Tom Wozniak heads up Marketing and Communications for OPTIZMO Technologies.
As marketers in 2022, we are presented with a wide (and always growing) variety of channels to choose from when we create our marketing strategies. While we pay a lot of attention to new channels, the saying that “what’s old is new again” is often true in digital marketing. One great example is SMS marketing. SMS may not be quite as old as email, but the technology still dates back decades. While the marketing channel isn’t necessarily as ubiquitous as email in 2022, many businesses still leverage it: Juniper Research forecasted that global mobile business messaging traffic would reach 2.7 trillion in 2020, a 10% increase from the year before.
Why are companies embracing this old-school marketing channel in 2022? Here are just a few stats to explain. According to data reported by Statista, there could be nearly 7.5 billion mobile users in the world by 2024. Text marketing company EZTexting has historically quoted a 98% open rate for text messages and found that 90% of people respond to them within 30 minutes. According to OpenMarket, 83% of millennials say they open text messages within 90 seconds of receiving them.
So if you want to get started with SMS marketing, how do you get the ball rolling? Here are five steps you should follow when you’re ramping up an SMS marketing program.
1. Decide what types of messages you want to send.
Really, this step comes first since you should have some idea of what types of communications you will include in your SMS program even before you start building your subscriber list. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of text messages as you plan your strategy. What sorts of messages do recipients like to receive?
I’ve found that automated messages like order confirmations and updates are popular and that recipients generally value them. Abandoned cart or reminder messages are also useful automated options that can be effective for marketers and valuable to recipients. For more standard SMS campaigns, focus on the timeliness of text messages to promote sales or special offers that are happening right now.
2. Engage with an SMS marketing platform.
Much like email marketing, you may want to engage with a technology partner to help you manage your SMS campaigns. These platforms allow you to store your SMS lists, upload your messages, schedule campaigns or set up automated programs and will then help track performance and manage unsubscribes.
There is any number of these platforms available, so research a few to find the one that best fits your needs.
3. Collect phone numbers and consent.
Take note of the two steps here. You obviously need to collect mobile numbers to build your SMS program but do not skip the second part: obtain consent. In the U.S., you must have permission before sending unsolicited SMS marketing messages to recipients in most cases. See step No. 4 for more information about the rules of the road for SMS marketing.
There are plenty of methods for getting people to provide their mobile numbers and sign up for your SMS program. If you already have an email list, you can promote your new SMS program in an email by allowing recipients to visit a sign-up page on your website. You can also make SMS signups a prominent option on various pages of your website. If you are in the e-commerce arena, the checkout process can be a great time to provide information about your SMS program and how to sign up.
4. Gain an understanding of SMS marketing best practices and regulations.
In the U.S., text message marketing falls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which requires prior consent before you can begin sending marketing messages to a recipient’s mobile number. Making sure you have an understanding of how the rules work is an important step to take before leveraging any marketing channel, so educate yourself and obtain professional compliance advice to ensure you are setting everything up the right way.
Beyond following the rules, you should familiarize yourself with standard SMS marketing industry best practices. How often should you send messages? How should you personalize your messages? What time of day should you send out your campaigns? While there aren’t hard and fast rules for these questions, there are some solid industry best practices you can find to give you a baseline. You can always test other strategies, but why reinvent the wheel initially?
5. Sync up your SMS and email marketing programs.
Really, you’ll want to sync up your SMS program to all of your other marketing programs to ensure consistent execution of your overall marketing strategy. But one channel you should definitely integrate it with is your email marketing program. Email and SMS marketing work extremely well together; they can reinforce each other by taking advantage of each channel’s strengths.
For example, SMS can act as your immediate follow-up with regard to order confirmations, while you can deliver an email a bit later with even more information. Similarly, SMS can be a great follow-up reminder about a special offer or promotional email that you sent earlier. The two channels can be highly effective when you use them in conjunction with each other to optimize recipient engagement and response.
Bonus step: Track your performance and optimize.
Like any marketing channel, one key to success is monitoring performance closely and then testing and optimizing campaigns on an ongoing basis. Your program won’t be perfect out of the box. You’ll learn how your audience responds to various types of SMS messages sent at different times and integrated with other channels in various ways. Watch your response metrics closely to determine the best ways to dial in the most effective SMS marketing program possible for your business.
SMS can be a great addition to your multichannel marketing program.