For many startups and small businesses, SMS Marketing is conspicuous by its absence from their marketing strategy, despite remaining one of the most cost effective and most powerful ever forms of marketing. So why is it that small businesses are shying away from this awesome channel and how can they use it to their advantage? Here’s what the experts here at Fastsms have to say.
SMS Marketing – the missing link
One of the single most common reasons that small businesses and startups are failing to cash in on the opportunities offered by SMS Marketing is, quite simply, unfamiliarity. There is a tendency, especially when businesses are in the fledgeling stage and budgets are limited, to stick with the familiar. Mistakenly, owners and managers believe that sticking with what they know is the economically safe route.
There is, of course, a lot of sense in taking the cautious approach to all things financial – provided that you have studied the figures with care. The problem is, knowing what is and isn’t worth investing in requires making educated decisions. Before writing off a channel such as SMS Marketing, it is essential to take the time to consider the cost versus ROI, among other things. If you compare SMS Marketing like for like with other popular channels such as email, social media and traditional advertising, it quickly becomes evident that it is both highly cost effective and generates incredible response rates and ROI.
So how can you make SMS Marketing work for you if you’ve never used it before? Whatever your sector or niche, there are some fundamental rules at the heart of any successful campaign.
1. Stay Legal
As with any activity you perform as a business, ensuring you are compliant with the law is an absolute must. Just as with any other marketing channels, there are rules in place and it is essential that you familiarise yourself with them and keep up to date. In the UK, SMS Marketing as a form of advertising is broadly governed by the rules set out and enforced by the Advertising Standards Agency. For SMS Marketing, businesses should make sure that they understand and follow the rulebook known as the Non-Broadcast Code (CAP Code).
Importantly, SMS Marketing also falls within the scope of the UK Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR), which in particular concerns rules for opting in and out of SMS communications.
In addition, it is very important to consider the implications of the UK Data Protection Act and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in relation to any data you collect or process both for the purposes of running a marketing campaign, as well as any data collected as a result of the campaign.
See our article here for more on PECR and GDPR.
There are also rules on unfair and misleading advertisements for consumers and businesses respectively, breaches of which are enforceable by the local Trading Standards office.
Provided you do the background research and stay honest, it is easy to stay within the law and ensure your SMS Marketing campaign gets off the right start.
2. Short is Sweet
Just as with any other form of marketing, the most effective campaigns are short and to the point, with a clear message and simple call to action that is easy for the customer to follow. However, many people new to SMS marketing have been put off by the mistaken belief that 160 characters are all they have to work with. Whilst there is a limit of 160 characters per individual SMS, this is thankfully not the limit of the entire message – the Fastsms system allows linked messages of up to 456 characters to be sent – meaning that as long as you stay succinct, it is easy to get the message across.
With this in mind, best practice is to make sure that your entire message including your offer, CTA, opt-out option and any other legal requirements fits within 456 characters. We won’t claim that this is easy, but evidence shows it is the best strategy to guarantee maximum ROI. If being succinct is not your strong point, consider getting others involved!
3. It’s all in the timing
More than any other form of marketing, SMS Marketing is successful because it brings with it a sense of the human touch and demands immediate action. With this in mind, it is absolutely crucial that you respect your customers as humans and think about just when you send messages.
An email that arrives at midnight will safely sit in the inbox until morning without a problem. A late night SMS, on the other hand, might cause anything ranging from mild annoyance to real panic and is not likely to do any good for the campaign or indeed your customer relationship as a whole.
Before sending, think about when you would or wouldn’t be happy to receive an SMS from anybody other than friends or family.
4. Make it measurable
As with anything you do as a business, making sure that you have clear measurables for any SMS Marketing campaign.
One of the best ways to achieve this is to design your campaign around the principles of SMART planning – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Using these principles as a basis for your adventures into SMS Marketing will help to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities available and see measurable financial results.
For more on using SMART goals in SMS Marketing, see our article on the topic here.
5. Be unique
Finally, make it your mission to be unique. This works at two levels – firstly, your SMS Marketing should be different from what you’ve got going on in any other channels. After all, sending a customer the exact same offer by SMS as you’ve already sent them by email or social media is not going to encourage them to stay alert to SMS messages from your company. Instead, give them a good reason to never ignore an SMS from your company.
Secondly, every message you send on an SMS Marketing campaign should be unique – unlike with social media, for example, it is generally not considered good practice to repeat the same message twice for the same customer. Stay alert and keep changing your messages for maximum effect.
To talk to an expert about how your small business could benefit from SMS Marketing, contact the team at Fastsms now on 0800 954 5305. We pride ourselves in offering exceptional customer service and will be happy to connect you with an experienced account manager in your sector.