How to Add SMS to Your Online Marketing Mix

When talking about online marketing these days you hear a lot about social media, SEO and PPC. Today I’m going to talk about SMS and how companies are beginning to use it to good effect.

It’s really important to look at SMS not in silo but as a channel that can complement your other activity. The NHS today launched a great campaign for expecting parents – where they could register for email and SMS alerts that give advice throughout a pregnancy on staying healthy and preparing for their new addition. The fact that the government are using SMS shows that it’s losing the old image as being spammy and is more the perfect way of getting useful information into a recipient’s hands – wherever they are!

SMS is spot on for updates and alerts – my hairdresser sends me a text to confirm my next appointment and then another to remind me it’s that week. The AA have been running a text service for years that updates motorists on the whereabouts of their breakdown assist, nice service when you’re stranded on the side of the motorway.

SMS is also being used in the place of tickets or vouchers – why spend money having thousands printed when you can send someone a code they can show for money off or access to an event?

So how do you get started with SMS?

Well firstly you need to build up a database of phone numbers and these things are pretty personal to people so I’d advise against just buying a list. Same as a newsletter, have a simple sign up box on your website and ask for their name and mobile number if they want to get a ‘reminder for appointment’, ‘ticket to your mobile’, ‘discount code’ or other relevant message. Look to Orange/O2 for inspiration – these guys are the kings of collecting mobile numbers for their campaigns.

Another way to collect opted-in mobile numbers is to get people to send them in, in response to a competition or registration process. You must have seen ‘text register to 52222 to receive updates on your bank balance’ or the likes of? By making it clear what they’re going to receive and then sticking to it, you’ll build trust and in turn your database. Make sure that SMS is the most convenient way for them to receive the information though or you won’t get the sign ups.

Finally select an SMS provider who is going to charge you a fair price for sending out these SMS campaigns. Most charge a pence per SMS and then a cost for shared or dedicated shortcode (the five digit number people respond to). Look around and compare what’s on offer and make sure they can give you good advice on how to get started and run your campaigns. If it’s new territory for you, you want someone who will give good ongoing support and advice.

Good look and happy texting!