One of the most anticipated seasonal spectacles for both consumers and marketers is undoubtedly Black Friday. This year, the shopping event takes place on Friday, November 25, 2022, and is followed by Cyber Monday, where retailers and e-Commerce companies viciously compete for the limited attention of countless customers around the world.
The best marketing campaigns are definitely the ones that set you apart from your competition, and text message marketing might just be one of the most understated ways to win during this noisy Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) period where companies spending hundreds of thousands (if not millions) per day have an unfair advantage.
We sat down with Daniel Selde, an industry leader in marketing for SaaS and e-Commerce companies, to help our clients and underdog marketers alike with some of the best tips for BFCM marketing using text messaging. Based on our long-term partner’s expertise gathered from an over decade-long career and our advice as a leading SMS service provider, here’s what you can do.
1. Start planning your SMS marketing campaigns in advance
Brands and marketers go wild during Black Friday as everyone wants a piece of the same pie. Hence, it’s important to start strategising months in advance. “When everybody goes right, consider going left,” is what marketing pro Daniel suggests. If you want to stand out, you should utilise SMS as a channel.
However, before starting with SMS marketing make sure you have done all the necessary groundwork. Start gathering SMS subscribers at least three months in advance. In the case of Black Friday, you should have already started in August. You should also start testing your SMS marketing two to four weeks before to get your customers used to that channel of communication.
When building your customer segmentation base, it is important to keep that list updated over time. Try adding unengaged customers to your SMS customer base, for example, and keep gathering leads and their consent for your next SMS campaigns.
“When everybody goes right, consider going left.” – Daniel Selde
“You should just have [lead generation campaigns] running like the entire year because there’s the Black Friday period, then there’s the Christmas sale and the general sale. So just for lead generation, you should have a campaign running all time, actually. That would be the way to do it,” explains Daniel.
To ensure SMS opt-in from your customers, you can always include an additional consent box in your product flows. “Companies should be a little bit creative when it comes to the consent box because when you start the buying phase on the website, you can click ‘add email’ and stuff like that but in that consent box, you should also have SMS now,” according to the Danish CMO.
Tips for marketers:
- Start building marketing lists 3 months in advance
- Begin testing SMS marketing 2-4 weeks before
- Keep a lead generation campaign running for the next holiday season
2. Time your SMS marketing campaigns manually
Timing cannot be underestimated. Most CRM systems allow you to send out campaigns hourly but when sending out manually you can set your messages apart from your competition by setting the send-out time to 09:05 am instead of 09:00 am, for example. This allows your message to be the last one received or in other words the most recent one on your customers’ devices.
“Sometimes your email marketing is not bad, but customers maybe don't see them or they end up in spam or maybe people have a tendency of not opening emails or maybe they are not using that email anymore, but you can be certain that they check that SMS,” says Daniel. Above all, what’s important is to time your messaging according to your customers’ schedules.
“You have to think like, in the morning people are travelling to work, during the first hour they’re not doing anything but people are people, you know, so they just check their phone and you want to be there at that exact moment. And then in the evening again, when the kids were put to sleep, that was the time on the phone again. So we really want to hit those two spaces in a day,” explains Daniel.
Adding SMS to your customer journey really helps customize your 360 marketing strategy and multi-channel mix because it makes your customers feel very unique. According to Daniel, two send-outs per day can do the trick during Black Friday, with an email in the morning, for example, and an SMS notification in the evening to emphasise the urgency.
Tips for marketers:
- Time your messages manually to send them out during specific minutes
- Know your customers’ schedule to optimise send-out times
- Add SMS to your multi-channel mix for better results
3. Personalise your SMS marketing content
Personalisation is key when it comes to effective marketing, regardless of the channel you use. However, research shows that 72% of customers only engage with marketing messages customized to their interests and with a 160-character limit within SMS, personalisation really does take precedence. Keep your message short and highly relevant to the data you have.
Always try and make your customer feel unique. Using your customer’s first name isn’t the only way you can personalise your messages. “You have a 10-minute window to make [your customer] buy otherwise their attention will be taken over by a competitor, so utilise a lot of urgency,” recommends Daniel.
Prior to launching your Black Friday campaign, you may want to provide early access for your VIP customers with limited offers based on their interests. An SMS message can provide urgency, but it’s up to you to provide a sense of exclusivity and personalisation. For example, include them in an offer that’s exclusive for the first 300 customers only to make them act now.
Other more elaborate personalisations can be adopted with multi-channel enhancement, including landing pages with your customers’ names. When sending SMS messages to various countries, it’s also worth considering localising your messages into local languages. The more relevant and personalised the experience, the more chances you have of winning during BFCM.
Tips for marketers:
- Collect customer data to provide relevant offers
- Use your customer’s first name to personalise your message
- Tap into urgency and exclusivity for more engagement
4. Measure your marketing campaigns and optimise
The costs of Google and Facebook advertising are extremely high and tend to go through the roof during BFCM. However, SMS prices remain fairly stable throughout the Black Friday Cyber Monday period, yet another reason to include it as part of your marketing mix for a good return on marketing investment (ROMI).
As a marketer, you may feel like your marketing channels are performing well right now but if you would like to go above and beyond, you can add a little twist to your marketing campaign by using SMS as well. “You get so many emails, you can’t even manage to open them but if you receive an SMS, it makes you stand out,” explains Daniel.
SMS is also a great way to add power to your underperforming email marketing. For example, you can choose to send SMS messages as reminders to customers who don’t open your emails. Receiving an SMS notification regarding an important email adds urgency to your message and with a whopping 98% open rate, you’ll get your message across one way or another.
Based on Daniel’s experience with campaigns during Black Friday, SMS was the channel with the best engagement rate. Astonishingly, “the click-through rate was around 60% which is pretty high,” he remarked. Branded links also performed exceptionally well, where domains were customised to include keywords such as “Black Friday” to increase the CTR and deliverability.
Tips for marketers:
- Keep an eye on key metrics such as delivery rate (DR) and click-through rate (CTR)
- Try new things such as branded links to increase engagement
- Utilise SMS to empower your email marketing
5. Work closely with your SMS provider
Messente has many years of experience with SMS campaigns during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so from the perspective of a service provider, we also want to share some useful tips when planning your campaigns together with your messaging partner. It’s always paramount to maintain a close collaboration but especially so during one of the busiest times of the year.
Be prepared for delays due to high volumes and ask your SMS service provider about their network throughput to know exactly how many SMS messages per second they can actually send. Based on that information alone, you may want to reconsider how you send out your bulk SMS campaigns.
Always communicate with your business messaging provider beforehand, and indicate how you plan to tackle Black Friday. For example, you may want to deliver SMS messages to multiple countries and have certain industry-specific limitations. Your SMS provider should always be able to assist you and offer you the tailor-made solutions you require.
It also doesn’t hurt to use other messaging channels if you’re using an Omnichannel API. However, you should start testing alternative messaging channels in advance to see what works and what doesn’t. Furthermore, getting the contact base for over-the-top channels like Viber and Whatsapp also takes time, so start early.
Last but not least, make sure your SMS content is whitelisted because you don’t want to get blocked during the height of Black Friday. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If your SMS partner has direct connections with leading operators around the world like Messente does, this preventative measure can help you achieve success during Black Friday and beyond.
Tips for marketers:
- Whitelist your SMS content beforehand to avoid getting blocked during BFCM
- Test alternative messaging channels prior to Black Friday to see what works best
- Ask your provider about network throughput (how many SMS per second they can send)
Send SMS messages with the pro partners you deserve
When done right, SMS marketing can help you stand out from the crowd, especially during Black Friday and other holiday seasons where there’s just too much noise. If you have the right messaging partner by your side, anything is possible, from branded links to custom solutions. As our friend Daniel put it, “Messente is a great, great partner,” connecting services to people.