The Benefits of SMS Marketing
When you think about the list of things you'd never leave the house without, your phone is probably one of the first things that comes to mind. Mobile devices have become a part of everyday life for millions of people, and even though it seems like the #tiktokmademebuyit hashtag is everywhere these days, these digital daily essentials are still one of the most underutilized marketing tools on the planet!
Email marketing has been around for two decades, and sure: 80% of Americans prefer to check their email on their smartphones. And most people who use social media check it almost exclusively on their phones.
But one of the oldest features of the mighty smartphone's humble beginnings still commands more attention than just about any other notification: the text message.
Text message marketing is a fantastic way to connect with your customers, and few channels can compare to the sheer convenience of a mobile marketing strategy.
I’ve already discussed the effectiveness of email marketing. Now, it’s time to cover its beloved (and amazingly effective) companion: SMS marketing.
What Makes SMS Marketing So Special?
Text messages may not seem like the perfect medium for marketing messages. They’re commonplace, easy to overlook, and remarkably short. However, all of these “drawbacks” are this channel’s strengths.
Why Brevity Is One of the Benefits of SMS Marketing
I’ll start with one of the biggest limitations of text messaging: Every message is limited to 130 characters or less. It is, after all, in the name: short message service. Multimedia messages (MMS) are even shorter!
However, good marketing messages can be of any length. 130 characters are plenty of room to pitch your product, and the continuous connection afforded by text marketing campaigns is more than enough to overcome this challenge.
Or, think of it this way: Most customers will read and respond to an SMS marketing message in 1–5 minutes. Likewise, short SMS messages are the perfect way to capture an audience without holding them hostage.
Text Message Marketing Is Amazing for Engagement
Because these messages are so short, people are far more likely to read and respond to them; 45% of text marketing receives a reply. Comparatively, email marketing has a much lower 6% response rate.
There are a few different reasons for this.
One of the most obvious is convenience. When you send a text, you send a message straight to the consumer. There’s no additional app to download or enter. Instead, your customer base gains direct access to your business news and deals with a single tap!
Outside of this, there’s also the fact that…
Text Messages Are a Great Tool for Geographic Marketing
Text messages are easy to deliver to a highly localized audience compared to many other marketing channels. This degree of specificity is one of the most marvelous benefits of SMS marketing!
This perk is one of the many reasons real estate marketing efforts skew heavily toward mobile. However, there’s another immediate benefit: Customers are more likely to redeem coupons for local businesses, which can be easily delivered via text message marketing.
SMS Marketing Is Affordable
“This is all great, Melanie,” you may be saying, “But how much does it cost?”
That’s a fair question, and it’s also one of the most important queries for a business owner.
Fortunately for small businesses everywhere, SMS marketing is remarkably cheap! Once you have the right setup, you can send hundreds of marketing messages to your target audience, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
It’s What the People Want
Ultimately, text message marketing is the preferred method of communication for most customers. (Don’t forget email marketing, though!)
Many businesses have caught onto the trend, and SMS marketing was the fastest-growing channel in 2020. For marketers, text messaging is quickly becoming one of the most reliable ways for brands to stay in touch with their customers.
How to Send Effective Marketing Messages With SMS
I’m sure you’re eager to start your SMS journey, but there’s a bit more to learn before you can dive into this exciting new marketing strategy!
Like most marketing channels, text messages come with a set of standards. Moreover, because of the personal nature of mobile phones, it’s easy to alienate your customers with a poorly planned text message marketing strategy.
Know Your Laws
Like every other marketing channel, SMS marketing is subject to several laws.
All commercial text messages in America are subject to scrutiny under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which mandates that:
- All customers opt-in before receiving messages. This is as much a legal requirement as it is common courtesy. Most consumers don’t enjoy random out-of-the-blue messages, and giving them an opportunity to back out will improve your company’s standing.
- Companies disclose how many messages will be sent. Now, this requirement may be tricky to meet. If your marketing campaigns are primarily automated to provide updates on orders, then providing the average amount of monthly messages will suffice. Otherwise, you’ll want to tell users how many messages will be sent for marketing purposes with a fairly precise figure.
- Customers are informed of potential costs. While text message marketing may be a low-cost strategy for your company, it might cost your customer. When you start marketing texts, include a disclaimer somewhere (including the opt-in form) that warns your customers of potential text message charges.
- Marketing campaigns include a simple opt-out code. You may be super excited about the exclusive deals you send, but not everyone is as eager! All SMS advertising requires a simple and easy-to-use opt-out code; usually, it’s “STOP.”
Consider Investing in a Short Code
Once you fully understand the legal ins and outs of text marketing, you can start to plan your future campaigns.
One of the first steps you’ll want to take (or at least consider taking) is acquiring a short code. These specialized phone numbers are 5–6 digits long, making them much easier to remember. As business contacts, short codes will be able to send and receive messages.
Before you ask: Yes, it costs money to obtain and maintain a short code. These numbers are reserved in advance, and your chosen contact will be added to the companies listed by the US Short Code Registry.
When you purchase the rights to a short code, you have two options:
- Random codes are cheaper, but they may not be as catchy.
- Vanity codes are expensive, but you can customize them to fit your brand. For example, a milk distributor may choose to make their code 32479 (DAIRY).
Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Things Up
Thanks to its accessibility, ease of use, and ubiquity, SMS marketing works well as part of an omnichannel marketing strategy. A small business can easily reach more potential customers by integrating their email and text marketing campaigns, and they won’t spend much.
In fact, SMS marketing is most effective when it’s part of a larger strategy with multiple channels. Many businesses will use text messages to complement their direct mail and email marketing, but that doesn’t make this the only option.
Know When to Send Messages
Mobile phones may be a quintessential part of modern day-to-day life, but that doesn’t mean people want to get a text from you at 3:00 AM!
Spend time researching the best times to send messages before you start your SMS marketing campaigns. Otherwise, you’ll scare off new customers and alienate existing customers. The most appropriate time to send a text message is between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM local time. This is when many consumers are awake, and you won’t receive much pushback if you send reminders within this generous 13-hour window.
Of course, it’s up to you to experiment with your text message marketing. Some businesses may target night owls, and their messaging will have to occur later. Other businesses may have better results with early morning text messages.
Make Your SMS Campaigns Worthwhile
One of the biggest benefits of SMS marketing is access. You can easily communicate with your customers, and your recipients can easily respond. However, this also means that you can quickly overstay your welcome.
Use your marketing campaign to inform customers and hand out exclusive discounts. Much like marketing emails, text messages must have some sort of value. Some examples of useful text message marketing campaigns are:
- Brand loyalty updates
- Exclusive deals and discount codes
- Shipping updates
- Small business news
Segment Your Customer Data
Every text message marketing campaign should be properly segmented.
This will ensure that your message reaches its target audience, and it will avoid an awkward 1:00 AM text to the wrong time zone.
There are plenty of things that you’ll need to learn to create a successful segmented marketing campaign, but I don’t have time to cover all of that information. What I can say is that personalized text message marketing will always beat generic campaigns. In addition to improving your conversion odds, these targeted marketing efforts are a great way to show your customer base that you care about them on an individual level.
How to Harness the Power of SMS Marketing
All of this is super exciting, right?
Text message marketing is one of the latest and greatest frontiers, and it’s a great way for businesses to build stronger relationships with customers.
The kicker is that — as one of the newer marketing methods — SMS marketing is fairly intensive. There’s a lot that can go wrong, and you want to make sure that you’re delivering customer satisfaction.
Fortunately, there are plenty of experts available. The team at The Email Marketers knows how to handle your SMS marketing campaigns, and we can help you tap into this amazing marketing channel. Just give me a call!