5 Tips to Create SMS Messages That Convert

When it comes to mobile marketing, there are many ways to drive your customers to take action. Whether that means visiting your website, visiting your store, contacting you, making an appointment or redeeming an offer, there is almost no better way than using SMS marketing … when done right.

When it comes to mobile marketing, there are many ways to drive your customers to take action. Whether that means visiting your website, visiting your store, contacting you, making an appointment or redeeming an offer, there is almost no better way than using SMS marketing … when done right.

You see, when you look at the top marketers who are using mobile, almost every single one uses SMS/Text messaging.

Do you think there is a reason for that?

Of course there is.

SMS gives marketers the widest reach among their customer base and offers the most effective communication channel when trying to drive immediate action.

Look at Starbucks, Macy’s, jcpenney, Lane Bryant, Crate and Barrel … They all leverage SMS as a key part of their mobile strategy.

Even Coca-Cola, the largest brand in the world, has been quoted saying it spends 70 percent of its mobile budget on SMS.

No matter how you slice it, SMS is the workhorse for many businesses when it comes to a comprehensive mobile strategy that leads to results.

The great thing about SMS is that businesses large and small can use it very effectively to drive action. Most of us want that action to be sales, and that’s when SMS can shine. At the end of the day, it’s super affordable when looking at the ROI it can generate, fairly easy to get started and very trackable.

In order to have SMS perform like a workhorse and drive the results you want, you should follow these five tips:

1. Utilize time-sensitivity in your messaging. Listen, more than 97 percent of SMS messages are read within 15 minutes. We both know your email isn’t competing with that. Because SMS is immediate, you need to make sure your messaging accounts for that and offers real value based on that immediacy. SMS is meant to be used like email or even push notifications. If you’re promoting an event that’s on Saturday, the SMS message better not go out the Monday before. It will be forgotten. You can always include a link or a promo code that can be redeemed for enhanced tracking and conversion reporting.

2. A clear call to action is mandatory. As a consumer, if you just broke through all the clutter to tell me something, you better not be delivering more noise. Make sure your messaging is clear and your recipients know exactly what action you want them to take. I’ve seen too many text messages trying to share too much info. Keep it brief. Keep it simple. Keep it clear.

3. Focus on driving customer lifetime value, not one-off engagements. SMS should be a part of your overall contact strategy. Like I said earlier, it shouldn’t be used the way you use email or push notifications. BUT, it should complement those forms of messaging. If you just try to send one-off messages vs. creating a contact strategy with SMS, you’ll be limiting just how successful you can be with SMS.

4. Know your crowd. Speak their language. When using SMS, you have limited characters to work with. Understand how consumers text, the language they use and use that to your advantage when composing your messages. If you’re too proper, it won’t come as natural for your consumer to engage. You language should fit within the text messaging environment.

5. Not everyone sleeps till 10 a.m. Oh wait, is that just me on the weekends? Not only is your call to action important, but the time at which you send your messages can be critical. Understand your customers’ time of day when delivering messages and always respect their time and time zone. I’d say never send before 8 a.m. (questionably, 9 a.m.) and never later than 6 or 7 p.m. Now, depending on your situation, it may warrant an earlier time or a later time. If I’m getting a flight reminder for a 6 a.m. flight, I better get that reminder with enough time in advance.

Start subscribing to how other businesses use SMS, especially the brands I mentioned earlier. Start recognizing what types of messages are sent when and what the call to action is. Ask yourself how you think they’d be measuring success of each message.

It will start to paint a picture for you in your own business so that when you start capitalizing on the power of SMS, these five tips are already natural for you.

What are some of the messages that you’ve found to be powerful?

Why SMS Will Be Your Mobile Workhorse and 5 Ideas to Get You Started

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy. Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy.

Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

There is a reason it continues to be the workhorse within the mobile strategies of brands like Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Target, jcpenney and many more.

5 reasons SMS will be the workhorse in your mobile strategy.

Instant Deliverability: SMS messages offer one of the most immediate marketing channels for businesses. More than 97 percent of messages are read within four minutes of receipt. So if you have a message that is time sensitive, there is no better way to connect with your customer.

Everyone’s Reachable: Nearly 100 percent of the handsets on the market can send and receive text messages. I don’t care that we’ve surpassed 50 percent smartphone penetration in the USA. I don’t care that that will continue to grow. You’re missing out on 40 percent to 50 percent of your audience right now by catering to smartphone-only customers.

Just because my 65-year-old dad has an iPhone now doesn’t mean he will use it the way I do. But you know what … he sure sends a whole lot more text messages to me.

Highest-Possible Visibility: Remember how I said that 97 percent of SMS messages are read within four minutes? Well, that means that 97 percent of your SMS messages are being read—period. When was the last time your email open rate was over 90 percent? I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

Now I’m not saying “Stop using email.” Email is super powerful and has its place. But SMS offers you a new, quick, high-converting way to connect with your customers that no channel can match.

Highly Targeted: Because buying lists is a no-no when it comes to SMS, you have to build your database of loyal customers. Being a permission-based marketing vehicle, your customers have to opt in to receiving these messages from you.

Yes, that means they essentially raised their hands and said, “I’d like you to connect with me on my most personal device.” The next best thing in my mind is if your customer invites you over for dinner. Mmmmm …

Cost Effective, Considering the Return: For all you marketing folk, this means Return on Investment (ROI).

SMS is way more affordable than you think. Many of you still spend a good part of your budget on direct mail. Again, it has its place in your marketing mix. But look at some of the costs associated with direct mail: You have postage, shipping, mailing lists, printing, packaging/fulfillment etc.

Direct mail depends on your volume. But, at the end of the day, you could be spending 20 cents to more than a dollar per piece. SMS could cost you pennies per message.

As a small business, a Yellow Pages ad could cost you up to $4,000 per year. Yes, people (especially older demographics) do still reach for their Yellow Pages when they need a business in a hurry, but it offers little to no engagement or tracking.

Depending on the size of your small businesses, incorporating SMS into your monthly budget could run you $25 to a few hundred bucks a month. The level of return will far outweigh your older, traditional media vehicles.

OK, so you’re sold on adding mobile to your marketing mix. Congratulations, it was a wise decision, trust me.

Here are 5 ideas for you to get started with SMS this year.

Mobilize Your Loyalty Program: Begin building your list of mobile numbers and send timely, relevant messaging to your customers. This can include special mobile-only offers, promotion opportunities, sales, new product or service offerings.

The more you can personalize these messages, the better. Many of you may already have some sort of loyalty program in place. I’m not asking you to do something totally new. Just add SMS as a component of the loyalty program to bring loyal customers back with relevant, high-value messaging.

Mobilize Your Coupons: Target, jcpenney and Bed Bath & Beyond are great examples of this. Each and every week, these businesses send mobile coupons to their mobile databases. It’s fast, cost effective and convenient for the customers who prefer to receive these offers to their phones. They just bring their phones to the store and redeem their mobile coupons at the point of purchase.

Eliminate No-Shows: Does your businesses depend on filling appointment slots? Doctors, Lawyers, Salons, etc. rely on filling appointments, but what happens when your customer misses an appointment?

Let me guess, you don’t charge for no-shows? Some estimates state that missed appointments for a single physician can be as much as $150,000 in lost revenue and additional labor costs. Multi-physician offices are even more drastic, estimating no-shows in a single year resulting in losses of over $1 million.

So how can SMS eliminate no-shows?

Why not send an appointment reminder via SMS within an hour or two prior to the appointment? Include a number for those who have to cancel. Better yet, let them reply to the message so that it updates your appointment software.

Oh no, someone canceled! Send out a message to your database to fill that last-minute appointment.

If you’re a salon, restaurant or massage therapist, you can send a message to your customer SMS list offering a savings opportunity to the one that fills that appointment slot.

Add SMS and stop losing money due to no-shows.

Engage Customers With Giveaways: Sweepstakes and giveaways have been great ways to build your SMS list in the early stages.

Offer up one big prize and let your customers text in to enter. Give away a monthly prize and give customers a reason to stay on your list.

Not only do sweepstakes entice customers to opt-in, but everyone loves winning prizes. Is giving away one or two free services a month worth generating hundreds of new opt-ins to communicate with moving forward?

Learn About Your Customers With Polls and Surveys: Did one of your loyal customers just purchase from you? A quick SMS message could let them provide valuable feedback on their experience.

SMS is a two-way interactive tool that lets customers provide feedback just by replying to your messages.

Are you thinking about releasing a new product or service? Are you a restaurant and looking to add a new menu item? Poll your audience to get their feedback to help make smarter decisions.

Bonus point: Tie a sweepstakes to your survey and award a lucky customer with a prize of some sort to encourage participation.

Now it’s on you.

These are just a few ways you could quickly begin to incorporate SMS marketing into your business. It’s important to remember that SMS without a strategy or goal will lead to poor results.

Make sure you understand why you’re adding SMS and determine measurements for success to continually optimize your efforts.

The trick is to not re-invent the wheel. You should look to mobilize initiatives you already have in place.

You don’t need to create a separate marketing initiative. You’re already doing what you need to do. Now mobilize it.