Businesses are working endlessly to improve digital marketing, striving to improve SEO, social media followers and gaining an edge over competitors.
But what they don’t realise is the highly underutilised marketing tool which can boost sales greatly – text messaging for business!
Despite a remarkable open rate, not all businesses take advantage of the low cost an high return on investment of text messaging for business:
How to get started
- Set up an account on an SMS platform
- Upload or add contacts into your account
- Choose a monthly plan and make your payment
- Conduct an SMS Campaign
Once you’re all set up, learn how to incorporate SMS effectively into your marketing strategy and make the most out of it:
#1. Know your customer
What’s the key to a successful marketing strategy? Research!
Without knowing who, why, when and how you are targeting customers, you may as well be throwing your money away because you will be spending it in the wrong place.
But why is this so important? Suppose you sell a beauty cream that fights wrinkles and ageing. Without conducting any research, you send the text message to all women that live in areas close to your stores.
But is your text message really effective if a 20-year-old woman with perfectly healthy skin is reading it?
So instead of spending money on customers who don’t need your product, invest it in research.
As a professional in the business industry, I have witnessed how many small and new businesses skip research to save costs – but unfortunately, that is exactly what leads to market failure.
To gain a substantial market share and high returns, hire a good Research & Development team for your business to ensure that you are reaching the right customers at the right time and place.
#2. Offer customer service 24/7
One of the great things about SMS is that it’s fast.
You don’t need an internet connection for sending texts and they go out instantly. So out of all the communication channels – calls, social media and other online platforms – SMS is the fastest.
Moreover, with the help of SMS platforms like ExpressText, your customer representatives can get notifications sent directly to their phones and use mobile apps to converse with customers.
Learn more about how SMS Marketing works and how to set up your digital customer service to cater to customers.
#3. Send offers
The best benefit of SMS is that it offers a one-on-one, personalised experience with your customers.
This is perhaps why it has the best engagement rate. You could post an offer on social media but only those users who are active on the platform are likely to see it.
With SMS, on the other hand, you can ensure that a maximum target audience will receive your message since you’re sending it individually to each recipient. But it doesn’t stop there.
You also need to ensure that the maximum number of customers redeem your offer as well. And how do you do that? By creating a sense of urgency.
Here’s a notification that I just received while writing this:
This is like a timer that will go off any minute.
Your customers don’t know when the offer’s ending but they do know it’s going to be very soon, so they’ll definitely avail it as soon as they get the chance.
Similarly, you can create a sense of urgency via SMS by promoting limited-time offers because let’s face it. As consumers, we are all tempted to take advantage of a sale or an offer that’s running short on time and sounds exquisite.
#4. Phrase it right
To get a good response from your customers, it all just depends on how you phrase it.
With text messages, you can make use of caps lock, exclamation marks and other features to make your texts sound more enticing:
This is a text message from Papa John’s telling customers about their new deal. You can tell they’ve done their research because:
- It makes ample use of whitespace which makes it easier for the viewer to read
- It highlights words like ‘Free’ so that the offer sounds more tempting
- It uses psychological pricing i.e. it promotes the offer at $9.99 instead of $10 so that customers feel like they are paying less
- It uses a call to action by adding a hyperlink that allows customers to order easily
However, there’s one thing that they haven’t hit the bull’s eye on.
The text message creates no sense of urgency.
Perhaps if they added the phrase ‘Hurry up! Offer lasts till midnight’, more customers would be tempted to avail it as soon as possible.
With no clear end date given, customers may get the impression that the offer will last for a while and thus, not be so motivated to avail it.
#4. Send reminders
Do you ever realise that you had an appointment but you missed it because you scheduled it so long ago that you completely forgot about it?
If I don’t set a reminder, this happens with me all the time.
Luckily, businesses do the work for customers by reminding them of their appointments one day prior to the scheduled date:
But the question is, what’s in it for the company?
As a marketer, if you send out appointment reminders you’ll ensure that a maximum amount of customers show up for the appointment; thus, generating revenue.
This is something businesses in various industries can benefit from – including clinics, banks, designers, law firms and salons:
Banks send out reminders and notifications for overdue payments via SMS which is a great way for customers to avoid penalties for overdue and unpaid bills.
This also eliminates the need for having an awkward phone call with your clients. The entire process of SMS communication is simpler, faster and convenient for both parties.
So as a business, not only will you avoid the hassle of patients that don’t show up or clearing late payments, but customers appreciate reminders which instils brand loyalty.
#6. Make maximum use of visuals
Previously, SMS had died down as a marketing channel primarily due to one reason – it’s lack of visuals.
Luckily, there are a number of text messaging platforms that offer MMS Messaging. With MMS, you can attach pictures along with your text message:
Customers can also easily forward MMS messages if their SIM carrier supports the feature.
The only downside to MMS messaging is that it is more expensive than SMS for both businesses and customers as customers may also be charged when they open and receive them.
Moreover, images are heavier than text so it takes longer to send an MMS message.
If you have a small business with limited resources to spend on SMS Marketing, you can always use more whitespace and incorporate various punctuation features to make your text message offers seem tempting to customers.
Read MMS vs SMS to get a deeper insight into the pros and cons of each and decide which is best for your business.
#7. Don’t underestimate the power of timing
When it comes to SMS Marketing, the timing makes all the difference. Take advantage of the immediacy of text messages.
Suppose you want to invite customers to your store launch. You could text them a day in advance and they would make it. Why? Because 90% of SMS are read within the first 3 minutes.
That means almost your entire target audience will have read your text message immediately after reading it.
Email or social media accounts are not opened as frequently, so this is the fastest way to get the message out.
Similarly, when brands post about flash sales on social media that last for just a few hours, I myself miss out on them most of the time.
However, if that very sale is communicated to loyal customers via text, brands can expect a much larger turnout simply because of timely communication!
#8. Integrate Marketing
If you’re conducting an SMS Campaign, you absolutely cannot miss this step. It is the last, final and most important step of your strategy.
Once you have set up all your marketing platforms as a new business i.e. social media, website and SMS, you need to integrate them:
Here are the different ways in which you can integrate a number of platforms with your SMS campaign:
- Suppose you send an offer to customers via text which can avail in stores through a QR code.
Either you can attach an MMS picture of the code, or you could save yourself money by adding a hyperlink to your text message which directs customers to the QR code.
- Banks and other institutions offer convenience to customers through online billing.
When they send out text message reminders, they can add a hyperlink which directs recipients to the web page where they can enter their credit card details and make hassle-free payments.
- A lot of companies are introducing apps as opposed to websites for better customer experience, and they market these apps to loyal customers via SMS.
Again, a hyperlink can be used to direct customers to the App Store or Google Play Services through which they can install the application with just one tap.
- Banks notify customers via text the instant a purchase or deposit has been made to their bank account.
This process is entirely automated and smoothly integrated to ensure that customers are promptly notified about any activity as financial transactions are very sensitive and vulnerable.
You may have noticed that a lot of business messages quoted in this article read ‘Reply with STOP to quit’ i.e. it clearly informs customers how to opt-out of the campaign. SMS is a permission-based marketing strategy and rightly so, as marketers individually target consumers on a personal platform. As a business, you are legally bound to take permission from customers before sending them promotional messages and also instruct and allow them to opt-out of your campaign at any given point in time.
If your business isn’t generating the target sales, you need to incorporate text messaging for business into your strategy. If you already have and you still feel like revenues are down, follow the tips mentioned in this article to get effective results.
In any case, especially if you have a small business, you can benefit greatly from SMS. A single text merely costs between $0.01-$0.05, so you can reach hundreds and thousands of people with just a little investment. By making sure you target the right audience, your marketing efforts can go a long way!