SMS offers a multitude of advantages that surpass what email is able to offer, and flaunts the best open rates over any other channel. Yet, only 39% of marketers use it, meaning your brand could easily gain a competitive edge by launching an SMS campaign.
This article will lay out why you should give SMS marketing a shot, and how best to implement it for your business.
Top benefits of SMS marketing
Your customers aren’t tired of it
Shoppers today are tired of ads and seeing unwanted promotions everywhere from their social media feeds, to billboards, to their inboxes, and even in movies. However, SMS marketing doesn’t trigger that same sense of exhaustion. Most consumers (75%) say they’re open to receiving texts from brands they care about, according to research from Klaviyo.
Texts have high open rates
Consider the number of times you check your phone in a day. You likely check your texts exponentially more than you do your email, which underscores why most SMS messages are read within the first two minutes and have open rates as high as 98% (compared to email’s 21.33% average open rate).
You can leverage a high engagement rate
Customers are 4.5x more likely to respond to a text than an email from your brand. This may be because people who are willing to share their personal numbers and opt in to receiving your text messages likely have a strong loyalty or affinity to your brand.
SMS marketing is relatively affordable. While total costs range depending on your SMS software, text frequency, and the size of your contact list, one SMS campaign a week to a list of 10,000 would generally cost around $400 per month, according to MarketerHire.
You get access to a built-in alert system
Unlike an email, which can easily become buried under dozens of others, SMS is hard to miss. To state the obvious, your customers are notified the instant your text comes in and will constantly be reminded of your unread message via the homescreen of their phones or their SMS inbox.
It’s flexible to your funnel
Text messages can engage prospects at various stages of the marketing funnel. You can use SMS marketing based on your customer’s deal stage, company goals, or current campaigns. For instance, you can send offers and capture initial interest, or send abandoned cart texts to close the sale.
Challenges of SMS marketing
It’s easy to annoy your list
While customers may open your messages, that’s not an invitation to send them every hour of the day. Study the best time to send marketing-related texts and remain respectful of the hours when your contacts may seek peace and quiet.
Texts from your business aren’t treated the same as texts from friends. In fact, some customers may grow annoyed with your company if they receive a text thinking it’s from a friend, only to discover it’s from your business.
Use SMS somewhat sparingly to avoid exhausting your buyers.
It’s strictly regulated
Your business could incur major fines and penalties if it’s not up to date with the latest text marketing laws. You cannot, as an example, send marketing texts to individuals who haven’t given explicit written consent. You must also provide a way for recipients to unsubscribe from your texts at any time.
It can be difficult to collect phone numbers
Growing your contact list is a challenge all its own. People may be less open to sharing their phone numbers for fear of spam calls and messages — even more so than they are of sharing their emails.
How to get people to opt in to your text messages
So, how do you convince customers to join your text message campaign? Sometimes it’s about timing. Sometimes it’s about the offer. Try out these tactics to see which earn results.
Promo ads and messages
Offering incentives by way of special deals can be a great way to draw customer interest. For example, you could use language like, “Sign up for text alerts or text ‘SAVE’ to [number] to get 15% off your next purchase” on your website.
Offer order tracking via text
You can give customers the option to get order-related updates via text. This means that they can receive instant notifications whenever their items are shipped or waiting for them at their doorsteps.
When someone opts into order updates, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have opted into promotional texts. However, if you prove that your texts are helpful and respectful, they may be more open to SMS marketing down the line.
Opt in at checkout
On your checkout page, consider adding a checkbox with language such as, “Click here to receive text updates, early access, and exclusive deals.” This gives them an easy way to opt in to SMS marketing, without them having to type in their phone number again (assuming you collected mobile numbers for tracking updates).
Offer customer support via text
Customers may be interested in joining your SMS program if they know that on top of marketing messages, they’ll receive prompt customer support. For instance, fashion brand Sassy Jones offers live text chat for any product-related questions Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
6 Types of SMS marketing messages
You’ve built a contact list, so now, what can you do with your SMS program? The short answer: a lot. Below are several ideas you can run with in order to engage and delight your customers.
1) Promotions and exclusive deals
This is probably the most common form of SMS marketing, if only because it’s the most appealing incentive for joining a contact list. Words like “exclusive” and “limited time” inspire customers to take action right away.
Also, offering discounts specifically to those who sign up for texts (as opposed to people who sign up for emails or texts) could be beneficial.
2) Special event invitations
If your marketing strategy includes online or in-person events, text messages can complement it a number of ways: event promos, day-of details, reminder notifications, and registration confirmations.
Texts can also encourage attendees to participate in contests or “text to win” sweepstakes related to your event. As an added bonus, you can gather more customer data based on what you ask them to text in. For example, you can say “text us your favorite thing about our product to win a free sample,” with the disclaimer that their responses can be used as testimonials on your website. Or, you could ask customers to text one improvement they wish you had, and use their answers to guide your product roadmap.
3) Loyalty or reward tracking
Use text messages as a platform for a loyalty program. You should offer rewards that are available only to people enrolled in your text loyalty program, such as birthday surprises, pop trivia (and prizes if someone answers correctly), surveys, and early access deals.
Not only does a text-based loyalty program regularly engage your customer, it also provides a channel for your brand to receive instant feedback on products, events, or other brand-related questions.
4) Order notifications and tracking
As previously mentioned, texts can serve to keep your customer in the know about their order status. If you provide customers a way to receive real-time updates on their orders, they’re less likely to contact your support team for help.
In this vein, you’ll want to send notifications for every step of the fulfillment process: order confirmation, delivery estimate, shipment confirmation (“Your order is on its way!”) with tracking details, and final delivery confirmation.
5) Polls and surveys
Employ text surveys and polls to stay connected with your customers. You could send a customer satisfaction survey (e.g., “How satisfied are you with your order? Text the number 1 for ‘not satisfied,’ 2 for ‘satisfied,’ or 3 for ‘very satisfied’”) or a poll asking for their input on a new product release. Once you receive a person’s answer, you could even follow up with an autoresponder that asks customers to elaborate.
6) Shared content
Last, but not least, text messages offer a quick and easy way to send your best content out into the world.
Be sure to avoid spamming customers with unwanted or too much content. However, it doesn’t hurt to promote the occasional ebook, blog, or video, especially if it relates to a topic your customer has expressed an interest in previously.
5 SMS marketing tools
Sending a text message is as easy as sending a marketing email — if not moreso. The market is full of text messaging software to choose from, many of which allow you to schedule messages, personalize your texts, and/or track engagement.
Twilio offers APIs that allow developers to craft a solution for sending and receiving texts (or even making calls) at scale.
Yotpo offers text messaging tools built specifically for eCommerce brands that let you create advanced SMS flows, segment your texts, and manage 1:1 conversations.
With Klaviyo’s SMS tools, it’s easy to create sign-up forms to increase SMS subscribers, as well as automate texts that align with your marketing emails.
Omnisend includes a library of ready-to-use workflows for cart abandonment text messages, birthday rewards, and more so you can get your program up and running as soon as possible.
Salesmsg acts as a shared inbox for your team to manage outgoing and incoming text messages on the fly. Your messages stay organized in one place, and customers are guaranteed a fast response.
Wrapping up — Use SMS marketing for more conversions and engagement
SMS marketing is an undeniably effective way to get your brand in front of your customers. It has various rules and regulations to abide by, along with several best practices to achieve success. But once you’ve done your due diligence and decided how best to utilize SMS for your brand, there’s no telling how far it can take you.