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Andrea Serventi
21 December 2016
Reading time: 8 min

SMS for business: 5 tips for 5 goals

In addition to the vast world of transactional communications, SMS is a direct channel to communicate with customers, promote products and build brand identity. Often however, SMS marketing strategies are overly rigid, being limited to just 160 characters to release news, offers and discounts in a telegraphic and impersonal way.

What they’re missing is that dose of inventiveness that lets you tailor the potential of SMS to the specific features of each business. You don’t need to be a copywriter or digital strategist: all you need is support and some tips which we’ll give you in this post, together with examples of real campaigns launched by established brands.

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Five tips for five goals joint by a single criteria: redemption rate – a key word when talking about SMS marketing. Let’s first look at the definition:

In a direct marketing campaign, the redemption rate is the ratio between the number of responses and the number of messages sent.

Now then it’s time to delve into our 5 SMS marketing tips to build your database, cultivate relationships and more.

1. From fans and email contacts to SMS recipients

Goal → Database building

You can engage all your email contacts and Facebook fans by inviting them to join a hypothetical “Mobile Club” and promising each of them a discount code for 50% off their next purchase. You’ll soon see your campaign reach a high redemption rate. This is because it is a database-building strategy that draws on the existing relationship between the brand and customers who have already expressed an interest in receiving communications and offers, either by email or social media.

You can carry out the same cross-channel database-building activity throughout the year without having to launch new campaigns with one simple app: MailUp Facebook App lets you create and publish a subscription form on your Facebook page where all visitors can enter their phone number to receive information and offers via SMS.

2. Riddles and quizzes using inbound SMS

Goal → Building the relationship and promoting news and offers

All brands have areas where they test out new promotion techniques. How can you make the most of this? With a playful approach and the right incentive. There are many businesses on the market that take advantage of the 160 SMS character limit to be concise when launching news and updates. One of the most active brands in this respect is definitely Starbucks, which has been engaging its contacts using text messages for years. How? By using call to action – an aspect of SMS that is all too often underestimated: although not shown graphically like emails, the call to action of an SMS is crucial for triggering a response from the recipient. In several of its SMS campaigns, especially when launching new products, Starbucks invites recipients to respond to a short and simple quiz: giving the correct answer causes a coupon to be sent which can be used in all stores.

This is a strategy used by Starbucks and many other brands that does not require any special technology: you just need a sending platform and to activate a keyword for the inbound SMS (here you’ll find a post to learn about the features and potential of inbound SMS marketing).

3. Quality leads start with a keyword

Goal → Generate leads with high conversion potential

There are leads and there are leads: those drawn in from afar – thanks to eBooks and whitepapers, which are also key tools for branding – are often more interested in the content than what the brand is offering: among all these new contacts, the conversion percentages dwindle.

Whereas, SMS is able to create a direct channel between the brand and quality leads, leading to a high conversion potential: a giant in the US car market has taken advantage of online banners and adverts in print to attract new potential clients. This is the simple message placed alongside the product being advertised: “For more information, text INFO to 62845”. The car manufacturer requested some additional data from all contacts who responded to the SMS (full name and zip code) to set in motion the follow-up activities that can convert the SMS contact into a new customer.

This was an SMS campaign that worked as a bridge between the advert and the sales department. The result? Double-digit conversion percentages. Once again, all it took was a simple keyword for the inbound SMS (“text INFO to 62845“) and a professional sending platform.

4. Prizes and competitions, reserved for SMS contacts

Goal → Database building and brand identity

Prizes, draws, and contests are promotional and customer contact techniques that reach their full potential in a mobile context. To take part, just type a few characters and press send: this explains the effectiveness and high redemption rate of prize competitions.

Let’s look at one example applied to the tourism sector: hospitality chains, operators and hotels can launch SMS campaigns to invite contacts to type a keyword to take part in a competition with the chance to win a free night (two is even better) in a selected facility. Later, all contest participants can be sent a second campaign, giving them the opportunity to receive communications also in the future. Once again, we guarantee you’ll be surprised by your high redemption rate.

5. Integrate SMS into a mobile strategy

Goal → Improve the customer journey and implement a mobile strategy and proximity marketing

With the arrival of smartphones, SMS has definitely not lost any ground. On the contrary, by using the vast spread of mobile devices, SMS has been able to become the most immediate digital channel, ensuring open rates above 98%, which – in 90% of cases – occur within three minutes (Dynmark).

A communication potential that can go even further when integrated as part of a mobile ecosystem, specifically within an app.  Using beacons, Pizza Hut UK set up a notification system that triggers the sending of an SMS (containing a coupon) to all users located within less than half a mile of a Pizza Hut restaurant. In the 15 months of the campaign, the mobile marketing strategy proved to be 4.4 times more effective than the TV advertising channel, and 2.6 times more effective than online advertising.

Have you already tried new promotion techniques using SMS? In the comment area, you can tell us about your most impressive results, or express your doubts or questions. If you are yet to discover the potential of SMS marketing, start today by requesting a free trial of the MailUp platform.

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Andrea Serventi

I was born in 1986 in Milan, where I graduated in Modern Literature and started writing for online newspapers, magazines and TV news programs. Having now converted to marketing and the digital world, I am a Content Editor at MailUp: I read, listen, collect ideas, and write about what email marketing is and how to use it strategically.

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