SMS Marketing: the Good, the Bad, and the Don’t You Dare

In this article, we’ll go over the dos and don’ts of SMS marketing, along with other critical mistakes to avoid which we like to call the “Don’t You Dares.”

Ding! What happens when you hear that familiar text notification sound coming from your phone?

You pick it up to check out who sent you a message, right?

If the text you receive isn’t from a family member or friend, it might be a marketing message from a business.

Does that text delight you?

Or does it annoy you?!?!

when sms goes wrong

Your reaction probably depends on if your business friend followed SMS marketing best practices. Because there are right ways and wrong ways to do SMS marketing.

Following the SMS marketing tips in this article will ensure your SMS marketing campaign is effective, not rage-inducing.

Before we hit the tips, let’s briefly talk about what SMS marketing actually is.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing, which stands for short message service marketing, is a strategy that allows businesses to send messages to customers via text.

In other words, SMS marketing simply refers to text messaging.

Businesses can send text messages to prospects and customers to increase brand awareness, boost engagement, and even generate sales.

There’s really no shortage of reasons to send SMS marketing messages. Here are just a few ways you can use them:

Offer a Coupon

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Promote a Sale

abercrombie & fitch sales promotion text
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Announce New Products

new products text
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Send Updates and Notifications

updates & notifications text
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Create Appointment Reminders

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Collect Customer Feedback

customer feedback text
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To receive these text messages, customers are typically required to optin to an automated system by first texting a keyword to a 5 or 6 digit shortcode. For instance, a pizza restaurant might instruct customers to text the keyword “PIZZA” to 78302 to get exclusive deals delivered by text.

After texting the keyword, the user’s phone number is stored in a text message marketing software like Intercom or Sendinblue. From then on, the business can send text messages to the user.

Now that you know how SMS marketing works, let’s take a look at the benefits of sending text messages to your customers and target audience.

The Top 3 Benefits of SMS Marketing

While some marketers think SMS marketing is dead, preferring to use email marketing to get in touch with their customers, there are many advantages of SMS marketing that can’t be beat, including:

1. Lightning Fast Delivery

Mobile marketing is lightning fast. When you send out a text message, it gets delivered immediately.

Because of this, you can send time-sensitive messages like flash sales and event-related promotions. For instance, you could send users a message on Cyber Monday to maximize sales for that single day.

So, once you press that “send” button, hundreds of users will instantly get your message.

Plus, people always have their phones with them, increasing the chances that your message will get seen as soon as it’s delivered.

In fact, 90% of SMS messages are read in the first 3 minutes.

2. Much Higher Open Rates

When users get an email marketing message, they have to “check” their inbox. This means receiving a notification, opening up a mobile app, and scanning through the messages in their inbox. And with so many email and social media notifications on a daily basis, users are more likely to ignore them.

But, with SMS marketing, users will be instantly made aware of a new message with a text notification. Since people usually get texts from their friends and family, those notifications are less likely to be ignored.

Plus, most phones display a snippet of text messages right on the screen. SMS marketing is more personal and stands out from other notifications, causing SMS marketing to have a higher open rate than any other marketing channel.

What are SMS open rates?

Well, in 2018 they were as high as 98%!

Compared to email marketing at an open rate of only 20%, SMS marketing blows email out of the water.

A good open rate is important to the success of your SMS marketing campaign. If users aren’t opening your messages at all, you’ve basically wasted your time.

3. Higher Response Rates

Not only do SMS marketing messages get opened by users more frequently, but they also have higher response rates too. The average response rate for SMS marketing is 45%.

Your response rates can show you if your SMS marketing messages are effective. For instance, if a particular message has a low response rate, you can tweak your message and send it again. If more users respond the second time, you know you’re on the right track.

Plus, higher response rates can lead to more sales.

For many customers, receiving texts is their preferred way of communicating. And 70% of customers say that SMS is a good way for businesses to get their attention.

By communicating with customers the way they want you to, your business is more likely to see engagement and get a response.

Aside from these 3 awesome benefits, SMS marketing is also cost-effective and easy to set up.

Now that you know the advantages of SMS marketing, you’re probably ready to jump right in. But if you want to create successful SMS marketing campaigns, you need to do it right.

SMS Marketing: The Good

If you want to impress your customers with your SMS marketing and get the results you’re looking for, check out these tips.

1. Do Get Permission

Just because you have a contact’s phone number, doesn’t mean you can go ahead and use it. Texting people without permission or using a cell phone marketing list to message people randomly isn’t just a big oopsie. It’s actually illegal.

Companies must get explicit permission from users before texting them. You can do this in 2 ways:

Create an optin campaign. This encourages customers to text an optin keyword to a shortcode, like in the example from Subway below.

You can use OptinMonster to create a killer campaign just like this!

Require customers to check an optin box, similar to how users optin to your email list. For instance, when a user makes a purchase on your website, at checkout you can provide them with the option of opting in to receive text messages.

It’s also important to tell users what type of text messages they can expect to receive from your business and how often. Be clear about what messages you’ll be sending and keep your promise to users.

That means if users are expecting to get text messages about flash sales only, don’t send them text messages promoting new products.

2. Do Use SMS Marketing Tools

Don’t bust out your personal cell phone and start texting customers. Instead, use SMS marketing tools.

SMS marketing software lets you automate your SMS marketing. This means you can automatically follow up with contacts, set the exact delivery time, and send text messages triggered by particular behaviors. For instance, when a customer makes a purchase, you can automatically send them delivery updates.

SMS marketing software also makes it easy for you to track your results. You can see how many people opened your message, how many times the link was clicked, and so on.

There are a number of awesome SMS marketing services on the market, one of the most well-known being EZTexting, which is an SMS and MMS marketing software (MMS stands for multimedia message services and allows you to send pictures with your messages).

Plus, many popular email marketing services offer SMS marketing features such as ActiveCampaign and Sendinblue.

3. Do Make it Valuable

When users optin to receive text messages from you, they expect those messages to be worth their while. So, don’t send text messages just because. Instead, you’ve got to make them valuable.

One of the easiest ways to make your text messages valuable is by offering up something amazing like special deal or a coupon that’s exclusive to your SMS marketing list.

Exclusive offers will make your customers feel like VIPs.

Take a look at this example from Avenue. They include the phrase “Just for you” in the text message to make recipients feel extra special.

Even if your deals aren’t as exclusive as they may seem, if the user feels special, they’ll be more likely to appreciate the offer and take action.

4. Do Include Personalization

When customers get messages that are tailored specifically to them, they’re more likely to pay attention and take action. In fact, personalized content outperforms static content by 42%.

So, be sure to include personalization tokens in your SMS marketing. Some eCommerce personalization examples include addressing each recipient by name, sending offers/information based on their location, and mentioning recent activity with your company like recent purchases, cart abandonment reminder, shipping update, and more.

For instance, this example from SMSBump uses the recipient’s name and mentions their recent activity on the website.

5. Do Keep it Short

A text message is not the appropriate format to send users an entire novel, you only have about 160 characters to work with. So, keep your text messages short and simple.

Start off with something attention-grabbing, like the amazing offer you have to share. Adding a phrase like “SPECIAL OFFER” to the beginning of your message will pique the interest of users, encourage them to keep reading, and drive them to take action.

SMS Marketing: The Bad

Now that you know what to do when it comes to SMS marketing, let’s take a look at some mistakes you should avoid making.

1. Don’t Forget to Consider Timing

Imagine this: it’s the middle of the night, you’re sound asleep in your cozy bed, then you’re suddenly awoken by a text message from a business. Can you think of anything more annoying?

It’s also not fun to get texts from businesses early in the morning, on a holiday, or during dinner with your family.

To avoid this type of situation, which could cause you to lose even your most loyal customers, you need to consider timing with your SMS marketing.

Pay attention to the time zones your customers are located in and send messages during appropriate times.

According to SMSGlobal, the best time of the day to send general marketing messages is between 10:31 am–11:29 am or 2:34 pm–3:27 pm.

2. Don’t Use Slang and Abbreviations

As we mentioned earlier, with text you only have 160 characters to get your message across. But, that doesn’t mean you should be including text slang and abbreviations in your message to make it fit in that limited space.

Text slang and abbreviations aren’t understood by everyone. So, if you use them in your SMS marketing, you risk confusing users. If your customers don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, they’ll ignore your message.

For instance, take a look at these texts from Pizza Hut. “Conf” instead of “confirmation” may not be understood by everyone. Plus, all of the abbreviations look unprofessional.

Avoiding text slang and abbreviations ensures your communications look professional and that they’re understood by recipients.

3. Don’t Fail to Identify Yourself

Have you ever gotten an anonymous, mystery text message? Did you answer it? Probably not, you have no idea who you’re talking to!

Remember that when sending text messages to customers.

If a customer receives a text message without knowing who it’s from, they’ll likely consider it SPAM or suspect it’s been sent to the wrong number.

Just as you would when you meet someone in person, introduce yourself. When customers know that it’s your business that’s communicating with them, they’ll be more likely to respond. Plus, repeating your company name helps improve brand recognition.

For example, look at the text below from Starbucks. They introduce themselves right away.

4. Don’t Be Too Salesy

Nobody wants to communicate with someone that’s constantly trying to sell them something. While the main goal of your SMS marketing campaign may be to generate sales, it’s important that you’re not too salesy.

Remember, your customers are human, so talk to them in a conversational, friendly tone.

SMS Marketing: The Don’t You Dare

Finally, it’s time to go over the worst SMS marketing offenses. Avoid committing these SMS marketing crimes at all costs.

1. Don’t You Dare Send Too Many Texts

People get bombarded with an overwhelming amount of marketing messages day in and day out, whether by text, email, direct mail, social media ads, and so on. In fact, 16 million SMS messages are sent per minute, that’s a lot of texts!

It’s important that your business doesn’t add to that stress by sending too many texts. If you don’t have anything important to say or offer, it’s best not to send a text at all. By sending out only your most exciting texts, you’ll avoid annoying customers. Plus, when they do see that they’ve gotten a text from you, they’ll know it’s something good.

2. Don’t You Dare Forget to Give Instructions for Opting Out

As we mentioned earlier, it’s illegal to text your customers without their permission. It’s also illegal to not give users a way to opt-out of receiving your messages.

You should always give users a way to opt-out of receiving messages at the end of each text you send, especially the first text you send them. This gives any user the chance to opt-out easily if they subscribed accidentally or for some reason didn’t know what they were signing up for.

For example, Dominos instructs customers to text “STOP” to opt-out and they also include the standard “text messaging rates may apply” disclaimer.

 

Reminding users that they can opt-out at any time will help you avoid annoying them and it will also ensure that your SMS marketing list is filled with people that are actually interested in getting your messages.

3. Don’t You Dare Forget to Include a Call-to-Action

A strong call-to-action is important in any type of marketing campaign. A call-to-action encourages users to take the next step, moving them along in the buyer’s journey.

And your customers aren’t mind readers, so if you want them to do something, you have to ask them.

Including a call-to-action in your SMS marketing campaigns is as simple as adding phrases like:

  • Sign up for free!
  • Click the link to see what’s on sale!
  • Use this code at checkout for 20% off!
  • Complete this survey for a chance to win!

In this example from Chipotle, they instruct recipients to visit their website and provide a link to click.

Whatever step you want users to take after reading your text message, make it clear.

That’s it! That’s the good, the bad, and the don’t-you-dare of SMS marketing!

Text messaging can be a powerful tool for your business, allowing you to send important messages straight into the hands of your customers. So, take advantage of it. Remember to keep these tips in mind and you’ll be a pro at SMS marketing.

Now, start creating some amazing optins to get those SMS users. Join OptinMonster today!

Allison Hott
Allison is a writer who loves all things digital marketing and WordPress. When she’s not writing you can find her curled up with a good mystery book, eating cheese, and spending time with her dog, Splinter (yes, like Master Splinter from the Ninja Turtles).

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