That’s because SMS boasts an impressive 98 percent open rate and is nearly eight times more likely to elicit a response than email.
Your customers expect to hear from you via text message. In fact, 85 percent of consumers want to receive text messages from businesses and have the option to reply.
While SMS marketing is rife with opportunity, one wrong move could frustrate your audience and quickly derail your campaign.
Stay tuned for 10 SMS marketing tips that will actually get you results.
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Why do SMS messages perform so well?
Forge Deeper Connections Through SMS Marketing
Unlike other marketing channels, the text message inbox is a place reserved primarily for family, friends, and personal contacts that’s free of unsolicited messages.
When a customer lets you enter a personal space like this, it’s a privilege.
Consumers expect a significant portion of commercial or “junk” email, phone calls, and direct mail, but not SMS messages. As a marketer, it’s important to understand and preserve the sanctity of SMS messaging.
If you want to see results from your SMS marketing campaigns, it’s essential to map out your strategy before sending any messages. Poorly worded or timed texts could easily agitate your customers, reflect poorly on your brand, and encourage unsubscribes.
10 SMS Marketing Tips to Help You Engage Customers
Avoid abusing this powerful tool by following these 10 SMS marketing tips:
1. Build a Qualified ListThe first step in any SMS marketing campaign is to build a contact list. But you don’t want just anyone on this list. You want “qualified” subscribers — people genuinely interested in receiving content, offers, and promotions.
How do you acquire qualified subscribers? By getting people to opt in to your campaigns voluntarily.
To opt in to an SMS marketing campaign, a subscriber must text a Keyword to a short code. For example, if you wanted someone to join your list, you would ask them to "Text JOIN to 1234.”
The best way to attract opt-ins is to advertise your short code through other media channels. You’ll want to entice people to join and include opt-in instructions. The more places you announce your SMS campaign, the longer list you’re likely to generate.
You can also strategically place your ads to reach the people who are the most interested in your brand. Here are some ideas to help spread the word about your SMS campaign:
- Include opt-in directions at the bottom of every marketing email. This way, you build your list with contacts paying close attention to your messages and content.
- Post photos on social media. Your social media followers represent a loyal group of customers and prospects. Ask people to opt in with branded posts and pictures.
- Advertise on your website banners. Prominently display SMS campaign ads on your site banners. Frequent visitors will take note and join.
- Create a contest. Need to incentivize people to join your first SMS campaign? Offer a small discount to anyone who opts in — display this information anywhere you typically advertise sales and promotions.
- Display ads in your brick-and-mortar location. Posters, flyers, banners, and table tents are great ways to display opt-in directions. Place them in high-traffic areas where they will receive the most attention.
- Run digital ads. Target digital ads with opt-in instructions to prospects and customers. Offer a small incentive to join to grab their attention.
2. Segment Your SubscribersBecause SMS messages are personal, you’ll want to craft unique messages for different customer segments.
Depending on your campaign goals, you can divide your contact list into groups based on demographics, location, and interests.
An easy way to segment subscribers is by using secondary Keywords. After contacts opt in to your campaign with a primary Keyword, you can set up an auto-reply that asks them to segment themselves with a secondary keyword.
For example, let’s say you run a winery called The Grape Escape. You want to target different SMS marketing messages to your three primary customer groups: wine-lovers, cheese connoisseurs, and event planners. After a contact opts-in to your list, you could ask them to segment themselves with the following message:
“Thank you for opting in to receive messages from The Grape Escape. For wine discounts, text WINE, for cheese offers, text CHEESE, for event discounts, text EVENT. Reply STOP to cancel.”
You can set up your campaign to separate contacts depending on their response to this message. This way, you can target relevant content at each segment and give accidental subscribers a way to opt out.
3. Provide Exclusive and Significant ValueSMS messages are intimate; the last thing you want to do is spam your subscribers with annoying messages and low-value offers. SMS marketing campaigns should offer deep discounts and high-value content — more so than any other marketing channel.
Treat your SMS subscribers like VIPs. Give them access to sales before the rest of your customers, send them exclusive event invitations, and provide content not available to your general customers. Offering exclusivity will decrease unsubscribes and incentivize others to join.
Sending entertaining, shareable content through SMS can also help humanize your brand. Games, quizzes, access to one-on-one conversation, and other interactive content endear you to your audience while providing you with valuable customer insights.
4. Reward LoyaltyYour SMS contacts have gone out of their way to connect with your brand and take the actions you want. So why not reward them with tiered discounts, promotions, or content?
The longer someone stays on the list, the deeper discounts they receive. As customers see the value of list membership go up over time, they’ll become more likely to stick around.
5. Craft Clear and Concise MessagesWith SMS, you have limited characters to get your message across. Make sure to use clear and concise language so subscribers can instantly see the value you’re providing.
Follow these guidelines when crafting SMS marketing messages
- State value upfront. Tell your subscribers what they will get right away. Don’t wait until the last sentence to state your offer.
- Use simple language. Avoid complicated, flowery language. Don’t use big words, and state your message plainly.
- Include a call to action. Every message should include the next action you want your subscriber to take. Do you want them to “Show this text” for a discount, “Use promo code at checkout,” or “Click here”? Let them know and provide a shortened link if necessary.
- Use keywords strategically. Your keywords should be short and easy to spell and remember. Avoid keywords that could be autocorrected. Set up secondary keywords with the same auto-reply to accommodate misspellings.
- Be transparent. State the frequency and number of messages you’ll be sending when a contact opts in.
6. Align Your Message Send Times With GoalsTiming is everything — especially when it comes to SMS marketing.
Your audience doesn’t want to be bombarded with text messages. You can send helpful, non-marketing messages (alerts, reminders, and notifications) more often, but limit promotional messages to one per week to start.
Of course, you can test this cadence slowly to strike the right balance for your list. Above all, your messages should have a clear, timely purpose to make the opt-in worthwhile to your audience.
The day of the week is also crucial if you want SMS messages to have the biggest impact. Avoid Mondays, rush hour, early mornings, and late nights. Receiving messages at these times could disturb subscribers.
Consider these guidelines when scheduling your SMS marketing messages:
- To drive more midday traffic, send messages before lunch so people can visit your store, office, or website on their lunch break.
- To get more traffic on the weekend, send messages on Thursdays and Fridays from 2-5 p.m.
- To increase event attendance, send reminders and special offers periodically spaced out starting a few weeks in advance of the big day.
- Send seasonal and holiday marketing messages one to two weeks before customers need to take action.
7. Convey UrgencyAlso consider setting up an expiration window instead of a hard deadline. This way, every contact has the same number of days to take advantage of your offer, and late subscribers have ample opportunity to take advantage.
8. Optimize Your CampaignsAs with any marketing campaign, you should always strive to improve. To get the most return on your investment and compile learnings for future campaigns, you should:
- A/B test. Test different aspects of an SMS message by sending two versions to two groups. When the campaign is over, see which one performed better. Only change one attribute at a time so you get precise results.
- Track links with UTM codes. Track the click-through rate of different segments with UTM codes. These are links that lead to the same webpage but look different in your analytics system, so you know who clicked the most.
- Provide unique promo codes. Send different promo codes to various segments so you can see which group performs better.
9. Track PerformanceCalculating a few key performance indicators will provide insight into the success of your SMS campaign and where to adjust for future campaigns.
Measure these campaign KPIs to reveal whether or not your SMS efforts are paying off:
- Redemption rate. The number of people who redeemed an offer versus the number of people who received a campaign. This KPI lets you gauge the attractiveness of your offer.
- Click-through rate. Only applicable if your campaign contains a link. It’s the number of people who clicked versus the number of people you sent the campaign to.
- 24-hour opt-out rate. The number of people who opted out of the campaign in the first 24 hours versus the number of people who received the campaign. If this number is high, you may not be providing enough value in your first message.
- Opt-in rate. The number of subscribers you acquire per day, month, week, or year.
- List growth. Measures how well you keep subscribers on your list over time.
- Opt-out rate. Measures the number of unsubscribes over a specific period.
10. Choose The Right SMS Marketing ServiceIf your customers are entrusting you to invade their SMS inbox, you need to deliver an exceptional experience by using a reputable SMS marketing platform.
CallFire’s SMS marketing service has everything you need to execute a strategic SMS marketing campaign.
CallFire’s SMS marketing service lets you:
- Mass text your audience in minutes. No setup fees or sales interactions required.
- Automate text messages to save time. Set up recurring text messages and reminders to stay top of mind, and schedule them to run at the best time for your users.
- Text or call from any number. Generate outbound texts from a phone call or rent textable numbers.
- Add advanced workflow features. Developers can use CallFire’s API integration to set up complex message sequences.
- Add unlimited customizations to your messages. Quickly add dynamic variables to personalize messages.
- Build your text list. Rent and promote text keywords to opt in to text communication.
- Easily manage text communications. Set up lists and set text limits to better control your text cadence. Manage auto-replies from the CallFire platform.
- Bring your contact list from CRM. CallFire integrates with popular CRM systems to make building your list and scheduling texts faster than ever.
For over a decade, CallFire has helped companies reach more people generate higher sales and engagement through SMS marketing campaigns.
Ready to use some of these SMS marketing tips in your first campaign? Sign up for CallFire for free today!