Here are 7 expert tips on how to get the most out of text message (SMS) marketing.
The immediacy of text message marketing is an advantage – and a disadvantage. When you build out a list, SMS is remarkably easy. Just a few clicks and you’ve reached everyone.
Sometimes it’s too easy. There’s a fine line with SMS between being welcome and being a pest. The thing about SMS is that unlike emails, which the majority of people never open, a text message will get looked at by virtually everyone who receives it. If it has a welcome offer, great. But if it annoys, subscribers will vanish.
With SMS, your audience is giving you a chance because they opted in. It’s up to you to make it worth it for them.
SMS, done right, can be a fantastic customer retention and sales tool. Here are 7 tips that will help you win with this tactic.
#1. Decide What Information You Want to Text
As with most types of marketing, success is more about the content than the tactic. You have an opt-in audience, so if you deliver relevant, useful content, it will be effective. If not, you’ll lose subscribers instantly.
There are several approaches you can use with SMS.
First and most common is to send out deals and special offers. For example, eCommerce sites can send out coupons and limited time offers. Restaurants can send out special offers and updates on events.
You can also use SMS for logistics. For example, a dance studio could send out an alert if class got canceled. Businesses like contractors can use SMS to request reviews or send updates on jobs. When you get people on your list, you can also send out occasional promotions.
Make sure your opt-in message is clear about the types of texts you’ll be sending so people know what to expect. For example:
Also, when you send a text, you have to provide an opt-out option:
#2. Build Your List
You must get people to opt-in so you can build a large enough list to make the channel valuable. This requires two things.
First, you need to get the offer in front of people. Try:
- An in-store sign
- Email blasts
- Website banners
- Social media posts/ads
- Train customers facing staff to ask
- Messages on receipts or invoices
Perhaps more importantly, you need to make an offer that entices people to opt in. The most successful is offering a direct discount for signing up:
#3. Set Up an SMS Account
Of course to use this tactic you need to use SMS software. The right software makes managing campaigns simple. Look for software that allows you to segment lists so you can send more personalized messages.
When you create campaigns, you’ll set up an opt-in keyword and shortcode, which is the number people text. Make both of these easy to remember, like “tans” and 33733 in the above example.
Also, make sure you set up an automated message that provides clarification and value when people opt-in. Either briefly repeat the type of content people will receive (for logistical purposes) or present the initial offer you made to get people to opt-in.
#4. How to Write Messages
As we said, brevity is the name of the game with SMS:
- You can only include up to 140 characters, so plan short messages that only convey the essentials.
- Use a URL shortener to condense links.
- Videos will upload into the message, allowing you to include more info if required.
Most SMS is promotional, so the messaging uses the same rules as a call to action. If you’re trying to get people to act or buy, make sure your message is persuasive.
#5. Monitor Your Subscription Lists
The main backend work that comes with SMS is monitoring your lists.
First, you need to make sure your list is growing after you’ve started a campaign. If not, you need to look at the ways you’re building your list and possibly test your opt-in offer. If people aren’t seeing that there is value in your SMS or they simply don’t know about it, you won’t have enough subscribers to make it worth it.
Likewise, monitor your opt-outs. If a lot of people are opting-out after receiving only a few messages, it’s a sign they’re not seeing value in your content. Also watch your database for numbers that got changed or deleted. You want to make sure your SMS is going to the right people.
The advantage of SMS is its immediacy. Messages are sent and received in real time.
That means you want your marketing message to arrive at the moment your audience is most likely to act. If you’re texting out a lunch special, send the message right at the time most people are thinking about where they’re going to eat lunch. If you’re sending an eCommerce promotion, send it at a time when people can take action and buy.
Just being slightly off with timing is a killer with SMS. People won’t act on your offer later…it’s now or never. Know your audience and send your messages at just the right moment.
#7. Value and Restraint
We want to reiterate the most important point about SMS marketing. Make sure you provide value with messages that are perfectly timed.
As for timing, less is far more with SMS. As we said at the beginning, there is no other marketing tactic that’s so easy to overdo as SMS. A text message someone doesn’t want is an annoyance, and that’s not how you want people to think of your brand.
Rules to follow with SMS:
- Only message what you said you would in your opt-in offer.
- Only send messages when the timing is optimal.
- Send as few messages as possible while maintaining an effective campaign.
- Keep messages short and simple.
The real test of your SMS campaigns is data on how people follow through on your offer. If your subscribers are taking advantage of the deals you message them, that’s a clear sign the campaigns are working. If not, it means you’re not connecting with people.
A lot of businesses struggle with SMS. They try it but never get enough subscribers and even when they get them they lose them.
If you’d like to learn how you can implement SMS in an effective way for your business, give us a call today. We have experience making SMS work for small business, delivering high ROI from a low-cost marketing tactic.