10 Tips for Creative SMS Marketing Campaigns

7 minute read

Plenty of companies make frequent use of SMS marketing for the grunt work of announcements and confirmations – with good reason. Everybody’s got a cellphone, and most keep it close 24/7. If you thought SMS was just for announcements and confirmations however, think again. Savvy campaigners are using SMS marketing to boost conversion rates, foster loyalty, and improve customer relationships.

The use of text messages in your marketing strategy also acts as a sidekick to your email and social media campaigns, perhaps alerting them to important communications that they might miss in their cluttered inboxes and social feeds.

Here are ten SMS and text marketing recommendations from Upland:

1. Use SMS as your benchmark for covering all bases

Any cellphone, anywhere in the world, can receive text messages. If you’re campaigning to a broad demographic, or across borders, sum up your key offer in 160 characters and include SMS broadcast on the media plan to help you cover all bases and improve the likelihood of your communication getting through to the recipient. Provided they have opted in, by using SMS alongside email and other channels you can improve the reach of your campaigns.

It’s highly cost-effective, and text messages have high open rates, meaning you’ll boost awareness even among those not able to take up your offer right now.

2. Use SMS to determine which of your customers are still engaged with your business, and reduce churn

Customers treat SMS as deeply personal. So, a simple promotion planned to send at the right moment – “Hi Dave, kids eat for free on Sundays when you show this message!” – can get terrific response rates and immediate results. It’s an effective way to get a promotion out to targeted audiences that have perhaps become less engaged over time, and at risk of churn. There is a very high chance of that offer being seen and could bring back customers that have not been responding to other channels.

3. Use SMS to send timely offers to your customers – not only rewarding them, but also reminding them about your business

SMS is an effective medium for businesses such as outlets or trade stores. It allows them to make timely offers, and the response rates can be amazing. In the UK, retailer Marks & Spencer uses SMS marketing for its dine-in-for-two meal offer… and guess when they send their texts? That’s right: when busy commuters are leaving work.

An important part of any campaign is timing, but even more so for SMS campaigns, due to the immediacy with which the text message is opened and seen by the customer. Savvy SMS marketers therefore use SMS in this way at very specific timeframes.

4. Integrate SMS with your email campaigns and your ecommerce

Don’t make those 160 characters do all the work.

Including URLs in an outbound text campaign to important emails or relevant web content can encourages subscriptions and conversions. Furthermore, your total customer reach, and engagement with email and web channels, will improve through and by incorporating SMS into your email and ecommerce sale as it allows you to track the customer’s activity back to the SMS through multi-touch attribution.

5. Use Direct Mail as the box, and SMS as the key

Maybe your conversion rate for DM is as high as 28%, as it is for some businesses, but usually DM response rates can be much lower. Want to boost it? Send a text message within 24 hours of your DM landing to offer an extra incentive. It’ll get more people opening your envelope, and help you to achieve better conversion rates.

6. Run customer surveys and Voice of Customer programs that aren’t too big to swallow

Fewer customers than ever engage with long form surveys. A program of SMS messages, staggered over a few hours, can elicit better information… and superior response rates.

Why? Because a concise question with easy multiple-choice options can take far less customer effort than going through a lengthy questionnaire, and your customers can answer that message anywhere, anytime.

For Customer Service departments, the use of SMS is becoming more prevelant, and organizations look to Voice of the Customer technology products to enable them to get closer to their customers. Marketing departments should be capturing this customer sentiment too however, and SMS is a great, simple way to do so.

7. Find out who your Influencers are with SMS

Not all customers are created equal. (You knew that right?!) If you know who your advocates are, you can concentrate more resources on them, such as exclusive offers and inside tips. The personal nature of a mobile device can really work here to make them feel special!.

Finding these influencers and advocates is something SMS does brilliantly too – a simple question via SMS can work really well by asking how they’d rate you on a 1-10 scale.

When they text back their answers, this can feed straight back into your customer database, and the 20% or so who’d recommend you to family and friends, can then be identified as your Influencers – Your business can then create referral and advocacy campaigns to target those customers to help increase your customer base.

8. Use SMS data to tailor your marcomms across media

Once you’ve segmented your audience into those who are gaining interest and those who are fully engaged, your aggressors and advocates, use the data to talk to each as an individual. Not just in SMS marketing – across other media too.

A Customer Data Platform can help use data from across the business and channels to better refine messaging and copy that will help to treat every customer like your only customer; boosting sales, conversions and awareness. The customer will be enthused by the personalized touch – receiving a relevant and personalized message.

9. Ultra-customize communications, by learning the best time to contact

07.00? 09.30? Late at night? Everyone has their preference for when they want to talk. With SMS messages, which tend to be read within minutes, you can learn over time when a customer is most receptive to your contact – not just for their “audience demographic” as a whole, but for him or her as an individual.

One quick warning however! SMS marketing requires careful planning when automating it as part of an omnichannel marketing solution. If an SMS is triggered from a purchase then you want to ensure that text doesn’t land at 3am when your customer is not going to appreciate being woken up by a message ping. Equally, if you’re running an SMS campaign across time zones, you’ll also want to make sure you stagger the send to land at the right time for each individual customer.

10. Remember that SMS is highly conversational and can encourage two-way interactions better than other channels

The big one!. SMS can, and should be, considered by marketers as a two-way interaction channel, so let your customers talk back to you. Encourage customers to start a conversation with you on your DM buck slip for example inviting feedback. Encourage conversations even with cold names, and consider adding add a form-to-SMS to your website, allowing customers to opt in their cellphone numbers. Remember, every touch of SMS strengthens the bond between you and your customer, and SMS marketing can encourage two-way conversations that provide a human element to your marketing and overall customer experience.

That’s your 10 for a starter.

Time too short? Here’s a rundown:

  1. Use SMS to determine engagement with your business, to remind customers about your brand and reward your key supporters
  2. Integrate SMS with your email campaigns and your ecommerce
  3. Use SMS as a customer support or feedback tool as it’s easier to work with than a long survey
  4. SMS data can help tailor and support your marketing strategy across media
  5. Get insight about your customers’ behavior to find the best time to send

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