For those dipping their toe for the first time into SMS, you’re likely to be using it as a promotional tool or part of your digital marketing toolkit. That’s not surprising. Since the dawn of text messaging services and mobile phone technology, SMS has been an effective way to market products and services to consumers of all kinds.
What is SMS marketing
Simply put, SMS marketing is the use of a text messaging service or text messages to sell or create awareness around a business, and its products and services.
The advantages of SMS marketing:
- Direct channel to customers
- Non-intrusive (customers can answer when they want)
- Personal and customisable
- Open rates and cut through Quick and easy communication (160 characters for a standard SMS)
- Perfect for time-sensitive and time-critical sends
Why should I choose text marketing
Most businesses benefit from engaging in SMS services either as an extension of their current marketing strategies or as a part of their awareness their first foray into messaging.
– Universality – If a customer has a mobile phone, it is highly likely they can receive (and will read) a text message from you. Not only that, but customers do not require a third party or special equipment to get their message.
– Attention – With many phone users suffering regular bouts of nomophobia (fear of being without their phone), text messages get attention. It is now almost automatic to open our text messages as soon as we receive a notification.
– Results – From global business enterprises to small hair salons, SMS has proved more than effective in achieving chosen marketing results when other mediums fail. For example, response rates shot up by almost 40% when a non-profit community network switched from email communications to SMS messages to engage their volunteers.
– Set-up – For most of our customers, one phone call is all it takes to get you set up with business text messaging services. Can you say the same for many other marketing channels?
– Cost-effective & ROI – While cost will always vary, SMS marketing services are relatively inexpensive as part of a marketing budget when compared to other technologies. More importantly, when it is used, it often delivers a whopping ROI. For example, a recent delivery business and customer of ours achieved a 120:1 ROI from one campaign.
– Versatility – Finally, while many people introduce SMS for a single purpose in their business, they eventually come to use it in many other ways. While a salon might use text message marketing to promote their business to their client base, they could also use it to set and confirm appointments, remind customers about keeping up their colour schedule on track or send messages to staff about rostered shifts plus so much more.
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How SMS marketing works
The process to market your business using SMS is pretty simple. Even if you’re new to SMS or are looking to integrate it into a larger marketing campaign, following these steps will help.
You can use an SMS gateway provider such as MessageMedia or it can be through software you already have such as a CRM or POS management system at your work. Make sure to invest in checking all possible avenues of bringing SMS into your business – there are likely more ways than one.
It’s critical before engaging in SMS marketing to understand your customer in-depth, retain the mobile numbers of your customers lawfully and consult with legal counsel in order to understand your legal obligations regarding local and international SMS compliance laws.
It’s important that you know the best practices when it comes to writing a text message campaign. For example, knowing what needs to be included, what features will garner great click-through or how to make the most out of 160 characters, the max amount for an SMS.
In addition, it’s critical to get your head around the different SMS products available to you and what will work for the particular campaign you had in mind. For a quick breakdown:
- SMS – text only, limited to 160 characters
- MMS – text and media, includes the subject line, more characters
- MLPs – personalised landing pages for mobile, unique to the customer, and linked from a standard SMS
If you’re sending to more than one customer segment or testing out different campaigns, you may also want to get your head around contact groups and how they may ease your marketing process while engaging in SMS through a provider.
4. Test and send!
Now that you’re almost ready, make sure you are able to test your campaign before you send. You don’t want a broadcast going out to one million phones with a typo.
5. Report and assess
Using an SMS gateway provider like MessageMedia allows you access to reporting data that will confirm when SMS campaigns have been delivered, and if enabled, track replies. This is important in making sure your marketing campaign was effective.
What I need before sending
There are three things (or in this case ‘knows’) you will want to prepare before sending your first broadcast.
– Know your customer
As we advise all businesses seeking to send bulk text messaging, you need to know your customer intimately. As an expert in your business, you probably already understand every aspect of your customer but does it apply to mobile marketing?
For example, do you know whether your customer uses their mobile to shop? What level of technology literacy do they have? What are their preferences when shopping and buying?
It’s important to think about their experience, as well as their general communication preferences to better understand if SMS will work as effectively for them.
– Know your numbers
How’s your customer database looking? Businesses should keep a regularly updated database of customer information including their names, preferences, addresses and most importantly, mobile numbers. You can’t send, after all, without having those essential digits.
If you do not or are just getting started with SMS or your business, make sure to start building your database using our 19 easy recommendations for collecting customer numbers.
– Know your legal obligations
One of the most important areas to get your head around before you even consider sending one broadcast. Do you know the laws in relation to marketing?.
We recommend doing the research, reading up on the relevant legislation and any guidance from regulators. Your best way forward is to make sure that you always consult your legal counsel before progressing.
Remember, we’re here to give you a hand if you have any queries. Our communications specialists are happy to answer your questions.
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Final thoughts, further reading
We’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to SMS marketing. There are many more aspects of it to be taken in should you wish to continue diving into the power of having a direct, and fast channel to engage and ignite behaviour from customers.
Some suggested articles for further reading: