Most people now own a mobile phone of some kind, and the majority of people generally spend a lot of time looking at those phones. Embracing that high level of phone usage can be a great tool for customer service or marketing.
However, it can be tricky to get right. While effective, if you get SMS marketing wrong, it can feel invasive and end up annoying customers more than it helps them. If you’re going to do it, make sure you know how to get it right.
Here’s how you can make the most of SMS marketing and create engagement rather than irritation.
Before you decide to take on SMS marketing, make sure you do your homework first so you understand the risks and all the potential benefits. Get a proper plan in place so you can use SMS effectively.
1. Set-up a specialist SMS marketing team to manage your campaigns
Large SMS marketing campaigns are a lot of work and effort. To pull the campaign off successfully, you will need a team of professionals with the right skills and know-how to create the right strategy for using text message marketing.
You’ll need different people to fill these roles or a few people who can manage a few different areas. You need someone who is an SMS marketing program expert, a retail expert, a coordinator of on-location signage, a digital designer, a social media expert, a promotions expert, and an ROI analyst.
Ideally, look for people with skills in a few of these areas to keep the team small. These areas need to work smoothly together. SMS campaigns have a tight timeline so your team needs to work closely and effectively together and communicate effectively about their plans. Tools like Drop Cowboy Text Blast can help to make these plans easier to achieve.
2. Know your customer well
Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) app to track the success of the messages that you’re sending out to your customers.
Do some analysis on their purchase history and look at location-based demographics so you can make sure the correct customers are getting messages that are relevant to them.
For example, if you’re a beauty company, there’s no point in sending out a text with an offer for anti-wrinkle cream to be spent in your Dallas branch only to a 19-year-old customer who lives in New York.
Split your clients into well-defined segments so you can properly target your promotions and other messaging. Bulk messages can be sent for sales and promotions that are available to anyone, but other messages should be highly targeted.
3. Write clear messages
You only have 160 characters to get your message across, but if you can do it in fewer characters, this is even more useful. Make sure your messages are clear, concise, and easy to understand.
Avoid using things like abbreviations, emojis, and all caps.
Don’t use open-ended messages. An example of an open-ended message would be a message that advertises a sale without telling the person reading the message when the sale will end.
Give a specific date of when the offer you’re promoting ends to make your customers more likely to take action. They’ll have enough information and incentive to act fast
4. Use call-to-action buttons in your text messages
Calls-to-action increase customer engagement with the messages that you’re sending out. You want your customer to be engaged with you, to value the SMS messages you send out, to interact with them, and then act on them promptly.
Examples of strong calls-to-action could be messages like ‘show this text’, ‘click here’, ‘text to win’, ‘text to vote’, or ‘buy now’.
These messages encourage your customer to take clear action, such as come into the store to show a message to get a discount, click through to access a sale, send in a competition entry, or buy before a limited product sells out.
5. Get the timing of your messages right
SMS should always be about immediacy. Most people open the messages they receive within a few minutes of getting the alert, so this makes people more likely to respond to sales, promotions, and other promotions that you inform them of via text messages that are last-minute and more urgent.
If you have an in-store event on a Friday night, like an exclusive shopping evening, send the SMS invites or reminders on a Friday afternoon. If you run a restaurant, you should promote your evening meal promotions with a text at the end of the workday to encourage people to stay out instead of going home.
Be careful not to send out any of your promotional messages too early in the morning or too late at night as this can feel as though you’re being intrusive and annoying. Always aim to send your messages between 8am and 9pm. This catches people in the hours they’re likely to be checking their phone, but won’t be annoying them when they’re doing things like getting ready for work or trying to put the children to bed.
You can also find out the optimum times of day to send messages to an individual customer by analyzing their past interactions with your messages, using ultra-targeting to really time things as carefully as you can.
SMS marketing can be a very effective tool. Many businesses stay away from using texts, as, without proper thought, messages can put people off. This means that if you can develop a strong strategy for SMS that works, your business will stand out as the only one communicating with your customer in this way.
SMS can create a sense of intimacy and connection with a business and can be a very effective tool to generate a sense of urgency.
The most effective use of SMS marketing is to advertise deals or offers that require the customer to act quickly.
Spend some time developing this kind of strategy, and your new use of SMS could end up driving more web traffic, generating more sales, and encouraging a higher average spend for each customer.
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