text marketing

Text Marketing Is the Next Big Thing: How to Do It Right

I’m sure you’ve heard about using SMS text for marketing. And, like me, you probably ignored it. Well, I have reason to believe that text marketing is The Next Big Thing for small businesses. Just look at these numbers:

  1. Text is the most widely and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day.
  2. One in five consumers is just as likely to prefer a text message from a business to a phone call.
  3. 75% of people would like to have offers sent to them via SMS.
  4. Sales prospects who are sent text messages convert at a rate 40% higher than those who are not sent any text messages.
  5. 77% of consumers with texting capabilities aged 18-34 are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability.
  6. 44% of consumers would rather receive product details and other marketing messages through text over any other channel.

We are currently talking to a prospective client whose owns clients prefer text messaging over any other form of communication. We have never done SMS text marketing; this is new territory for us as well.

So, we are diving into the research and best practices around it. I’ve included some pretty compelling stats above. Here are some of the most valuable text marketing tips I’ve found:

1. Identify yourself

Even if the text message service you use displays an actual phone number, people are not going to recognize the number or associate it with your company. Always tell people who the message is coming from. Use your name or the company name, but don’t hide that info or you could be accused of spam.

2. Segment your lists

As with any marketing campaign, the more targeted the audience, the better the results. Segment your list by purchase behavior, age, location, interests or any other relevant data. The goal is to get the right message to the right person at the right time.

3. Add urgency

To boost response rates, send out a flash sale via text. You can also promote regular sales or discounts, but be sure to include information about when the sale ends.

And don’t forget to send reminders before a promotion or offer is about to expire. People don’t want to miss out on a great deal, so they will take action.

4. Get to the point

Most text message services limit you to 160 characters, so use that space wisely. Get right to the point and be very clear about what they should do next.

Be sure to watch “text speak.” If you start using abbreviations and acronyms (tmrw instead of “tomorrow” or ICYMI instead of “in case you missed it”), you might confuse people and render your message completely useless. And that brings me to my next point.

5. Be useful

Don’t have sales, promotions or discounts to share? Send tips that are easy to implement. If your industry is in a highly regulated environment, you could text changes to laws or procedures that can affect your clients.

A corollary to this tip is: limit the number of texts you send. Having permission to text people is a privilege, not a right. Don’t abuse it.

6. Focus on exclusivity

Avoid sending messages or information people can get on your website or social media pages. Make text a special experience and focus on exclusive information, like access to a sale or new product or service before everyone else.

Riffing on that idea, you could only use text for your VIP clients or brand ambassadors – but only if this is a communication channel they love to use.

7. Use calls-to-action

Calls-to-action are a must if you want your audience to engage with you in some way. You can try “show this text” (to get a discount in-store) or “text-to-win”. Standard calls-to-action like “click here” (to learn more) or “buy now” are also great options.

8. Experiment with timing

Timing is huge when it comes to text (see “add urgency” above). You’ll find that some days of the week work better (Saturday versus Tuesday), so track that to keep engagement levels high.

And for pete’s sake, don’t text before 9am or after 8pm unless you are sending emergency information. As I write this, wildfires are burning out of control in Ventura and parts of Los Angeles Counties. An order to evacuate is appropriate to send at any time. Info about your holiday event is in Santa Monica is not.

Since SMS text marketing is new to us, I want to hear from people who have tried it.

Has it worked for you? Fallen flat? Do you like receiving text messages from brands and organizations? Share your story!

Statistics courtesy of OneReach.com

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