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How to Make SMS Marketing Valuable to Your Customers

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Global Head of Content , Emarsys

As the majority of modern digital marketers would attest, mobile is the ever-growing behemoth of the digital world. People all over the world are increasingly relying on their mobile devices for web navigation, emails, app usage, and more.

Research giant Gartner issued a press release in early 2016 stating: “Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016, a 3.9% increase over the same period in 2015. Smartphone sales represented 78% of total mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2016.”

Mobile usage of such magnitude represents a major opportunity for marketers to reach their customers in one of the most impactful ways available: intelligent SMS marketing. SMS, or Short Message Service, is usually more commonly referred to as text messaging.

SMS is one of the most popular ways people communicate today, and is becoming ever more so. In fact, over 4.2 billion people text worldwide, and over 18.7 billion texts are sent every day (and that doesn’t even include app-to-app). Of those billions of text messages, more than one-third of business professionals confessed that they couldn’t go even 10 minutes without responding to a text. Imagine what that could mean for a brand’s mobile-centric customers.

Because of the unprecedented access SMS provides to target customers, marketers must be careful to create highly compelling, automated SMS marketing messages that seamlessly integrate with omnichannel data and strategies. Brands are able to connect with their customers anywhere in the world, at any time, through one of the most intimate channels possible. That level of access needs to be carefully managed.

Mobile marketing, in particular SMS marketing, has a high success rate when it comes to engaging users and integrating into their everyday lives, eventually leading to purchases. It’s an impactful way to capture customers’ attentions, but marketers must beware; with this level of direct, personal access, it is critical to make messaging useful and relevant or risk losing customers in the long term.

Here are some tips for how you can get it right when it comes to SMS:

Expand Automated Messages

There is an average of one week between app download and an initial purchase. Encourage mobile engagement during this crucial seven-day period, by expanding automation messages beyond SMS. Use email, push notifications, and in-app messages to encourage interactions with the app.

Doing so will help to boost first-time purchases and engagement. For example, if a user opts-in for push notifications via an app, sending that user an email will not only keep your brand front-of-mind, but also discover more information about the customer in order to deliver the most relevant content.

Offer a Value Proposition

When a user grants you permission to send them SMS communications, they are granting access to one of their most private and highly protected possessions. Text messages have a 98% open rate, while email still hovers around 20%. Furthermore, 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes of arrival.

Be sure your messages offer a positive and immediate value proposition in exchange for the consumer allowing you into this personal part of their lives. By ensuring the shopper understands what your brand has to offer, you can increase engagement; if not, there is a risk of scaring them away with messages that they do not consider valuable.

Specifically Targeted Mobile Engagement

To ensure SMS marketing is highly useful to target consumers, you must drive messaging with surgical precision; large, ill-defined SMS blasts can cause irreparable damage among your consumer relationships. Through data-driven automation solutions, you can maximize budget efficiency by removing all hard bounces, invalid numbers, and duplicates, before sending.

Test Content and Timing

Testing not only the content, but also the timing of your delivery is critical to ensuring SMS marketing campaigns are, and will continue to be, valuable to customers. Through real-time SMS reporting, you can track SMS marketing campaigns as they occur, and manage message-level performance. You can test content and timing, optimize, and test again to see which messages reached specific customers, how recipients reacted to the messages via click, convert, and opt-out, and when these engagements occurred.

Final Thoughts

SMS allows immediate access to target customers. With the increased popularity of mobile, SMS marketing campaigns are continuing to grow in popularity. By focusing on highly engaging, useful marketing SMS programs, brands can work within their integrated omnichannel efforts to build customer loyalty and retention, on and offline, no matter where the customer is in the world.

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