Text messaging is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer's toolbox.
An effective SMS marketing strategy helps brands promote products and turn customers into lifetime fans by giving them early access to launches and exclusive discounts.
It turns out that customers actually like getting text messages as well— open rates can reach as high as 98% and have a clickthrough rate of 19%. For brands who want to get their message out, SMS marketing is a great way to do just that.
The difference between an average SMS marketing strategy and a great one comes down to the finer details. What opt-in strategy you choose, the length of your messages, and how well you analyze campaign data can all make a big impact on how successful your SMS marketing efforts are.
10 SMS marketing tips to make your next campaign as effective as possible
Tip #1. Use Keywords To Opt-In
One of your main SMS marketing goals should be growing your subscriber list—but that's easier said than done.
The trick is to make it as simple as possible for customers and subscribers to opt-in to your SMS campaigns so they can start receiving your text messages. An effective way to do this is to ditch the lengthy opt-in forms and use keywords instead.
Keyword opt-ins work when you pick a word like "SUBSCRIBE" or "JOIN" in a message. All the person has to do is reply to your message with the keyword and boom—they are subscribed!
Not only do keyword opt-ins break down barriers and make it easy for customers who want to subscribe to your texts, but it's also a chance to add a bit of your brand's personality into their buying journey. Adding a keyword like "PARTY" or "WINNER" can inject some fun into the process and make your new subscribers see that the text messages they're going to receive will be quirky and interesting.
In Sendlane, marketers can even invite customers to opt-in over email by sending them a personalized VAR_SMS_JOIN tag straight to their inbox.
It's a great way to grow your SMS list with existing customers and give them a chance to access exclusive offers and discounts.
Pro-tip: Make Opt-Out Options Clear
It's not just your opt-in process you need to make easy—if someone wants to unsubscribe, make sure that all they need is a single keyword as well.
Once a customer is subscribed to your SMS marketing list, it's a good idea to add a way for them to unsubscribe from every message they receive. This could be as easy as ‘reply STOP to stop receiving messages’ so they know that they can opt-out at any time.
Tip #2. Offer Incentives
What makes SMS marketing stand out is how exclusive it is—it's just your brand messaging a customer 1-on-1.
Take advantage of this and offer customers exclusive deals that are only available to SMS subscribers. By offering coupons or exclusive product releases to just subscribers, you can create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) for people who haven't signed up for your text campaigns.
Not only can this make current members feel like they are a part of a secret club or community, but it can also boost your subscriber rates at the same time. These tactics can boost brand loyalty and show your customers that they're not just shoppers—they are special.
Here's how Pupperchow offers incentives to customers over SMS:
The offer is only available for a single day, but the customer has all of the information they need to make a buying decision—including a link to Pupperchow's website.
Tip #3. Utilize Automated Sequences
The best SMS marketing campaigns are well planned and executed.
Imagine sending a personalized SMS to a customer that markets the right products and uses language that will speak to their needs. With the right tools, you can do this automatically.
Automated sequences allow you to onboard new customers, keep them engaged with your brand and push notifications to help recover abandoned carts. As these automations use specific triggers, when a customer clicks on an SMS link or opens your message, it will trigger the next part of the workflow.
A customer who has taken an interest in an upcoming product launch, for example, could be sent an SMS as a reminder when its release date is. On the day it launches, the automated sequence can then be triggered to let them know it's ready to buy—and even include a cheeky discount code to sweeten the deal!
In Sendlane, setting up automated SMS campaigns is a breeze. You can even mix and match them with existing sequences to make sure your customer receives both email and SMS messages.
Tip #4. Trigger Live Agent Notifications
Even when your SMS marketing is automated, it's still a good idea to have your customer service team on standby to make sure your customers are happy.
Trigger notifications to be sent to live agents so if a customer replies to a text message with a problem, a human can jump into the chat and respond quickly. Instead of filling in a support form or waiting for a customer support rep to reply on live chat, customers can reach out for help straight from their phones.
If you've got the right toolkit, you can even set up a multi-channel customer support inbox and seamlessly manage all of these conversations in one place. Sendlane's Two-Way Reply Center allows customer service reps to reply to received messages and keep a history log of every text.
It's now possible for live agents to join forces with the company's marketing goals and answer questions, hold meaningful conversations with customers and nurture profitable relationships—and it can be done over text!
Tip #5. Include Clickable Links
Include links to your website, social media pages, and product launch landing pages to promote sales and boost your sales revenue.
A link in your SMS is the equivalent of a CTA on a landing page. It will help your customer take an action (like revisiting their abandoned cart) or check out a product that's one sale. you include a compelling CTA in your text.
As every SMS has a 160 character limit, you'll need to keep your clickable links short. If you launch your SMS campaign using Sendlane, it will automatically shorten your link to save you precious space in every text.
You can even combine clickable links with other tactics like offers and coupons to boost clickthrough rates. Check out this example from Pawz:
The message is advertising a sale that Pawz is having, but it still manages to stay below the 160 character limit by using a shortened, clickable link. Pawz can track how many people click on the link to track how successful the sale was and how much revenue it generated!
Tip #6. Send Reminders And Confirmations
Keep customers in the loop every time they interact with your company using confirmations and reminders.
It's not just good business to inform customers about an order or an appointment over text—it's what they want, too. 67% of people would rather get an update or a reminder over text than by email or phone. Sending out these types of text messages is also useful if you need the customer to see it urgently, making them perfect for shipping notifications or booking reminders.
These types of transactional messages, like shipment updates and booking confirmations, can be easily set up through an eCommerce platform. You can even use reminders to boost upsells and encourage customers to make repeat orders. In Sendlane, if a customer has purchased a protein powder a month ago, you can send them a text asking if it's time for them to refill their stash based on the length of time since their last order. It could look something like this:
Tip #7. Gather Feedback & Data
Every SMS campaign you launch can be a goldmine for data analytics and feedback if you set it up right.
Use text messages to ask customers for feedback or to fill out surveys. It's a great way to gather information about how much they like a new product feature that you've recently released or if they've got any suggestions about how you can improve it.
If you make these clickable links, there's another bonus—and that's the data.
By tracking customer interactions and gathering data from surveys and feedback forms, you’ll be able to tweak future products and campaigns. Inside Sendlane, all of this data is organized into a dashboard so you can quickly see which links and messages are getting the most traction:
You can see instantly which campaigns are most popular with customers and bring in the most revenue. Brands can then leverage this valuable data to track:
- Audience engagement: Monitor your subscribers' growth, the number of subscribers/unsubscribers in a given timeframe, and the channels your customers use to sign up to your list.
- Campaign success: Measure clickthrough rates, conversions, and overall revenue of automated campaign sequences.
- Segmentation opportunities: With Sendlane’s deep-data integrations, brands can leverage their contacts’ journeys and activities like product views, purchases, and spending habits. Using this information, you can create segments of your audience that need a little extra push, like a discount or a coupon, to entice them back to your checkout.
Data like this will help you create winning email campaigns.
Tip #8. Keep It Short And Sweet
Keep any SMS messages short, snappy and engaging.
SMS only allows you 160 characters, so make sure you get to the point if you want your customer to stay engaged and click on a campaign link. If you make your messages too long and don't stick to the character count, your customer will receive more than one text—and you'll drive up your costs by sending out multiple messages.
We are loving this short and sweet SMS from Good American:
There's a sale, a compelling call to action, and even a clickable link that will take shoppers straight to the store's landing page. The brand has managed to do all this and capture their customer's attention by using less than 90 characters.
Tip #9. Offer Exclusive Promotions
Make your customers feel like VIPs with exclusive deals and promotions that are only accessible over SMS. This example from Steve Madden nails it:
Think about it. If it was offered to everyone, it would be less appealing. Offering customers discounts or early access to new products and releases makes them feel like a VIP and can increase their loyalty towards your brand.
Tip #10. Integrate MMS
Don't be afraid to add images or videos to your messages to grab your customer's attention.
Utilizing GIFs and images obviously makes a message more engaging to your audience. But there's another reason you should use MMS—it increases the character count of the message from 160 to 1000.
Check out this example from SKIMS:
It's the perfect mix. The eye-catching imagery not only shows off the product but also reinforces the CTA of the message: buy a bundle and save some cash. There's even a clickable link that will take the customer straight to the SKIMS homepage where they can shop bundles instantly.
Creating an MMS like this is easy if you're using a tool like Sendlane. Inside Sendlane's MMS builder, you can build an MMS campaign by simply dropping in your text and images:
You can even add links to YouTube videos or product landing pages to boost engagement or revenue. Once you're happy with how the MMS looks, you can send it out as a bulk blast message or add it to an existing drip automation to drive sales.
SMS can be one of your most effective marketing channels—if you know how to use it.
Every SMS you send out should be carefully thought out and have a purpose. Whether you are reminding customers about an upcoming product launch or updating them about a shipment, most of your messages will end up being read by the customer, so make them count.
With the right toolkit and attention to detail—you can turn every SMS campaign into your secret weapon!