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The Biggest Lie in SMS Marketing

The biggest lie in SMS marketing

There I was, surfing the latest mobile marketing news when I saw it. Just one sentence that made me stop mid-surf:

“SMS shouldn’t be thought of as an acquisition tool”.

That didn’t sound right to me at all. Why would anyone say that? The rest of the paragraph explains what the author was thinking:

“Its success in that respect is likely to be limited. Instead it should be respected as a powerful medium to drive customer loyalty, satisfaction, brand advocacy and retention”.

Their conclusion that SMS is great for customer loyalty, retention, and the rest is true. It is powerful in that way. But its ability to get you new customers isn’t necessarily limited. It all depends on how you use it.

Bringing In The New

It’s well known that getting a new customer costs 4 to 10 times what it costs to keep an existing customer. Where you fall in that broad range will depend on your industry and market.

But SMS can cost you next to nothing to get new customers, if you just add a few things to your current marketing.

Add the opt in information to your existing ads. This can work in all media:

  • Print
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Online

Yes, you’ll have to submit new copy (it might change your print cost some I suppose depending how you do it), but overall you’re simply giving the people who see the add another option to connect with you – just like a phone number or website address. For example, someone hears your radio ad and likes what you’re offering. But they can’t, or don’t want to, come down to your store at the moment. Instead they can use your opt in information from the ad, and get access to the deal online, or a coupon they can use when they do get to your store in the future.

Another way to acquire new customers to your SMS campaign is social media. You’re already tweeting, posting, and uploading videos right? Just share your opt in information over these channels in a fun, creative, or provocative way to get the message shared and exposed to new people. Your current customers who see the posts will share them, exposing you to new not-yet customers.

Once you get someone new on your opt in list, they’ll receive your other promotions too. This increases the chance they’ll become an actual buying customer.

The main thing to remember is people like to feel like they are getting something in return for their mobile number. Make that offer, contest, or sweepstake good enough and new people will sign up.

As a personal example here, I can tell you I drive or walk past businesses all the time and think “One of these days I’ve got to stop in there”. For whatever reason, I just don’t go when I’m in the area. Maybe I don’t have the time, or I can’t find a parking space, or I’m just too tired to deal with traffic.

But if I see a sign out front that offers a great deal if I text a keyword to a number, then I’m likely to do that (unless I’m driving of course, but then I’ll have one of my kids do it for me if they’re in the car – never text and drive!).

This works online too. I’ll see ads for something that looks interesting, but I don’t want to get distracted or click away from what I’m doing. But I’d take a second to text for the deal and see what happens. After all, I can always opt out right?

I’ll repeat the most important aspect of this discussion just so it’s clear. People want to get something good in exchange for their mobile number. Make your opt in appealing and it will work to get new customers.

Turn Casual To Loyal

While not technically a new customer, SMS can turn the casual customer into a loyal one. If they buy from you at all, they like something about you. When they get SMS messages with great deals, they’re likely to spend more money with you. Eventually, they will have transformed into your loyal customer.

Acquiring these customers won’t be as hard as brand new ones because you already have some association with them. They are likely to see or hear all the free (to you) opt in options you provide for your current best customers. Here are three examples:

  • Via a transaction email
  • Point of sale signage in store
  • Checkout assistant telling them about it

Again, the opt in offer needs to give them something they want – a great deal or chance to win something great.

Will They Stay Customers?

Perhaps you’re suspicious of the idea of new customers coming in through SMS, just like the article’s author. “People will just opt out after they get that first deal – especially if it’s something for free”, you may be thinking.

And you’re right. Some percentage of people will opt out. There is always churn in a list.

You’ll need to keep an eye on your list and make adjustments as you go. That’s the great thing about SMS actually. It’s simple and easy to make changes if you need to. If one offer results in a lot of sign ups, then redemptions, followed by a lot of unsubscribes you’ll know that wasn’t an offer that successfully acquires new customers.

Clearly people liked the offer because they opted in and redeemed. But it wasn’t enough to make them want to stay. Test new ideas out, watch what happens, then adjust. Because SMS is so quick and cost effective you can find out a lot in a short time.

SMS marketing can get you new customers. It’s a lie to say that it won’t, or can’t do it well. But if you’re curious about the original article and want to see their reasoning you’ll find it Free Account. It would be worth a read anyway, because they make great points on how to use SMS for “customer loyalty, satisfaction, brand advocacy and retention”.

As a final note, I’ll add that I used retail as the primary example in this blog. But it doesn’t have to be. Any type of business can get new customers using SMS marketing, if you use it in the right way and keep an eye on the performance of the opt in campaign.

Get in touch and ask us how best to use it in your business, we’re always available via phone, email and live chat.

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