SMS Marketing

Tens of thousands of businesses use SMS marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. Why? Because it works. SMS marketing has repeatedly proven to be by far the most successful medium through which to conduct advertising campaigns - and it is not just us saying that.

Some of the biggest businesses in the world use SMS text marketing to generate leads, increase sales and built brand loyalty. Ford, Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut are three brands that frequently run successful SMS marketing campaigns, and the importance that many businesses place on SMS text marketing can be summed up in one significant quote:

  • “70 percent of Coca-Cola´s entire mobile marketing budget is allocated to mobile messaging”     Tom Daly, Group Director, Coca-Cola.

SMS text marketing is not only for the big players in the retail industry. Businesses of every size have witnessed fantastic ROI from mobile marketing by SMS. Outside of the retail industry, event promoters and churches have seen attendances increase due to bulk SMS texting. Real estate agents close sales quicker with SMS marketing. Non-profit organizations coordinate better with bulk SMS texting, and colleges communicate simultaneously with thousands of students using SMS marketing software.

Why SMS Advertising Works

SMS advertising works because it cuts through the noise generated by other direct marketing channels. More than 90% of people have a mobile device constantly within reach all day, every day, (according to a study by Morgan Stanley), while the International Data Corporation (IDC) found that 62% of cellphone users check their mobile devices for new messages as soon as they wake up (*).

Furthermore, SMS text messaging is simple. You do not have to have advanced technical knowledge to receive and read an SMS message and brands do not have to worry about crafting great subject lines that will capture their recipients’ attention. The buzz going off in a cellphone user's pocket/purse/boots/underwear is usually all the motivation they need to check their cellphone and open an SMS text message.

One important factor that contributes to the success of SMS advertising is that older-model cellphones can receive SMS text messages as well as Internet-enabled smartphones. Cellphone owners outnumber smartphone owners by 4-to-1 (according to Morgan Stanley). Consequently, if you are tempted to channel your marketing resources through a smartphone app, you could be eliminating 80% of your potential market.

(*) The IDC data reported that 79% of cellphone users check for new messages within fifteen minutes of waking up. At least some people still think to make coffee first!

SMS Text Marketing Statistics and Comparisons

Statistics show that SMS text marketing is extremely effective when compared to other forms of direct marketing - and there are plenty of other forms of direct marketing against which to compare SMS text marketing. However, none of those channels have the same immediacy and intimacy of SMS messaging - a means of communication that reaches your customers wherever they are, whatever they are doing.

Below are just a few of the statistics that indicate how well SMS text marketing compares to other forms of direct marketing:

  • 94% of SMS messages are read with three minutes of delivery - compared to a mere 22% open rate for emails (ImpigeMobileStrategy).
  • When used for coupon redemption, SMS text marketing produces engagement rates eight times higher than retailers normally achieve via email marketing (Cellit).
  • Brands using SMS advertising to support other marketing activities successfully reach 95% of their target audiences (GoMoNews).
  • SMS text marketing performs four to five times better than online advertising for creating brand awareness and increasing purchasing intent (Neilsen).
  • 44% of consumers prefer offers via SMS compared to email (18%), smartphone apps (11%) and voicemail (8%). (Direct Marketing Association)

There has also been a trend towards inbound marketing in recent years. Inbound marketing can be expensive, with no guarantees that the time and money spent building an inbound infrastructure will deliver customers and sales (only 29% of Tweets and 12% of Facebook posts are ever read). By comparison, SMS text marketing is simple, quick, inexpensive, and efficient.

How an SMS Marketing System Works

Naturally, if your business is the size of the Coca-Cola Company, it is impractical to send each of your customers an SMS individually. Consequently businesses use SMS marketing systems to communicate simultaneously with everybody who has opted into their SMS marketing service. The system usually consists of an online platform through which the business can conduct mobile marketing by SMS.

Whereas businesses the size of the Coca-Cola Company will often have their own in-house SMS marketing system, smaller businesses subscribe to bulk SMS messaging services. The service provider assigns a username and password so that the business can log in to the online platform, in which it can compose its message, upload a list of recipients, and send the message.

The SMS marketing system then tracks the sent messages, reporting back on delivery rates and open rates. Replies and responses are sent back to the online platform so the SMS marketing system can produce reports to show contact counts and spikes in engagement. Using these analytics, businesses can refine their mobile marketing by SMS strategy to improve the results of future SMS marketing campaigns.

SMS Marketing Tools for Compiling Customer Databases

There are various SMS marketing tools for compiling customer databases, but none are more effective than keywords and short codes. A keyword is what you are invited to text to a “short code” number in order to join an SMS distribution list or take advantage of a special offer - for example, text “pizza” to 313131 to get a free beverage with your next meal. When you text the keyword to the short code number, you are then opted in to the retailer´s SMS marketing distribution.

Keywords and short codes can be obtained from your bulk messaging service provider. Usually they are rented by the month or given away free depending on the level of service you subscribe to. You have a choice of how you use these SMS marketing tools. Most businesses tend to run SMS marketing campaigns individually, but you could rent several keywords to market different products to different groups of consumers, or to run identical SMS marketing campaigns in different locations.

Other SMS marketing tools include signup widgets that can be placed on websites or in social media channels. These are a great way to engage online shoppers, as many promise that people who sign up for the SMS marketing service will be the first to know of special deals or promotional offers. Once the consumer has joined via the online SMS marketing tools - or agreed to opt into the retailer´s SMS marketing campaigns - their name is added to the existing customer database.   

Using SMS Marketing Software On The Go

One of the great advantages of SMS marketing software is that - being a web-based solution - you can access and use it on the go. Provided you have an Internet-enabled device and an Internet connection, you can log into your account, access the online platform, and send marketing messages from any location - or compose them at a time convenient for you and schedule them to be sent when they will generate the most interest.

The SMS marketing service is a great tool for managing your database as well. When you run SMS marketing campaigns, you may not want to send a bulk SMS message to your entire database. The SMS marketing software allows you to sort your database into groups so you just select the group of recipients that the SMS advertising blast is relevant to.

How Polls Can Increase Customer Engagement

People love to express their opinions, and businesses can increase customer engagement by attaching polls to their SMS marketing campaigns. Voting and polling provides businesses with a fantastic opportunity to leverage the immediacy of SMS messaging in order to gain insights into their customers´ preferences. Voting by SMS as part of TV programming is a good example of this.

Polls are easy to build on the SMS marketing software. You simply ask your question - i.e. “What is your favorite pizza topping?” - and ask your customers to reply using keywords that express their preferences. This information can help shape future SMS marketing campaigns (as well as product development and stocking decisions).

Polls attached to SMS marketing campaigns have been shown to generate a much higher response rate than any other type of electronic marketing communication. Research has shown that 50% of people would rather reply to a poll or survey than express their opinion by typing a plain text message. Polls that capture the imagination are also likely to be shared by your customers with friends, family members and colleagues who have not yet signed up for your SMS marketing service.

Mobile Marketing by SMS and Legal Requirements

The legal requirements for mobile marketing by SMS are governed by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). The three organizations produce various guides and handbooks advising businesses of the best practices to employ when mobile marketing by SMS.

It’s most important to understand that mobile marketing by SMS is a permission-based activity. This means that your customers must have opted into your SMS marketing service - and received instructions on how they can opt out - before you are able to include them in any of your SMS marketing campaigns. Your service provider will be able to guide you through this and other legal requirements.

In addition to the legal requirements for mobile marketing by SMS, carriers (the companies that carry and deliver the messages) impose their own restrictions on what can be included in SMS advertising. Most carriers will block messages containing:

  • Depictions or endorsements of violence.
  • Adult or otherwise inappropriate content.
  • Profanity and hate speech.
  • The endorsement of illegal or illicit drugs.

Other Uses for SMS Text Marketing

It’s not just the retail industry that engages in marketing. Ever seen a notice outside a church welcoming you inside? That´s marketing. Ever had a note from your child´s school with the date of the upcoming sports day? That´s marketing. Ever used a free Wi-Fi service in a mall? That´s marketing. And mobile marketing by SMS can be equally effective for non-profit and community organizations as it is for the retail industry and other for-profit companies.

Faith-based organizations in particular have seen fantastic results from messaging their congregations - or groups within their congregations - by SMS. With SMS text marketing for faith-based organizations, churches and other religious groups have been able to extend their reach into the community, engage with the youth of their parish, and maintain contact with those unable to participate in community outreach ministries (the sick, the elderly, church members in the armed forces and those in prison).

Community groups and educational institutions use SMS marketing software to coordinate their members and communicate with students effectively and inexpensively. Bulk notifications can be sent out simultaneously to thousands of members/students, or just to those for whom the notification is relevant. Messages can be set up quickly from any Internet-connect device, providing a versatile communications solution for many different scenarios and types of outreach.

SMS Marketing Free Help and Advice

If you have any questions about SMS text marketing, how mobile marketing by SMS works and how it can benefit your business or organization, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of Client Success Managers has more than a decade of experience providing assistance to organizations of all sizes. Among the topics on which we can provide free SMS marketing assistance are:

  • How to integrate SMS marketing software with existing CRM software.
  • How to export contacts from Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.
  • How to use multimedia and voice messages in SMS marketing campaigns.
  • How to get discounts on the cost of an SMS marketing service.
  • How to schedule drip campaigns and recurring campaigns.
  • And much more.

Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, a small corner shop, a non-profit organization or a community group, SMS text marketing can dramatically enhance your marketing and communication efforts.