Text Message Marketing: Everything You Need to Know
As advertising progresses with technological advancement, are you incorporating these changes into your business?
Introducing an SMS campaign into your marketing plans can greatly improve customer loyalty by using the most convenient method of communication to date.
Despite its 40-year presence, the cell phone came into popularity just before the turn of the century. Its uses steadily grew, making it capable of supporting phone calls, email, and text messages, as well as supplying a calendar, calculator, address book, web browser, camera, and notepad. By 2010, it was estimated that most Americans used cellular devices instead of landline telephones!
In recent years, nearly everyone possesses a cell phone. More importantly, they keep it in close proximity, no matter where they are. The convenience of communicating anywhere, anytime is too good to pass by.
Text Messaging is a Priority
Despite a cell phone’s many functions, the camera and SMS are the top reasons people reach for their device. Reading and replying to a text can be done within seconds in any setting, making it one of the fastest, most convenient ways to communicate. It has been estimated that most individuals look at their phone within 5 minutes of receiving a text message. The potential this holds for marketing is powerful. We can inform and interact with the busiest clients.
Good Practice: Laws and Guidelines
This boom in technology is moving faster than laws. Lawmakers are cutting corners. They have included texting in old restrictions originally targeting auto dialers and telemarketers. This creates a grey area for SMS, an uncertainty that isn’t favorable. Grey areas of the law are risky for any business. The most intelligent choice is to avoid them at all cost. But we do not need to avoid text messaging to remain safeguarded.
When investigating what laws pertain to SMS, it is critical to address the CAN-SPAM Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act developed by the Federal Communications Commission. In no uncertain terms, anyone contacting another individual for the purpose of marketing must receive proper consent from the contact. The message itself should be direct and not misleading. Additionally, all communications must be accomplished between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm in relation to the time zone of the recipient. This means if you live in California, and one of your contacts resides in New York, the three hour time difference must be accounted for.
If time zones bring confusion, try a converter such as this one found on the Time and Date website. I find myself coming back to it consistently due to its ease of use.
Privacy and texting etiquette is a very serious issue that requires careful consideration. Organizations such as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Mobile Marketing Association fill the gap and lend insight into SMS marketing. Although they are not a government agency like the FCC, following their protocol creates an optimal relationship with your audience and helps to avoid possible lawsuits or future trouble with the law.
The CTIA and MMA address the components that should always be disclosed in a quality marketing campaign. These include:
- The Name of the service, product, business, or program.
- Terms of Service (or a link to your TOS)
- A Description concerning the details and features of your product or service.
- Notice that “Message and data rates may apply.”
- Consent to Communicate required by the TCPA and outlined in the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.
The E-Sign Act allows a signature to be collected by text message. Permission may also be acquired through email, kiosk, website, or physically on paper. Be certain to retain records of these signatures for your legal security.
- Stop Instructions offer the ability to opt-out at any given time.
“STOP” is the most common keyword used to trigger the termination of contact via SMS.
Quality Over Quantity
Because cell phones are so closely integrated into our lives, there is a fine line between great advertisement and intrusion. Limiting the frequency of messages to once a week can prevent a negative response from the recipient. Our goal is to maintain steady contact without annoyance. The client needs to consider these messages important. Sales should be a high priority, but satisfied customers are returning customers.
Quality reasons to contact clients via SMS might involve:
- Special events
Offer ways to engage with your audience by giving them the option to interact. Asking for feedback through polls and surveys can lend clues to improve the product or services.
Programming your messaging campaign through 3rd party companies can present customer service instantly at any time of the day or night. Plan options for your clients to select and paths of questioning based on keywords to secure a personalized experience. Words like “HELP” can begin a questionnaire leading them to immediate answers.
SMS is a Tool Not a Complete Solution
Effective marketing requires more than one method of communication. The most popular advertising methods are:
- Social media
When comparing these choices, texting is the most dependable way to connect with our audience. It generates instant attention and allows businesses to touch back with customers and inform them of news and updates at a glance. But it shouldn’t be the only avenue used to reach out. The best marketing campaigns utilize at least three of the above methods. Text messages can be used to guide customers to more details through the use of links.
Email and websites have their own individual purpose to engage the prospective buyer. SMS drive sales by delivering short messages. These are quick to read and process. However, in order to keep a client, they must know what the business is about and desire involvement. If interest isn’t firmly established, the option to opt out will be more consistently chosen. A well-designed newsletter or webpage can cure their ignorance and evoke enthusiasm.
Another strategy to explore in marketing is social media. Two of the largest contenders in this arena are Facebook Messenger for Businesses and Whatsapp Business. One of the main advantages of social media marketing is that it is free to use. Services to send mass SMS will affect your business’ financial plan. Not only will it reduce the size of your bank account balance, it may also take money from your customers. Not everyone has unlimited texting plans to receive your messages without additional charges. Some plans can bill 10 cents per SMS!
With platforms like Facebook, the only requirement is an internet connection. This could cost money, but it doesn’t have to. Many people utilize free WIFI hotspots offered on college campuses, in libraries, bookstores, cafes, and restaurants across the globe. The more convenient your marketing is to your clients, the more likely they will engage with you. Offering a free solution naturally entices people.
By following you on social media, prospective buyers and returning customers can stay up to date on news and promotions without crowding an inbox. Social platforms allow people to acquire a personal sense of familiarity with the brand and give them the option to share it with their friends. Creating connections with followers creates a growing community surrounding your business. If done right, social media marketing has the potential to cultivate lasting relationships.
Time or Money?
The downside to social media of any kind is the time it consumes. Unlike automated SMS messaging services that can be programmed to respond by keywords to direct customers to commonly asked questions, Facebook and Whatapp Business Messengers run on personal brain power. Every message will need to be manually read and replied to.
Is time money or does money come with a sacrifice to our time? You decide. Text messaging campaigns may be a better fit for your business if talking to dozens of people cannot be squeezed into your schedule. But if you have a small budget and a spare hour or two, social media could be a worthy investment. Regardless of which choice is made, the evolution of marketing is clear. Tapping into the potential of cell phones is not an option; it is the future of business.
Jon. City Gro. Text and Email Marketing Regulations: What You Should Know. December 8, 2014.
Protin, Corey. Business Insider. Here’s how drastically cell phones have changed over the past 40 years. July 27, 2017.