SMS Marketing Campaigns: How To Design Your Next One

Win at Mobile Marketing

It’s no secret. We are big fans of SMS marketing campaigns. Especially when you combine it with other marketing campaigns. We use it in-house for bulk marketing, as well as within our CRM platform to reach out to clients at different stages of the customer journey.

SMS Marketing Campaigns

Due to the ubiquity of email these days, a good email marketing campaign is only expected to reap a 15-20% open rate. This is only going to decline over time as more and more companies (ab)use it.

SMS with its 97% open rate can be a tremendously powerful way of reaching out to customers if used in the right way. It can be a great way of reaching out to the 80% of customers who didn’t open your last marketing email.

This guide will help you pull together your next SMS marketing campaigns. Many of the principles hare should also help you with email and other marketing campaigns.

Campaign Objectives

Before you start any of your SMS marketing campaigns, it is essential that you define your objectives.

Why you ask?

Because without some clearly defined objectives, you do not know if your marketing is working.

Essentially, you need to come up with a definition for “working”.

We’ve worked with many clients in the mobile marketing space… Here are some of the common objectives:

  1. Sell more products / services
  2. Drive brand awareness
  3. Gain customer insight
  4. Improve customer retention
  5. Drive traffic to website
  6. Generate more leads
  7. Provide better service / support

As you can imagine, selling more products / services was the most popular objectives by a long way. After all, more sales equates to more revenue which in turn means more profit… Hopefully.

Given the above, the majority of this guide will focus on how to utilize mobile marketing to sell more products / services.

Types Of Offers

If like the majority of our clients in the marketing space, you’re looking to use SMS and mobile marketing to sell more of your products / services, your next step is to work out what type of offer to you’re going to send to your customers.

Luckily, our friends at Responsys (now a division within Oracle Corp) ran a consumer survey that is very relevant here.

They asked consumers what kind of offers would cause them to take action and result in them buying the product or service advertised.

SMS Marketing Campaigns

Different Types of SMS Offers

To make it simpler, let’s look at the percentage who answered “likely” under the different offer types.

The simplified response then becomes:

  1. Price sensitive offers – 66%
  2. Time sensitive offers – 52%
  3. Location based offers – 50%
  4. Product based offers – 47%
  5. Similar product based offers – 45%
  6. Very general offers – 31%

Based on the above, we can say that price based offers are likely to be twice as successful as generic offers. 66% vs. 31%… Let’s concentrate on price based offers.

Price Based Offers

There are 3 main types of price based offers.

1. Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF)

Based on years of experience, we’ve seen the old BOGOF offer shine brightest when it came to effectiveness.

The biggest reason for this is that it offers clients the most perceived value. Additionally, it is very easy for people to quantify.

You can see an example of a BOGOF offer below.

SMS Marketing Campaigns

Buy One Get One Free Offer

The BOGOF offer is great for attracting new clients to your business. It offers great value and more importantly, it’s perceived by customers to offer great value.

You just have to find the right balance between how much value you’re giving away, and how much custom you will get from clients in terms of new or repeat business.

2. Percentage Off

This is perhaps the quickest and most popular offer. The issue with this type of offer is that it is harder for customers to quantify compared to the BOGOF offer. People just don’t like doing the Maths in their head these days!

SMS Marketing Campaigns

Percentage Off Offer

3. Free With Purchase

This is probably the least preferred as it involves giving away items that often represent little or not perceived value to customers.

SMS Marketing Campaigns

Free Giveaway Offer

Due to their popularity with customers, we would recommend a mix of BOGOF and % off discounts. The easier it is for customers to see value, the more successful your campaign will be. The challenge of course is in testing and seeing the Return On Investment (ROI) your offer will bring in.

Once you’ve worked out what type of offer you’re going to send, all you have to do is follow our simple guide on How To Write Great SMS Offers.

After you’ve put your messaging together, you need to consider the following.

Make It Worth Their While

The mobile phone is the most personal channel to communicate with customers. You do not want them to regret the decision of giving you their personal contact details.

The best way to avoid this is to provide something they believe nobody else is getting – exclusive discounts, invitations, pre-sale access or freebies.

Avoid Acronyms & Abbreviations

There is no place for txt spk in your SMS campaigns. No text message jargon. No Emojis. Use full words at all times and try your best to avoid acronyms and abbreviations.

It might seem fun and friendly but text speak will only make your brand look unprofessional. Worse, it makes your SMS difficult to read and understand.

It’s easy for customers to dismiss the message if they can’t read it quickly. Worse still, they won’t read the next one you send either. Or they might just opt out there and then.

What about the 160 character limit?

The directSMS platform will let you send longer messages by breaking up the content into multiple SMS segments. These messages are then concatenated by the customer’s phone and displayed as one long message once all SMS segments are received.

The ideal solution however is that your message needs to be as succinct as possible. Just like on Twitter, get to the point.

If you’re still struggling to squeeze it all in, send them to a mobile landing page using a URL shortening service like bit.ly. More on that here.

Timing Is Key

As they old saying goes, timing is everything. People do not want to be woken up by your SMS. Likewise, sending messages late into the night is frowned upon… Unless you’re clients are vampires.

Either way, it is best to keep your messages to between 8AM and 9PM.

You need to remember… The time recommendations above are all about where your recipient is. So if you are on the East Coast of Australia, you need to be mindful of clients in West Australia when sending any messages and vice versa.

Read In 3 Minutes!

Another consideration for you… 90% of all SMS messages are read within the first 3 minutes of being received (source: Singlepoint Research).

With messages being opened and read that quickly, it’s best not to send your marketing messages too far ahead of a specific special or promotion. You do not want too much time to pass between when the message is received and when the offer / special begins.

Avoid The Stampede

As with your email marketing, avoid scheduling your mobile campaigns to go out at the top of the hour.

If you send your campaign at the top of the hour, you risk getting ignored because your customer just received a number of other marketing email and SMS messages at the top of the hour.

This is especially true of email campaigns. Next time you look at your email inbox, count how many marketing emails arrive at exactly 11:00AM.

With customers receiving emails and SMS on their phones, you don’t want the message you’ve spent a lot of time and effort perfecting getting drowned out in that noise.

Day Of The Week Considerations

The opt-out rate for campaigns sent through our platform on a weekday is typically around 2%.

This climbs to 8% for campaigns sent on weekends. That’s a 400%+ increase.

Scientifically speaking the opt-out rate is largely dependent on how clean and up to date your lists are.

The anecdotal evidence however says that unless you are absolutely sure, it is best to avoid sending your marketing messages over the weekends. Customers are not in a mood to receive them.

Continue The Conversation On Your Website

SMS is great at grabbing attention, but you can’t go writing overly long messages.

If you are selling a complicated product, or you want clients to complete registration or similar forms to partake in your offer, it can only do so much.

The easiest way to extend that conversation with your customer  is to add some links back to appropriately designed mobile landing pages.

You need to ensure any pages the customers reach from your SMS look and feel great on a smaller phone screen. There is nothing more frustrating than taking action by clicking on the URL in the SMS only to find a desktop based website where you need to pinch and zoom to see what you are doing.

For the sake of presentation, you can use bit.ly or similar services to shorten the URLs to any mobile landing pages you want to send clients to. This also saves precious space in your messages.

Your Legal Obligations For SMS Marketing Campaigns

As with email, SMS marketing campaigns carry the same obligations under Australia’s SPAM laws.

Those can be summed up into the acronym ICU:

Identify – All your messages need to identify your business.

Consent – You need your customer’s consent in order to be able to send them marketing messages. If these customers have an existing relationship with you, that can be implied consent.

Unsubscribe – You need to give your customers a way of opting out of receiving future marketing messages from you. Our mobile marketing plus module will help you do this automatically.

For more information, please see this helpful video on mobile marketing and SPAM.