For many companies, text messaging as a marketing strategy is either completely unknown or a weird enigma that they kind of know about but don’t know what to do with. The truth is, it’s very real, is very powerful, and is easier to start implementing than you may realize. Text messaging (aka SMS and MMS) as a marketing approach is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to grab your customer’s attention. To understand just how effective it can be, check out these killer stats from a report by Marketo (https://issuu.com/ladywyspr/docs/strategic-mobile-marketing-with-sms): 

  • Text message open rate is 98% compared to 22% for emails
  • Text messages can be 8x more effective at engaging customers
  • 50% (approx.) of consumers in the U.S. make direct purchases after receiving an SMS branded text
  • Applying SMS marketing methods is predicted to contribute a 40% growth rate of revenues by 2017
  • Coupons delivered via SMS have redemption rates 10x higher than printed coupons
  • Check out this great infographic for even more insights into the power of text marketing: https://www.mozeo.com/images/SMS_Stats.pdf

Do I have your attention now? Yeah, cool stuff, eh?! Well executed text marketing can help your business grow by bringing in more customers, creating loyalty, and keep your brand in your customer's mind. It’s definitely a win-win when done right.

First, some definitions:

Text messaging is also known as SMS and MMS:

  • SMS is: Short Messaging Service/texting where only limited simple text is allowed. Note: typical SMS text messages only fit up to 160 characters.
  • MMS is: Multimedia Messaging Service---an enhanced SMS where the beloved emoji symbols, pictures, and even videos can function on the platform. Because of the extra multimedia MMS is also more expensive to use.

Tip: Most mobile phones have SMS but not all have MMS. So keep that in mind when you plan your content for your text marketing strategy. We’ll cover both strategies below so keep reading!

How it works:

Unlike a billboard on the side of the road (“interruption marketing”), or a how-to blog article (“inbound marketing”), text messaging your customer starts off as “opt-in marking”. This opt-in (getting your customer’s phone number) can be done in various ways:

A website form

  • An email you send to your customers
  • Your mobile app
  • A simple number your customer texts (in-store or anywhere) to start getting texts
  • Social media
  • Signage at your store (in the store or on a sign at the entrance, for example)

An excellent example of SMS text marketing is Jo-Anne Fabrics and Craft Stores. A few months ago I was in Jo-Ann’s checking out some of their fabrics for a project I was working on. The sales associate asked me if I was signed up for their text coupons—because if I signed up right there I could get a discount on the fabric I was buying. All I had to do was text a message to a number they provided and within seconds I got my first discount. Since then I get regular texts offering me amazing discounts—25%-60% off regular priced items every month. It’s fantastic. And here’s the key thing—I always open the texts to see what they have to offer and I always find myself thinking “OK, what do I need to get at Jo-Anne’s so I can use this discount.” The texts give me value, nurture loyalty, and get me to the store where I often end up buying more fresh stuff even beyond the discount I get. It’s a perfect example of great SMS marketing.


SMS Marketing Uses/Ideas:

There are a lot of different ways you could use text marketing to grow your business. Here are 4 of the most common things you could do to get started:

  • Special offers, promotions, and sales: Just like the Jo-Anne’s example above, these texts can get customers back in the store and build great loyalty.
  • Order alerts: Great for keeping the customer up to date with their online purchase from you.
  • Appointment reminders: Perfect for right after they schedule something with you and then a day before the appointment as well. I’ve seen this implemented at massage and chiropractic practices and it’s super helpful!
  • Contest alerts: Make your customers feel special by creating “text only” contests they can participate in.

SMS Marketing Best Practices:

Like every other marketing strategy, if you do it wrong or poorly it can have adverse effects on your brand reputation and marketing ROI. Here are 7 things to keep in mind when putting together your texts:

  1. Keep is short, simple and to the point. Remember, you’ve only got 160 characters.
  2. Resist the urge to use slang and abbreviations. If your text looks like spam, your clients will ignore and even unsubscribe. Keep your language clear and on brand.
  3. Always offer something of value. Don’t spam people with, well, spam. Offer them something of value that they can use immediately and you’ll have happy customers.
  4. Check your spelling and grammar. It’s an easy rule to forget. Your brand doesn’t need to look like a 2nd grader is running your text marketing campaign.
  5. Be sure to identify who you are. (See the example text from Jo-Ann above). If the text is anonymous you’ll more than likely get deleted or blocked.
  6. Make your text marketing customers feel special. If they can get the same offers from your other marketing channels, they may opt-out. Be sure that your text marketing offers are unique and special in some way from your other marketing efforts.
  7. Don’t forget to have a clear call to action! Clearly guide the customer on what your offering and how to get it. Provide a link straight to a mobile-optimized landing page that has the coupon or product offering. Make sure they’re only one click away from getting your offer.

MMS Marketing Advantages:

Unlike SMS texts, MMS texts offer a lot more options for customer engagement. MMS texts have no character limit and can provide a rich visual experience for the customer (photos, videos, and more). MMS texting is also more expensive which is probably why so many brands stick with the standard SMS. That said, MMS texts can be way more effective and profitable, meaning the extra cost can definitely be worth it. Check out these MMS stats:   

  • Customer engagement with MMS texts are much higher, with a 15% average click-through-rate
  • MMS texts increase campaign opt-ins by 20% over SMS
  • MMS subscribers are 8 times more likely to share your content on their favorite social networks

Pretty impressive, eh? When comparing SMS to MMS texts, it’s clear that MMS wins by a long shot.

MMS Marketing Uses/Ideas

With MMS text marketing you can use all the ideas mentioned above with SMS texting plus two other big things: 1) images to show off your new products, services, or latest brand adventures, and 2) video content featuring anything from customer testimonies to news and viral humor.

Tip: When showing off your images or video content always remember to include a link to a coupon, the product page or the like. You want your pictures and videos to be not just an opportunity for interaction but also an invitation to engage further with your brand.

MMS Marketing Best Practices:

For MMS text marketing follow the same guidelines as the SMS text best practices talked about above plus these key suggestions: 

  • Always use vibrant and engaging images.
  • Include social sharing buttons to encourage sharing of your content/coupons/announcements.
  • Combine your MMS texting with your emailing marketing campaigns to create a rich unified brand experience.
  • When sending coupons, consider using a scannable image/code so your customers can use the coupon right from their phone’s texting platform.

Text Marketing Laws and Regulations:

Like email marketing, text marketing also has its own rules and regulations to help protect customers and regulate the industry. For text marketing to be legal you must get direct consent from your customers to receive texts from you. Basically, if they sign up for your texts through whatever channels you’ve reached them through, it’s ok. What’s not ok is if you sign up your customers automatically or buy lists of phone numbers and sign all those people up automatically. Do that and you’ll be in some big trouble, bub.

Other compliance guidelines include the following: 

  • Provide instructions on how to opt-out.
  • If there is a cost to the text service, you must let them know.
  • Provide subscribers with a way to give feedback and ask questions.
  • Let subscribers know what to expect — like how many texts they’ll be receiving and how often.

 For a more in-depth discussion on the rules and regulations check out “How The TCPA Impacts Text Messaging Marketing.” (http://www.tatango.com/blog/how-the-tcpa-impacts-text-messaging-marketing/)

How to Get Started!

Text marketing is not exactly something you want to try and do on your own from your business phone. The best place to start is working with companies like SlickText (http://www.slicktext.com/), Ez Texting (https://www.eztexting.com/),  or Trumpia (https://trumpia.com/). Companies like these provide robust, easy to use cloud-base software that makes the entire text marketing experience amazing for you and your customers. Also start by doing a quick Google search for “text marketing” and you’ll find a lot of great options. Do a little research into each company and you’ll soon locate the one that’s a perfect fit for your text marketing needs. Ready, set, go!

Need help planning your text marketing strategy to world domination? Give us a shout and we’ll help get you there! Total BS out.