Utilising SMS services for marketing purposes is hardly a new phenomenon, although with a little bit of creativity you can ensure your messages stand out from your competitors and start to drive those conversions.
Perhaps one of the main benefits of SMS marketing is that you can cover all bases including contact management, sending and receiving with one simple platform. In an age where we’re all connected via mobile, you can rest assured that your messages are going to reach their intended audience, regardless of where they are in the world. It’s a cost effective means of communicating with potential and existing customers and has a high response rate when compared to other traditional means of marketing.
However, before you begin to get your thinking cap on to develop the perfect SMS marketing campaign, it’s a good idea to get the basics covered to ensure that your campaign is going to drive those conversions, create brand loyalty and build lasting customer/brand relationships.
Although the message you want to convey will differ dependent on your industry, there are five simple steps every business should take when developing a business text messaging campaign. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the essentials:
1. Find A Suitable Text Message Provider
There are numerous companies out there which offer SMS services, so be prepared to find one which offers an SMS solution suited to your needs at a price which is agreeable. Some providers will even allow you to trial their services before you commit to a purchase. Don’t be afraid to shop around to find the best deal – we’ve put together a short SMS Buyers Guide to help you ask the hard questions of any provider under your consideration.
2. Ensure Your Data Is Of High Quality
Before getting anywhere close to sending a business SMS campaign, ensure your data is in good condition. If mobile numbers are incorrect, badly formatted or out of date you risk wasting your money, skewing your results or at worst inconveniencing people who didn’t opt in to receive your marketing (which can cause other problems). By cleansing your data you can ensure that you’re targeting hot leads who are much more likely to respond to your message. There are several ways to cleanse data, and depending on how much time you have, how large your customer base is and how much you want to spend, your choices will vary – get in touch for some free tailored advice.
Good data needn’t just be a money-saving exercise either, when we talk about the ‘quality’ of your data we’re referring to more than just your customer’s phone number – we’re talking about matching it up to their name, account number, interests and even buying habits. Good quality data can dramatically increase the response rate of your campaign as it allows you to add the personal touch to your correspondence. Studies confirm that prospects are much more likely to respond to a text message which has been personally addressed to them in a friendly, colloquial manner; think starting your message with “Hi Dave” – it immediately comes across as a genuine means of communication and loses the ‘spam’ factor associated with nameless, soulless campaigns.
If you want to go one step further, you can even customise the time and date to send your SMS to specific customers or segment/group of customers. A good SMS provider in the UK should be able to provide this. In order to do this, you’ll need to take a look at your analytics and the purchase patterns of your customers – if you have a certain section of customers who are likely to make a purchase or otherwise avail of your services on a Monday evening, it might be a good idea to schedule their text message to arrive at 4’o clock on a Monday afternoon. Of course, you’ll have to amend segmentation times if you find things aren’t working for you – in this respect, SMS marketing is incredibly flexible.
3. Make An Effort To Integrate Your Marketing Across All Channels
Consider that a text message provides you with relatively limited space – use it to sum up your key offer or product, but link to a landing page with more information specific to that offering. This makes it much easier to convey a successful message in just 160 characters (or 456 with our linked messages). If you already use social media to market your services, chances are that you’re already taking this approach with Twitter. The same principles apply when sending an online SMS to your customer base. Reel them in with a short, sharp, attractive message that leaves them wanting to know more, and provide a link to reel them in. Here, it’s best practice to shorten the URL – there’s a multitude of free services which offer this, and some will even offer analytics (we usually recommend Bitly.com)
If you’re running a traditional direct mail marketing campaign, you can also utilise SMS to boost response rates. On average, direct mail elicits a response of about 4%. By sending a text message to your customers a day or two after your direct mail has arrived, you can guarantee that this will increase, particularly if you include a money-off code, free delivery option or similar offer exclusively in your SMS. Alternatively, include a keyword on your marketing materials (e.g. “Text JOIN to 87007”) so people can directly subscribe to your SMS list for further offers.
4. Make Your SMS Communication a Two-Way Street
When done right, SMS marketing is incredibly personal – you’re delivering a message to a potential prospect’s personal handset; it’s personally addressed to them and inviting them to check out a tailored, relevant offer at a time when they most need it. Given the friendly, relaxed and informal attitude most of us take to texting these days, you should consider allowing your prospects to reply? This allows you to create a sales dialogue where you can cross-sell, upsell or generally persuade the customer to commit to a purchase. Most SMS providers will allow you to engage in two-way conversations with your customers via a virtual mobile number, so be sure to have the budget and processes in place for engaging with your customers.
5. Monitor The Effectiveness Of Your Texts
After you’ve sent your first campaign, it makes sense to try to identify what worked and what didn’t in order to refine and improve your campaigns in the future. As a general rule, all marketers should understand that not all customers are the same – by identifying the customers that responded well to your text marketing, you can then begin to weed out the ones you’re unlikely to get a positive response from. This ends up saving time and money, and allows you to better tailor your texts.
As always, for some free advice on your next SMS marketing campaign just give us a shout via phone, email or live chat.