Should more organizations and professionals be using SMS marketing to enhance results?
What is SMS marketing? What are its potential uses in the current business environment? Which professionals and organizations can it benefit?
Challenges of the Current Marketing Landscape
There are a variety of challenges for marketers in the current market. Many are facing turning cycles in recently adopted media channels, and the fading of effectiveness in traditional old media.
This is being seen in various mediums, including:
- Direct mails
- Cold calling
- Facebook advertising
This applies to all marketers from solo entrepreneurs and independent salespeople, to large organizations, B2B firms, and nonprofits.
Many may be experiencing:
- Low open rates
- Lower response rates
- Consumer indifference
- Low lead to conversion rates
- Declining customer loyalty figures
- Rising CPAs, lead generation, and sales costs
In the midst of this process and evolution, many marketers are dealing with an even more competition, and as much as a 50% marketing spend increase from competitors in new media channels like social, content marketing, SEO, and SEM.
Anyone who is marketing and is dealing with leads and customers in both B2C and B2B environments, is, or at least ought to be on the hunt for new channels, strategies, tactics, and opportunities to connect, and maintain strong sales metrics. For some, SMS marketing could be one of these solutions.
SMS Marketing 101
This is a form of new mobile marketing, alongside ringless voicemail, MMS, and push notifications, and location based mobile marketing. The Short Message Service (SMS) was first used in Europe in the early 2000s. Text messaging is now one of the most common forms of communication; beating out Youtube videos, phone calls, and email. It is a primary and preferred method of communication for billions of mobile phone users worldwide.
SMS marketing uses text messages to send communications directly to prospects, users, past clients, and the public, on-demand. It can be used for public alerts, campaigning, lead generation, lead nurturing, and building customer loyalty and repeat business.
Today’s SMS marketing tools allow solo entrepreneurs and organizations to reach out to handheld devices, and even through vehicles, bluetooth devices, and smartwatches and smart home devices, with timely and targeted messages for a variety of purposes. These campaigns can be operated and managed through a third party service or online dashboards and apps.
The Advantages of SMS
There are a variety of reasons SMS marketing has gained traction, including:
- Being a low cost form of marketing and communication
- The migration of consumers from desktop to mobile
- Ease of use
- Speed of setup and delivery
- High flexibility
- Open rates as high as 97% [SMSGlobal]
- Easy tracking capabilities
- 90% engagement rate within 3 minutes [HuffingtonPost]
Uses of SMS Technology
This technology has a wide variety of uses and applications.
At as low as a few cents per message delivered, SMS marketing is easily within the reach and budget of independent professionals and startups and small business owners. The penetration, speed, and scale at which SMS and similar technologies can be used make it one of the most practical channels for broadcasting by big corporations, government, law enforcement, and nonprofits.
It can be used in every industry, including:
- Debt collection
- Banking and finance
- Real Estate
- Medical and healthcare
- Tech and startups
- Food and beverage
- B2B and B2C
It may be used for:
- Broadcasting to new potential prospects
- Lead follow up
- Lead nurture
- Upselling during the sales process
- Reducing shopping cart abandonment
- Product alerts
- Sales notifications
- Billing and facilitating payments
- Outages alerts
- Customer service
- Generating inbound calls
- Optimizing call center efficiency
- TCPA compliant marketing
Integrating SMS into Existing Processes
SMS marketing can be a relatively simple add on to existing marketing, funnels, and operations. It can either be 100% outsourced to a 3rd party contractor, or brought in-house with the use of apps and an online dashboard.
The Huffington Post has called it “essential,” and Forbes says companies are “leaving money on the table,” if they are not using it.
By using links to websites, landing pages, social media profiles, 800 numbers, many other existing tracking systems can be used to log data and results, as well as Google Attribution.
Best Practices for Using SMS Marketing
Recommendations for best practices from Forbes, BulkSMS, and Inc, include:
- Getting appropriate consent from recipients
- Offering opt-out capability
- Avoiding spamming
- Not bombarding users to much
- Frequently advertising your shortcode
- Including branding
- Include website links or mobile numbers
- Using strong calls to action
- Limited use of abbreviations and shorthand
- Proper timing
- Sending 2-4 texts per month
- Delivering value with special offers and deals
SMS marketing is not brand new technology, yet, has recently been augmented and made easier for marketers and organizations of all sizes to use more easily and affordably. In contrast with other more traditional marketing mediums, SMS may deliver 3x the open rates and engagements. This is certainly true when compared to direct mail, cold calling, and email.
High versatility means SMS can have an incredible number of applications, in virtually any industry. While SMS marketing appears to remain grossly underutilized, leading publications point to it as a new essential part of doing business and staying profitable in the new tech driven environment we live and work in.
Utilizing the above best practices can help marketers stay compliant and get the best results from their SMS tests and campaigns.