SMS Marketing: An Often Forgotten Goldmine In A Good Mobile Strategy
Looking for a new way to reach your customers that your competitors probably aren't trying yet? Columnist Brian Patterson recommends SMS marketing. Read on to learn why.
There are a lot of digital marketing channels. Most of our time and effort is spent on the most visible channels: search ads, display ads, SEO, social, email and content.
While these are definitely key strategies that deserve a lot of attention, it can sometimes mean that other smaller but equally powerful channels fall by the wayside.
One of these oft-missed channels is something that potential customers (and probably everyone you know) use every day: SMS.
Think about it: You send at least a couple of texts each day. Even with competition from chatting apps like Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp and WeChat, people worldwide still send 350 billion text messages per month. Why? Because SMS is available on virtually every cell phone, whereas other apps face problems with platform compatibility and internet access.
For the right business, SMS can be an untapped fountain of prime opportunities. Here are five reasons to optimize your marketing with SMS:
1. SMS Is Permission-Based
SMS marketing is like (compliant) email marketing in that it requires user consent. The mobile user has to opt in before you send them the first message.
This model establishes trust between the business and the consumer. Because subscribers agree to join and stay on the list, it’s safe to assume that your customers think your messages are valuable.
2. SMS Is Mobile-Native
Because texting was built for mobile, users intuitively understand its benefits and limitations. Many web apps, on the other hand, were built as websites first and only later developed for mobile.
In other words, there are no learning curve or user interface problems with SMS marketing. It just works.
3. SMS Has A High Open Rate
According to a study by MobileSquared, more than 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes. Ever get that kind of response on an email campaign? Email marketing averages an open rate of 22 percent, 29 percent for tweets and 12 percent for Facebook posts.
Because text messages are short and relatively infrequent, people’s text inboxes are much less saturated with marketing messages.
4. Most Consumers Are Willing To Receive Promotional Text Messages (Under The Right Circumstances)
While businesses need the right incentives to get people’s phone numbers, certain organizations can obtain phone numbers just by offering services like text message reminders.
According to the same MobileSquared study, 54 percent of women are willing to sign up to receive updates and reminders from various health, sporting and spiritual organizations.
With the right incentives, people are willing to share their phone numbers. A recent study discovered that almost 14 percent of people are willing to share their phone numbers with businesses to receive promotional text messages without receiving any incentive.
However, that number increases drastically when there is an incentive — 57 percent of people are willing to receive promotional text messages from a business if they receive a discount.
5. SMS Isn’t Going Away
According to the SimpleTexting study, people are more likely to send a text message to a friend or family member than to call them directly.
Additionally, 53 percent of people said they send about the same number of text messages now as they did a year ago, and 24 percent said they send more.
This finding shows that SMS has staying power in a world that has become saturated with multiple chat and messaging platforms.
Getting Started With SMS Marketing
While you can pay an agency to manage your text marketing, it’s probably not necessary for most small to medium-sized businesses.
There are several SMS marketing companies with self-service tools that let you organize lists of subscribers, plan out messages and view analytics in the same way a MailChimp or Constant Contact allows you to do with email.
But before you start blasting out messages, be sure to read up on SMS compliance. There are a few laws and best practices you need to follow to make sure you are in compliance and your subscribers are happy with your service.
How Do You Get People To Sign Up?
Since SMS marketing is based on permission, you have to encourage people to sign up for your text marketing list with special offers, promotions, contests or useful services.
Most businesses need to offer a discount to get people to sign up. There has to be some sort of incentive to get people to share their phone number.
Once you’ve chosen what you’ll be offering to your subscribers, you have to create a message and integrate it with other channels.
Create a poster to put up at your business. Tweet and share the SMS list on social media platforms. Add a page to your website. You can even include your text message list on traditional advertising channels. Most bulk message platforms have knowledge centers that can help explain the process.
Show Me An Example!
Sure thing. Many brands — large and small — have successfully implemented SMS marketing. One great example is the department store, Kohls, which gets subscribers to sign up with a one-time discount at checkout. If you are in the US and close to a Kohl’s, give them a visit to see it IRL.
Here is a screenshot of their online offer:
In this relationship, both the customer and business benefit, so a customer is likely to subscribe.
Mobile Ad spend in 2016 is expected to reach $100 billion. And while mobile advertising on websites and applications seems to get most of the attention, the amazingly high open and read rates of SMS messages suggests that your 2016 mobile ad budget should include SMS marketing.