SMS marketing has come a long way since its introduction to mainstream marketing back in the early 2000’s. As well as dramatic changes in technology, there have also been sweeping changes to the laws governing this powerful and popular form of marketing. But all this aside, the fundamental rules for successful campaigns remain largely unchanged. So just what are the big do’s and dont’s of SMS marketing? Here are our six top tips.
1. Don’t do text talk
There was a time when an SMS message was limited to 160 characters. This meant that text talk such as CU L8R, TXT BK, OMG was one of the only ways of getting the message across. Whilst it may have evolved for a very good reason, it is also almost exclusively associated with the teen demographic.
As far as marketing is concerned, unless your entire brand is based on teen lifestyle, sounding like a teenager will definitely not make you seem cooler, hipper or more in the know. It might, in fact, have just the opposite effect. Such slang changes on an almost daily basis, and is also highly contextual. Unless you have a real grip on things and are able to stay right up to date, you could easily end up with an awkward or embarrassing result.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the likelihood is that the majority of people who will spend money and bring you ROI are most likely those earning it – most of whom will be old enough not to be using ‘txt tlk’.
Luckily, SMS messaging now supports messages of up to 456 characters, so there is much less need to abbreviate. The evolution of smartphones with touch keypads with predictive text has also made typing a breeze. For the SMS marketer, cloud-based platforms such as that offered by Fastsms mean that everything can be done online on a standard computer keyboard.
Even if you are planning to communicate in real time with your customers (which – in the right circumstances – can play a powerful role in your marketing mix), today’s technology means you still have time to craft a carefully written, meaningful message written in the vocabulary of your audience.
2. It’s all in the timing
Whilst with email there is no direct relationship between the message being sent and when it is opened by the receiver, the same is not true for SMS messages. Research indicates that a huge majority of people open a text message within three minutes of receiving it – regardless of what they are doing at the time.
There is something about SMS messages that make them inherently personal and seemingly urgent at the same time – which makes them incredibly powerful if used correctly and risky if not.
Pay careful attention to the time and day that your customers are most likely to have a positive response to your SMS messages. If you’re running a campaign to promote a holiday destination, think Friday lunchtime, for example. A retail message might be better served in the afternoon, evening or during the weekend.
There is no reason you should limit your messages to typical business hours, but nighttime hours are a definite no as your SMS is more likely to result in a panic than a purchase and could really damage your image and reputation (as well as potentially landing you in legal difficulties.
So, choose your timing carefully and watch your conversions soar.
3. Make it easy to act
SMS marketing, like any other marketing strategy, should ensure that it is easy for the customer to act on your message and take advantage of whatever it is you have to offer with a minimum of effort.
Any barriers that make it difficult for a customer to claim their free product, bonus offer, discount etc will cause the majority to abandon their transaction with you almost immediately. You should never be seen as hard to do business with.
If you are offering a discount in the form of a promotional code – a popular, tried and tested format for SMS marketing – make sure the voucher code is as simple as possible to remember – ideally a meaningful word followed by a two digit value, for example ‘TENT20’ for a 20% discount on a tent during a summer promotion.
4. Unify your promotions
With 456 characters to play with and plenty of link shortening tools available online, it is now easier than ever to unify your promotions by tying together SMS, online and print marketing. For example, a text message can contain a shortened URL that allows users to click through to a specific landing page within their device, whilst a printed advert might include an SMS message CTA – ideally served using a shortcode and keyword.
Using the technology available to its true potential means you can create unified campaigns that ultimately mean your potential customers simply can’t get away with ignoring your message.
5. It’s all about the action
Ultimately, your SMS marketing campaign has one single objective – to make the customer take action. With this in mind, you need to build your campaign around action words.
For those who haven’t kept up to date on their knowledge of grammar, action words are nothing more than verbs. Beginning a sentence with a verb makes for more lively prose and cuts to the chase faster. Verbs can often save precious character space by replacing a whole bunch of unnecessary words. They also inspire action on the part of the customer. Ideally, use infinitives for maximum effect.
Consider these action words to start your message with: buy, sell, jump, run, save, spend, purchase, stop.
Whatever action you want your customers to take, invest some time in preparing the message and try to begin it by using the action word.
6. Use “Sentence Case”
We’ve already talked about the importance of avoiding text talk, but before we finish this article let’s return to the topic of writing style and take a moment to discuss case. The use of uppercase in a text message is widely recognised as shouting – something you really OUGHT TO AVOID unless you want people to see you as angry, desperate or attention seeking.
There are some exceptions, however. A perfectly acceptable use of uppercase is for a voucher code as described previously. It can also be used for keywords – ‘Text BOOK to 87007’, and sometimes for key information about the nature of a campaign such as SALE.
Fastsms is a leader in bulk business SMS Messaging solutions. We offer some of the lowest-priced SMS bundles in the UK and the possibility to send SMS messages by email, through our versatile cloud-based platform or even with API integration into many leading CRM platforms.
Whatever the nature of your business, our team will be able to advise you on how to make the most of SMS Messaging. To learn more, give us a call now on 0800 954 5305.