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Is SMS Marketing Still Relevant in 2019?

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Let’s be honest: getting ahold of your customers in 2019 can sometimes be, well, difficult.

Trust us - we totally get it.

Just as marketers are constantly on-the-go, so are the folks you're trying to sell to.

That’s why sticking to a single marketing channel isn’t exactly a great idea anymore.

Businesses need to be anywhere and everywhere their customers are, especially since those customers are glued to their smartphones like never before.

Email? Of course! (Duh)

Social media? Yep?

But what about SMS?

Hey, great question!

In this guide, we tackle whether or not SMS is relevant for marketers (spoiler alert: it is!) and what texting means for businesses in 2019.

Does SMS Still “Work?” Let’s Look at the Numbers

If you have your doubts about SMS, we don’t blame you.

Given that marketers are constantly looking for “the next big thing,” marketing through SMS might not seem like much to get excited about. However, the numbers don’t lie when it comes to just how valuable SMS can be in your customers’ hands - literally!

On average, people spend nearly four hours per day on their smartphones (source).

Remember what we said earlier about people being glued to their phones? We weren’t kidding.

With some studies noting that some consumers check their phones hundreds of times per day, there’s no better place to reach your target audience. Much like there’s a need for mobile-friendly emails, businesses need specific tactics that appeal to customers on-the-go. That’s exactly what SMS marketing can do.

SMS messages are “can’t-miss” for consumers, boasting a 98% read-rate (source).

Oh, and let’s not forget a staggering 45% response rate.

Listen: we’re all about email here at Sendlane. That said, it’s much harder for your customers to ignore a text message versus, say, a marketing email or a social post.

What makes SMS so visible, though? For starters, you’re not fighting against an algorithm which determines whether or not your customer sees your message (we’re looking at you, Facebook). There’s also less competition in terms of your customers’ attention. Although someone’s inbox may be flooded with dozens of marketing messages per day, the same can’t be said about texts from businesses.

It’s also worth noting that SMS is capable of reaching customers via notifications.

For example, any given text results in a *ding* and notification on your lock screen - you don’t even need to open an app to see it. On the flip side, some emails might not always show up in your customers’ notifications due to deliverability issues.

SMS is most consumers’ preferred method of contact, with 90% willing to engage businesses via text (source).

This statistic is easily the most important one of all.

Why? Because it speaks directly to what your customers want.

Plus, it makes perfect sense.

Think about the times when you’ve kicked yourself because you forgot to redeem a coupon or hit up a sale. Although you might sleep on traditional marketing message by no fault of your own, the visibility and deliverability of SMS are crucial for giving customers that much-needed push.

Plus, SMS messages are so simple to read and understand. With only 160 characters, any given message is loud and clear at a glance. This simplicity enables your reader to take action with no questions asked.

What Businesses and Brands Get Wrong About SMS

While recent research and trends certainly point to the value of SMS, text marketing certainly isn’t foolproof. Below are some common mistakes we’ve seen businesses and brands make with SMS which could be cause for some of the naysayers out there.

Poor Message Frequency

Just as businesses want to avoid spamming customers with emails, the same rings true with text messaging.

Imagine you’re getting bombarded with emails, texts and social messages at the same time from the same brand. You’re rightfully going to get overwhelmed, right?

According to a detailed study by Upland Software, a “less is more” approach of up to four texts per month is a good starting point.

Meanwhile, Derek Johnson of Totango recommends adopting a frequency based on how often your customers typically buy from you. For example, let’s say your customers buy from you once a month on average. In that case, you should send a text blast once per month to encourage them to come through your door, so to speak.

Businesses have to tread lightly when it comes to how frequently they text their audience. It’s all about finding a happy medium that keeps your customers engaged.

Lack of Personalization and Familiarity

It’s always awkward when you get a text from a number you don’t recognize. It’s even worse when you have no idea how to identify the person on the other end.

Customers should know exactly who they’re hearing from when you approach them through SMS. For example, you can open your text with your brand’s name or use a custom URL to put your business’ trademark on any given text. Check out how Chipotle does exactly that below.

Injecting a bit of personality into your texts is another way to keep yourself from coming off as a spammer. For example, this marketing message feels like it was written by an actual person versus a bot. The fact that it doesn’t include a link may make it harder to track performance-wise, but also makes it feel like “salesy.”

Spam is universally disliked and rightfully so! Rather than blindly blast texts to your audience, do the bare minimum to make sure they know who you are before you hit “send.”

Believing They’re Not “Big Enough” for SMS

The idea that SMS is reserved for only the big players in your industry is a myth.

Despite the overwhelming demand, less than half of today’s businesses are equipped to engage consumers via text.

That means there’s a window of opportunity for you.

Listen: brands of all shapes and sizes are on board with SMS.

Small businesses. National chains. You name it.

No matter what you’re selling or how small you are, it’s possible to get your messages in your customers’ pockets. That’s exactly why we rolled out SMS marketing as part of Sendlane 3.0.

But What Does an Effective SMS Campaign Look Like in 2019?

Another great question!

Just as our customers have evolved over the years, so has SMS marketing. Although it is fairly straightforward, there are some key elements of any given SMS campaign marketers should be aware of before they get started. We’ve broken those elements down before.

Use SMS to Supplement Your Existing Marketing Campaigns

SMS works best when it works in tandem with your email campaigns versus standing alone.

For example, let’s say it’s the final day of your business’ big seasonal promotion. If someone’s been sleeping on your emails for whatever reason, a text is the perfect way to nudge them to take action. Below is a great example of a simple, time-sensitive text that points to a specific call-to-action based on an existing campaign.

Rather than text your customers out of the blue or “just because,” these types of actionable messages are the ones that are going to result in sales.

Promote Your Phone List Wherever Possible

Phone sign-ups aren’t going to happen by accident.

Just like you’d promote your email list, you should also let people know exclusive offers from your text messages.

After all, people want to feel like they’re getting the best deals possible, right? Check out how Chico’s advertises a percentage-off for joining their phone list.

This approach also ensures that everyone on your phone list opts in, which in turn means they won’t be surprised or feel spammed when it comes time to reach out. Tacking on a text promo to your email signature is a subtle but effective way to build up your phone list.

Inject Some Personality into Your Campaigns

As we noted earlier, SMS campaigns shouldn’t feel like they were written by a robot. Whether it’s referring to your recipients by name or just writing in a conversational tone, a little bit of personality goes a long way.

See how that works? You can read more about how to craft the perfect message in 160 characters or less with our latest tips for running an SMS campaign.

With Sendlane, you can put together personalized text campaigns that line up with your current promotional push. If you already have someone’s email contact info and phone number, this sort of one-two punch is a no-brainer!

Put Your SMS Efforts on Autopilot

Last but not least, SMS campaigns should be part of your automation strategy versus something you do “by hand.”

For example, Sendlane allows you to schedule your SMS campaigns based on specific actions and behaviors of your customers.

Here’s a visualization of how our SMS automation works.

Let’s say someone misses out on a webinar or doesn’t take advantage of an offer. Rather than track them down manually with follow-ups, you can send automated, personalized SMS messages as a sort of “second chance” to get that customer back. In a sense, you can think of SMS marketing like cart abandonment emails that keep customers in your funnel.

You can also use SMS to reward certain segments of your audience. For example, you can run a text-specific offer for your most loyal customers on your list. On the flip side, you could run a discount offer for people who haven’t made a purchase or engaged with your business in the past few months.

Automating your text campaigns alongside your email marketing campaigns flat out makes sense to make the most of your time and budget. With Sendlane, you can do both at the same time.

The takeaway from all of this? SMS isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, it might be your business’ not-so-secret weapon for engaging more customers and winning more sales in the long-run.

Is SMS Part of Your Marketing Strategy?

The numbers don’t lie: SMS is here to stay.

For the sake of maximizing your reach and engagement rate, businesses should empower themselves to get into their customers’ pockets around-the-clock.

And that’s where Sendlane can help.

As part of our automation suite, we have a ton of new features for you to check out including SMS marketing. If you haven’t already taken Sendlane for a spin, we invite you to get started today and take your marketing to the next level!

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