SMS Marketing: What Are You Waiting for?
There’s an argument to be made that marketing has never been more difficult. With numerous companies to compete with and too many channels to count, it’s easy for your message to get lost in the mix, completely ignored or just never even seen.
Ensuring that customers (both current and potential) get the message is all about being heard despite all that noise. So how do you do that? How, in a sea of competitors and channels do you get your message out there? Spoiler alert: with SMS.
Before we begin: GET CONSENT
There’s a lot of stuff below on different use cases for sending SMS for marketing purposes and why SMS is a great channel for marketing, but before we delve into all of that, it’s important to address one important thing—you have to get consent. The CTIA has guidelines (you can learn more about them here) on what steps you need to take with regards to opt-in and opt-out, and we can’t stress enough that you need to follow those guidelines.
Alright, now let’s get back into why you should turn to SMS for marketing outreach.
With so many “new” channels, it’s easy to forget that while texting has been around for more than 20 years, it’s only in the last few that it’s really come into its own as a marketing channel. A lot of that has to do with the prevalence of smartphones over the last decade, and our reliance on them for accessing all of our communication channels.
82% of text messages are read within 5 minutes, while only 1 in 4 emails are ever opened [source].
As a marketing channel, text messaging has fantastic consumer engagement. 82% of text messages are read within 5 minutes, while only 1 in 4 emails are ever even opened [source]. What does that mean for your marketing efforts? It means visibility.
We all read our texts; they don’t require an additional app or logging in to an account. We’re so committed to reading texts that we do it even when we shouldn’t (do NOT text and drive!). So, if you know your consumers are going to open texts, what should you be sending?
Messaging for Marketing
The beauty of text messaging as a channel is that you have more options available to you than ever before. You’re not limited as limited by finite character counts or text-only options. With modern smartphones and text messaging technology, you can create a unique experience for your customers.
If you’re like me, you get lots of snail mail promoting sales at local stores; the sales may apply to a week, a month, or even longer, but either way, those promotions tend to end up in the same place—the trash (or recycling).
Sending promotions over text not only improves the odds that your promo will be seen, it makes it easy to send time-sensitive promotions without having to worry that your flyer will get lost in the mail or trashed—adding insult to injury on those direct mail costs.
Related to promotions are the coupons. So many coupons! Most of them just end up in the trash, because they’re for companies that I’m not interested in, and I’ll be honest, I never intend to find my scissors to get the good ones anyway. With text messaging, however, businesses can send coupons to consumers that have a) expressed an interest in receiving them, and b) reach a wider audience without the need for physical mail.
With text messaging, it’s also easy to send tailored coupons to different geographic areas or customers, giving you a better chance of engagement with more focused, useful coupons.
Flash Sales & the Holidays
There are few channels as well suited to getting a customer’s attention when time is of the essence than text messaging. When it comes to quick flash sales and the holidays, getting someone’s attention for a time-sensitive sale can be huge.
Like I said above, texting has a huge engagement rate compared to other channels. With an open rate that only increases over time, sending texts to customers about that special sale on Black Friday from 9am to 12pm is one of the best ways to ensure that they see it and go to their local store or jump online.
Getting the Message Out
Alright, so we know a few of the different things you can send with marketing texts, but how do you go about sending these texts? What are the correct channels to make sure your texts actually get delivered?
Toll-free phone numbers are a great channel for sending out marketing messages to your customers—especially when you’re looking to centralize communications from a contact center or other support line. Not only can you send text-based messages with toll-free SMS, but you can also use your established customer service phone number to enable calling or improve sender recognition.
Toll-free numbers can also send higher volumes of messages than most local numbers (more on that in a second), allowing you to send out coupons, promotions, and flash sale notifications to hundreds and even thousands of people in just a few minutes.
Local A2P Phone Numbers
Sometimes you want to add that personal touch. High-volume messaging over local phone numbers can be done using sanctioned, 10DLC (10 digit long code). These are numbers that have been approved for Local A2P messaging, and don’t have the same limitations of a local number like your personal mobile phone. If your business has multiple local brick and mortars, a local A2P phone number may be a great option to allow each local shop to send out coupons, promotions, and more from their own location’s number.
Everyone’s familiar with short codes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t bear mentioning. Sent out over 5 or 6 digit codes, short codes were built for high-volume messaging. While newer regulations have eliminated shared short codes, dedicated ones are still a good option for sending out coupons or time-sensitive promotions to a large number of customers. Short codes are particularly useful for “text-in” campaigns (i.e., text “pizza” to 55555 to get a coupon for your next visit) since they only have a few digits to type into a phone.
Disclaimer: Of course, all SMS/MMS marketing must be done in compliance with applicable law and CTIA messaging guidelines.