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Andrea Serventi
8 August 2018
Reading time: 5 min

5 Deadly SMS Marketing Errors

SMS text messages provide only seemingly an intuitive, straightforward marketing channel. Let’s dive into 5 pitfalls that would hinder even the most brilliant strategy of all.

Strategy not only means creating and building but also dismantling, adjusting, and letting go of some operational aspects that are useless, if not even harmful, to the brand.

Today, we want to introduce the “negative” SMS Marketing approach. We are going to identify 5 critical errors for businesses that use text messaging to communicate with their customers as well as promote offers and products.

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Some errors are due to lack of perspective. However, others involve more specific critical aspects that deal with texts and SMS sending. Let’s start.

1. Considering SMS a last-minute channel

More often than not, we look at SMS as an occasional marketing tool, useful for conveying last-minute offers and promotions. Such an approach to this channel is very limiting.

Instead, SMS needs scheduling and planning. Do not let the 160 characters fool you. Behind this handful of words lies a strategic world that can deploy a huge potential beyond last-minute messages.

SMS Marketing allows you to develop 360° strategies that affect every part of the customer relationship. Besides promotion, text messages allow you to:

  • Build a database
    As a simple example, you can turn all email database recipients and Facebook page followers into SMS contacts. How? By inviting them to sign up for a hypothetical contest (let’s call it the “Mobile Club”) and promising them a discount code on their next purchase. This is a cross-channel database building strategy that you can also make ongoing through a simple application: MailUp Facebook App.
  • Generate leads with high conversion potential
    With SMS, you can create a direct channel between brands and quality leads, i.e. with high conversion potential. For example, an American automotive company advertised a banner with a basic message online and in print: “For more information, text INFO to 62845”. This is a simple, cross-channel tactic, yet it produces quality leads with much interest and therefore greater conversion potential.
  • Manage customer care activities
    Through text messages, you can request feedback and launch post-purchase surveys, offer support and assistance, send appointment and event reminders, as well as offer suggestions and recommendations. In general, you can manage transactional flows.
  • Implement proximity marketing
    While waiting for instant messaging channels to consolidate, SMS is today’s most immediate digital channel. Its communication potential can be further amplified if integrated into a mobile ecosystem. Example: specific beacons can configure a notification system that triggers the launch of an SMS to contacts within a certain range from the point of sale.

In short, SMS is not a one-shot channel, but the exact opposite. Text messages are communication tools with which to weave a constantcontinuous communication alongside the customer’s entire journey.

2. Creating a single list of recipients

A serious SMS Marketing mistake is to send the same message to an entire database of 160 contacts. For this reason, brands must use segmentation before sending. Doing so cuts costs and avoids sending irrelevant messages that can lead to unsubscriptions.

It is essential to have a set of filters for segmentation. This allows for delivering messages in line with the preferences and characteristics of each contact. Here are some criteria that is useful in applying to your database:

  • Geolocation
    Geolocation allows you to target product offers and launches only to recipients that reside in the geographic area pertaining to the offer communicated.
  • Demographic
    Using personal data filters, a clothing e-commerce business can launch various flash sale campaigns according to different sub-criteria.
  • Gender
    Each gender has specific wants and needs. Therefore, it is essential to segment deliveries by differentiating the offer for female and male audiences.
  • Behavior
    Here are some behavioral segmentation parameters:
    > Customer’s average expenditure
    > Purchase history
    > Purchase frequency
    > Site behavior

3. Paying little attention to copy

SMS marketing strategies are often overly rigid, being limited to just 160 characters for launching news, offers, and discounts in a brief and impersonal way. What is missing is that certain human touch. How? You can convey that human touch through a conversational and direct tone that is as spontaneous and natural as possible.

Here are some small features, style, and terminology measures to help you to improve your SMS from a text-based point of view:

  • Dynamic fields, which allow you to be on a first name basis with recipients.
  • Alphanumeric sender, i.e. the ability to enter the brand name in the sender field instead of simply leaving a phone number.
  • Clarity and brevity, for articulating the advantages communicated through SMS in the most clear and direct way. Americans use the motto: spell out the details.
  • Power words, i.e. words used to activate a psychological and emotional reaction in the recipient (such as free, exclusive, sale, huge discounts). Power words play an even greater role in SMS Marketing, where the message’s limitations require it to have the greatest possible impact on the public.
  • Capital letters used sparsely, allow to graphically spotlight a phrase or keyword. However, never abuse this because you risk creating the opposite effect, giving the SMS an odd look somewhere between an encrypted message and spam.
  • Avoid any text-speak, i.e. the abbreviation of words or adding numbers to a message (“bcs”, “Offers 2 Die 4”, are two examples). Text-speak hinders reading and ends up damaging the brand image.

4. Delivering in incorrect timeslot

SMS Marketing is a matter of nuances. Therefore, details and precautions make the difference. One of these choices is the delivery timeslot. Knowing how to catch the right time of day, week, and month has a double benefit. On one hand, it makes communication more effective, and on the other, it minimizes potential unsubscriptions.

If each pitch varies according to the target audience, then we can track some delivery timeslots:

  • Monday
    Monday is unanimously recognized as the most difficult day of the week. Unless the message is a purchase notification or a booking, then it is standard practice to avoid sending the SMS on a Monday. Statistics also prove that Mondays have lower response rates compared to any other day of the week.
  • Late-night timeslots
    Nighttime is the worst possible scenario. This timeslot is entirely taboo even for transaction and notification deliveries.
  • Commuting hours: from home to work and vice versa
    People are already stressed enough during these times. It is best to avoid igniting this further though promotional SMS messages. Delivery during these hours inevitably triggers repulsion and annoyance.

5. Giving up too soon

In closing, here is a seemingly obvious point: giving up too soon is one of the most common causes that brands witness within an SMS marketing strategy failure.

The underlying error actually involves point 1: viewing SMS as an impromptu channel and not as an articulated long-term asset like email. Just as it takes time to create your own community on Facebook and Twitter, you also need patience and perseverance to create a database of responsive contacts with a good level of involvement.

In summary

Do you still need to integrate SMS Marketing into your strategy? You can start immediately by simply requesting a MailUp platform free trial. You will have everything you need to create, send, and track your SMS campaigns.

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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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