Omni-Channel Marketing Campaign

SMS marketing: how to nail it

Are you still on the sidelines wondering if SMS marketing is right for your business? Think that SMS marketing is only for the bigwig, global B2C companies?

Think again. SMS marketing can be a huge untapped opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses that are looking to improve their customer’s journey, both towards the end of the sales funnel and post-conversion.


Let’s find out why SMS marketing

As we all know, people—including ourselves—are glued to their smartphones. According to Smart Insights, we spend, on average 87 hours a month (yes, you read correctly!) on our devices, which represents about 12% of our time! And, based on ComScore’s research, users spend 69% of their media time on their smartphones. Due to their staggering use, mobile devices are indeed a marketing channel that can no longer be ignored.

What does that mean for SMS marketing? The number crunching gets even more interesting.

Globally, over 22 billion texts are sent every day, with 90% of them being read within the first three minutes. Although some digital marketing pundits originally deemed SMS a fad, stats from Twilio show that 9 out of 10 consumers would agree to receiving messages from brands and businesses that are relevant to them and offer value. While that doesn’t necessarily translate into direct sales all the time, you can clearly see how SMS can be a good touch point to add to your marketing cycle.

So, how can you get in on the game?


Determine what type of messages your customers want

If you haven’t already, start by mapping out your customer journey and personas to identify when and what type of SMS messages your leads or existing clientele would be more likely to favourably respond to. Keep in mind that text messaging is nevertheless a highly personal channel people use on the spot: you won’t want to simply push information out like a product launch news or a generic video. The last thing you want is for your customers to think you are spammy.

Think of why your customers would interact with you via text versus email. Are they looking to make a reservation, book a spot at an event or get customer support? SMS marketing is often more conducive to time-sensitive messages that create a sense of urgency or fear of missing out (FOMO), like a flash promo, cash rebate or coupons, loyalty rewards, or event tickets. Other ways to use SMS are for appointment and registration reminders, contests and surveys. Again, it all comes back to your customer journey and personas.


Play by the rules

Canadian-based businesses must adhere to Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), which came into effect in 2014. In a nutshell, it means you need the explicit consent of your leads and customers to send out SMS messages.

You can decide to add an SMS notification opt-in to your current messaging or create a new, automated nurturing SMS workflow within your content strategy. The important thing to remember is that you can only send SMS messages based on the specific content recipients have agreed to receive. If they have only signed up for last-minute deals, by all means, go ahead and send that new discount; however, you shouldn’t send an announcement about a new service you are offering.

When you send out your first message, add disclaimers, such as: “Message and data rates may apply,” and obvious exit options, like “Text STOP to cancel.” It’s better to remain extra-copasetic that face a bunch of angry customers demanding you banish them from your messages.

There are other non-official rules of engagement to consider when you send out SMS messages to your customer base. As a rule of thumb, less is more. Bombarding recipients with SMS messages is highly intrusive—even more so than email—due to people’s proximity to their devices. Each message must offer great value at an opportune time, so be sure to send wisely. Who wants to receive an SMS alert for an appointment at 11 p.m. at night (#truestory)?


Adapt the message to the medium

If you are sending out text messages to busy leads and customers, you won’t want to send them a novel. Size does matter. Be ultra-concise and get straight to the point with the message you are trying to convey.

While people tend to scan their inboxes, imagine how they skim their texts! People are always on their phones or have them nearby; when they receive your text, they may be already browsing or texting someone. They may be at a meeting and try to covertly take a sneak peek at what just flashed on their screens. While the maximum is 160 characters (yes, including spaces), try to remain below that, using link shorteners as much as possible. Remain relevant (aka: ditch the marketing-speak and jargon).

Another means by which you can effectively engage with your clientele is through personalization. Add the person’s first name and/or company name at the very least. If you are sending out a promotion to two distinct personas: say rebate at a store to men and women, you could segment your SMS dispatch to customize the message based on gender:

  • Get 10% off spring dresses
  • Get 10% off short-sleeve dress shirts

Employ as much personalization as possible to amp up the relevancy of your messages. You’ll experience better click-through rates.

SMS marketing is a powerful marketing tool: you are about as close to customers and leads as you can get because you have access to their devices. But with great power comes great responsibility. Use wisely and monitor results to tweak your strategy and messages as necessary based on engagement.

Furthermore, SMS marketing is not a panacea by itself: combine it with mobile-friendly emails, social media, PPC and remarketing initiatives to create a global strategy attuned with how your customers shop for your products and services.