Using SMS for Your Marketing: Tactics, Campaigns, Tips and the Future
This article is the transcript of an interview I did with ClubTexting, originally published ‘How to Use Mass SMS Texting to Improve Your Business‘ on their blog.
What is the current state of SMS text messaging and marketing in Australia? What kinds of companies or organizations are using it?
The state of SMS marketing in Australia is – to put it bluntly – a state of confusion. Most brands and businesses are aware of the opportunity but super-cautious of the pitfalls if they don’t execute it right. So for many, the risk is too much, so they ignore it.
In my experience, the businesses using SMS often include the health industry who use SMS as appointment reminders.
When it comes to SMS marketing, what is the most underutilized aspect or tactic?
It sounds obvious, but far too often I see SMS campaigns that are too complicated for the medium. So the most underutilized tactic is to assess how user-friendly the process will be before sending.
This might change the way you run the campaign, but if you waste consumers’ time with a process that they don’t understand, you will pay by seeing little engagement and higher opt-outs.
Could you give us an example or two of an innovative SMS marketing campaign that was carried out which achieved exceptional results?
We once used SMS as a vehicle to drive leads while our client was speaking to a small business audience. We produced a PDF checklist that was an extension to what the client was speaking about on that day. The audience was provided with the SMS number and a code word to send. Moments later, they were prompted for their email address, and then they received the PDF. This brought the audience into the client’s conversion funnel with little effort.
On another occasion, we developed an SMS voting campaign where we asked cafe customers on a main street to vote for their favorite cafe. It was a simple “SMS the specific code word to the number” campaign. Each cafe had their own unique code, and both the weekly tallies and the final tally were promoted via Facebook. The campaign drove significant engagement on the main street Facebook page as well as on participating cafe pages.
What guidelines would you suggest for people utilizing SMS messaging in terms of frequency and length of messages?
An SMS message is just 160 characters, so you need to be short and concise. It’s great to utilize all 160 but if you can say what you need to say in 130, then do that.
There are some other tips I would recommend:
i) Make sure you make it clear who you are and how you have their number. It is likely they have forgotten how they opted in, so remind them. Don’t use a big chunk of your characters on it; find a way to do it in 2-3 words.
ii) Show value. Yes, your hesitations around SMS messaging are real because you know how you feel when you get a promotional message. But this all boils down to whether the message promotes value. So make sure you have it and are communicating it as well as you can.
iii) Knowing that 90% of SMS are opened in the first three minutes, don’t send them too early before an event. For example, if you have an in-store sale Friday, don’t send them a message on Wednesday. Do it Friday morning.
iv) Make sure you have a clear call to action. This is where you are likely to reach your aim. Ask them to call, click on a link, or send their email address.
v) Don’t hide the opt-out. Be clear on how they can opt-out.
A short 160 characters sounded easy at first, didn’t it?
If the goal is to obtain feedback from people, how might you use SMS messaging to achieve it? Is it as simple as texting a question to everybody on your messaging list?
It can be, but would it be effective? I don’t think so. Again, 160 characters is our limit, so if your recipient wants to give you more feedback, they can’t. This feedback may well be valuable.
So keep the message short and sharp, and ask them to complete an online survey by following the link. Make sure you provide some incentive. As with any decision, they will weigh the value against spending a few minutes to help your business.
How can you tell if an SMS messaging or marketing campaign is improving conversion rates or accomplishing other objectives?
As with any digital tactic or campaign, you should first identify your objectives before you have finalized your tactics. It is also imperative to include a consumer action that will help you identify whether the objective has been reached.
For example, objectives such as driving email subscriptions, online retail purchases, or bookings can be attributed without too many issues. If your objective is to increase in-store foot traffic, then you need to put in place another step in the customer journey to measure your objective.
If you are sticking with SMS, then subscribe and churn rates will likely be your objective and these will be simple to measure. But if you have a business with multiple locations, use different code words so you can identify the location and more accurately measure your performance.
With all of the other digital marketing options available, will SMS marketing soon vanish or drop in popularity? [Or is it here to stay?]
I see SMS in a similar vein to email. Many “experts” have spoken of their impending death, but yet they remain viable marketing options. The Adobe Blog cites that 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes. Compare this to average email open rates of 20% to 30% and the dwindling organic reach of Facebook. A terrific opportunity exists!
But will marketing budgets adjust to meet the opportunity? It’s really hard to judge. It will take some global brands or potentially a startup to lead the way.
Still not sold on the power of SMS messaging? Try ClubTexting for free today to see if it works for you.