SMS is affordable, right? It’s what we’ve been told, too. Apart from scoring the first place in last year’s marketing race, and besides securing an open rate of a whopping 98% (nearly 80% higher than email’s, which is currently at 20%), business text messaging is supposed to be among the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to earn new customers, retain regular ones, and see at least some ROI boost.
What can you be doing wrong, then?
If your numbers are going down despite your best SMS marketing efforts, something is not right. Regardless of what niche it belongs to, or how large and influential it is, your business should already have broken into new exciting grounds. Since you’re unfortunately not the only one who has failed with business text messaging, we’ve compounded a list of common mistakes you might be guilty of.
Once identified, they are easily fixed.
Lack of Creativity
It’s true that 60% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone, but that’s still not what makes SMS marketing such an effective technique. The aforementioned open rate refers to adeptly written and economically constructed texts, which is the only kind that guarantees a successful SMS campaign.
Simply put, it might be that your text messages lack some basic elements.
A great SMS should be sweet and simple. Both style and content bear equal significance, and should be concise, helpful, and engaging enough to make a recipient click through. While concision requires you to keep it under the 160-character limit, engagement asks for a creative and original approach.
This applies to phrasing and the offer alike – the first should grab the attention, while the second should deliver something that can’t be refused. Steer clear from flowery language, and be conversational, fun, and precise. As for your business offer, try your best to look beyond boring coupons and discounts.
What about weekly news and tips, both written in a way that highlights the unique selling point of your products and services? Or, contests and loyalty programs? Many businesses use text messaging to send order and delivery status notifications. Though these provenly work, keep the ideas flowing.
Wrong Texting Times
Among all communication channels that deliver messages in real time, SMS is still the most immediate one. Some target audiences are always online, that’s for sure, but not all of them. The number of mobile phone users exceeds the number of users with 24/7 internet access, which enables business text messaging to beat both social media and email marketing. But, should you actually exploit that?
Is any time a good time for sending an SMS?
The fact that you can engage a prospect at any given moment doesn’t mean that you should. Some texting times are simply way smarter than others, and experts say that the earliest you’d want to send an SMS is an evening before the big day. The best practice is as follows: if you’ve got a promotional event, a group in-store discount, or something third scheduled for Friday, let your audience know one week before via email. Then, jog their memory by sending them a text message on Thursday night.
The trick is in creating a sense of immediacy. If they were interested in your offer, prospects would already have saved the date and made it a part of their to-do lists. The SMS is there to remind them of a scheduled event, and if need be, convince last minute decision makers to stop by and take a look.
The only mistake that might be bigger than sending your text messages too early or too late is to keep texting all the time. Frequency matters just as much as quality does, so make sure that you’re not bothering your customers more often than once a week. Marketing-wise, that’s just the perfect amount. While anything less would make them forget about you, anything more would annoy them.
SMS is effective because it’s penetrating. It is received directly on our mobile phone numbers, which is not a piece of info that we like to hand out lightly. Phone numbers are personal and almost intimate, and the last thing you’d want to do is break the trust of a person who’s free-willingly decided to become part of your phonebook. All this means no spamming, and no inappropriate texting times.
But it also means consistency. If somebody’s given you their phone number, they probably expect something valuable in return. Since quality is a must, quantity should be less daunting. We’ve already said that one SMS a week is more than enough, and that translates to no more than two or three per month. Don’t just stop sending them out – customers want respect, but they also need regularity.
Whenever a text message marketing campaign fails, the usual suspect is poor timing. A surprising number of businesses forget to leverage SMS ahead of the holidays, annual discounts, or specific shopping seasons. But, poor audience targeting and weak personalization are equally perplexing.
Almost all businesses use a mass text messaging service in some form or another, but only a handful of them dare to take a less generic approach. Needless to say, they are the most successful ones. You cannot custom-tailor each SMS you send, but you can always throw in a personal touch. Revisit your targeting strategy, comb through your CRM base, and find out what your regulars prefer to receive.
DIY With No Tools
Despite all the dirty tricks, text message marketing for small business is still the least challenging technique of all. Being so easy and mostly infallible, it tempts many entrepreneurs to let go off their marketing teams and start doing it all on their own. Though we can’t say that DIY SMS marketing cannot be done, we can argue that it cannot be successful without some help from automation tools.
A reliable texting service for business includes more than a phonebook and a mass group texting feature. We’ve seen how time-sensitive SMS marketing is, which also requires scheduling and automation. Some providers offer automatic replies, one-to-one communication, free incoming texts, multimedia messaging services, and analytics as well. If you opt for the best, you might have a shot.
Not only is SMS marketing once again as relevant as it was before everything went inbound, but it’s actually already statistically the most effective technique for capturing new customers and retaining old ones. It’s not infallible, though, so do your best to prevent these common mistakes in the future.