5 Simple Steps to Improve Your SMS Marketing with A/B Testing
Previously on this blog, I’ve shared information on how to run successful SMS marketing campaigns. Hopefully, you’ve put that information to work and are seeing results. Do you ever wonder if you could be doing better, though? Are there ways to squeeze out even more business from the same list?
Sometimes, a minor change in wording, timing, or even word placement could affect response rates. This is the sort of thing you want to discover by A/B testing. If you haven’t heard of it before, or aren’t sure you understand it, you’ll want to read my previous blog, How A/B Testing Works in SMS Messaging. It will teach you the basics and the terminology you’ll need to understand this blog on applying it to your business.
Types of Things to Test
The speed of this A/B testing is different than using it for websites. There, you may have to wait weeks or even months to get enough visitors to make your test valid. But SMS campaigns usually have quick turnaround times because of how fast the messages are delivered and viewed.
While SMS messages are usually short, there’s still lots of things you can change. Here’s a list of ideas:
Timing – You already know the importance of timing in your marketing. But could a small change make a big difference? What if you sent the message a half hour earlier, or later? Or maybe in the morning instead of the afternoon? Figuring out the optimal time of day for your messages is probably one of the best uses of A/B testing there is.
Call to action – There’s a whole science to selecting the right words for a call to action. In SMS messaging, the options are more limited than on a website or printed collateral. But there are still options. Is “Click here” better than “Get it here”? Or is “Stop by” better than “Visit”? Is a link to a mobile website better than a coupon code? Time to test and find out.
Offers – These are the heart and soul of SMS marketing. The people on your list are not your average customer. They really adore your brand and products (or they wouldn’t have signed up). So, the offers they are willing to take may be different than your email list, or printed adverts. Try some variations and find out what they respond to the most.
Coupon codes – It may sound silly, but redemption rates can be influenced by coupon codes. This is especially true if the customer has to type them in to redeem an offer. It’s a simple change that you can make easily, but result in a much higher return.
Keywords – Keywords function much like calls to action in SMS marketing. They’re not always, but often action words like JOIN, SAVE, or WIN. Sometimes they are related to the topic of the SMS message, like TICKETS to win tickets to a show. It’s worth testing which keywords work best with a campaign, especially if you’re renting them on a shortcode. Finding the best one could save you, and make you, more money.
Now that you have an idea of what to test, let’s get into the steps you’ll need to follow.
1. Determine your sample size
A/B testing involves statistics. That’s the math that helps you figure out if your test gave you good results or not. But for it to work properly, you need a large enough sample size. A sample is just a small portion of your larger list.
Generally, the recommended minimum list size is 1000. This amount lets you perform a test using about half your list (more on that in a moment). This means that you’ll be able to send the optimised message to the other half and get the benefit of the improvement.
You can do testing with smaller lists, but you’ll have to accept more error or less certainty in your results.
2. Create and send your messages
Now that you have your sample size determined you’ll need to create two lists with that number of people on it. For example, if your sample size is 248, then make two distribution lists each with 248 random people on them.
Next chose the message you’ve been sending that’s doing well, but you want to test to see if it can be better. This is the control message. Then pick one thing about the message and make your change (see the list above for examples of what you can change).
Send the control to one of your distribution lists and the one you changed to the second list (just label them so you know which is which – why not A and B?). It’s important you schedule them to go at the same time, unless the thing you are testing is the timing.
3. Sit back and wait
Once you send out your messages, all there is to do is wait and see how they performed. Of course, with SMS messaging you don’t have to wait very long. Usually you’ll see how messages did within the first few hours. Depending on your offer, you may need to wait until the redemption period is over to get complete results.
4. Check the results
Gather all the data on your two messages. What was the performance difference between the two? Also remember, when you found your sample size you entered an acceptable amount of error (assuming you used the websites above to determine it). When you look at the performance, be sure to include that error.
For example, let’s say message B did 10% better than message A. But when you picked your sample size you used an error (confidence interval) of 10. This means you can confidently say message B would do between 0% and 20% better than A if you sent it to your whole list (10% improvement ±10% error). So, message B should do at least as well as A, but as much as 20% better.
5. Send the best message out
Based on your test results, you now can make some decisions about the test you just ran. Pick the message you found did the best and send it out to the rest of the list (not the ones you used in testing). Make sure to check the results of this message too. Did it fall within the expected performance your testing gave you? If not you’ll want to investigate what else may have happened to change the results, or if the original test was valid.
But if everything went correctly, you’ll be enjoying the improved response and better ROI.
This process may give you ideas on other things you’ll want to test in the future. Testing can be done on a regular basis or for specific campaigns, but you’ll want to plan for them in advance.
If you have questions about the process above, you can refer to my previous blog on testing. That will help you understand the terms and give you an overview of the online tools that make it easier. Once you get started, you’ll learn a lot about your business, your customers, and enjoy better results from your SMS marketing.
You’ve probably seen many SMS opt in messages. They’re usually short little blurbs on websites, flyers, TV ads and many other places. You might have even heard one on the radio. They’re so simple, it doesn’t seem it would take a lot of time to make them right?
There's no better time to take a closer look at SMS marketing - could it fit your marketing strategy? What should be at the forefront of your mind when you look at whether SMS could fit with your business? Here we've highlighted five things you should know before getting started.
One of the best things about instant messaging is the ability to send emoticons and emoji to convey a feeling with just one image. Many companies are trying to use them in their SMS marketing. There are technical issues with using them though, as well as questions on whether it’s good marketing practice.
You've run a successful SMS opt-in campaign for your retail store. Now that you have your list, do you have a plan to keep them from opting out? Wait, you mean there's more to this than just sending out coupon codes? There is if you want to keep your customers from opting out.
If you aren’t seeing a positive response from your SMS marketing then your list may be thinking of it as spam and just ignoring it like they do much of their email. So take your latest marketing messages and examine them again with these four questions in mind.
Emoji are showing up everywhere. Should you be using these cute, fun, and illustrative icons in your SMS marketing? Your customers probably want you to. Around 72% of people have positive feelings about brands who use emoji. But before you get started, you’ll want to find out the details in this blog.
Is it a good idea to cram more information into your precious 160 characters by using "txtspk" acronyms and abbreviations? Yes and no! It depends on the audience and the message. In this post you can pick up some insights into this question and join us in dissecting a real life example.