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Beginners’ Guide to SMS Marketing – July 2016 Update

Beginners' guide to SMS marketing

If you’ve considered SMS marketing to new and existing customers by text message but dismissed it, it really is time to think again. SMS continues to outperform and outreach all the newer models of communication designed to replace it. The latest competitor to run into difficulties against business text messaging is mobile internet advertising.

Apple first brought the internet to small mobile phone screens with the iPhone. To understate its importance is difficult. Following the introduction of geolocation and HTML5 (that’s the programming language used to make websites look nice on mobiles) on the iPhone, marketers had thought they’d cracked it. Not only were countless types of audiences carrying around an expensive mobile phone, but that mobile phone told the websites (and Google) who they were, where they are and what they liked.

A brave new world dawned. Suddenly, a high street women’s fashion retailer could appear as an advert on a mobile website when they were within a certain distance of the store. What an amazing way to prompt impulse purchases from happy consumers! It seemed perfect.

Unfortunately, consumers disagreed. They disagreed strongly. They voted with their feet. They hated the bloated code and increased bandwidth required to make these types of adverts work. Even worse, it vastly slowed down page loading speeds – the cardinal sin if you want to engage your readers.

So deep was the hatred that consumers would willingly deprive their favourite news, sport and gossip sites of advertising revenue, putting their continued existence in doubt. A study by PageFair revealed that mobile ad blocking rose 90% in 2015. This is unprecedented take-up of a new technology.

For businesses wanting to connect with consumers on the move, SMS marketing is still the only serious choice.

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber are all exciting developments in messaging. However, SMS is unique in that everyone who has a mobile phone can receive text messages and it’s open to everyone. Newer messaging systems strictly control who uses their network and what goes over it.

Your business and SMS marketing - build your database

Business text messaging continues to produce impressive results for our customers throughout the UK. Using our online SMS platform, your business can connect with hundreds or thousands of customers at the same time. If you’re starting from scratch, how do you build up your database of numbers?

Ask customers and potential customers for their mobile numbers every time they…

  • Visit your premises
  • Telephone your company
  • Like you on Facebook
  • Follow you on Twitter
  • Connect with you on social media
  • Come to your stand at a fair or exhibition

Try to take as many details as you can to get to know your customers. Put all their details into your customer relationship management software. If you don’t have one of those, record the information in Notepad or Excel.

Once they’ve done all that, ask for permission to text them special offers and news. Getting this permission in business SMS is crucial – it means you’re on the right side of data protection law now and in the future (new regulations are due to come in during Summer 2018). As you build this hugely valuable database, FastSMS will be there with you to make meaningful connections with customers and increase your sales. We’re the leading text message provider to businesses in the UK, and it’s easy to use our SMS services via our website or our SMS API.

Your business and SMS marketing - how often?

A little less than once a week gets the best response rates. Always try to make your marketing respectful in terms of the number of times you contact customers.

The best rule of thumb is yourself. If you received an email once a fortnight from a company you trusted, would you be OK with that? What about once a week? Three times a week? Once a day? Whenever it feels that the number of contacts is too much and that the frequency of emails would harass you, that’s more than enough. The same goes for SMS marketing: our SMS services are there to make your customer feel wanted and highly thought of, not bombarded.

If it’s too much, people unsubscribe. An interesting study performed by IDC compared two levels of SMS frequency – one every nine days and one every other day over the course of six weeks. Once every nine days saw 4% of users opt out, the other list had a massive 34% opt-out.

Your business and SMS marketing - what should you text customers about?

With 160 characters (or up to 459 with linked messages), you’ve got to treat every word like gold dust. More than that, you’ve got to be sure that the offer you’re making is really going to excite the recipients.

Start with an attention grabbing offer – give them motivation to open the text message to read it in full. Remind them of your company name – reassure them that you’re a trusted contact. Then, it’s your call to action. That’s the marketing phrase for asking them to do something.

You can encourage them to text or call you back. Alternatively, direct them to a webpage to fill in their details. Just get them to continue the conversation because brilliant things happen when customers talk to businesses they feel a connection with.

Your business and SMS marketing - in summary

Get their number, get their permission and get their attention every few days with an offer to show them that you value their business. FastSMS, the text message provider helping thousands of businesses in the UK every month, has a wealth of experience across hundreds of different market sectors.

Call us on 0800 954 5305 today to speak with one of our experienced and friendly account managers.

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