SMS marketing has become a widely used method for reaching customers for marketing purposes.
Pew Internet says that nearly 95% of adults in the US have cell phones, with over 77% of those being smartphones, more than double the portion of smartphones from 2011.
Because most people keep their phones with them constantly, it’s easy to make instant contact. This is a massive benefit for companies looking for an effective means of communication with customers.
But, with all these benefits come several pitfalls that can keep you from SMS marketing success. To ensure that you are using this marketing channel, here is a list of the 7 biggest SMS marketing mistakes, and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Lacking a clear call to action
With an SMS, you only have 160 characters — use them wisely.
Every message should end with a clear, concise call to action (CTA) that is easy to complete. Here are a few examples:
- Visit a store location
- Use a discount coupon
- Click a link to a landing page
No matter what it is you want, make sure that it’s something simple or the recipient may fail to convert. You want to create as little friction as possible between your contact and the CTA as possible.
2. Poor timing and frequency
Timing and frequency are a very important aspect of the very time-sensitive and instant channel of SMS marketing.
If your SMS messages are coming at a time when some people are asleep, chances are good that they’ll not be happy to see your message. Nobody wants to be woken up by a marketing message in the middle of the night.
If you are sending too often, you risk annoying recipients. This can also cause them to unsubscribe from or complain about your marketing messages. That’s why it’s important to schedule messages for times and frequencies that fit your business’s purchase cycle and target audience preferences.
However, sending too few messages is just as bad as sending too many. Sending a one-off message campaign will likely get very few responses. Similarly, sending only occasional messages can result in low engagement or customers forgetting about your business.
There is no one sweet spot for every business, so it’s important to really know your customers and purchase cycle to figure out the optimal frequency.
3. Failing to personalize messages
When I say personalization, I’m not just talking about throwing your prospect’s name in the salutation — I’m talking about segmenting your list so that people get the offers that are most relevant to them.
Using the data from your customer database, you can create lists that are divided according to several factors including:
- Buying patterns
- Stated preferences
Using these dimensions to segment your contacts will greatly increase the likelihood of conversion.
4. Sending dull, run of the mill messages
Do you send the same specials every single week?
If so, your contacts are likely going to get bored quickly.
You have to use some creativity in your marketing messages and test new ideas:
- Change up the text or offers to generate test what resonates most with your audience.
- Send at different times of the day.
- Offer occasional giveaways and prizes.
Keeping your texts interesting by always testing new ideas will keep more people engaged and prevent your marketing from going stale.
5. Failing to get permission
Never text a customer who has not given you permission to do so.
First of all, this is illegal. The FTC prosecutes those who send unsolicited commercial messages. The fines and bad publicity are likely to cost you more than any profits you may gain.
Also, depending on their phone contract, they could wind up paying extra for receiving those SMS messages.
Beyond the legal and cost burden considerations, unsolicited messages are also just intrusive and annoying. They are not likely to lead to a conversion.
While you may feel desperate to grow your list, unsolicited messages are not the way to do it. Focus on other methods instead, including prominent signs with QR codes to sign up, or including an SMS opt-in in your email signature or on your website.
6. Failing to offer an opt-out option
Like failing to get permission in the first place, failing to allow people to opt out can put you in violation of the law.
Aside from that, there is no incentive to keep contacts who don’t want your messages, as these people will be very unlikely to do business with your brand.
Continuing to send unwanted marketing messages may even cause someone who previously had a favorable opinion of your business to change their mind. That’s why you always need to include an opt-out option so that you can be sure that only the right people are receiving your messages.
7. Sending messages that are too long
When you send a message that is longer than 160 characters, it will break into two or more messages on the recipient’s end. This results in a sequence of alerts and ultimately, a message that is unwieldy and difficult to read.
It’s understandable to send a message that breaks into two once every once in awhile when absolutely necessary, but it should always be a last resort. Whenever possible, your messages should fit neatly into that 160 character limit to avoid confusing or upsetting the recipient.
SMS marketing gives you more direct access to prospects than ever before. However, this technology has to be used carefully in order to be effective.
By respecting your prospects’ time and showing them messages that are likely to pique their interest, you can keep your business at the top of their minds and build a strong, profitable relationship.
Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP and GetCRM — trusted VoIP and CRM comparison guides that help companies understand and choose a business communication solution for their specific needs. With a 10-year track record in building, growing and strategically shaping operational functionality in all his ventures, Reuben assists SMBs align business strategy with culture and improve overall corporate infrastructure.