It's nearly impossible to ignore a text message. As soon as that notification appears on your mobile phone, you'll get the urge to check it.
That's part of why consumers are 35 times more likely to open an SMS than an email, according to the latest marketing statistics by HubSpot.
If you're not already incorporating SMS marketing into your strategy, then this is your sign to start.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about SMS marketing, including why this strategy is worth your time and energy. We’ll cover:
- What is SMS marketing?
- Types of SMS marketing
- The benefits of SMS marketing
- SMS marketing best practices
- How to start an SMS marketing campaign
Let’s dive in.
What is SMS marketing?
SMS stands for Short Message Service, though you know it best as text messaging. SMS marketing, sometimes referred to as text marketing, is when a business sends text message campaigns, promotions, news, updates, and more to customers and subscribers.
The beauty of SMS marketing is that it allows you to get your business into the hands of your customers. This means that you can reach them anywhere at any time.
SMS marketing is an owned channel, which means you have complete control over it. You decide what messages get sent, to whom, and when. This leads to a more personalized experience for customers from start to finish.
Sending an SMS message is a great way to stay in touch with your customers, especially because it's more personal than email and social media posts. Not only does this build brand loyalty, but SMS campaigns are proven to be just as, if not more effective than other marketing campaigns, like email.
MMS messaging—or multimedia messaging services—also allows businesses to incorporate GIFs or images so that brands can maintain a fun visual experience even via text.
Types of SMS marketing
There are many different applications of SMS marketing. It's a great way to communicate with your customers, inform them of sales and promotions, and get feedback from them.
Let's look at the best types of SMS marketing campaigns.
The ability to send a personalized message is one of the biggest advantages of SMS marketing. You can use this feature to send special offers or discounts only to customers who have purchased from you in the past. This makes them interested in buying again and helps increase sales significantly.
Offers or discounts
As well as personalized promotions, you can also send simple discount codes or special promo codes that can be redeemed for discounts on purchases made online through your website or mobile app. Let subscribers know first about sales and offers via text.
Remarketing allows you to send messages to people who have visited certain pages on your website but haven't completed their purchase yet—for example, those who added items to their shopping cart but didn't check out immediately. These are interested in your product or service but haven't made the leap.
Direct messages to their phone can offer them confidence in your services that can be the deciding factor before they buy.
This type of campaign can lead to sales in an indirect way. You can use SMS surveys to collect information from your customers about their experience with your business and then use that data to improve what you offer or how you communicate with them in future messages.
For example, if someone asks for an item by name in an SMS survey, you’ll know what products they want most so you can send them more information about those in future.
This type of campaign is used to confirm that a transaction has been completed and that all details have been recorded accurately. For instance, you can send your customers shipping confirmation via text.
Not only does this give them the information they need in an easy-to-access way, but it can promote trust in your brand. Having direct communication after purchase creates a positive buyer experience.
Abandoned cart or cart recovery campaigns are used to send out an offer for those who began the checkout process but did not complete their order. The goal is to entice these customers back into your store and increase sales by encouraging them to complete their purchases.
Your SMS can include a direct-to-checkout link to make it easy for customers to complete their purchases. Better yet, offer them an exclusive time-bound discount to nudge them to buy!
Welcome messages are sent out when someone signs up for your newsletter or newsletter opt-in form on your website or landing page. They may include information about special offers and discounts, along with other promotional material about your brand and products/services offered by you or your partner brands/companies involved in this campaign (if any).
The benefits of SMS marketing
SMS marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. It's a direct, personal channel that allows you to communicate with customers on their terms.
The problems with other marketing channels
This channel is growing in importance as other marketing channels start to lose effectiveness. Click-through rates in email marketing decreased 75% since 2014 and Apple's new privacy settings mean it's nearly impossible to track the effectiveness of your campaign.
Digital advertising performance is also declining. The average click-through-rate (CTR) of Facebook ads decreased by 25% in Q1 of 2020 as compared to the year prior. Ad blockers and increasing privacy concerns have done major damage to this channel.
Customers have more touch points than ever before, and growing awareness about the negative impacts of notifications on attention has led to a decrease in trust in more common forms of digital marketing.
SMS marketing as the new standard
SMS marketing has become a clear winner in the future of e-Commerce.
SMS messages are direct and personal, unlike other digital marketing. This makes them more effective in reaching people at the right time and place.
They are sent directly to your customers' mobile phones and not being broadcast to everyone like on email or social media. As a result, customers are more likely to feel valued when they receive a text.
SMS is also an owned channel, so you have complete control over your subscriber list, message design, and delivery schedule. This means that unlike other digital channels (like Facebook Messenger), there is no risk of losing control over your subscribers if another company purchases them from you or if they decide to change their terms and conditions (for example).
SMS also has incredible open rates of over 90%. That means your text messages are more likely than any other type of communication to be read. This increased engagement rate leads directly to increased sales.
Unlike social media posts or website pages, which may take time before they're read, SMS messages are delivered instantly. This means you can catch customers at the perfect time for them or your business. Consumers are busy people who don’t have time to wait around for emails to arrive in their inboxes, or even worse, go through their spam folders. A text can eliminate this risk and time wasted for consumers and businesses alike.
You can send your message at a time when you know your customers will most likely be checking their phones—for example, during the morning commute if you sell business services or after work if you sell consumer goods.
SMS is also an effective way for e-Commerce companies to communicate with their customers when they have a sale or promotion going on. The message can be sent out at the same time as the advertisement is published on social media, or other websites, so that people are alerted about it even before they visit your website.
The best thing about SMS marketing is that it meets customers where they are—on their phones! With all the distractions in our lives today, this is a crucial advantage.
SMS marketing best practices
Before you dive headfirst into SMS marketing, it's important to understand and avoid some common pitfalls.
Allow customers to opt-in and out easily
You need a clear opt-in before sending any SMS messages, so be sure that your customers know what they're agreeing to before hitting send. Be sure to also make it easy for customers to opt out if things change. Your goal is to reach interested customers and avoid becoming a blocked caller.
Identify your business
Be sure to quickly identify yourself in your messages. Customers will ignore suspicious messages from unknown senders—avoid that by leading with your business name!
Send your messages at the right time
No one wants to be woken up at 5 AM to hear about a shipping confirmation! Keep your send time and your customer's time zone in mind before you send any messages.
Don't overdo it
If you send too many messages in a short period of time, you risk annoying customers and potential customers alike. Also, keep in mind that the average person receives about 100 texts per day; if you send them too many messages at once, they may opt-out of receiving alerts from you altogether!
Get to the point
You'll only have 160 characters to identify yourself and provide your offer in your SMS. Be sure to keep that in mind and be intentional with every letter! Keep your messages short and to the point so they're easy to read on those smaller screens.
How to start an SMS marketing campaign
So, you know by now that SMS marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach customers, but what does it take to start an SMS marketing campaign? We've outlined a few steps so you can get started right away and take advantage of this underutilized marketing channel.
1. Start with the right tools
You need the right tools to ensure that your SMS marketing campaigns are successful, so make sure you have quality software that allows you to create a strong SMS strategy.
Research out different companies until you find one that offers everything you need for your business, such as customization options and reporting capabilities. You can start your search with this shortlist of the best SMS marketing software.
Be sure to select a software that integrates with your ecommerce platform and other marketing tools you’re already using.
Look out for tools that offer segmentation and automation based on user data as well as scheduling. Be sure to schedule your messages in advance and test different times and day windows to see what works best for your audience.
2. Segment your audience
It's important to remember that every contact is different. People have different interests, and they respond to different types of content in different ways.
That's why it's important to segment your audience. If you're sending an SMS campaign, then you need to split your SMS subscriber lists into groups that make sense for your business and give people the content they want.
A good SMS marketing platform can help you with this. Alternatively your ecommerce platform, customer segmentation tool, or CMS.
3. Create compelling content
Your content should be focused on what matters most to your customers, which means providing them with information they want to see—not just fluff about how great your company is.
Remember that your customers are busy people with plenty of options when it comes to where they spend their money. Don't waste their time by sending messages that aren't relevant or interesting.
Instead, focus on crafting a marketing message that will provide them with something they'll want. This could be entertainment, information about products/services they're interested in buying someday soon (not now), or tips they can use every day when managing their lives (like how to be more organized at work).
There are tons of examples of ideal SMS marketing templates available on the YotPo website.
4. Start sending
Once you’ve followed all the above steps, it’s time to start sending your SMS marketing campaigns.
Schedule your messages in advance, so they go out at a particular time. Test different times and day windows to see what works best for your audience.
Today, it's important to make sure that your digital marketing strategy reflects the preferences of consumers.
Businesses are stretched thin, and customers are escaping digital marketing efforts with increasing ease. High-performing SMS marketing strategies are the best way to cut through the clutter and talk to your audience on their terms.
SMS marketing is one of the best ways to reach customers, and it's only going to get better from here. By investing in SMS marketing now, you'll be ahead of the curve and ready for future opportunities that arise to make use of the technology.
So, if you're not already incorporating SMS marketing into your strategy, now is the time to start.