We are always on our phones—checking the directions to our favorite restaurant or ordering a new t-shirt online. We're on them so much that some of us even check them up to 160 times every single day!
As this piece of tech is always in our hands, it makes sense that marketing teams should use it to their advantage.
The best way to do this is to learn the ins and outs of SMS marketing. After all, messaging customers on their phones instead of over Facebook or targeting them with Google ads is a much better way of reaching them. Research shows that SMS open rates are as high as 98%, smashing the average email open average of just 20%.
In this article, we’re breaking down:
- What is SMS marketing?
- The main benefits to SMS marketing
- Tips to make your SMS marketing win new customers
Let’s get started 👇
What is SMS marketing?
Short message service (SMS) marketing is when brands send customers and subscribers updates, promotions, coupons, and transactional information over a text message.
You've likely received a marketing message over SMS in some shape or form. It may have been an offer, discount, survey, or promotion.
And it’s safe to say that this type of marketing stands out from others for a couple of different reasons.
First, SMS marketing is opt-in, meaning that everyone who receives a text message has to give their permission first. Unlike social media or email advertising, marketers can be confident that every message they're sending out will land in the inbox of someone who wants it.
SMS marketing is also a very active form of marketing. As we talked about earlier, everyone is glued to their phones, and 90% of us will open a text message within 3 minutes of receiving it. When a marketer hits send on a campaign, there's a good chance that potential customers will read the majority of their messages in minutes.
And when brands send an SMS, their customers actually take notice.
Statistics show that around 45% of SMS marketing messages get a response. These messages also have a clickthrough rate of 19%, nearly 3x as high as the average clickthrough rate of an email marketing message.
It's not just good for marketing and getting new customers, either. SMS is a perfect way to nurture customers with exceptional service so they don't churn to competitors.
Why SMS is a good fit for customer service
SMS customer service is when your team answers a question or solves a problem over text instead of a chatbot, email, or phone call.
Even though SMS customer service requires no face-to-face interaction with a customer, it’s still possible for team members to solve problems as it opens up a two-way communication channel. With a tool like Sendlane’s SMS/MMS messaging, you can leverage Two-Way Reply to resolve support issues via text.
It's easy to see the appeal of SMS customer service. Instead of calling, team members can send a quick message, and the customer can respond when convenient for them. They'll also be able to chat with a customer service member if they're in a busy place or at work without it interrupting their day too much.
But why is all of this so important for delivering unbeatable customer service?
Well, statistics show that 33% of customers say the thing that frustrates them the most is being put on hold when reaching out to a company, and another 60% admit that it’s the most annoying part of contacting customer service. Alarmingly, if someone has a poor experience with your customer service department, they’re four times as likely to switch to a competitor instead.
The biggest benefits to SMS marketing
SMS marketing brings something different to the table for your team—and your customers.
Not only is it a highly personable channel of reaching out to customers, but it's also a great way to make your customers feel like you're talking 1-on-1 with them. While chatbots and email have their place in any marketing strategy, SMS is one of the best ways to make your customers feel like they're chatting to an actual human.
Here are four benefits that we think make SMS marketing worth your while 👇
Benefit #1: SMS messages have the best engagement rate
Unlike social media and email marketing, text messages are often open instantly or in the first few minutes after a customer receives them.
This level of interaction customers have with their SMS inbox means that engagement rates with SMS marketing are through the roof. It makes it the perfect channel for markets to use if they need to deliver important information (e.g., shipping updates or receipts) or offer promotions with a short expiry date.
Benefit #2: You can put customer interactions on autopilot
Automated SMS messages are now easy to set up with the right tools, saving your team time and ensuring your customers, new and old, are nurtured throughout their journey.
A tool like Sendlane allows marketers to send out SMS messages as stand-alone campaigns or weave them into email automations, like your abandoned cart or welcome funnel. Using the drag-and-drop sequence builder, all you have to do is decide what message you want to send out and what customer action will trigger it, and you’re ready to go!
Benefit #3: Be the brand your customer wakes up to (or remembers throughout the day)
If you want to think about how personal a customer’s phone is to them, all you have to do is think of their habits.
It's likely one of the last things they look at before going to sleep and one of the first when they wake up. 62% of people say that their mobile phone habits in the morning revolve around their phone—it’s the first thing they check when they wake up.
SMS marketing allows you to pick when you want your customers to interact with your messages and give yourself the best chance of getting them read. If you want your customers to wake up to an important announcement, send them a message early in the morning. And if you want to remind them of an online sale your store is having, popping them a text on their lunch break can help keep your brand in their thoughts.
Benefit #4: Texts are trackable, adding fuel to your analytics and data
Like email marketing campaigns, it's important to track SMS marketing to see how effective it is and whether your messages resonate with customers.
Text campaigns can be easily managed, tracked, and analyzed using platforms such as Sendlane.
Not only will you be able to see who is clicking your text messages, but you can also track how much revenue each campaign or automation is making.
Sendlane will track SMS/MMS performance within individual reports or get a birds-eye-view of your email and SMS analytics in your Dashboard. Your team can keep a constant pulse on performance—all under one roof!
Pro-tip: Brands should always include unsubscribe information from an SMS marketing campaign, even if the message is just a shipping update or order confirmation. Not only is it nice for customers to have control over what communications they are receiving, but unsubscribe options are also required by law in some countries.
Tips to make your SMS marketing win new customers
Tip #1: Offer discounts
SMS marketing is an easy way to promote any major events or promotions on your marketing calendar and give them the best chance of getting noticed.
78% of customers say that SMS marketing is the fastest way to reach them, making it an ideal tool for marketers during holiday periods or when a launching a sale.
Here’s how Murad pairs gift guide content with a limited edition sale for the holidays:
Instead of just offering a discount code, the SMS also links to a blog post on Murad’s website that’s been written to help the customer choose the right holiday gift. This is a smart way to market products to customers without pushing the sale too much, as they’ll feel like they’re picking the gifts—not your brand.
Tip #2: Promote sales
Promotional SMS messages are texts you’d send to your audience to increase sales, promote a product, or build brand awareness.
These types of messages are useful if you’re launching a sale or promotion within a short timeframe. You can send an SMS alert instantly to customers and then create interest in your promotion using an image or a coupon.
Here’s how Zazzle uses digital coupons sent using SMS to drive business:
You’ll notice that the message is short and doesn’t have any fluff—that’s on purpose.
The SMS lets the coupon do the talking, and instead of a lengthy message, customers are left with two takeaways: The 50% off deal and the discount code to claim it.
Tip #3: Send updates and tracking information
Everyone wants to know exactly when their order was processed and where their package is.
Thankfully, these updates are one of the pillars of an SMS campaign. These are called transactional SMS, and they contain essential information to keep customers instantly updated about every purchase and delivery.
Here's how Bones Coffee Co. sends SMS updates to their customers:
Rather than bombard the customer with a lengthy message containing tons of information, they include a link to a parcel tracking page instead. When the customer is ready to check the status of their order, clicking the link will show details that are updated in real-time, including the location of their driver and an estimated delivery time.
Providing customers with this level of detail about their orders helps keep them informed and builds up trust and loyalty with your brand. Although Sendlane's SMS/MMS messages can help you nurture customers, transactional messages like these can usually be set up through your eCommerce platform.
Tip #4: Announce new products
Dropping a new product announcement on social media and email is a no-brainer—but what if some customers miss it?
An SMS marketing campaign to assist with new product launches can help you cover all bases. Not only can SMS boost engagement levels with a new product launch, but it's also a great way to drive sales directly from your customer's mobile devices.
Here’s how Reebok announced a new collaboration with Cardi B using SMS:
This product launch is clever because it has three parts:
- The interaction: Reebok let the image do the talking about the new product and what it looked like
- The explanation: Instead of just including an image, Reebok explained the details of when the product would drop
- The call-to-action: The hyperlink takes the customer straight to the landing page, where they can purchase a pair of the new trainers
Everything that a customer needs to buy the new product is included in this one simple, concise message.
Are you ready to get started with SMS marketing?
If you take anything away from this guide, let it be this—one of the best ways to reach potential customers is by aiming straight for their phones.
The world we live in means that checking our phones is so integral to our lives that it's one of the first tasks of our day. Plus, we actually open and read our text messages, making SMS marketing one of the most effective channels available to a marketer.
To get started with SMS marketing, remember to stick to the basics. Use it to connect with customers, solve their problems and give them the information they want. And once your customer realizes the lines of SMS communications are a two-way street, they'll begin to trust your brand—and their loyalty will follow.