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SMS Marketing: Best-Practices and Tech Tips

Title reading, SMS Marketing: Best-Practices and Tech Tips
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SOS, You Need SMS!

From the reliable, tried-and-true email inbox to mobile apps and social media, marketers have a slew of channels to choose from when engaging their customers. When marketers are already juggling so many channels, it’s fair to ask—is SMS really something brands need?

The short answer is yes. Not only does SMS boast shockingly high engagement and open rates, it is also one of the most accessible channels as nearly all customers are texting on their smartphones. To top it off, SMS is cheaper than its MMS counterpart, and its previous drawbacks—such as text limits or inability to support rich images—is a thing of the past.

The numbers don’t lie, and SMS is clearly a prime opportunity for marketers. But how can you make the most of the channel and activate it to its fullest potential? Step into this quick-win guide that will uncover the key SMS best practices you need.

Protection of Connection

If you’re delving into SMS, chances are you already have other channels up and running. Whether it’s through your website, email, or mobile, these channels typically have branding on lock and provide a steady stream of data that sheds light on customers’ preferences and needs. It’s a critical best practice to ensure that your SMS has a frictionless connection with these more established channels. Whenever customers tap into their branded SMS, they should immediately be routed to the correct landing page with no inconvenient detours.

Additionally, landing pages and branding should not only be displayed across all communications, each channel should share language and support one another through an omni-channel approach. Just as mobile apps typically enhance the in-store experience via loyalty offers or payment options, SMS should be supported by other channels, especially if this form of communication is a new endeavor for the brand.

At Home perfects this method with their holiday incentivization email, where they promoted a $5000 sweepstakes. Ticket to entry? Signing up for their Insider Perk text messages. This campaign also used device-level targeting where a device-specific URL helped personalized the opt-in CTA copy. With these linking structures in place, customers had a smooth experience no matter where they were tapping in.

At Home SMS message

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Enter Personalization Station

No matter the channel, personalization is a critical piece of every marketing message. Long gone are the days where SMS was relegated to cut-and-dry, text-limited messages. Today, SMS can produce the same level of personalization as industry-leading emails—and in the case of location personalization, SMS boasts even greater flexibility as the channel has fewer privacy restrictions. 

With a refined tech stack, marketers can quickly and efficiently transform their SMS content. By piping in relevant customer data from any source and leveraging mobile tools that support a smooth omni-channel journey, every message can display relevant creatives to customers automatically. For example, if you have first-party data on hand from customers’ recent website browsing—such as an abandoned cart or recently searched item—or you typically rely on real-time targeting, you can activate those same engagement-drivers for your SMS.

By adding in personalization and clear branding, you not only increase the value customers gain from your messages, you quickly differentiate your brand from other SMS senders.

Spring themed SMS

Just take a look at this SMS campaign leveraging image personalization. To announce the latest products designed for the warmer months, this arts and crafts retailer used an SMS Link Preview to visually showcase their products. By just adding on-brand, personalized imagery, this SMS became far more compelling to customers.

Leverage SMS-Specific Strengths

SMS has a far higher engagement rate than other channels, primarily because it gives marketers direct, personal access to customers. As they always have their mobile phones in hand, and unlike apps, SMS requires no extra steps to access. As a result, SMS immediately has their attention, making it the perfect avenue for marketers to send urgency-driving messages that encourage quick action.

SMS from Rothy's

Rothy’s uses their SMS messages to do just that, as their recent holiday campaign exemplifies. By simply adding a live countdown timer to their in-store event, Rothy’s successfully added a sense of urgency to their SMS and inspired quick conversions. With this real-time add-in, customers could also rely on an accurate, updated display whenever they opened their messages.

Promotions aren’t the only way marketers can leverage the SMS urgency. Whether it’s encouraging customers to enroll in a loyalty program, download the branded app, or complete their purchase, SMS can be a key pillar to not only bolster quick actions, but support other channels.

Critical Compliance

Keep in mind, with great attention comes great responsibility. While SMS offers direct access to customers, marketers need to be sure that they don’t overuse the channel and fatigue recipients. In addition to avoiding overuse, you can implement the above practices to ensure that each message delivers true value instead of just cluttering up customers’ texts.

It should also go without saying to only send SMS messages to customers that have already subscribed; and from the very first message, it’s best to encourage customers to save your brand as a contact. Otherwise, your carefully crafted SMS may land directly into customers’ spam texts. 

Additionally, opt-ins and opt-outs should be crystal clear. While it may seem counterintuitive to make it easy for customers to unsubscribe to your SMS program, preserving the longevity of your customer-brand relationships is far more effective than inundating them with messages they simply don’t want. 

Tap Into SMS Success

With these best-practices on hand, your SMS messages will quickly be the texts customers can’t wait to open. To further strengthen your mobile presence, discover how to perfect your mobile app personalization, omni-channel strategies, and more in the related resources below. 

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