If you own a mobile phone, you have something in common with 98 percent of adults in the United States. SMS Comparison forecasts that 8.2 billion people worldwide will be using mobile phones by 2023.
Advertising has expanded greatly beyond print advertising, direct mail, and word-of-mouth referrals to include digital options, including Facebook, Instagram, influencer marketing, email marketing—and text message marketing.
Text message marketing communicates business news, sales, and promotions to your customers through short message service (SMS) text messages.
The statistics from SMS Comparison indicate that 95 percent of text messages are read and responded to within three minutes of being received, and 48 percent of consumers prefer direct communications from brands through SMS messaging.
Ninety percent of customers prefer text messages over direct phone calls, and SMS has a 19 percent click-through rate, compared to 4 percent on emails and 1 percent on Facebook.
Text messaging marketing relies on a database of names, cell phone numbers, and other information, such as geographic region and customer interests. But, customers must opt-in to your business’s messages before you begin texting with them.
Since you are collecting all this personal data from customers, it’s important to ensure it is stored securely. Services like HiDrive from IONOS offer secure data transfer through SSL256 and AES128 encrypted data storage, which ensures data is uploaded, transferred, and stored securely to add protection against cybercriminals.
You can have an impeccable messaging campaign, but if no one is receiving it, it’s pretty ineffective. To encourage customers to sign up for text marketing, try online sign-up or purchase forms, email campaigns, exclusive SMS promotions, or in-store or on-site advertisements with QR codes for easy sign-up.
Quick response (QR) codes were designed by Toyota in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacturing. Today, they’re becoming extremely popular for mobile marketing purposes because they can direct consumers to a specific URL or trigger an SMS message.
One of the challenges facing SMS marketers is that messaging is tightly regulated under U.S. law, with hefty penalties for noncompliance. SMS marketing is governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act.
The TCPA states that businesses may not send messages to consumers without their documented consent—even if a customer has provided a phone number in the past or has a longstanding relationship with the business.
CAN-SPAM indicates that it’s illegal for businesses to send unwanted text messages to cell phone numbers and requires that any commercial message be easily identifiable as an advertisement and allow consumers to unsubscribe from receiving messages.
Note: CAN-SPAM doesn’t apply to messages regarding existing transactions or relationships, for example, appointments and delivery notifications.
Developing a strategy
Customers feel that text message communications are personal, so it’s important to get your strategy right to ensure they feel connected and not spammed. Many text marketing messages offer customers a helpful and valuable service.
Text messaging marketing ideas
• promotions and discounts, such as coupons or exclusive deals
• general notifications and alerts
• customer support and follow-up
• payment and appointment reminders
• reviews and polls to improve products and brands
• lead generation follow-up
• operational notifications
• contests, competitions, and giveaways
Messages should be short. No one wants to wade through a long, rambling marketing essay on their phone, and you run the risk that they will opt out.
Grab customers’ attention, communicate your message, and close with a call to action. Also, don’t bombard customers with texts. You are excited about your business marketing plan—and you should be! But don’t expect customers to share that excitement when their phone is buzzing every day with marketing messages.
It’s also polite to be cognizant of when you are sending these messages. Always try to schedule them during the day instead of at night, which might appear intrusive and unprofessional.
SMS marketing strategies can be a powerful addition to an overall marketing campaign. Don’t just start firing off text messages without a strategic plan on how they will build your business and grow your market.
And, pay attention to the results because the more specific and customized your messages are, the more successful they will be.
Consider sorting your list by age, area, and interests to help you determine what types of messages to send, frequency and length. SMS campaigns can also allow you to flex in response to your current business situation, such as a restaurant reacting to a slow lunch service by offering a text promotion to entice customers to come in for dinner.
As with any type of advertising, don’t be afraid to adjust or even abandon a strategy if it doesn’t seem to be working.
SMS messages are a great way to connect in real-time with your customers and reach them wherever they are, cultivating meaningful connections and generating qualified leads.