Marketing headlines read “SMS has an open rate of 90%!”
It’s so much better than email!
But with that you forget one thing …
Our texts are sacred space.
It’s much more personal than our emails and snail mail, so we need to be very careful here.
Just because we have the ability to send text messages to our leads and customers doesn’t necessarily mean we should. SMS marketing can be very powerful, but it can also do more harm than good.
There are some simple rules of thumb you can use to know if SMS marketing is right for your business or if you should avoid it.
NOT send texts just because you can
Just because you have a contact’s phone number doesn’t mean you should use that. Perhaps you picked up a pile of business cards at a conference. Or your customers may have given you their phone number during the checkout process. You might be tempted to use these numbers. But it’s a really, really bad idea to think of those cell phone numbers and SMS as “just another messaging channel to use”. Instead of this…
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TO DO have a good reason to use SMS instead of email
Text messages are best used for time-sensitive, important messages. If it’s not time sensitive, could it safely have been sent as the email that you see the next time you check your inbox? And if it’s not critical news, why are you interrupting their attention with a text?
TO DO obtain permission to send for a specific purpose
That being said, there are very good reasons to use text messaging and in those cases they can be very effective. For example, as a retailer, you can log into the checkout and prompt customers, “SMS 7834 to be notified of future flash sales”. A company that publishes stock picks may prefer to send these notifications via SMS because they are extremely time sensitive and offer high value.
I go to a hairdresser who always seems busy. They say there are slow times but I couldn’t figure out when. If you would log in to the waiting area “Send an SMS to 90743 and we will write to you if our waiting time is less than 10 minutes” I would like to receive these appointment reminders. It would save me time and it would help the barber maintain a more steady flow of customers.
NOT Send anything but the messages they chose to send
If you told people they were getting flash sales messages, only send flash sales messages. Don’t tell them you have new products available. Don’t tell them to recommend their friends. Don’t stray from the news they chose … not at all.
TO DO keep your message short
Note the 160 character limit for text messages.
TO DO personalize the message as much as possible
Instead of sending the same message to everyone, you will likely get better results if you tailor the message to the person as much as possible. If you can’t personalize it otherwise, using the name certainly doesn’t hurt.
Provide instructions on how to sign out
You need to make it clear to your subscribers how to unsubscribe if they so choose. This is just not the key to maintaining one compliant SMS marketing program but it is also required by law. There are two places where opt-out instructions are imperative.
The first is wherever there is a call-to-action for people joining your word processor. At each place, be it an accession text, a registration form, or a registration form, you must include instructions on how to opt out. It can be as simple as “Send STOP to log out”.
The second place you want to include them is after someone has decided on your SMS marketing campaign and received their first confirmation text. In addition to a welcome message, you must include the same opt-out instructions, along with other compliance information such as “Message and data charges may apply” and links to your terms and conditions.
While not technically required, it is a good idea to include your unsubscribe instructions in your outbound campaigns from time to time. It doesn’t have to be in everyone, but reminding people how to unsubscribe every now and then will keep your list clean and keep your customers happy.
NOT Do not take time zones into account
Having text promoting your business in the middle of the night is a great way to lose a customer for life.
TO DO Stay away from marketing talk and jargon
Try to write in conversation, use a friendly tone, and avoid excessive advertising. You’re not trying to trick someone into thinking it’s not a text message promoting your business, but you’re trying not to be too aggressive.
TO DO limit how often you send
In my earlier example of the barber shop using texts to do business during slow times, I would warn them not to send texts only once a week or less if they are really, really slow. However, the frequency depends on how you use text messaging in your business and the value of each message. However, “less is more” is a good rule of thumb.
Will SMS Marketing Effective In 2021?
SMS marketing can be very effective if you respect its strengths and weaknesses and how your messages are received by your contacts. See This guide provides more information on how to get started with SMS marketing.