5 common SMS marketing pitfalls

5 common SMS marketing pitfalls

5 common SMS marketing pitfalls

Why is SMS marketing important?

SMS is a direct and concise form of communication, and so utilising text messaging within your marketing campaign can only make your brand more accessible. Sending personalised messages to your customers, consumers and clients may seem like a great plan overall but sending a relevant message to the right people at the appropriate time is crucial to deploying a successful mobile messaging campaign.

With approximately 90% of people who receive SMS reading it within the first three minutes, SMS is used as an immediate and practical method of communication. SMS is perfect for ensuring your recipients receive your message directly.

As marketers, we all want to know the most efficient and effective practice when it comes to building campaigns. It's good to know what to avoid as well.

Here are five of the most common mistakes marketers make when deploying a promotional SMS campaign.

1. Why do I need a strategy for SMS marketing?

If you don't have a plan, how do you know where you want to go?

Understanding what you want to achieve, how to implement tactics and then measure the overall outcome is essential in marketing campaigns. And SMS marketing campaigns are no different.

Without a strategy, your interactions through SMS may seem unguided and shallow. The lack of organisation translates effortlessly into the final product and can damage your audience's trust in the brand. For example, an irrelevant message sent at an inappropriate time can lead recipients to unsubscribe from your messaging service altogether.

Answering these questions can help build your strategy:

  • Why are you sending SMS in the first place?
  • What do you want to communicate to your audience?
  • Is the information you are sending relevant?
  • When and how often should SMS be sent?

Knowing what kind of message you want to send will allow your intentions to be recognised by recipients. Planning message content and who the message will be sent to in advance will enable you to tailor the message to your audience with perfect timing. For example, sending SMS notifying customers of a product launch or sale coming up in anticipation of the event.

Implementation

Setting goals and metrics in advance can help when it comes time to evaluate how your strategy operated and how it can improve. Determining correlating outcomes and measuring overall campaign success will fundamentally improve future campaigns while also developing an effective communication strategy.

Having empirical evidence on the effectiveness of a campaign is vital to your business' success. For example, during a sale, using a specific promo code in text messages can track the progress of your SMS campaign through the number of transactions made with that particular code.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SMS Marketing

2. Shouting into the void

Who are you talking to?

Firstly, contacts are only sent promotional SMS once they have opted-in and provided their personal details. Understanding and respecting your audience is vital. What method of communication they prefer is the next step to providing an optimal mobile marketing experience for them from your brand.

Know your audience

Forgetting who you are communicating with could be your downfall. Many people lose interest when content becomes irrelevant to them, so keeping up-to-date and connecting with your audience is very important.

When a customer opts-in to receive SMS content, they usually provide additional information, which might include location, age, gender or occupation. Consider the demographics of your recipients when structuring an SMS campaign to assist in personalising content and scheduling messages for them.

Having an inclusive yet targeted message can make your audience feel listened to and respected. For example, sending a welcome message to a new customer introducing them to your brand, the SMS service and that they can opt-out whenever they want to by replying "Stop".

Loyalty rewards and VIP programs

Making sure loyal customers and VIPs feel special can be extremely beneficial to the business. Giving big spenders and consistent shoppers incentives to buy can increase sales and brand loyalty.

Exclusive access to launch parties and VIP sales are a great example of this, and by informing your customers via SMS, they receive the message directly to their handset.

Related: Two-way SMS: How it can benefit your business

3. Sounds just like the rest

Sending generic messages that don't embody your brand can go unnoticed or forgotten. Having no flavour or personality can deter people from even opening content and also lead them to unsubscribe. Marketing is all about enticing your audience with a product they might want or need. Sending the right message in your brand's voice can make you stand out for the better.

What's your tone of voice?

Consider your tone of voice and brand presence. In an SMS, intention, context and tone are essential to communicate your message.

Transparency establishes trust, and a consistent tone of voice allows your customers to connect with the brand persona on a personal level. Developing and building these relationships is essential for long-term growth for your business.

Your audience already knows, to some degree, that signing up for SMS from a business will probably be promotional content. There might be alerts for important dates, sales, product launches, discounts, etc. However, having a bit of personality makes your content more relatable and can express more than just what's in the SMS.

What are you trying to say?

Content should be direct, concise and engaging. With only 160 characters to work with, having an idea of what kind of content you want to send is crucial to an SMS marketing campaign.

Defining your tone of voice and the overall message is essential to shaping your SMS content and ongoing campaign. Coming up with an on-brand message that includes all the necessary information and is in your tone of voice can be difficult when restricted to a character limit. But nonetheless, it can be done!

4. Shallow engagement

Are you retaining consumers or just promoting fleeting interactions? Understanding your customers and what they need from a brand is what might keep you ahead of the game. But doing the bare minimum, not doing your research and being behind with trends can set you back further than the rest.

Call-to-action

We now know that making sure your message is relevant and relatable is significant to a successful SMS campaign. It's all well and good to inform and alert your customers of events, news and other promotional content, but it doesn't always encourage movement. Elevating the recipient's interaction and engagement with your brand requires a call-to-action. Ask your customers to contribute in some way and make it a two-way exchange; for example, 'follow this link to our sale page', or 'use this promo code for a discount'.

Building trust

Providing your customer with an incentive to look at your products and services could increase brand awareness and interaction. Whether it be looking at a product page online or prompting them to go in-store, customers receive more exposure to your business. This allows customers to see your brand in a stronger light on your terms in your domain (whether it is in-store or online). And it also allows the business to provide solutions to the customer and show transparency through conversation.

Don't be late

Being inconsiderate can cost you clients. When it comes to SMS, timing and frequency is everything. As a text message is sent and received within seconds, your recipients are more likely to read and engage with the content if it is accessible and convenient. Make sure you're all over SMS scheduling, so you aren't sending text messages at all hours of the day or annoying potential customers with extensive amounts of messages.

5. Mediocre practice

Don't blur the lines when it comes to SMS marketing Best Practice. Falling short in Best Practice means you are already behind the curve. Whether there are legal repercussions or business losses, following mediocre or black hat practices is an easy way to lose trust with customers.

Are there regulations for SMS marketing?

Yes. However, some legal requirements are stricter in some countries in comparison to others.

SMS marketing is classified as A2P (Application-To-Person) messaging and can be highly regulated, depending on what country you're based in or sending to.

For instance, in the USA, SMS marketing must follow distinct rules and regulations set out by CTIA Messaging Best Practices and Principles and governed by the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act). Different numbers are regulated and used for different kinds of content. A2P is used explicitly with shortcode SMS and 10-digit long code (when available).

Yet, Australia's use of SMS codes is laxer. Shortcode and standard long code can be used for A2P and P2P (Person-To-Person) SMS.

Get informed on any regulations for your local area and the location you are sending to in regards to SMS marketing.

Spam is not just a canned good

Spam is officially defined by the TCPA as the sending of the same, or substantially similar, unsolicited SMS messages, to more than one recipient. And it's actually a fineable offence in the USA of up to US$1500.

Providing your customers opt-in and opt-out services for mobile marketing is considered Best Practice, and not providing it can be illegal. It also shows respect for recipients' preferences and builds trust for your business.

Related: SMS codes [Explained]

SMS marketing at it's finest

In conclusion, planning ahead and researching an appropriate strategy will allow you to structure, measure and improve communication. Understanding your target audience will assist in tailoring your message to address your customers' needs and build stronger relationships. And overall, following SMS marketing Best Practice will how transparency and develop a strong brand identity.

Avoid the above SMS marketing mistakes to ensure you get the most out of your SMS marketing campaign.