When you think of creating a marketing campaign, text message marketing may not be the first thing you consider. Most likely you’ll have social media included and email marketing, plus SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing). But as the majority of adults in the UK now own a mobile phone, SMS marketing is a direct way to target users in a friendly and personable way. Many businesses are using SMS marketing to great effect using campaigns to engage with their communities. With the addition of MMS (multimedia messaging service) marketing, which is the use of video and image advertising in messages, you can easily make the most of text message marketing no matter what sort of business you run.
SMS Marketing: The Facts You Need to Know
Is there a difference between text messaging and SMS?
An SMS is a text message, however, it is limited to text content of up to 160 characters. MMS is more flexible, including video, images, audio clips, gifs and interactive elements, with a text allowance of up to 1600 characters. Both SMS and MMS are forms of text message. Other types of message are OTT (Over The Top) which don’t use your internet connection, such as Whatsapp and iMessage. As SMS messages are shorter and do not include multimedia they are much cheaper to send than MMS messages, plus another benefit is that not everyone can receive MMS depending on which phone or provider plan they’re on.
How do I get started with SMS Messaging?
To send SMS messages you will need a directory or list of mobile phone numbers. It’s ill-advised to buy a list of numbers as unsolicited text messages will go unread or reported. Instead, it’s best to build a following organically and invite your customers to opt-in to SMS communication. This can be done when users sign up to email subscriptions if you use, for example, Mailchimp or another email newsletter integration to connect with your customers. Or you can invite your followers on social media to text a certain word or phrase to you to opt-in text message updates. Better yet, run a competition or offer promotions in exchange for opting into your SMS list, as you would with email subscriptions, to easily grow your database.
What kind of information can I send via SMS messaging?
Once you’ve got your database of numbers, it’s time to create a campaign message. Using an SMS service will allow you to import contacts, compose and create messages and even schedule them in advance. In addition to simply sending a standard message to your customers, you may also be able to set up an automated responder message where if your customers ask a question they can receive a standard answer. You could also schedule a series of SMS messages to be sent to your customers over days, weeks or months as part of a drip campaign as you would with emails.
Why Should I be Using SMS Marketing for my Small Business?
If you’re savvy with your SMS marketing plans you can use text messages for many marketing methods. These include sending promotions, discounts and coupons to drive sales, sharing product images and demos (if using MMS) and also collecting customer reviews and testimonials.
Another benefit of using SMS is the ability to launch new products or services to your audience which means you can potentially upsell to existing customers who you know are already interested in specific products or services. As mentioned above SMS services often allow you to send automated messages through a drip campaign to new SMS subscribers to keep them engaged with your business.
Running text to vote or text to win campaigns can also be utilised along with polls on which products are most popular or even which product your customers would like to see launched next. You should be using SMS marketing for your business to engage with your customers through 2-way conversations for customer service and sales. You can also delight your customers by sending automated text messages for their birthday as a surprise. And including a birthday freebie or 15% off their next purchase may incentivise them to revisit your small business time and again.
Five Text Message Marketing Tips
- Keep messages concise. SMS messages, literally “short message service” should be to the point to instantly grab your readers attention. To help keep to a minimum number of characters, you can shorten any links by using a service such as bit.ly or ow.ly (now integrated into Hootsuite) which are customer URL shorteners which also offer link management, tracking and analytics, and branded links.
- Include a CTA. It makes sense that your SMS messages should include a call-to-action as your aim with SMS is to encourage your customer to engage with you, whether that’s by signing up to a specific promotion or to make a purchase.
- Don’t over send. Encourage your clientele to get in touch by sending timely messages but don’t bombard them with too many texts. Spamming people with content, even if well intentioned will make them unsubscribe from your contact list and then you’ve potentially lost yourself a sale. It should always be the aim to keep your customers onside.
- Personalise. This is an opportunity to make your customers feel special and part of your business community. Sending messages addressed directly to their first name rather than a generic “Hi all” will make them feel welcome and build a bond between them and yourself. Most SMS services have personalisation as a feature so this is a very easy step to do. See also the birthday tip above.
- Timing is key. If, for example, you’re a mechanic and your customer is due to bring their car in on a specific date, you can use SMS to message them a few days before their next appointment as a friendly reminder. The other thing about timing is to send a message at an appropriate time of day. You might be awake at 2 am as you’re finishing composing all your messages but will your customer want to be woken by a text alert at that time in the morning?
To communicate a quick message and engage with your audience, SMS marketing works well but it’s worth trial and error to see how SMS, and potentially MMS works best for you. Which marketing methods are you exploring as part of your small business campaigns? Will you be using SMS or MMS messaging in the future?