SMS text marketing has been around for about two decades now, but for a long time it wasn’t widely embraced. However, over the last several years it’s entered the mainstream and a significant number of companies are using SMS as an important tactic in their overall marketing strategy.
But too many companies are making mistakes that are pretty fundamental, and it’s really rather surprising. Successful SMS marketing shares many of the same principles that a successful email campaign does, and more companies have been using email marketing for longer than they’ve been using SMS, so you would think that experience would carry over. For example, in countries around the world including the U.S., record-breaking fines are being levied against companies for violating anti-spam laws using both email and SMS. This is a totally avoidable situation.
Luckily the biggest mistakes that are being made are also easily corrected. Here are some of the most common ones.
The 7 Common Mistakes SMS Marketers Make Are:
- Not providing an opt out method. In the U.S. the anti-spam laws make clear that you have to provide a way for a consumer to opt out of receiving your texts, and the FCC takes violations pretty seriously. This usually takes the form of a hyperlink at the bottom of the content that a user can click in an email, and a reply from the recipient texting ‘stop’ to have themselves taken off of the SMS list. Either way it’s up to the business to comply with following through and not sending a user who opts out any more texts.
- Sending out too many texts. Don’t overdo it with SMS texts. Surveys have shown that over 98% of texts are read within three minutes of being received. That’s because there’s a feeling of immediacy with a text that’s not there with email. Only about 22% of emails are read. With that kind of reach, it’s tempting to send texts more frequently. But that’s a mistake because it will just make your customers feel like you’re spamming them, and they’ll turn off and tune out.
- Sending unreadable texts. One limitation of SMS texts is that you don’t have a lot of characters to work with, so you have to keep it short and sweet. It can be challenging to get your message across in a concise way, and then you start getting creative with abbreviations and texting lingo. This not only looks unprofessional, but it can also be confusing. Keep your message and your language focused and clear.
- Not having your website optimized for mobile. Most SMS texts will invite the recipient to click through to your mobile site, so obviously you want your site to offer the best experience you can create. That includes not only your homepage, but all of the deeper pages too. A bad mobile experience will frustrate users quickly and they’ll leave just as quickly.
- Not including a call to action. You should always be asking recipients to do something, visit your site or buy something or respond in some way. Otherwise you lose much of the value of your SMS campaign. This also gives you a way of collecting data on your most engaged subscribers.
- Using a generic one-size-fits-all message. Make your SMS message as personal as possible. Include subscriber names if you can, and consider adding local happenings that recipients can relate to. Avoid using an impersonal address like ‘customer’ or ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’.
- Sending at inconvenient times. Just like a phone call or a ringing doorbell, people tend to get annoyed when they receive a SMS text first thing in the morning or late at night. As with most things, the best time to send messages is between about six and ten in the evening.
Put as much thought into your SMS marketing efforts as you would any of your other tactics. And make sure you follow the regulations. Both practices will pay off in the end.