SMS marketing is a channel that’s often hugely overlooked by the majority of industries today. Businesses sit with large banks of data often using marketing automation software to discover the ins and outs of their customers’ behaviours. Yet this majority still only choose to market to their customers via email.
When looking at the rate of engagement for email marketing versus text marketing, utilising SMS is a no-brainer. The average open rate for email lies between 28-33% whilst SMS boasts an open rate of around 99% (assuming you’ve got a squeaky clean database). And click-through is even more enticing with text messages seeing a healthy 14-20% in comparison to email’s lowly 2-8% CTR. 
Getting started with your first campaign…
- Outline your objectives
Are you looking to promote a specific product or service? Do you want to request feedback from your customers? Here you’ll need to entice the customer with an incentive to respond; for example offering a promotional ‘SMS only’ coupon for a % discount, or the opportunity to be entered into a competition.
- Make yourself known
To ensure the recipient identifies your business as the sender, use your brand term within the Sender ID if possible (some countries have restrictions on this). Whilst always ensuring to use your brand term within the first few lines of your message content.
- Writing your message content
SMS messages are most well received when they’re short and snappy, don’t inundate your customers with unnecessary information: stick to the core offer. There are two different types of messages that will change the parameters on the amount of characters that can be used. GSM – Here you have 160 characters using the ‘GSM alphabet’, which allows for the standard English alphabet as well as some basic symbols and accented letters. You can check your message against the GSM alphabet here. The other format is known as Unicode. This allows for a maximum of 70 characters (per message). And allows for all characters, including those not in the GSM alphabet. Note that should you use any Unicode characters for a GSM intended message the SMS will send as Unicode and you may incur the cost of two messages for each one you send!
- Segment your data
With much higher open and click-through rates, sending more targeted campaigns will prove more lucrative in the long-run. You’re better off sending numerous campaigns, but to smaller and more targeted volumes of recipients, than sending more generic campaigns to your entire database.
- Measuring success
Tracking your campaigns is an absolute must, you can easily do so by building custom URLs for each campaign, there are a variety of tools that can be used to do so including Facebook’s Google analytics URL builder and Google Developers URL builder. This will allow you to easily track campaigns using Google Analytics.
Choosing when to send…
Unlike other channels, the day and time of when you choose to send your SMS campaigns is imperative to their success.
Your industry will likely influence when your SMS campaigns should be sent, to determine this, you’ll need to research into the times at which your audience is most active on their mobile phones. And which align nicely with your business. For example, if you’re a bar owner who’s targeting working people in your local area, with the aim of promoting your happy hour starting at 5:30pm, you’ll want to schedule your SMS campaign between 4:00 – 5:00pm on a Friday for the most successful results.
There are some general rules of thumb however:
- Mondays are a no-go;countless surveys have all indicated that Monday’s are the worst performing days for SMS marketing.
- Being respectful;sending your SMS early in the morning or late in the evening could not only harm the performance of your campaign, but have an adverse effect and cause the recipient to complain.
- Avoid rush hour;as with most channels, rush hour is never a good time to send your promotional material, so as a standard try to avoid sending your campaigns between 6:30am and 9:00am and 4:00pm and 7:00pm.
- Timezones are important;when taking into account all of the above, taking into consideration the country you’re sending to, ensure that the times of send align with where your target audience is situated.
Other things to bear in mind…
SMS can be seen as a more ‘intrusive’ channel compared to the likes of email and social ads, it’s much more direct, so there are definitely boundaries to adhere to. These include the obvious; do not spam your recipients.This will stop you in your tracks, not only will most of your users choose to opt out; they’ll likely complain and get aggravated by your aggressive marketing efforts. Keep your campaigns to a maximum of one message per user per week.
As soon as a new user opts in, don’t wait too long before choosing to message them. Consumers (whether B2B or B2C) are now flooded with marketing promotions and will quickly forget that they ever opted in. Ensure you’re using a number of channels; a combination of remarketing, email marketing and SMS to keep the user engaged. Sending one-off SMS message blasts will not be as effective as an interesting, omnichannel campaign.