I've been in the SMS field for more than a decade and watched the industry grow and transform. As the founder of a company that provides clients with SMS services, I've closely observed many successful and unsuccessful campaigns. I've found that there's no secret formula for success.
Whether you're experienced with SMS marketing or plan to start using it, you already know that it's one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. It allows you to contact people on their mobile devices at any time and provides you with extremely high read and response rates. As with any other type of marketing, there are certain guidelines you need to keep in mind to get the results you want.
After analyzing thousands of campaigns, I've concluded that one of the most reliable rules to follow is K.I.S.S., or "keep it simple, stupid." The biggest mistakes I've seen involve marketers overthinking their campaigns and, in the process, confusing and alienating their audiences. Let's look at how to keep your SMS tactics simple, straightforward and effective.
Don't Confuse the Audience
Text messaging is a fairly simple platform. However, SMS campaigns must be set up carefully in order to avoid any possible confusion on issues such as keywords and short codes. Otherwise, people who aren't familiar with the process may not respond correctly.
Keywords are one of the most powerful features of SMS marketing, making it possible to set up campaigns such as: "Text keyword PIZZA to 12345 for a 25 percent discount on your order."
Make sure you use keywords that are short, relevant and easy to remember. Avoid using numbers and special characters, which make it harder for your audience to type in the right keyword. A zero, for example, can be confused with the letter O. Special characters can be hard for people to find on the keyboard. Using a single word is the best, otherwise, our smartphones may auto-correct a keyword comprised of two words together.
This may seem trivial, as most people could overcome their confusion by taking a few extra seconds. The problem, however, is that people today are busy and have very short attention spans. If it seems too complicated to reply to your message, your engagement rate will drop.
Make Messages Clear and Concise
Text messages are, by nature, short and terse communications that focus on essentials. One way to save space is to use a URL shortener for your links. Long URLs are unsightly and waste valuable character space.
Text messages are also not the place to oversell your subscribers on the features and benefits of your product or offer. Your objective is to get them to click on a link or respond. A short message doesn't provide ample space to educate the consumer. For this, you have to rely on your website, retail store, videos, sales pages or print ads.
While messages must be concise, they also must include all essential information that people need to respond. If it's an event, be sure to include the time, date and venue. If it's a coupon or promotion, tell people what's special about it and how much they'll save. Naturally, you also must include any relevant links as well.
Tell People What You Want
The idea that you must have a clear call-to-action is really Marketing 101 and applies to every type of promotion. With text messaging, however, some SMS beginners forget this ironclad rule. Perhaps, because this is a relatively new and dynamic form of marketing, people sometimes believe that any text message is inherently fascinating to the recipient and will provoke a great response. This, unfortunately, is not the case. You still need a clear objective for each message you send.
In order to get the most out of a message, it should be targeted to an audience that's expressed an interest in this type of offer. You can benefit by segmenting messages to make sure people are getting the type of information they signed up for. For example, many nightclubs use SMS marketing. Imagine you were signed up to receive text messages from the XYZ Nightclub. Which of these messages would you find more compelling?
"Come to XYZ Friday for great music."
"Hear local jazz legend Mary Smith at XYZ Friday. Text TIX to 12345 for a free drink."
The first message is vague and contains no call-to-action. The second message has two advantages: it's more specific, and it gives people a task to complete as well as an incentive to do so (a free drink). This principle holds for any type of campaign. Within the constraints of the 160-character limit, give the audience a call-to-action and a motivation to carry it out.
These are some of the ways to apply K.I.S.S. to your SMS campaigns. Most of your customers carry around their mobile devices everywhere they go. They're accustomed to texting with their friends, family and co-workers. That's why people are so receptive to texts. While a marketing text is always going to be a little different than a social one, you want your messages to be as simple and non-intrusive as possible. This means keeping it simple and not making your audience think too hard about what you're saying or what you want from them.
Kalin Kassabov is a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise level text message suite of services. He specializes in mobile and web-based businesses and marketing strategies.