SMS Marketing: Everything You Need to Know
Today, marketers have limitless opportunities to promote their products mostly due to the prevalence of the internet. It is reflected in the number of ads an ordinary person encounters in a day. Statistically speaking, the average individual is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day.
People don’t remember each and every ad they see. Moreover, the abundance gets them used to ignoring most of the advertising messages they see throughout the day.
Under these circumstances, the only option left for marketers is to reach out to people in their mobile devices. The most efficient way of doing so is by sending them text messages. In fact, text messages have a 98% open rate, which ensures that almost all of the recipients see the promotional message.
How do you implement SMS marketing and get the most out of this productive marketing channel? We will cover every step of SMS marketing essentials and best practices for your business.
How to Get Started With SMS Marketing
A survey conducted among over 1000 smartphone users showed that 82% of people read every text message they receive. In other words, 4 out of your 5 customers are likely to read your message. Remember this fact when you are hesitant about SMS marketing.
If you have already decided to use SMS marketing, you shouldn’t expect instant success from the beginning. Keep in mind that a good portion of its potential power is up to how you implement it. Right after you’ve made your final decision, pay attention to each of these steps.
1. Choose a Reliable SMS Provider
A simple Google search will identify tons of SMS providers with different features and pricing. Check their reviews and compare their package offers to choose the best fit for your company. Most of the time, providers consult their clients based on their needs.
At Pacific54, we use Twilio, a communications platform for SMS, APIs, voice messaging, and video that allows us to segment campaigns and profiles by client.
When looking for a provider, make sure they have the following features:
- Mass Texting – You’ll need mass texting to convey a single message to a large audience at once. When you expand your client database, this feature will be a must.
- Scheduled Messages – Sometimes you may be too busy and neglect your SMS marketing campaigns. With this feature, you can schedule them beforehand, and the system will do the rest for you.
- API Integration – API integration allows you to utilize the providers' services with your platform. It is a comfortable tool to keep everything on one platform.
- Excel Import – Excel import makes statistical analysis more comfortable for you. It comes in handy for keeping larger data with excel files on your computers.
- Custom Segmentation – This feature is for personalizing text messages if you want to have different offers for different segments of customers.
These are the most essential features you need, but any additionals will also benefit your company. Also, almost all of the SMS providers offer free trials for registration, so you can test their services. Definitely use this feature to be sure that your choice of provider was right.
2. Select a Keyword
Select keywords that your customers can use to opt-in to your SMS marketing campaigns. They send it to your short number and opt-in to start receiving your promotional text messages.
When selecting a keyword, pay attention that it is short, relating to your business and easy-to-spell. It can also be an abbreviation of your company name unless it doesn’t confuse your customers.
For example, one of Pacific54’s clients is Where Locals Go, a local bar crawl company that specializes in putting on the ultimate block party. For their text message campaign, we decided to go with the keyword “CHEERS” as their opt-in. It is simple and follows their theme of drinking and debauchery.
3. Set an Auto Reply
Once you’ve identified your SMS supplier and chosen a keyword for opt-in, you need to set the auto-reply. Auto replies are for sending an automated text message to customers. Most platforms have this feature and can guide you to set it.
The first time you’ll need an auto-reply is after the customers send the keyword to your shortcode. See the examples below:
Here is an example of an opt-in for our client, Where Local Go:
Besides an opt-in, auto-replies are for sending additional information to your clients regarding appointments, special offers, coupons, and so on. For example, you can promote a keyword on social media or your website, saying that your customers can receive a promo code for a discount.
4. Collect Phone Numbers
Sometimes companies request a phone number database from providers. This is a common practice that is useful if you are a beginner in the SMS marketing field and don’t have a large database. However, there are two major problems with it.
First, sending promotional text messages without a recipient’s consent is illegal in some countries like the US, Canada or France. Second, even if in some countries it is legal, it invades recipients’ personal space. This can easily discredit the company’s image and harm customer communication.
For this reason, it is important to send promotional text messages only to numbers that have opted-in. There are three effective ways to get a customer’s phone number with their consent.
Send Out an Email Campaign With Opt-In Details
The easiest way to target potential leads and invite them to subscribe to your text messages is by sending out an email to your existing contacts. If you have these contacts captured, it is probably because they signed up to receive updates from your company via a form on your website or other methods. Thus, they already have an interest in your company and are more likely to subscribe to your text messages.
Here is an example of an email we created for our client, Where Locals Go:
Promote Your Opt-In Keyword on Social Media
Share your keyword with your followers, promising to send them important promotional messages or give them other motives to opt-in. For example, create contests that require sending a keyword to your shortcode for participation. People like contests and they can increase your database to a considerable degree.
Likewise, offer a discount or a coupon if a user subscribes. Those are effective motives for people to voluntarily sign up for promotional text messages. Moreover, you can combine those offers with the ones that you’d already planned in your marketing strategy.
Have a Sign-Up Form on Your Website
Suggesting a sign-up on the website is also an effective way of expanding the phone number database. Users who stick around on your website are most likely interested in your services. Thus, write a promising note with the sign-up form to motivate them to opt-in.
Suggest Opt-In After a Purchase
Typically, people are happier after buying something they want. Therefore, you have higher chances of getting their consent when you ask for it after they have purchased something from you. This is a great chance to send them promotional offers and convince them to come back later.
Maximize Your SMS Marketing Potential
As much as SMS is a productive marketing channel, poor utilization will bring insignificant results for your company. Hence, you need to follow some of the best practices of SMS marketing to get the most out of it.
Remember once and for all, receiving permission is critical. Although a ready-to-go phone number database may look appealing, it will eventually end up harming your brand reputation. Text messages are part of people’s personal life. Receiving permission is the best way to show the customers that you care about their privacy.
Don’t Complicate the Opt-Out
On the same token, having an easily accessible opt-out button is a sign of respecting your consumer’s privacy. Opting out doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer won’t use your services anymore.
Present a Value With Each Message
Keep in mind that there is a 98% chance that the recipient will open the message. Don’t frustrate them with texts that lack substance. Instead, send them messages that contain essential information about your company like discounts, special offers, new products/services and so on. If your offer doesn’t fit in one message, include a link to your website with its full terms.
Personalize Text Messages
Personalized promotional messages always attract customers more. They make them feel special, thus increasing their loyalty to your company. Providers mostly have this feature built-in, so it won’t cause any additional hassle. Create a field for their name when sending out a text message and use emojis to sound more human.
Choose a reasonable frequency to conduct your SMS marketing campaigns. This means that you shouldn’t send text messages once in two days. Nor does it mean that you should send them once in five months. Instead, come up with an optimal interval between your campaigns. A good way to go is to send messages whenever there is an important update from you.
To sum up, if you consider implementing SMS marketing for your business, go ahead and take advantage of it. Only make sure you cooperate with a provider that fits your needs best. This can also ensure you a smooth experience with platforms that may be totally unfamiliar to you.
Additionally, keep in mind the best practices of SMS marketing to benefit this channel. Respect your customers, their personal space, and don’t waste their time. All of these are small actions that show how much you care about your customers. Those actions can eventually make you stand out from your competition.
Need help with your SMS marketing? Pacific54 can help you execute a successful campaign from start to finish. Give us a call or email us today for a consultation.
Artyom Matevosyan is a content writer in the text marketing industry. As an English & Communications major, Artyom is passionate about writing. His writing is always backed by research above anything else—facts first, narratives second.