SMS marketing is one of the most effective methods of reaching customers. Yet small businesses are failing to make it work because they make too many mistakes. So today, we are going to give you a crash course and some solutions to improve your SMS marketing strategy.
Before you can send SMS messages, you need a sufficient number of customers. Furthermore, in accordance with the CAN-SPAM Act, the recipients must have opted-in to receive your text messages.
Recommendation: build an opt-in list
There are two ways of building an opt-in list; short code and ‘click-to-join’ widgets.
Short codes are numbers that are allocated to your business. You then assign the numbers to an SMS marketing campaign so you can track them. They are the numbers you see on billboards and posters and look something like this…
It is important to advertise your short codes on any marketing space you can find; signage, posters, brochures, billboards, radio/TV, email, newsletters, receipts, t-shirts, brand merchandise, website and social media networks.
The second opt-in option is ‘click-to-join’ widgets. These are placed on your website, social media networks or apps. For this option to work however, you need significant volumes of traffic visiting your digital platforms.
The majority of small business owners use SMS marketing to offer discounts and vouchers. Whilst this is not wrong, SMS marketing is much more versatile. Not knowing where SMS fits in to your strategy is a reason small businesses fail with SMS marketing.
You can use SMS as a standalone tool if you wish, but it is far more effective by mobile technology to support your marketing strategy. Doing so invites more leads, traffic and sales.
Recommendation: Be more flexible with your SMS marketing
Don’t use SMS to repeat the same message you have used on other marketing platforms. SMS can be used to great effect as a step in the customer journey.
Whilst it is often the last step – delivering a coupon – SMS should be the first step and used to raise awareness of your offer. Over 90% of text marketing messages are read within 15 minutes.
SMS marketing works best when the message has a personal touch. This is another reason not to regurgitate a message from other marketing channels.
But more importantly, SMS is an intimate platform. You are essentially contacting customers on their private numbers. Therefore, treat your customers with respect.
Recommendation: Make the offer appear exclusive
When sending out bulk SMS, it is possible to address every customer individually. Using personalization features and words such as ‘especially for you’ makes recipients feel special.
When taking a personal approach in marketing, it is vital that you have accrued excellent consumer data. For example, you can make a message appear personal and exclusive by saying:
‘Because you purchased _____, we thought you would be interested in _____ and would like to offer a 20% discount especially for you.’
Whilst it appears pertinent to abbreviate words into text language – given you only have 160 character to work with – using text talk can work against you.
Not everybody will know what all text abbreviations mean. Therefore, the message is lost on them and it will be deleted.
Recommendation: Choose your language carefully
Only use common text abbreviations that everyone knows. So consider your audience and ask yourself, how likely are they to understand txt talk.
SMS messages are ideal for raising awareness and acting as reminders – particularly when used to support other marketing channels. Furthermore, mobile technology such as geo-targeting identifies when customers are close to your store and therefore more likely to call in.
Recommendation: Strategize your timing
Timing is everything. It will depend on the SMS marketing message you are promoting when the best time to send it will be. For example, if you are hosting an event, early doors and last minute reminders are ideal.
In most instances, you will have already advertised your promotion via other channels such as email or newsletter. Therefore, a last minute text only is required.
Consumers that receive too many marketing messages they are not interested in will unsubscribe from your opt-in list. It is therefore important to send appropriate SMS messages to the right customers.
Recommendation: Keep good consumer data records
We touched on personalized marketing earlier. This is highly important when sending SMS marketing messages. When you know what type of products or services your customers like – especially loyal customers – you can create unique offers for them.
Another way to lose customers is too send too many SMS messages. People do not want to hear from you every day. Maybe not even every week. The last thing you want is to allow your SMS messages to be considered spam.
Recommendation: Limit the number of messages you send
The number of SMS marketing messages you send will depend on your business. Is it pertinent to send regular messages? In most cases, no it is not. Even if you have a food store, people probably only visit once or twice a week.
Before launching an SMS marketing messages, you need to know exactly where it fits in to your marketing campaign. Is it a standalone deal or part of the purchasing path?
SMS messages that do not make it clear what the offer is or what to do next will be ignored. You therefore have to be clear and concise with your message.
Recommendation: Make the incentive appealing
Mobile users will naturally appeal to offers that are appealing. The message should clearly state what the offer is and how customers can take advantage of it.
The way you structure your offer is important. Do not think that by offering discount for discount sakes will generate you more sales or revenue. Bargains are not always the best marketing practice.
Your offer should benefit your bottom line, but you can leverage spending by offering value to the right type of customers. When consumers are offered a discount on a product they need, they are more inclined to take you up on the offer.
When reaching out to mobile customers, you should assume they will investigate your offer on their mobile phone. The page you direct them to should therefore be accessible on a mobile device. Not having a mobile friendly site is one of the reasons small businesses fail with SMS marketing.
Recommendation: Optimize your website
Optimizing your webpages goes beyond having a responsive website. The entire page should be user-friendly on mobile. This includes visual images, a clear call-to-action and details of the offer.
Use large, bright fonts to highlight the most important information and graphic designs to communicate the deal. Keep the text to a minimum, but if you do require long-form copy learn how to publish content for mobile devices.
The purpose of tracking marketing campaign is to judge how well they perform. This is one of the main reasons small businesses fail with SMS marketing. This is an oversight that many small businesses forget to do, particularly when first starting an SMS marketing campaign.
Recommendation: Set up marketing campaign metrics
When you purchase SMS marketing software online you are given a series of short codes. You then assign a keyword to the short code which determines the title of your SMS marketing campaign.
When you receive a response to your SMS from customers, it will include the short code and keyword. Don’t forget to make a record of responses so you can measure how effective your campaign is.
When carried out properly, SMS marketing can be very effective, and although it may take several attempts to be very good at it, avoiding these common mistakes will enable you to get it right quicker.
Editors Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.