Despite the fact that SMS marketing remains one of the most cost-effective mobile marketing channels, a surprising number of small businesses still aren’t utilizing it. Some assume that it’s something only big name brands do and others feel they aren’t technologically savvy enough to launch an effective SMS campaign. In reality, SMS is one of the easier channels to get started with and small businesses can benefit from SMS as much as big brands. If you still need convincing, look at the following stats.

Why your small business needs SMS marketing

Text messages have an open rate of 98%. Can any other marketing channel–digital, mobile, television, radio, print, you name it–say that 98% of the target audience gets the message? People fast forward through or mute commercials on TV. They switch radio stations when commercials start. Print mailers go straight to the trash unopened. Even emails, once heralded as the fastest and most effective way to communicate with customers, are deleted unread 80% of the time.

Furthermore, 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being sent.

It’s the ideal channel for time-sensitive communications like flash sales or shipment notifications. Not to mention click through rates. CTR for SMS are 36% meaning more than one third of the time, recipients will click on included links when they’re sent via SMS.

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Choosing a bulk SMS service

As a small business owner you’re too busy to manage an ever-changing database of phone numbers and you won’t always be able to stop what you’re doing to send out dozens or hundreds of text messages.

That’s where a bulk SMS service comes in. You create the message and set the time you want it to be set, the bulk SMS service takes care of the rest including adding and removing numbers as people opt in and opt out so that you’re staying compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Build your phone number list

Since you need consumers’ express permission before texting, you can’t just add all of the phone numbers of repeat customers you do have to your SMS list. What you can do is reach out to them via any channels you’re already using such as email to inform them of your SMS channel and how to opt in (your bulk SMS service will assign a short code and keyword for easier subscribing).

Offer a good incentive and advertise it to build your list.

Set clear goals

You shouldn’t be investing in SMS just because– have a clear goal in mind.

  • Are you trying to establish a more loyal customer base?
  • Are you trying to get more unique customers?
  • Are you aiming for more online orders
  • Are you hoping to drive foot traffic?

Having a clear aim for your SMS marketing campaign increases your chance of success.

Determine your target audience

If you try to tailor your SMS campaign to everyone you won’t win over anyone.

Intead identify certain qualities that your ideal customer already has and strive to create an SMS campaign that will really speak to those kinds of people.

You may want to segment your audience and send different messages to different groups of customers so that the messages you’re sending are more relevant.

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Tailor your messages

Many SMS campaigns fall short because the messages aren’t carefully thought out. Choose your words carefully, be concise, and clear as possible. Include a direct call to action and take care to always use proper grammar and spelling.

Don’t resort to emoticons and textspeak. Also be mindful of the timing of your texts-limit quantity and set appropriate hours. Some market research can help you determine when the most effective times for texting will be given your audience and industry.

Pay attention to KPIs and constantly adjust as needed

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that will tell you how well your SMS campaign is working. Pay attention to how open rates, click-through rates, and coupon redemption numbers fluctuate with your various messages and look for patterns to see which kinds of messages are most effective at helping you reach your goals and then fine-tune your strategy appropriately.