With the world’s highest penetration rate, SMS marketing remains a promising marketing tool for businesses to build customer loyalty. Read along to harvest the low-hanging-fruit, yet under-tapped opportunities with SMS marketing!

In recent years, digital communication channels such as social media and messaging apps have proliferated in an enormous way that you probably thought SMS is somewhat washed-up already. However, the fact is SMS still remains a promising yet wildly under-tapped marketing tool to engage and build customer loyalty! Read along to harvest the low-hanging fruit with SMS marketing!

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is defined as campaigns carried out through text messages to cell phones. Since consent is needed before gaining access to a customers phone number, SMS marketing is highly intimate and personal. Businesses largely use SMS for loyalty programs, sending out messages from time-sensitive coupons, updates, notifications to verification or transactional notifications.

Unlike OTT instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger which rely on internet connectivity, SMS service allows you to send messages over a cellular network. That means it only requires basic cell connection to reach to your customers.

SMS Marketing Still on the Rise

Since 1992, SMS, or Short Messaging Service, has grown into a communication tool with almost the highest penetration rate in the world. A recent study predicts the number of mobile users will grow to 5.7 billion in 2020, accounting for about 65% of the global population. This exponential growth implies that SMS remains a viable communication tool, so it’s no wonder SMS marketing still represents enormous value for businesses:

As SMS technology advanced over the years, more powerful alternatives to text-only SMS messages rolled out – such as Multimedia Messaging Service (or MMS) which supports sending multimedia content such as pictures, videos and audio files without a standard character limit. Rich Communication Service (or RCS) works as a combination of SMS and MMS and supports richer text messages including GIFs, high-resolution visuals and larger files like PDFs and word documents, without a character limit. However, the biggest hurdle to the uptake of MMS is that it is not as globally available as SMS, and is 2-3 times more costly on average, while RCS messaging does not support end-to-end encryption, raising security concern in consumers’ minds.

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Businesses use SMS for loyalty programs by sending out promotional updates with rich multimedia content

Why is SMS marketing still important today?

SMS marketing remains victorious over MMS and RCS, offering several amazing benefits for businesses to communicate with their community:

  • Global reach of SMS service: SMS service enjoys a high penetration rate given the text messaging app is natively installed in over 5 billion active mobile phones today. Consumers prefer SMS because they do not have to install various apps in order to receive updates and notifications.
  • Conversion! Conversion! Conversion! Consumers nowadays are more distracted than ever –every day hundreds of promotional updates flood in to attract our attention. Businesses compete with over-the-top content to cut through the social media and email noise to raise interest with their consumers.

According to Gartner, SMS has a whopping 98% open rate and 45% response rate, in contrast to respective figures of 20% and 6% for email. 90% of consumers also tend to read SMS messages within 3 minutes once they receive them.

  • Higher ROI: The cost to send an SMS message varies by country, but comparatively sending bulk SMS messages helps marketers reap a much higher ROI given the recipients are all opt-in customers who trust your brand and would love to hear updates.
  • Integration capability: An SMS gateway API supports a software integration that enables you to send text messages to mobile phones from your own platforms, empowering every marketer with the capability to run a successful SMS marketing campaign by yourself!

How to run a successful SMS campaign?

We’ve put together these top 10 tips to help you to nail your next SMS campaign!

Planning for your SMS campaign

1) Be compliant with regulations

Before you dive into strategising your SMS campaign, you should know SMS marketing is permissioned-based. Businesses can only reach out to customers who explicitly opt-in for promotional text messages.

Make sure you understand the SMS compliance laws and consumer privacy best practices in your targeting locations. For example, the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance (UEMO) in Hong Kong stipulates that commercial electronic messages should include accurate sender information, and provide an unsubscribe mechanism for recipients to opt out from receiving further messages.

2) Grow your SMS database

There are lots of simple ways to get customers to opt-in for your SMS updates, but the trick is do it across all media and points of contact. Whether it’s your social media, website, eDMs, points of sale, you can always include an opt-in box to ask customers to sign up for SMS updates when they check out at your shops, create an account or sign up for services on your website.

As a more proactive way, you can set up a dedicated virtual number that comes in a short code or long code and intrigue them to text-in for subscription, for example, “Text YES to +852 xxxx xxxx for a discount!” You can also leverage a bulk SMS software to gain new customers by using permission-based subscription links within campaign messages.

3) Get your own bulk SMS software

Instead of finding a bulk SMS service provider, have you considered getting an SMS software in place and running your own SMS campaign? Such bulk SMS tool lets you manage scalable SMS campaigns by sending mass text messages with one click. You don’t have to worry sharing your customer list with a third party.

An all-encompassing bulk SMS software usually helps you send and schedule bulk SMS messages, manage sign-ups and opt outs, and track interaction data to measure campaign performance such as response rates.

maaiiconnect offers a broadcast message feature called Campaign Manager that lets you launch SMS campaigns to a large group of your target audience anywhere in the world. Apart from the Standard Campaign for bulk SMS service, you can use the Dynamic Campaign for a deeper and more personalised loyalty program.

Read our use case on Broadcast Customised SMS Content to Keep Your Global Customers Engaged

4) Go omnichannel

When you are planning your SMS campaign, don’t forget to coordinate your marketing efforts across channels to create synergy and a seamless customer journey. For example, after an ad campaign on social networks, drive your customers down the conversion funnel by leveraging the higher response rate with SMS campaign.

During the roll-out

5) Run loyalty programs

It can go a long way towards building strong customer loyalty as a result of positive customer engagement with you. Given SMS is such an intimate engagement method because customers give out their phone numbers in exchange for updates from you, it is the perfect way to run your loyalty programs.

You can send them latest product updates, appointment reminders and SMS-only exclusive coupons and promo codes to make your customers feel you give them the first dibs!  

6) Personalise your SMS campaign

A few layers of personalisation can make your customers feel more understood! Address them by their names in each message. Variables such as first/last names and links can be imported in the SMS service via maaiiconnect.

7) Keep it precise and concise

Each SMS only allows 160 characters, so keep the message short and sweet with clear calls-to-action. Avoid chunky text messages. Always shorten your URLs or use a short-code virtual number. You can also use SMS software tool that allows flexibility.

8) Drive traffic to other platforms

With a surprisingly high response rate, why not use SMS as your launching pad to boost traffic to your other platforms such as landing pages and social media pages? You can also add maaiiconnect’s web link calls so your customers can directly talk to your sales and service agents!

9) Standard route vs premium route

One thing you need to consider about SMS marketing is routing options. Whether it is economy, standard or premium routes, different routes serve various purposes. While bulk promotional messages can be broadcast with standard routes, you can use an SMS service provider that provides premium routes to ensure highly reliable and speedy delivery of messages such as verification code.

After roll-out

10) Gauge, optimise, and grow!

Similar to campaigns on other channels, you need to monitor your SMS campaign performance so you can learn what works and optimise your next campaign! With maaiiconnect, you can learn insights from the SMS report which tracks the number of SMS messages sent, SMS status and location distribution.

Another trick to further measure the success is to calculate the click through rate of landing page links you include in your SMS messages. You can also know your cost per conversion by dividing the total cost of the SMS campaign by the number of conversions!

Go omnichannel with maaiiconnect

SMS marketing is always a good plus to your omnichannel mix. With maaiiconnect, not only can you send bulk SMS, or design an international dynamic SMS campaign, you can also leverage this all-in-one customer engagement platform to better orchestrate and get the most out of your omnichannel campaigns, from social networks, and website to telco channels such as virtual numbers.

Book a demo with us today to learn more about how your business can benefit from SMS marketing and other customer engagement features!

What are your surefire SMS marketing tips? Let us know below!