I’m sure you are familiar with marketing on social media apps, LinkedIn, Pinterest and so on. But have you considered SMS text messages?
In a world where every business is competing aggressively on all the same platforms, the key to success is finding a unique platform to market your business through.
Research shows that 58% of consumers would view a business more positively if they offered SMS services.
It’s a highly underutilized channel, which means it’s a great platform to take advantage of.
This guide will tell you all you need to know about getting started with SMS text messages and how to use it effectively for maximum ROI:
If you’re unaware of how business SMS text messages work, this part is for you.
The process is simple.
You need to select the right SMS platform based on your business needs, budgets and personal preference.
Most platforms will get you started within minutes. All it takes is 3 steps:
- Create an account
- Choose a payment plan
- Upload or manually add your contact list
After this, you’re ready to send out mass text messages to your customers for your marketing campaign!
How it works
Before you get into it, SMS text messages have a few rules and regulations that you need to follow as a business entity.
Text messaging is a permission-based marketing channel, which means you cannot legally message consumers without their consent.
(Check out this detailed guide on the laws of SMS text messages and how you can leverage the channel).
Your SMS platform will provide you with a unique phone number (either a shortcode or long code) which will appear on consumers’ screens when they receive a text from you:
Along with that, you’ll receive one or more keywords (depending upon your pricing plan) that consumers will text to your number in order to opt into your campaign.
By doing so, they give their consent for you to send promotional SMS text messages.
This is an example of how customers opt-in via text:
If you require details about your customers, you can always ask them to opt-in via online forms:
A good SMS platform will automatically save information from opt-in forms into its database so that you can use it later.
Pro tip: Offer incentives like discounts and coupons to get more customers to opt-in to your SMS Campaign.
Using SMS effectively
When picking out the right SMS platform for your business, there are some key features that you need in order to conduct an effective SMS Campaign:
One of the biggest marketing trends of 2020 is chatbots, which means auto-replies are the future of customer service.
That makes sense because no business has the capacity to deal with hundreds and thousands of customer queries manually.
A lot of SMS platforms offer the ‘auto-reply’ feature which means if a customer representative is not available, the software will automatically send a pre-written response to the customer.
This will allow you to have completely automated conversations with customers through SMS chatbots; thus, reducing the need for relying on employees.
This eliminates the huge cost of employee training, wages and overheads.
Plus, you can have an active customer service 24/7 which greatly improves customer loyalty.
#2. 2-way messaging
In order to provide customer service via SMS, you’ll need a good platform that offers 2-way messaging.
But don’t be limited to that.
2-way messaging in SMS is a great way to get feedback from customers, and there are two ways to do that:
The first picture (on the right) is the most direct and easiest way to get feedback.
Quantifying customer satisfaction makes feedback short and to the point so your customers don’t have to make much of an effort, which means they will be more willing to respond.
However, if you require more detailed feedback from customers, simply create an online form (similar to the picture on the left) and attach a hyperlink to it in your SMS which customers can click on to be directed to the webpage.
Unfortunately, the catch here is that most of your customers won’t go through the trouble of filling it out an entire form unless they’re given an incentive.
What you can do is send out a text saying, ‘How was your experience? Fill out our online feedback form and get a 10% discount on your next order!’
Adding a hyperlink of the online form within the message will make it easier for customers to access the form.
Always remember, bring convenience to your customers instead of letting them navigate their way through your website.
#3. Birthday Texts
Above in this article, I mentioned that there are two ways you can get customers to opt into your campaign.
Whichever you choose, make sure you get detailed customer information because it will help you build a relationship with your customers later on.
Anyway, you probably receive SMS greetings from different businesses on public holidays and other occasions.
Similarly, platforms also offer the birthday greeting feature:
The birthday feature is used for loyal customers as a way of saying thank you for being with the business on its journey throughout the years.
Plus, using their first name creates a sense of personalization and gets their attention.
Your customers will value and appreciate the gesture; thus, bring in more business.
Your competitors can offer the same product or service as you, which is the case in most industries today, which is exactly what makes customer relationships so important today.
Branding is what will differentiate your company from others.
The value that you provide your customers with is essential in creating long-term sales so don’t skimp on this step.
Remember how I said offering incentives is a great way to get more customers to opt-in?
It’s true, but a lot of customers will also try to take advantage of it.
It’s the same case as with websites where users try different emails to avail multiple discounts.
With text, users will opt-in and then opt-out in order to avail the deal again when they opt-in the second time.
For this, you need a good platform that identifies when the same user tries to opt-in again.
There are also platforms with an age verification feature.
So, for example, you own a nightclub and need to market to users above 18.
Platforms like ExpressText offer age verification which requires customers to certify their age before they can opt-in.
The result? Your business will safely be within legal limits and you’ll find yourself marketing effectively to the right target audience.
For me, this feature is the most important.
Since Day 1, you’ll learn the importance of segmenting your target market.
Even if there are 1000 people that you target for promoting your brand, they can be divided into multiple segments.
Suppose you’re marketing a beauty cream for millennials.
You can segment your target market on the basis of age by dividing it into teenagers and adults.
For teenagers, the most effective strategy is using influencers and celebrities.
This, however, does not work as well on adults.
They’re more likely to listen to logic, so you should create an advertisement on the benefits of your product.
The idea is, segmentation is extremely important because marketing to each individual group requires a different strategy.
The more accurately you segment your target market, the more effective your marketing efforts will be.
When it comes to SMS platforms, a good platform will allow you to segment your contact list into different groups.
This way, you don’t have to manually create lists each time you want to message a separate group of recipients.
Simply create groups so that you can send out texts to different groups with one click.
Visuals and interactive content are also one of the biggest marketing trends this year.
Because our brain processes visuals so much faster than text (60,000 times faster, to be accurate), it’s much more effective in grabbing the attention of consumers.
A lot of critics labeled SMS as a dying marketing channel until the introduction of these advanced features, including MMS.
Multimedia messaging allows you to send images, GIFs or videos to your customers within text messages.
It’s great because you can pack so much information into a small space instead of having to type out a long, monotonous text message:
Plus, especially in the food industry, a tempting dish of food sent just before dinner time can be extremely effective in getting orders.
(I know that would work on me because I was born a foodie).
However, there are a few downsides of MMS.
It’ll cost you a bit more than SMS and it takes longer to send since images process slower than text.
At the end of the day, you can make your decision based on your business needs and budget.
Your marketing efforts are an endless cycle.
You market your brand, analyse results, improve the campaign and start all over again.
A lot of businesses do not understand this concept.
The part where you analyse the performance of your campaign is extremely important because without knowing where you went wrong, you won’t be able to improve.
A good platform will offer you detailed analytics with real-time reporting and graphs to make it easier for you to analyse each campaign’s performance.
Here’s an example to help you understand:
Suppose you notice that sales have been dropping recently.
That’s obviously alarming, so how do you fix it?
You get a detailed report from your SMS platform which shows that your SMS read rate is low.
Now you review your texts and notice that they’re too long with irrelevant information.
It’s time to rephrase them completely and keep them to the point. You can always add hyperlinks for users who are interested in details.
However, sometimes the problem isn’t so obvious.
Your text may be phrased perfectly. It can be exciting, with the right amount of call to action and grab attention.
But what if the timing is wrong? Sending out a text one week before an online sale will be extremely ineffective.
No matter how perfect the text is, your customers will forget about it by the time it comes.
So whether the problem is obvious or not, SMS Campaign analysis is extremely important to help you identify the right problem and come up with a solution.
Text messaging is a great platform to advertise with and it’s extremely easy to use if used properly.
Make sure you do your research so that you sign up with the right SMS platform and take a