With an average opening rate of 98% within 15 minutes of your messages reaching their intended reader, SMS marketing represents an effective way to drive traffic and increase sales. As a marketer in 2023, it's a channel that needs to be seriously considered as a strategy.
So, if you're keen to implement a winning SMS marketing strategy, come with us now as we explore the six important steps that lead to increased engagement and a healthier bottom line. Many people ask why add an SMS marketing strategy to your business process? Below we break this down into 6 actionable steps.
Step #1 - Success Requires a Solid Plan
The truth is shoppers love SMS. Why? Mainly because it allows for quick communication direct into their hands. When used correctly in marketing, the channel can deliver information to potential customers rapidly - serving as something of a virtual concierge. This multi-purpose platform can be used in the following ways to create a smoother customer experience:
- Delivering 1-to-1 customer service
- Providing appointment reminders
- Offering order shipment updates
- Exclusive offers & promotions
With this in mind, you need to think about the kind of experience you want to offer to your customers. For example, how will your approach differ from regular email marketing, and what benefits will subscribers receive? SMS marketing success relies on a clear vision of what you want to achieve at the outset.
Step #2 - Begin Gathering Subscriber Opt-ins
You need to have an eye on compliance, as ALL of your subscribers need to explicitly opt-in to any messages you choose to send. This leads us neatly to step 2 - obtaining those all-important subscriber opt-ins, which can be gathered via your website.
By collecting SMS marketing consent at the checkout of both desktop and mobile websites, you can quickly build a base of customers to whom you can start marketing. You should be sure also to include a clear incentive as to why they should sign up (exclusive offers, time-sensitive discounts, early access to products etc).
Once permission is granted, you can confidently send your welcome email shortly after. It needs to be compelling and personalized, containing the following important information:
- Your business name
- An appreciation for opting-in
- The customer's first name
- A clear call to action
As well as smoothly onboarding your new customers, your welcome SMS series may also yield results. On average, a well-created welcome SMS converts into a sale between 2%-7% of the time, meaning a welcome SMS can offer pretty much instant results.
Step #3 - Commencing Your First SMS Campaign
Once you have your newly-formed SMS subscriber list, it's time to get started on sending out your first SMS campaign. It's best to leave it around 2-3 weeks after obtaining your opt-in so as to give your new subscribers time to breathe. At this stage, your subscriber list is likely to still be quite small, so segmentation is not yet required.
When putting together your first SMS campaign, consider that it should:
- Contain your organization/company name
- Be short and sweet, making it easy to read
- Feature a CTA, ideally one that's time-sensitive
- Refer to the customer by their first name
- Use a tone that adds to the personal touch
- Offer immediate value to the customer
Ideally, you'll be sending at least 4-5 SMS campaigns each month, and it's crucial to keep a close eye on your performance. Once subscriber numbers make it possible, also consider A/B testing to see the impact each type of tone of voice, customer incentive, and time-period results in, and which offer the best conversion rates and sales.
Step #4 - Targeting & Segmentation
After you've officially got off the ground and you have a few weeks' worth of campaigns under your belt, it's likely to be time to start getting targeted. It starts with inviting your social media and email subscribers to join your SMS group with the promise of exclusivity and savings.
The more SMS subscribers you attract, the more data you'll have to work with, and this is where segmentation comes into its own. The process involves breaking down your subscriber list by interests, and other factors, so you can personalize your messages perfectly to their tastes.
The table below shows a few examples of how your segmentation might work:
Step #5 - Providing Seamless Support
An exceptional customer journey does not end at the purchase. In fact, at this point, it's only just beginning. The quality of the post-sales support that you provide will play a big part in whether customers will remain loyal and keep buying from you.
Offering detailed, real-time transactional notifications to customers after they've purchased will serve to confirm the wisdom of purchasing from your company. Transactional SMS messages can be used to relay a range of information, such as:
- A tracking link or number for their purchase
- A customer support number (if applicable)
- An estimate of expected shipping time
- An opt-out keyword like stop
However, you can take the support you offer to the next level by sending text messages that include tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your products. In addition, you can inform VIP customers about their loyalty points, request a review or share an associated article. The potential is almost endless, especially when you think about the ways that you can integrate SMS into your customer service systems designed for eCommerce.
Step #6 - Identifying New Opportunities
Now that your SMS program is up and running and the initial excitement has subsided, it's the moment to start looking for new opportunities. This involves examining the performance you've enjoyed so far and looking for ways to improve. Let's take a look at a few ways you can do just that.
- Look for ways to improve AOV, conversions, etc
- Examine your SMS flows to ensure a smooth journey
- Consider new content & promos
- A/B test underperforming areas
More often than not, newly established SMS programs will throw up plenty of performance data, and there will be lots of scope for improvement. By tweaking your approach, you can maximize your returns while also enjoying all that extra customer interaction and traffic.
SMS Marketing Campaigns Offer Exciting New Opportunities
Running a successful SMS program does not happen overnight, and it certainly takes a lot of planning and experimentation. By following these six steps, you'll lay the foundations for campaigns that deliver the results you are looking for - but it will take time to implement, so patience is important.
With a click-through rate of just over 9%, SMS marketing outperforms every other digital channel bar none, meaning it's a channel that offers unique and exciting opportunities. The question is, are you prepared to take advantage of them?