Best Practices for SMS Marketing
"Don't reinvent the wheel." There's a reason this age-old saying is popular. Resources are tight for many organizations, and if you’re one that’s thinking about starting an SMS marketing program, take the time to familiarize yourself with best practices for SMS marketing. Learning from those who have gone before you can help you save time and money as well as avoid costly and embarrassing mistakes.
Although SMS marketing is rapidly growing in popularity, there’s still time to be one of the leaders. Currently, only 68% of all businesses use some form of text communications with their customers while a whopping three-fourths of consumers would welcome such messages.
The following primer will help you learn about text message marketing best practices so you can get started on the right foot.
One of the most important SMS marketing best practices to understand is how, when and where to collect your contact names and numbers. After all, if you don’t have a solid target audience list, you can’t run an SMS marketing program.
It’s critical to have permission from your recipients to text them in the first place. The easiest way to secure this permission is to ask them to opt-in by texting you first. Typically, this request is promoted within other marketing channels including posters, tabletop displays, social media posts, website advertisements or email campaigns.
This can be done by assigning a relevant keyword and shortcode, which is specific to your company and even to a particular campaign, and when interested individuals text you that keyword at that shortcode, you’ve obtained permission. In some cases, you may even ask for a confirmation text as part of a double opt-in request for collecting contacts.
One way to automate your SMS marketing campaign is to import contact names and numbers from an existing customer database. In many cases, this transfer of information can be done quickly and automatically with no need to re-enter this data.
However, it’s important to ensure that while you’re importing contacts that you also have written permission to send them marketing material. Since they do not enter your SMS marketing campaign by texting a keyword, you’ll need to have secured this permission through another means, either by having individuals enter their phone numbers in person or online, agreeing to these terms in writing. This step can be built into future marketing campaigns with the expectation of incorporating those prospects into an SMS initiative down the road.
Staying Compliant with SMS Laws
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is the most important of the SMS compliance laws that governs SMS marketing initiatives. In order to adhere to best practices for SMS marketing as well as avoid costly lawsuits, companies must remain compliant at all times.
The TCPA requires that all customers must provide “express written consent” before they receive promotional SMS messages. This consent must be requested in a clear, concise and obvious manner so that subscribers know exactly what they are requesting, which means that lengthy legal documents with pages of fine print will not suffice. Fines for TCPA violations can range between $500 to $1,500 per unsolicited text with no upper limit. Therefore, staying compliant with SMS laws can save you a great deal of money in the long run.
Best Time to Send Marketing Text Messages
“Do unto others as you would have them do onto you.” This simple adage can help you determine the best time to send marketing text messages to your customer list. If you’d prefer not to receive promotional texts late at night or in the wee hours of the morning yourself, don’t send them at those times.
It also is smart to use common sense in your SMS marketing automation initiatives. For example, if you’re promoting a special deal or limited-time offer, be sure you send these texts during normal operating hours so a prospect can head over to your brick-and-mortar store at that moment or on their way home from work. If you’re directing prospects to an online storefront, consider when most individuals may have free time to take advantage of your offer, perhaps in the early evening hours or on the weekends.
Automate Your SMS Marketing
By automating your SMS marketing efforts, you can increase the frequency of your engagement with your prospects or customers in a meaningful way. Once you’ve met SMS compliance laws and obtained express permission to communicate with your recipients by text, you can segment your audience by their individual interests.
Part of adopting text message marketing best practices is to create automations that lead prospects to closer engagement and conversion. This could involve special promotions, sneak-peak news announcements, and exclusive deals for those opting into your SMS marketing campaign. Depending on the response you receive, you can create bot-like experiences that can increase engagement even further.
That said, be sure not to ignore the opportunity for a personal touch and depend solely on SMS marketing automation practices. If you solicit subscriber input or offer a channel for questions and comments, be sure you have the means and resources to respond to those comments and inquiries. One study showed that 43% of customers have tried to text a business but only one-third of those received a reply. Those are missed opportunities to nurture a long-term customer relationship and solidify customer loyalty.
Integration With Existing CRM
Best practices for SMS marketing should also include integration with existing CRM tools. If a company can have an integrated picture of each one of its customers, it will have a higher chance of offering personalized information and service. Both of those benefits are appreciated by customers today, who increasingly expect businesses to know their wants and needs.
As long as contacts provide initial written permission to receive marketing materials from your company, you can easily import those contacts into an SMS marketing program. Once you’ve engaged customers through an exchange of text messages or analyzed which campaigns generated the most conversions, this information can be fed back into your CRM system to build future marketing initiatives. Integration between the two platforms provides a method to continually refine your company’s products, services and messages to better reach your prospects and customers.
Now that you’re familiar with SMS marketing best practices, sign up for a free DialMyCalls account and start a trial subscription today. DialMyCalls makes SMS marketing campaigns simple and cost effective to start. See for yourself today.