A Checklist for Your First SMS Marketing Campaign

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This year SMS marketing is predicted to become an even bigger piece of the mobile marketing pie. Businesses of every size will be launching their first ever campaigns. If you’re one of them, take a look at our handy SMS marketing checklist below to help you do it right from the very beginning.

Make sure you can get replies

For marketing messages, you need to give the customer a way to opt-out. Generally, this is done by asking them to reply “STOP” or some other keyword. In order to get these replies, you’ll need to have a virtual mobile number (VMN), keywords rented on a shortcode, or your own shortcode. So before you get too far in the process, verify you’re able to send and receive messages. Plus, you’ll find many other reasons to use the reply feature as your SMS marketing matures.

Define the single purpose of your campaign

Like any marketing campaign, it’s important to know what you want to achieve before you start. It’s especially important with SMS marketing because it’s a very personal form of communication. And you have a very limited space to convey your message. If you try to do too much, or aren’t clear, your customers will unsubscribe. For example, you might be trying to drive online sales. Don’t confuse the message with in-store offerings too. That might sound obvious but I’ve seen it done. But if you’re trying to drive foot traffic, make sure you note the offer is good in-store only. You’ve got many marketing objectives, but for each SMS campaign pick and stick to one at a time.

Choose a specific, exclusive offer

The best results seen in SMS marketing are generated from very specific offers. Something like “Get 10% off your next order online!” works well. “Visit our website for a special discount offer!” doesn’t work as well. In addition, people have high expectations of SMS marketing. They assume they are getting the best, most special deals. So make sure whatever offer you send isn’t something they’ll find on your Facebook page, your website, or anywhere the general public can see and use it. If you aren’t offering value via your SMS marketing, customers will opt-out.

Include all necessary details in your message

Sometimes writing something short is much harder than when you have unlimited space. That’s especially true when you potentially have many important details to include in your message. But you need to make sure all relevant details are included in your message. Is the coupon good only on a certain day or time? Put that in the message: “Get 30% in-store from 10-12 TODAY only!”. Are there a limited number of items available? Make sure you state that in the message: “FREE T-shirt to the 1st 100 customers.”

Make your call to action clear

Just because you only have a room for around 160 characters doesn’t mean you can skip the call to action. Don’t ever assume your customers will automatically know what to do. If you want them to visit your website, give them the link and tell them to click. If you want them to go to your store, make it clear they need to show the message to the clerk at the store. Or maybe they need to click a link to get a coupon code the clerk can scan. Just make sure whatever it is, you explicitly tell them what to do.

Have someone else review the message before you send it

It’s very easy to get the previous two steps wrong when you’re close to a project. What is clear and complete to you, might be confusing to someone else who reads it. So always have someone not related to the specific campaign read your messages to find typos and give you feedback on the clarity and completeness of your message – you can always ask us to take a look. Why do this step? Because it’s much easier than damage control if your message contains an error that costs your company money, makes it ineffective, or worse damages your company reputation.

Choose recipients wisely

When you created your campaign you probably had an idea of the type of person you were marketing to. If possible, segment your SMS list so you send the message only to that group. If you are planning to send to your whole list, make sure the offer will be as relevant as possible to most of the people.  Discount coupons or free shipping have mass appeal. A 20% off footballs coupon will be appreciated by athletes and fans of the sport, maybe not so much by everyone else.

Now that you’re all set with your message and have chosen your recipients, come back for my next blog. I’ll walk you through the process of creating a free fastsms account and everything you need to do to send your first SMS marketing messages.

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