SMS Campaigns – setting up? Here are best practices.

One of the key aspects of successful marketing campaigns is  4 R’s i.e. sending the right message to the right customers at the right time on the right channel. Marketing through SMS Campaigns is undoubtedly proving to be a really effective way to engage existing customers as well as converting prospects to leads and hence to the potential customer. SMS campaigns not only addresses the key requirement of 4 R’s but also have added benefits, that includes:

  1. Faster delivery to the target audience
  2. Instant notification about operational notifications, alerts or reminders.
  3. Personalization and hence improved customer relationship.
  4. A cost-effective way to promote your brand.
  5. Direct and more reliable when compared to Email Marketing which has an inherent problem of Spam filtering at various levels.

A research shows “90% of text messages are read within just 3 seconds of being received” and has “98% of final read rate“. Thus, the potential of SMS campaigns to marketers should not be ignored.

Another important point to take care before proceeding further is getting aware of the difference between Marketing and Transactional SMS:

 

Marketing SMSTransactional SMS
ObjectivePromoting your product or servicePass on information necessary for using your product or service
AudienceOpted-In customers onlyNo Opt-in required
Use caseProducts offered to the customer by the bankAccount balance of bank account holder
Sample SMSDear %s, Our team wishes you a very Happy %s. We have mailed you a dining voucher at your address with a 20% discount on Food and Buffet. You can also show this SMS with voucher code %s to avail it.“Your order no %d has been shipped and you will receive this order by %s. Thanks for using our services.”

This blog post concentrates on the best practices around Marketing SMS that are important from customer’s perspective and can help to maximize conversions through SMS Campaigns.

SMS Campaign Key Notes
SMS Campaign Key Notes

Personalization isn’t a thing to be ignored

Personalizing the deliveries, whether Email or SMS, meeting the consumer expectations with brands to offer more personalized experiences. Good brands always ensure to provide matching experiences across various touch points whether its in-store, email messaging, SMS or online and Personalization, being driven by customer-specific information, helps to achieve this objective and providing a consistent personalized experience across channels. SMS Campaign must focus on personalized deliveries rather than sending SMS that is more generic and looks nothing more like spams. Also, sending redundant generic SMSs (non-personalized ones) negatively impact the brand image. Operational SMSs can be an exception to this where SMSs are more related to event alerts and reminders.

Allow Customer to Opt-out

Don’t afraid of losing SMS Subscribers, people may want to opt-out of SMS based communications which don’t mean they are opting out of Marketing communication altogether and obviously they can Opt-in back at their will. Further, providing SMS opt-out has added benefits which are far more important including:

  1. Helping complying with all mandatory legal & regulatory requirements. Check out the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for more details.
  2. Avoiding penalties for sending unsolicited texts. Companies like Papa John’s, Coca-Cola and Steve Madden have faced expensive class-action lawsuits because they sent unsolicited text messages to customers.
  3. Keep your SMS subscriber list clean, and of course, there is no point in spamming with SMS messages if some audiences are not interested in making a purchase.
  4. Save time and money on the bulk of SMS to people who aren’t going to make a purchase.

Optimize SMS Frequency

SMS Frequency is a critical factor as it will directly impact the unsubscribe/opt-out rate. It has been noticed that unsubscribe rate tends to increase significantly if marketers annoy customers/prospects with more than 10-15 SMS messages in a thirty-day period. Those sending more than 20 SMS messages in a month can prove to be suicidal since it risks unsubscribe rates as high as 60%. 

To be in the sweet spot, marketers should start with 4-5 SMS per month (between 1-2 SMS per week) followed by closely monitoring the performance and opt-outs. Then, experiment with gradually increasing message frequency to ~10 SMS messages per month with keen observations to performance indicators.

Another key point to note here is Customers don’t hate communication, they hate spam. Make sure your messages are relevant and add value to the customer, this will surely help to get better customer engagement.

Have Validation/Typology rules in place

Its always suggested having validation/typologies rules in place in order to avoid accidental untimely or deliveries to your customer base. Use customer segmentation, filtering conditions, suppression list, exclusion lists or even tool supported backend code to validate message format like permissible SMS length or proper Brand Name as the sender. Try adding them to typology rules that executes prior to actual Send and automatically make sure these conditions are met prior sending SMS to the audience for all deliveries.

Keep it Short, Sweet and Precise

SMS should be short, sweet and precise and must include CTA. On one hand, lacking proper CTA can confuse customers on what action you want them to take, whether it’s subscribing to something or buying your products. At the same time, nobody likes to read longer SMS or even chain of SMSs particularly when those SMSs are not personal rather Marketing SMS. They should solely solve the purpose of send and its always good if these messages have a single goal. Do not mix multiple marketing intent within a single SMS. A better way is to include a URL of your landing page to address multiple intent issues like Primary motive followed by secondary i.e. up-sell or cross-selling motives.

Use URL Shortner

Consider the fact that most of the vendor have a limit of a number of characters on SMS length. Exceeding the length can either result in blocking, truncating or chaining the SMS on vendor end and consequently not beneficial from a customer experience perspective. At the same time, including URL of the landing page in SMS can result in just eating up the SMS length. There are many URL shortening services available like Bitly, Zapier URL Shortener, Tiny Url etc. that can help to address this scenario. You can include both Marketing information as well as landing page URL within single SMS.

Use Brand Name as Sender Address

Not including the brand name as Sender Name can prove to be disastrous. This way, as the customer can straight away mark them as Spam, without even opening them. On the other hand, including Brand Name as Sender Name significantly improves customer engagement.

Schedule/Timing is a key

The customer expects the brands should respect their personal life. Sending SMS in off hours or vacation time to your valued customer is a big No No. Beware of the local timezone of your intended audience. Disturbing customers with un-timely SMSs can break relationships with that customer. Check with customers on best times to contact with and keep this information as Customer Profile attribute can help in this scenario. Customers will be more than happy to provide this information if they want to be engaged over SMS.

Enjoy your marketing success with SMS campaigns!!