The word “Underrated” and SMS Marketing can be harmlessly regarded as synonyms in today’s marketing scenario.
Text Messaging has just come out of nowhere to become a marketing channel that can reap in a humongous response from a firm’s target customer base.
Going back a few years, budgets for SMS campaigns were almost close to being negligible, as compared to display, search, and other mobile marketing mediums.
Numbers Never Lie:
If we consider The Open Rate as a metric, then text messages have an open rate of 98% as compared to emails that have a 20% open rate.
Secondly, as per a report, 67% of customers would like to communicate with a business over SMS than by phone or e-mails.
Considering the above numbers and numerous others, it won’t be wrong to say that SMS Marketing has a huge potential that marketers are yet to unearth.
Therefore, the year 2020 and the years to come would see marketers heavily investing in SMS Marketing.
Are you someone who is planning to introduce SMS Campaigns in your marketing strategy?
If yes then here’s a detailed guide regarding the same:
Why Should you invest in SMS Campaigns
(1) The Urgency Factor
Long before SMSs were considered as a Marketing medium, they were used to share short and quick pieces of information.
Even today, people have a very similar perception of text messages.
In other words, they inherently associate Urgency with text messaging and thus are prone to opening an SMS within seconds.
This inherent Urgency Factor has the ability to significantly benefit your marketing campaigns:
Firstly, when it comes to deliverability, text messages are next to none. Unlike emails or social media, a user doesn’t have to visit a separate app to read the content.
In, fact majority text messages are read even without being opened.
This makes SMS, a perfect platform for short and time-sensitive communications like Notifications about flash sales, limited time offers, and back-in-stock alerts.
As per Voiceage, 70% of consumers believe that text messages are a great source of grabbing their attention towards certain offers.
But that’s not all:
Text Messages are also known to have a significantly greater Click through rate than emails.
IN A NUTSHELL: You can reap in the maximum ROI when it comes to time-sensitive and short-form marketing communications through SMS campaigns.
(2) Increasing the effectiveness of your Email Campaigns
Email marketing, although being an excellent medium for converting leads, inherently suffers from low open rates. The average open rate of an email campaign, as mentioned above is close to being 20%.
Due to this, whenever a brand sends out an email there are a significant number of subscribers that somehow fail to open the email in their inboxes.
These subscribers are generally tagged as “Non-Responders” or Non-Openers.
Integrating text messages with your email campaigns is a smart way to engage and convert these non-responders.
Here are a few ways to do it:
This first involves resending the original email to the non-responders after a certain time period, say 2-3 days.
Subsequently, you can launch an SMS campaign to those who ignored the 2nd email as well.
- Welcome Emails
Sending welcome emails to people who sign up to your website is also quite an effective medium, especially if you can monetize it.
Therefore, brands generally send welcome emails to new subscribers along with a few product offers that are time-bound.
The point where text messages can help in this scenario is to retarget those non-responders who haven’t taken any action on their time-bound offers.
For example, let’s say you have provided a time-bound offer that expires in 5 days.
Now if the user doesn’t take any action for three days then, then on the fourth day you can send out an SMS reminding him of the offer and letting him know that it’s going to expire in one day.
- Automated Birthday Emails
A lot of brands send out emails containing special offers to customers on their birthdays so that they can stick with the brand for a longer duration.
So how can you use text messaging to increase the efficiency of these loyalty-based emails?
You can send out an SMS to the customer wishing him Happy Birthday and simultaneously informing him that there is a special gift waiting for him in your email.
(3) New Upselling Opportunities
Through SMS campaigns, you create new upselling opportunities while informing the customer about a certain payment or shipping confirmation.
Here’s an example of a brand upselling through SMS Campaigns:
Choosing an SMS Service provider
This is the first step of your SMS Marketing journey.
Similar to email marketing tools/ software, you require a Bulk SMS service provider to send customized mass text messages to your customer base.
Choosing the ideal Bulk SMS service provider:
Prior to going for a certain Service provider, you need to ensure that it can do much more than just sending out bulk messages.
You should positively lookout for the following features in your bulk SMS provider before choosing it:
- Text Scheduling
This is one of the most important features that a bulk SMS provider should have.
It’s seldom that a brand would curate an SMS campaign and send it right away.
Similar to social media posts and emails, every brand prefers to schedule content a few days prior to finally sending them.
Therefore you should ensure that your SMS provider mandatorily has a text scheduling feature in it.
- Subscriber Keywords/keyword opt-in
The Subscriber Keyword feature is another must-have in this list.
Subscriber Keywords are used in text messages that are sent out by brands to their potential subscribers.
A person who is interested in subscribing to a brand would type in the subscriber keyword mentioned in the text message and send it.
By doing this they will be automatically signed up to receive your text messages.
Let’s explain this with an example:
Let’s say, you own a Pizza Joint and are interested in using SMS campaigns. You send a text message inviting users to subscribe.
In this case, an ideal subscriber keyword can be “cheesy”.
Interested users can text “cheesy” to your number and automatically get signed up.
- Listing and Segmenting
This feature would allow you to segment your audience into separate groups so that you can target them with customized SMS campaigns.
It also includes adding new contacts to these lists.
- Link Tracking/ Analytics
This would allow you to measure the performance of your SMS campaigns and to take up appropriate measures to improve their effectiveness
Auto responding is a feature where your SMS service provider would send an automated text message to a consumer when he performs a certain action related to your brand.
This can include confirmation messages on making purchases, welcome messages on signing up, etc.
- Options for Customising
In today’s world, it’s crucial that every marketing medium should have a strong personal touch to it and SMS is no different.
Therefore you should ensure that your service provider has certain custom fields such as including the first /last name of the individual customer in your text messages.
Here’s a list of top SMS Service Providers in 2020, if you are interested in considering further options.
Here’s how much sending a text message would cost across Different countries:
Here’s a full list of SMS prices of all countries for your reference.
Types of SMS Campaigns
This refers to a single text message that is sent to a certain segment of your customer base.
Broadcasts are generally scheduled by brands to go out on a specific date, and every targeted customer receives the message at the same time.
Here’s an example of a Broadcast SMS campaign carried out by Dominos Pizza:
- One to One
As the name suggests, such types of text messages are sent to a particular customer.
They are generally triggered due to certain actions taken such as subscribe notification, payment confirmation, help message, unsubscribe confirmation, etc.
They are also known as text to win messages. Sweepstakes are a great way to build up your SMS subscriber list.
Interested users who want to join the contest need to text back with the subscriber keyword as shown in the example below:
These can include a lot of things namely, flash sales, brands notifying their customers about product updates, etc.
Generally, transaction-based alerts are not included in such campaigns.
Following are examples of Flash Sale and Product Update:
- Loyalty based Campaigns
The main motto of such campaigns is to engage a brand’s current customer base. These include offering various incentives so that a customer gets hooked on to the brand and remains loyal in the long run.
- Text to join campaigns
These are one of the very first campaigns carried out by a brand.
Interested customers can text back with the Subscriber Keyword mentioned in the text message.
Doing, so they are automatically signed up to receive text messages from the brand in the future.
- Transactional Campaigns
They are generally event-triggered campaigns and include shipping, delivery, payment confirmations. Such campaigns include the most important details that are related to the transaction.
- Event-Triggered Campaigns
These are loyalty based messages that are sent to customers during events such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Their main purpose is to ensure that a customer stays loyal to the brand in the long run.
They are highly personalized and include certain offers made specifically for that customer.
SMS Campaigns you should Avoid at All Costs
How to Gain maximum engagement
- Always Be Direct
With its content limited to just 160 characters, text messaging no place to engage your audience in a wholesome manner.
You need to have a “dead direct attitude” when it comes to creating SMS campaigns.
One glance and the viewer should be able to make out what the text message is all about.
Quick Tip: Find the most important word/words in your text message and put it in Capital.
In this way, the consumer can immediately make out the purpose of your text message and decide whether to act on it.
Here’s an ideal example from an SMS campaign carried out by Dominos Pizza:
- Instill Urgency in your Campaigns
Do you know what’s the greatest point of difference between an SMS and an email/social media post?
As mentioned previously in this article, a viewer naturally associates the notion of urgency/immediacy with text messages.
Therefore if you fail to provide some sort of urgency in your text messages, overtime viewers would lose interest in your SMS campaigns and finally unsubscribe.
Barring those text messages that have information about new products or transactional details, you should ensure that all other SMS campaigns are time-sensitive, i.e. they offer deals/discounts that have an expiry date.
Secondly, you can include phrases like “expires soon”, “valid till”, “today only” etc in your text messages.
These phrases can create that much-required sense of urgency and prompt the viewer to take an action.
Sending location-based, real-time text messages also work well.
For example, you can send out tempting promotional offers to users when they arrive at or pass by your store.
- Personalize as much as you can
It’s a well-known fact that personalizing your marketing content can lead to multiple times more engagement.
The past few years have experienced brands, extensively using hyper-personalized marketing content when it comes to their email and push notification campaigns.
Gathering Data for personalization:
When it comes to gathering customer data for SMS campaigns, the procedure remains quite the same as email/notification campaigns.
Every brand nowadays uses a CDP, CRM, or a personalization software to systematically collect user data.
Check out our Detailed Guide on Hyper-Personalization to get a detailed insight into data collection.
Other than using the above-mentioned tools, you can also opt for those SMS service providers that have data collection functionalities in them.
Creating Personalised Text Messages:
Here are a few ways in which you can create personalized SMS campaigns:
- Perfect your timings
The customer data you collect can also give you a good idea of the times when your target consumers are the most active.
Other than this here are a few things that you should consider when it comes to the timing of your SMS campaigns.
The most ineffective time to send a text message is between 6:30 am to 8:30 am and 4pm to 7pm.
This is the time when most people are commuting to and from their work, and would not be able to read or respond to your text messages.
Monday has the lowest response rate amongst all others.
Therefore unless your text is specifically relevant for that day, or your target customers are exclusively more active on Mondays, you should not proceed with the same.
You should also be mindful of the respective time zones that your target consumers are located in. Don’t end up sending an SMS at 3 am in the morning.
Sending text messages on Sundays are also not advisable.
The Best time to text:
Although anytime between 10 am to 8 pm can be considered as ideal, the most popular time to send text messages is 12:00 pm.
Also, irrespective of the day, noon is the most popular time to target your customers with an SMS campaign.
- Don’t Oversend
Deciding the optimal frequency of your text messages is quite a tricky task.
Sending a high number of emails can lead to customers tagging your brand as a spammy content sender.
On the other hand, having low message frequency customers forgetting about your brand.
A smart way to ascertain your text message frequency is to closely analyze your Churn Rate, something that we will take about later in this article.
As per Upland Software, a brand should commence with 4-5 SMS a month and slowly increase it to 10 a month, provided the messages have a genuine value attached to them.
SMS Marketing Regulations that you should follow
SMS marketing is a highly regulated industry.
Every country has its own governing bodies that are responsible for framing the regulations regarding sending text messages.
Non-Compliance with such regulations can lead to heavy fines being imposed as well as cancellation of that particular SMS program.
Although the regulations vary for every country, here are a few common ones that every company should follow.
It’s mandatory that brands ask for the consumer’s consent prior to sending them text messages. The opt-in must be received through one of the following sources:
- A message containing a subscriber keyword, with which an interested consumer has to text back the brand.
- A phone number shared online by a customer.
- Through a subscribe button clicked by the customer on a mobile webpage
- Through a sign-up button at the point of sale
Similar to having Opt-Ins, a brand should also ensure that they provide easy opt-out options for their subscribers who want to unsubscribe themselves from a brand’s SMS database.
Brands can send out text messages with keywords “END”, “ CANCEL” OR “ STOP” that can allow the customer to opt-out of an SMS campaign at any time.
SMS campaigns that involve sending more than one SMS to customers must ensure that they send these “opt-out text messages” at least once a month.
This is another mandatory SMS that brands have to send out to their subscribed customers on a regular basis.
Your SMS can have the keyword “HELP” that can be sent to customers.
Secondly, when a customer replies back with the “ HELP” text, he should be informed with the particular SMS campaign he is subscribed to and further information about how to get in touch with the brand.
Like opt-out messages, customer care messages should also be sent out at least once a month by brands.
It’s necessary that the underlying context of your SMS campaigns must be absolutely clear.
In other words, no component of the SMS should be deceptive about its functionalities, content, or features/benefits.
This includes your CTA, the actual text that is sent, terms and conditions, etc.
SMS marketing content should inherently promote positive user experience and should not include any illicit content types like:
- Content that endorses violence
- Adult-based content
- Promoting profanity/hate speech.
- Promoting illegal drugs
Text Messages that are sent to solicit subscriptions from customers should always have a clear and explicit CTA at the end.
Prior to signing up for the SMS campaign, a customer should have a clear idea of what exactly is the signing up for.
The consumer’s consent is of prime importance when it comes to SMS marketing.
Therefore it’s illegal to send messages without prior and explicit consent from the customer.
Also, messages sent to customers after they have opted out of the campaign is illegal as well.
Tracking Crucial KPIs
This is arguably the most important crucial element of any marketing campaign.
Simply running an SMS marketing campaign without measuring and analyzing it is fully futile.
It’s only through analytics that you would be able to uncover those elements where you need to improve your campaign and thus increase your conversions.
Tracking KPIs or Key Performance Indicators have always been the most rewarding trajectory for businesses to analyze their campaign’s performance:
Here are three KPIs that you should positively measure for your SMS campaigns.
- The List Growth Rate
The list growth rate is a measure of how fast your SMS subscriber base is growing.
A steady growth rate indicates that your brand is both acquiring new customers and successfully retaining the old ones as well.
On the other hand, a sluggish List Growth rate can be due to the following reasons:
- Your existing subscribers are finding your current Text messages to be either useless, irrelevant, or spammy.
- The potential new subscribers that you want to bring in are not finding your CTA to be that exciting and hence are ditching your brand.
As a Solution, you need to make changes to the frequency of your text messages, the type of offers you are providing, etc.
You can calculate your list growth rate on a monthly or quarterly basis.
- Attrition Rate/Churn Rate
This refers to the number of subscribers who have opted out of your SMS campaign during a certain time period.
As succinctly mentioned above, there can be quite a few reasons why customers are dropping out of your SMS campaigns.
Some subscribers may leave you simply because they are not interested in your offerings or services.
Others may find your text messages to be intrusive or significantly bereft of any value proposition.
In such a case you need to change and experiment with both the content as well as the frequency of the text messages that you are sending, till the time your attrition rate becomes satisfactory.
- The Response Rate/ Click-through Rate
This refers to the number of customers that have taken action after receiving your text messages.
An action in this scenario primarily includes two things:
- Either the customer is interested in your offer and texts you back with the subscriber keyword.
- He clicks the link at the end of the text message.
This metric would majorly help you derive the success of a particular SMS campaign.
Scoring unsatisfactorily on this metric generally indicates that you need to make certain changes in your SMS campaign.
This can include:
- Changing your current promotional offer (the type or the amount of discounts provided)
- Changing the timing of your text messages.
- Analyzing whether the non-promotional links that you are sending are providing genuine value to your customers.