SMS Marketing is a powerful strategy, but it’s important to always respect both the channel and your customers. We cover what you should do and, more importantly, what you should not do.
Your customers use text messaging to communicate with their partners, children, relatives, and close friends. It’s a privilege to receive access to their text messaging, so you want to make sure you take advantage of this opportunity in the right way. Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you are using this form of communication correctly without annoying your customers.
Let’s jump right in.
SMS Marketing is sending promotional campaigns or transactional messages for marketing purposes using short message service (SMS). You likely call it text messaging.
These messages are ideal for time-sensitive offers and updates for mobile users, as well as for communicating with busy individuals on the go.
SMS Marketing is not only a way to switch up your messaging channel, but it also offers an average open rate that is significantly higher than email.
Twilio, a cloud communications platform, shows 96% of SMS messages are read within three minutes of receipt and 90% within three seconds.
While open rates do not always correlate with higher click-through rates and higher response rates, a higher open rate does mean more people are seeing and reading your messages.
Before you launch your SMS marketing campaign, you need to get permission from your contacts to send them SMS messages. When you ask for a customer’s mobile phone number, you should always include exactly how you plan to use it so they can decide if they are willing to share it. You also will want to make sure that your plan for using the collected data is in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a data privacy and security law. While this law was created and passed by the European Union, it does apply to U.S. companies in many cases. You can learn more about GDPR here.
To collect more phone numbers with consent, it’s important to create an opt-in strategy. There are many ways to allow your audience to opt-in, such as offering an incentive to join your text message list, including an opt-in option in an email, and cross-promoting the option on your social media channels.
Each of your messages needs to offer value to the contact, such as information about sales, invitations to special events, or announcements about special offers. Also, keep in mind the importance of segmentation. You rarely will want to message your entire customer base via SMS messaging. Examples of ways to segment lists include frequent buyers, one-time purchasers, geographic location, position in the buying journey, and website activity.
Remember, with SMS messaging you have access to your contact’s personal phone. Most of their text messages are from their family, friends, and close colleagues, so this is not the place to take on a salesy tone. Keep the content customized and conversational. And always use their first name. The generic “Hi there” does not belong in a text message.
Funnelfly makes personalizing your SMS messages a breeze. You have access to all of your account’s variables—the customer’s first name, the name of the company, the type of industry, etc.—to personalize each message for each contact.
Keep your messages short and clear. SMS Marketing is not the place for paragraphs of text. Most people think of texts as a quick form of communication on the go, so they are not likely to take time to read a long message—but they are likely to get annoyed with a lengthy text. The message should only be a couple of sentences and should always include a clear call to action. Strive to keep your SMS messages below 160 characters so they are not split into multiple messages.
It’s helpful to use link shorteners such as Bit.ly and Rebrandly to shorten links sent through SMS messages. Shortened links reduce your character count so you can spend more time telling your story in the message.
You never want to overwhelm your contacts with a bunch of texts. No one likes to be bombarded with messages—especially not on their personal phone.
Remember that text messages have a very high open rate, so if your contacts are not responding or completing the action, there’s probably a reason—either your messaging is not grabbing their attention or the recipient is not a good fit. Instead of sending more texts, rethink your strategy and segmentation. You may need to change your Call to Action or try a different group of recipients. Or perhaps you are sending your messages at the wrong time or day of the week. It may take a little bit of experimentation to find just the right formula for your text messaging strategy.
Most people know they can respond with “Stop” or “Unsubscribe” to be removed, but don’t make that assumption. Be clear in your messages that they can reply with “Stop” to prevent future SMS messages. A great way to do this is to send a welcome message after a contact enrolls, letting them know their options.
Image Credit: Twilio.
The best way to prevent your contacts from unsubscribing is by sending valuable messages at the perfect time. But be honest and remind them how they can stop your messages if at any point they don’t want to receive them. You definitely don’t want a bunch of frustrated recipients receiving messages they don’t want—and telling others how annoyed they are with your brand.
The Call to Action (CTA) may be the most important part of your message. Without a strong and clear CTA, your contact will be left to draw assumptions and are more likely to skip your message and move along in their busy day. The CTA helps you see who has an interest in your product or service. Once a lead performs a CTA, they become a highly qualified lead, so make sure your CTA is easy to understand and execute. Tell your contact exactly what you want them to do. For example, ask them to do one of the following:
You may even want to include an incentive for completing the CTA to increase the likelihood that your contact will take action. This could be access to exclusive content in the form of an eBook or How-to Guide, a limited-time discount on a certain product or upgrade in service, or entry into a drawing for a gift card or other item (iPad, AirPods, etc.).
As long as you remember to keep it concise, you can use SMS Marketing for almost any message you’d send over email.
We’ve outlined some of the best ways to use SMS Marketing for B2B and eCommerce businesses below:
There is nothing worse than calling a lead at a scheduled time with no answer or jumping on a demo where the lead does not show up. When you follow up to see what happened, you find out they simply forgot the call was for today or they lost track of time.
This is why it’s helpful to send a reminder to your lead—and SMS is the perfect channel to use.
The message should be concise and clear. Remind your contact who you are and what you are following up about. Include a link to your meeting in the message or let them know you’ll call them at the time of the meeting.
If you’re using Calendly to book your calls and demos, capturing each lead’s phone number and automating the reminder is a breeze. Automatically send leads into Funnelfly to have access to more variables in your SMS reminder.
Sometimes your leads’ email inboxes are full. Not all of us can achieve inbox zero. SMS messaging allows you to stand out from the pack.
If a lead has not responded to your post-demo emails, sending a short SMS message is a good way to reach out. Maybe the person has been meaning to reply but keeps getting pulled away. A short text will remind them of your previous conversation and help you pick up where you left off.
Plus, a text message reaches your contact immediately on their mobile phone so they can quickly respond—and you can keep the conversation going. Unlike emails that are delayed, text messages are sent and received almost immediately with no lag.
Sales is all about building a repertoire with the lead. SMS messaging allows you to do this by pulling your communications out of email and into their text messages.
This is a fine line as text messaging is typically more personal and kept between family, friends, and close colleagues. Be sure that a text message seems relevant to the conversation and not intrusive. Do this by adding value for the customer and helping them solve their problem. Think “Give, Give, Give, then Ask”. Avoid following up with pitches to try your product; instead, try to understand your customer’s motivation so you can start a free-flowing conversation.
Use SMS messaging to notify your customer base of new features and new products.
Though, not all new features and products deserve an SMS message, so reserve this channel for your biggest launches—or for any large mobile version releases such as Version 2.0 or Version 3.0. Remember text messages are personal for many of your customers so use this channel sparingly and only when you believe it adds significant value to your customer.
Also remember that if you include a link to a landing page, make sure your landing page is optimized for mobile or they’ll bounce within seconds.
Text messages are great opportunities to capture feedback from your customers. You can ask them to share feedback by responding to the text, or you can send them a link to a form.
We recommend sending them to a form so you don’t waste time trying to extract their SMS responses. Google Forms and Typeforms are two options that make data collection and analysis straightforward. Make sure your form is mobile-friendly.
Surveys with requests for long-form answers are best sent via email so the contact has an option to open on mobile or desktop. If the form involves more in-depth responses, it’s much easier for your contact to respond on a desktop with a regular-size keypad. Contacts are unlikely to send long-form responses on their phones. And based on a Grammarly study, people make 5 times as many mistakes when writing on their mobile devices compared to desktop.
A big benefit of SMS messaging is that the messages are sent almost instantly. This makes texts ideal for incentivizing customers with time-bound coupons.
This strategy is perfect for Cyber Monday and other holiday sales. Instead of fighting for attention in an overcrowded Cyber Monday inbox, stand out by sending a text message to your contacts. For more on creating a Cyber Monday SMS marketing strategy, click here.
Did we miss one? Share your favorite in the comment section below or on Twitter.
SMS marketing is easy to implement and test in your business. It’s another tool in your toolbelt for growing your business and communicating with your contacts. And just as you do with your other tools, you’ll need to experiment to see which SMS messaging strategy best suits your business and customer base.
Start by following our steps above and you’ll be off to the races.
Let us know how you use SMS marketing in your business in the comments below.
“SMS Marketing: What You Need To Know” is a guest post from Travis Dailey – the VP of Marketing at Funnelfly, a conversational marketing and sales tool.
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