8 Tips for Creating an Engaged Audience for SMS Marketing

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build an audience for sms marketing

What’s the one thing that every marketing campaign needs? An audience!

Many channels of communication – particularly advertising – involve sending sales messages out as strategically as possible, then hoping something “sticks”. Even email campaigns can be rather “hit and miss”.

SMS is far more of an exact communications science. Working with an SMS provider, you can get your succinct and high impact messages right into the hands of whoever you want to influence. SMS messaging offers you near enough a 100% chance of being having your text read, according to Mobile Marketing Watch.

However, you could have the most earth-shattering offer available, neatly wrapped in a word-perfect 160-character SMS message, but it all goes pear shaped if you have no audience.

There are very strict rules on ensuring you have permission to communicate with your audience via text messaging. This means you can’t simply buy in or randomly collect mobile number data.

So, how do you create a database of subscribers? Natural curiosity and the British passion for “bargains” may be strong enough reasons for some to offer up their mobile numbers. However, to get substantial numbers of customers – or potential customers – to opt-in to your SMS campaigns you will need planning and care.

Build trust

People don’t give out their mobile numbers without being sure that a mutually beneficial relationship has been established.

In creating a database of numbers for your SMS marketing campaign, you need to provide reassurances that the information you will send them will be relevant to them and that the frequency will be within acceptable limits.

The minute you break that trust by sending out inappropriate or ill-planned texts, your audience will opt back out again.

A great way to show your subscribers that they have made a wise choice is to send out an automated welcome when they opt-in. Something along the lines of “Welcome to Kitchen Queen offers. To receive a 25% discount voucher reply “yes”. Standard network charges apply. For T&Cs visit our website.”

Keep it personal

Another way to draw in and then hold on to subscribers is to make your initial offer and any resulting SMS messages as individual as possible.

The initial offer could be “Yorkshire residents can get discounts at our three regional centres by texting YORKS to 87007”.

If you start sending out generic and “one-size-fits-all” type text messages, you may find that your opt-out rates go up. Use database fields such as location and previous purchases to make text messages sound individual.

Agree on the boundaries

To establish the relationship and build trust in the first place, it’s often good to set out some clear boundaries, such as a commitment to only send out one SMS message per week.

This means that whatever you promise when they “sign up” needs to be exactly what you deliver. Text messages that are too frequent or apparently random can be a turn-off.

Another important sign of “honesty” is to not build a subscription list from people who thought it was a one time deal. If your initial offer to secure opt-ins implies that they are subscribing for one single promotion they will unimpressed to receive further communications.

Make sure no overzealous member of the marketing team over steps what’s been agreed. This is when integrating your SMS messaging into a structured and sustained marketing plan will ensure quality control is maintained.

Compelling reasons

The wording of your initial offer must be clear and compelling. It must state or imply that by agreeing to provide their mobile number, they will have some form of exclusive bonus or information that is important to them.

For example, it could be that you are inviting them to opt-in to receive discounts or special offers before other customers receive that information.

One time use voucher codes that are sent out via an SMS message can be very effective. For example, “show this voucher for 25% off main meals before 5/7/17 then opt-in for more deals”.

Unless you are a public-sector organisation promoting an important health or social campaign, simply inviting opt-in for “updates” is not going to get that database growing. If you are a commercial business, then opt-in will come for convincing people that you are giving them a special deal of some kind.

Build advocates

Despite the rapid advance of technology and the wonders of the internet, the most powerful marketing tool available is still “word of mouth” or its modern day equivalent “sharing” digital information.

The best way to entice new recipients for your SMS marketing messages is to encourage existing happy customers to recommend your product or service.

Offers and discounts for “referring a friend” can be effective if they offer authentic benefit.

Make it easy

Whatever you are selling – or if you are creating an SMS database more for engagement than marketing purposes – the key to success is making your opt-in system as obvious and easy as possible.

Every single communication you send out should include an invitation to opt-in. For example, your literature, website and social media posts could include: “Text COUNTMEIN to 87007 for special offers and privileges”.

Be aware of the rules

If you are new to SMS marketing and its huge potential then make sure you work with an SMS provider in the UK who knows the many complex rules and regulations that affect this sector.

Staying compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act is no easy matter for amateurs and enthusiastic beginners. A professional and experienced text message provider can guide you through the pitfalls, as well as the opportunities.

Keep them keen

If your offer is compelling enough, the easy bit is getting subscribers to opt-in to receiving SMS messages. The hardest task is then keeping them happy and engaged.

As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, frequency and individualised content matters a great deal.

You also need to avoid neglecting your subscribers for long periods. If you go quiet then pop back up “out of the blue” your audience may have forgotten the reasons they subscribed to you in the first place and opt back out.

This is another key reason why it’s important to create a strategic plan for SMS marketing, incorporating regular, well-constructed communications.

Get more SMS marketing ideas here.

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