Do you think SMS marketing is old-school? Then you’re wrong. In fact, it is actually one of the most effective marketing strategies in 2022.
According to Gartner, up to 98% of text messages are opened. Emails have an average opening rate of 6% to 20%. So, in comparison, texting is highly effective to reach your audience.
If you want to increase your sales, SMS marketing should be one of the first things that pop up in your mind. 57% of smartphone users spend 5 hours or more on their phones, so SMS marketing gets you instantly in touch with your customers.
In this guide, we give you 9 tips on how to use SMS marketing effectively and guide you in the right direction to connect with your customers and boost your revenue.
How to use SMS marketing effectively? 9 easy tips
SMS marketing can be very effective.
Just as with email, it is considered bad practice to spam your receivers with too many text messages. Less is more. So, use the following tips to help SMS messages boost your marketing campaigns.
1. Use opt-in keywords
To be able to send out SMS messages to your customers, you first have to build a subscriber list. One of the easiest ways to grow your SMS list is with simple keywords.
An SMS keyword is a word or short sentence that customers can text to a dedicated phone number. By doing so, they will be added to your subscriber list. Just make it clear that they are opting-in when they text the keyword.
2. Identify yourself
Imagine that you receive a text with a 20% discount code, without knowing what it’s for. You would probably delete the text message and never think about it again. To make sure the information you sent is acted on, it’s best practice to identify yourself.
You’d think it would be obvious, but it is a very common mistake and one we’ve fallen into from time to time too! Make sure it is clear who you are in every text you send. The receiver of the text message has to know who the text is from, otherwise, they won’t take action.
3. Keep messages short and sweet
As a matter of fact, an SMS message is limited to 160 characters. That doesn’t give you a lot of space to promote your offer. You need to get to the point straight away without wasting any characters.
Use a link shortener if you want to include a URL in your text message. A full URL can take up more than 160 characters on its own. With a link shortener, you can create a much shorter URL that takes up only a few characters.
Also, keep an eye out for emojis and special characters. They don’t take up much space on the screen, but they drastically decrease the available characters in a message. Text messages are coded with one of the oldest coding languages, named GSM-7. It only consists of the basic characters. You can find an overview of these characters here.
All characters that aren’t supported by the GSM-7 language, take up more space. For example, an emoji will reduce the character limit from 160 to 70.
4. Personalize your messages
Personalization is another great tip when it comes to how to use SMS marketing effectively. Hubspot researched the psychology behind personalization of messages and came to the conclusion that people tend to respond better to messages that address them directly. So, whenever you can, make sure to include the name of your customers.
With SMS marketing software it’s easy to include the name of your customers. Normally you can use a shortcode like %firstname% to scrape the name of the customer from your list. This way, you can automate personalized messages.
5. Send text messages at the right time
Timing is a very important factor when it comes to text messages. People have their phones on hand all the time. And even though you want to reach them, you don’t want to disturb them.
According to extensive research of Reach-Interactive the following times are best for sending messages. They vary for different industries:
- Retail: Between 10 am and 1 pm on Saturdays or 3 pm and 7 pm on Sundays. Offers sent out at the end of the month seem to perform best. This period corresponds with most paydays.
- Restaurants & takeaways: Between 3 pm and 5 pm on any day of the week, but weekends are the most prominent time. When there is a significant event on TV you can boost your orders by sending a campaign out at around 7 pm.
- Services: When it comes to services, SMS messages are mainly sent as reminders. Best practices are to send the first message as soon as the appointment or meeting is scheduled. Then you send another one 24 hours before it takes place.
- General: Between 12 pm to 3 pm on both weekdays and weekends.
Keep in mind that these are guidelines. You know your business and audience best. If you want to know the best time to send out SMS messages for your business, find out when your company receives the most engagement.
6. Offer incentives
An effective way to gain more subscribers is to offer a discount or freebie. You can also set up a giveaway or contest for people to join.
To get even more subscribers out of your promotions, you can create urgency. Tell them that they only get the deal if they subscribe within 24 hours.
Another great way is to make it exclusive. For example, by only offering a discount or giveaway to the first 500 subscribers.
Once your list is growing, you can incentivize your campaigns and give greater discounts to your longer-lasting customers ensuring they stick around. This way you don’t only motivate people to become your subscribers, but you also give them a reason to stay subscribed.
Also read our guide on how to stay compliant with SMS marketing, to find out how to keep your subscribers involved.
7. Have a clear call to action
One of the easiest tips on how to use SMS marketing is making sure your text message is crystal clear. It should explain exactly what you want people to do. We call that a clear call to action, which makes it easy for people to act on it immediately without having to think about it.
People don’t have much time nowadays. They are busy all the time and figuring out how to interpret your message will not fit into their schedule.
If you want people to take action on your SMS marketing campaign, you have to tell them clearly and concisely what you want them to do. Whether it is visiting a website, using a code, or checking out your social media profile, make it very clear to them.
8. Ask questions or send surveys
To make SMS marketing more effective, i.e get more sales, you need to deliver messages that your audience wants most. There is no better way of getting to know this, than by asking them directly.
For example, ask them if they are interested in your new product. Simply let them reply with “yes” or “no”. You can even ask this when the product is still an idea to avoid wasting energy.
There are many more things you can ask or survey your customers about. For example, election polls or customer satisfaction with a certain service you offer.
Don’t forget to follow up with your customers once you have the results. This keeps them involved and makes them more likely to take part again.
Keep in mind though that your audience signed up to your SMS list because they want to stay informed. Not to help you out by answering questions all the time. It’s best practice to send at least three messages that help your audience, to one that helps you.
9. Educate before selling
Avoid hard-sell tactics, it can often backfire. You have to gain trust first. Send useful informative messages to your subscribers before offering them a deal.
By providing information you can establish a healthy relationship. You are more likely to keep your subscribers. Even if they don’t buy now, they might do in the future. But not if they unsubscribe from your list.
Bring your SMS campaigns to the next level
So far, we have discussed 9 useful tips on how to use SMS marketing to boost your sales. Yet, we would like to share two more tips with you to bring your SMS campaigns to the next level.
SMS messages consist of plain text, which is not very attractive to look at. However, you can use MMS messages instead to add visuals.
For example, you can add a photo of beautiful turquoise waters and colorful boats when promoting a trip to Thailand. Or an image of the front cover of an e-book you want to sell.
Visualizations enable people to observe, sense and understand the given information. Normally, it is much easier to trigger people to take action on your text message when you make it visual.
Promoting your social media account via SMS messages helps you in three ways. First of all, you gain more exposure with your customers. You can now interact with them in different ways.
Secondly, by growing your social media accounts you look more trustful. This will help to convince potential customers to buy from you.
Finally, you can also use it the other way around. Use the live chat function on your social media accounts to gain more SMS subscribers.
Last note on SMS marketing
Before you dive into SMS marketing, we’d like to make you aware of some best practices. Keep the following points into account to make your SMS marketing campaigns successful:
- Make sure there is a clear opt-in. It is very important to let people know they are subscribing to SMS marketing. Always provide a link to the terms and conditions when you provide an opt-in.
- Always give an option to opt-out. In each and every text message you send you have to make clear that it is possible to opt-out. Leave short instructions or a link.
- Don’t bombard your customers. SMS marketing can be very effective, but only if you have a solid subscriber list. To keep your subscribers, don’t send them an overload of messages. This gets them annoyed and makes them unsubscribe.
Keep in mind, that when it comes to SMS marketing, less is more. Keep it short and to the point. This way you send less messages and sell more.