Text message marketing has been popular channel for many companies over the last few years. If you haven’t tried this yet, it may be because you have the wrong idea about text message marketing. Used properly, it is an opportunity for extremely precise targeting, and can be an effective tool to reach an elusive but lucrative demographic: the younger generation.
A Few Cool Facts About Text Message Marketing
Text message marketing is often referred to as SMS, or short messaging service. Consider a few of these statistics:
- SMS is the most widely accessible marketing tool, surpassing email for 18-24 year olds. 97% of Americans send or receive at least one text per week.
- Consumers who are sent text messages have a 40% higher conversion rate than those who are not sent any text messages.
- According to Mobile Marketing Watch, SMS messages have a 98% open rate (compared to email’s 20%).
However, just because a message is opened and read, it does not mean that your consumer is going to convert. In other words, you have to be very particular about where these messages are going and how often you’re sending them to potential customers.
The Ins and Outs of Text Message Marketing
As discussed above, SMS marketing has the potential to greatly grow your business if done correctly. Below lists several things you need to keep in mind when you set out to create an SMS campaign:
1. Sending to the Right Contacts
SMS would not be successful if you didn’t have anyone to receive your messages. According to the laws of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, you can only send text messages to those who have opted to receive them. The best thing you can do is give your customers the choice to receive your messages by asking them during a subscription process online or asking them to text a certain term to your company number.
Be sure that you tell them exactly what they can expect from your messages. In the end, asking permission will help ensure that your messages are going to people who are interested and not annoyed.
2. Be Clear and Brief
When it comes to the content of your messages, you want to make sure you are clear and to the point. Any message that is over 160 characters will be broken up by the phone company into multiple texts, and this could cause a variety of problems including making the entire message undeliverable and incurring extra fees for the business owner.
Make sure you include a call to action so readers know what is expected of them and what steps they need to take next. It’s an art coming up with an engaging message and a CTA all in 160 characters, but it’s at least better than Twitter, right?
A phone number or URL are great examples of effective CTAs. Avoid slang and above all, be creative. You’re not the only business using SMS marketing so you want to make sure your texts stand out against the competition.
3. Timing Is Everything
You obviously don’t want to be sending messages too late or too early in the day, but you also need to make sure that you are giving your customers enough time to act on your message. No one wants to receive a coupon after they’ve already made a purchase. Consider writing the message in advance then sending it later.
You also want to consider the frequency of your messages. You don’t want to overload consumers with messages so they get annoyed and start to ignore/delete them upon receipt. Most businesses that use SMS marketing only send one text per week, and some companies send as little as one every two weeks and still get quite a few bites.
4. Offer Variety
Always make sure you’re updating your messages. Unlike other tactics where you can send the same message twice (social networks primarily), you should never send someone the same text message twice. Make sure you’re always changing up your message and keeping things interesting.
It’s also important to make sure what you’re offering through SMS marketing is different from all other promotions you’re conducting. Consumers will have no reason to opt in to SMS if they can get the same deal through email or social media. Below are two examples from Tatango:
5. Watch Your Database
Mobile phone numbers get changed and deleted all the time, so it’s important you check regularly to make sure you’re sending your messages to the right people. This happens more often than companies realize! If your database is running low on contacts, make sure you’re advertising SMS on any and all promotional materials, both in print and online.
If you have a company newsletter or flyer, it should include your shortcodes. Send them out via email, print them on business cards, and don’t be afraid to mention them verbally to consumers. This article by Entrepreneur lists several other ways to grow your SMS database.
6. Have an Opt-Out Option
By law in the U.S., you have to let people know how they can stop receiving your messages. In most cases, you can just put directions in your message. Something like “text STOP to opt-out” works great. Below is an example of the text messages I receive from Bed Bath & Beyond that shows not only an opt-out option, but also their frequency and CTAs:
It’s also very important that you monitor and analyze all of your results so you make sure you’re sending the most relevant information to a relevant audience. Keep track of metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversions, the number of subscribers as well as those who choose to opt out of the service.
All screenshots taken by author February 2017