience. For example, if you are a toy retailer planning to send out bulk sms to your target market – parents, it would be best to avoid school run times when parents are at their busiest. The optimum time to send out sms marketing texts is from 12 noon to 3 pm, but evenings might work better for those who are working long hours. In-store flash sales might work best on a Friday night or a Saturday morning to catch the weekend shoppers.
Try not to overload your audience with SMS marketing texts. Whilst they do want to hear from you and to benefit from your deals and alerts, there is a fine balance. To get the most out of your SMS campaigns, send out your strongest content first, and make your recipients benefit from hearing from you so that they will stick around for more. Don’t over-schedule your messages, read your audience and try to gauge how often they would like to hear from you. Ask for feedback if you are unsure.
7. What is the best SMS content?
Check out our marketing hints and tips for inspiration about the perfect marketing copy for SMS. We recommend that for sending SMS marketing messages or business texts you stick to the following rules:
- Get straight to the point – there is no room for waffling with SMS, with 160 characters to play with, you need to make every word count. It’s also important to remember that if your SMS text message is too long, the recipient won’t read all of it. So, make an impact in the first line or two.
- Be clear and concise – Ensure that what you’re writing makes total sense at a first glance. Don’t leave the recipient to have to work it out or fill in the blanks. If what you have written is not obvious, you will miss your opportunity.
- Make it personal – Include details such as their name, or favourite products. Send a treat on their birthday. Target with SMS that relates to their interests.
- Timing – Only send SMS at the right time for them. Avoid work hours or drive time, too late at night or too early in the morning. For example, subscribers who are parents may thank you for avoiding the school run.
- Be bold – Make a statement with your words. Go for eye-catching headlines, maybe inject humour, a splash of colour, an emoji, or gif.
- Call to action – Make sure that you include the “when”, “why” and “how” in your SMS messages to boost your ROI instantly.
- Encourage two-way conversation – Get the relationship with your subscriber started with simple interactions. Make your followers feel special and heard by their favourite brand. Show them that they can receive an instant response with Automated SMS.
8. Can SMS marketing work for small businesses?
At TextAnywhere we have a mix of customers big and small who use our SMS marketing platform for different purposes. The interesting thing is that often when a small business begins to use SMS marketing messages, they find their customer base quickly grows because the ROI is so significant. Even more small businesses and at-home start-ups are moving to SMS marketing campaigns. The misconception about text message marketing being only for bigger brands is largely due to the assumption that SMS is more costly than other marketing channels. Nothing could be further from the truth, SMS is one of the cheapest ways to reach the most customers.
Many small businesses are now using appointment SMS to schedule clients and manage staff because it’s so easy.
Have a look at our client case studies.
9. What are the SMS marketing laws?
The most important thing to remember about the people you send out marketing messages to is that they are all opt-in subscribers and will have permitted you to text them with marketing material.
Here is a simple checklist we have put together for you to follow:
- If you have had no commercial dealings with the person you wish to send to you must obtain their permission first.
- You cannot send an SMS message to request permission and any form of consent you seek must be given actively. In other words, the person must sign up knowing they will receive SMS messages.
- You may send an SMS message to someone with whom you have had commercial dealings assuming the messages you send are related or similar to your past interactions.
- People must be able to easily unsubscribe from your phone number list.
- Failing to follow these guidelines may result in a fine of up to £5,000 in a magistrates Court but as of 2009 the ICO was given the ability to issue fines of up to £500,000 if the breaches are deemed excessive or serious enough.
We hope we have answered any niggling questions you may have had about SMS marketing so that you can feel confident about using it as a strategy for your own business.