SMS marketing… it’s the new kid on the block.
Sure, marketers have been experimenting with it for months, sending one or two short messages. But few of you have fully integrated it into your email marketing strategy, even fewer into your overall marketing plan.
As with anything new, learning how this new channel fits into your cliche of marketing initiatives can be painstaking. However, by avoiding it, you could be missing out on building more powerful brand awareness, increasing the performance of your other channels, and driving new leads.
In fact, when most consumers spend an average of five hours a day on their mobile devices, we’d say you’re missing out BIG time.
To help you understand SMS marketing more fully, and use it to its fullest potential, we’ve put together these 10 SMS marketing FAQs to explain the who, what and how of this channel.
#1 – what are the opt in/opt out rules for SMS marketing?
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) created rules that must be followed if you want to use SMS marketing:
- You must state the frequency of your SMS messages. In other words, how often you’ll be sending these messages to people who have signed up for them.
- You must provide a way to reach customer support, e.g. “Text HELP”
- You must include a message about cellular providers, e.g. “Msg & Data rates may apply”
- You must include a link to your Terms and Conditions
- You must always let your subscribers know they can opt out of messages and provide a way to do so, e.g. “Text STOP to unsubscribe.”
The CTIA incites harsh punishments for those who don’t follow the standards it’s set out for SMS marketing. We’re not talking a slap on the wrist – more like a slap with millions of dollars in fines.
#2 – how often should I send my SMS marketing campaigns?
Frequency of messages should be no more than two to three times a month, especially as you’re building your list and nurturing trust with your subscribers on this channel. Don’t send the same message over and over again. If it’s the same offer, say it a different way.
#3 – what time of day should I send messages via SMS?
Set your SMS marketing campaigns to send only during business hours of business days. This channel is still personal. Even though subscribers have explicitly opted in to receiving messages to you, they’re still going to be wary of this marketing channel. Don’t wear out your welcome; be respectful of subscribers’ time and attention.
#4 – what’s appropriate to promote in my SMS marketing?
The best topics to promote with your SMS messages include:
- promotional – giveaways, discounts, special sales
- surveys – ask your prospects or customer what they think
- customer service – follow up with your customers with appointment times or to get feedback on service interactions
- transactional – send receipts and reminders
- event invitations – invite guests to your events with a short message
#5 – can I include images in my SMS messages?
That’s a big no. At least at this point in the lifetime of SMS marketing, there’s no way to include images in your SMS messages. Less work for your creative team, but a little more work on the creative side for you.
#6 – how many words should I include in my copy?
Not many. This is no time to be verbose. Network providers limit SMS marketing messages to 160 characters. You’ll have to get to the point while enticing your SMS subscriber to take action. We won’t lie – this is no easy feat. SMS marketing is a new channel, and as such, comes with new challenges. No doubt learning to write concisely AND persuasively will be a learning curve, but it’s a must if you want your SMS marketing to be a success.
#7 – what tone should I strike in my messages?
SMS is a casual communication channel in our personal lives, so striking a more casual tone in your SMS marketing messages is appropriate. Striking too professional of a tone with SMS can come off sounding cold or standoffish. However, avoid swinging too far to the other side of the fence in being overly casual. Don’t use abbreviations or slang unless it’s a typical part of your already established branding.
#8 – how do I get people to sign up for my SMS marketing?
You can ask existing subscribers to opt in for SMS marketing campaigns. Remember, you must gain explicit consent from them and record exactly how and when you received that consent. You can also gain new SMS subscribers along with new email subscribers by updating any website forms to include an option for SMS marketing. Again, make sure it is 100% clear what people are opting in to receive.
# 9 – how do I integrate my SMS campaigns with my other channels for message consistency?
SMS isn’t just a powerful channel on its own. It increases the potency of an entire lifecycle marketing strategy when combined with other channels such a website and email marketing. Integrate your SMS messaging through marketing automation campaigns. When someone takes an action (or doesn’t take an action), you can set up a personalized SMS message to send to them to increase the likelihood of conversion.
#10 – do I have to purchase separate software to send SMS marketing campaigns?
You can choose to set up your SMS marketing through software services dedicated to this one channel. You can also set up your SMS marketing through many marketing automation services and email service providers who have now built SMS capabilities into their systems. We recommend the latter approach, as it supports an integrated lifecycle marketing approach that will ultimately make your entire marketing program a success.
conclusion: this is only the beginning
As marketers dive into the basics of SMS marketing, they’re learning more and more about how to be successful with different tactics. It’s only the beginning of this channel’s use for marketers. In fact, the benefits are undeniable and the marketers who don’t take advantage of it… well, they’re missing out.
That’s why at WhatCounts, we’ve added SMS capabilities to our email marketing tools. With automated mass messaging, two-way communication, customer alerts, and send response capabilities, you can interact with customers and prospects on a more personal level. And with integration into our powerful email marketing platform, you can round out a streamlined, segmented, automated content marketing program that brings your audience closer to your brand.
Not a WhatCounts customer? Schedule a demo today to see how you can tie in SMS with your email marketing.