Do This One Thing and You’ll Improve Your SMS Marketing ROI
SMS marketing is not quite like most other marketing. You have such a limited space to get your point across, just 160 characters, more or less. It’s not unlike having to create a print advert for a small space, but somehow it can seem more intimidating.
That’s why sometimes it seems like marketers forget one basic rule about writing offers: Always lead with the offer! Sounds simple right? I see examples all the time where it doesn’t happen. I’m not privy to how well these messages are converting (I’m merely a customer on the list like you), but I have to wonder how they compare to others I receive.
Let’s take a look at some of these messages and then sort out what kind of impact they might be having on a company’s ROI.
Example Messages - Good & Bad
In the examples that follow I’m going to use the term “Retailer” instead of actual business name. It will save them embarrassment, and avoid any other unpleasantness.
Glad you dropped by [Retailer]. You get 10% off on your next visit! Reply YES to claim. Exp 12/1. Txt OFF to stop
In the message above, the retailer name was actually quite long. It included the company name and the last location I visited them. That makes it personal, but it also meant that the offer for 10% off was buried pretty far into the message. I don’t actually recall ever seeing it before I went back through my messages for this blog (which is why this is a great example!).
The qualifier for this offer is the “Reply YES to claim.” I can say I certainly didn’t see that at the time. They did get the offer and the qualifier in the right order (offer first, what they need to do second) but that didn’t matter because I never read that far.
Another message from the same retailer in a similar format:
We miss you here at [Retailer]! You get £1 off £5+ on your next visit. Reply YES to claim. Exp 1/25. Txt OFF to stop
Once again the retailer name included the location as well which made this very long. I never noticed the offer on this one either.
Here’s another example from them I just received:
10% off 1, 20% off 2
Valentines Day Special
Bring your sweetheart.
Reply YES to claim.
Txt OFF to stop
Interesting right? The formatting is theirs, not mine. They’ve improved by using the retailer name first to identify themselves, though it’s still long with their location included. More on that in a second. Next they have the offer, then some fluff, then the qualifier. I have to wonder how many people took them up on the offer by going into the store without having replied YES first, and what trouble that may have caused at checkout.
But the bigger issue here is that they’ve potentially blown the advantage of putting the offer first by using separate lines. Notifications usually show the first couple of lines, so the 10% offer might have shown (the retailer name and location is very long), or might have not because of the new line used.
My guess is this retailer, which is actually a franchise, is struggling to find a way to write more effective SMS messages. The fact this is a franchise is also the reason they keep including their location in the message (so I remember which one to go to). I’m sure they don’t realise that it’s taking up critical space needed to get their messages noticed. If they moved it to the end as part of the qualifier with something like the following, they could keep their offer more upfront, which would probably increase redemptions.
[Retailer] 10% off 1, 20% off 2. Valentines Special at [location] store only. Reply YES to claim
Since their retailer name is kind of long, it would probably make sense to use a shorter version or acronym too, which would bring the offer even more to the forefront.
Why this matters
Redemption rates for SMS marketing are generally pretty high with ROI often in the hundreds to thousands of percent. So if you already are doing really well with your SMS marketing redemption rates, you might not think you need to do much more. But if you take the time to look at every message and ensure you lead with the offer, you could still bump up your rate.
How much you can increase ROI really depends on the number of subscribers you have. If you have very few subscribers, a small increase in redemptions isn’t going to do much for your overall ROI (unless you have a really high value product).
To demonstrate, let’s look at some made up numbers.
Company A has 1,000 subscribers. If they tweak their messages and get a .5% jump in redemptions, that’s just an additional 5 customers.
Company B has one million subscribers. An increase of .5% in redemption is another 5,000 customers.
It’s obvious that the 5,000 customers will bring in more of a return than just 5 in the smaller list assuming the monetary value of each offer is about the same. Now if Company A’s offer is for a £10,000 product, 5 more purchases is a great thing! But for most companies that won’t be the case and those 5 customers might add up to just a few pounds of increased profit.
But that doesn’t mean companies with smaller lists shouldn’t use this same approach, just they won’t see the benefits as much as one with a larger list. The benefit they will have though, is they will be skilled in crafting wonderful SMS marketing messages as their list grows, which will ultimately pay off in higher ROI.
Companies with larger lists though, can potentially see huge benefits right away, with just a little more focus on how their messages are worded. It’s certainly worth giving it a go right?
Here's some ideas on what you can do to help your SMS campaigns to do better. Use the following checklist to see if you’re using all your possible channels.
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