SMS Marketing must be one of the most controversial communication tools being used. Some hate it some love it. Whichever way you feel about it though, the fact that SMS marketing can be a very effective communication tool when used right cannot be denied.
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The challenge with SMS marketing is that it can be very intrusive as you are now communicating with people via their most personal and intimate channel; their personal mobile phones. Most people use SMS to communicate with friends and family over various personal issues, and are therefore particularly attentive to incoming messages. As such, they may consider a promotion that is received at a particular time as a very intrusive and unwanted distraction. In essence, the same rules that apply to e-mails are also applicable to SMS marketing, only considerably more rigidly. While people have developed a tolerance for unsolicited (junk) mail, they are much more sensitive when it comes to SMS promotions sent to their phones. Also, e-mail programs pickup a great deal of junk mail, while SMS clients (or mobile phones) lack this function altogether and recipients can rely only on filters installed at the telecom operator level. To ensure your SMS campaigns observe the rules and produce better results for your promotions, read and apply the following tips at all times when using this sensitive communication tool.
Watch your timing
Many people do not put their phones on silence at night for various reasons. You therefore need to plan the dispatch of your SMS campaigns very carefully and make sure people’s phones do not ring or vibrate during the night, early in the morning, during lunch, or in the evening. This can be a challenge if you have a large mailing list and your SMS is actually made of multiple messages that concatenate upon receipt. Nonetheless, impeccable timing to send out your message is not something you can compromise under any circumstance.
Let people opt out when they need to
Always send out SMS campaigns from a number that can be replied to or called back. Some services place the sender’s name and land line in the “from” field. While the former cannot be replied to/ called back, the land line rings usually at the promoter’s premises who will tell you that the SMS was sent out by a third party and that you would have to call those guys to ask to be removed. This is all a lot of hassle that people will neither appreciate nor accept.
Be content sensitive
You can’t blast out everything to everybody. When it comes to SMS campaigns, you’ve got to segment your mailing list into different interest groups, and those are usually very different. By nature, SMS campaigns are great for retail goods and services, so you need to know who cares about what. There’s no point in promoting the latest collection of dresses to men, and announcing the arrival of new tires for powerful cars will not sit well with the ladies. The obvious segmentations are by gender, age groups, and areas of interest. Use those wisely to dispatch campaigns to groups that will be interested in receiving your content.
Personalize your messages
When buying your SMS marketing solution, make sure it allows you to personalize your messages by incorporating the recipient’s first name or name prefix and last name. This will capture the recipient’s attention much more than sending out an SMS that starts with “dear all” or with no greeting line at all. Also, use a very direct language. Remember, when you are communicating via SMS, you are in a one-on-one dialogue with a recipient. It doesn’t matter if you are sending your message to ten people or ten thousand. You are using a personal communication device, so be personal and direct.
Chose wisely between an in-house solution and a third-party service provider
There are pros and cons for both. An in-house solution will give you more flexibility with all of the above, and also let you send out longer messages. This will cost you more as you most likely won’t have purchased SMS by the bulk. A professional third-party service costs much less, takes the hassle out of the whole process, and works faster. You are however now giving away your confidential data, you cannot send long messages, personalization is not an option, and people cannot call/SMS you back to opt out. Also, telecom operators often identify these messages as junk and block them as there’s no number for the sender in the “from” field. Finally, you also can’t segment your list of recipients by your particular areas of interest. So unless you need to dispatch a massive number of messages, buying, installing, and managing your own SMS solution might be the way to go.
Protect your data and don’t share it with anyone outside your organization
As you build your database and increase the number of recipients month after month, some of your peers may ask you to share your mailing list with them for their own marketing purposes. This can be considered a direct violation of the trust your recipients have placed in you. Remember, your recipients are staying on your list to receive your content only. This does not mean that they are interested in what others have to promote as well. Also, you will have no control over the extent others apply the rules to your mailing list, and you don’t want to be blamed for messages being received at 4 am in the morning. Although we are very careful in using SMS marketing for our clients, experience has proven that when used wisely, the results can be excellent. Many retailers have had immediate positive response in the form of increased foot-traffic and sales. It all depends on the extent you apply the above, and most importantly the value of your content in context of what interests the recipient. A last word of advice, if you find it works well and yields the results you want, don’t overdo it and keep it reasonable. In general terms, one campaign per week is more than enough and should prevent people from choosing to opt out.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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