For a business to connect with its target audience, it is extremely important to explore all possible communication channels. To embrace the mobile-first culture surrounding all sorts of commercial operations and activities in the modern world, many businesses are now returning to the origins of mobile phone communication – text messaging.
What is an SMS notification?
SMS notifications are a way of communicating important information to your customers via text message over a cell network. Short Message Service alerts, aka SMS text messages, are limited to 160 characters, making them a very tough message format to utilize to their maximum potential.
Notifications are one of the most common use cases of SMS. They are an easy and effective way of keeping your customers up to date with relevant information on time and building upon the existing customer relationship. Many industries, such as healthcare, logistics, and customer service, utilize SMS notifications to connect with their clients. Sometimes, SMS messages are also used by private or public organisations to send out important news or announcements to the general public.
Another common form of mass mobile phone communication is push notifications. Let's go over the difference between these two.
SMS notifications vs push notifications
SMS notification refers exclusively to a certain type of text message delivered directly to a user's SMS inbox.
Push notifications, on the other hand, are generated by mobile apps, often when the app is not in use or running on the phone. Even the SMS alerts that you send to your users usually trigger push notifications to be generated from the default messaging app on their smartphones. These push notifications appear on the notification panel of the users' mobile phones.
The purpose behind both types of notifications is the same: notifying the user. But the delivery medium is different. For sending a push notification from a certain app, you don't need a cell network, but you might need an internet connection, which a lot of mobile phone users might not always have. Said app must also be installed on the users' cell phones, which is another limiting aspect of this type of notification. Furthermore, users can easily disable, i.e., turn off, push notifications from certain apps if they find them too annoying or unimportant.
Another disadvantage of push notifications is that they disappear once the user taps on them or swipes them away. There is no way of saving them the way SMSes get stored on recipient devices. Users can't reply to them either, unlike the way they can to SMSes.
How to send SMS notifications that are effective
When sending SMS notifications, you have a very small window – quite literally! – to connect with your target audience. Each of the marketing messages has to be phrased right, timed perfectly, and speak to the recipient, all while staying within the character limit.
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when composing and sending out an informative and useful SMS notification message.
1. Use a proper Sender ID
Always use sender names, phone numbers or short codes that are connected to your business or brand. It is advised to use sender names when you don't expect or want the customer to reply. A branded sender name will ensure that the customer knows that the messages are coming from you and thus, they can trust the information written in the message body.
Let the message receiver know your phone numbers or short codes if you plan to use them, so they know it is you and try to avoid randomly generated senders.
2. Add interactive elements to SMS notifications
Due to the extremely limited length of an SMS, it can be pretty difficult to try and fit all the necessary information within a single 160-character text body. This opens the perfect opportunity to make your notification interactive, encouraging the user to take some sort of action after receiving your text.
You can make your notification messages more interactive by adding clickable mobile-friendly links to your website. This way, you can elaborate on the message content or details of the notification without expanding the SMS content and consequently doubling or tripling the cost.
Here's an example:
“Hi Bill, your booking number is 12345, you can view your booking documents here: m.airline.com/booking12345. Kind Regards Your Airlines”
The example message is 135 characters long, so there’s even room to spare. You can use our SMS Length Calculator to be sure that you don't go over the character limit.
3. Personalize your SMS notifications
Add the message recipient's first name or other personal information in the text body. This way, the SMS notifications will look less like an automatically generated, robotic, spam piece of data and more like a friendly message from someone they know.
Personalization goes beyond adding your customers' names to text messages; it also involves taking into consideration each user's behaviour and engagement and subsequently modifying the content that you send to them.
The more personalized the SMS notifications, the more relevant they will be, and the higher the chances of your users being satisfied with your brand's voice. Building an emotional connection with your customer will make your message notifications much more impactful too.
Here’s an example:
“Dear Jane, due to fog, your flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam leaving at 11h00, is delayed until 13h30. We apologize for the inconvenience. Your Airlines”
4. Add your contact details to your text messages
Give the message receiver the possibility to get back in touch with you by adding customer support details such as phone numbers or an email address to the SMS message. This ensures that they know where to turn to in case they have any questions.
Another way to encourage user response is to add links that take users to a webpage where they can fill out a form. If you are sending an appointment reminder or confirmation text, for example, you can add a link to a calendar where the customer can change their appointment details to reschedule.
“Hi Jill, your appointment with Dr Teeth is at 10.00am tomorrow. To reschedule go to bit.ly/drteetapp or call +23 57848321. Kind regards Dr Teeth and Co”
Getting started with an SMS notification service
Text messaging is a great marketing tool to send quick snippets of important information to your clients in a reliable manner. You can send SMS notifications for a host of messaging purposes, such as promotions, time-sensitive notifications for limited offers, order confirmations, and reminders.
Make sure your message is short and sweet, add some interactive elements, and personalize each message to maximize the impact of each SMS notification in driving your customer relations forward.