5 Best Practices for Effective SMS Marketing

SMS marketing has gained in popularity in recent years given the incredible ease with which marketers can develop and deploy campaigns and the power of one-to-one communication with an SMS that can evoke an instant response from a customer. SMS also provides the ability to effectively measure campaign performance through the use of a ‘call-to-action’ from the customer. The flexibility to quickly test different campaigns provides much lower costs and turnaround time compared to many other forms of marketing. For example, an A/B testing on SMS is more viable than say on TV or E-Mail. However, when marketers choose to use SMS marketing, it is important to understand the strengths and limitations of the medium to get the most out of the campaigns.

We discuss below the top 5 Best Practices for effective SMS campaigns –

  1. Use Proven Mobile Nos. Databases

Databases containing mobile nos. are used for undertaking SMS campaigns. Often Marketers source databases from the grey market and these are mostly overused and can be quite inaccurate with outdated user details. Databases built in-house and fine-tuned over a period of time are way more reliable in terms of a good delivery percentage and quality of responses. So it is best to do campaigns on one’s own database, or at a minimum, on databases from reputable vendors. The criticality of the database is also closely linked to the nature of the product. Though generally mass appeal products work best for SMS campaigns, more niche products can also be used effectively as long as a highly targeted and accurate database is available.

  1. Keep the Content Simple, and Interesting

The SMS content is one of the largest factors for the success of a campaign. Only a content which is simple, interesting and easy to understand will have the desired impact and elicit the much needed user response. Proper punctuation, grammar and readability also go a long way in creating the right impression. Including a ‘special offer’ helps the message stand out from the rest of the offerings in the market, and has a high chance of improving customer responses. Brand names also help lend credibility to the offering and hence should be mentioned in the content.

  1. Have a Straight-Forward Call-To-Action

An SMS content needs to have a user call-to-action that conveys what is exactly expected of the recipient to show his interest in the product on offer. The call-to-action, more often than not, needs to be kept simple. A long winded call-to-action will end up blurring what is expected of the respondent and can lead to response errors. Even for something as simple as a keyword response as the call to action, the chosen keyword should have as few letters as possible as this will eliminate the possibility of the end user making typos while responding. Responses with typos may not get captured by the system and these can form a sizable chunk and sometimes can make or break a campaign.

  1. Call-To-Action Must Suit Campaign Objectives

Depending on the breadth and quality of responses required from the campaign, the call-to-action needs to be suitably crafted. For example, a company with limited resources may want to focus on getting responses only from serious buyers. So the call-to-action needs to convey the same – for example, ‘To buy, send XXX to 55555. On the other hand, a company with a large and experienced sales force may want to get responses even from people just fishing for information – for example, ‘For details, send XXX to 55555’. In the latter case, where there is no commitment required from the recipient to make a purchase, the responses can be about 20-25% higher. Also, the response quality and quantity vary with the channels used for gathering user responses. Responses on short-code are fewer in number but they tend be of better quality. Missed-Call responses, on the other hand, get about 3X more responses but the quality is comparatively a bit poorer.

  1. Choose the Right Day and Time

The day and time of the campaign can affect the campaign’s effectiveness as different target groups will have different profiles around when they are likely to respond to an SMS. Accordingly, one should decide the day and time of the campaign to have maximum impact. For example, a campaign meant for students can ideally be done in early evening when they have spare time from their morning grind of lectures and college. The ideal time to run campaigns meant for working professionals could be late mornings when they would have settled down at work after the morning rush and have the time to look and respond to SMSes. It is also seen that the response rate is up to 20% lesser during holidays and weekends – likely because the chances of people being physically away from their phones are higher. For any campaign, it is often best to do fresh iterations to arrive at the ideal day and time for the campaign.

SMS Marketing has a definite place in the overall scheme of marketing with its purpose and value being distinct from other forms. A clear understanding on the kind of products and the target groups, for which SMS Marketing works well, is the key to getting the desired results.