SMS Marketing - Benefits and Best Practices
While email marketing has long been the darling of marketers in nearly every industry, Short Message Service (SMS) has quickly made a name for itself on the marketing scene.
SMS marketing is a quickly growing marketing channel that companies of all sizes and industries should consider. Unfortunately, although SMS has become more common as technology has advanced, many marketers still fail to follow SMS marketing best practices. This puts them at risk of making costly strategic errors and breaking compliance laws.
Companies in virtually every industry now use SMS marketing. Of course, the way they employ this tool varies by industry type and purpose, but there is an option for everyone!
Today, we’ll discuss the benefits of SMS marketing and best practices to follow to ensure successful campaigns.
Table of Contents
- SMS Marketing Benefits
- 8 Best Practices
SMS Marketing Benefits
SMS marketing is only as powerful as the marketing team wielding it. As such, you should appropriately integrate SMS marketing into an overall marketing strategy.
In a time when customers view brands almost as people or entities themselves, it’s critical that your SMS marketing brand voice matches the voice and tone you use across your other marketing channels.
For example, if you’re a wealth management firm that prefers professionalism in your communications, your next SMS marketing campaign likely isn’t the place to get flippant and make jokes.
However, let’s say your brand is a fun-loving, cheeky microbrewery. Chances are, your team already weaves personality and humor into your other marketing communications, so it makes sense to flow that into your SMS marketing campaign.
SMS marketing is not meant to replace your other marketing efforts but to augment them. So what can you do with SMS that you otherwise couldn’t?
SMS Makes Customers Lives Easier
According to eMarketer.com, customers view appointment reminders (68%), status updates on deliveries or shipments (30%), and booking services (20%) as the most valuable types of SMS texts.
For instance, service industries — from dental offices to hair salons — utilize SMS to help customers and patients schedule, reschedule, and cancel appointments. They may also send follow-up texts to ask for a customer’s experience rating, offer friend and family referral codes, and send discounts for future services.
Because customers are getting these reminders and updates sent directly to their phones via text, they are often more helpful than those buried in an email inbox.
SMS Boasts High Engagement Rates
SMS’s 98% open rate is almost unheard of in marketing. As a result, SMS is a tremendous opportunity to build on your other marketing efforts and get more eyeballs on your message.
For example, let’s say you sent an email letting a customer know they were overdue for an annual appointment or hadn’t visited in a while. While the customer might have seen the email, chances are they got distracted, forgot, or didn’t prioritize the message.
By sending a complimentary text message, you’re giving the customer a polite reminder to take action in a way that allows them to do so directly from their phone.
SMS Offers Instant Deliverability
Email marketing services also offer instant deliverability. But are customers really checking their email every few minutes? Do they have email notifications turned on from brands? The answer is, likely, no.
However, with SMS marketing, customers are bound to see the message immediately. 97% of Americans have cell phones, and most use them to text. Even if they don’t see your text when it first pops up, customers will see it as they check back through their messages when responding to family and friends.
This gives your brand a tremendous opportunity to leverage timely content and customer offers. For example, you might offer a two-day holiday discount or an immediate follow-up to an appointment to ensure a high-touch experience.
See: Ecommerce SMS Templates to Generate More Business
8 SMS Marketing Best Practices
All businesses should follow SMS best practices -- some related to Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance, and others that will help you get better results. Here are the top best practices to implement for your company.
1. Get Written Permission
Not only are there serious legal implications to sending unsolicited SMS texts to your customers, but you also risk completely alienating them. Like all marketing tools, you should use SMS to provide value and help your customers accomplish their goals. Sending them content they didn’t ask for is a sure way to turn them off from your brand.
2. Make it Personalized
The more personalized your messages are, the higher the engagement you’ll receive. Personalization includes much more than simply dropping in a customer’s first name. You might also send messages specific to the service they received or offers tailored to their preferences.
For instance, if someone received a haircut at your salon, you might send a follow-up text asking them to rate their experience and then offer a discounted highlight service on their next visit.
Brands can build rapport and relationships with customers while still targeting them with messaging that immediately drives sales and improves their bottom line. It’s a win-win for brands and customers alike.
3. Sign Off Every Time
Don’t expect that a customer has your phone number saved in their phone. Chances are, you’re still showing up as a string of numbers in their “from” field, so be sure to sign off with the name of your business in every text.
For instance, you might share your message and add “- YourBusinessName” at the end of the text. It’s as simple as that.
4. Share an Offer
SMS marketing is a great way to provide value to your customers — and what better way than through a personalized offer? The more customers feel like they are saving money by receiving your texts, the more they will value hearing from you.
Retail and service businesses leverage SMS to send discount and referral codes, as well as sales notices and other promotions. So naturally, subscribers love receiving such offers, especially if the messaging is personalized and the code is limited to subscribers.
Try offering a 20% off code for a product or service or even a referral code that allows both the referrer and referee to get a discount.
5. Allow for Easy Opt-Outs
Make sure to remove barriers for customers who want to opt out of your SMS marketing campaign. For example, you could include a note at the bottom of your text message saying, “Text STOP if you would no longer like to receive our messages.”
Making this process easy is essential to maintaining trust with your customers and may encourage some to return in the future.
6. Choose Your Timing Wisely
One of the greatest benefits of SMS marketing is the flexibility you have in timing your messages. Therefore, make sure to tailor the timing of your SMS marketing to your ideal customer’s preferences.
For instance, if you are a coffee shop primarily serving early-rising professionals, a morning text is likely appropriate. However, those same customers might balk at a message sent later in the evening – especially if it included a discount they could no longer use.
If your business is a high-end restaurant or bar, send your message later in the day, closer to when you open. As mentioned above, timing is crucial when sending appointment reminders and follow-ups.
7. Keep it Short
Make sure your marketing texts are appropriately concise. Use the Goldilocks rule: Not too short, not too long – just right. Get your information across using just enough words to convey your meaning and no more. Making SMS messages too long runs the risk of turning customers off and losing them forever.
8. Invite Dialogue
If your SMS marketing platform allows for two-way communication, make sure your customers know it! Invite dialogue by asking questions at the end of your communications. For example, if you send a new offer, you might follow it up with, “Does this interest you?” or “Do you have any questions?”
Be sure to also include easy responses to appointment reminders, such as offering the ability to type “Y,” “N,” or “R” to confirm, cancel, or reschedule an appointment.
Reach Your Customers with Texting Base
Observing best practices is critical to the success of your SMS marketing campaign. However, choosing a platform that builds on these best practices is vital to ensure a smooth experience in launching your SMS marketing campaign.
Texting Base is an excellent solution to get your SMS marketing off the ground, with a streamlined transition for you and your marketing team. Our SMS marketing platform provides simple SMS and MMS solutions for businesses. It’s user-friendly and ideal for any business, including in-store and online retail, radio stations, schools, restaurants, real estate, enterprises, nonprofits and many more.
Get in touch with Texting Base today for a two-week free trial.