When ever we meet with new businesses who are interested in using SMS to market their product or service, we are constantly surprised by how little they know about it. Businesses generally contact us because they heard great things about using SMS for business through a friend or business acquaintance, yet their opening salvo usually goes something like this -
“So this whole SMS thing, I’ve heard it’s great for driving sales – how does it work exactly?”
Even though it’s a widely used marketing medium and even though they have gotten a recommendation from a friend, they are still relatively in the dark as to it’s exact use and mechanics. Their knowledge of other forms of marketing like print, social media, radio and TV is so much more advanced than business SMS. Yet bulk SMS for business is probably the most straight forward and easy to master marketing form that currently exists for small to medium size enterprises.
The first thing we try to explain is that it is completely legal and fully regulated. The second is that it is in common, if not widespread use, with a strict set of best practices that all the best text message marketing agencies stick to. The third is that although it’s incredibly effective, it’s also very straight forward to get up and running. Lastly we explain how easy it is to develop a standard SMS marketing program into a much richer and interactive format using MMS, mobile coupons, feedback requests and mobile webpages.
So for the purpose of this blog post and in an effort to pull back the curtain a little, lets set out the main points. First up – the legalities.
Business SMS Regulations
1. Before sending a marketing text message to a consumer you must firstly have received permission to do this.
2. The recipient must have a free and easy way of opting out of receiving further messages at all times.
There are other nuances to the regulations but essentially it boils down to those two main rules. You must first have permission and then you must allow them to end the communications at any time. In fact anyone familiar with email marketing will notice that it shares almost the exact same regulations.
Now that we have established the legalities, lets next look at the industry best practices. We like to think of regulations as the set of rules that protect the consumer and ‘best practices’ as the set of rules that protects the marketer or business owner.
Business SMS Best Practices
1. You should never inundate your customers with messages, and the frequency should align itself with the purchase frequency of your product or service. A good rule of thumb is never more than one per week but that may extend up to no more than one per month depending on the industry.
2. Always offer something of value. Nobody is interested in your opening hours or how great you think you are. They only care about the value that receiving these messages is bringing them. Offer them something of value which they perceive as special treatment and they will stay opted in for a very long time.
Next up is how effective and easy to use it is. The reasons it is so effective are easy to explain:
Business SMS – Effective and Easy to Use
1. Reach – Everyone has a mobile phone which is SMS enabled.
2. Open Rates – 98% of SMS messages are opened and the vast majority of them within 5 seconds.
3. Speed – There is no lead time to developing a campaign and they are delivered within seconds.
4. Cost – Messages are sent from as little as 3c per message.
For something so effective you would think it also hard to use. Not the case – all you need is access to the internet, a database of customers, an online SMS account (such as supplied by TextRepublic) and the ability to write a 160 character marketing message before pressing send!
Business SMS – Go Beyond 160
To conclude the education of our potential clients we explain how much more is on offer than just the simple 160 characters. SMS marketing can also be extended into embedded and trackable web-links, feedback requests, two way conversations, mobile coupons and MMS.
So that’s it, that’s pretty much the journey we have to take all our clients on. We hope this post helped people in some way to understand mobile SMS marketing and how relatively straight forward it is.
To conclude we would like to point out that the mobile phone is no longer considered the third screen but in fact the first screen, and what is the most widespread and easily used mechanism on that mobile phone? The SMS function. Don’t you think it’s time you stopped ignoring the 160 character marketing bombshell that’s been right under your nose all this time?
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