There has never been a better time to incorporate an SMS marketing campaign into your digital strategy. Mobile technology has improved significantly in the last few years and bulk SMS services have added more tools with the power to penetrate the market.
The majority of marketers are already aware that mobile is becoming increasingly influential. Yet brands, especially small businesses, have so far been slow to incorporate mobile marketing into their overall strategy. According to poweredbysearch.com, only 25% of brands have a mobile strategy.
Yet 95% of Americans own a cell phone, 77% of which are smartphones. The opportunity for small businesses to reach customers with text message marketing is huge. And with a 90%+ open rate, the potential for small businesses is huge.
Why SMS marketing is working for small businesses
There are a lot of digital marketing strategies that price small businesses out of the reckoning. The alternative of content marketing and social media marketing make slow progress and do not drive much traffic.
SMS on the other hand is affordable, fast and easy to use. Once you have got the software set up and you´ve grown your mobile marketing list, you should expect a reasonable return on investment.
Modern consumers are also looking for brands they can trust. Because SMS marketing is an intimate channel and creates a one-to-one relationship between customers and brands, small businesses have the opportunity to provide a richer customer experience and build brand loyalty.
Furthermore, a study composed by cloud communications platform Twilio revealed that 9 out of 10 consumers say they prefer to receive an SMS message from brands over other forms of advertising channels.
Not only that, but 85% of global customers say they want to be able to reply to brands via text. However, the majority of businesses do not have an infrastructure in place to satisfy consumer demands.
Creating an SMS marketing campaign
SMS marketing is not all that different from other marketing strategies. As you would expect with a marketing platform, there are slight differences, but generally speaking, planning a text message marketing strategy follows the principles as any other advertising campaign.
The most noticeable difference is space. SMS only allows 160 characters to communicate your message. The common approach is to add a short code for recipients to text in. However, this is not always the best strategy.
Mobile technologies enable you to add multimedia files, links to your website and discount coupons are a popular choice with consumers. However, the strategy you choose should complement the campaign and provide customers with the easiest solution to take advantage of your offer.
Before heading into an SMS marketing campaign, determine who your target audience will be and outline your goals. Planning your SMS marketing campaign before executing it will make sure you are prepared for the impact.
The likelihood is that an SMS marketing strategy will include several departments of your business so your goals and strategy need to be communicated to relevant members of your team.
Targeting a mobile audience
During the text message marketing planning stage, decide who your target audience will be in relation to your offer. Resist the temptation to target your entire email list. If the promotion is not relevant to customers, you are more likely to lose customers than win conversions.
The first step to SMS marketing is building a list of customers. Advertising regulations state before you are able to send text messages to customers, you have to get permission by inviting customers to “opt-in”.
Therefore, your first promotion should be enticing. Furthermore, you need to use as many advertising platforms that you have available to you. Include your website, posters, flyers, email, point-of-sales, social media networks and word of mouth.
For any marketing campaign to be successful, you need to give people a good reason to take you up on your offer. Generous discounts, sweepstakes and giveaways are all effective tactics that convince people to subscribe. Also make it easy for consumers to take advantage of the offer. The less they have to do, the better.
Composing text message ads
Because of the limited space, text message marketing has to be precise. Every word counts. All you have space for is the offer and a call-to-action.
The most effective tactics therefore are to use marketing strategies that compel consumers to act. Generous discounts are one option, but not always the most profitable for small businesses. Discounts therefore have to be kept to a minimum.
But SMS works by sparking other triggers such as creating a sense of urgency to prompt quick actions, making your customers feel special, raising curiosity, and promoting exclusive offers are all effective tactics.
And don´t forget to include a call-to-action. One of the most common reasons small business fail with SMS marketing is because customers don?t know what to do next. Remember, text message marketing is new to consumers as well.
Your call-to-action will depend on your goals. If you are using a keyword and shortcode, capitalize the keyword and do not use quotation marks as that will not be an exact match with the keyword in your digital system. Subsequently, your marketing campaign will not be triggered.
Other calls-to-action include driving traffic to your website, either via a link to a landing page or by embedding a video ad with a corresponding link to the product page you are promoting. SMS marketing works effectively when included in a sales funnel.
Coupons and QR codes are also becoming a convenient solution for shoppers to take advantage of discounts. You will need corresponding software in-store that allows customers to redeem the offer.
With the rise of the mobile revolution, the sooner small businesses incorporate SMS marketing into your digital strategy the better. SMS is proving to be an effective marketing platform with the power to reach a wider audience. Use it wisely and you can expect a healthy ROI.
Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.