Spring Forward - Jumpstart Your SMS Marketing Campaign

Businesses large or small can benefit immensely from mobile marketing. SMS marketing, otherwise known as text message marketing, is one of the most personal ways to communicate with your buyers. After all, what other marketing tool do you know of that allows retailers and business owners to have virtually immediate contact with their customers? More than 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, according to a study by MobileSquared. And while email inboxes can get clogged with spam and unwanted promotions, customers are very careful about opting in to text message updates, which means that your message will reach the right person who is actually interested in your offerings.

But simply investing in an SMS marketing program isn’t all it takes to reap the rewards. SMS marketing, like any other campaign, requires time, attention, and the occasional tweaking for your business, budget, and customers. Whether you’re already running an SMS campaign or you’re looking to start one, here are four tips to get the most out of SMS marketing for your business:

1. Comply with the Laws

Text message marketing is a privilege for businesses, not a right. Each country adheres to a specific set of laws, so if your business’ SMS campaign has a global reach, make sure you understand the laws in each country.

In the U.S., aside from the basic law that you must have the consent (opt-in) of your recipients to send them promotional texts, there are a few other laws that you should be aware of:

  • Opting in can’t be a condition of purchasing. In other words, you can’t force anyone to consent to receiving SMS messages from you by barring them from buying unless they agree to opt-in.
  • You need to include a “Help” function if you anticipate that your recipients may need additional information about your message. That way, they can ask technical questions about texting and get useful answers.
  • You need to include an opt-out or “STOP” function that’s clear and easy for your recipients to do, and that works. Don’t tell them they can opt out by sending “STOP” to 9876 and then keep sending them messages after they’ve followed your instructions to opt-out.

Don’t end up like Jiffy Lube with a $47M lawsuit settlement for sending unsolicited texts to customers or Papa John’s whopping $250M suit for the same reason. Not to mention Life Time Fitness’ recent settlement $15M for sending unsolicited marketing text messages.

Bottom line: Make sure you’re compliant. Companies of all sizes get sued for the misuse of SMS marketing all the time.

2. Build Your Subscriber List

So how do you encourage your prospects and customers to opt-in to receiving your SMS messages and comply with the law? There are several ways to build your SMS subscriber list by making the opt-in function more visible throughout your marketing channels.

Take a look at some of the channels below to determine where you can add SMS opt-in information:

  • Facebook: Add a “Mobile Number” field to any Facebook page sign-up and an “Opt-in” button for them to sign on to your SMS campaign. Make sure you validate the number before you add this person to your campaign. If they entered the wrong number, you could potentially be sending text messages to someone who didn’t authorize them.
  • Website: Include SMS opt-in instructions on your website.
  • Email: Make SMS opt-in visible on your newsletter.
  • Direct Mail: All snail mail should have instructions for SMS opt-in printed on it.
  • Mobile: Send an opt-in text, such as “Text YES to receive discounts and promotions from XYZ company.”

Additionally, all of your customer-facing employees should be trained to ask for a customer’s permission for opt-in. This means that they need to be able to explain the benefits and details of your SMS campaign (coupons, discounts, appointment reminders, events, etc.).

3. Write Great Messages

Text messages take a different form than emails and other channels of communication, so be mindful of how your message will be viewed. Your subscriber will see your message on a screen smaller than a computer, so keep your messages short and straightforward. But cutting down on the quantity of content doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality as well.

Remember, your main objective is to give your subscribers information that they can understand quickly and easily. You can try to be clever or humorous as long as your customers are get it. The key is to follow the voice of your brand and be personal. Address your subscribers by their name and understand their behaviors (interactions with your brand, purchase history, downloads, etc.) and what stage they are in their unique customer journey. Then, use this information to send relevant text messages that hit the target. For example, if you’re a massage clinic sending a message to a new customer, text him with “Hi Kevin, thanks for coming in today. Enjoy %15 off your next sports massage with discount code: 15OFF” to keep him coming back.

However you choose to shape your messaging, be sure to avoid these SMS sins:

  • Don’t spam. Don’t send several texts a day to your subscribers. Depending on your business, an SMS campaign of 4-12 total messages per month should be sufficient.
  • Don’t send off-target offers. Offer your subscribers something of value. If you constantly send them texts about products or services that aren’t relevant to them, you may lose them as an SMS subscriber or even as a customer.
  • Don’t wake them up. Ideal texting time is between 9am and 8pm. Anything sent before or after that treads the line of being intrusive.

4. Measure Your Results

Like your other marketing channels, you’ll need to understand how to measure your SMS marketing results to track the success of each campaign and learn how to optimize them.

Track the following metrics and repeat periodically to continue to enhance your campaign:

  • Calculate your churn rate. Take the number of your people who unsubscribed from your SMS campaign and divide it by the total number of customers who initially opted in. This will reveal how quickly your subscribers are leaving your campaign.
  • Determine your redemption rate. Take the number of your subscribers who responded to call-of-action and divide it by number of total subscribers in your program. This indicates how successful your campaign was at generating responses.
  • Calculate the cost. Take the cost of each SMS message and divide it by the redemption rate (calculated above). Based on how much you invested, did it perform well?

SMS is quick and effective way to reach your audience wherever they are. By following the tips above, you can get your SMS marketing campaign off on the right foot. Understand the laws, build your subscriber list, craft great messages, and measure and analyze your results.

Have you already started on your SMS marketing journey? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments section below!

For more on SMS and mobile marketing, check out The Definitive Guide to Mobile Marketing.