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10 innovative ways to use SMS marketing


If you thought SMS was just for announcements and confirmations, think again. Savvy campaigners are using SMS marketing to boost conversion rates, foster loyalty, and build lifelong customer relationships.

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.

The simple messaging service also acts as a sidekick to your email or social media campaign. Enough with the preamble, let’s see some ideas!

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.

It’s 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

Customers treat SMS as deeply personal. So a simple request – “Hi Dave, get 50% off of your next meal when you show this message!” – can get terrific response rates. It’s an effective way to keep your lists of users up-to-date and honest, saving on admin costs and white mail.

3. Use SMS to send 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.

4. Integrate SMS with your email campaigns and your ecommerce

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

Including URLs encourages subscriptions which can eventually be made into a conversion. Furthermore, your total customer view will be improved through incorporating SMS into your email and ecommerce sale as it allows you to track the customer’s activity back to the SMS.

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

Maybe your conversion rate for DM is 4.4%, like most people. Want to boost it? Send a text message within 24 hours of delivery offering an extra incentive. It’ll get more people opening your envelope.

6. Run customer surveys that aren’t too big to swallow

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

Why? Because a concise question with a few easy multiple choice options takes far less customer effort than going through a questionnaire… and they can answer that message anywhere, anytime. ‘Just message us if you like this option!’

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… offers, inside tips. Make them feel special.

Finding customers is something SMS does brilliantly – just three simple questions asking how they’d rate you on a 1-10 scale. They text their answers straight back into your database. The 20% or so who’d recommend you to family and friends… they’re your Influencers – those who can add further insight to your sales department. In fact, we like to call Influencers your ‘unpaid sales department’.

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 best-of-breed platform provider can help define messaging and copy that treats every customer like your only customer… boosting sales, conversions and awareness. The customer will be enthused by the personalized touch – receiving a relevant and even wanted message.

9. Ultra-customize communication, 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.

10. Season every campaign with SMS

The big one. SMS can be a two way interaction, so let your customers talk back with it. Put a Short Code on your DM buckslip inviting feedback. Encourage conversation even with cold names. Add a form-to-SMS to your website, allowing customers to opt in their cellphone numbers. Every touch of SMS strengthens the bond between you and your customer.

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

Need better results? Download: Real World Marketing: 9 Quick Win Email Marketing Tips


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  • Romana

    what happens when sms and email no longer work. Client was being bombarded with all emails and sms and tend to ignore them

    • adestramarketing

      Hi Romana, we wouldn’t recommend batching and blasting with neither SMS nor email. Try a segmented approach and use personalisation and targeted content so that your subscribers see the value of your communications.