What is SMS Marketing?

what is sms marketing

Some businesses have less to spend and yet, want to earn more. The solution? SMS Marketing. What is SMS Marketing? It’s an affordable fast and effective solution for businesses. SMS stands for Short Message Service which is a marketing technique used to send promotional messages to a large number of users instantly. These can include general information, product updates, discount offers and much more. To receive promotional text messages, customers are required to opt into an automated SMS system by texting an initial shortcode.

Setting up an account

To initiate the process of SMS texting, companies and freelancers are required to sign up with an SMS platform. To sign up, users have to make an account, and all account holders are required to upload or manually add contacts to which they wish to send promotional messages. The process of signing up also includes selecting a payment option and after that, users are good to go!

SMS Campaigns

Since SMS is permission-based, users are required to conduct SMS Campaigns in order to gain the consent of customers. But what is an SMS Campaign? An SMS Campaign consists of two main components: a shortcode and a keyword. A shortcode, as the name suggests, is a 5-6 digit number through which the users send their customers’ text messages. But why not use a regular, 10 digit long code that customers are familiar with? The main reason behind this is that shortcodes are easier to memorise so customers are less likely to forget the number while opting into the campaign. A keyword, on the other hand, is a single word or a phrase that customers text to the designated short code. It is written in the body of the text. An example of an SMS campaign message is ‘Send BURGER to 8787 to subscribe to this SMS Campaign’. In this example, BURGER is the keyword whereas 8787 is the shortcode. A company or individual sends this text to a large number of users through an SMS platform and customers who are interested can follow the instructions given in the text message in order to subscribe. Businesses are legally and ethically obliged (in most countries including the US) to give clear instructions to customers on how to unsubscribe. They are also legally obliged to gain the consent of customers before sending any kind of promotional text message, and SMS platforms aid them in doing so.

Top SMS Platforms

There are a number of top SMS platforms in the US. For those who enjoy the perfect balance between a variety of features, cost-effective pricing, and convenience of using their account – ExpressText is the perfect choice. The platform is extremely easy to use and users can access their accounts not only through the Web but also through the platform’s application on their phones!

Features

SMS Platforms like ExpressText offer a variety of features for their users. These include:

2-way communication

One of the biggest reasons behind the success and popularity of SMS is the ability to provide better communication between businesses and customers. ExpressText allows customers to reply to the promotional text messages which they receive from businesses. This is useful because they can respond with queries, feedback or complaints. Communicating from a device that is easily accessible to individuals at all times proves to be highly convenient for customers; thus, many businesses have shifted to 24-hour customer support via SMS. Moreover, platforms like ExpressText offer a text message marketing application which is accessible to users from their phones. Business employees who work as customer representatives can download the application on their phones and respond to customer messages at ease.

Scheduled messages

This is a feature that makes life immensely easy for users. It doesn’t tie them down to their office PCs; instead, they can simply schedule messages to be sent out at a specific time and their work is done. This automation also reduces human error, for example, a busy or distracted employee who forgets to send out a promotional message informing customers about a sale which, in turn, leads to a major drop in customer turnout. Messages can be scheduled to be sent out during office hours even if an employee comes in late. Sending messages outside of working hours can be considered unprofessional so businesses need to put extra thought into the timings of messages as it makes a crucial difference to a marketing strategy.

Templates

Many platforms including ExpressText offer preselected message templates. This saves even more time as users can simply select a template and press send. Templates are useful for various occasions e.g. billing reminders, customer birthdays, follow up messages, anniversary greetings, customer service messages and much more. A user can also create a new, customized template and save it on an ExpressText account. This way, they can use unique as well as standard templates for sending out messages.

Web Widget

SMS is not the only way to get users to subscribe to an SMS Campaign. Emails can be used to invite customers to subscribe to an SMS campaign. Similarly, customers can be asked to sign a form when they website a company’s website in order to subscribe. But the question is, where is all this data collected? Web Widget is a tool that is coded by web developers and linked to an account. Each time a customer fills out their information on a form, their details are sent to the user’s account. This way, users can easily add customer numbers into their contact list and send them promotional text messages.

Use Case

Online businesses

Small and online businesses benefit the most from SMS Marketing. Not only do they decrease the communication gap between buyers and sellers, but increased communication also builds trust between businesses and customers. This trust is crucial for online businesses where payment is made first and products and services are delivered later. SMS can help to greatly reduce this ambiguity and put customers at ease. How so? With frequent updates and notifications to the customer. Suppose a customer places an online order with a nationwide company. The company sends out a text confirming payment and days for delivery. Confirmation is the first step in putting the customer at ease. Secondly, what the company can do is allow the customers to track their order via SMS. This can either be through third-party tracking (courier services such as FedEx) or through the company itself. Each order is assigned a tracking ID which customers can send to a designated shortcode so as to receive an update on their order. Companies who go the extra mile to involve this step in the buying process greatly improve trust and customer retention. Lastly, online businesses can send out a text a day before or on the day of the product’s delivery so that payment (if any) can be made timely and the order is received without any delays or uncertainty. If, suppose, this text is not sent out, the customer may have forgotten about delivery and is not home to receive the order. This means extra time and effort for the company which could have been avoided by one single text as customers can make the necessary arrangements beforehand.

Security & Safety

What is one of the main advantages of SMS? The ability to communicate within seconds! Its speed is what drives users to use it as a channel of communication. Business can use this feature to their advantage to use it for safety and security purposes. Private security firms such as DynCorp can use SMS to immediately notify their customers every time the security alarm is disabled or activated. Similarly, car tracking companies can send out emergency text alerts to notify their customers if their car is in an unusual location – just to ensure that the car is in the hands of the owner. In situations that require more urgency, a call is the most immediate way to contact customers. However, in situations that require less urgency but also immediacy – SMS is the way to go. Did you know that the average person looks at their phone 150 times a day? This can effectively prevent troublesome situations from occurring as the customer is informed timely. Suppose a customer receives a text from their bank informing them that their online banking account was just logged in. However, the customer made no access to their account. They can either block their account immediately or change their account password to prevent any hacker from accessing their personal information and funds. If customers were to receive this information via email, with its open rate of 20% as compared to the 98% of SMS, it is likely that they would not check it in time, and thus not be able to act on it and prevent it.

SMS & feedback

When customers think of marketing, they think of it simply as the promotion of products and services. However, for businesses, it is much more than that. Customer feedback is as important to the marketing process as is the process itself. But how do companies collect feedback? Very few people are willing to stop at the grocery store amidst their busy routine to fill out a survey for a company. Luckily, everything is becoming digitalized and millennials are more prone to respond to a survey online than on paper. Companies can use hyperlinks within text messages to ask customers to fill out a survey. These hyperlinks direct customers to the company’s website where they can fill out the survey or form which is then stored within a company’s database. The most effective timing for sending out a survey is immediately after a customer has availed the products/services of the company. The customer is likely to remember and willing to point out the positive as well as negative aspects of their buying experience. With a large number of individual responses from customers, companies can review feedback and improve their services accordingly.

Affordability

SMS Marketing is one of the most affordable marketing options out there. That’s one of the reasons why everybody is using it – multinationals, startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and the list goes on. In the US, the cost of one text ranges between $0.01-$0.05 only. It’s not hard to do the math for the cost of mass texting – it costs only a couple hundred dollars to send out thousands of messages! Platforms such as ExpressText offer a variety of payment options for their users. Each user can select an option based upon the size of their target audience (number of texts they require) as well as the number of keywords required. ExpressText also offers a Pay as you go option for its users so that those who do not use the platform’s services frequently are only required to pay when they use the services. The edge that this platform has over others is that it provides an affordable sms texting solution. It offers a larger number of texts at the same cost as compared to other platforms.

In conclusion, the question of What is SMS Marketing has been thoroughly explained. It is clearly demonstrated that SMS is an essential part of a business’s marketing strategy – be it any kind of business. However, to render SMS effective it is important to use it properly e.g. the timing of sending out text messages is crucial. Similarly, an enticing offer is more appealing than a standard, monotonous message. Thus, a professional marketing team goes hand in hand in creating high returns for a company via SMS.

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