Over the last few years, there has been a subtle yet noticeable shift in the world of online and SMS marketing. As the amount of digital marketing avenues has increased, marketers have had a hard time maintaining their audience’s attention and getting their message across.
Due to this, organizations have sought out simple yet powerful solutions such as SMS marketing to reach their customers and reach them with engaging messaging. As more marketers begin to understand the effectiveness of these platforms, as well as the value of a well-planned customer experience, text marketing will continue to be a robust tool to have in your arsenal.
With this article, we hope to help you get started with SMS marketing in 5 quick steps. Not only will this help you better serve your customers, but it can energize your brand and customer engagement campaign. Without further ado, let’s get started.
The power of SMS marketing
Before we get into the steps you will need to take to set up your campaign, we first wanted to show exactly how potent SMS marketing can be. First, one of the most commonly cited statistics about SMS is that over 95% of messages are read within 2 minutes. However, it’s not just about speed. In fact, 75% of people like to have offers sent to them via SMS and over 65% of marketers claim SMS is ‘very effective’ for them.
Now that there are billions of mobile devices out there, it makes sense that customers want things fast and sent directly to their phones. SMS marketing allows for companies to reach larger parts of their customer base in seconds with tailored content specific to their situation. With predictions claiming that by 2020, 48.7 million consumers will opt-in to receive business SMS, there has never been a better time to get started.
The first thing you should understand about running an SMS campaign (or any marketing campaign for that matter) is that none of your customers are the same. Meaning, for our purposes, that not all customers should receive the same message. This is why the first step for getting started is to segment your audience based on common, shared characteristics for the best possible results.
Since SMS marketing is so personal and immediate, your messages will need to show that you understand the value of your customer’s time. When you don’t segment your audience, you are indicating that you treat all customers the same. Instead, by creating tailored messages for smaller parts of the audience, you can be more specific with your value offering.
How to segment your audience
There are a couple of ways in which you can segment your audience in order to achieve the best results from your SMS campaign. However, the best method is typically to create customer personas based on shared characteristics. These personas are fictionalized representations of different customer segments that you can use as a basis for how you will craft your messages.
For instance, a fitness studio might create a persona called Forgetful Frank based upon this segment’s tendency to forget to come to the gym. They can then craft messages related to trying to get those customers to re-engage with the gym. While these messages will have a positive effect on customers within this segment, they wouldn’t work well for someone who hits the gym twice a week, again displaying the need for segmenting your audience.
2) Layout customer journey
Next, once you have reviewed customer data and segmented your audience, you will need to lay out the customer journey in order to figure out where you will interact with them and when automated messages should be used to maximize efficiency.
Again, different segments will have different customer journeys, but as you prepare your SMS campaign you should have a solid, achievable goal in mind for your marketing. The sooner that you understand this goal and the steps that will need to be taken in order to reach it, the faster your campaign will start to improve.
Touchpoints and automated messaging
As you lay out the customer journey, you will want to pick out points where customers will make decisions and link smart touchpoints to these moments. For instance, if a customer wants to receive more information after you send a message, by simply having an SMS keyword like INFO or HELP that they can text back to receive additional information, the better your campaign will be.
In fact, it is this automated aspect of SMS that has helped text marketing continue to be relevant in 2018. Just about everything from customer support to making a purchase can be automated beforehand now, leading to a better user experience for your customers. Set these up from the start and then tweak them as you go for best results.
3) Craft your messages
Now that we have segmented our audience and laid out the customer journey, let’s talk about actually crafting the messages of your campaign. A good rule of thumb for any SMS message you send is to include a call to action. Since these messages should only be sent when an immediate next step can be taken, you need to include language that prompts the customer to take action.
Thankfully, with recent new technologies and smartphones, this has never been easier. SMS marketers can now include either a link or an SMS keyword within the message, making it easier than ever to boost click-through rates and ultimately, conversions as well.
Short and simple
Along with including a call to action, your SMS messages should be short, simple, and to the point. An SMS marketing campaign can quickly go south if you try to do too much with your messages. Instead, respect the efficient nature of SMS by getting directly to the value-add you hope to provide.
In fact, whether or not you want to keep your messages short, SMS is limited to 160 characters regardless. Going over this limit will split the message in two, which does not look professional, so always remember to stay within these confines.
4) Find the right timing
After you have crafted your messages, you now need to figure out when to send them. This mainly will refer to bulk SMS messages, since customer support and thank-you messages will often be reactionary based upon triggers. Our suggestion is to always keep your messages within normal business hours unless your business keeps unusual hours.
As you start to roll out your campaign, you will be able to find the timing that works best for you. Our only suggestion is to consider when customers are most likely to take action. For instance, a restaurant might send messages before the lunch hour, while a dog-care place might position them by sending their messages just before the weekend. Keep all of this in mind as you plot out the timing of our messages.
5) Follow all rules and regulations
The final step in setting up your SMS campaign is by far the most important – following all rules and regulations required by federal law. Not only will this lead to a smoother campaign, but it can help you to avoid steep fines placed upon delinquent bulk SMS campaigns.
There are a few different areas that you will need to be particularly careful with, namely opt-in best practices and avoiding over-texting. As we review these best practices, remember that this is not a suggestion, and although you may want to skirt the line in certain cases, it is never worth it to do so. With that said, let’s talk about opt-ins.
While there are articles written about the various intricacies of receiving consent for SMS opt-ins, we don’t have time to get into all of it. Instead, let’s review a few of the basics that can be built upon as you see fit while running your campaign.
- You must receive consent: Above all, you must receive the consent of every person on your SMS marketing list. Often this can be done simply by sending a message telling the customer that they will be receiving messages with an option to unsubscribe.
- Always be clear with your intentions: Just because you have someone’s consent doesn’t mean you can flood their inbox with messages. Be clear from the beginning about both the frequency and volume of messages you intend to send in order to avoid unwanted disruptions.
- Provide an easy way out: This seems counterintuitive to many, but it often has the opposite effect. By letting your customers know they can always simply text STOP to end communications, those that are subscribed are actual more likely to stick around.
As long as you are able to stay within the confines of these regulations and maintain best practices, you won’t need to worry. However, just in case you need a refresher, you can always read through the TCPA guidelines here.
Now that we have reviewed the basics of setting up an SMS campaign, we want to leave you with a few final thoughts before you jump into your own SMS marketing. As you can see by reading through this list, it is important to always keep in mind the value that you are providing to customers with your campaign. The better you can know your audience, the better you can serve them, and the better customers they will be.
Throughout all you do, keep the customers first. If you are able to do this, you will have no problem harnessing the powerful nature of SMS in order to take your company’s marketing to the next level. All that’s left is to do it, so what are you waiting for? Get after it!