You’ve probably already received text messages from companies. But have you ever considered SMS marketing for your brand? If you haven’t, then these statistics should do the trick:
- Globally almost three billion people use smartphones – that’s about one in three people on the planet,
- Gartner quotes various sources reporting a 98% open rate. Compared to the number of people that open their email (rates around 20%)
- The average screen time of US adults is around 3 hours and 43 minutes on mobile devices.
Sending text messages is an intimate way to engage with your customers. And once you’re sorted with text marketing basics, here are the five best practices that will maximize your results from this unique marketing channel.
1. Keep it legal
Purchasing a list of phone numbers is useless, just like buying followers on Instagram. Your messages to them will be spam and will kill your reputation. Under any circumstances, don’t buy phone numbers.
It’s also illegal as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act requires getting “prior express invitation or permission” from the recipient of your promotional messages.
Sending messages to paid contact lists won’t establish trust. Your relationship with these people started on the wrong foot – they never contacted you in the first place. And they don’t know or care about your pizza (or your products).
But the regulations governing SMS marketing are on your side. It makes the medium interactive. As people need to provide you a written opt in by responding to your messages, it gets them to initiate conversations. Whether they say yay or nay, the opt in is a chance to qualify your leads. The information they provide can also lend you insights for your future SMS campaigns.
If they say yay, you’ll have someone who actually opens, reads, and engages with your content. That too, within five minutes.
Begin with creating a landing page on your website like the Subway one below. Note their use of baiting a prospect with discount coupons for sharing their phone numbers. They have also detailed their SMS program in a note below the form and set expectations on the kind of messages users can expect.
Note: Your customers might forget that they have opted to receive your messages and get annoyed by receiving them. Instead of annoying them and ruining your relationship, you should (least occasionally) send details of how to opt out of your promotional messages. Here’s an SMS by Forever 21 that allows the user to opt out by giving a missed call. Ethics, you see.
Note 2: If you’re targeting an international market, then I recommend you to understand the SMS and telecom regulations in the country where you want to send messages.
2. Say hi, send reminders, and go for that occasional sale!
Your clients aren’t mind readers, so you need to introduce yourself every time you send them messages. Just look at this SMS asking me to “pre-book” meals in advance. It’s a notification related to my flight, but there’s no context.
Compare that with this Airbnb text below. It’s an update about a message I received on one of my inquiries from an Airbnb host. The SMS starts with the company’s name, thereby leaving no room for doubt.
Want some examples of the kinds of SMS marketing messages you can send to your customers?
You can simply say hi to your clients, thank them for their business, or request feedback on their recent purchase from you. It won’t be a bad idea to wish them on their birthday. Here’s a dental clinic wishing me on my birthday. Little touches like that are often appreciated.
Additionally, appointment reminders, urgent updates about events, and customer orders are a great fit in your SMS marketing strategy. Here’s the same dental clinic intimating me about my appointments with them. They have also requested feedback for my visit to their clinic once.
You can also send updates about your business and products. Here’s an update from Forever New about their store opening back amidst the CoVid-19 crisis in a locality where the text recipient had shopped before. Note how the message provides an option to opt out of updates – it could have been clearer, though.
Even if you’re not operating physically, you can invite your SMS recipients to follow you on other social media. See how F21 Fam smartly does their Instagram handle cross-promotion below.
Occasionally don’t fret placing a direct link to your sales page. Customers expect product updates with offers and links to your website. Add a touch of exclusivity by sharing a special coupon with them.
Shreya Dalela, the founder of The Creatives Hour, shared the following text message from Nykaa, an Indian cosmetic retailer with me. While she appreciated getting notified about the sales on its site, the use of words like “now”, “hurry”, and “shop now” in ALL CAPS too frequently turned her off. Not only can it spoil your relationship with your customers, but she would also advise you to create such urgency sparingly for it to remain effective.
Also, if you include links in your messages, consider branding them using a custom URL shortener like Rebrandly. Unlike generic short links, custom short URLs allow you to add a CTA to the link itself, which can result in an increase of up to 39% in CTR.
Overall be friendly and personable with SMS because that’s what people expect from this communication channel. Refer more SMS examples here to craft persuasive messages.
3. Mind your frequency and timing of communication
15.2 million text messages are sent every minute. If you bombard your clients with SMS, you’ll drive them to opt out. So let them look forward to your updates rather than dreading them. Here are a couple of adages you need to obey:
1. Less is more – Treat your customers like your friend. They have done you a massive favor by giving you their phone number and opting in to receive messages from you. So use this one-on-one communication channel to send occasional updates that are relevant to them.
2. Remain careful with time zones – Optimizing the time when you send you messages is key to effective SMS marketing. You can’t send texts in the middle of the night. It’s safer to keep your marketing messages to mid-morning and mid-afternoon in your customer’s time zone.
Here are the three most popular times that retailers send SMS campaigns as per Text Marketer on weekdays.
And here are the popular times on the weekend.
It means telling them how often they should expect to hear from you and roughly what they should expect to find in your messages. You can consider these times as starting points, but always be testing. Let your message recipients decide when they want to interact!
4. Keep it short, but if you send’em “lol”, they will ask you to “stfu”
Your business should not have an association with a 14-year-old child, so please stay away from text speak (lol). It comes off as unprofessional and could leave your customers confused. You’re dealing with a medium that has a limit of 160 characters, so keep it concise and crisp. If you can’t be direct, then consider sending an email or posting a new blog post.
Here’s a text update from an Insurance service provider. They are providing a sigh of relief to their customers by reminding them that their medical policy covers hospital expenses arising out of COVID-19. But the verbose message could have been substantially shorter than 500 characters.
5. Wisely choose your SMS marketing package
While SMS is a one-to-one communication channel, you can’t go about messaging your customers one by one. SMS marketing tools can streamline your efforts. For instance, Jooksms doesn’t charge any set up fee and offers a trial as well if you want to try free text message marketing.
But how much does SMS marketing cost? It depends on your requirements with the basic package costing $25/month for sending 1033 messages. You can explore other packages and talk to our sales manager on the SMS Marketing Pricing page at Jooksms.
Let’s calculate the total cost of running an SMS marketing campaign. Suppose a basic package from an SMS software provider costs around $25 a month for sending about 1,000 messages. You’ll need to buy a new phone number for the SMS system to work (just like a cell phone). So that will set you back by around two dollars and sixty cents.
Now you need to consider keyword rental. Suppose you sell pizza and want to send promotional messages like the one below to your customers:
“Hey pizza eater! If you love a weekly pizza deal, text PIZZA to 12345 and we’ll send you a weekly discount coupon for use at any of our restaurants!”
Do you see that word PIZZA in bold? That’s a keyword, and it costs money to rent. You’re looking between $5 and $25 for a keyword rental, depending on your dealer and the popularity of the keyword.
Many packages provided by SMS marketing software services will include a few keywords in the monthly fee. And many offer a pay-as-you-go service.
So you’ll pay in the range of $25 to $500 per month, depending on how many texts you send and the keywords your business needs. But if you’re spending $500 a month on SMS marketing, you’re probably a multinational.
And that’s about it. SMS Marketing remains a reliable and unique marketing channel. I would encourage you to use it and integrate it into every stage of your buyer’s journey – your customers and bottom line will both thank you.
Have you ever considered SMS Marketing? What kind of results did you get? Let me know in the comments below.
Note: This is a derived version of the original article. Read the complete guide on SMS Marketing that I wrote for JookSMS.