In the last 3 years, one marketing strategy has exploded for businesses- SMS marketing.
In this article, I’m going to dive into what exactly SMS marketing is, how it works and why so many businesses are starting to implement it.
What is SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing is permission-based marketing through text messages in which businesses engage with customers.
Messages can be anything from appointment reminders to promotions to events and other business updates.
SMS marketing, or text message marketing as it is sometimes called, involves sending two different types of messages: SMS and MMS.
SMS, or “short message service”, are messages that contain fewer than 160 characters, only contain text, and are sent through cellular networks and not the internet.
MMS, or “multimedia messaging services”, is similar to SMS in that they are sent over cellular networks. They are different in the fact that they are used primarily for sending longer-form texts and/or media such as pictures. MMS typically use about 4x the bandwidth than SMS, so their costs are higher.
How Does SMS Marketing Work?
SMS marketing is broken down into a few layers:
- SMS marketing software
- Subscriber Opt-In
SMS Marketing Software
Before beginning your SMS marketing efforts, you’ll need SMS marketing software to help you.
An SMS marketing software allows you for a central location to manage subscribers as well as sending messages- all online.
Some people believe SMS marketing is individually texting all of your customers from your personal cell. DON’T DO THIS. This can take up far too much of your time and energy when there are solutions out there to help with this.
Text2VIP, one of the best SMS marketing software, has been around since 2009 and has helped thousands of businesses strategize and launch successful SMS campaigns.
SMS marketing is permission-based, meaning that customers must give consent BEFORE you send them any texts.
This is done in a few different ways.
A keyword opt-in is just as it sounds; customers text a specific keyword to a business’s dedicated phone number in order to subscribe to their SMS list.
Businesses typically use 10-digit toll-free numbers that they send their SMS messages and are dedicated solely to SMS marketing.
Some software, such as Text2VIP, have the ability to connect a QR code with the keywords. This makes in-person opt-ins much easier for customers as all they have to do is scan the QR code, hit send, and they’re joined.
Online Form Opt-In
Customers can also subscribe to text promotions by submitting their phone numbers and giving consent through online forms.
It is extremely important that the correct verbiage be displayed so that customers know they will be receiving text promotions if they give their phone number.
Typically when customers subscribe through a keyword, they will receive an auto-response.
Auto-responses are automated responses the software sends to each new subscriber when a specific word (such as a keyword) is texted.
Most businesses that use SMS marketing will give something in return for the customer to opt-in such as a discount, free shipping, etc.
The auto-response keeps the same messaging as what was offered. For example, it can give a discount code or message to show the cashier to apply the discount.
Let’s recap what we have so far.
We have software that gives you:
- a phone number to text from
- ways for subscribers to opt-in
- central location to manage contacts and messages
- regulator compliance
Once everything is created, collecting subscribers pretty much runs on autopilot.
After some subscribers have joined, it’s time to send them messages.
Sending messages out is the easiest and most exciting part of SMS marketing.
Since your messaging through text is much shorter and to the point, you won’t have to sit and dwell on what you need to send.
Emails can be difficult to create, combining creative wording and graphics in order to create a successful email campaign.
With texts, SMS particularly, the 160-character limit really helps you focus on getting your point across in as few words as possible, which is marketing 101.
Types of Messages
Promotions: Perhaps one of the most common and effective uses for text marketing is promotions. Do you have a big sale such as Black Friday coming up? There’s no better way to reach your customers about that sale than through text! Texts are also great for bringing in traffic on slow days. If you’re a restaurant, texting your customer list can be one of the most effective ways for bringing a stream of customers in. With the ability to track link clicks, this can be especially useful for e-commerce businesses where data is king.
Updates: Believe it or not, a lot of your customers simply care about you and your business. They want to know what new is happening or changing. Did you hire a new staff member? Let you text subscribers know so that employee can feel a sense of welcome! Are you opening a new location? Great! Tell your subscribers!
Events: If your business finds success in events, having a text list is beyond important. For example, if you’re a food truck or mobile boutique that travels around the city, how do you plan on letting your customers find you? Facebook? With the organic reach from social media, only a tiny fraction of your actual followers will ever see what you post. If you have a text list, you can be confident that every subscriber will receive a text telling them where you are and what your hours will be. If you’re a comedy club or have live music at your establishment, let your subscribers know who is performing in the coming weeks!
Internal: One great feature of SMS marketing is the ability to make several different subscriber lists. You can create customer lists as well as employee lists. If you have several staff members, it can be much easier to send a blast to everyone through SMS software and manage all responses in one online inbox vs trying to text everyone from your phone individually. Did someone call in last minute and you need a replacement? Send a blast to your employee list and get a response in minutes instead of hours.
These are just a few of the most common ways we see our users using SMS marketing. There are hundreds of applications for this, really your own creativity is the limit.
Why are so many businesses using SMS Marketing?
The statistics behind text messages are the driving factors behind why SMS marketing is quickly becoming so popular.
- 98% of texts are opened
- 90% of texts are opened within 5 minutes
These two statistics are the primary numbers that you need to know.
Almost every text is opened almost immediately.
When it comes to marketing, that sentence means everything.
The goal is to get your message to customers and have them read it.
With texting, this is now possible.
People are so accustomed to checking texts that it is second nature to check texts from businesses as fast as they would from friends/family.
Compare those stats to email which has 20-30% open rates and most open after hours of sitting in an inbox.
Hopefully this guide was helpful and brought you some insight into SMS marketing and how it works and why it is so effective.
SMS marketing is in the first inning and is only going to grow more as more businesses grow.
It’s better to get onboard sooner than later, because the more of your competitors that offer SMS marketing, the less likely those shared customers will sign up with your service when you decide to offer it.
If you would like to learn more or speak with a professional, please reach out to the Text2VIP team, we love helping our customers succeed!