Hello everyone, welcome to another Digitize Your Firm webinar – with me, Stephen, your host! Today you better get your cellphones out because we’re giving an advanced look at SMS marketing.
For anyone joining us who is a text message master or for those who are just starting out, I welcome all comments and questions, simply click the green speech bubble at the top of the screen to open the chat and either type out your comment or ask to speak. If you haven’t already, be sure to click the ‘phone’ icon next to it the chat icon to ensure your audio is connected.
As with all Digitize Your Firm webinars, this will be recorded for later playback in case you wanted extra time with a certain section or for listening on the go. If you haven’t already, please visit the Weekly Webinar Schedule on our Digitize Your Firm page to check out our past webinars.
Now, let’s go over today’s agenda.
Don’t have an SMS list yet? Our first topic will be on creating and growing your SMS list followed by what you should know before setting up your first campaign. After that, we’ll talk about analyzing your campaign through analytics before recapping and teasing the topic for next week.
Let’s dive in.
A great campaign starts with a list. A list full of opt-in subscribers who want to receive your message.
But where does one get the list? Should you buy it or build it?
If you don’t have their permission, then all you have is data that you should not send to.
Just like with other forms of marketing, there are numerous ways to create a list for SMS marketing endeavors.
These include adding a signup form to your website, adding contacts one-by-one, mass uploading already gathered lists (opt-in) and of course the old school offline strategies that seem to be overlooked.
What I want to focus on here is what the differences are for SMS and what you need to focus on when it comes to growing and managing your client lists.
One of the biggest problems when it comes to SMS marketing is that companies still send their message out into the unknown. This means sending to users who have not opted-in or who have opted-in but have no idea you will be sending to them.
For this reason, you need to think less about the bulk send and focus more on a targeted list. Sending to a targeted list increases the chances of a user acting on your message.
A good way to go about growing an SMS list is to run contests or promote a shortcode in an existing marketing campaign (email, fax, survey, social etc.)
Creating a list for SMS purposes can be more closely compared to Fax marketing or Voice as you are collecting a phone number. You should add Name, Email and Phone number to your form. The rest you can ask for later on.
To make things even easier, we recommend you set up your list as follows before uploading.
Make sure the phone numbers in your list are in their own column. You can upload additional information such as name, address, etc. with the phone numbers, but the phone numbers need to be separate from the rest of the information.
If you already have an opt-in list that you need to upload, most SMS Marketing Providers make the task simple. As long as the document is in some form of spreadsheet, the information will be uploaded for use and edited in no time.
Common formats for uploading include CSV, EXCEL and plain text. Managing large lists of data can be time-consuming and difficult for online marketers with limited resources, so that is why it is important to find a list management service that makes everything easy, while still providing the features you need.
Sign up Forms
Instead of asking new subscribers to send their email address, depending upon your business needs, you may want to simply collect their phone number to communicate to them via SMS. The collection process is the same as collecting an email address. Create an enticing offer and ask new subscribers to register for your SMS program. In this case you will want to send an SMS confirmation as opposed to an email confirmation to welcome the new subscriber to your SMS program.
By adding a signup form to your website or blog, you can begin the process of gathering opt-in readers who are excited to receive communications from your company. With just a little copy and pasting, you can add a signup form in minutes. Numerous services will allow you to customize your form and then generate HTML code that you can add to your website or landing page.
Your signup form will automatically connect to a list management system where you can monitor, edit and split the data however you choose. If you have already used email marketing before, you will be very familiar with this process.
The placement of your offer is just as important as the actual offer. At a minimum, include the offer on your brand’s website. This is especially important for those companies that have mobile web applications. Sending a quick SMS message on a cell phone is often easier than subscribing via the web.
Other opportunities include banners in storefronts for those that have them, a collection point on your Facebook page, and within your promotional or newsletter emails. In general, you can ask for SMS subscriptions anywhere you would ask for email subscriptions.
Now that’ve gotten pasts the nuts and bolts of SMS, now we’ll discuss actually getting ready to set up a campaign.
Now that you have all of the best practices under your belt and have a list of opt-in users, it is time to make that first campaign.
Putting together an automated SMS campaign is a dream for those who want to get to the point fast. At the same time, the limited space to work with can really leave you nowhere to hide. Ready? Yes?
What types of messages are best communicated via SMS?
Send text for information – The most common type of two-way communication for SMS marketing purposes is sending information. Use this type of campaign to reply to interested customers with company information, specials and promotions. Message content can include web addresses, phone numbers and text to make it easy for customers to connect. Again, pretty simple and to the point. Just be ready to respond quickly to questions to keep the user happy and engaged.
Send one-way reminders – Choose this type to send messages to individuals immediately or to schedule messages for future distribution. It is ideal for appointment reminders for doctors, dentists, auto service centers, spas and any business that is looking for a fast and easy way to send out reminders.
Send autoresponders – This form of SMS is ideal to send a bounce back offer, message or reminder at a specific time after the user sends an inbound text. This is ideal for restaurants to send coupons automatically and help drive traffic back to the physical location.
Send a text to win – Most likely what people are most familiar with. Brands use this example to create a mobile game to register mobile users for a random text-to-win contest. Then ideally it is set up so the campaign management service picks a random winner and sends alerts to the winner and all of the participants.
Send a mobile coupon – No more paper coupons. They are so 1990. Save customers the trouble of having to keep track of paper coupons by creating a mobile coupon. Once you have a coupon created, send out the coupon text messages with a unique numeric code to validate the coupon and to provide a way to track redemption rates.
Send subscription texts – Send a text to users so they can subscribe and get a series of informative text messages on a regular basis. This feature is meant for advanced campaign users providing daily messaging to customers. Remember the tips should be short and to the point.
Send a series of questions – Depending on your product, service or purpose, you can engage users with a question to entertain them and provide ongoing product or company exposure. Create a series of questions, with multiple-choice answers that can be sent out serially. Think of this as a poll question or something more fun. A good example who be a post-experience survey.
Of course it needs to be said that SMS marketing is not applicable for all types of messages that you want to send to your clients. You need to remember the purpose of the medium. That is: to be interactive, engaging and quick. SMS is best used when you want to communicate short and timely messages.
This would include:
When creating any SMS marketing message there are some very basic things you need to include. Without the basic information in place, you are setting yourself up for some poor results, even legal results. Since SMS is limited in size, many try to save precious characters in a variety of ways and sometimes forget to include the most basic of information.
With SMS being just 160 characters, one would think it would be pretty easy to write up a message and send. That can be a real trap. SMS is a very personal and direct medium and without considering the content, delivery and calls to action in your message you could potentially see a lot of opt-outs from your list.
However, when carefully constructed, SMS can be a powerful and well-regarded part of your marketing strategy.
Skip the Cutesy Text Lingo
If you think that sounding like a teenager will make you seem cooler, hipper and more in the know, then you are sorely mistaken. In fact, most of the people you are reaching out to are not teens but adults with expendable cash. Unless, of course, your products and services are entirely directed at the high school set, then by all means try to fit in. Keep in mind that looking fake is another way to turn someone off.
Sure, text lingo is today’s shorthand and it is quicker to type out. But as a savvy professional you have all the time in the world to create your SMS message. You are not communicating in real-time with your customers over text and, because of that, you don’t need to chat as if you are.
If you can’t fit the message in without using shortcuts, you should rewrite or reconsider what you are trying to say.
Stick to a Single Message
With all of your other promotions running, it seems natural and almost mindless to stick several different sales into your SMS marketing. Remember that you’re limited to 160 characters and that, quite frankly, isn’t a lot of space to write.
Keep your focus on one message at a time. Not only are you using every character available to get across what you are pushing, you are also not confusing your subscribers with multiple messages.
One message = one topic.
Time Your SMS Correctly
The beauty with text message marketing is that there is not much of a delay between the time your message is sent and the time it is opened by your subscriber. As a rule, text messages are opened faster than emails. Perhaps it’s due to the incredibly personal way of communicating: you’re message is in their pocket or purse.
Look to the time and day that your customers are most active with your SMS. Though each business is different, in general, most people are more inclined to act on marketing messages later in the afternoon, towards the evening and often on the weekends.
So, send your messages on the top three days and times and watch your conversions soar. Make sure to target your lists based on where people live. Receiving a text at 3 am is not going to do much for your image in that customer’s eyes.
Make it Easy for Customers to Purchase
It’s important with any marketing strategy, especially SMS, that cashing in on your promotions is quick and painless.
If you make your customers jump through hoops to get their 20% discount, they’ll just as soon turn it down instead of using it.
A note about promotional codes: ensure that they’re easy to remember. For example, SHOE40 is far easier to remember than SHOE4U1234, especially if the discount is 40% off their next purchase of shoes.
Link to Your Other Promotions
As long as your message remains shorter than the 160-character maximum, you’ll be able to link to your online life. But don’t over do it because you’ll waste valuable space on the other end.
So the best thing to do is offer links that are relevant to your promotional message. Also, set up a directed landing page that offers more information regarding your deal as well as additional links to your main website and social media pages.
Start Your Message with “Action” Words
Action words are nothing more than verbs, and starting off sentences with verbs makes for more lively prose and cuts to the chase faster. Verbs save precious character space by replacing a whole bunch of unnecessary words. Also, verbs inspire action on the part of the customer.
Consider these action words to start your message with: buy, sell, jump, run, save, spend, purchase, stop.
Whatever action you want your customers to take, start your message with that.
Write Short Sentences
By nature, text marketing doesn’t support long-winded descriptions of your promotions, products and services. You only have 160-characters to get in, get out and get it right.
If you tend to write nicely worded sentences, then try breaking them apart.
Short sentences do many things for your text messages. First, they give your subscribers plenty of space to forward your message to their friends and include a personal message of their own. Second, short sentences force you to get to the point quickly and efficiently. Third, writing short sentences actually improves the way you write.
Use “Sentence Case”
Writing in sentence case is like not writing in text lingo. They essentially go hand-in-hand. Why? Typically, with text lingo, CAPITALIZATION comes along for the ride (think “UR”). There is a special place for capitalization in text message marketing, namely to highlight an action like a SALE. But, using capitalization throughout your message is poor form. It is exceedingly hard to read on a small screen.
Got a tip that was not mentioned? Let us know in the comments section. Your fellow SMS experts will appreciate it.
A short code is a special five to six digit phone number. The application of shortcodes are manifold. Mobile phone users can send SMS text messages to short codes to retrieve information, redeem mobile offers, join alert notifications, vote in a poll and much more.
Testing is always a huge part of your marketing strategy, no matter the channel of communication. A blunder on a huge SMS campaign will not only waste money but will also damage the brand. While the text message format does lend itself to short form lingo, as a business you should stick to your overall style. Don’t try to appear as something you are not.
Send a few test messages before the real one. Have everything perfect before opening it up to your list of valued customers.
So now you’ve created and sent your campaign – how are you going to measure it? We’ll let you know tomorrow.
The best marketers, no matter the medium, learn from what works and what does not work.
This, of course, goes for SMS marketing as well. That’s why measurement is so important.
You should be measuring everything from how your database grows and shrinks to the volume of recipients responding to a call to action. Taking into account the cost per recipient of your campaign can help you understand how to make it more cost-effective too, particularly when weighed against the money you have made from those who responded to your calls to action.
In order to measure your SMS marketing success you need to know what metrics to look at.
Before You Begin
Always set the parameters of your metric analysis before actually starting the monitoring process. If you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. Ask yourself these questions:
The subscriber list is only one thing, but understanding where your numbers are coming from is even more valuable.
First, look at the total number you have. Does it match up with your target market? Then, ask these questions:
Clearly, most of the answers for these usually stem from the questions answered from your basic subscriber list. All of the questions above apply to this metric as well, but it also narrows down how effective your SMS promotions are.
Understanding where new subscribers are coming from will help you tailor future promotions.
Some additional questions to ask:
Sure, opt-outs are a bummer, but they are incredibly helpful. If you have a mechanism in place that allows subscribers to let you know why they’re opting out, then that is valuable. A simple form will do the trick.
Never underestimate the power of opt-outs; it’s the best place to learn and ultimately to grow.
Again, here are some questions to ask when analyzing these metrics:
Okay, you have sent out your latest SMS marketing message. What did you want your subscribers to
do? If there was a specific call to action or goal, start there.
For most businesses, the bottom line is how much this marketing strategy is costing the business. Essentially, what is the return on investment for each campaign?
Ideally, the result is in an increase of direct sales.
Though the other SMS marketing metrics may be positive, looking at the number of sales generated directly from your SMS campaign is the most critical one. By understanding the previous metrics, you’ll be able to make changes and increase sales.
So, until you make the necessary adjustments to your other metrics, the sales metric is somewhat meaningless or misleading.
Finally, there are still some important questions to answer:
1. When it comes to creating your own SMS list, there are quite a few ways to go about it. From sign up forms on your website, to shortcodes at the checkout, or opt-ing in during a promotion. Each of these options has it’s own unique level of engagement, but remember to never buy who use lists that your contacts have not opted into. Not only is it in many cases illegal, but sending out messages into the unknown is both a waste of time and money.
The best lists you can are from customers who have opted in which will increase open rates as well as engagement as they have consented, and shown interest, into getting your information.
2. There are a variety of campaigns you can run for your first SMS campaigns from general information campaign, to update campaigns, promotional contests, and more. When you start to prepare your messages, remember to be clear and concise as in many cases you will only have 160 characters per message to work with and you don’t want any links to be cut between two texts. Don’t be afraid to link to other promotions and use verbs, action words if you will, to draw in interest and create engaging text. You can also use capitalization to highlight words like ‘SALE’ or ‘LIMITED TIME’, but you don’t need to use text lingo like ‘UR’.
3. When you’ve launched your campaign, there are a number of analytics to watch both during and after the campaign. Keep an eye on where your subscribers are coming from – are they all from your website? A recent promotion? Maybe a mailout campaign? This will help show which channels are engaging your customers to use mobile which you can use to strategize for further campaigns.
Along with this, watch out for your growth rate (which is your number of opt-ins, minus your opt-outs, divided by the total number of contacts on your list). For opt-outs, see which messages are causing opt-outs, which could mean there is a lack of value in those campaigns. Finally, keep an eye on which call to actions are working and having people click through vs which aren’t – experiment with different types and see which your audience best responses to.
Next week we’re going to be taking a look into how digitization can play into any retail store. We’ll start with how you can track your website visitors, increasing website sign ups, and personalized campaigns.