What’s one thing that just about everyone you know carries on a daily basis?
The invention of the smartphone has meant that people are connected 24/7 – and it’s this connection that can be leveraged to reach all sorts of communication goals.
If you send an SMS to a contact – they are guaranteed to notice it.
SMS is a lot more personal, immediate, and obvious in comparison to email campaigns.
But it’s also for this reason that SMS marketing efforts can easily fail.
An email campaign sent at the wrong time of day, for example, won’t result in any fuss making.
But send an SMS at 2am on a Sunday and watch the vitriolic responses flood in.
There’s a lot more to getting SMS marketing right than just avoiding twilight hours. As SMS is a very immediate and interpersonal way of communicating with your audience, there are a number of things you should consider when designing an SMS marketing campaign.
We go through some our biggest do’s and don’ts for SMS marketing in this article.
DO consider whether SMS is the best channel for your campaign
Ask yourself why SMS is a better channel than email for this particular communication, or campaign.
The main reason marketers choose to send their message via SMS instead of email is:
The communication is time sensitive, and the recipients would appreciate being able to read the message in a timely manner.
For example, if you need to notify event registrants of an event venue or time change – they’d be more likely to find the communication useful if it arrives via SMS.
Similarly, if your campaign is promoting an early bird, or short-lived sale on your products or services, your recipients would like to know about it in a timely matter in order to take advantage of it.
SMS isn’t a great channel for ongoing campaigns with multiple communication points, especially if they don’t require urgent attention.
For example, sending links to blog posts, or product landing pages via SMS would annoy more than encourage recipients.
DON’T let your SMS be a surprise. Ask for explicit consent.
None of your contacts should ever receive an SMS from your brand and find themselves asking “who is this and why are they messaging me?” – that’s a recipe for receiving a wave of angry unsubscribe replies.
Your SMS should not come as a surprise.
Your recipients should at least be aware they’ve subscribed to receive texts from your brand, and it’s even better if they were expecting to receive an SMS pertaining to a specific topic, event – or otherwise.
Of course it goes without saying that you absolutely should not send SMS campaigns to recipients who didn’t specifically opt in for SMS communications.
Make sure, that wherever you’re collecting consent for SMS subscription that you’re clearly opting recipients in for SMS.
For example, on your event’s registration form, under the mobile number field – you might want to add a further checkbox field underneath it explicitly asking, “we will be sending important event updates to you via SMS. Is that ok?”
An opt in like this does two important things: it asks for consent to send an SMS, and it explains what kind of SMS communications the subscriber will receive.
The more you ask for consent, and give your subscribers a heads up on what SMS communications they can expect to get, the less surprised – and subsequently annoyed – they’ll be when they receive your SMS.
DO have a clear goal, and CTA for your SMS campaign
As with any marketing campaign, your SMS campaign requires a well thought out end goal.
Don’t send an SMS for the sake of touching base with your subscribers; send it with a specific goal in mind, preferably a goal that relates to an action taken by your recipients.
Depending on the goal you’ve set for your SMS campaign, make sure there are clear Calls To Action in your SMS communications.
For example, if your goal is to get recipients to fill out a feedback survey, then make sure there’s a link to that survey in your SMS.
In the case of links, these need to be raw URL addresses pasted into the SMS text content, which means you’ll want to use a URL shortener to keep your SMS succinct and under the recommended character count: 160.
If your CTA is something else, for example you need recipients to call a number – make sure that phone number is in the text.
Whatever the goal or CTA is, make sure it’s very easy and obvious to recipients.
DON’T send your SMS outside of work hours
How do you feel when you receive a text while you’re eating dinner, or in the middle of the night during your sleep?
You’d probably feel miffed. Your recipients would too.
Avoid sending out SMS communications outside of work hours. Respecting the personal time of your recipients (including weekends) will help you build up trust with them, and avoid mass unsubscriptions.
As for the best time to send your SMS – it depends.
This is when analysing previous SMS publication reports will come in handy.
Observe when most of your messages are opened, and pay special attention to the sort of replies you get depending on your SMS send time.
As a rule of thumb, a lot of people check their smartphones just before they start work, then again before and after lunch, and once more on their commute home.
You can use these sort of phone prone times of day to target your recipients at a time most convenient to them.
DO offer your recipients value
Why should your recipients even care about your SMS?
Sound harsh? It is. But this is the attitude you’re working with.
After all, most people who receive SMS messages are receiving them from people they personally know – if they’re receiving an SMS from a government body, or a company, why should they give it a second glance?
This is when a strong value proposition is important.
What value are you delivering to your recipient in your SMS? For event updates, the value is obvious – your recipient registered for your event, so they will value any event information you send them – as long as it’s important, or urgent information.
If you’re marketing to your recipients via SMS, you have to make your SMS communications valuable – because no one likes to receive ads on their phone.
If you’re sending a series of texts (which we hope you space out, as per our last DON’T on this list…) you want to spend time ensuring that the content of each SMS is different, and that a unique value proposition is made in each SMS.
For example, perhaps you’re sending an SMS campaign which promotes a new service you’re offering.
The value in your first SMS could be an invite to try the service for one month, absolutely free of charge – as a chosen VIP. The value here is twofold, first – they are told they have been specifically chosen as VIP (giving your recipients a much appreciated feeling of importance) and the second value prop is being able to receive a service for free.
Other value propositions include: exclusive sneak peeks, discounts and vouchers, potential prizes, free download links for educational content, important (and relevant) company updates, and more.
DON’T text like a teenager
We get it, it’s hard to work with a character limit –
But do u want ur biz 2 look lyk a teen?
Avoid SMS lingo as much as possible. Sometimes, shortening a word can make sense, and won’t come off as being prepubescent – but a lot of the times using SMS slang should be reserved for personal messages.
If you desperately need to shorten your SMS, then shorten your content – not the words themselves.
How can you say what you need to say in as short an SMS as possible?
Remember, if you’re including links in your SMS – use a URL shortener to save you some much needed space.
As for emojis – these actually work for engagement a lot of the time, and don’t come off as inappropriate (as long as you use relevant emojis).
Inserting a cocktail emoji in your SMS about after-event drinks is both cute, and eye-catching.
DON’T send too many SMS messages
The one surefire way to lose the attention, and subscription, of your SMS recipients is to send them SMS messages too frequently.
If you send SMS campaigns to your recipients too often, then they’ll want to unsubscribe.
As mentioned earlier, SMS is considered a lot more personal than email, and it’s for this reason that people will opt out of SMS communications if they receive too many from your brand – it’s off putting.
When we hear an SMS notification, most of us are expecting an SMS from a mate, or loved one. If we hear a ‘ping’ every day and go to check our phones for that awaited reply from our significant other about what’s for dinner tonight – and instead find the third SMS about an upcoming sale we’ve received this week – we’re going to be understandably annoyed.
Try not to send over 4 texts a month (that’s about once a week). In fact, to play it safe – it’s best to send just twice a month, especially if the SMS campaign is not pertaining to any time sensitive information.
Obviously you may need to send messages more frequently for time sensitive updates, but as we talked about earlier, as long as your recipients opted in and were given a heads up, they’re going to be expecting those texts.
If you’re just sending marketing SMS messages, then make sure to observe the twice a month rule.
SMS: a powerful marketing tool, and one that’s easy to misuse.
SMS is an incredible marketing channel, simply because pretty much everyone is reachable 24/7 via SMS.
It’s also because of this intense relationships with our phones that SMS can be easily misused by marketing teams.
People are aware they are vulnerable to communications at all times when it comes to SMS campaigns, so it’s important that your SMS recipients are properly prepared to receive texts from you.
It’s also integral for subscriber retention that your SMS campaigns mean something to your recipients.
The easiest mistake to make when it comes to SMS marketing is being downright annoying and inappropriate. That’s why it’s important to consider all of our above tips before launching an SMS campaign.
But if you get SMS marketing right, you’ll have a wealth of marketing power at your disposal.