SMS is one of the easiest marketing channels to get started with but a difficult one to master. The 160-character limit means every single word counts and crafting that perfect text message will take a lot of trial and error. The following four tips, however, are aimed at first-time SMS marketers just getting started with the channel. If you follow them, you’ll be well on your way to SMS marketing success.
Choosing a bulk SMS service
Trying to launch and run an SMS campaign all by yourself is a recipe for disaster. Bulk SMS services are platforms that allow you to automate much of the SMS campaign so you can focus on other things. Bulk SMS services have a lot to offer. They help automate opt-ins and opt-outs so your subscriber list is always up to date. You can write texts in advance and schedule the day and time for them to be sent. You can monitor open rates and click-through rates to see which messages are most effective and which ones are falling short.
Some services will offer more features than others. Some are better for smaller campaigns while others are better suited for larger campaigns. Once you have your objectives in mind you can compare price points for different package deals and select one that is going to be the most cost effective for your needs.
Building your SMS subscriber list
When you’re getting started with SMS marketing, building a subscriber list needs to be a top priority. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires you to gain permission before sending any text messages so even if you already have customer’s mobile phone numbers, you can text them, not even to ask them for permission to send future text messages. They have to sign up. Through your bulk SMS service, you can register a shortcode (a five- or six-digit phone number that will be easier for consumers to remember than a ten-digit one) and a keyword. To opt-in, people need only text that keyword to your registered shortcode.
The best way to jumpstart your subscriber list is to start with your most loyal customers since they’re the most likely to sign up. In-store signage, especially at the point-of-sale, will inform your frequent customers about your SMS channel and your employees should be trained to encourage regular customers to sign up. Customers who follow you on social media are also likely candidates so regularly post instructions for signing up for SMS messages there as well. If you have an email list, include a push for your SMS channel in your weekly newsletter. Use your company blog and website to advertise your new SMS channel as well. An incentive for first-time sign-ups isn’t a bad idea either.
Many people sign up for the introductory offer or just to check it out because they’re curious but they’ll quickly opt-out if they don’t continue to perceive value in staying opted in. You can’t use SMS like you would traditional marketing channels–to push products or services on potential customers. Your SMS subscribers see enough advertisements as it is. Instead focus on sending texts that make their lives better. These can be SMS exclusive offers, VIP perks, special birthday offers, restock notifications, order confirmations or shipment updates, and appointment reminders.
Not abusing your power
When customers share their mobile number with you and give you permission to send texts to it, they’re granting you a lot of power–after all, people typically guard their mobile number and access to it. And like Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Customers can just as easily revoke permission to text them by simply texting the word “STOP” to your shortcode. The most common way to abuse SMS powers is to text too often or at inconvenient times so make sure you’re not overdoing it.