Consumers are constantly bombarded with social alerts from friends, family, work and brands. Because of these disruptions, many people disable notifications for email and social networks, making text messages a more effective way to market in real time.
Text message marketing isn’t for everyone; brands that use this marketing method must ensure their texts are helpful and relevant, not intrusive and spammy (or worse, illegal). It’s easy to tip the scale and turn people off with your messages. Here’s how to incorporate texting into your digital marketing strategy without annoying customers.
Text message marketing is a business texting usage that lets you communicate news, sales, promotions and other relevant information to your customers via SMS (short message service) text messages on their mobile devices. It relies on a database containing your customers’ names, cell phone numbers, demographics and other information (geographic region, customer categories, customer interests) that helps you track the sales process.
“Because text messages appear on people’s mobile phones, they feel more personal than other kinds of marketing,” explained Luke Wilson, chief revenue officer of Prosites. “Texting allows businesses to do many of the things that traditional media does … without having to invest in extra hardware, labor, printing or media buys.”
Text message marketing is an effective way to communicate with existing customers and qualified leads, but only if you do it right. Here are some text message marketing best practices to follow for success.
As with email marketing, consumers must opt in to your messaging before you begin sending them texts. This practice ensures you send messages to a welcoming audience and avoid irritating potential customers.
According to FCC rules, text spamming consumers is illegal; you must have explicit consent to send them messages. The days of purchasing a mass database of phone numbers and sending out texts are long gone. In fact, doing so could incur hefty fines and other penalties.
“Only use text messaging as a marketing channel if the customer or potential customer has opted in and supplied you with their phone number,” advised Yoni Ben-Yehuda, head of watches at Audemars Piguet x Material Good. “If you contact users unsolicited, you run the risk of losing your credibility and having them unsubscribe [from] your messages.”
To build your contact list, use a keyword campaign. Have consumers text a specific word to a short code to opt in to deals, alerts and more. For example, ask consumers to “text TRY to 858585 for a demo.”
Boost the chances of your text marketing campaign’s success by sending bulk messages to specific audience groups or customer segments. Similar to how Facebook ads target people within a specific area, by age and by interests, the best text message marketing is highly customized and geared toward a specific target audience.
SMS marketing lets you get as specific as possible and meet your customers where they are – on their smartphones. By communicating your marketing messages to a targeted audience, you can cultivate more meaningful connections with users and interactions with qualified leads.
You can also use personalization to customize the experience further. Text personalization helps you bypass other marketing noise – social media ads, email marketing campaigns, etc. – and go directly to consumers’ phones.
Your texts should be concise and straightforward. Users tend to ignore lengthy messages and may opt out of receiving your messages in the future.
SMS messaging has a 160-character limit. You want to grab your recipients’ attention, communicate your message and close with a call to action (CTA). For example, if you’re informing customers about mobile coupons, get their attention with an exciting opener, relay the relevant coupon details and then explain how they can access the coupons.
While it’s tempting to communicate every piece of news or promotion related to your business, don’t overdo your SMS marketing efforts. Consumers can’t ignore texts as they can billboards or social media advertisements. If they receive an overwhelming influx of messages from your business, they’ll get annoyed and may opt out.
Instead, schedule texts only when necessary and limit how many you send to a specific and appropriate number of customers.
Your content must be helpful and valuable, not annoying or intrusive. Delivering quality content via text can help build brand trust and keep your products and services top of mind among your customers.
“When you’re ready to reach out to your list, think about messages that will please your contacts,” Wilson advised. “Coupons, promotions and sneak peeks are crowd-pleasers that your subscribers should be happy to receive.”
Ben-Yehuda advises marketers to use text marketing to send the following types of content:
Additionally, text message marketing is effective only for brands with an audience that prefers this form of communication.
“A text is more personal than an email, so if you’re contacting the user and they’ve never heard of you … you’ll likely be considered spam,” explained Ben-Yehuda. “When the brand recognition is present with the user, and they’re familiar with your company or products, offering them content via text can be efficient.”
Ensure your consumers don’t feel like they’re flooded with messages at inappropriate hours or trapped in a subscription. Pay close attention to when you schedule your messages (e.g., during the day vs. late at night). Consumers might feel you’re being intrusive, even unprofessional, if you send texts at random hours.
Wilson recommends texting during typical business hours and being transparent about what customers should expect from your program.
While the last thing you want to consider is your audience opting out of your program, making it easy for consumers to do so can make them more willing to sign up for your texts in the first place. Wilson recommends making it easy for users to opt out at any time if they so choose. You can offer this option by providing an unsubscribe link for them to click or by advising them to reply to your message with “STOP” if they no longer wish to receive your texts.
Finally, remember that your mobile marketing efforts must be part of an overall marketing strategy. No business should begin text message marketing without knowing how its messaging fits into its overall marketing plan for reaching new customers.
The best text message marketing services help you reach your audience while abiding by crucial text messaging laws, regulations and best practices. The following platforms are excellent options.
Textedly is a great text message marketing tool, with 12 affordable plans and several advanced features. The platform is user-friendly and easily scalable; you can upload your contacts in bulk. Additionally, when using the platform, you receive a dedicated toll-free number from which you can send your marketing messages. Read our in-depth Textedly review to learn more.
EZ Texting offers advanced features that are hard to find anywhere else. Using this platform, you can utilize the service’s web sign-up forms, link shortener and built-in Shutterstock integration. Additionally, EZ Texting ensures compliance so your business can avoid legal trouble. Our detailed EZ Texting review outlines the service’s features and pricing.
SimpleTexting is another great option for text message marketing services. The platform is known for customization options like custom integrations and unlimited keywords. Its interface is also easy to learn and use. Learn more by reading our SimpleTexting review.
Podium is a user-friendly platform that’s easy to adopt. This text message marketing service collects customer reviews and feedback to improve customer relationship management. You can integrate the platform with Google Business to more easily solicit reviews. Check out our Podium review to learn more about how the platform works.
Understanding text messaging laws and guidelines is crucial. Consider the following groups that regulate SMS text message marketing.
Before you send any text messages to customers, you must be aware of the FCC’s strict guidelines on message transmission and customer consent. It’s crucial to understand that text message marketing is not something you set up on a whim to spam would-be customers.
The TCPA protects consumers from mass text messages and is very specific about how you can send bulk messages. Obtaining written consent from every customer is critical.
The CTIA is a trade association that provides guidelines and helpful tips on text message marketing, although you won’t find the same level of legal guidelines as you will with the FCC and the TCPA.
Text message marketing offers many benefits. It’s a great way for businesses to seamlessly touch base with customers and communicate deals, new products and other announcements. Some companies conduct their text messaging by sending group texts themselves via in-house databases. Others work with SMS text messaging services. Texting platforms offer a wide array of services beyond message transmission while keeping you legally compliant with texting laws and regulations. They can customize your bulk texting according to your customer demographics and segments and boost your chances of success.