The Expert’s Guide to Brilliant SMS Marketing

June 2020
Authors: Uku Tomikas, Taavi Rebane

Intro

SMS marketing is making a comeback. According to Salesforce Research’s State of Marketing report, SMS messaging increased by 197% for B2B companies and 92% for B2C companies. These are impressive numbers indeed. This fantastic growth is achieved thanks to the new generation of consumers who prefer texting with a business instead of email or phone calls.  

In today’s world, where new exciting marketing technologies are appearing from every corner, SMS looks like an old-fashioned way to market your business. But the numbers speak for themselves. The personal and instant feel that SMS has can’t be matched by any other communication channel. SMS helps to create a close relationship with your customers, resulting in high engagement and response rates. 

There isn’t a better time than now to implement SMS into your marketing strategy. To help you get the best out of it, we have created this ultimate guide. It will provide you with all the critical know-how to be successful with SMS marketing. So, get going!

Why You Should Use SMS for Marketing

There are 8.9 billion mobile connections in the world in 2019 - that’s the reach
of SMS, as each of those numbers and devices can receive messages. And in
marketing, being able to reach as broad a base as possible with a single tool, with
a single message, is the goal of anyone looking to maximise the conversion of a
campaign.

Research shows that SMS open rates are as high as 98%, compared to just 20%
of all emails. And, on average, it takes 90 seconds for someone to respond to
a text and 90 minutes to respond to an email. So not only is the reach massive,
the response time is rapid as well. This enables companies to build a campaign
that is engaging and is engaged with continually. Reports indicate that 43% of
consumers are more likely to make a purchase when SMS is part of the shopping
experience. 

So, besides being massively popular and highly interacted with, what else does SMS have to offer?

Our brain and SMS

The psychological aspects of SMS marketing are numerous, mainly pertaining to the release of dopamine, our habits, and a multitude of kinks that make us human.  

Marketing makes more use of these aspects of human existence as we try to cut through the multitude of information that is thrown our customers’ way everywhere they look.  

Utilising the best practices in creating a captivating communication flow combined with the psychological aspects of each message received can create a customer journey that converts like nobody’s business.  

It’s vital to understand where SMS fits and can fit into a customer's everyday life and where they’d most appreciate the information shared. The correct application of SMS as a marketing channel relies not only on the best practices of using a communication channel but also how we tackle the message itself within 160 characters.

The personal touch

We carry our phones around with us nearly anywhere we go (that’s why they’re becoming more water, dust, and shock resistant). It’s the way that we engage with our friends and family. In fact, it’s the very first thing that most people reach for when they wake up. Once your brand is invited into this inner circle — caveat: you need permission — you’ll have an immediate, more intimate way to have a one-to-one conversation with your customer. 

The personal touch enables you to be in the inner circle of information sharing and ensures that you will be interacted with before the other mediums get their chance. Being that close also gives the channel a higher level of the recipient’s focus for an extended period and that can be a very powerful thing in the current information-saturated world. 

Most people’s email and direct mailboxes are already swamped with junk mail and spam. With SMS updates, the customer must give permission to companies they want to interact with, so you know that you’re delivering the message to the right person without it getting lost or ignored.  

Most phone numbers need to be registered and stay with a person for years, creating a personal bond to their communication channel. It’s, thus, much easier to verify the person as the correct recipient. That’s why phone numbers are still used as a 2FA tool and as one of the easiest ways to add an extra level of security. Email is used far less for 2FA due to the possibility of ending up in spam folders and a slight lack of trust in the tech as a means of securing something.  

SMS is also a lot less prone to getting into trouble with spam filters. Since SMS doesn’t get lost in individual folders on your phone, it’s much more certain that it’ll reach the customer and they will open it. Especially if you’ve registered the Sender ID and message content with the provider you are using for SMS delivery.  

The feedback is rapid, too, if you make it easy for the customer to reply. Since people open their messages quickly and are likely to engage with the message, they also respond quickly. Thus, engaging with a customer becomes more of a chat session, rather than an exchange of emails providing a stronger form of correspondence.

It’s easy to track

The first SMS was sent out in 1992, that makes the tool 27-years-old. A piece of tech that seems ancient when we take into consideration how often we change phones, laptops or even a toaster. And, it seems even more curious that this tool would still be common when even the toaster can track your eating habits and knows precisely how you like your bread in the morning.  

Yet, it’s perfect for a world where we handle most of our communication with our phones. It comes as standard on them and is extremely mobile-friendly, able to be integrated into most services with ease, and is super simple for every age group to manage.  

It’s easy to track, as well. Most service providers will offer simple delivery reporting to check that your messages have successfully been sent. If you’re looking for more intelligent tracking, the top players in SMS marketing will not only tell you when your messages have been sent successfully but will also provide you with details on which and when links have been clicked, ensuring that you get the most from your campaigns.  

With most SMS platforms, you can quickly and easily monitor and measure the performance of each SMS campaign separately and since Text Marketing is permission-based, you’re off to an excellent start: you know exactly who you are messaging and, because of that, you can capture highly specific data about your customers including demographics, interests, purchase history, and more. Proving marketing value is the holy grail for every marketer, and SMS marketing, if properly integrated into your CRM, allows you to measure the real-time performance of your text messaging campaigns — even mass texting can be tracked with proficiency. 

With today's on-the-go consumers, you can smartly integrate SMS with your web platform to alert customers of a location-specific sale or offer, catching them on the move. And, as all smartphones have browsers, you can also track click-through with URL-shortening links such as bit.ly. There is a caveat to bit.ly though - in specific markets, unbranded URLs can get filtered out as they are used for spam purposes as well. So, a shortened URL that is associated with your brand will have a higher rate of conversion as compared to the general ones.

Plants

And, it’s cheap and boasts a solid ROI

Not only is an SMS campaign affordable for budgets of all shapes and sizes, but you’ll also see a healthy return on investment from SMS marketing. At just a few pence per messages, you can really target customers with your campaigns without breaking the bank. A usual SMS message cost around 0.02€.  

So, if you send out a campaign to 100 000 recipients (and take into consideration that we’re talking highly targeted persons who opted in), it’ll cost you 2000€. If each conversion leads to an average purchase of 10€, you’ll need 200 people to make a purchase to break even on the cost of the SMS campaign or 0.2% of the campaign should convert to earn money back. Not that much is it? With a usual SMS campaign converting between 5% and 30%, you’ll make between 48 000€ and 298 000€. So, spending 2k to make nearly 300k truly is a solid return on investment. 

If boosting sales and improving communication with customers are on your list of resolutions this year but you don’t have a hefty budget and hours of spare time; SMS is a small yet powerful marketing tool not to be overlooked. 

Oh, and it’s eco-friendly too

In comparison to email, direct mail, and face-to-face meetings, a text message has the lowest impact on our carbon footprint. It’s almost a carbon-free way of communicating, so if you’re looking for ways to make your business greener, SMS marketing is a big step in the right direction. So, think of the environment, send an SMS :)

Conclusion

SMS is powerful, aligns with our psychology, is affordable, trackable, has excellent ROI, and is eco-friendly. SMS is also a dream tool for marketers to build brand loyalty, gain traction with their clients, and convey messages within a person’s inner circle in a timely manner. Making use of modern technology such as geolocation and CRM integrations with hyperlinks makes the tool super versatile in the modern setting and will enable the message to be heard loud and clear.

The Best SMS Marketing Tactics

Whenever using a tool for marketing to convert as many potential customers into paying customers, there are some key details to cover. Each message is an opportunity to deliver information and create brand loyalty, measure the effectiveness of a marketing machine, and use a single tool for multiple uses. Here are some tips to make sure that you have all the bases covered.

Make it personal

We all like to feel special and know that someone out there is thinking of us. So, it’s not a surprise that marketing tactics that involve a personal touch are more successful. Sending a text message via your mobile device gives you an informal opportunity to personalise the message. 

For example, the Banana Republic often sends text messages that include words like “friends” and “your”. Using words like “you” and “I” is one of my favourite techniques for driving engagement. 

In this day and age, it’s also possible to set up a trigger in your CRM or system to enable sending personalised messages including the recipient’s name and account information that is unique to them alone. This can be used to promote existing services, as well as remind users of existing ones:

From time to time, it’s also good to make the message more familiar to the customers, less formal, and more friendly in its overall demeanour. It is especially important to consider buddying it up a bit with the customers who’ve been with you for a longer time.  

It’s also important to structure the dataset to enable personalisation. This means matching key triggers and keywords to your clients that can then later be used to personalise the message.  

For instance, adding location details, product usage details, age-group and interest details, and any key aspects of the person that can deliver a more personal message. The mobile marketing campaigns can also be much more targeted and the results much more detailed and knowledge inducing, giving insight into a particular group’s reaction and conversion rate as opposed to another group or the tool as a whole.

Entice

Start by creating uniquely generated coupon codes to prevent non-subscribers from taking advantage of your deal. That way, people have to subscribe to save. 

Or, make sure the deals don’t last forever - “for the next 24h”, “this week only”, etc. can entice people into checking out the deals immediately, before they are gone, and they miss out.  

Playing on the seasons and making sure you time your messaging campaign to coincide with holidays is a great way to drive conversions. Christmas, Mothers and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. - these can all be excellent triggers to entice people to check out your offers, especially if you trigger multiple campaigns. For instance, one for the early birds that want to make sure they don’t forget and for the snoozers, who run for gifts at the very last moment and are set for a last-minute deal. 

To ensure a higher conversion rate, it’s important to make the content as easy to interact with as possible. So, things like Reply with SANTA to get your discount code or links that take the clients directly to your products are both great ideas in driving the clients forward.  

Add additional value to the offers by giving your clients their own personal codes to distribute to their friends. Since you can only reach the people that have opted-in to receive marketing communication from you, try to reach a wider audience by getting them to share the code with their network of friends. But make sure the customer not only benefits themselves but can help their friends benefit too. That way, you ensure the maximum potential of a single message.

Learn what makes SMS marketing so effective

Track

Monitoring the success of any marketing campaign is essential. You can learn what works and what doesn’t and structure your next campaign accordingly. SMS marketing is no different. Better yet, it’s incredibly easy to measure due to the multiple methods available.

1. Tracking click-through rates with Google Analytics

A click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of customers who click on a link within your SMS message. This URL could lead the customer to a landing page, form or online shop. 

Using Google Analytics, you can access the number of unique clicks received from your SMS marketing message. Then, simply divide the number of unique sessions by the total amount of SMS sent and the result will reflect your CTR.

SMS has an average CTR of 19%. So, if you’re not receiving rates as high as this, consider tweaking your message structure, offer or time of delivery.

2. You can also monitor opt-out rates

Every marketing campaign in the world is going to have users that opt-out. So, don’t be disheartened when you see customers unsubscribing from your content. It’s key to understand that with the personal touch, we also invade a person’s private space and their inner circle, as we described before. That can also lead to a larger opt-out rate, which needs to be taken into consideration and accounted for in the campaign. 

A messaging platform, such as Messente’s, gives you direct access to your opt-out rates for you to analyse and compare with the industry standards. To understand this percentage further, it is calculated by dividing the number of users that unsubscribed from your SMS campaign by the total number of subscribers. In our experience, the average SMS opt-out rates sit between 2.5% to 4%, depending on the product, industry, and frequency of use.

3. Understanding delivery rates is key in using SMS

It’s important to know that your sent messages are actually being received and is done so in a timely fashion.  

You can access the status of all your messages from within our messaging platform, for example. This allows you to track the times of delivery and if something seems off, the connections can be changed to ensure optimal delivery.  

Different SMS providers use different quality routes that can affect the percentage of successful deliveries. If you notice a high number of unsuccessful deliveries, consider switching to a provider that uses premium routes. Being directly connected to a local carrier or the MNOs is the best way to go and helps ensure the highest delivery rate.

4. Cost per conversion

If your SMS marketing messaging is linking directly to a landing page that requires users to complete an additional form or is selling a product/service, you can evaluate the exact cost per conversion of your campaign (and later compare it to the cost of the campaign directly to get the ROI). 

It works similarly when using coupons - how many have been used and how many shared coupons or promotional codes have been used, as compared to the campaign size and scope. If you’re getting low conversion rates, consider making your offer more valuable or sending it as an OTT message that has higher multimedia capabilities to increase the appeal. 

So, whenever you use SMS for in your marketing journey, make sure you can evaluate the value and the ROI of the tool accurately. Understand both the conversion and the opt-outs to get a full view of the campaigns and methods used and make sure the SMS provider is also delivering a quality service and that your messages actually get there since, without that, the campaigns are doomed to fail.

Combine methods and build number lists

You can’t run an SMS marketing campaign without an audience. There are multiple ways of doing it that can help you generate a broad audience and ensure your message reaches plenty of new and existing customers.

You can acquire a dedicated number for two-way communication.

A dedicated virtual number is a unique code that belongs to your business. It comes in both shortcode (XXXX) or long code (04XX XXX XXX) forms.

You can encourage consumers to text in a particular keyword, e.g. “Yes” to sign up to receive special offers and marketing material.

Dedicated numbers work great with text-to-win competitions, loyalty programs or by simply advertising it across your other channels. The pricing will vary in markets though, as will the reliability of the service. For example, shortcodes are more reliable, yet more expensive.

If your business sells products or services online, this is the perfect opportunity to obtain your customers' contact number along with other details.

For best practice, give the customer the option to sign-up for marketing material, since in the EU for example, making it mandatory is a no-go (we’ll come back to the legal aspects at a later chapter). Also, make sure you register and log the consent given and indicate a clear way for the client to take it back to ensure compliance.

Asking for a customer's mobile number during in-store transactions

can be just as effective as online shopping. Not only does it have a more personal touch due to the face-to-face interaction, but saying no is more difficult than simply unticking a box. It will need a salesman’s touch though since giving out our private numbers is a big thing.

Account sign-ups and client verification - 

This is a common process within the service industry to make the most of the opportunity, request a mobile number from your customer too. It’s also a great way to verify clients phone numbers and strengthen the anti-fraud processes you have in place.

Use multiple channels to segment subscribers

Or, instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket, use multiple channels to segment subscribers. SMS and Facebook Ads are excellent on their own. But they can be even better when you use them together. We recommend checking out Facebook’s lead ads to integrate with your SMS campaigns. Lead ads are great for collecting data and information to build up a large subscriber base. 

And combining multiple methods into a singular flow process makes sense as well. You can create triggers or tailored responses depending on each individual’s status. 

In the context of coupons, for example, you could send a 5% off coupon right after a subscriber signs-up, a 10% coupon after three weeks, and a 20% off coupon after two months. The longer they stick around, the bigger the potential bonus. So, you’re incentivising the action you want. Best of all, you can schedule these to run automatically. 

Combine offers, sharing incentives, coupons, opinion polls, and notifications to create a channel that is common and familiar to your client. Tailor the messages to fit a singular brand identity and the conversation with you will become far more personal and longer-lasting with any client.  

Remember: It’s essential to disclose to your customers that you will be sending them marketing material if they give you their number.

Conclusion

Make sure that whenever you start your marketing campaign, that you have these key elements down: make it personal, entice your customer, track your success, and combine methods to have a bigger impact. SMS is a multifaceted tool that can easily be tailored for specific personal needs and tracked to ensure you are getting your money’s worth.

Responsible SMS Marketing and Compliance

There are a few things to consider when you start your marketing campaign, from the content to the interactions to measuring conversions and driving campaigns, but that really isn’t all you need to think of. Since we are talking about offers, contacting people personally, and doing so within a global scene, there are many legal and market-specific restrictive aspects to consider when setting up your campaign.

Limitations for industries

There are a few obvious industries that are banned, such as the illegal ones - drugs, criminal organisations, terrorism, spam, etc. But there are a fair few industries that are legal, yet shall be in a position that does limit their ability in many markets to deliver marketing content via SMS:

Gambling

Gambling

There are several markets that either limit the ability for casinos to deliver marketing content (even to numbers who have opted-in) or flat out ban them from doing so. In certain cases, there is a lengthy whitelisting process that can enable a gambling organisation to deliver marketing messages, but usually at an extra cost. In most cases, SMS aggregators prefer traffic that is considered cleaner or has extra measures, such as added internal filters or a lengthier process for delivery whitelisting.

Consumer lending

Consumer lending

While less restricted than gambling, there are still a few fair obstacles that lending companies might come across, such as a specific connection required for delivery in Vietnam, plus a differentiation in pricing for this type of financial service provider. As consumer lenders become popular, more similar limitations may be applied as with gambling.

Adult content

Adult content

Adult content is very often prohibited, it’s also tough to get it whitelisted, especially in the Middle East, for example, where such traffic can be illegal to deliver. Most likely only OTPs would be allowed and adult marketing content can or cannot be permitted on terms that would become very unfavourable to the conversion of those campaigns.

Healthcare

Healthcare/medical services content

In a few markets, providers that offer medical tools, accessories or additional services on top of the mainstream of medicine (such as doctor appointment scheduling, dentists, blood donation services, hospitals, etc.) can also be banned. For content whitelisting, additional details such as medical licenses and business certificates might be required.

Other industries might fall under country-specific regulations, especially those that are in some way in conflict with the national religion. It always makes sense to ask your SMS provider to help you learn what the limitations on your content might be.

Limitations on content

In addition to the industries and illegal content, there are additional limitations on the content relating to things like the form of government in place, the national religion or the form of free speech used.

Political

Political

Some countries don’t allow any political content to be delivered via SMS or ban and heavily fine political organisations who send messages around the elections, such as Russia. In many authoritarian markets, any organisation delivering political content that goes against the national agenda can be banned, fined or worse. This can also cause issues for the SMS aggregators, so they also tend to stay away from that type of traffic.

Religious

Religious

Depending on the national religion and the level of religiousness of the market, as well as how the operators see that type of content, religious content might also be banned. General notifications and reminders might be fine, but again, it depends heavily on the specific market. A good rule of thumb, though, is that it’s mostly banned.

Hate speech

Hate speech/aggression towards other people or groups

This is quite obvious, even if you are allowed to exercise your freedom of speech, you are not allowed to promote hate and aggression towards others. This includes, but is not limited to, antisemitism, racism, marginalisation, sexism, limitation of rights, advocating riots, etc.

Smoking

Promoting alcohol, smoking, legal drugs, and alternative medication 

Can often also be banned from SMS delivery. Depending on the rules and registrations set in the market, with the first two being the most commonly regulated and the other following as they become more popular. 

There are, again, additional possible limitations, so content whitelisting with your SMS provider is key to make sure that you can deliver your message.

Technical aspects to consider

In addition to the industry and content being limited, you might still be in for a bunch of headaches if you pass the first two. Since marketing content required the customer to opt-in and the new General Data Protection Regulation also requires them to have an option to opt-out quickly as well, there are some things to consider:
  • Unsubscribe URLs - many markets (especially in the EU) require messages to have a link at the end that allows the customer to opt-out of the received marketing communication (similar to the unsubscribe link at the bottom of marketing emails).This also takes up space in the message. So, if you are going for 160 characters, you might only have 140 characters for your marketing content.
     
  • Unsubscribe keyword - indicating how a user can unsubscribe in the text by replying via a certain keyword, such as STOP. This is also a common way to handle the unsubscribe requirement. This too takes up space and you need to have the ability to blacklist the number, as well as have two-way enabled to receive replies. This can also mean that the whole process becomes much more expensive, especially if only shortcodes can be used for the purpose (the most expensive ones can be 20000€ to set up and 2000€ per month to maintain).  

  • Brand name at the beginning of the text - some markets require the company to insert the brand name as the first part of the message to indicate that this is the actual company sending the message. This again takes up space within the message.  

  • Blacklisted keywords/spam filters - there are also certain keywords that might be banned by either the government or the operators. Certain types of content that aren’t whitelisted with the operator can also be caught by spam filters and, thus, are returned undelivered. As the lists of keywords usually aren’t long, most providers can share the knowledge and assist in the whitelisting process.
     
  • Tracking unsubscribes/blacklisting and DND lists - in addition to having your phonebook up to date, unsubscribing and blacklisting management is also key. We’ve experienced a case of a person being delivered three marketing messages after they had blacklisted their number with the operator to not receive marketing content at all. After filing the complaint, the company sending the marketing messages nearly got banned from SMS delivery permanently and was nearly given a fine.

    In this case, our client was lucky, but unless the opt-in is there, you might be in trouble. DND lists are also available in certain markets where people can sign up and ensure they don’t get marketing content. Operators follow these lists and block the messages that are sent to the numbers. This, in turn, can drive down the delivery rate and ROI.  

  • Time - in markets such as France and UAE, marketing content is only to be delivered at certain times, such as between 7 am and 9 pm. All marketing content sent outside of that window will be filtered and fines may be applied depending on the case.  

    So, make sure your content matches the needed requirements of a legal marketing SMS, not just the requirements of a well-converting SMS message. Your SMS service provider can help you with the whitelisting and formatting matters and advocate your case in front of the carriers and operators.

Price

Marketing SMS can also be more expensive and require a separate account and connection for delivery from the other forms of traffic. Sometimes grey routes are used for SMS delivery, in hopes to bypass this matter, but that can lead to blocks on all traffic, fines, and additional issues if the practices become illegal. And while the difference between a marketing SMS cost and an OTP can be two-fold, it’s still marginal when compared to the possible gain on conversion or the possible fines and troubles associated with delivery malpractice.

The addition of a link or keywords can also mean you need to send multi-part messages that are more expensive as well, so checking your content with the SMS Length Calculator is key. 

In addition to the cost per message possibly increasing, there are additional costs to two-way messaging, especially when shortcodes come into play. They are the most stable and easy to manage types of two-way messaging but by far the most expensive. So, the upside and conversion need to justify the investment.

Conclusion

Make sure that you have a clear idea of what content you want to send; how legal it is and that your processes for managing all blacklisting and unsubscribe processes are in place. Also, ask advice from your SMS service provider on the format, needed additions, and legal limitations of the content for each market you are looking to send marketing content to.  

Also, have your provider advocate for you, to make sure no issues come up with the operators. This way, you can ensure your messages have the highest possible chance of converting your brilliant message to an actual cash-on-account scenario.

SMS Marketing Tips and Tricks

We’ve covered a few best practices and do’s and don’ts in the previous chapters, but there are still some tricks and tips that can either help with the amount of money you spend, the timing of the messages or structuring the campaign as a whole.

Saving in length

The fewer characters you use to send out your message, the better. The message length decreases and as such, you run a smaller risk of breaching your 160-character limit and doubling your costs with a multi-part message. It also means that the information is conveyed rapidly and is suitable for our modern consumers. But how do we make sure that the length stays in check?

 

The easiest way to get in trouble with message length is not the words you use, but rather the characters you choose to put into the message. Since SMS works on the GSM alphabet, there is a certain list of characters you can use to deliver a 160-character message. Otherwise, you get 70 characters and the message turns into Unicode. Thus, a simple 160-character message that you intended to send as a singular message turns into a three-part message costing three times as much as a singular SMS (since each message part acts as a separate request). As such, the SMS Length Calculator Tool is invaluable in helping you make sure you get the most out of each message.  

Make sure the message is clear and concise and written in plain English. Avoid abbreviations, emoticons, and all caps. Don’t use open-ended messages. An example of an open-ended message is one that invites clients to a sale but doesn’t say when the sale ends. They tend to also make for longer sentences, thus, taking up more space without giving proper information.  

You only have 160 characters available to carry your message to customers so, do not cram your promotional text with different sales pitches. Instead, decide which offer would sound most attractive to your visitors and present the same to them. 

One more thing to note is that sending users too many messages, each featuring a different offer, will only confuse your subscribers. You should feature only the most important offer and maybe present the others on your website, store or via social or print media. So, avoid cramming and make it clear and actionable. Be precise about what you are saying and make sure that you come across as a serious seller. Prattling on without a clear aim will only serve to drive your customers farther away from you.

Keep it structured

Text messages are limited to 160 characters so it’s important to keep them clear and precise. There are a couple of variations to a standard SMS marketing structure, but this is how most follow:


step

Business name 

Either as your Sender ID or at the beginning of your message, you should make your company name clear to your customers.
step

Customer name

Create a more personal relationship by including your customer’s name at the beginning of your message. This process is made easy by using custom fields in the phonebook management tool.
step

Offer

Here, include details about your sale, coupon, new product, etc. Use language that makes customers feel valued and excited by your deal.
step

Qualifier

This is similar to the ‘fine print’. Include any conditions for your offer in this section.
step

Instructions

Let the customer know how to redeem your offer. Try to keep this process as simple as possible.
step

Expiration

Consumers won’t find your offer ‘special’ if it never expires. Include an expiration date to create a sense of urgency.
step

Opt-out 

For best practice and to avoid any legal penalties, you must include an opt-out option for your recipients.

Make sure you cover as much of these aspects as you can while making sure you don’t overextend the content or drag in the message.

Here’s one message covering all the points in 134 characters:

yellow sms

Clean content and spelling

This is quite obvious, yet still needs to be reminded from time to time - check the spelling. Make sure the language you use is simple, clear, and grammatically on point. Make sure you have all of the needed aspects covered within a clean delivery, having personalised the content, made it enticing, given a call-to-action/link to follow, and a means to opt-out. 

It’s important to avoid slang or colloquial language. While those are reserved for the inner circle of which you are asked to be a part of when given access to the user’s phone number, there is still a distance that needs to be kept. Service providers and companies are expected to keep things friendly yet professional, so try to adhere to that sentiment.

Timing

Timing is everything. It’s key to make sure your campaigns get there on time and take into consideration both the habits of the people using the service and the cultural background, national holidays, etc. Since your customers have their phones next to them nearly 24/7, they don’t want to receive disruptive messages during meals, holidays or in the middle of the night. 

Test your campaign success using metrics such as open rates and click-through rates to identify your top customers and regions, then use this data to create better-targeted campaigns in the future. 

Additionally, use your market, location, and user data to tailor message delivery to the specific area your customers live in, so your offers get to them when they’re most receptive.  

SMS is all about immediacy, too. It takes people an average of three minutes to open messages. Clients’ responses to sales, promotions, and events promoted on SMS are most effective when they’re last-minute impulses. If you have a store opening event on a Friday night, send the message on Friday afternoon. If you have a dinner promotion at your restaurant, send it at the end of the workday, not in the morning. 

Be careful not to tread on thin ice by sending messages out too early in the morning or too late at night. Acceptable hours are between 8 am and 9 pm and there are markets globally that limit the times when marketing content can be sent.  

Take SMS timing one step further by finding out the best time to send a message to a specific individual based on their past interactions with your texts. This ultra-targeting goes beyond region and demographics and customizes your marketing to optimize its results. 

Sending your SMS marketing campaign out at your preferred time doesn’t require you to be at the office. Using an SMS platform, you can schedule all of your messages in advance. This is particularly useful when working across different time zones or for marketers with busy timetables. 

If you’re running a bulk SMS campaign, it may also be worth staggering your campaign. Send your messages out in smaller batches to make sure your system isn’t overloaded with requests.

Make lists and track them

To get the timing just right, make sure you take into consideration the national holidays or bigger events relating to the markets you want to send to. When setting up your campaigns, you can take advantage of this and ensure that you don’t only deliver at peak times when everyone is trying to get their message to customers. So, why not try sending offers to your customers when they wouldn’t expect a deal; with only your offer to think about, you could get a better response rate. 

Make a note of the holidays that influence customers to buy and which don’t encourage interaction. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day push people towards purchases, but Ramadan might not. So, know your customer and make notes on their habits and test and improve upon your previous campaigns.  

Make notes on every key detail that influences or can influence your conversion. Test each variable and create combinations to ensure the most effective campaign. Try to keep some consistency too, though. If your message is always varying, you might find yourself in the DND list quite quickly.

Start small and ramp-up

Consider the scale of the campaign you want to start off with. Make sure you have a list of contacts that is representative of your market yet leave room for failure. It’s much easier to test approaches out on small scale projects and then go for full size than start big and then try to mitigate the damage down the line or deal with a lot of customers unsubscribing.  

And, don’t just collect the data, correct it, too. The data you have is key; it needs to be up-to-date and accurate. Sending a personalised message to someone when their name isn’t Sally and is a 38-year-old man won’t go down well. So, make sure you have the details down before you launch the campaign at a large scale.

Conclusion

Making an SMS campaign effective is a multifaceted project that requires creativity, research knowledge, and analytical skills. As with any tool, it’s key to make sure you target your message in the best possible manner to the right people, ensuring an ROI on the product that matches the expectations and the promise of the tool. So, make sure you keep it short, structured, relevant, and sweet.

Takeaways

As with any marketing strategy, there are many things that need to be done correctly to be successful at it. It may take some time and testing to get things working perfectly for you. Be sure to keep your messages personal and on point. Try to entice your customers by creating personal offers that are sent just at the right time. And, don’t forget to track all of it, so you know what has to be improved.

One of the most important things to keep in mind while doing all of it is to be responsible. Since you are using a very personal channel to sell your products or services, you must be careful not to cross any boundaries. Always ask for permission from your customers, don’t spam them, and make sure that you comply with all the international and local regulations. This will benefit both you and your customers.

If you wish to get started with SMS marketing and you still have some questions, feel free to contact us. We’ll try our best to get you all the answers you need. Meanwhile, you can check out our guide to SMS APIs that will come in handy when looking for an SMS messaging platform.