SMS Marketing is a one of the most powerful engagement channels and should be a part of every business’ marketing arsenal.
Here is what Smart Insights had to say about the power of SMS:
• Over 97% of text messages are read within the first four minutes
• 19% of people will click a link in a SMS campaign rather than just 4.2% for emails
• 30% of SMS campaigns receive average response rates of 30%, compared to 4% for emails
The point here is that if you’re currently not using SMS marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy then you’re leaving sales revenue and leads on the table.
1: Always Ask For Permission
It’s never cool to push yourself on someone – it’s just plain bad manners.
When it comes to text marketing this rule is a critical one to abide by.
For example: when someone opt-in to your SMS list, send them a confirmation SMS along with how the relationship will work:
• How often you’ll be texting them
• The time of day you will contact them (example: if you own a restaurant and have weekly lunch specials)
• Content type: The type of texts they can expect to from you i.e. receive offers, updates, reminders etc.
• How to opt out from your list
Pre-framing the relationship is an essential first step and removes any negative surprises.
2: Lead With Value
The truth is people are intrinsically self-centred, we tend to be attracted to things that appeal to our own interests first.
Appealing to a person’s self-interest is necessary to get their attention and ultimately take the desired action.
This is especially critical in the initial stages of the relationship.
You want your subscriber to look forward to your SMS messages.
I remember getting an SMS from Vodafone, my instant thought was a negative one.
“Why are they contacting me?”
“Did I sign something, somewhere”?
If I have to think about why you’re contacting me on my phone we’re already off to a bad start.
However, after opening the message, there was a little gem inside.
It was a $250 voucher that I could use for any mobile phone!
Guess what my instant reaction was when Vodafone sent me an SMS from that point on?
Positive expectancy > A great emotion to evoke.
Like when a good friend comes around.
Value comes in all forms, not just discounts and offers.
Timely SMS’s that walk you through the stages of pregnancy and what to expect would be incredibly valuable for a first time soon-to-be mum wading through those foreign waters.
Important reminders are incredibly valuable as well as updates.
Make the most of every interaction and you’ll own top position inside their mind (branding), increase action and reduce opt-outs.
3: When It Comes To SMS – Get To The Point Quickly.
This goes without saying since you only have 160 characters and some of those characters have been used up from your OPT-OUT message.
Write your initial message and chop any word that doesn’t earn its place.
1. Keep it short and punchy.
2. Depending on the context, keep the message natural and personal in tone.
3. Replace big words with short words if they can convey the same message.
4. Lead your copy with your offer or your strongest, most compelling reason for contacting the subscriber.
Personalisation works. Period.
This can come in the form of:
- Using the person’s name.
- Making an offer to specific geo-locations where that person is located.
- Targeting an offer specifically for that person.
- Sending them through to a personalised landing page.
- Targeting specific interests (a pet business can send information to a person based on the animal or breed they own)
- Using your name in the text message.
“Hey Jennie, I see that you added the Cleveland boots to your cart but didn’t end up buying. Get 10% off for the next 24 hours. Jessica. To opt-out, reply STOP.”
Mobile is very much a one-to-one channel so look to use personalisation often.
Customer Avatars are incredibly powerful for going deep into personalising your messaging.
5: Mobile Friendly Landing Pages
Are you sending people from their phone to your site?
You better make sure that when they arrive at your ‘home’ everything is tidy.
Make sure that your page:
1. Loads quickly (images are optimised)
2. Looks great on a mobile screen
3. Uses the same words from your SMS on the landing page
4. Makes it easy to find what they’re looking for is easy to find
5. Has no or very few distractions
6. Carries on the conversation from the SMS message (seamless communication)
7. Has clear calls to action (make it easy to move them through your funnel)
8. Is designed to lead them to the single action you want them to take.
6: Frequency and Timing
How often do you plan to contact the people on your SMS list?
If the frequency is too high, they’ll unsubscribe.
If the frequency is too low, and they may forget subscribing to your list and unsubscribe.
This needs a bit of forethought and can be covered in your pre-framing SMS or opt-in page from ‘Tip 1’
How often you text will largely depend on the type of relationship you have.
• If you’re a personal trainer then clients will welcome daily reminders and updates.
• If you’re an eCommerce or physical store and you want to send offers then once a week may be perfect.
• If you’re launching a product then slow to more rapid SMS messaging as the launch gets closer will be required.
Either way, let your list know how often you’ll be contacting them.
7: Show Them Where The ‘Break Up’ Button Is
Place an unsubscribe option on every SMS.
This gives your subscriber or customer peace of mind knowing that they can opt-out whenever they want – kind of like a 30-day money back guarantee.
If you’re doing a good job at SMS then you won’t have to worry about a mass exodus from your list.
Not only that but you can get into hot water by not staying compliant with spam laws.
8: Incite Action With Urgency
It is often said that ‘deadlines’ were man’s greatest invention.
The thought of an impending deadline where a person can lose something is often times enough to push a person forward.
If you care about subscribers taking action then urgency should be a common theme.
“Sale ends at midnight tonight” creates urgency.
If you send them through to a web page with a countdown timer mercilessly counting down every second, minute and hour to midnight this reinforces that sense of urgency.
Never underestimate how hard it is to get a person to take action, whether that be to:
• Click on a link in your SMS
• Go to your website
• Find the product
• Read all of the information (description, money back guarantee etc.)
• Go through the cart process (entering information into all of those fields if they aren’t a member of your site)
• Entering in their credit card details (the BIG one)
The bigger the action you want the person to take the more effort you will need to get them to complete the action.
9: Incentivize To Smooth Out Resistance Points
Remember that scene in “The Aviator” with Leonardo DiCaprio where he was inspecting his new plane which included running his fingers across the rivets to ensure none of them stuck out.
He understood that even rivets would create drag and resistance which could mean failing to break the record for the world’s fastest plane.
Whenever you want an action from a customer, there is often resistance from the customer that precedes that action.
Incentives are a great tool to help you get more opt-ins, conversions, surveys filled in etc.
10: Boost Performance Of Other Channels
Got an event coming up that is important to lead generation or direct sales?
Then how could you be using SMS to make sure that you’re squeezing the most from that moment?
Boost webinar attendance rates with a quick SMS: “Hi Jack, don’t forget our webinar is on in 5 minutes – here’s the link > http://www.webinar.com. See you there!” watch your attendance rate go up.
Increase open rates on emails. Smart Insights said that sending out an SMS right after an email improved email open rates by 20-30% – that’s a huge uplift in response.
According to a 2017 study from Deloitte Australia:
“Thirty-five percent of us check our phone within five minutes of waking up in the morning, with 70 percent using phones during mealtimes with family and friends.”
People don’t check their emails every 10 minutes, but they will be checking their phones.
11: Leverage Exclusivity
Clubs are popular because it means exclusion.
A great way to increase value (and perhaps reduce unsubscribes) is to make offers that exist only inside the SMS channel which are not accessible elsewhere.
• Early or Alpha Access to a product before the rest of the world knows about it
• Special bonuses just for VIP SMS clients
• Free vouchers
• Faster shipping times
12: Track Performance
If you don’t track then it is almost impossible to improve so like any other of your marketing activities make sure you’re able to determine the impact of each SMS campaign.
Track your CTR and conversions, inbound calls, unsubscribes etc.
Not all customers are the same and not all prospects are the same but they do share common traits (needs, wants, desires and outcomes) and it’s important to separate these needs into different groups.
Paper Style used to use a blast & pray approach to email marketing but when they switched to segmentation they increased their open rates by 244% and increased their click-through-rate by 161%.
Once you have segmented lists, it’s far easier to create targeted offers and improve conversions.
14: Increase Sales
An easy way to increase sales that most businesses overlook is simply helping customers complete their purchase.
A typical strategy used by online retailers is to send out an SMS to buyers who added products to their cart but failed to complete the order – called an abandoned cart SMS reminder.
When someone adds a product to cart, that is a strong buying indicator so using a direct messaging method like SMS to let them know that they have left items in their cart is a great way to recover potentially lost purchases.
Another way to help customers complete a purchase is to give them a way to contact you during the decision making process.
Bohemian Guitars increase their sales by 98% in a single month just by giving customers a chance to interact with them via SMS. When customers are close to a buying decision they may have one or two specific questions that are not available on your site – this simple little tactic will help you increase sales.
Another simple way is to use bundled offers, a popular version of this is the “spend this, get that” style campaign that eCommerce stores use to increase their AOV (Average Order Value) goals.
You can offer: free shipping, a free complimentary product or more of the same for a discount.
There are countless ways to increase sales using SMS.
It is generally good practice to maintain a schedule when it comes to broadcast style SMS messages since most humans are conditioned for routine TV shows being a good example.
Determine how often you will contact your list and stick to it.
16: ABT (Always Be Testing)
It’s tough to improve if you never adapt and the marketplace is always moving and shifting gears.
Testing allows you to flip over rocks and uncover mysteries that would otherwise be hidden.
The businesses that lead the way are able to do this because they test constantly and are able to discover new ‘wins’ leaving their competitors to always follow behind.
1. Come up with a hypothesis
2. Test that hypothesis with real customers and prospects
3. Record your findings
4. Endlessly Repeat
It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.
• Test time of day
• Test offer A with offer B
• Test different parts of the buying process
• Test offer in message vs teaser copy with offer on landing page
• Test males vs. females
• Segments (some will be more profitable than others)
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