Did you know that on average smartphone users check their phone over 90 times a day? With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why SMS Marketing is so effective when it comes to engagements and results.
SMS’s response rate is eight times higher than email. Also, 58% of users say that texting is the fastest way to reach them. This channel also increases the number of visitors to your physical location, as SMS messages are read immediately on the go. On average, customers take 90 seconds to respond to a text message. No other channel achieves these metrics. 📱
However, many companies refrain from using SMS in their marketing, either because they don’t know how to do it or because they think that it’s too expensive. Nonetheless, if you use Platformly, you’ll find that not only is SMS Marketing easy to set up, it is cheap as well. All you need to do is connect your Twilio or Nexmo account to Platformly and create your message using text, links, and emojis.
However, do bear in mind that SMS is a very personal channel. You need to be careful and ensure that you are not being too intrusive, by sending messages too often. You also need to implement a safe method through which users can join your contact list via SMS. We’ll go through the best practices in this guide.
Why Choose SMS Marketing?
There are a few reasons why SMS Marketing is better for your business than other channels, while still being cost-effective.
First of all, the engagement with SMS messages is great. Response rates can go up as high as 45%, whereas response rates for email lie at a very disappointing 6%.
The click-through rate for SMS is also very superior to other channels. You can easily get a CTR of 19% on SMS campaigns, in comparison to 2.43% on email marketing. If you compare it to other channels, SMS’ click-through rate is always higher, no matter if you’re talking about Google Ads (2%), Facebook (0.98%), or Instagram (0.52%).
As previously mentioned, engagement with SMS is also a lot faster, since the average response time for an SMS is just 90 seconds – that’s less than two minutes! It makes this channel quite efficient if your message is time-sensitive as well since you are more likely to get a quicker answer to an SMS than through an email.
Another advantage of SMS Marketing is that, unlike email, there is only one inbox. With SMS, if you have the recipient number, they’re going to get your message. However, on email, you can land in the Promotions tab (for Gmail users), or worse, the feared Spam box. 📥
Once you land in spam, it’s very difficult to recover. This is a deliverability issue – and you can check our email deliverability guide for more information. What’s worse, it doesn’t take much for you to not land in the expected inbox. If 0.2% of your subscribers mark your message as spam, you could end up in spam for the whole contact list. SMS does not have this issue: even if a user decides to block your number, it is not going to affect other SMSs that you sent out or how your SMS campaign performs.
Also, SMS allows you to engage with your users wherever they are. Nowadays, 63% of visits to websites are via mobile rather than on a desktop. Users are increasingly mobile and there’s no use in trying to fight it: rather seize the opportunity to get in touch with customers and prospects quickly and easily. You can also customize your message using specific fields, just like you would do with email.
Main SMS Marketing Concepts
In order to understand how SMS Marketing works, you need to know the basics. We’ll explain the core concepts of text message marketing in this section.
As you know, SMS are short text messages sent directly to a phone number. SMS Marketing is the practice of sending messages to a large number of recipients in order to share news, coupon codes, useful information about the business, and so on.
In order for you to be able to send messages to your customers or prospects, they need to opt-in. This can be done using a keyword. 🔑
In SMS Marketing, a keyword is a word or phrase users need to send in order to opt-in for future communication. This keyword should be highly related to your business, but still simple so users won’t forget it. That word should be unique for each list: if let’s say, you have a fashion store, you could have a few keywords like MENSWEAR, KIDS, and so on – each keyword allows users to opt-in for a specific messaging list.
Using keywords helps you customize each broadcast for its target audience. This makes sure that someone who opted in to receive news for kids’ fashion (as an example) won’t get promotions about products they’re not interested in like menswear. 👔
A shortcode represents the number that users have to send the keyword to. This means that in order to opt-in for a specific SMS campaign, there is a short number (usually composed of 4 to 5 digits in a combination that is easy to remember) that the user needs to message to, in order to opt-in.
Of course, the combination of the shortcode and keyword has to be completely unique.
You can show your shortcode and keyword on your website, making it easy for users to opt-in. If you use ads on other channels, add this information whenever possible.
Remember SMS messages are quite personal – you’re reaching out to your users at any time, on the device they use the most. So, it’s important to make it easy to opt-in and to opt-out as well.
An auto-reply is a message that is sent to users automatically, usually when they opt-in. This text message should give the subscriber relevant information such as the code to opt-out, the kind of messages they’ll receive, and the maximum frequency of the texts.
This message puts your subscribers at ease: by establishing what they can expect from you, it makes subscribers more unlikely to opt-out, as long as you do exactly as you say in the auto-reply.
This message is crucial for the success of your SMS campaign and it also makes sure that you have your users’ trust. When it comes to such a close channel like SMS, you can’t cheat or try to be sneaky. Even though your deliverability will not be affected, there’s no use in having an SMS campaign if your users are opting out in droves.
Text Message Spam
Spam is usually associated with email, however, it can also happen in SMS Marketing. There is strict legislation in place to help prevent these instances of spam. Therefore compliance with the laws against SMS spam is necessary for a successful SMS campaign. ✉️
In order to avoid penalizations, we recommend using an opt-in method with no room for mistakes. By using a keyword and a shortcode, you are making sure that only those that have consented and are interested in your business will receive your messages. Unless you have express permission from the recipient, do not message them.
A Few Stats About SMS Marketing
Of course, as it is with all marketing channels, unless you measure your campaign performance, you’re never going to know if you should invest further or not. In this section, we’ll show you a few metrics that might help you decide.
CTR, short for click-through rate, calculates the number of times the link on your message has been clicked, divided by the number of messages sent. You might know this metric from email marketing.
The average CTR for SMS campaigns is 19%. If you compare it to email, there’s a huge difference: the average CTR for email is 2.5%.
The average opt-out rate (calculated by dividing the number of opt-outs by the total number of recipients) for SMS is quite low, at 2.5% compared to 4% for email. Not so bad for such a personal channel, right?
On another note, the engagement rate on SMS is six to eight times higher than for email.
These stats show why you should embrace SMS in your marketing strategy. But why should your business use SMS Marketing? We’ll explore that in the next section.
How Your Business Can Benefit From SMS Marketing
There are many ways in which your business can benefit from SMS campaigns. Many industries use text message marketing with great success, and there are several occasions that warrant an SMS campaign for better results. We will give you a few examples below.
An example of a promotional deal is something like “20% off all iPhones this weekend”. First, you know your users will read this message, because everyone likes discounts so it will capture their interest.
We recommend that you define a specific time frame for the promotion (the earlier, the better) to instill a fear of missing out and promote fast decision-making. When you give users too much time to think, they might forget about your deal. 💰
Sending an SMS message allows you to make sure your users will know when and how to act. The sense of urgency will do the rest.
SMS coupons are also used often in text message marketing. The advantage of a coupon is that it’s exclusive: if done right, only those users that receive your SMS campaigns will have access to this deal.
Coupons are a great way to boost online purchases and in-store visits. They also have a longer deadline so you can make sure users will have time to redeem the code. When creating a coupon, make sure the text message is appealing and the offer is clear.
Text-to-win competitions are a great way to grow your contact list. They work in the following way:
- Advertise a keyword and a shortcode to participate;
- Users send the keyword from their mobile phone to the shortcode to enter the competition;
- The winner is selected at random and gets a prize or reward. It could be something like one of your products or a subscription to your service;
- In return, you get a long list of contacts that are interested in what you have to sell. 🪙
This is another instance in which you want to promote impulse buying. Flash sales are meant to get rid of extra stock at low prices, and that’s always a good opportunity to reach out to your users.
It’s common to use expressions like “all stock must go” or “last chance”. Once again, you’re compounding on fear of missing out, while making money from stock that would otherwise go to waste.
If your business is established and you need a way to ensure repeat customers, a loyalty program is a great idea. But how do these work?
All your user has to do is to opt-in for your loyalty program either by using a keyword and a shortcode or by providing their phone number on a purchase. Of course, in the second case, you need to have a field in which users can opt-in or opt-out of the loyalty program. As we mentioned before, messaging without consent is a big no-no in SMS Marketing.
Once your user has joined your loyalty program, you can send them exclusive offers that are targeted especially at repeat customers. By making your customers feel special, you instill in them a sense of loyalty that will make them come back to buy again.
Notifications & Alerts
Notifications and alerts let your customers know when your store opens and closes, when there is an event in your physical or online store, notifications about new products, or when specific products go back in stock.
This might not seem that important, however, your customers are interested in these details. These text messages will increase your walk-in customers at your brick-and-mortar store, and they will also make sure customers are up to date with important information for your business. By keeping your customers informed, you make it easier for them to stay loyal to your brand. 🎫
These are just a few ways in which you can use SMS Marketing to increase your ROI and overall customer satisfaction. SMS Marketing is a great marketing tool – if used correctly. In the next section, we’ll go through the steps necessary to create your first SMS campaign.
Building A Campaign
Choosing A Keyword
The first step towards building a successful SMS campaign is picking the right keyword. Here are some tips on how to go about doing this.
First of all, make your keyword easy to remember. If you sell shoes, make it “SHOES”, if you sell soap make it “SOAP”. The easier it is to remember, the more effective your keyword will be in attracting users.
This should go without saying, but don’t get too clever – even if it’s an inside joke for your customers. Ease of use is important. Also, don’t use special characters as they might get confusing for users.
As a final recommendation, your keyword should be composed of one word only. Make it as simple as possible. ✅
Structuring A Text Message
When drafting your text message, there are a few steps you should follow. First of all, remember that a common SMS is limited to 160 characters. If your message is longer, it will be converted into an MMS – and even though most mobile phones receive MMS, it’s not very good for accessibility.
Be as short and concise as possible. If your message does not fit the 160 character limit, there’s still some editing to be done. Sometimes, all it takes is something like “[Brand] Clearance Sale” followed by a link to your landing page. 🌐
When it comes to language, use simple language; speak to your users as they speak about you. The easier it is to understand the offer and the benefit it brings to recipients, the better. Avoid text message lingo unless strictly necessary. Include a clear CTA (call to action) so your users will know what is expected of them.
Creating An Auto-Reply
Your auto-reply sets the tone for all your SMS campaigns. There are a few things you need to make sure are included:
- Confirmation of subscription. When the user messages your shortcode to opt-in, the auto-reply must confirm their subscription to your text message campaign. It needs to be perfectly clear that they’re opting in for your SMS content and that they should expect to receive messages from you.
- Show the value of your offer. If users can expect to receive promo codes, coupons, and flash sales, tell them so in the auto-reply. This implies that by receiving your SMS campaigns, they’ll get something in return. If there is nothing in it for your recipients, why would they bother?
- Tell your users about your messaging frequency. This needs to be clear from the start. The frequency of your message will depend on a variety of things such as your content, your audience, and your product type.. No matter if you’re aiming for one text a week or five texts a week, your users should know what to expect. Defining this from the beginning reassures your recipients.
- Include opt-out instructions. Your auto-reply has to tell users how to unsubscribe from your SMS campaign. Of course, you don’t want users to leave, but if they are no longer interested and have no way of opting out, that’s going to cause an extremely bad impression. Your auto-reply definitely needs to include instructions for opting out, for example, an opt out keyword and its shortcode.
Growing Your List
There are many ways of growing your contact list for SMS Marketing, however, all of them boil down to sharing your keyword and your shortcode with prospects and customers. 🌱 You can achieve this by using:
- Social media
- Business cards
- Direct mail
- Offline media channels such as radio or newspapers
- Customer receipts
- Email signatures for your employees
- Blog posts
- Website banners
- and so on.
As you can see there are several channels you can use to promote your SMS campaign. So, how do you announce it properly? We’ll explain what you need to include in your ads for your SMS Marketing sequence.
First of all, you need to include a description of your program. Is it a loyalty program for previous customers? Is it a channel to get special offers for all recipients? This needs to be clear in your ad. Users need to know what they’re signing up for.
Help articles or FAQs regarding your SMS campaign should be easy to access. Include a keyword such as “HELP” or “FAQ” that provides your users with more information about your text messages, how your program works, and so on. Guidance about opting in for your SMS Marketing should be easy to access – we recommend having a proper landing page for this kind of information. 🗒️
Once again, even before your users opt in, it’s important to tell them about your messaging frequency. To avoid users complaining about frequency, always establish a number of messages per month and make it very clear in your ad.
Opt out instructions should also be available wherever you publicize your SMS campaign. If the user opts in and then decides that they’re actually not interested, it should be easy for them to leave.
No matter what your SMS campaign is about, it is easy to advertise. Users carry their mobile phone at all times, so it’s easy for them to join your program whenever they see the advertising. SMS is a very effective channel to upgrade your marketing strategy. Make the best out of it!
Sending Your Campaign
Now, the moment has come. It’s time to send your first SMS campaign! How should you go about it? This is our checklist for the last moments before scheduling a send.
- Does your campaign create value for your users? What are you offering in exchange for your recipients’ phone numbers? If you don’t have a clear answer to this question, we suggest planning further before you launch your campaign.
- Are you going to respect the frequency you planned? You must make sure you don’t message your recipients more often than planned. If you are going to break the rules, make sure it’s a hell of a good deal. Otherwise, stick to the frequency you advertised.
- Is your deal very clear from the beginning? After sending the auto-reply, the first thing your users should see is a coupon code, a flash sale, or any other kind of deal that is going to benefit your recipient. You’ve got to grab the attention of your audience as soon as possible.
- Is your call to action clear? Your message should make it very obvious which action you want readers to take. If you want users to buy, say so; if you want them to share the news in their social circle, say so! Your CTA needs to be as straightforward as possible.
- Does your message or offer create a sense of urgency? This is not exactly mandatory, but since the nature of SMS Marketing is to imply urgency, it is preferable that you give your readers a short time frame to act. If you have a sale coming up over the weekend, message your customers on Thursday. Don’t give them a lot of time to think: you want to capitalize on impulse purchases, so you want to generate a quick response.
Finally, about writing your SMS. Some easy to use templates are:
- “Show this text for 50% off any entree with the purchase of one at full price! Deal expires May 24.”
- “Show this text for a free ice cream cone with the purchase of 2 others. Expires May 25.”
- “Show this text for $5 off the salad bar when you purchase a featured lunch special. Expires May 28.”
- and so on.
Mainly, when writing your message, you don’t need to be original. All you have to do is make sure it is clear what the offer is, and the action the reader needs to take.
As it is common with all advertising channels, measuring results is essential. Unless you know what’s working and what’s not, there is no way to improve. There are a few metrics we recommend using to evaluate your campaign performance:
- Click-through rate: this is highly relevant to find out if your SMS campaign is working out. Are readers clicking on your link? If not, you need to find out why.
- Opt-out rate: what is the percentage of users opting out when considering the size of your registered audience? If a lot of users are opting out, there is definitely something wrong with your campaign. Maybe you’re messaging them too often, or maybe the offers you are sending are not enticing enough. Test different strategies to decrease your opt out rate.
- Delivery receipts: most SMS Marketing services allow you to check how many messages were delivered out of the messages sent. This is important because it shows if your contacts are real and accurate. There’s no use in having 1000 contacts on your list if half of them are fake. The same goes for larger lists.
- Cost per conversion: divide your total sending costs by the number of conversions achieved. This will tell you how much does it cost to get one conversion – a metric that allows you to calculate your costs and evaluate the success of your SMS campaign.
Now that you know how to measure results for SMS Marketing, we’ll give you a few tips that can help you optimize your text message campaigns in another way – that is, the right time to send your SMS campaign.
When Should You Send Your SMS Campaign
Depending on the type of message (whether it is transactional, informative, promotional and so on), you might be able to get better results by using different sending schedules. It also depends on your audience, but there are some time frames that experts agree on for the best performance of your SMS campaign. According to the type of message you need to send, these time frames might vary.
General Marketing Messages
These are your typical campaign messages: sales, coupons, loyalty program deals, opening hours, and other general information. 🛍️ Your recipients might love your brand, but they’re not always receptive to your general marketing messages. So, you need to make sure that you’re not messaging them too early or too late in the day.
We recommend sending this kind of message between 10:30 and 11:30 am, or between 02:30 pm and 03:30 pm. These time frames are in the middle of the morning and beginning of the afternoon, times in which recipients are usually available to quickly interact with your messages.
We would avoid sending promotional messages outside of this schedule, but it also depends on your business. As an example, if you have a restaurant, it wouldn’t be considered rude to message close to lunch or dinner time since your users might be looking for a place to grab a bite.
Weekend Flash Sales
If you have a physical location or an eCommerce store, weekend sales are great to attract customers. However, when it comes to timing, it’s a tricky situation: you can’t message your customers too close to the beginning of your sale, or they might have other plans; you also can’t message them too early, or they’ll forget.
Therefore, according to experts, you should send your weekend sales SMS on Thursday. This gives your recipients time to plan a visit to your store or eCommerce shop, and at the same time is close enough so that they will not forget.
If you message your recipients on Thursday, it’s a good idea to send a reminder Saturday morning. Of course, two messages are enough; don’t overdo it. ⚡
When you have an event planned, be it seasonal or not, it’s essential to use SMS to spread the news. If no one knows about your event, you wasted time and money planning it. Since the idea behind events is to bring in a large number of customers to your business, we recommend sending the first message a month before. This will generate interest in your event.
Two weeks before the event, send another reminder to make sure your customers are aware. Again, send another reminder three days before the event so that your customers can plan their trip to your store. And, finally, the day before the event, the last reminder. This last message is a final push for your customers to remember your event and make sure they participate.
How Many Messages Should I Send?
It is difficult to determine exactly how many SMS messages you should be sending. It depends on the type of message (that we explained above), your audience, and your product.
If you have, let’s say, a coffee shop, you can message your customers with coupon codes quite frequently. After all, those who drink coffee do so every day.
However, for most cases, we recommend messaging no more than ten times a month. As we mentioned, this might vary, as long as you make sure that every message you send is relevant for your audience. 💻
Don’t just message because you can; message your users because you have something of value to offer.
SMS Marketing Automation
If you follow our blog, you know Platformly is a marketing automation tool. However, you might not be aware that you can add text messages to your automations.
Our marketing automation allows you to create SMS campaigns that respond to your user behavior.
As mentioned previously, you need to connect a Twilio or Nexmo account to your Platformly service in order to send SMS. Once done, you can create SMS automations that reduce the need for manual input, lowering your costs and increasing efficiency.
Automation does not replace human interaction. It improves business/customer relationships by allowing marketing and sales teams to focus their time on the tasks that matter the most.
You can use Platformly to automate replies according to the answers your users are texting, to create loyalty programs or a dedicated campaign, and update the messages to be sent every time you need to.
Other examples of SMS messages you can send using this integration:
- When a new customer signs up, you can automate a welcome message.
- Create segments and tags that allow you to send the right message to the right user group.
- Mix and match SMS and email to create a seamless user experience across channels.
- Generate leads and nurture them by creating a drip SMS campaign.
Now that you have all the elements necessary to create your text message campaign, we’ll go through a very important detail: laws and regulations. 📟
Laws & Regulations
When it comes to advertising law, most marketers feel uneasy. However, in the case of SMS, there is no need for that. You just need to follow three simple rules we’ll list now.
Before you send any messages, you need to make sure your users have given you express consent. This consent can be achieved by submitting a form, sending the keyword to the shortcode, contact with your business, or even by verbal agreement. Of course, we don’t recommend using verbal agreement too often, as it tends to cause issues due to being difficult to prove.
Your messages need to make clear where they are coming from. This can be achieved by using the business name as the sender or by mentioning the brand name at the beginning of the message. 📜
It’s absolutely essential that your recipient knows who is messaging them. No matter where you are sending this message to, users need to know who you are.
No matter what kind of message you are sending, you absolutely need to add an option to opt-out. This option can be offered via a keyword, such as “EXIT” or “QUIT”. The opt-out option should be at the end of every message you send, and, first and foremost, in your auto-reply.
If you prefer, you can also add a link to each message. This link will take users to a landing page that offers unsubscription of all messages, or just messages with specific content (such as stopping marketing messages only).
As you see, SMS Marketing is a channel that offers you high performance at a reasonable price. Each business can benefit from text message marketing if done correctly – and this guide is a source you can use to map out your SMS campaign.
It is essential that you follow the rules such as laws and regulations, as ignoring them can get you in trouble with the law in your country.
And as a last note, remember to respect your recipients. Think about how you would react if you got that specific message. If it’s not relevant enough to warrant an SMS, don’t send it.
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