Use All The Data You Can When Personalising Your SMS Messages

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It’s said over and over that SMS is one of the most personal forms of communications today. That’s mainly because people guard their mobile numbers and only give them out to those they think worthy of them. So anyone who has opted into your SMS messaging has indeed invited you into their personal world.

But that isn’t the same as personalising your messaging. You could still send generic, unrelated messages to them. Messages obviously meant for everyone on your list, not just them. While that may be just fine (depending on what you’re messaging them about), you could be doing much better if you personalise the messages.

How do marketers personalise now?

A study reported on in eMarketer showed that many marketers aren’t taking advantage of personalisation. And those that do only use the most basic types of data like name, email address, and demographics.

But there is a lot of other data out there, and more data you can discover about your customers. Only about 8% of marketers use psychographics (knowing what your target market loves and hates and their core values).  Lifestyle details and family details are used 15% and 13% respectively.

The point is that not many marketers are using more detailed information for personalisation. The eMarketer article points out that is because merging all the data is really hard to do. And it is. Is it worth the effort to dig deeper into the data than simple demographics?

Human resources, CRM, data mining, assessment center and social media concept - woman looking for employee represented by icon.

Does it make a difference?

Studies over the years have shown that personalising emails result in an increase in opens of around 40%. Personalising a webpage content has increased page views by hundreds of percent.

Forty-six percent of consumers say they would be more likely to buy from a company that sent them personalised content. If those consumers join a loyalty program, 66% of them expect to have a personalised experience when interacting with that company or brand.

One can argue that in SMS messaging these trends are all the more relevant. You’re already contacting someone in a personal fashion. They expect some level of personal experience.

Getting the data

Customising messages with names isn’t hard to do with today’s technology. It’s been done in email for a very long time (and SMS too). Is it hard to get more detailed information from your list?


People share all sorts of personal information on their social profiles. There are many ways you can mine that data, though usually it requires permission to do so in an automated way (think Facebook apps that require permission to see a user’s profile and perhaps their posts). If you’re able to connect and get social information, then you’ll have a ton of data to sort through. You’ll find out if your customers are single, what music they like, where they go on holiday, what causes they support, and more. Chances are you’ll have more data than you may need.

Word Cloud "Big Data"

But many people push back on this type of data gathering by not using or accepting Facebook apps (and other social media equivalents) due to privacy concerns.

A recent study showed 40% of people still won’t give up their email address unless they have a “guaranteed offer”. So imagine their reaction when you start asking to see their personal profiles!

But you can get information in other non-intrusive ways.

Let users set up a profile on your company website. Give them the option of the type of information they would like to receive. They feel they are in control of the data they give you, and what messages they’ll receive. Their choices will tell you a lot about them without having to worry about third-party apps or privacy issues (like when Facebook changes its terms – again!).

You could also send them surveys asking for feedback. The responses they give can also tell you a lot about them, if you set the survey up correctly. You can even do this using SMS and keywords for responses.

But this blog isn’t about all the ways you can get data to personalise your SMS messages. It really is about the fact that you should be personalising them, with more than just a name. Target your offers based on their likes and dislikes. Include their lifestyle details when deciding which messages get sent to which group. Use their past purchasing behaviour or website history too.

Setting up a personalisation plan will take some effort. But according to eMarketer, not many organisations are doing it well right now. So if you can, you’ll have an early advantage in what will eventually become a ‘hyper-personalised’ world.

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