SMS plays a vital role in both internal and external business communications because it's direct, impactful and relatively cost-effective compared to other channels.
In terms of external communication, texting is often preferred by consumers – 69% across all age groups would like to contact a business by text. Many companies now use text messages for customer service, transactional notifications (such as order confirmations) and SMS marketing.
SMS is ideal for promoting products and services. You can use texting to nurture leads, send abandoned cart reminders, special promotions and discounts, build relationships with new customers, collect feedback and much more.
You might want to use SMS as an aggressive marketing strategy, also known as cold texting. However, there are some essential things to know before you send cold text messages.
What is cold texting?
Let's first define cold calling, which you've probably already heard of. Cold calling is a sales and marketing strategy that involves reaching out to individuals you have no previous relationship with and who've not expressed any interest in your product or service.
Cold texting follows the same principle – reaching out to prospective customers you've never contacted before – but via text messages.
Cold texting is illegal because it goes against global privacy laws, which demand that individuals give their consent and opt-in to receive this type of marketing communication. If you violate these laws, your business could receive a hefty fine (not to mention many complaints, thus lowering its reputation).
Therefore, cold texting is something your business shouldn't do. Instead, go for the next best option: warm texting.
Is texting better than cold calling?
Cold calls are highly invasive. And it takes time to get to the point – you need to explain the call before getting onto the crucial 'selling' part of the conversation.
Many people tend to hang up partway through after becoming annoyed that they've been disturbed about something they're not interested in. It's often an offputting experience for prospects (which could mean you lose a potential customer forever).
Warm texting is a great alternative. It allows you to deliver messages to an audience that's willingly opted in to receive your marketing communications. Each subscriber already has some degree of interest in your offering, and this means you'll have a greater chance of converting them into paying customers.
Your message must be short to fit within the character limit, and this is actually helpful, as it means subscribers can quickly read and digest what you have to say. Texting is also cheaper than long phone calls. Finally, text messages are delivered almost instantly, making them useful for time-sensitive promotions.
Is cold texting effective?
Cold texting prospects isn't very effective because you have no way of knowing their level of interest in your product or service. You may have found your prospect's phone number online but know nothing else about them. Therefore, you can't send them personalised or targeted content that offers value.
In addition, cold texting runs the risk of breaching global data protection laws such as the:
GDPR – which covers data protection for individuals in Europe.
TCPA – in place to protect U.S. consumers from robocalls and telemarketing (including texts).
CTIA Messaging Principles & Best Practices – a set of guidelines created by members of the U.S. wireless ecosystem to protect consumers from unwanted messages.
CASL – Canada's anti-spam legislation created to put a stop to electronic threats.
Rather than having a cold text strategy, you should focus your efforts on warm texting – which involves getting proper, informed consent from SMS subscribers. Here's how to develop a warm text messaging strategy.
1. Work on building your warm text message database
Whether your business operates in-store or online, use the first interaction with every visitor or customer as a chance to obtain their phone number and explicit consent for SMS marketing.
It's easier than you'd think – many prospects are happy to opt-in to your contact list if you provide an incentive in return. You could offer a special discount for first-time purchases, exclusive content (such as video tutorials) or the option to collect rewards when the prospect joins your SMS loyalty programme.
Many customers will opt-in to SMS marketing if you also offer order status tracking by text (text reminders are highly convenient).
Better still, let prospects start the conversation with your business – promote your phone number and encourage people to text to opt-in. Do this by displaying a click-to-text button on your website (or via an online ad). Create a dedicated landing page to capture signups. Have marketing materials next to your in-store checkout with a call-to-action like:
"Be the first to know about exclusive special offers and discounts! Text 12345 to opt-in to SMS marketing notifications."
2. Use a bulk SMS texting platform
A professional text messaging platform that offers mass texting (like Messente) helps ensure you carry out SMS marketing in a professional and compliant way. Other benefits include:
Your own sender ID - the option to use a shortcode or memorable contact number, which makes your brand feel more trustworthy.
Branded messages – if you use Verified SMS, you can add your logo and other details.
Mass messaging – text your entire contact list in one go if you need to.
Text message tools – such as message preview, scheduling, templates and more.
Audience segmentation – split your contact list into demographic groups for specific targeting.
Support – get help with business texting when you need it.
3. Be personal yet direct
Personalise your text messages so they don't read like a robot is sending them. Address your recipients by name and make your content highly relevant. Every text you send is a chance to bond with potential customers.
Always keep texts to the point and use a CTA to tell prospects what you want them to do after reading your text. It's important to be creative, not boring. You'll never be able to fit a cold call's worth of content into 160 characters, so craft your message wisely (don't waste your words). Write effective SMS messages with these copy hacks.
4. Provide real value
Ideally, you'll want to build long-term relationships with prospects and customers. To do this, make sure your texts offer real value, otherwise they'll unsubscribe.
It takes around ten marketing touches to turn leads into customers. Nurture prospects throughout the sales process by drip-feeding them must-know information that addresses any concerns or questions they may have.
Be mindful of message frequency – too many in a short space of time can come off as spammy and unprofessional. Never send during odd hours (late at night or too early in the morning).
Avoid cold text messages – always get opt-ins
Cold text messages won't do your business any favours – they don't address the needs of your prospects and will potentially annoy them. It wastes time and money, and is actually illegal in most countries. Breaching privacy laws leads to complaints and possibly substantial fines.
A better approach is warm texting, where you obtain SMS marketing permission from every subscriber. Anyone who opts into your marketing list effectively indicates some level of interest in your offering. It's much easier to sell to people when they know what your business is all about and are open to hearing from you.
Get started with SMS marketing using Messente – create an account today and get free credits to send your first text.