Cell phones have taken over the world. We use them for everything — from making calls to surfing the internet to listening to music. Because of this, our phones are constantly in use. In fact, the average person unlocks their phone 150 times a day. What does this mean for you as a small business owner or employee? That SMS marketing is a viable promotional strategy!
Keep reading to learn what SMS marketing is and why it’s beneficial to small businesses like yours, and seven tips you can use to improve your SMS marketing efforts.
What is SMS Marketing?
According to SlickText, SMS marketing, also known as text message marketing, is:
“A method by which businesses and organizations send out specials, coupons, promotions, alerts, and more via highly targeted, permission-based, opt-in text messages.”
In other words, SMS marketing is the act of contacting prospects and customers via text message in order to market and sell products. The practice is similar to email marketing, except text messages are used to convey information instead of emails.
This marketing strategy has many benefits including ease of use, affordability, and effectiveness. How effective? Just take a look at these stats:
- Over 90% of SMS messages are read
- SMS marketing has an average conversion rate of nearly 14%
- 77% of consumers have a positive perception of SMS marketing
Combine these statistics with the fact that more 5 billion people around the world have access to a mobile phone and it’s no surprise that text message marketing is quickly becoming a go-to strategy for many companies.
7 SMS Marketing Tips
SMS marketing can be incredibly beneficial — when the strategy is used correctly. Here are seven tips to help ensure you text your audience the right way.
1. Know Your Audience
If you don’t know your audience, it will be really difficult to market your business via any channel, text or otherwise. That’s why it’s so important to build buyer personas before you dive into the latest and greatest marketing tactics.
Be sure to include both demographic information like the age, occupation, and income level of your ideal customer, as well as psychographic details like their hopes, fears, and daily struggles.
When you understand your audience on a deep level, you can make sure you’re texting them the right kinds of content. Do they want links to blog posts or just discount offers? By studying your customers and segmenting them appropriately, you’ll never send the wrong messages.
2. Always Get Permission
This is really important! You can’t simply text your customers just because you happen to have their phone numbers in your company database. It’s actually illegal to do so. You need to receive permission to use SMS marketing tactics.
How do you get consent to text a prospect or customer? By giving them the opportunity to opt-in to your SMS marketing efforts. You can do this by:
- Creating an SMS campaign that requires audience members to text your business in order to receive a special offer.
- Giving them the option to opt-in during the checkout phase on your website
- Contacting your audience directly via a channel you already have permission to use and asking them if they want to receive texts from your business.
3. Use an SMS Marketing Tool
If you’re worried about texting your customers from your private number, don’t be. There are plenty of SMS marketing tools available that will help you maintain privacy (for both you and your customers) and message hundreds, even thousands, or people at once.
Some of the more popular text marketing tools out there are:
- EZTexting: EZTexting allows small business owners to easily send mass text messages to their audiences for just $39+ a month. With this tool, you’ll be able to schedule recurring messages, send images, gain customer feedback via surveys and polls, and have personalized one-on-one conversations with your audience.
- SlickText: SlickText is a popular SMS marketing tool in a variety of industries because of its powerful, easy-to-use interface. Users get access to mass texting capabilities, text message scheduling and automated workflows, picture messaging, and more. Basic SlickText features can be used for free, while premium plans start at $29 a month.
- Textedly: Textedly is “SMS marketing services simplified.” This platform makes it easy to text 10 customers or 100,000 with SMS or picture messages (MMS). Beyond mass text ability, Textedly also includes text scheduling, automatic text replies, extended character counts (up to 300 per message), and more. Get started for $29 a month.
Each of these tools will allow you to easily text your customers with discount offers and other valuable content, without compromising security or making you send each message individually.
4. Nail Your Timing
You could craft the perfect text, but if you send it at the wrong time, it won’t be as effective as it could be. When you send your messages is crucial, though the “right” time for your texts depends on the content you send.
For example, a restaurant wouldn’t want to send a lunch time offer at 3pm. Similarly, a sporting goods store probably shouldn’t text about a weekend deal on Monday. It’s too early in the week.
Since most texts are opened and read within three minutes of receipt, SMS marketing is most effective when messages capitalize on impulse. The restaurant in our example above would have been much better off sending its text at 11am.
Also, unless you have a very compelling reason, try not to text your audience before 8am or after 9pm. Doing so could feel intrusive to your recipients and leave a bad taste in their mouths.
5. Keep Your Messages Short
You only have 160 characters to get your point across when using SMS marketing. This means you don’t have time to ramble. You need to state your business in a clear and enticing way, then sign off quickly. That being said, we don’t recommend using abbreviations or emojis as some in your audience won’t understand or be able to receive these kinds of messages.
Rework your texts so that all relevant information is included within your 160 character limit, including a CTA. If you want SMS marketing to work for you, you have to let your audience know what you want them to do after reading your texts.
6. Deliver High Value
Every text you send for your business should deliver high value. If you’re messaging your audience just to say hi, you’ll end up annoying your following. Instead, make sure each of your texts has a distinct purpose and will benefit your recipients in a clear way.
Examples of value-packed texts include discounts, exclusive offers, new product announcements, appointment reminders, and order alerts.
One last tip in regards to value: personalize your communications. If you’re able to address your customers by name and send them content you know they’ll enjoy, your SMS marketing efforts will be much more effective.
7. Optimize Your Strategy
Finally, you need to evaluate your SMS marketing strategy and look for ways to optimize it. Is your text list growing at an acceptable rate? Or are most of your subscribers opting out? This is a sign that the content you’re sending isn’t valuable enough.
What about your open and conversion rates? If your efforts are producing below-average results (AKA less than 90% opens and 14% conversions), take a look at your analytics to learn why.
Most small businesses don’t succeed with SMS marketing right away. There will likely be a trial and error period as you discover what works for your unique organization and customer base. Do your best to quickly eliminate failing strategies and double down on successful ones.
Win With SMS Marketing
SMS marketing is a valuable promotional strategy for small businesses. By reaching your audience on their mobile phones, you’ll be able to achieve incredibly high open and conversion rates. But you have to use this tactic correctly to see success.
Be sure to follow the seven tips we listed above when texting your prospects and customers:
- Know Your Audience
- Always Get Permission
- Use an SMS Marketing Tool
- Nail Your Timing
- Keep Your Messages Short
- Deliver High Value
- Optimize Your Strategy
Have you ever used SMS marketing to promote your business? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!