SMS messaging is still one of the most-loved features of smartphones, quick and easy. It is also one of the most engaging when it comes to interacting with customers because smartphones are omnipresent. Despite showy app developments in the market and advanced features, SMS technology has endured.
What is SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing as we all know is an abbreviation for “short message service.” Also known as SMS marketing, brands use to connect with their customers.
SMS can be differentiated from email in the sense that text messages are very short, with a word limit of 160 characters and more immediate delivery; often giving your customer a push notification that it’s arrived.
SMS marketing is great for three main things:
- Boosting brand awareness,
- Creating engagement from customers,
- Trigger more sales.
As an unusual and underused channel, SMS marketing offers eCommerce marketers a unique opportunity to build a relationship with their customers.
Why Use SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing may work well during high-volume events, like the holiday season and special occasions but what about all around the year?
The Top 3 Benefits of SMS Marketing
There are a few characteristics of SMS marketing that give brands who use it correctly a competitive edge over others and helps in standing out:
1. SMS is quick
SMS campaigns are received instantly, and most importantly, they’re read almost immediately considering the users have the phones next to them 24*7.
2. SMS have higher open rates than email
Where customers have to look through their inbox for email messages, SMS gives you an immediate notification on your phones. The customer would any day use SMS as their first preference. Also because the notification stays in place until the message is read by the recipient. This means that a customer is more likely to at least open your SMS and go through it once.
3. SMS gets a higher engagement rate
Not only is the SMS usually read even before it’s opened as the notification keeps flashing on the screen as soon as you receive one. What’s more? SMS aren’t just opened more frequently, they also earn more clicks over an email.
What Makes SMS a Powerful Marketing Medium?
The benefits of using SMS marketing are tangible- and this doesn’t mean you should forget email marketing completely and replace it with the highly used short character service. SMS shouldn’t be overused and merged in your email marketing automation workflow, SMS can pack an extra punch for time-sensitive offers.
Why SMS marketing works better all the time? The blend of the immediacy, mobile push, and infrequent use get your customer’s attention exactly when you want it.
Email is so widely used that customers wait for it now. However, a well-scheduled SMS is more effective because it is the new thing being practiced. Add an incentive for the customers in the process, and you’ve got a message that’s hard to ignore for any customer.
SMS Best Practices
While SMS isn’t a new platform, it’s something that marketers are only now beginning to use effectively and in a refined manner. While there’s a bit more learning on that front than the best practices already carved out for email marketing, you don’t have a large brink for error.
Given the juxtaposition of SMS for customers, it’s important to get it right int the first go itself.
#1. Get Permission
Just like email marketing, it’s important to get permission from your customer for SMS marketing too. This is a simple practice as you can add the option of including a name, phone number or other details like emails in the form that you need to fetch in your newsletter subscription field.
However, start off by giving full disclosure to your customer: tell them what kind of text messages they should expect to receive from you further on.
Secondly, don’t misuse the permission granted to you. SMS is intimate, immediate, and unconcealed in getting your customer’s attention. Use your SMS marketing campaigns for critical information. Overusing this channel or abusing it by any means is the fastest way to kill it for your customers in no time.
Also, offer the customers an option to opt-out with every message. Just like email, you also need to make sure you give customers an unsubscribe link or a number they can text “STOP” to just in case they can’t relate with your brand at all and they need to unsubscribe from the service.
#2. Use an SMS Marketing Tool
SMS marketing can make you all excited, but before you blast out your phone and start sending manual messages to your customers, know that you should really be using an SMS platform for this.
A great SMS marketing tool can help you nail your strategy in several ways:
- You’ll be able to automate your SMS marketing easily and send bulk messages at once.
- Certain SMS marketing tools will help you with an option to incorporate SMS directly to your email automation workflows.
- SMS campaigns can be triggered the same way emails are, with the same level of segmentation that allows you to target your campaigns.
- If you don’t have SMS permission, you can trade another channel so your customer still gets the message you want to send them.
An SMS marketing tool will also give you an insight into important metrics so you can see exactly how much your campaigns are making an impact. And with that data, you can adjust your campaigns to try different tactics to get the highest ROI possible.
#3. Incorporate Rich Media into Your Campaigns
Mobile messaging includes more than just plain text. It’s now possible to get the engagement rates of text messaging soaring while providing customers with the experience of an app.
Rich media messages (RMM) can also be used to share appointment scheduling and payment processing.
Improve the customer experience and engagement, click-through rate by sending media like video, images, GIFs, via mobile messaging. Rich media allows for more flexibility in the types of messages sent.
- Stores can send product images or coupon GIFs.
- Stores can send out delivery notifications.
- Stores can send abandoned cart reminders to the users.
- Utility companies can send bill payment reminders and late payment notices.
- Banks can send payment reminders that link directly to a payment gateway.
- Businesses can send interactive surveys.
#4. Keep it Short, Sweet, and to the Point
Not only should you keep your SMS campaigns numbered, but limits on characters are way too critical and of great importance for your campaigns to run smoothly and successfully. Your customers’ attention span means that you need to get to the point quickly.
If you have an offer, if your message has important information about their order, include it in the message. Make it a regular practice to always include a link so the customers can get more detailed information about the offer/update you’ve sent.
Another great practice is to follow up with an email. If you’ve sent something important, make sure you’re sending a follow-up e-mail as well in case the customer needs any help.
While the objective is to make sure your SMS campaigns are relatable enough, it’s even better when they’re personalized. As mentioned earlier that a great SMS marketing tool will certainly allow you to use segmentation for your SMS campaigns. If you can target them the way you do your emails, you already are ahead of your competitors without a doubt.
Always maintain the closeness with your customer by using their first name, or personalizing your messages. Send offers that are relevant based on location, or previous purchase behavior. This helps build and maintain the relationship and helps you retain so many of your lost customers as well.
#6. Experiment with Timed Delivery
Even though your customers have their phones next to them nearly 24/7, trust me, they don’t want phones buzzing in the middle of the night receiving disruptive messages during meals or holidays. Remember, many people have their text message notifications enabled on their phones all the time. This means that sending a text message at 3 am is going to result in a very grumpy customer. Sending messages at the right time ensures that the customer will open and read them. Timing also creates a positive customer experience.
Additionally, test your campaign success using metrics: such as open rates and click-through rates, in order to identify your top customers and regions. Send messages based on the specific area so your offers get to them when they’re most receptive.
#7. Keep It Conversational
Smartphone users are used to more casual, short written compared to other, longer-form mediums. Avoid coming off as too generic by using appropriate abbreviations and embrace a more playful, indulging and conversational tone. A customer’s text inbox is a very personal space to them, so craft messages that are similar to the other relevant texts that they receive. Keep the formal language for your website or other types of communication, like email marketing.
#8. Include a Strong Call to Action
Don’t send out messages just for the sake of it; make sure that each and every message you send to customers includes a strong CTA. The best CTAs excite your audience because they motivate customers to take action. For example, give customers a way to take advantage of promotions or confirm appointments as a way to move along your conversion funnel.
Some sample SMS messages for marketing:
- Confirm your appointment today!
- Leave us a review for a chance to win an exclusive prize!
- This deal ends today!
Include the following best practices to encourage customers to click on CTAs:
- Use language that’s directive and urgent. Steer away from overused CTAs like “Download,” “Sign Up,” and “Join.” Never make it complex and lengthy for the customer.
- Use bold colors for CTAs. Choose a color that contrasts with your brand colors to make the CTA stand out from the rest of the message yet for the customers to relate to it easily. You want to make it clear to customers what exactly you expect them to do.
- Keep them precise. CTA buttons are small and to the point.
#9. Incorporate Branding
16 million text messages are sent across the globe every minute, which means your customers are constantly receiving messages. It’s vital that your brand is immediately recognizable, so it stands out from other brands. Your logo and brand name should go in every message to create brand awareness. It drives repeat sales, retains customers, and keeps you on top of their mind.
Also, be consistent with your branding. Use a template. Keep the same colors, fonts, and images across your website, emails, and other marketing promotions.
#10. Create Urgency in Messages
Creating a sense of urgency pushes your customers to take advantage of deals before they expire. Cash in on your customers’ fear of missing out by creating a sense of scarcity in your campaigns and include phrases like:
- Limited time offer
- While stock lasts
- Only For Today
- One-time Deal
5 Additional SMS Marketing Ideas To Go With
You can have all the best practices and tools in the world, but without new and fresh ideas to implement, you’re still nowhere. Here are five ideas that can help you score a lead in these perfect situations
1. New Sign-Ups
There is nothing better than a well-timed SMS message to welcome your customers. Everyone expects and likes a gesture of a welcome email, but adding an immediate SMS for it will be a pleasant surprise for your customers.
If you are offering an incentive for signing up, send the discount code or link via SMS immediately after they fill in their details, then follow up that SMS with an email in case the SMS wasn’t enough to get the customer to purchase or the customer didn’t notice it in the first place.
2. Special Days Discounts
SMS requires a special occasion, and what’s a better special occasion than a customer’s birthday or anniversary? Show your customers you care with an offer that lasts for a few days around their special day. You can either put the offer directly in your SMS message, or you can send it as a teaser for them to check their email for a special birthday gift. It sends a sense of a more personalized relationship.
3. Time-Sensitive Offers
Maybe you have a special promotional offer going on, and you want to make sure your customers have every opportunity to take part. For your very best sales and promotions, you can add a sense of urgency to your text messages. As long as you’re not sending SMS campaigns every day, you should be doing good.
4. Cart Abandonment
Cart abandonment is a HORROR to any eCommerce brand. With almost 7 of every 10 carts abandoned for any number of reasons, it’s easy to see WHY!
Normally, a cart abandonment email is battered as the best response to this situation. But its made even better if and when you amalgamate with an SMS. Understand your channels’ strengths and weaknesses thoroughly.
SMS is well attuned for immediacy, and email for information. This combination can be super effective, but know the limit of your SMS workflow for an abandoned cart. You just don’t want to overdo it and put the customer off.
5. Order confirmation and shipping updates
Where SMS can really gleam, is in the order confirmation forms and shipping updates. Giving your customers the choice of how they receive their updates, gives them a feeling of empowerment. Your customers can enjoy the benefits of updates to their shipping directly on their mobile phones without having to open an email. It’s also a great idea to place a link in the SMS so they can check out more details about the tracking of their shipment but make sure it is all hassle-free and not much of a pain to the customer.
SMS marketing adds tremendous value to your eCommerce marketing strategy when adapted and implemented in a right manner.