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SMS Best Practices: A Guide for Businesses

Explore essential SMS marketing tips and techniques that can help your business grow and thrive in the digital age.

When you want to connect with someone you probably think first, "I'll send a text." Text messaging is an integral part of modern communication.

A survey conducted by Simple Texting found that one in three consumers check text notifications within one minute of receiving a text message. They also reported that only 55% of businesses text their customers in 2022. This number is projected to grow with the steady rise of text message marketing.

SMS (short message service) marketing entails sending short text messages to a group of customers to promote products or services. SMS refers to strictly text while MMS (multimedia messaging service) allows for longer content including multimedia elements such as images, videos, and audio.

Large and small businesses alike can capitalize on this marketing channel to reach customers in a quick and relatable way. This article will dive deeper into the importance of SMS marketing and tips for developing a solid text marketing strategy.

While there is a plethora of digital marketing mediums, SMS marketing should not be overlooked. SMS marketing involves sending text messages directly to your target audience. Text message marketing is an immediate and highly engaging channel for communicating. Thanks to unparalleled open rates and real-time reach, SMS messages enable marketing teams to build customer relationships effectively.

SMS marketing campaigns are especially effective due to cost-effectiveness, opt-in nature, and ability to deliver personalized messages.

Additionally, SMS messages generally have a higher engagement rate as opposed to email or social media marketing channels. Statistics show that SMS messages have an open rate of up to 98% and 45% of recipients respond to marketing text messages. In today's digital landscape, SMS marketing strategy is more critical than ever.

Using SMS campaigns can set you apart from competitors who aren't implementing this tool in their marketing efforts. Here are a few SMS marketing best practices to help guide your approach:

  1. Always obtain explicit consent from customers before sending SMS messages by implementing a clear opt-in process.
  2. Segment your audience based on demographics, preferences, and behavior to allow for targeted messaging.
  3. Keep SMS marketing messages concise so recipients quickly understand the call to action (CTA).
  4. Use analytics to determine the optimal send times. Make sure to avoid sending messages too often or during late/early hours.
  5. Leverage A/B testing to help optimize your SMS marketing strategy by experimenting with different CTAs, send times, and message formats.

Compliance with regulations

Read up on regulations and legal requirements before implementing any marketing strategy. Like email marketing, SMS marketing regulations dictate how and when you can communicate with your audience via text messages. Compliance with regulations ensures legal peace of mind as well as happier recipients.

Understanding legal requirements

Failure to comply with relevant legal requirements can lead to severe consequences. Here's a brief overview of relevant regulations to help you avoid legal penalties and damage to your brand's reputation:

  • TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act): US federal law regulating telemarketing calls, including text messages and voice calls to mobile phones. Marketers are required to obtain written consent before sending any promotional text messages. According to the TCPA, every text message must include a clear opt-out mechanism. Marketing messages cannot be sent before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. in the local time zone.
  • CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act): US law primarily regulating email marketing with some implications for SMS marketing. Similar to TCPA, the CAN-SPAM Act requires all commercial messages to include an opt-out option. Messages must not include false or misleading information and must be clearly indicated as an advertisement.
  • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation): European Union regulation governing personal data protection. It applies primarily to online marketing and email but has certain implications for SMS marketing too. Individual consent needs to be obtained before processing for marketing purposes and only data which is necessary for the specific marketing purpose can be collected. The GDPR also requires robust security measures to be put in place to protect privacy.

Obtaining consent

As regulated by various laws mentioned above, consent is a primary concern for SMS marketing. Text message marketing requires prior consent which can be given in a simple opt-in system. Customers give explicit consent to receive marketing communications by clicking a checkbox or filling out a sign-up form. By taking an affirmative action to subscribe, recipients actively express interest in receiving messages.

Another option is a double opt-in process, adding an extra layer of confirmation that the recipient wants to receive messages. How does it work?

Step one: An individual expresses initial interest by signing up or subscribing.

Step two: After the initial opt-in, contact information is recorded but not immediately added to the SMS list. Rather, a confirmation request is sent.

Step three: The recipient must confirm their intention to receive messages.

Step four: After confirming consent, they are added to the marketing list as a fully opted-in subscriber.

Providing clear opt-out options

If SMS subscribers no longer wish to receive text messages, they have the right to opt out of future messages. It's important to include an easy way for subscribers to stop receiving messages.

In SMS marketing, it's more important to maintain a list of active subscribers as this will contribute to better marketing metrics. Providing an accessible and easy way for recipients to unsubscribe is both a legal requirement and a best practice for fostering trust and a positive brand image.

As you build your target audience it's important to regularly monitor and clean your SMS mailing list. Your ultimate goal is to reach and engage customers who are likely to convert. The following best practices will help you achieve a high-quality subscriber list.

Data collection strategies

To get started with SMS marketing efforts you'll need to build a subscriber list. Begin with data collection strategies such as website sign-ups, mobile app integration, and in-store sign-ups. Website sign-ups come in many forms ranging from simple registration forms on your website to offering incentives such as discounts or freebies.

Another way of collecting data is when users install your mobile app. Clearly ask for permission to relevant data and give users the option to opt in or out. Encourage users to create profiles on the app to provide valuable information regarding contact info, communication settings, and preferences. In-app surveys are another way to directly gather data from users while also encouraging engagement.

Despite popular belief, not all shopping takes place online. In-store sign-ups can be a great way to connect with different segments of your audience and keep them engaged with your brand. Offer customer loyalty programs or contests and events to encourage customers to participate and opt-in to share their data and sign up for text message marketing.

Segmentation for targeted messaging

Segmentation is a crucial strategy in SMS marketing to reach customers and make meaningful connections. By dividing your text campaigns to target smaller, targeted groups, you can tailor your messages to specific preferences. Here are a few strategies to help you segment your SMS mailing list:

  • Demographics: Gender, age, location, income level, etc.
  • Purchase history: Transaction date, quantity, price, total purchase amount, payment method, etc.
  • Behavior & preferences: Website visits, app usage, product interests, communication preferences, etc.

Out of all marketing tools, text messaging is one of the most effective for connecting with customers. It requires a thoughtful approach focused on crafting concise, relevant, and personalized messages. Concise messages are short and to the point. Since SMS has character limits, every word counts. Keeping messages simple ensures the main point and CTA are clearly communicated.

SMS automation makes reaching a wide audience easier than ever. Despite automation, you can still personalize messaging by using the recipient's name and customer data to create tailored offers. After segmenting your audience, send specific promotions, discounts, or content that aligns with the recipient's interests or past purchase history.

Leverage effective CTAs to increase the click-through rate. Action-oriented words such as "Shop Now" or "Learn More" encourage recipients to interact with your content. Along with prominent CTAs, it's imperative to send text messages at the right time. Avoid overloading customers with too many texts in a short period of time.

Mobile optimization

Mobile optimization for your campaigns is vital since your marketing messages are being sent via SMS message.

This means your recipients are accessing your content and links on a mobile device. Use a responsive design that displays properly on various mobile screens. This ensures text is not cut off and images are displayed properly. Unresponsive content distorts your message and can immediately turn off your customers.

Use SMS short codes and shortened URLs to make it even easier for customers to interact with your brand via text. This saves space and time while making your messages cleaner and more visually appealing. Practice compatibility testing to confirm your message formatting and readability.

Avoiding common pitfalls

Like with any marketing method, you want to avoid overuse and spamming. Don't inundate customers with too many messages and be sure that your content adds value. Misleading content can damage your reputation so it's important to always provide honest and accurate information in your SMS marketing campaigns.

One way to avoid common pitfalls is listening to customer feedback. Capitalize on the opportunity to improve and adjust your strategy when customers provide feedback or opt out of messages. Sending out SMS surveys can help you gather insights to guide your strategy along with demonstrating that you value customer opinions.

Understand the ongoing evolution of SMS marketing

SMS marketing is a beneficial tool to add to your marketing efforts. It can help you reach audiences you haven't yet tapped into and can set you apart from competitors. Text message marketing is particularly effective for small and growing businesses thanks to the low costs and ease of use.

The use of an SMS marketing platform can elevate your marketing efforts. Get tips and guidance on effective SMS campaigns based on your industry, target audience, and goals. SMS marketing software does the heavy lifting so you can focus on tailoring your messages, engaging with customers, and improving metrics.

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