SMS branding and marketing is effective, convenient for both businesses and customers, and it’s extremely affordable. So why is it an afterthought for many of today’s marketing and advertising teams? It turns out that 61% of marketers aren’t taking advantage of the platform. Do they not fully appreciate its impact on consumers? Are they afraid of success? (That last one is above our pay grade.)
Studies have shown that customers largely prefer receiving communications from businesses via text. That would explain why there’s an open rate of up to 98%. You’re not going to see that with an email newsletter, which shows an average open rate of only 17%. Additionally 95% of messages are opened within three minutes. You probably don’t even open your spouse’s texts within three minutes.
Reply to Sender
Consider the stats. More than 80% of Americans communicate via text and check their phones an average of 85 times a day. (So if you’re wondering where the time goes, there’s your answer.) Here’s where it gets interesting from a marketing perspective: Roughly 45% of users will engage and reply to branded text messages. A key reason consumers prefer SMS branding is because it feels like the message is coming from a real person. Half are more likely to respond if the person texting introduces themselves.
That said, consumers want to help local businesses over big box retailers. They’re 21% more likely to opt in to text promotions from local businesses. Close to three-quarters (74%) of consumers say they’re more likely to text with a local business if they know a real person will receive and respond to messages.
Who, What, When, Where
Here are some best practices of implementing a successful SMS campaign which all center around the same three words: Know your audience.
Who They Are
They’re your customers. Your existing or potential customers. Your ex-customers willing to give you another chance. The bottom line is if they’ve opted in to receive your texts, then they’re already interested in what you have to say. And all customers are different, which is why they expect distinct messaging and individual personalization based on their interests. Communicating with your customers through text has the distinct advantage of being real-time, which lends itself to one-on-one conversations and interactions. This immediacy is just one reason why SMS surpasses email.
What They Want
Let’s face it. If your target customer wanted to receive some boring random text, they’d sign up for boring random texts. (You’d be surprised.) People want to feel special and this can be accomplished through incentives, exclusive offers and promos, special discounts, even content and polls. It’s estimated that consumers redeem SMS-delivered coupons 10 times more than other types of coupons. Some brands use text messaging to provide customer service and support.
People don’t want to read a lengthy run-on text so shoot for 160 characters or less. Treat your SMS campaign more like a tweet, not a blog post. It’s also standard practice to include a CTA (call to action). The click-through rate for text messages is 18%, which is almost 7x higher than email. Sending one or two text messages per week is appropriate, depending in the content.
When They Want It
Send your texts during normal business hours. Be sure to avoid sending texts to customers early in the morning or late at night. Nobody wants to be woken up and they will blame you for everything that goes wrong that day. And before you decide to treat your customer like your new best friend, limit your texts to one or two per week.
Where to Find Them
This is where reviewing your customer data and integrating audience segmentation becomes so important. Knowing your customer means knowing their data. Audience segmentation typically falls into four rather broad categories: demographics, psychographics, geographical and behavioral. Demographics include such factors as age, education and occupation. Psychographics entail lifestyle choices. Geographical points to location and behavioral includes stats on user behavior and shopping habits.
While SMS branding is just one touchpoint within a broader omnichannel strategy, it’s incredibly efficient, both in terms of cost and time. It’s a powerful way to reach your audience through an interactive customer experience. Text messaging can also augment other marketing touchpoints while promoting consistent messaging delivered across other platforms. Plus almost every customer will open your text. With the right message, you can take it from there.