Getting Started with SMS Campaigns: Key Information
SMS campaigns consist of text messages sent by businesses to their customers. These messages go straight to each person’s phone, making SMS an incredibly direct form of marketing. And with an open rate of nearly 98%, the potential ROI per campaign is high.
These messages can do everything from announcing an upcoming sale to delivering discount codes, links to products and more.
Want to learn more? Read on for a complete guide on SMS campaigns and how to create your very first one.
Why are SMS Campaigns Important?
Traditional marketing efforts, both online and off, rely on a fair amount of chance when it comes to getting target customers to even notice a business’ ads. SMS campaigns, on the other hand, go directly to your customers’ phones and offer the following key benefits:
- Easy implementation — SMS campaigns are as easy to implement as crafting your message and hitting send. Automated SMS marketing software takes care of the rest.
- Higher open rates — Text messages are short, with a limited character and image count. And because they’re quick, texts are easier to read and digest, making customers more likely to open and read through them as soon as they arrive.
- A sense of urgency — While emails are easy to ignore, SMS messages (shorter, a different notification sound, a more immediate form of communication) tap into that “must open now” impulse that comes with getting a text.
- Versatility — Automated SMS messaging can be used in a number of ways, from promoting new product launches and sales to offering special discounts, delivering order updates and even as an element of your customer service.
- Easy integration with email campaigns — Because SMS messages are so versatile they can easily be integrated into your email marketing campaigns, working in tandem to deliver targeted messages not only at each stage of the buyer’s journey but in conjunction with other strategic touchpoints as well.
How to Create an SMS Campaign
Thanks to automated text messaging software, SMS campaigns can be delivered using predictive data models to get the right message to the right person, every time. But before you begin delivering that message, you’ll want to start your SMS campaign marketing process with these crucial first steps:
1. Import phone numbers
Successful SMS campaigns hinge on a solid list of subscribers. Once you’ve gathered a reliable list of phone numbers — and their owners’ consent — you can import those contact names and numbers to your SMS campaign list.
2. Segment your audience
Any marketing effort works best when the right message is delivered to the right person. Segment your audience according to behavioral or product triggers such as new customer welcome messages, new arrival notifications, push notifications about cart or product abandonment and so on.
3. Create workflows for your campaign
Streamline your SMS messaging process by creating workflows that incorporate messaging templates, cross-channel marketing coordination and more. The easier it is for you to create, edit and update your messages and messaging process, the more successful your SMS campaigns will be.
4. Determine your send times
Send time and frequency are important to establish at the outset of your SMS campaign. Determining when to send texts — and how often — will depend on your knowledge of your customers’ preferences.
5. Preview and send
Though SMS messages may seem quick and easy, it’s important to do your due diligence with each message: Does the message provide the right value to the segment you’re sending it to? Do embedded links lead to the right page? Have you checked for spelling or grammatical mistakes? This should be your final checklist before you hit send.
8 Ideas to Create Impactful SMS Campaigns
Like any marketing effort, creating an impactful SMS campaign relies on providing value and delivering the right messages without being irrelevant, uninteresting, or otherwise ineffective.
Here are a few ways to consistently add value — and variety — to your SMS campaigns:
- Incentivize sign-up — You can’t send messages if you don’t have numbers, so the first order of business for any SMS campaign is gathering phone numbers. Incentivize signing up for your messages by providing not only an immediate offer, such as a limited time discount just for signing up but continuing benefits, like early bird opportunities for new sales.
- Personalize your campaigns — Segmenting your recipients into groups will help you create a more personally-tailored message for each group. Your SMS campaign will provide more value if the people who read your messages feel like you really understand what they need.
- Use SMS to send order reminders — Timely refill reminders can encourage customers not to let their products, medicines or services expire, or keep customers informed and up to date on their automatic refills and subsequent charges. Either way, informed is empowered, and customers from all segments will appreciate the heads up.
- Provide timely offers — Emails can languish in an inbox, all but guaranteeing customers won’t see a limited-time offer or learn about a sale until well after its over. Text messages, with their high open rates, are ideal for providing limited-time offers, sales and other “act now” messages.
- Provide personalized offers — Build warmth toward your brand by celebrating and rewarding birthdays, anniversaries and culturally relevant holidays with discounts, thank you gifts or other timely offers.
- Distribute useful product information — An SMS campaign doesn’t end when someone clicks “Buy Now.” Use your texts to tease new products or services with a series of informational messages, offer useful information about recently purchased items and provide links to products or services that might interest new and returning customers alike.
- Connect across platforms — Use SMS messages to encourage your audience to find you on your social media platforms — and use your social media platforms to inform your audience about your SMS messaging option. You’ll reach a wider band of your target audience and also provide existing customers with further value by introducing them to content on platforms they may not have known you have.
- Encourage feedback — Keep your finger on the pulse of the value and effectiveness of your SMS campaign by asking regularly for feedback. Ask your audience to participate in a quick survey through a provided link, and use the answers you receive to improve your marketing efforts.
6 SMS Campaign Best Practices
Having access directly to your customers’ phones is a powerful marketing opportunity, which means there is an equally powerful responsibility not to misuse it. Ensure responsible marketing by putting these best practices into place:
- Allow audiences to opt-in — What’s the only thing worse than missing the opportunity to add SMS campaigns to your overall marketing efforts? Totally tanking a campaign right out of the gate by spamming the phones of customers who didn’t get a chance to choose whether or not they wanted to receive your messages.
- Don’t forget the opt-out option — People appreciate when you make something like opting out of SMS messages quick and painless. Don’t let an overly complicated opt-out process leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.
- Engage in send-time optimization — Sending messages too early or too late in the day will not only send your open rates plummeting, it will also irritate your audience. Find a sweet spot in the afternoon, when most people are available to receive and read texts. Don’t know where that sweet spot is? Send a quick survey asking your audience for their preferences.
- Personalize messaging and campaigns — Integrate iterative tools and techniques into your SMS campaigns in order to offer more and more personalized messaging to your audience. Use predictive insights to better segment your audience and their needs and next steps.
- Provide value beyond discounts — Everyone loves a discount — especially SMS-exclusive discounts — but for your campaign to really have legs you need to provide value beyond the occasional 10% off. Think seasonal tips and reminders or behind-the-scenes peeks — any little extras that will keep people actually interested in the messages they receive from you.
- Don’t forget your CTA — CTAs are the whole reason your SMS campaign exists. Incorporating templates or creating a consistent structure for your messages (offer first, then CTA) not only builds familiarity for your audience, it also ensures that you’ll put your call to action front and center.
SMS Campaigns Open a New Set of Doors for Marketers
SMS gives marketers an avenue to increase the identification of new shoppers with true cross-channel coordination. When done properly, an SMS campaign can connect brands with customers and reach them more effectively than email.
To get started, retailers need a technology platform that can power SMS campaigns the right way — based on real customer data. Once you have the technology required to deliver timely, personalized SMS messages at scale, you’ll be rewarded with greater engagement, loyalty and marketing ROI.