How to Begin an SMS Marketing Campaign

Mobile text marketing is a great way to promote your company or product. If you're thinking about starting an SMS campaign, but aren't sure if you have the time or experience, don't worry! It's not as difficult as you think. In this article, we highlight some of the areas you should focus on when putting together your SMS strategy.

1. Create a Plan and Talk With Your Team

Before you call a third-party SMS company, create a strategy. This plan should outline how you'll use the SMS messages and what you hope to attain. You might, for example, send messages to opted-in customers to promote a product or service. Your goal, in turn, could be to increase customer count by 20 percent by year's end. Always include numbers in the report, which might indicate how other companies have fared using similar strategies, expenses and projected income.

Finally, make sure the entire team is on board. While you, the manager, might be establishing the initial, overall strategy, an SMS messaging campaign is a team effort.

2. Understand the Intricacies of SMS Campaigns

When putting together your strategy, you need to know what makes message superior to others. A couple of helpful tips include:

  • Create concise messages: People don't have a lot of time to read, nor do they want to take the time to read. Let's get to the point!
  • Have a goal: Each message should have a clear objective. Don't leave readers confused.
  • Be timely: Don't send messages late at night or too early in the morning. First, you want your customers to read the message. Second, you don't want to turn them off, which could result in an opt-out of the campaign.

If you're not sure how else SMS messages can benefit your company, talk to a third-party specialist. This professional can set your company up with a strategy that will benefit your company's specific needs.

4 unique ways to use SMS marketing to benefit your company: Part 1

SMS marketing allows you to promote products and services and collect rich details about your consumer base. How many other marketing applications out there combine both of these features into one? If you're trying to guess, let us help you out. The answer is zero.

As a business, streamlining your marketing activity helps you save time and money. Imagine how much more time-consuming and expensive it'd be if you wanted to introduce a new product to the market but had to go through a market research firm to figure out if it was an idea worth pursuing. As you'll see, SMS marketing software removes the middle person.

In the first part of our two-part series, we explore two unique ways SMS can benefit your company.

1. Measure and increase customer loyalty

You can't use this SMS trick immediately because SMS marketing is permission based (customers have to opt-in to receive messages), but, eventually, you can use messages to measure customer loyalty. How do you do this? There are two ways. 

First, let's say you have a mature list of customers' phone numbers, and you want to know who is the most loyal. This will help you decide which customers you should market to most often. Send a mass text message offering all of these customers a discount on a new product or service. Use a CTA such as "respond with YES" and then keep track of how many respond. 

After you've built this new list, you can then work on increasing brand loyalty by sending them targeted SMS messages about new products and deals. By repeatedly going back to the same well, you build brand loyalty and save money, because it usually costs less to retain customers than to gain new ones. 

"SMS marketing is a perfect way to test new product ideas."

2. Test out marketing ideas

As long as the messages don't come off as too pushy, SMS marketing is a perfect way to test new product ideas. Here's an example: Say a bicycle company just released a new racing bike. The product is doing well on the market, so the company wants to begin adding accessories to its line. However, they're not sure what kind of add-ons to produce. Do they focus on developing accessories that increase performance, safety or comfort? SMS marketing is the perfect testing ground for this simple research study.

To conduct the study, the bike company could broadcast a mass text message to its list of customers asking what they value most in bike accessories (performance, safety or comfort). When customers respond, they could be entered into a contest to receive the new product for free.

This type of messaging works occasionally. However, it's important to make clear to customers when they sign up for your campaign what type of messages they'll be receiving. 

4 Reasons Small Businesses Need to Use SMS Marketing: Part 2

Compared to large companies, small businesses often have very restricted marketing budgets. This forces them to get extra creative with their advertising and decreases the amount of room they have to make (and recover from) mistakes. Each advertisement or campaign has to succeed at some level to bring in new business or at least help the company break even.

In the first part of our series we reasoned that SMS marketing software was a perfect tool for small businesses because it's cost-effective and imaginative. In the final part, we'll explore a couple of other reasons mobile business marketing is the right choice for these companies.

1. It's timely 

All ads can be timely, but SMS marketing is more so. Here's why: Businesses can change their message in an instant. They don't have to call a local newspaper to switch around their ad's message – a process that can take well over a week depending on the paper's turn around time. By the time this ad copy is switched, the theme of the message may no longer be relevant to their consumers. This, as you can see, also wastes company money.

"All ads can be timely, but SMS marketing is more so."

Small businesses can create a flexible SMS marketing campaign that includes messages delivered at set times and content that is sprinkled at random, but still relevant times, throughout the month.

2. It's respectful

How many times have you heard the words "respect" and "advertising" in the same sentence? Probably not many. That's because the two have been notoriously polar opposites ever since advertising became a thing many ages ago. Most see advertising as pushy and annoying. SMS marketing, on the other hand, respects a person's privacy and time because they have to opt-in to the campaign and the messages are also short and to the point.

4 Do’s of SMS Campaigns

Are you thinking about starting an SMS marketing campaign? Here are four things you must do prior to using SMS.

1. Do know your audience

Have you ever received a text message from a company looking to, say, sell you landscaping products? That'd be great…if you lived in a house and not a condo. Their message isn't relevant to you (unless you're a landlord), and the landscaping company just wasted money texting that notification. Make sure your organization's campaign is tailored only to those who have a high probability of acting on your message.

2. Do make the message concise

SMS messages aren't meant to be stories. They are meant to either quickly and efficiently pitch a product to the reader to an event or emergency in their immediate vicinity. In both cases, messages must be short, sweet and to the point. If the message is too long, the reader won't even read the first sentence. They'll opt out of the message, or, worse, opt out of the campaign all together.

3. Do have an end goal

What do you want to accomplish in your mobile text marketing campaign? Or, what kind of action do you hope your message triggers in your readers? These are all questions that should be answered prior to texting.

4. Do allow answering

Similar to having an end goal, allowing the reader to respond is vital to the success of your SMS campaign. Think about it like this: Imagine you're selling home improvement products, and you send out a text that notifies people to a new promotion. However, you don't tell them how to take advantage of the promotion either by visiting a website, the store or responding to short code. You've done a better job of wasting money than you did at engaging your audience. Always, and we mean always, allow readers to answer.

4 industries that can use mobile text marketing: Part 1

Mobile text marketing is a perfect advertising tool for every industry. In the first part of our two-part series, we explore four industries.

1. Restaurants
Restaurants rely on returning visitors to stay in business. They need referrals like customers need water or drinks to wash down their delicious meals. And there's no better way to keep in contact with customers than through mobile marketing services. Restaurants can use text messages to blast out deals or promote events. They can also provide customers with incentives to refer their businesses. For example, if customers "like" their social media pages, they could have a chance to win a 20 percent off coupon during their next dinner.

2. Landscaping
There may be no industry better suited to take advantage of SMS services than the lawn care and landscaping sector. In using mobile text marketing, companies can suggest that clients opt into occasional text messages if they want to stay up-to-date about shifting weather patterns or receive updates on common weeds and diseases. Of course, to keep messages concise, they would ask readers to visit the company's blog or social media pages for more information.

3. Healthcare
Healthcare officials, such as doctors, can use mobile text messages to inform patients about upcoming appointments or provide important information about their prescription medicines. Pharmacies can also use messages to let patients know their prescription medicine is ready to be picked up. While these aren't traditional marketing techniques, per say, they accomplish two goals: improve customer service and public relations.

4. Churches
Churches aren't industries, but they're important enough to include anyway. After all, like the other business-types listed, they're in a prime position to use these text marketing strategies. Churches are always running programs for their members, so text messaging is the perfect way to remind them about upcoming events. Some of these events include masses, service projects and guest speakers.

3 ways to create an emergency SMS alert

All governments should incorporate SMS alerts into their emergency-warning plans. Mass text messaging is the quickest way to inform residents about impending disasters or how local emergency personnel are responding to incidents. Here we'll discuss what these messages should include.

1. Be timely
The most important component of emergency SMS alerts is timeliness. An alert that goes out too late could be disastrous to readers. Take for example a situation involving an escaped convict. Police need to inform community residents as soon as possible that someone dangerous is on the loose. Failing to quickly send this message puts people in danger.

2. Be brief, but informative
Although an emergency, whether that is a natural disaster or civilian crisis, has many moving parts, it's always important to keep messages as brief, but informative as possible. How can you do both? Focus solely on what has happened and what the reader now needs to do to follow up on the situation. For example, if an authorized government organization or official messages thousands of community residents an AMBER alert, it'll likely note the following: 1) The child's gender 2) Physical appearance 3) When he or she was last seen and 4) Who to contact if a reader finds her.

3. Be action-oriented
Emergency alerts must always include a call to action. If a government body informs readers about an imminent natural disaster, for example, they need to know what to do and who to contact for more information. If the readers are currently being affected by that disaster, the text message may ask them to reply "help" to a certain short code. This message could then alert emergency personnel of their location.

4 Don’ts of SMS Marketing

In a previous article, "4 Do's of SMS Marketing" we provided tips on how to make your mobile text marketing campaign more successful. We suggested that, before messaging, you need to know your audience, make your message concise, have an end goal and allow answering. Here we provided some helpful tips on what you shouldn't do during your campaign.

1. Don't Forget to Segment
Too many times companies forget to or choose not to segment readers and instead blast SMS messages to a broad audience. This is a waste of resources and is the equivalent of throwing mud against the wall and hoping some of it sticks. While it takes more time to create unique messages for each segment, the payoff is usually much greater.

2. Don't Message Too Often
Don't be a pest! Not only should you create targeted messages, you need to ensure you're not bombarding readers too frequently. A great message will quickly be forgotten about if a person is receiving too many at once. And, the chance they opt out of further notifications increases exponentially.

3. Don't Forget to Let Them Opt Out
There's nothing that annoys readers more than not having the choice to opt out of a mobile text marketing campaign. We're not saying they will do it, but people like to have the option because it's comforting. Make sure, at the end of your message, that you include a line that reads something like, "If you would like to opt out of further messages, please reply "no." 

4. Don't Forget to Proofread
This should be a given, but how often do you receive text messages that are riddled with grammar errors? And we're not even talking about the universal "text-speak" language. Don't take the same approach with your SMS marketing campaign. Take the time to write out each message and then proofread it for errors and consistency.

4 email marketing techniques you can use with mobile text marketing: Part 1

Let's make something clear: Mobile text marketing is not email marketing. The two are very distinct marketing strategies. In email, for example, marketers are likely to opt for a much more detailed, longer form of copy, whereas in SMS marketing the messages are going to (and have to) be much more concise and to the point. Email can also use videos and pictures whereas text messages rely on just that: short messages to engage their audiences. Finally, the greatest difference between the two is this: SMS marketing has been proven to be more successful than email marketing. Open rates and engagement are typically higher because they don't end up in reader's spam boxes.

In saying that, it might seem odd that similarities remain between the two. And, that's not a bad thing! There often exits crossover in marketing strategies that is proven to work across the board, whether that's through email, direct mail or TV spots. In part one of our two-part series, we explore three techniques you must carry over from your email marketing efforts in order for your mobile text marketing strategy to work:

1. Keep it simple, stupid (KISS)

People love simple ideas. They don't have time for complex ones. And this is especially true in the world of SMS. While email advertisements can be longer, they still must be focused and concise. Text messages should clearly, and only, state the situation and the action that  readers need to take.

2. Always test

Not every communication strategy works. Just like in email, some readers respond to your message while others won't. For those who did respond, or that reach out to you directly in another manner, ask them why the text message prompted them to reach out. You can use this information to switch up your message (content or length) to ensure greater response rates. 

4 Qualities SMS Campaigns Must Exhibit

Let's say you receive a text message from a company or organization. Is it relevant? Does it hold any value to you? In this article, we describe a few qualities SMS campaigns must exhibit if their respective institutions want to engage their audiences.

1. Simplicity

Mobile text marketing is not email marketing. That's the first thing you have to realize when putting together an SMS marketing campaign. There is a distinct difference between the two. Email marketing usually involves much longer messages and can often include graphics or videos. And, more often than not, they end up in someone's spam folder. SMS must be simpler. It needs to get to the point in one or two lines, at most. And one of those lines should be a call to action, indicating what the party hopes the consumer, client or reader will do.

2. Value

One similarity between email marketing and SMS marketing, however, is that their campaigns have to be of value to the reader. Have you ever received a promotional text message that just doesn't relate to you? Maybe you're a male who has never bought a beauty product in his life, yet, for some reason you just received an SMS message promoting these products. Marketers must know their audience.

3. Efficiency

Companies need to run efficient SMS campaigns. What do we mean by that? Prior to sending out messages teams must put together an effective plan of action, complete with vetting the target audience and listing goals they hope to accomplish.

4. Timeliness

If a company is issuing a holiday discount on a select brand of footwear, it wouldn't make much sense to message prospective buyers a day or more after the holiday. They need to ensure messages are timely and relevant to the situation.

Why small businesses can’t ignore SMS marketing

Small businesses 30 years ago – maybe even 20 years ago – could rely on newspaper ads to generate business. They might have even been able to put up flyers and obtain respectable results. But that just won't work today. A small business' marketing plan in 2016 must be fine tuned and more direct. It needs to be targeted and incorporate techniques to reach specific audiences in unique ways.

Enter SMS marketing.

"Small businesses should not fear SMS advertising."

Some companies, particularly smaller ones, may be unfamiliar with new mobile marketing techniques. After all, it's still a relatively new form of advertising when we compare it with more veteran practices. Yet, despite its relatively novel entry into marketing, small businesses should not fear SMS advertising.

According to a Responsys survey, more than 70 percent of consumers liked push notifications. These included order-based updates and locally targeted messages such as SMS marketing ads. And, according to FunMobility, user engagement rates are 5 times higher for SMS than they are for email. Responsys supports this claim in their survey when they found that marketers witness significantly higher open and click-through rates than when they use email.

Small companies may feel like they don't always have a lot of resources to put into an SMS marketing campaign. But that's simply not true! In order for campaigns to reach their full potentials, these companies must first create a plan and content schedule.

This plan includes everything from their target market and location to the type of message the company wants to send. The schedule is exactly as it sounds: It's a means to space out messages over time. According to the same Responsy survey, 43 percent of consumers are more likely to click the message and make a purchase if the messages are spaced out over time.

As a small business, it's important that you don't abandon traditional marketing. But you must, absolutely, get on board with mobile text marketing.