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Marketing with text messages

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Text message marketing is the newest and most popular way of getting the word out! SMS marketing is a marketing method used for sending out text messages to a large number of users in a small amount of time. In today’s world, marketing with text messages involves much more than sending out a text. Text messages have become full-scale marketing solutions that help companies to engage with their customers, track results and enhance customer service.  

How to use text message marketing 

The following is a short, 5 step procedure which both companies and entrepreneurs can follow to get acquainted with text message marketing:  

  1. Create an account on an online SMS marketing platform, such as ExpressText  
  2. Choose a payment option along with a number of keywords and a shortcode 
  3. Upload a list of contacts or manually add contacts to the account
  4. Type in the text message
  5. Press send or schedule the message to be sent later 

ExpressText is one of the most popular online SMS platforms. It works with various popular companies such as McDonald’s, Honda and LAX. The platform’s success owes to the fact that it provides its customers with an efficient, simple and inexpensive service.

SMS Marketing Campaign

SMS marketing is a permission-based tool of marketing. Thus, companies conduct a campaign through which they ask users to subscribe to their marketing campaign. This way, interested users receive frequent updates from brands that they subscribe to, and uninterested customers are rid of the nuisance of finding junk in their inbox. SMS campaigns can be marketed through different mediums such as email, billboards, pamphlets and SMS itself. Shortcodes and keywords are the two main components of SMS marketing.

Shortcode

A short code, as the name suggests, is a 5-6 digit number which is significantly shorter than a regular phone number. It is used to address the messages in MMS and SMS systems. Each company is assigned a dedicated short code from their SMS provider so that customers may associate the shortcode with the company. The idea of shortcodes is to help individuals remember the number they are receiving texts from. For example, a customer potentially interested in a specific brand sees a billboard advertisement. The billboard also includes the shortcode and keyword on which the customers can subscribe to their marketing campaign. It will be easier for the consumer to remember a smaller number (i.e. a shortcode) rather than a longer, 10 digit number. This aids the company in attaining an increased number of subscribers for their SMS campaigns.

Keyword

SMS keywords are placed within the text message. They merely aid the customer in interacting with the company. An SMS marketing text is likely to look like this, ‘Send SUB to 3030 to subscribe to this SMS campaign’. Here, SUB is the keyword and 3030 is the shortcode. A company may acquire one or more keywords depending on the size of the company as well as the size of the audience that it is targetting. A larger corporation such as Samsung is likely to choose multiple keywords as it sells a variety of products targeted towards a large clientele.

Why Text Message Marketing?

Marketing with text messages is inexpensive and increases revenue. The SMS marketing industry is estimated to be worth billions very soon. So what is it about text message marketing that has every consumer and business hyped?

Benefits for Small Businesses 

SMS bridges the gap between businesses and consumers. This plays well for smaller businesses as they do not have ample resources to reach their consumers. Firstly, SMS as a channel has an open rate of 82.1%. This number is significantly higher as compared to any other channel of marketing. Billboards and TV advertisements, for example, cost millions. Thus, only large, well-established companies can afford these. Smaller businesses are restricted by limited funds and resources, which is perhaps the reason why it has always been difficult for firms to enter a new market. SMS is a major factor that contributes to overcoming this problem. The cost of sending out text messages to over 6000 people is roughly only $150! Compared to TV advertisements, which viewers may or may not see, almost all SMSs are likely to be opened.  

Other benefits 

SMS is the first type of marketing that caters to the mass market and yet, is personal.  

Companies can use this to their advantage. Since SMS is used to directly interact with each customer, more and more businesses are moving towards 24-hour customer support. This is because SMS responses are fast, intimate and convenient. Most millennials already have their phones within reach throughout the day, so why not use this productively? According to Neil Patel, we check our phones on an average of 85 times per day! Businesses can use SMS customer support to improve its relations with its clients. Consumers may ask queries, additional information about the business or send in complaints and feedback through SMS.  

Should you use text message marketing?

Due to the increasing popularity of SMS, marketing has become an option for more than just the retail industry.  

Freelancers and Small Organisations 

Perhaps these two parties benefit the most from SMS marketing. It is fairly inexpensive and easy to use. While having a professional marketing team handle the SMS channel is more effective, SMS marketing is accessible to everyone. Help videos on platforms such as ExpressText make it particularly easy to sign up. For entrepreneurs who own startups and struggle to gain a foothold in the market, SMS can help create their space in the market. It is the perfect means of creating brand awareness. Reaching people through a medium that they check multiple times a day will ensure a strong brand identity.  

Large corporations  

If a company can afford to spend money on Above the Line (ATL) advertising, why switch to SMS? In traditional methods of advertising, the more you spent, the more revenue you were likely to generate. However, at the lowest cost, SMS is more effective than any other form of marketing – be it email, phone calls or direct selling. Thus, you are likely to receive text messages from local brands as well as multinational companies.  

Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)  

Text messaging can be used for much more than just advertising. It is now being adopted by organisations outside of the retail industry as well. Non-profit organisations may use SMS as a means of raising donations for charitable causes. Advanced features such as hyperlinks can be used to direct interested donors to details of the cause and making online donations. SMS services are cheap, so it is likely that a small amount invested in text message marketing will lead to a high amount of donations, given the cause is promoted effectively.  

Government and State-owned Organisations 

As mentioned at the start of the article, SMS marketing is no longer limited to just sending out a text. Government agencies have also adopted SMS marketing tools for various purposes. An important example is to issue a warning. This may be of any kind e.g. an earthquake, fire, landslide, flooding, hurricane or any other hazard. Prompt notifications can ensure the safety of citizens, which is the top priority of responsible governments.  

How to use text message marketing effectively

To avail maximum return on investment (ROI), text message marketing needs to be carried out effectively. The following are some ways that organisations and entrepreneurs can improve their SMS campaigns:  

Length of SMS 

While many SMS platforms have introduced a new feature which has increased the character limit of texts, it is best to keep text messages short and to the point. The short length of text messages is a prime reason which accounts for high open rates of SMS as compared to other channels of marketing. Millennials are no longer willing to take out the time to listen to promotional phone calls or go through long emails. Therefore, many of them may not be willing to read longer texts. However, the question arises, what if a customer is looking for more information than that which is provided in the text? Hyperlinks are the perfect solution. A short text does not bore all customers with unnecessary details, yet also provides a link for those who may be looking for more information. In fact, many customers are likely to open hyperlinks. Statistics show that mobile devices account for 53% of paid-ad clicks.  

Time 

Time plays a significant role in two ways. Firstly, for a more professional image, a company must send out texts during working hours i.e. between 8 AM-9 PM. Receiving a text in the middle of the night is something most consumers are likely not to appreciate – unless it’s their favourite fast food chain texting to introduce a midnight deal. Brands and corporations of a more formal nature need to be conscious about the time that they send out their texts or else they risk damaging their reputation. It is best to schedule texts at a specific time, depending upon the nature of the business. 

The second way in which time plays a role is informing customers of an offer or event. The exact time at which a text is sent out can be crucial in determining the turnout of customers. For example, there is a 24-hour flash sale at ZARA. The sale is a flat 50% on in-store items only, but if the brand texts customers on the day of the sale, it is likely that many customers will miss out because the message was delivered too late. The perfect time to send out a text in this situation is exactly one day before. However, timing differs in all situations. Suppose a start-up company has organised a launch event. They do not have the resources to send out printed, 3D invitations to customers. Thus, they resort to SMS. In this case, it is best to send out invitations 3-4 days before the event so that customers may make necessary arrangements. Even if the company sends out invitations too early, it is likely that some customers may even forget about the event by the time it comes! Hence, there should be a certain balance in the timing of sending out promotional text messages. Reminder text messages can also be sent. Reminder notifications from businesses play an important role in creating customer loyalty and image branding.  

It can be concluded that marketing with text messages is very profitable for all kinds of businesses. It has completely changed the marketing industry, bringing forth newer and advanced opportunities. However, it also plays a role in easing the process of market penetration, thus leading to fierce competition between rivals. Businesses need to perform at their fullest as consumers now have many options to choose from. Fortunately, by marketing with text messages effectively and efficiently, they can achieve a strong foothold in the industry. If used effectively, not only does it increase revenue, but it also helps businesses to improve customer relations. This is an integral part of retaining customers, especially in consumer-driven economies.  

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