Top do’s and don’ts of SMS

By Rimma Kats

August 13, 2012

SMS is arguably the best medium marketers can use to reach a vast audience. However, companies need to define a clear call-to-action and offer relevant content in order to drive user engagement and opt-ins.

Marketers are continually looking at different mediums to further engage with consumers and increase sales. Additionally, SMS presents companies with a big opportunity to accomplish these goals.

“First off, determine if you target uses text messaging,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer at Hipcricket, New York.

“More than 75 percent of United States mobile subscribers do, so it’s likely that you are in the game,” he said. “Then have a compelling call-to-action, one that considers your target’s interests as well as location and time of day.

“After the initial interaction, it’s often important to build an ongoing relationship with the consumer. Ask them to opt-in for additional updates, engage them and keep them coming back for more. The final step is measuring these interactions and optimizing to maximize results.”

Driving opt-ins
It is important that marketers provide a clear call-to-action. From there, companies should encourage an ongoing dialogue through an opt-in.

SMS gives marketers a chance to have a one-on-one relationship with consumers.

However, marketers should also remember to not abuse the privilege.

Consumers do not want to be bombarded with text messages, especially if they or unsolicited or irrelevant.

Additionally, marketers should not send one message and then disappear.

“Macy’s has run an exceptional campaign with their Backstage Pass Program, engaging shoppers in-store and after purchase,” Mr. Hasen said.

“Ford has also done an excellent job of driving leads and conversions by adding an SMS call-to-action to its national print and TV advertisements,” he said.

“SMS will remain a workhorse for marketers because it is the most effective reach tool and often leads to monetizable, opt-in databases.”

Creating Awareness
According to James Citron, CEO of Mogreet, SMS and MMS marketing can fulfill more than just one stage of the marketing funnel – it can create brand awareness, drive sales, deepen customer engagement, as well as build loyal followers and even promote advocacy.

However, many times, marketers run before they can walk and do not take the necessary precautions to make sure their campaign will be successful.

Marketers turn to SMS to build their databases.

Companies should promote their SMS campaigns as much as possible, calls-to-action in-store, within print, TV and radio advertising, as well as on their Web site and social channels.

“Once marketers understand what their customer values, they can create a series of offers based on this information to drive the most opt-ins and redemptions with as few opt-outs as possible,” Mr. Citron said. “For some clients, this is a discount code sent at a time of day when the customer is most likely to engage.

“For other clients, sharing behind-the-scenes content bridges the gap between the brand and the fan.”

SMS is a two-way platform.

Marketers can create fully interactive programs that drive direct brand engagement.

“Try trivia questions to drive interactions or ask fans and customers to send in photos of themselves and your product,” Mr. Citron said. “Opted-in customers expect and enjoy being involved with your brand.

“Providing a campaign that allows your customers to be a part of your marketing program will strengthen your customers’ loyalty, driving a deeper connection with your customers, ultimately driving sales and return on investment,” he said.

“Try a variety of offers to see which one produces the highest ROI. Take advantage of the data SMS and MMS vendors can provide such as segmentation tools, which allow marketers to test various types of content in one blast, giving then a near-instant snapshot of which message and offer receives the greatest number of participants.”

It is important that marketers create unique content and integrate social sharing to amplify reach.

Marketers should not create a short-term strategy.

SMS and MMS marketing is a long-term marketing tactic. Additionally, companies should not send text messages at inappropriate times.

“Given the huge shift towards multimedia driven both by technology and customer behavior, more and more brands and retailers are moving away from SMS to MMS,” Mr. Citron said.

“Through the inclusion of video, audio and images, brands are able to extend digital storytelling to text messaging, deepening awareness and driving customers through the marketing funnel up to three times faster than with SMS,” he said.