How often do you check your text messages?
Chances are it’s much more often than you do your email.
Yet most marketers are dead set on only using tested and true platforms like email and social media to execute on their marketing campaigns – where the results and metrics are only getting worse – instead of trying something new that has proven to produce better ROI while taking less effort.
SMS can no longer be ignored, and is something that anyone serious about marketing needs to consider for their next campaign.
90% of people are open to receiving text messages from brands, yet only 44% of brands are using SMS marketing software.
The numbers don’t lie, but marketers are lying to themselves by saying “it’s not for their brand” or “it’s too complicated”
Let’s dive a little deeper into SMS Marketing.
There are numerous advantages you gain over your competition when interacting with your audience via SMS. When it comes to marketing platforms, first to market always provides the greatest return, and SMS is no different.
The average person has 1,602 unread emails, but only 47 unread text messages. Once holiday season comes around and brand outreach becomes more frequent, it becomes increasingly difficult to make your message stand out. By accessing your customer through their text inbox and not their email, you’re catching them in a less-cluttered environment where your message has a much higher likelihood of being opened and read.
We’ve all spent far too much time crafting what we thought was the “perfect copy” for our latest email campaign only for it to fall flat and perform terribly.
SMS Marketing is much more informal, personal and takes far less time to execute. Your customers expect it to be short, sweet and to the point. Write down a couple lines, attach a picture of GIF, and hit send.
The deliverability issues that plague email lists are almost non-existent with SMS marketing. Opting-in to receive text messages from a brand is a very deliberate act that requires customers to give up something they truly cherish — their phone number. You rarely come across fake contact information that always seems to appear when capturing emails.
Keeping In Touch
Texting is a great, informal way of keeping in touch with your customers and maintaining your brand’s presence within their shopping habits. Often times customers will have questions or want to interact with a brand but struggle to find a proper form of communication that makes sense. Social media is too public. Email/website is too formal. Text messaging provides a great solution for you to engage and interact with your audience on a regular recurring basis.
No Spam Filters
Your inbox is your inbox. Unlike email, most text message apps do not have a spam filter. Your brand’s message is much more likely to be seen and ultimately read via text than email. While this may seem like a great advantage for your next marketing campaign, it’s important to not abuse the privilege you have when texting your customers.
SMS lists are much smaller in size compared to email lists, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
While you’re likely to have more customers “opt-out” of receiving SMS from your brand, that only means that those that remain subscribed are much more engaged and thus more likely to make a purchase and become a customer. A large list means nothing if it’s filled with customers that don’t actually engage or make a purchase. As you’ll learn over time, when it comes to your SMS list — the smaller, the better.
Phone Numbers Are Expensive
Customers are much more hesitant when giving out their personal phone number vs their email. Don’t expect to get a number just by asking. People care a lot about their phone numbers and will likely need a great incentive to give it up.
It doesn’t hurt to ask, but you should expect to give away a valuable product or offer a substantial discount you’re probably going to be uncomfortable with to get the results you’re looking for.
Because SMS is so personal and instantaneous, don’t be surprised if a sent text from your brand gets a reply — or starts a conversation. In this case, your customers are going to expect a reply, so make sure you’re prepared to handle them in a timely manner. If you aren’t able to handle replies, it’s important to be very transparent at the beginning of the conversation and let your customers know that they should not expect a reply to any/certain texts that get sent back.
Just like with email, all forms of SMS communication must include permission from both willing participants.
This means that before you begin interacting with your customers via SMS, they must have given you consent to do so — or “opt-in”. In turn, recipients must also be able to easily “opt-out” of receiving text messages, just like that glorious unsubscribe button in emails that we love to hate.
While this may seem scary and pose a difficult challenge at first, know that most capture forms and SMS marketing platforms have consent agreements built into them automatically.
Like all new marketing campaigns, building out your SMS list takes time, but it’s worth it.
Promotional text messages have an average click-through rate of 36% (compared to 4.5% for email) and coupon redemption rates via SMS are between 30-50%, 4x higher than any other marketing medium.
Here are a few ways to get your SMS list started:
A simple 1-field form asking customers to enter their phone number to receive “X” or be entered to win “Y” is a great way to introduce your new marketing platform and encourage new and existing customers to sign up.
Tip – Experiment with different offers and promotions and find out which one resonates best with your target audience.
You might as well leverage that ol’ reliable email list you’ve been building out for years, right? Sending an email to your existing mailing list letting them know about your new SMS texting feature is the first step in transitioning them over to SMS, or at the very least, updating their account info with their current phone number for future marketing campaigns.
Tip – Send an email that only includes a partial offer, and encourage those recipients to enter their phone number to receive the full offer or promotion .
What better time to ask for a customer’s phone number than at the register? Your customer is already expecting to have to enter in their information before they complete their purchase, so making sure all your order forms include a phone number field a is a no-brainer.
People check social media to see what’s new and trending. Offer your followers a sneak peak or early bird promo code by entering their phone number and opting-in to receive text messages.
Tip – Most social media interactions happen on mobile, so make sure the process for capturing phone numbers is mobile-first and mobile friendly.
SMS campaigns typically work best during the heavy-shopping holiday season when email inboxes become overwhelming with brands trying to get their message through. SMS marketing is an easy way to cut through the noise and reach your customers when they’re ready to buy through a platform that most brands aren’t using.
While obtaining the phone number is the obvious first step, ideally you will have leveraged your existing email data base and customer list so you have as many information and data points as possible. The more data points, the better.
Once you have your list ready, you should look into creating smaller group or segments within your SMS list to target like-minded customers with specific, targeted offers. These segments could look like:
Engaged vs Unengaged (filtered by click-through and open rates)
Buyers vs Lookers (filtered by users that have made a purchase vs website visitors)
Location (geographically targeted ads depending on where the customer lives)
VIPs (your most frequent, highest spending customers)
Creating an SMS marketing campaign by yourself (that follows all the rules and gets the results you’re looking for) is nearly impossible. Luckily, there are some great tools that help you automate the boring stuff and ensure that everything is executed properly.
- Promote incentives that capture the attention of your customer and convert browsers into buyers
- Engage customers with highly relevant text messages that drive loyalty and revenue
- Target audiences with more personal messages that inspire action
- Easily measure and optimize the impact of your messaging with strategic guidance and resources
- Frictionless mobile-optimized opt-in forms
- Connect directly with your most valuable customers in a timely and personalized manner
- Create cohesive email and SMS campaigns simultaneously
- Reach precise audiences with unrivalled segmentation
- A/B Test texts, emojis, send times and more to reveal the winning combo that inspires customers to act
- Build your own or use pre-built automated flows that drive ROI
- Generate new subscribers with innovative tools including cart opt-ins, keyword campaigns and more
- Comprehensive analytics to dive deep into your entire SMS marketing campaign
- Seamlessly integrates with platforms like shopify, zendesk, mailchimp, and more
Okay, so you’ve built your list. Got some numbers and set up your marketing software.
Sending a text to your friends and family is easy, but sometimes the idea sending a message to your customers and starting a new campaign on an unfamiliar platform can be uncomfortable.
Don’t overthink it. There are a ton of simple ways to break the ice and start a conversation.
Arguably the most important text you’ll ever send is the first one. Your SMS welcome message is your opportunity to make a lasting first impression and informally introduce your new subscribers to your brand and let them know what you’re all about.
After the initial opt-in message, your first welcome text should provide a clear understanding of who you are and what your customers should expect when it comes to your SMS marketing.
Tip – Because the welcome message is so important, make sure you have multiple sequences set up for various the welcome scenarios (24 hour unopened reminders, immediate coupon redemptions, etc)
Abandoned Cart Reminders
Nudge potential customers in the right direction at critical points in their buying journey by texting them a reminder of items they’ve previously looked at on your website or products they have in their cart that they haven’t yet purchased.
What better way to check in on recent buyers and ask for a review than via text? Set up a 3, 5 or 7 day post-purchase text message thanking them for their recent purchase and asking for a review.
Tip – Make sure to instruct your customers how/where to voice their concerns should they have any. This will give you an opportunity to address them privately in a manner you’re comfortable with and prevent unwanted negative reviews from showing up publicly on your website or social media.
Seasonal / Time-Sensitive
Everyone loves a great deal. Take advantage of the immediate nature of SMS by offering a time-sensitive special offer available exclusively to your SMS recipients for a limited time.
Tip – The shorter the time period, the better to promote a sense of urgency.
Order Replenishing / Back In Stock
Sending reminders to previous customers of consistent, consumable goods like food, toiletries or seasonal fashion trends converts at an incredibly high rate because they’ve already purchased your product and likely need more of it. Hit them with a text at the right time as they’re running out and you’ll increase the lifetime value of your customer without even trying.
Tip – “Back in Stock” text messages work great for creating demand in popular products that you haven’t carried in a while.
VIP & Loyalty Programs
Target your VIP customers or members of your loyalty program with exclusive offers and rewards for being such great customers. Early or extended sale dates, extra discounts or even a simple “Thank You” can go a long way in ensuring your VIPs feel special and remain loyal to your brand.
Most of us have gotten so use to texting that we overlooked it as a valuable marketing tool. The good news is that it’s not too late to get started. By building on your current customer list and changing your messaging to reflect the SMS platform, you’ll be increasing your conversions and sales in no time.