Text message marketing isn’t for everyone
First things first: Text message marketing isn’t for everyone. It’s not that it is more complex than other marketing processes, it’s just that it is only worth engaging in under specific conditions. Wondering if your business is the right fit? Only two ways to find out:
- Read this article and arrive at an educated decision
- Follow this rule of thumb: If you were your own customer, would you actually derive value from a regular text message sent to your phone? How do you decide what ‘value’ actually is? See option 1.
Here’s a helpful statistic: 97% of smartphone owners use text messaging to communicate. In fact, a recent Pew Research Survey shows that texting, not voice calls, is the most used smartphone feature of all! This means that when it comes to texting, your customers are better at it than you are. Scared? Relax, we got this.
So what are the ingredients of a successful text message marketing plan?
- A solid infrastructure: A simple yet powerful tool that delivers personalized SMS en-masse and can report results back in a meaningful way
- A target audience: In this case, a list of potential customers for whom you have a valid phone number
- A strategy: A logical plan of what you want to achieve, that can be implemented consistently over time
- A process for improvement: A way to measure your results and do better
Your text message marketing platform
Let’s start with laying the framework. There are quite a few services out there specifically designed to get your texting campaign off the ground. These SMS and MMS (Multimedia Messaging) applications are immensely helpful. To get you started, here’s a breakdown of some of the services that will enable you to send out messages to your customers in bulk, and track your results.
- Sumotext provides advanced tools to help small and medium sized businesses track and monitor the reach of their marketing efforts, and send auto-responses, coupons, promotions and more.
- Trumpia helps create an open dialogue between brands and customers via mass text message campaigns. The layout is simple, and provides the option to post messages on social media pages. Trumpia is a great option if you are looking for a quick and simple way to get the word out.
- EZtexting.com is super navigable and helps keep the process of running a text message campaign smooth, without the stress of having to figure out how-to’s. Send messages, conduct polls, and create promotions and more quickly and easily.
Your audience: more than just a list of phone numbers
Who are your customers? They’re not just a phone number, that’s for sure. You might not know it yet, but your plan is to leverage some unique data points about every customer in order to make the text messages they receive more relevant, and in turn, more impactful.
If luck or previous wisdom are on your side, you might already have a list of phone numbers. If not, this is the perfect time to start collecting them. What else should you collect to effectively build an audience? Here are some solid ideas:
- First name (best way to personalize a message)
- Last name (to differentiate between duplicate first names)
- Email (to cross reference with other lists you might be managing)
- Location (In case you offer different things to people from different places)
- Main product preference (if applicable - what kind of products or services are they usually interested in?)
Your strategy: what’s the plan?
This topic is too comprehensive for a single section in a single article, but at least we’re giving you a place to start. Your strategy will include answers to the following questions:
What am I trying to achieve?
Are you interested in driving foot traffic into your business? Would you prefer people buying your products or services online, or calling in to schedule an appointment? Every business has its own goals and yours should be carefully defined so that you can really assess if your campaigns are delivering adequate results. In your text message, your goal should be included in your ‘call-to-action’: Asking the customer to do something like “call now” or “click here” or “play dead” (most customers will unfortunately choose the latter).
What can I offer my customers to make things happen?
Let’s face it - a text message is intrusive. If you blast generic content to your customers every week, they will do everything in their power to block you. Blocking is easier said than done, but we’re pretty sure your goal isn’t to get your customers to foam from the mouth and shatter their smartphone on the pavement (unless you are a phone repair man, in which case you’ve just been handed gold). Solution: make sure to always offer something in your text messages. It doesn’t have to be a new offer, but it has to be compelling to a good portion of your audience.
How can I phrase things clearly and concisely?
Learn how to write short sentences. Are you on twitter? Then you’re halfway there. Text messages, especially ones coming from businesses, must. be. brief.
How can I avoid being perceived as a spammer?
A text messaging platform with any self respect will allow you to personalize a message automatically according to its recipient. The most common personalized parameter is, of course, the first name of the person you’re texting to. People are less likely to react negatively to messages that contain their name, so make sure you put it in there.
Taking these points into account, this is what a text message should look like:
first name, clear and concise offer, call to action, link (optional)
Remember: Talk to your customers the way you want to be talked to. Avoid alienating consumers with mass, generic announcements, and instead, keep text messages targeted and relevant.
Keep Improving: How not to make the same mistakes over and over again
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Here’s a motivational tidbit: You can always do better. The question is: should you spend time on it? Well, that depends. Marketing is a tough beast to tame, and requires both analytical and creative skills to do well.
Our recommendation is to focus on two metrics:
- CTR (click through rate)
- Action rate
With CTR you’re basically asking “how many people saw my message and decided to tap on the link to learn more and make progress?” This will have a lot to do with the content of your message. Are you making it relevant to the recipient? Is it personal rather than ‘spammy’? Are you communicating an offer that is meaningful to your customers?
With Action Rate you’re asking “How many people actually followed through with what I offered?” This could be redeeming a reward, visiting at a certain time, calling to schedule a meeting, etc, and will correlate to the actual offer, and how easy it is follow through with.
The challenge here is to attribute the action to your campaign, i.e., ensure that the action was performed as a result of the text message campaign, and not randomly. The solution: Make sure the behavior you’re asking for in the campaign is unique to your text-message audience. This way you know that when recipients complete the action, it is all thanks to your phenomenal text message marketing skills.
So what did we learn?
Get your infrastructure in place: Use software that allows you to manage text message marketing effectively and improve as you go.
Build your audience: Start gathering those phone numbers, along with the extra personalization elements that will enhance your campaign
Define and implement your strategy: a set of very clear goals and all the ways you intend to achieve them
Never stop improving: Measure your results, and adjust accordingly until you’re happy!
With a bit of planning and a little experimentation, you’ll soon be running fun, impactul, text message marketing campaigns. One of the joys of this simple, direct marketing channel is that you will be able to measure the results almost immediately! If you’ve used text marketing for your business, and have a success story to share, we’d love to hear about it! Write us
We almost forgot: Looking for an easy and effective way to connect smarter with your customers? Here’s a free month with Flok to get your business up and running without all that fussy commitment. See you on the other side!