Benefits of SMS Marketing
SMS or Short Message Service is one of the most useful features that you can use to promote your products and services. The biggest advantage of SMS is that it is unobtrusive, unlike phone calls.
Secondly, every mobile phone can receive messages. Basic text message service is not restricted to advanced hardware versions. However, now that many mobile users in India use more sophisticated handsets, you can bring a lot of variation in the SMS campaign by including multimedia features in the messages to make them more attractive.
Thirdly, SMS has an open rate (number of recipients opening and going through the message) of 95% and most SMS messages are read within 4 minutes of being sent. Comparatively, emails have an open rate of 20 percent, besides the threat of bulk mails being classified as spam. Additionally, SMS is the easiest way to repeatedly remind and expose your target audience to your company.
The trick is to follow the right process so that you can make the most out of the Short Message Service and gain enormous benefits.
Steps in SMS Marketing
You can formulate a robust SMS campaign by following a step by step strategy.
Step 1: Build a database: You cannot proceed without a database of phone numbers. However, remember that you shouldn’t purchase email lists. Rather, you should dig into your existing customer database and come up with all available numbers. Use your business website to offer an easy-to-fill form where you can collect contacts. Think about how you can get the mobile numbers of your existing customers whether it’s via the website or if they come to your shop or office.
If you are a start up, you need to begin with attractive incentives to encourage prospects/customers to share their phone numbers. Some of the things you can try are referral bonuses, offers and competitions.
You need to keep in mind that your database cannot be built in a week or even a month. It is a continuous process. You need to keep expanding your database on a continuous basis.
Step 2: Set goals: You should establish the intention behind your SMS marketing campaign since the content in the message is based on your objective. You could set different short term and long term goals such as customer engagement, feedback generation, enhancing brand awareness, driving sales and others if any.
Step 3: Plan to integrate SMS marketing to the overall marketing campaign: You need to make sure that your SMS campaign blends in with your overall marketing campaign. This is very important in order to build a consistent image of your brand as well as to add value to your overall strategy. Coordinate the dates of sending SMS, content and call of action lines with the ones you use for other marketing methods.
Step 4: Plan budget: SMS marketing budget can be flexible depending on your requirements. Your budget should include costs incurred in building marketing lists and offering incentives if any.
Step 5: Create content: Content is the most important part of the text messages. Frame short content depending on your campaign goals. Use attractive lines to grab attention and trigger favourable responses.
Step 6: Plan follow up strategy: Before you begin sending out text messages, you need to plan follow up strategies. You need to pay attention to geographies with high concentration of target audience, the kind of response generated through the text messages, and conversions.
Once done, you can begin sending out the text messages.
Types of SMS Marketing Campaigns
Depending on your objective and kind of target clientele, you can choose one of the many types of SMS marketing methods. The difference lies in the message content.
Time based incentives:
These are messages that encourage recipients to take action within limited time duration. The aim here is to create a sense of urgency in target customers.
Example: Shop before the 15th of May and get 50% off on select merchandise.
Action to benefit: These messages require the recipient to act in your favour in order to receive benefits.
Example: Text VOUCHER or call on 22555 and win a gift voucher worth Rs. 500.
Special offer messages don’t use deadlines. They are usually used to clear stock by offering free goodies.
Example: Buy 2 T-shirts and get 1 Free. Offer valid for one week, starting today.
Optimise on occasions:
Never leave out an occasion or festival. These messages help you capitalise on the hype created around special occasions.
Example: This Valentine’s, get free dessert on a lunch of Rs. 1000 or more. Book a table now!
These messages are meant to capitalise on occasions when your target customers are in spending mood.
Example: Celebrate India’s World Cup win! 20% off on all sporting goods this week.
You can use SMS to share milestones in your company and make your customers a part of your growth process. They are not essentially aimed at driving sales.
Example: We have opened our 10th branch in Bangalore! Thank you for supporting and being a part of our family.
XYZ wins “Best Customer Service” award for 2013. Thanks for your cooperation.
SMS is a great way of letting people know about new products and services launched by your company.
Example: XYZ launches innovative running shoes for the first time in Hyderabad. Grab early bird discounts today!
Tips for Effective SMS Marketing
- If you have a website, include its link in the message.
- Never send messages at odd hours such as early morning, meal times or late nights. You should only send a SMS message between the hours of 9am and 8pm.
- Maintain messaging frequency of one SMS per week.
- Never send repeated messages. Always include new content.
- Use a different call to action statement in each message.
- You should add an option that makes it easy for your customers to unsubscribe for the messages. This adds immensely to your brand ethics and brand image.
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