Text messages can be a pretty powerful way of communicating with potential customers. They land directly in people’s inbox and offer a clear and direct sales channel. They’re also hugely popular. According to Pew Internet, at least 97% of Americans send texts at least once a day with it being the most widely-used and frequently used app on the modern smartphone. In 2015, Portio Research estimated that globally, 8.3 trillion text messages are sent in one year. That is approximately 16 billion messages per minute flying around the globe.
Along with being commonly used, SMS also has a much higher success rate than e-mail, which is another popular marketing strategy. Mobile Marketing Watch found that 98% of text messages are opened, while emails received only a 20% open rate. Likewise, Velocify found that only 6% of emails get responded to, while text messages receive a 45% response rate.
As well as getting opened and replied to more efficiently, speed is also important. For a text message, CTIA found that people often respond within 90 seconds, whereas to emails the average person takes 90 minutes.
So how can you launch a successful SMS campaign for your business?
1. Know Your Audience
The first thing to do before you put any campaign in place is to do your market research. In order to comply with data regulations, the phone numbers (a.k.a. people) that you are contacting will need to have signed up and agreed to be contacted. At the point of getting this information from them, it is a good idea if possible to harvest as much further information as possible, including their name, age, gender and location.
This will allow you to make your messages more focused on their exact demographic and will also mean you can segment the lists of numbers to create tailored messages for each sector. It is then important to find out as much as you can about your target audience – some of it will be about making assumptions from what you can find. What are the current trends? What are they likely to be hearing about in the news? What other technology or brands will they be using? If you can make messages feel relevant to them, they’ll get the sense that you understand them.
2. Build a Marketing List
Now you know your audience and their interests, put together the list of numbers you want to target. Have you picked out a core segment – such as those under 30 years of age? Or perhaps you’ve only targeted women as the product you’re pushing will appeal to them most? Create a clear and easy-to-understand list that shows what messages each number has received. It’s important to not send conflicting or duplicate messages to people so organisation is key.
3. Set Your Goal
In order to be effective, it’s important to have a goal in place for the campaign. Decide what it is that you want to achieve and make a note of it. Do you want to improve customer engagement? Drive more sales? Raise awareness of price changes or a new offer?
It’s also helpful to set a measurable time frame in which you want to do this. If you can, put together data from a ‘normal’ section of working time for the same length so you can create comparable data. This will help you analyse how successful your campaign was.
4. Decide Your Frequency
When putting together your campaign, you need to decide how frequently you want to communicate with your audience. It is important to ensure your message gets heard but you don’t want to come across too pushy and insistent. Text messages have a high open rate as it is, so it’s not like e-mail where you need to keep spamming in order to get heard above the masses. Avoid over texting.
One way to think about it is how often would that person naturally think about your product. If it is something they do every few months, such as having a haircut, then messaging them every other day would become frustrating. They get the message; they hear you loud and clear. But they’re not going to be in the position to act on it regularly anytime soon.
If it is for a car wash, which they may do fortnightly or monthly, then more regular reminders may encourage them to use your service. If it’s something like having their carpets professionally cleaned, which they may do once a year at most, sending a bi-annual message may be all it takes. It’s about staying on their radar without becoming too annoying.
5. Craft Your Message
Next is to decide what your message is going to be and personalise it. You only have people’s attention for a limited amount of time and they’re going to read your message very quickly. Keep it short and sweet! Establish what the incentives are early on and add any URLs if needed – with smartphones being so popular, this is a great way to drive people directly to your website. From here, they can immediately make their orders.
Getting the timing right is key. During the working day, chances are higher that people are busy. Unless your SMS relates directly to their job, you’re most likely better off waiting until the evening when they’re sat down with more available time. If you can, look at your website analytics to establish what time people are usually researching your business or your products. Are there key trends in terms of buying times? Saturdays perform badly for e-mail marketing, but for SMS they can be productive. If you’re sending across different countries, keep in mind that time zones will change. Whatever timings you choose, try not to become a spammer (in most cases send no more than 1 message to each recipient per week – though there are exceptions!).
What is the incentive driving the text? Think back to the goal of your campaign and make sure you’ve added a call-to-action and, if needed, a URL to your product (use a shortlink from a service like bitly.com). Try not to keep your message open-ended but give it an end time that will spur action, i.e. offer on until the end of today/the week, etc. According to Connect Mogul, 90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes; make it feel immediate and give it context.
9. Consistency is King
Be consistent in your messages and the tone you take. It is also important to keep the frequency at a consistent level so it doesn’t fluctuate too heavily between receiving lots of messages and then none. Of course, when you are pushing a certain product or offer you may want to increase the contact to a degree, but just keep it appropriate to the usual amount you’d be in touch with customers – e.g. if you usually send a bi-annual message, suddenly sending a text every other day for a week might seem too pushy.
10. Analyse Your Campaign
At the end of your SMS campaign, it is important that you analyse it. Look to measure the response to your campaign based on the market research and information you put together at the very beginning. This will help you to ascertain how effectively you spent your marketing budget, how useful the process was for driving sales or raising awareness, and where you can improve next time for even better results.
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