Getting Started With SMS Marketing

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS stands for ‘short message service’, basically a text message.

The amount of texts sent a year is astronomical. Somewhere around 7 trillion plus. The appeal for marketers, besides the obvious stat I just mentioned, is the open rates are the highest of any other marketing channel.

SMS marketing provides an instantaneous impact on the customer. Brands can reach their customers faster & have a much higher chance of the customer actually viewing the message. Think about it. Look up from your phone the next time your in a restaurant or just out for walk & take notice that you’re not the only one with your head buried in their phone.

While some feel SMS Marketing may be invasive. However, its quite the opposite. By law, a user must opt-in and give their consent to be a part of your marketing campaign. So just because you have a subscribers phone number, does not mean they will automatically receive your messages. They MUST reply back to your initial text message to opt-in. Learn more about the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

Before we get into a few SMS marketing tips, here are a few interesting stats comparing interaction rates with different marketing channels.

Mobile Keywords

A mobile keyword or [SHORT CODE] is a word customers will text in order to subscribe to your alerts. You can use these keywords in your advertising. For example: “Text ‘DEALS’ to 12345 to receive the latest promotions”. This will add the customer to your campaign.

Choosing the right keyword is important. You don’t want to use anything to long or obscure as you want the customer to be able to remember it. For example: don’t use something random like, ‘FREE3309’. Use an actual word like ‘SHOPFREE’. Make it attention-grabbing and relevant to your business or promotion.

Keywords can be purchased from most SMS services & cost about $20/mo per keyword.

How To Build Your List

Display it on your website

Give your visitors an easy way to sign up for your SMS alerts. Two ways to do this are leading your users to a web form & collect their information. This way you can not only capture their phone number, but their email as well. The other way is to simply advertise your Keyword and have them opt-in to your SMS campaign only.

Use QR Codes

Place QR codes on any printed materials you use for marketing. This gives your customer a very easy way to opt-in.

Promote It To Your Email List

If you have an existing list, promote the fact they can instantly receive promotions right on their phone. With email deliverability becoming increasingly more difficult, SMS alerts are a more reliable way to be sure your message is received.

Advertise On Social Media

Create Facebook widgets (Lead Ads) to capture customer information. Place your keyword on your Facebook Fan Page & be sure to tweet out the keyword as well. Again, if you want to capture the email address as well, then you will need to lead the user to a landing page.

Display In Retail Store

If you are brick & mortar, create printed signs and display them all over your store, especially near the checkout spaces. SMS alerts work great for restaurants as you can send your customers daily or weekly “specials” promotions to get them through the door.

What Are The Best Times To Send?

It really depends on what your sending. If you’re promoting your restaurant you want to get your message in front them an hour or two before meal times. On the other hand if your a retail store you want to send your weekend sale promotion two days in advance to give your audience time to plan for the weekend.

Be mindful of the day of the week as well. Do you like Monday’s? I sure don’t, so it may be best to avoid a Monday. The best way is to try different times/days of the week and watch your metrics. See when you’re getting the most opens and clicks and make adjustments.

Keep in mind the times when users are most likely to be on their phones. Most people have jobs & do not have the opportunity to check their phone every 10 minutes. Keep time zones in mind as well. Break times vary depending on which time zone your customers are in.

It’s always best to keep testing. There is no one day/time that works for every business.

Some Do's & Don'ts

The Do’s

Have variety in your strategy. People do not want to receive the same old message from you everyday. Mix it up – send notifications, updates, news, coupons, educational material and don’t be afraid to test new ways to improve your clicks.

Live in your metrics. It’s crucial to understand what is working & what is not. Making small adjustments with each campaign will get you one step closer to the optimum send times, frequency & content.

Incentivize your customers. Provide as much value in each interaction as possible. Send content, coupons or deals that are exclusive to the customers in your campaign & make it known in your advertising that customers on your SMS list are gaining access to promotions that the general public are not.

The Dont’s

Timing. Don’t send bulk bursts to your customers at inappropriate times. Avoid early morning, late night & rush hour times. SMS differs from email as many people will check text messages the instant they are delivered.

Spamming. This goes without saying, but I will anyway. Do NOT blast your customers multiple times per day. Less is often more! Keep the content value packed.

Opt-Out. Always provide an opt-out link. It’s the law! Using a reputable SMS platform will usually handle compliance for you.

In Conclusion

Keep testing & use a reputable SMS platform that adheres to the compliance laws. I recommend TextDeliver.

Watch my interview with Text Deliver creator Mark Thompson as we discuss SMS Marketing & a demo of his new software.