With text messages boasting a response rate over seven times higher than email (45% compared to 6%), it is no wonder that smart marketers have added bulk SMS to their marketing stack. Regardless of how long a business has been utilizing text marketing, one day or two years, many marketers tend to make the same mistakes time and time again.
The best way to get results without undergoing a lengthy process of trial and error is to make sure your campaigns are aligned around a handful of key best practices. These tips are ensured to delight your contacts, improve your customer engagement, and, ultimately, see an increased ROI on your marketing efforts. Get ahead of the curve with these nine text marketing best practices.
A Sticky Keyword
A memorable keyword can mean the difference between a robust marketing list and a skinny one. Since most SMS campaigns likely use a shared short code — a five- or six-digit phone number people text in order to subscribe to businesses text messages — it is important to find a keyword that is relevant to your business and sticks in your customers’ minds. Do some research ahead of time to make sure the word will not autocorrect on a mobile device when new leads opt in.
When reserving a keyword for a short-term campaign such as a seasonal deal or special, keep the keyword active for several weeks even after the promotion ends. Contacts may opt in to receive the special offer and then tell their friends about it afterward, so if the keyword expires immediately after the campaign, your business might miss out on additional referral subscriptions.
If marketers find themselves sending texts only to stay top-of-mind and not actually delivering true value, it could damage their brand. Avoid that by offering a benefit to customers in every text. This means messages need to improve contacts’ lives in some way. Making subscribers feel like they are in an exclusive club with VIP access to special info will maintain a higher open rate.
Ensure value in a text to customers by offering deals that are only available via SMS messaging and see your engagement rise. Marketers and business owners achieve the best results when they offer this kind of deal upfront, as it reminds subscribers of the benefit of signing up for and staying on their list.
One of the best uses of text marketing is to be able to send spur-of-the-moment messages that respond to a flash sale or an event. However, these types of text blasts should be infrequent and businesses are best served by following a regular cadence. That means planning out how often and when certain types of texts will go out.
That way, a business can be transparent before contacts opt-in or informing them of the schedule within an automated welcome message. Some business texting platforms allow you to follow a regular cadence by making it easy to schedule a bulk SMS text to go out at agreed upon times, also eliminating the need for someone to sit in front of a computer to send the message in real time.
Think of real estate marketers: They may want to send texts daily to contacts actively looking to buy or sell a home. Or an insurance agent might text customers quarterly with a seasonal car or home maintenance tips. Text marketing delivers results year-round if executed correctly, so don’t think of it as a one-and-done campaign.
As mentioned above, each text must offer value, but they must also require action. The majority of texts are read within three minutes of receipt. Leverage the power of this immediacy to create a sense of urgency. If contacts see time or supplies running out, they’ll feel more inclined to act on an offer. Include an end date and time for any deals sent via text. Knowing to a degree of certainty when the text is read, make the cutoff within a few hours of sending the message.
Additionally, make all texts timely by including a call to action (CTA) in every text. Let contacts know the next step to take with the information provided. Example calls to action include asking for a reply, clicking on a link, calling a number or showing the text to a staff member at a store to receive the discount.
Considering the amount of time people spend on their mobile devices these days, a text message is the 21st-century version of door-to-door sales. So marketers should think of an SMS message as a friendly visit, not a ping from a robotic system. Try infusing messages with some personality that reflects your brand and catering your message to the customer.
The easiest way to do this is to utilize an SMS tool that makes message personalization simple and then accumulate and use contact data to personalize all messages with tokens like the customer’s first name, purchased product, or appointment date. More than with any other marketing channel, people want to communicate with businesses through text messaging. If contacts make the effort to reply to a marketing text, put forth just as much effort to respond to their message. An SMS marketing platform makes replying to and managing each individual conversation easy.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but many organizations execute text marketing campaigns, meaning the average consumer receives texts regularly from a five or six digit shortcode. If no business name is included, contacts may not know who sent the text, so be sure to mention who the text is from. And just as people might with unknown 10-digit numbers who text them, they may quickly get frustrated and not respond or even unsubscribe.
Marketers new to this medium might think their messages can only contain text, but don’t forget how impactful images or videos can be. Utilizing Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) texts to share images of coupons, new products, a quick video of an unboxing, or an eye-catching GIF further grabs the attention of the consumer. Images work particularly well for restaurants to show off newly added menu items, for retail stores to highlight new stock, or for real estate agents to send an image of a property that just hit the market.
Text messaging is a more personal channel than others like email or direct mail, and if contacts receive irrelevant information, they will unsubscribe. One of the best ways to combat the irrelevance of texts is to create contact groups within your mobile marketing platform. Leverage groups to segment the audience, whether by age, gender, previous offers engaged with, or whatever else makes sense for your business. This level of personalization keeps customers from unsubscribing and further incentivizes them to act on promotions more frequently.
Some types of campaigns are applicable for a broad audience, but more often than not your customers have niche needs or interests. Many marketers begin utilizing text messaging with one use case in mind but then realize how flexible SMS marketing can be across audience segmentation and custom use cases. So many types of campaigns exist and no one market segment is the same, so plan to test out different series to see what kind of approach best resonates with each audience.
Stop making the same SMS text marketing mistakes and implement these best practices to guarantee results. With 97% of Americans texting at least once a day, implement the most popular marketing platform into your team’s strategy.
About the Author: Matt Reid currently oversees global marketing with more than 20 years of marketing, strategy, and management experience at various technology companies. Prior to EZ Texting, Reid served as vice president of marketing for Velocify, a market-leading SaaS provider of sales automation technology acquired by Ellie Mae in late 2017. He also led marketing for adtech company OpenX and built the sales and marketing teams for Eucalyptus Systems, an open-source platform acquired by HP. Reid also led product marketing for all SaaS technologies at Citrix, directing the initial market launches of GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar.