Or even better…
It’s actually the mobile workhorse for brands like Coca-Cola, Target, JC Penny and more.
You see mobile means a lot of things to a lot of people, but when I got started back in 2005 it was really about text message marketing.
Even with smartphones coming onto the scene and the new iPhone 6, only 60-65% of the US has a smartphone.
That means that if you want the most mobile reach, you use SMS text message marketing.
Now, you’re probably saying, “Greg! Really? Text messaging?
Oh yeah! I’m serious!
Now, over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more information and case studies on text message marketing but before we do that, there a few things you should know.
Lucky for you, those few things…well, 20 to be exact, are what I’m going to share with you in the post.:
20 Things Everybody should know about text message marketing TODAY.
1. SMS Text Message Marketing Is Your Most Immediate Connection With Your Customer
Whether you think it’s sexy or not, SMS text message marketing is the fastest way you can connect with your customers.
90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes.
There isn’t much more that is as immediate as that.
That’s why text messages are used to deliver important time sensitive messages from businesses.
See how this attorney can use text reminders to confirm appointments.
(I hope that guy isn’t in trouble!)
That’s why many weather services use texts to warn us of potentially dangerous conditions in our local area.
Why online services such as Tripit send you travel updates around your flights.
It’s this immediacy that leads popular online marketers like Amy Porterfield to announce new trainings to her loyal subscribers.
2. Text Message Marketing Is Often Referred To As SMS
Per the internet:
“SMS stands for short message service. Simply put, it is a method of communication that sends text between cell phones, or from a PC or handheld to a cell phone. The “short” part refers to the maximum size of the text messages: 160 characters (letters, numbers or symbols in the Latin alphabet).”
A lot of people say things like “don’t say SMS”, people don’t know what that means.
At this point, more people know what SMS refers to, even if they don’t know what it stands for.
I mean, come on…
Apple was it even saying it for years before they integrated the SMS app with iMessage.
Remember this guy?
3. Your Prospects Opt-in By Texting A Keyword To A Short Code
Having your prospects and customers engage with you is extremely easy. The foundations of SMS Text Message Marketing rely on keywords and short codes.
You most likely have heard an SMS call-to-action before.
American Idol is known for generating viewers votes by texting keywords to short codes.
Something like IDOL1 to 12345 to vote for the first contestant. Sound familiar?
You’ve probably even heard it on the radio or at sporting events for a chance to win a prize.
When you get started with SMS and you select your provider, you’ll be able to choose a keyword for your business and be provided with a short code.
Here is a quick reference of which is the keyword and which is the short code.
Here is a quick video from my friend and owner of Tatango an SMS Marketing company that breaks it down for you
4. Your Call-to-Action Needs To Be Clear
Now that we have keywords and short codes down, you need to incorporate them into a call-to-action that gets your prospects and customers to respond.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is only half committing to the fact that you’re using SMS.
When you only half commit you end up burying your call-to-action and nobody can see it.
You want to make sure your call-to-action is clear in a number of ways.
Clear in Incentive
Having an enticing incentive or reason for people to opt-in and participate is key for converting viewers into subscribers.
Clear in Direction
I often see people put the SMS keyword in between parenthesis.
Eg. Text “iPhone” to “12345”.
You’d be amazed at how many people text the “” and get no response. I will note however, that Pepsi does a great job of making the SMS Call-to-action the focal point of this collateral.
Compliance Language is Clear
We’ll talk more about compliance in #X but your call-to-action needs to incorporate some disclaimer language.
Just like outbound email campaigns that don’t provide instructions for opting out, there are some disclaimers such as “Message and Data Rates May Apply” that need to be incorporated in and around your call-to-action.
Visit # 10 for more on compliance.
Clearly alight your SMS text marketing goals with your marketing and business objectives.
The key is thinking about calls to actions in terms of a larger, organized marketing plan rather than as a single piece of a puzzle you don’t know how to fit together.
The most common mistake is using a text CTA to just take someone to a website and that’s it.
Yeah it’s great to get some traffic, but you basically eliminate any chance of driving up customer lifetime value.
You could create value by capturing targeted metadata, opting a person in to a list, or getting a person to share details with friends via social networks.
5. You’ll Build Your List Faster With Incentives But Incentive Doesn’t Need To Be Monetary
Yes, monetary incentives typically do better at driving higher amounts of users into your program but it’s not mandatory.
You can leverage non-monetary incentives as well such as:
- Personalization – “We’ll notify you when your favorite item comes in.”
- Reminders – “Your shipment will be delivered today.”
- Engagement – “Tell us how we can help you.”
- Access – “Here is early access to this special thing just because you’re a loyal SMS subscriber.”
- Privileges – “Here is this special thing we only share with our SMS VIPs.”
Not everybody want’s to offer discounts and many are successful without doing so. It’s up to you.
6. You Can Collect Opt-Ins From Web Forms Too (Single Opt-in vs Double Opt-in)
Here you can see fast food restaurant Jack in the box collecting mobile numbers to send special offers and updates.
Notice they capture date of birth too. I bet you get birthday specials.
Also, they collect both email and mobile phone in one place allowing them to make a more complete customer record.
When opting in customers from the web, you need to perform a double opt-in.
That means when a customer enters their mobile number and hit’s “submit”, they should get a message asking them to reply “YES” or “Y” or something along those lines to accept the mobile subscription.
If Jack in the box did a radio commercial and just said “Text JACK to 12345 to join” then it’s ok if that execution is a single opt-in.
To keep it simple—web requires double opt-in and texting in does not.
7. You Can Deliver Recurring Messages Or One-Off Messages
Messages such as auto-responders, sweepstakes, trivia etc are all one-time SMS promotions. There is no opt-in prompt, so you cannot use the numbers you collect through these promotions for future marketing purposes unless you add a prompt after the promotion inclusion or clearly in your call-to-action.
This is when customers that sign up for your list in order to get recurring updates from your company or brand and can easily opt-out when they want to.
Usually you’ll see businesses lead with a sweepstakes or trivia and then up sell participants into receiving ongoing messages.
8. Your Messages Should Be Short, Clear and Concise (160 Characters)
American Eagle Outfitters leverages their 160 characters well, notifying subscribers of the 25% offer that is available both inshore and online and give a clear path (the link) to get the coupon.
You want to make sure your messages con taint the following:
- The sender of the message: You can see they start with “AEO”.
- A singular offer: They just mention the 25% sale.
- Clear Instructions telling the customer what to do: “Free shipping online and off with the coupon”
- A trackable element: Including the link gives the business the ability to track unique clicks vs number of redemptions.
9. SMS Coupons Are 10x More Likely To Be Redeemed and Shared Compared To Mail or Newspaper
A Business Insider report late last year shared that mobile coupons convert 10x compared to traditional coupons.
Mobile coupons redeem higher for a lot of reasons:
- They are with you whoever you go
- They can be stored in other services such as Passbook
- They are more effectively tracked
- You can re-market to your audience based on redemption behavior
- They typically cost the business a lot less eliminating (or reducing) printing and shipping of coupons.
10. Compliance Is More Important Than Ever
There are a few organizations that overview the SMS industry:
- Wireless Carriers
Although SMS text message marketing is more governed than say, email, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
As long as you play by the rules (which aren’t complicated at all) you have a chance to succeed.
Here are examples of appropriate SMS language:
[highlight]“Thanks for signing up for BUSINESS NAME alerts! To unsubscribe, reply STOP. 5 msgs per month, msg&data rates may apply. Visit http://url.com/123 for help”[/highlight]
[highlight]You are now unsubscribed from BUSINESS NAME alerts, sorry to see you go. You’ll receive no further messages. For more info, visit http://url.com/123. Msg&data rates may apply. [/highlight]
Double opt-in confirmation request
[highlight]We have received a request to add your mobile phone number to BUSINESS NAME Alerts. Please reply Y or YES to confirm your subscription. Msg&data rates may apply. [/highlight]
[highlight]After your subscriber has opted in, and received their welcome message with all of the required language, any ongoing messages must include the following:
- Program name
- Directions on how to opt-out (ex: “Reply STOP to opt out”). [/highlight]
As part of an amendment to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) on 10/16/2013, the FCC now requires the following language to be included within any call-to-action (CTA) materials promoting a SMS marketing program:
- Messages may be sent using an automatic telephone dialing system
- Consent not required to purchase property, goods or services
This language can be modified slightly (ex: “Consent not required for purchase”), but the material substance of the statements must stay intact. Please seek guidance from trusted legal counsel if you have any questions regarding compliance.
For more on this I have a podcast with Michael Hazzard who specializes in mobile law. Also, you can check out two helpful guides on TCPA and CTIA compliance here and here respectively.
11. You Can Send Multi-Media Messages (Called MMS)
Messages don’t always need to be just text. Now, you can send MMS messages (Multimedia Messages) which include pictures or video.
Jack in the Box is doing a great job of leading this charge sending very visual offers as well as videos promoting their new products.
MMS hasn’t been fully adopted mainly do to cost and the fact that not all SMS providers offer it.
Two of the top tier MMS providers are Outspoken (formerly MoGreet) and Archer. These two typically work with enterprise level clients. At this moment, I haven’t seen a quality MMS provider for small business owners, but it’s most likely coming.
Previously, MoGreet offered a more small business friendly solution that I used for a bit to send video messages to my audience which you can see below:
12. When Used Correctly, You’ll Experience Less Than a 2% Opt-Out Rate
SMS text message marketing isn’t supposed to be used exactly like email or even push notifications.
In most cases (unless you’re sending reminders), it’s pretty common to send 4-6 promotional messages per month.
When you deliver value using the incentive structures that we discussed earlier, it’s common to remain under a 2% opt-out rate.
For the immediacy and personal connection SMS text message marketing affords you, it’s a very effective channel.
13. Sending Reminders Can Dramatically Decrease Your No Show Rate
A recent study by the Internet Journal of Healthcare Administration has conducted a study that shows that if a practice implements an SMS text message service to remind patients of appointments they should experience a decrease of up to 36% in patient no shows.
SMS text messaging reminders are considerably more cost effective than utilizing a staff member whose resources could be better spent in other aspects of the medical office. The SMS reminders can quickly pay for itself not only with the decrease in wasted labor costs, but with the decrease in missed appointments. There are some reports that are showing an increase of $100,000 annually in a single physician office that has implemented the SMS text message appointment reminder service.
It’s not just for doctors either.
I’ve used SMS reminders to increase the show up rate for my online webinars. I’ve even helped friends like John Lee Dumas and Amy Porterfield accomplish the same.
Collectively, my clients and I have seen an increase in our webinar show up rates between 12-20%. Click To Tweet This Stat
[highlight] If you want to learn how to use SMS Text Message Marketing to increase webinar show up rates, sign up for early updates of my new training, Convert From Anywhere. Just click here to sign up. [/highlight]
14. Your Call To Action Can Go Almost Anywhere
One of my favorite things about SMS text marketing is how it can continue engagement opportunities from one channel to another.
Here you can see how the San Francisco 49ers promote a text call-to-action using their twitter account.
Restaurants and retailers can add text call-to-actions on every receipt.
Adding your SMS call-to-action throughout your other marketing channels will help you create a multi-channel experience while building a database of your most loyal customers.
15. It’s Not Spam When They Opt-in (and Don’t Send Too Much)
I often get asked by prospects if their customer swill think their messages are SPAM.
Now, if they were to abuse their list and send too frequently and not deliver any value in the messages…yes, it would be considered SPAM and the subscribers that you do have would most likely opt-out.
You have to remember that SMS is a permission based marketing channel.
As you learned earlier, your pro sects and customers have to opt-in by either texting a keyword to a short code or filling out a web-form and completing the double opt-in process.
16. If You Don’t Like Receiving Text Messages That Doesn’t Mean Your Client Doesn’t
I felt this was important to mention as as it comes up just as often as number 15.
As a business owner you need to understand your customer, their wants and their mobile behaviors. We share how to create a mobile customer persona in a previous podcast episode and it’s a critical step in building a successful mobile strategy.
If you own a local business and are not offering SMS text marketing to deliver valuable and timely offers and updates to your customers you’re doing them a disservice.
17. Coca-Cola Spends 70% of Their Mobile Budget On SMS
Coca-Cola has been reported to spend 70% of their mobile budget on SMS marketing.
If the biggest brand in the world can dedicate most of their mobile budget to SMS text message marketing then it’s something you should be considering. Click To Tweet This Stat
18. It Has Better Open Rates Than Email
Yup, that’s right. Not only do 90% of messages get read within 3 minutes but 98% of messages get opened.
Now, I’m not saying replace your email marketing with SMS marketing. In fact, SMS messages and email marketing can pack a powerful punch when combined.
19. You Can Build Your Email List with SMS Text Messaging.
SMS doesn’t always have to be used to drive someone to store or use a coupon.
You could simply just use it to build your email list.
Want to see first hand how that works? Sign up for updates for my new course, Convert From Anywhere.
Go ahead. Give it a shot.
20. It’s Not Expensive to do SMS Text Message Marketing
So many people think using text message marketing is expensive because they are unfamiliar with it.
In reality, it’s very similar to email and when used correctly, it can convert better than email.
When it comes to small-to-medium sized businesses using SMS text message marketing I recommend two SMS providers.
- Call Loop – Starts at $29/month for 250 messages a month.
- Tatango – Starts at $149/month and includes 10,000 messages per month.
When it comes to collecting email addresses and delivering voice messages, Call Loop offers some additional functionality and integrations that I highly recommend.