Why SMS Marketing Is The Worst… Unless You Do It Right

SMS Marketing Tips

Even though I grumble at the style of most SMS campaigns, it’s easy to see why marketing through mobile methods is so popular. While emails have only a 20% open rate on average, text messages achieve a whopping 98%.

Because they’re basically guaranteed to be opened, marketing messages better be considered awesome- or they’ll just be really annoying.

Why People Reply STOP

I describe some business’s messages “really annoying” from experience. The large majority of businesses using SMS marketing seem to believe that we (especially Millennials) are just sitting ducks for mobile communication, regardless of the content. They think that once we opt-in, they can send us whatever they want.

*Cue best evil marketer after I opt-in impression*:

This is it, she opted-in! We’re just like part of her squad now. Beep-beep! Is it Jessica tagging you in a super relatable insta? Or is it us, G. Bro’s, notifying you as always, ON THE SAME DAY, AT THE SAME TIME, EVERY WEEK, that we’re promoting a burrito deal (not a joke, see pic below).

sms marketing

The only reason I still subscribe to their SMS list is because the same platform also sends me sweet ice cream discounts from another local shop. (See pic on the right- #worthit)

How to Do SMS Right and See Rewards

If you want to avoid becoming the bad example on a marketing blog post *cough cough*, you need to heavily analyze your SMS strategy. Because most people are running campaigns incorrectly, there’s some serious payoff to doing it right.

We’ve listed a few guidelines to help you build friendships with your contacts– founded on the promise of occasional discounts of course (the best kind of friendship in my opinion).

1.Check Your Frequency

No one likes a clingy friend, and businesses are no exception. Personally, I text STOP if I receive more than 1 message per week from a business, which is actually more allowance than most would prefer. According to Digital Marketing Magazine, 83% of people would only like to receive a max of 2 messages per month.

Capping your number of texts at only 2-3 per month keeps your contacts interested and ensures that they’re still opening your messages. If you exceed 3 messages, your solicitation is starting to intrude in their personal lives–and your contacts will unsubscribe for it.

2. Watch Your Tone

Your contacts are accustomed to their text messages coming from personal contacts, so if you’re going to make it in the SMS world, you need to fit in. Include the kind of wording like my ice cream dealer used in the above photos, aka “Doc Burnstein’s misses you”. It’s emotionally charged and makes me feel as though I’m talking to an old friend rather than a local business.

Besides being friendly, be sure to make the message quick. Grab your contact’s attention with a short intro and then get straight into the offer. The only reason they’re really subscribed to your SMS list is to receive offers, not to exchange pleasantries.

Also, don’t include more than one word in caps. People don’t like being screamed at through text, since it’s something (most) of their friends wouldn’t do.

3. Send Specific Offers

The texts you send to your contacts don’t have to include once-in-a-lifetime deals, but they should be more valuable than an ad you’d place in the local paper. Your opt-ins have given you their number under the assumption that they’ll get more privileges than the average customer. Don’t let them down by notifying them about your basic 10% off deal that’s also plastered all over your store windows for everyone to see. If you wouldn’t make a special trip for the offer yourself, then don’t notify your contacts.

Instead, send them codes that activate an offer only for opt-in customers, customized with their own name or similar personal info. Your contacts will appreciate any deal that feels as though they’re part of an elite club, and secret passcodes do just the trick. For example:

“We know you’ve been waiting for something good: Use code ABRYAN25 at checkout for 25% off your next single item online! Shop mobile now @ bIt.ly/yoursite or reply STOP to leave textclub”

This message acknowledges the fact that they’ve been loyal to your SMS program and haven’t unsubscribed, while also featuring a custom code that they’ll think was sent individually to them (even if it technically wasn’t, #thnxvariabledata)

4. Highlight a CTA

Every message should use a call-to-action, or CTA as it’s called in the marketing world. This quick quip will direct what the contact should do after reading the message in your ideal situation.

Should your offer include a direct link to the business’s site so that the reader can shop and eventually use the code? Or does the discount only apply to in-store–in which case you should include a link to “Find my nearest store” through their phone’s map program.

The CTA should lead the reader to exactly where they need to go next to use the offer as painlessly as possible. Use a link shortener for your connection too– programs like bIt.ly and Goo.gl can reduce the length of your link from 1995 long-tail to thumb size.

5. Include an exit

The only thing worse for your brand than an unhappy SMS recipient is an unhappy SMS recipient with no way to opt out. If your SMS contacts decide they want to stop receiving messages, the best thing your company can do is immediately take them off the list.

If you want to send them a kind message such as, “we hope this isn’t forever” along with a confirmation that they’ve been removed from your internal list, that’s fine. But they key aspect of the interaction is that you clearly offered your contact a way out, and then informed them that they were removed in one step, without making them jump through hoops.

Besides, if your contacts are no longer interested in deals, you are legally required to provide them directions on how to unsubscribe.

We hope this set of guidelines will help you build a loyal fanbase and put you on track toward SMS greatness. Now you just have to get people’s numbers!

According to most dating sites, that’s the hard part.


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