This guide will get you well on your way to getting started with SMS marketing, and help you overcome the most common issues people have starting out.
SMS marketing, or text message marketing, has become an expanding fundamental part of effective multi-channel marketing as more brands continue to look at their targeted audience.
Today, 3.8 billion people own smartphones where 75% of them receive offers via SMS. Sending and receiving text messages has become a more common way to communicate with one another as well as reach out to your potential and existing customers.
There are quite a few texting options nowadays with having text messages and instant messaging on social media apps. It’s become more acceptable and convenient to receive a text message from someone than a phone call while at work, in public, or at an appointment. You can quickly reply without disturbing the people around you.
Of course, like with any form of marketing, SMS marketing is all about finding that balance between sending text messages and when the right time is.
Along with that, there are many other reasons why SMS marketing is so useful in the marketing world today. In this article, we will cover what is SMS, why use SMS, and how to create a successful SMS campaign.
What is SMS Marketing?
As briefly explained, SMS marketing is a way to use online messages to market your business to potential and current clients. SMS is an acronym for short message service which has taken the form of text messages and instant messages. These can be sent or received either through any mobile device, the internet and on phones.
SMS started in 1992 with mobile phones by Motorola and Nokia whose items are apparently just unbreakable compared to our mobile phones today. This method of communication wasn’t used as much as calling back then because it used to cost a certain amount of cents per text.
In the 2000s, SMS messaging became more popular as flip phones and sidekicks were introduced.
This lasted until 2010 as phone plans started to realize how SMS messaging became more common than phone calls, reducing the price of each message to a certain amount instead of each individual text.
SMS text messaging is still widely used today as we continue to text message and direct message others on social media. Compared to almost 30 years ago, messages can hold up to 160 characters, most phone plans allow an unlimited amount of messages, and it’s one of the most preferred ways of communication when needing a quick answer from someone.
Why Use SMS for marketing?
Compared to other marketing tactics like email and social media, text message marketing receives a 90% open rate where email marketing only receives 20%. This means that 90% of the time, someone will open and most likely read their text messages where emails are only opened at 20%.
When seeing a text message has arrived people will open it immediately since text messages are known to be used as a direct and instant contact to someone. Emails are known to be replied to or looked at later due to there being no indication that the sender needs an immediate response.
Another great reason to use SMS as a marketing tool is that any smartphone device displays the notification of a text message at the top of their screen. Whether the person is scrolling through social media, watching a video, or reading the news, they will be distracted.
With email notifications, most people turn them off because they know an email does not have the same sense of urgency to be replied to as a text message does.
Along with having high open rates, SMS can create a closer connection between a business and its customers. For example, certain discounts and promotions can be sent straight to your SMS list. This makes your SMS subscribers feel special because they are receiving this message straight to their contact.
Of course, this can be done through email by asking for your customer’s email addresses, but most small businesses know that clients will check their text messages more than their email nowadays.
In eCommerce, messages can be sent to customers who have left their carts unattended for a certain amount of time, letting them know if their payment has been processed, and assisting them with shipping details.
Unlike email, with SMS marketing you are able to track the metrics that are most successful. You can do this by noticing the increase in your ROI, focusing on which campaigns have the most positive response, and noticing the acquisition cost per subscriber.
Acquisition cost per subscriber is the most helpful because you are looking at how much money you have spent to obtain each individual subscriber. If you have spent less money compared to what you have received from reaching out to that customer, then your campaign is on the right track.
There is also the attrition rate which is also known as the churn rate. This is the measurement of how many people have unsubscribed from your SMS messages. This happens to every business and it isn’t something your marketing team heavily focuses on unless your churn rate is higher than the actual amount of your list size.
How to Create an SMS Campaign
There are multiple ways SMS can express its power for your company. As you can see, there are multiple advances to this marketing campaign. It not only can help reach out to your customers more efficiently, but it can help build brand awareness.
By merging SMS marketing within your company’s other marketing strategies, your business can increase the validness of your entire marketing process.
Having a successful SMS marketing campaign can be seen through high returns in your investment. You know your marketing strategies are working when you notice creative and development costs for SMS are lower. Compared to video productions, graphics, and web design, printing, photography, and more that are included in personal advertising, SMS marketing only requires a phone number and an extremely low-cost text message.
When using SMS marketing correctly and efficiently, your business can generate revenue. Some businesses have even noticed a 10% increase in revenue once adding SMS to their marketing program.
After noticing which campaigns work the best for your company, notice why they are the best out of the bunch. This is most likely because they engage the most fluently with your leads and customers.
This may be because you are sending marketing messages that grab your audience’s attention. Some examples would be reminders on certain appointments your customers have made with you, you have notified them about a certain discount going on, or your company is bringing out a new product or service soon.
Another way of reaching out to your audience is by sending out surveys and polls to understand what your audience enjoys or dislikes about your service or product. This is a way to get to know your customer’s wants and needs pertaining to your brand. You are also showing how much you care about their opinions when it comes to your business, making sure you are providing the best quality service your company can offer.
When providing the best customer service, you want to make sure you are providing offers that are easy for your customers to receive. With SMS, shortcodes become your best friend. Shortcodes are five digits that are a shortcut to either your website’s landing page or a product page. When directing your subscribers straight to your products or services, they will mostly share or purchase from you.
Common Reasons Your SMS Messages May Be Getting Stopped By Carriers
Have you discovered that an SMS text message that you have sent was not delivered? This is a very common occurrence that can happen for a variety of reasons. Before we get to the specifics of why your messages may not be successfully delivered, we need to cover the basics of SMS phone numbers.
Most cell phone numbers are long code phone numbers or 10-digit numbers (123-456-7890) that can make and receive voice calls, as well as send and receive SMS messages.
Long codes were designed for person-to-person (P2P) communication. Recipients are expected to reply which makes these numbers unsuitable for application-to-person (A2P) bulk messaging.
Most commonly, carriers tend to block SMS messages because:
1. More than 200 SMS messages are sent per day from the same phone number.
2. More than 1 SMS is sent every four seconds outside of the US and Canada.
3. The ratio of incoming to outgoing SMS is over 1:3.
4. The same message is sent to the same user shortly after the first message.
Some other factors could also be:
5. Repetitive URLs and keywords.
6. URL not connecting after being shortened.
7. Multiunit messages. (messages that are too long to be sent in one text on standard messaging services, and are therefore are sent in multiple sections)
If none of the above apply to your situation, it may be beneficial to ensure that your SMS aggregates, like Plivo1, Twilio2, and Telnyx, specify your long number in E.164 format.
This format means your long code should consist of 15 digits with the first 1 – 3 numbers being the code of your country. The next 1 – 4 digits are for your national destination and the last section are subscriber numbers.
If your long code phone numbers are not in this format, you may receive the message “This caller ID is not allowed for an outbound message.”
Biggest SMS Marketing Mistakes
SMS mass text marketing is simple in theory, but in practice, it’s easy to make some mistakes when starting out. In fact, it’s one of the easiest facets of digital marketing to mess up, with some of the harshest consequences.
Avoid these rookie mistakes at all costs (because some of them can get you into deep trouble).
1. Be Sure You Have Permission
You may think you’re harmlessly sending out SMS messages, but if you’re mass texting without permission, you can get in a lot of trouble. Legal trouble.
Since the introduction of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), unless you have explicit permission (in writing) to text people, you can get fined. You must get customers to opt-in. If you’re not sure you have consent, don’t send bulk messages, period.
2. Careful Not to Oversend
It can be easy to get overzealous when you’re starting out and send way too many mass SMS texts to potential customers.
An easy rule of thumb is to think about how often you personally would like to receive a marketing text message from a company whose list you’ve opted in to.
Oh, and one more thing: There definitely is a balance. Don’t fall prey to not sending enough SMS messages or you’ll have people forget who you are all together, which also means they might forget they opted in (which is your burden to prove, as stated above).
3. Time Zones and Business Hours
Just because your business is in the Eastern time zone, that doesn’t mean that your clients are.
Consider the fact that when you send text messages at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, it’s actually 6:00 a.m. on the West Coast, and it could be very late (or very early) for any international customers.
When starting out a good benchmark is to try scheduling for 12:00 p.m. noon, Eastern, and then tweak from there.
4. Watch Your Tone and Wording
We’ve all been the victim of a text that conveyed the wrong idea because it was written and not spoken. You don’t want to experience this with your customers.
Consider what “voice” you want to represent your company, and make sure you write your text messages to your customers in that voice. Choose the wording well (and try reading it out loud) to avoid any confusion.
5. Not Asking for the Sale
This one is simple, so we’ll keep it short. If you’re trying to get more sales, don’t forget a call to action in your SMS message campaigns.
Keep these direct, clear, and to a single request, like “click here for 20% off hats.”
Use Text-Calibur – SMS Marketing Pro Software
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1Does Plivo support E.164 format calling? (May 5, 2020). Plivo. https://support.plivo.com/hc/en-us/articles/360042697272-Does-Plivo-support-E-164-format-calling-#:~:text=Yes%2C%20Plivo%20supports%20both%20inbound,call%20to%20the%20next%20leg.
2 Chia, Billy. (2021). E.164. Twilo. https://www.twilio.com/docs/glossary/what-e164