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SMS is easy. You’ve probably sent one to a sibling or parent recently. Anyone could do it! But when you’re sending SMS marketing messages to your customers with the intention of securing new leads and converting those leads into sales, it becomes far more complicated. Every aspect of that short 160-character message needs to be considered.
Every one of those 160 characters has a job to do. They need to instill trust in your business, inspire your mobile market to browse your options, encourage them to buy and, eventually, to hand over their cash. That’s a lot to ask of text messages.
To create the type of SMS marketing message that will do just that, there are plenty of best practice examples to consider. Let’s look at a few.
There are times when your audience wants to receive a text message and there are times when they really don’t want to be bothered. One of the big no-no times is during rush hour. This is different for every city but can generally be described as any time between 6am and 9am or from 4pm to 6pm. You don’t want your brand’s SMS marketing to be the reason that one of your audience members crashes while on the way home from work.
Reaching your mobile market at specific times is also dependent on the type of message you’ll be sending out. Here are some specific examples:
Appointment reminders: 24 hours and one hour before
Sales and special events: Two days before the event and on the morning of the event
Festive season sales: One month, two weeks, three days, and one day before the sale
When sending general SMS marketing messages, it’s important that you don’t disrupt your audience members’ days. Avoid sending at random times during the day. Rather send your message just before lunchtime or just before they leave work for the day. That way, they won’t be interrupted and will have time to think about your message.
Of course, it’s possible that your audience lives in multiple time zones. If possible, use your SMS provider to segment your audience based on where they live. This would make it possible to choose a time based on what would be most convenient for that person. If it’s not possible to segment your audience based on where they live, consider where the majority of your audience is and be aware of the times that would be most convenient for them.
Once you've figured out the best time to send your marketing message, you need to understand which day is best. Obviously, it depends on the type of message you’re sending. Appointment reminders and courier drop off and pick up messages need to be sent out immediately. For other messages, weekdays are best. No one wants to check their phone too much over the weekend.
But there's one exception because it's not just Garfield, it’s also true for SMS – no one likes Mondays. The same is true for Friday. People are thinking about and planning their weekend, not about buying your products or services. So, between Tuesday and Thursday is your best bet.
Importantly, don’t become discouraged when sending mobile marketing messages. Try and try again. You might see success on a Wednesday with one of your audiences but not another. Later, you might discover that the latter group attends a Wednesday night football game.
The first, and most important, part of SMS marketing is to ensure you have permission to send to your customers. And, they need to be able to easily opt out should they want to. Laws vary in different parts of the world, so whether you’re in Dallas or New Delhi, ensure that you know what you can and can’t send.
Once you have those legalities out of the way, ensure that what you’re sending is time-sensitive, important information. Is it essential that you’re sending that message, or can it wait? A good way to test this is to check whether you have a call to action (CTA) at the end of your message. Every marketing message must include a CTA at the end and if you don’t have one, you probably don’t need to send that message. A CTA can be a number of things, a discount code for your website, an invitation to come to a sale in your store or a suggestion that your customers check out your new product.
Your SMS marketing messaging should make your customer feel like a VIP. They should feel honored to have received that message. They should feel like they’re part of an inner circle or secret club.
Definitely do not, ever, under any circumstances, include overly-personalized information. There are some things marketing messages should not ever refer to. These include, but are not limited to, your customer’s clothing size, age, gender, race or street address. That’s just plain creepy. You may have excellent customer research at your disposal but it’s probably better that they don’t know that. Your customers know what they ate for lunch. They don’t need you telling them that you know it too.
Importantly, don’t send out overly-long messages. Text messaging is an instantaneous medium and your customers have limited time. They aren’t there to read your essays. They want to know what you have to offer them. That’s it. Your message must provide information about a sale or new product. Anything else and you’re wasting their precious time, something that is sure to lose any customer. Don’t message just to check in. Don't repeat information that was sent in a previous message. Don’t ask why they haven’t purchased (unless you offer a discount code as an incentive, customers can never resist those).
It should go without saying that including curse words and jokes in your SMS marketing messages is a major no-no. You might think that it creates a casual, fun tone and inspires a friendly, trusting relationship. No. What it does is come off as offensive or overly personal. Neither of those is okay when dealing with a customer.
Send SMS marketing messages on the most convenient days and times. And never send a message unless you have permission to do so.
If you’ve read through to this point, you must really be interested in SMS messaging and the benefits they can provide to your business. And that’s good news because SMS marketing is important to growing your business, whatever its size. If you’d like to read some more, have a look at our recent article which discusses exactly that. It highlights why SMS is so beneficial to business and gives some tips for crafting the ideal message.
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