What is SMS Marketing?

What is SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is a cost-effective marketing tactic that you can use to reach out to potential customers and grow your business. 

Text message marketing works in a similar way to email marketing. In this case, however, you deal with phone numbers instead of emails. 

Once potential customers sign up for your business SMS updates, you will contact them with information and announcements through their phone rather than the internet.

It’s safe to say SMS marketing is outdated, right? Not at all; you need to know how to utilize this communication platform with the right message for your target audience. And if you aren’t sure where to start, it’s never too late to learn how to build an effective text marketing campaign. 

Get started with this beginner’s guide. 

How Does SMS Marketing Work?

Before we delve into the essentials of this marketing strategy, let’s look at the SMS meaning

SMS is an acronym for Short Message Service. Short texts are the most prevalent forms of text messaging. 

Running an SMS marketing campaign requires web-based software that allows you to send SMS to a large volume of recipients at a relatively low cost. In addition, such platforms offer you access to innovative features to enhance your campaign, including keyword triggers, virtual dedicated numbers, merge-send personalization, and more. 

Once you’ve got your tools in place, the process of sending texts is seamless: create a message, pick/personalize your contact list, and hit send. Your text message goes through an SMS gateway to reach your target recipients. 

You can send two types of messages with text marketing:

  • Campaigns messages: They are often bulk messages used to communicate general information (like events and updates) or promotions (like sales and coupons).
  • Transactional messages: They’re the messages triggered by a particular event or behavior. They communicate timely and relevant information to a specific recipient, unlike campaign SMSs often targeted to the masses. An example could be a shipping notification or order confirmation. 

Which Businesses Benefit from Text Marketing

Regardless of its size and industry, any business can benefit from incorporating text message marketing into its digital marketing strategy. But there are specific businesses that can’t do without SMS marketing: They include:

  • Travel companies: They need text marketing to relay real-time information, including weather alerts, flight time details, cancellation, and more. 
  • E-commerce stores: They regularly send promotional and transactional messages via texts.
  • Service providers that require booking: If you offer services (like dental services, plumbing, HVAC, physical therapy, etc.), you save time and money by sending SMS reminders to keep your clients updated on their upcoming appointments. 
  • Corporations: If you run a large organization, it may be hard to communicate with every employee face to face or via email. SMS is an excellent tool to ensure your employees receive your information fast. 

Why Choose Text Marketing for Your Business?

As mentioned earlier, SMS marketing records among the highest engagement rates. According to a Business 2 Community report, the response rate for SMS can be as high as 45% compared to email marketing’s 6%. On average most people take 1.5 hours to reply to an email, but it typically takes the average person 1.5 minutes to respond to an SMS. 

SMS register a click-through rate of 19%, far exceeding Google Ads (2%), email (2.43%), Instagram (0.52%), and Facebook (0.98%).

Consider also that SMS inbox has no spam filter, increasing the chances of recipients reading and engaging with your marketing messages. By reaching potential and existing customers on their favorite platform (the mobile phone), you enjoy more ROI (return on investment).

Text message marketing is also an excellent channel for targeting new markets where data and Wi-Fi are unavailable or less affordable. 

Additionally, you can track text marketing performance using your preferred web SMS platform. Analyze metrics such as received messages, response rate, and more, and adjust your campaign accordingly to drive better results. 

What Types of Numbers Should You Use for Text Marketing?

Before navigating the waters of SMS marketing, it’s a good idea to figure out the ideal type of number for your business. There are two options: a dedicated shortcode or a long code. Both can send and receive SMS, but there are significant differences to consider. 

A shortcode is a five or 6-digit number that only your business can use. A dedicated shortcode typically costs about $1,000 per month. An advert using a short code can be something like “Text ENROLL to 70700 to enter our promotion.” There are several shortcomings to a dedicated shortcode:

  • They are costly 
  • They take longer to set up
  • They make marketing messages impersonal and less effective. 

For the above reasons, this section will focus on the best option for modern businesses- long codes. You can choose between a toll-free number and a 10-digit long code (10DLC). 

Toll-Free Numbers

A toll-free number is the most versatile type of number for text message marketing. It’s easy to set up and can send and receive SMS and MMS. And while you can text thousands of people, you can still engage in 1-on-1 conversation with your customers. 

If you’re considering toll-free texting, you can enable your current toll-free numbers so you can process calls and SMSs. Alternatively, you can purchase a customized number that includes your business name from a third-party site like 800.com. An example could be 1-800-MY-STEAK or 1-833-MY-STEAK. 

10-Digit Long Code (10DLC)

Also known as local A2P messaging, 10DLC is a newer option that allows you to send a high volume of text messages from a local number. 

10DLC gives you the best of both worlds: mass SMS support and lower overhead costs. After businesses register with the new A2P 10DLC process they can send up to 180 MPS (messages per second).

10-Digit long code numbers have lower monthly costs than shortcodes, making them a perfect choice for businesses that can’t afford shortcodes or looking for a cost-efficient alternative to their current plan. 

Also, you can convert your existing landline to a 10DLC number, so you don’t have to invest in a new number to accrue 10DLC benefits.

SMS Marketing Best Practices 

Kick-start your text message marketing campaign with the proven tips below:

  1. Obtain Consent 

While text messages see an extremely high open rate, this won’t benefit your bottom line if you send unsolicited messages. Digital etiquette demands that you send SMS to someone who has granted you permission to do so. 

You must also comply with local rules and the CTIA regulations designed to protect consumers from unwanted solicitation. CTIA is an abbreviation for Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.

Talking of consent for SMS campaigns, you can pick between written permission and consent by keyword. For written permission, businesses typically use online forms to request users to opt-in. With consent by keyword, you set up a specific keyword for your SMS marketing campaign. permission can be given through the terms of service your customers agree to or by the employee contract or policies they agreed to when hired. Users express consent by texting that keyword to your SMS number. 

it’s a best practice to tell your recipients how to opt-out which is typically handled automatically by replying with the word STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE

  1. Rethink the Structure of Your Messages

You have multiple characters only to communicate your message via text. Also, consider it’s easy for your recipients to opt-out if they think you are wasting their valuable time. As such, keep messages concise while maintaining professionalism. Avoid annoying abbreviations like 2day, thanx, and gr8.

Try creating marketing SMS using the following structure:

  • Company name: Mention your company name at the beginning of the text. 
  • Customer name: For personalization purposes, consider including the customer’s name in the opening line of your SMS. With a web SMS platform, you can generate personal details such as customer names, so you don’t have to create thousands of different personalized texts.
  • The offer: highlight the value for your recipients. It could be a promotion, special deal, coupon details, flash sale, etc.
  • Conditions and instructions: Let recipients know the actions they should take to qualify for your offer. Also, mention how they can redeem your offer.
  • Expiry: Create a sense of urgency by mentioning the expiration date of your offer.
  • Opt-out: Prevent legal liabilities by including an opt-out option.
  1. Watch Your Timing

It’s a good idea to send general marketing texts within reasonable business hours to avoid annoying potential customers. 

General marketing SMS include coupons, loyalty program deals, and URLs to landing pages. We recommend sending them between 10.30 am and 11.30 am, and between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm. Some exceptions apply, though. For example, a coffee shop owner will be okay with sending marketing messages earlier. 

If you’re offering a weekend sale, consider sending an introductory message on Thursday to give your prospects enough time to prepare. After which, send a reminder SMS on Saturday morning. 

Always reply quickly when a customer responds to keep them interested– it doesn’t matter if it’s an automated text.

  1. Consider the Frequency 

Don’t blast your customer’s inboxes with messages; else, you come off as annoying and risk losing valuable leads. Instead, consider sending two to six texts a month. 

It’s also courteous to let your recipients know the number of texts to expect from you monthly. For example, you can include a phrase like “Receive up to 5 messages/month” in the initial auto-reply of your SMS marketing campaign. 

  1. Track Performance 

Savvy marketers and business owners monitor the performance of their SMS marketing programs. They then use the gathered data to refine their campaigns. Here are the most critical SMS marketing metrics to measure:

  • Delivery receipts: Use delivery reports to assess the percentage of successful SMS deliveries.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): It’s the percentage of recipients who click on URLs within your marketing texts. If you’re receiving CTR below 19%, consider tweaking your SMS delivery time, offer, or structure. 
  • Opt-out rates: To obtain this figure, divide the number of unsubscribed users by the total number of subscribers—the average text opt-rate range between 2.5% and 4%.
  • Cost per conversion: It’s the campaign’s total cost divided by the number of conversions. 
  • Coupon usage: If fewer than expected recipients redeem your coupons, consider adding some appeal to your offer. You can also leverage dynamic MMS. 

The Bottom Line

SMS marketing is among the best ways to promote your business and reach out to your customers. Treat it with respect it deserves, and adhere to the above guidelines to get superior results down the line.  

To start using all the benefits of text messaging to market your business, click here for a 14-day free trial of TextP2P.

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