5 Ways To Kickstart Your SMS Marketing

In a nation of devoted mobile users, SMS marketing is a highly effective and budget-friendly way to communicate with customers. And with only 160 characters to get your message across, make an impact and drive action, the pressure is really on for businesses to get it right. Here are five rules
to get you off on the right foot.

When was the last time you left home without your mobile phone? As a nation, we’re all profoundly connected to our mobile phones. In 2014 mobile phone penetration is set to reach 135%, which means there are more than 30 million mobiles in a country with a population of only 23 million.

For businesses, this presents a compelling channel to reach out to your target market: SMS marketing. Not only do text messages have at least a 90% average open rate, they can quite literally stop people in their tracks. Nielsen Mobile studies show that a whopping 98% of people will read an SMS message within three minutes of receiving it. The bottom line? If you have a short deadline and want your message to be seen, SMS marketing is the tool for you.

So why aren’t more businesses taking advantage of this marketing channel. Much of the hesitation comes from a fear of crossing the line and pushing customers away. Many brands are scared they’ll get it wrong, violate customers’ privacy or even break the law.

While these are valid concerns, they can be easily overcome with good planning and a responsible approach. And trust us, it’s worth the effort. Consumers are becoming more and more responsive to those brands who communicate with them via their mobile phone. In 2013, AIMIA’s Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index found that 63% of mobile phone users had opted in to receive SMS messages from businesses, up from 57% in 2012 and 47% in 2011.

Whether you’re new to SMS marketing or want to see better results, follow these five rules for SMS success:

1. Play By The Rules

The most important thing you need to know about SMS marketing is that it is permission based. You must abide by the ACMA anti-span regulations for Australia. The good news is the rules are simple:

  • Consent - You must have consent before sending the message

  • Identify - The recipient should be able to easily identify the sender

  • Unsubscribe - There must be a simple way for the recipient to opt out, and you should deal with them promptly

If you’re in any doubt about the rules, visit the ACMA Anti-Spam website.


2. Brand It

We don’t need to tell you that branding is critical in any piece of customer communications, and SMS marketing is no exception. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a random number appear in my inbox, only to open the text and still not be able to work out who it’s from.

Your goal is to get your brand name in front of the customer immediately. Either include your brand name as the first word of the message itself or use your brand name in Caller ID field as a header. If you choose to use a header, be sure to provide a mobile number for opt-outs or replies. Any SMS that doesn’t state your brand up-front or, worse still, has no branding whatsoever is as good as trash.

3. Avoid Acronyms or Abbreviations

LOL, ROTFL, CUL8R, YOLO…this is the place where txt tlk began. But there is no place for it in your SMS campaign. That means no acronyms, no text message jargon, no abbreviations, no Emojis – just full words at all times. It might seem fun and friendly but text speak will only make your brand look unprofessional. Worse, it makes your SMS difficult to read and understand. It’s easy for customers to dismiss the message if they can’t read it quickly, and you can bet they won’t read the next one you send either. They might just opt out there and then.

“But I only have 160 characters!” we hear you cry. Yes, your message needs to be succinct, but just like on Twitter, this is a golden opportunity for you to get to the point. If you’re really struggling to squeeze it all in, send them to a mobile landing page using an URL shortener like bit.ly.

4. Make It Worth Their While

With SMS marketing, as with any permission marketing, you need to prove to customers that they did the right thing by giving you their information. The mobile phone is perhaps the most personal channel to communicate with customers, so don’t make them regret their decision. One way to do this is to provide something they can believe nobody else is getting – exclusive discounts, invitations, pre-sale access, and freebies.

5. Use A Powerful Call To Action

The call to action, or CTA in marketing speak, is most powerful phrase in your whole SMS. These are the words that get the recipient to do what you want or to go to where you want them to go. It might be only two or three words, but without them your SMS is a waste of valuable time and budget.

Use command words, such as “CALL US NOW” “FIND YOUR LOCAL STORE” “SHOP ONLINE”. If there’s an expiry on your offer, include it to give a sense of urgency. Wherever possible, give people a link to your website so they can use their smartphone to take action immediately, or include the number to call. Your goal is to make sure your recipients are in absolutely no doubt about what they should do next, and then to make it easy for them to do it.

By following these rules and giving some thought to your campaign, you can be sure your SMS marketing will deliver real, tangible results for your business. Stay tuned for my next article on why SMS Marketing is more powerful than you think.


If you would like any advice on SMS Marketing, or other ideas on how to leverage the power of SMS in your retail environment, contact Salmat’s MessageNettoday. Some of Australia’s largest retailers rely on us for their critical SMS communications, giving us the experience and insight to know what does and doesn’t work – insight we are eager and happy to pass onto you.

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