We as individuals are familiar with texting as a means of communication. We use it to remain in contact with our loved ones, our colleagues, friends and all other people in our lives. Since it is such a widely used form of communication all over the world, businesses have realized that they can take advantage of this and use texting as a medium to communicate with consumers on a personal level. After all, what better way to reach customers than through a direct platform like SMS? This article will tell you all you need to know about SMS in the business world!
How Business SMS works
Yes, it is unfortunately not as simple as typing out a text and hitting send. Luckily, it’s not too complicated either. Businesses just need to sign up with SMS platforms so they can send out texts to users on a large scale and that too at a low cost. Moreover, SMS platforms allow businesses access to a variety of features and also set them up with shortcodes and keywords for their text to join campaigns. With the software that platforms work with, businesses can easily track the performance of their campaign, thus helping them to analyse and improvise.
Why use SMS
The number one reason that SMS has grabbed the attention of marketers is its high speed. This speed enables businesses to reach their customers instantly. Thinking of planning a small-scale launch party for your new cafe? Just text the local people about it! People will come at a moment’s notice. Speed not only saves time, but it cuts down on costs as well. If you want to have a casual launch party, you no longer have to design and print out flyers, just a simple text will do. This means you save money on paper, electricity and all the supplies that you would have required to design your poster.
The best part about SMS is its ease of use. Whether you have a smartphone or not, you’ll have SMS! It’s an undemanding app – preinstalled in all phones, requires no internet access and is readily available on your home screen. This availability is what makes it better than other platforms. Take social media and email for instance. Every app has to be downloaded manually and then set up. What’s more, is that without an active internet connection you cannot send or receive any messages or notifications on these apps. Thus, if you want to reach customers fast, SMS should be your go-to!
Since SMS is so direct, it also makes it personal. Did you know that customers WANT businesses to contact them via SMS? Companies use features such as addressing each recipient with his/her name, sending them birthday and holiday greetings and other such stuff to create intimacy between the business and its clientele.
Don’t take my word for how amazing SMS is? Check the internet! The statistics that back up SMS are astounding. Did you know that the open rate for text messaging is 97%? And that too within 90 seconds! Most people say that the first thing they do after waking up is checking their phone and the average millennial receives about 67 texts per day. I could keep going on but the list is very long. Nevertheless, if you don’t already use texting for your marketing strategy, you should definitely start now!
SMS for Small Businesses vs Large businesses
SMS has made the impossible possible now. Before, the biggest corporations in an industry controlled the market. If there was any new entrant, established businesses would bring down product and service prices along with aggressive advertising to ensure that smaller businesses were not able to survive in the market; and unfortunately, this tactic worked and smaller businesses ceased to exist due to a lack of resources. But do you realise that SMS has given small businesses the power to change all that? It’s cheap and it’s fast so it does not take up a lot of resources. If used properly to a business’s advantage, it can be crucial for survival. Suppose there’s a small fast food startup. In the local area, there are other fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC. If they begin offering discounts, they would make it very difficult for the startup to thrive. However, with text messaging, the new restaurant texts all the people in the area to come and try its delicious burgers. It also ads a short link in the text to its Facebook page where it posts mouth-watering pictures of the burgers. And did I mention they are very affordable for students? With such a creative marketing strategy, people will surely want to give the brand a try. Free samples can also be given out as an incentive to boost sales. After this, it all depends on the taste and quality of the food. However, as we’ve established, marketing is the first and essential step that determines the long term survival of the business. If you send SMS, you could cut down extensively on your costs, and yet be effective in marketing. For small businesses that are critically low on funds, this can be a complete game changer.
While small businesses benefit greatly from SMS marketing, so do large businesses. The question is, when they can afford TV advertisements, billboards, celebrity endorsements and everything they need to market their brand, then why use SMS? At present, SMS is the most prevalent method of communication in the US. The speed and intimacy that it provides at the given cost are unmatched by any other form of communication. Thus, it is best suited for marketing purposes.
Key points to remember about SMS
- Always integrate it with other platforms
While SMS be more effective than other platforms, a marketing strategy cannot be built solely on one platform. Each platform has its strengths which gives it an edge over others and makes it an essential part of a marketing strategy. Integrating multiple platforms is optimal for a successful marketing strategy. You could use two-factor authentification via SMS for secure log-ins on social media apps. Similarly, you could use SMS to boost your email campaign and vice versa. You could also integrate SMS with wallet apps to confirm payment, send out notifications and much more. Online retail businesses use SMS to track orders and notify people when orders are shipped. Constant contact with customers makes marketing more engaging, thus leading to retained clients.
- Always ask for permission
Like I mentioned before, SMS Marketing is permission based. Without the consent of customers, you cannot legally send them promotional text messages. If you do so, you could run the risk of being sued! Thus, make sure you conduct an SMS campaign and get customers to opt-in. It can be a bit of a challenge, but giving the right incentives for opting in can be used to sway customers.
- Do not send texts at inappropriate hours
Trust me, customers do not want to receive a real estate text at 4 AM in the morning. There are businesses that are open 24/7 or those that allow their employees flexible working hours. However, that does not mean that a business should send out promotional texts at any hour. It is best to send them during the day within or around working hours (with the exception of some businesses). The best thing to do in this case is to simply schedule messages. It’s easier for employees and they can still work during flexible hours while texts are automatically sent whenever required.
- Always use added features to enhance SMS
Some critics argue that SMS as a platform is not rich enough. However, SMS gateways provide so many added features now that you can use to enhance text message marketing. SMS platforms now offer MMS, short links, 2-way communication, polling and much more to ensure that your customers remain engaged. Suppose you send out a generic text informing your customers of your new hotel. However, if you add a URL directing them to your website, they would perhaps be more likely to keep it in mind when traveling. The website will contain additional information that was not present in the text e.g. contact number, location,
- Keep your texts concise
Perhaps one of the reasons behind the popularity of SMS is that texts are short so they are easy to read. Even though SMS platforms allow a longer character limit now, it is still best to send SMSs that are short and to to the point. This will generate a higher interest because trust me, most people hate reading long paragraphs. Every time I see a long paragraph in my Facebook newsfeed or anywhere on the internet, I just scroll down. Its easier to catch people’s attention with lesser text.
Make the most out of SMS Marketing
SMS itself be an effective platform, but the brains behind the operation make all the difference. Thus, make sure you either have a professional marketing team or at least a creative and innovative marketer. To do this, you need to make sure of some things, including:
- Targetted marketing
To make the most of SMS, you need to ensure that your promotion is targetted to the right people in the right place. Invest in Research & Development (R&D) and find out the target audience for your business. Suppose you own a salon. You will be catering to both genders and your age group will be 15 years and above (focus on the paying customers i.e. parents of younger children). Similarly, you can target people who are interested in hair styling and skin treatment through pay-per-click ads. Once your research is complete, make a list of all your potential clients’ contact numbers. Narrow your list down based on location i.e. people who live nearby or within a certain vicinity. Then, send SMSs to all these people asking them to opt into your campaign. Give them an incentive such as a 20% discount on their first haircut as a reward for subscribing to the campaign. This way, you can ensure that you minimise costs by investing your resources into the right target audience. At the same time, you also increase the effectiveness of your campaign because you are targeting people who are likely to be interested in your business and live close by.
- Retain your customers
Switch to digital content. If SMS is an intimate platform, use it not only to attract new customers but also to retain loyal ones. I have like a billion loyalty cards in my wallet and now I’ve almost lost track of half of them. Yet there is only one business that has issued a digital loyalty card via SMS. More and more businesses need to switch to digital loyalty cards. Not only does it make life easier for customers, but it is also easier for businesses to store everything in one single database. Need to add points to your customers’ cards? Just text them!
Looking for an SMS platform? ExpressText is the answer for you! It’s highly affordable so it’s convenient for smaller businesses. Even so, it’s quality services have attracted larger businesses such as McDonalds and BMW as well. No matter which SMS platform you use, if you haven’t added SMS to your marketing strategy, you need to make it an essential part in order to gain maximum profits.