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Putting Your Message in Right Hands: The Value of SMS Marketing

According to a Pew Research study, SMS messaging (more commonly known as texting) is easily the most frequently used feature on smartphones. To be more specific, 97% of Americans text at least once a day. In 2011, Pew reported that 31% of people prefer text messages to phone calls, and Informate reports that the average American cell user sends and receives five times as many SMS messages as telephone calls in a day.

This means something very specific for marketers: If you have a message to get out, text messaging marketing (or SMS marketing) may just be the best way to share it.

What is SMS marketing?
Generally, SMS (text) marketing, also known as text messaging marketing or just text marketing, involves an opt-in stage. This is where users send a text to an automated system in order to have updates, discount codes, and other news sent directly to their phone. When the customer sends the initial message, an SMS marketing software solution stores the customer’s phone number in a database. The software then generally sends a confirmation text. The number is then retrieved and used whenever relevant marketing information can be shared. Clients retain the right to opt out of further messages at any time.

What benefits does SMS marketing offer?
Perhaps the biggest benefits of SMS marketing services is that people are more willing to trust text over other marketing channels. The overwhelming majority of text messages are legitimate, with spam messages making up less than 5% of texts received. SMS marketing statistics show that, as a result, SMS text messages have a 98% open rate. This dwarfs the open rate of even email marketing, which is one of the most effective methods available, at 22%.

Another benefit of SMS marketing is just how quickly it allows you to engage with your customers. CTIA reports that the average response time for text messages is 90 seconds, compared to the hours — or even days — that they might wait to respond over other channels. IDC Research suggests that 79% of Americans have their phones with them at least 22 hours per day, which means that when you send an SMS message to a customer, they will likely see it within minutes.

How can you utilize SMS marketing for your business?
Of course, there is more to SMS marketing than simply sending out texts. If a business wants to tap into this ripe market, there are several SMS marketing best practices to keep in mind:

Provide value
Text messaging is personal. Most people only text with close friends and relatives, so if they’ve invited you into that inner circle, then you need to make that invitation worthwhile. Segment your audience, and only send the most relevant messages, so that when your clients see a text from your business coming through, they’ll be excited to open it.
Likewise, make the deals and information you provide via text messages exclusive. If your customers can get the same deals in your emails, print ads, or website, the text messages lose their appeal. Make sure that opting in is worthwhile to your customers.

Pay attention to timing
When do customers want to hear from you? Probably not between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m., particularly if your business isn’t even open during those times. If your business is closed on weekends, then the same goes for Saturdays and Sundays. Track the times that users are most active on your mobile site to find the ideal times to send out promotions and other news.
Additionally, make sure that when users opt in, your system is prepared to send an immediate confirmation. If your customer opts in and doesn’t hear from you for weeks or months, they could easily lose interest.

Track results and act upon them
If you expect your SMS mobile marketing plan to have any effect, you need to keep track of its effectiveness. Track how many opt-outs you receive from each text, then use that to determine which sorts of content generate the best response.

How do you decide which SMS marketing tool works best for you?
As you select the best tool for your business to implement SMS marketing, keep a few questions in mind:

What functions does the tool offer?
What can the software do? Does it allow you to set a schedule for a series of texts? Does it provide analytics for you to track and understand how customers are responding? Does it provide a simple interface to manage the contacts you have gathered? When you boil everything down, can the tool handle everything you need it to?

Transactional SMS

How simple is it to integrate into your current system?
Your company has likely built up an infrastructure that keeps operations going smoothly. How easily does each new tool fit into that infrastructure? Will implementing the tool cause major disruption to your operations, or will there be little impact?

Once it’s installed, how easy is it to use?
How intuitive is the product? How easy will it be for current employees to pick up? What about for new employees who are hired later? How well does it integrate with your current systems? If you already have a database of contacts, how easily can you import that database into the new system?

People use their phones. People trust their phones. SMS marketing builds upon that relationship. By providing clients and potential clients with direct, personal marketing, while also giving them the freedom to opt in or out of participation, SMS ensures that those receiving your messages are interested. Despite this, SMS marketing often gets overlooked when businesses plan out their marketing strategies. Take advantage of this valuable marketing channel. With SMS marketing, your message gets to where it needs to be — in the hands of your clients.

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