Best Practices for SMS Marketing
In many of our previous posts, we have discussed the whys and hows of SMS marketing, listing the benefits, and the impacts on lead generation. There’s no doubt that by employing a marketing strategy that uses business SMS as a medium that your processes will become more efficient and your leads will become more targeted, meaning a better ROI. Here we will look at the best practices for SMS marketing to ensure your campaigns are offering the best for you and your users.
There are also some important – and legal – points that you will have to both know and implement before running any SMS messaging campaign.
Opt-In / Consent
Before you do anything, there’s one important point that should form the bottom line of any campaign: it is illegal to send a business text message to anyone who hasn’t opted in. Doing so could leave you liable to a fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office. However, you don’t need permission to send a transactional message such as an appointment reminder, such as for a doctor’s appointment or a delivery reminder.
If you’re not sure about the legislation around SMS message campaigns, you can contact the ICO for more information, or contact us.
You can invite your users to opt into your SMS messaging list via the following methods:
• Web contact forms
• Subscription forms
• Email campaigns
• Direct mail
• Social media
• Payment information
• Downloadable content requests
Having all these methods is all well and good, but you have to offer your user a reason for them to want to opt in – you need to offer your users value. A user has to be motivated to provide their phone number and to be happy with receiving SMS messages from you. This motivation could come in the form of:
• Exclusive deals or offers
• Updates on deliveries, processes and purchases
• Feedback for a service
• Relevant information or news
The use of SMS messaging has to provide a solution to your user, rather than being an irritant. If you get it right, you’ll be able to target your user at the right time, through the right medium, cutting out the rest of the competitive noise. If you get it wrong and become an annoyance, you’ll only motivate your user to unsubscribe, which brings us to our next point.
It’s best practice (and good manners) to offer your users an opt-out option. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it actually demonstrates your transparency and commitment to putting your users’ wants and needs first.
Best practice for opting out should be as simple as “Reply STOP to unsubscribe” at the bottom of any marketing SMS. This will enable you to build trust and credibility with your users and ensure you stay within the law.
SMS messaging is an intimate form of communication – email, printed marketing, online marketing; all of these are accessed by the user at their preference on their terms. With SMS marketing, you’re sending a message that comes through to a user’s phone on your terms, which means you have to be relevant at the right time with the right message to keep your users engaged and happy. Getting the frequency right is one of the key aspects to success.
The right amount of SMS messages depends on you and your services. It might be relevant that a few messages are sent on a daily basis – for example, job postings for a recruiter or house postings for an estate agent. However, for a different industry or service provider, this would be inappropriate and would lead to complaints.
One customer may be happy with an SMS message once a day, another might only want to hear from you regarding a specific offer at a specific point, while a different customer may want to hear everything you’ve got as soon as you can send them that information – there’s no real way of knowing who will want what and when – it’s always best to either provide an option for the user to state their preferences or allow them to opt out should they so choose.
The most sensible answer here is to let your customer choose their own frequency of messages. When signing up to opt in on a web form, there should be a tick box for offers and frequency of texts. Otherwise, a clear opt-out message at the bottom of each message you send should suffice and will ensure you don’t upset any of your users.
Before you start your SMS marketing campaign, think about what it’s like to receive such business SMS messages – times, frequency, content. It’s no good sending an SMS message at 3am. Firstly, you’re just going to annoy your user and secondly, not many people are going to act upon a message after being woken up from their slumber.
Keep your SMS messages to business hours – it’s common sense, common courtesy, and it will ensure your users aren’t unsubscribing unnecessarily.
If you’re offering an SMS messaging campaign or service where there could be charges applied for replying, you must have a disclaimer that clearly states this is so.
Unless you’re running a campaign that is based on text speak, make sure that your SMS messages are professional and spelt correctly. Your SMS marketing campaign could suffer if your message is not clear or does not look professional – don’t risk the temptation of saving a few characters.
Make the content count! You have an opportunity to directly appeal to your target audience who will have opted in to receive your messages. Don’t send them messages that aren’t relevant and don’t waste your characters – make each and every one of those 160 characters count. Use your SMS marketing message to drive traffic to your website, to get users to contact you, to sell your service or product. Use your message to offer value or offers or savings to really build a relationship with your audience.
Following the above points can really increase your leads and your sales without alienating your customers, which means you’ll increase your ROI.
If you’d like to find out more about business SMS marketing campaigns, or how SMS messages can help grow your business, please get in touch with us today.