6 Online SMS Tips For Small Businesses

When it comes to gaining instant attention from customers few marketing channels as powerful as online SMS.

Online SMS is fast, cheap and has up to 97% open rates, last time that I checked there wasn’t another tool out there that can come anywhere near as close to this.

On top of that it is easy, unlike digital ads, email marketing, social media marketing, etc. where you need to have a specialist knowledge to get worthwhile return on investment anyone can use it since the learning curve is virtually flat.

For example, if you have ever sent an SMS to another person then you are 99% there, the rest is navigating the user interface –  in fact you could take anyone off the street have them send a text message campaign and the results would embarrass even the most veteran of online marketers.

Let’s keep going.

There is no code to understand, no spam algorithm to worry about, and super low competition.

“Out of the box online SMS will drive an insane amount of sales but there are still ways to squeeze more out of your campaigns.” Angus Barrett, SMSpapa.com.au

In this article I’m going to reveal 7 easy tips to help you boost the results on any online SMS marketing campaign.

  1. Always Get Permission

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This one is a boring one, but is the most important in terms of staying free from legal action being taken against you.

It is tempting to want to pull all of the mobile numbers from your customer database or even buy an SMS list and start hammering them with promotions.

Do not do this.

Never buy an SMS list.

If you have a database of customers and mobile numbers send out an email series selling the benefits of your new SMS program.

I would highly recommend putting some thought into how you can make it worthwhile to get as many of your existing customers on to that list as possible, the time is worth it, because the sales revenue you can generate from that SMS list will be immense.

The upshot is that your customers already know, like and trust you so you should get a good response.

Organic growth is the other option needed which we’ll look at inside the next tip…

  1. Segment Your SMS Subscribers

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Remember this…the more relevant your offer the higher your conversions.

Let me explain.

Think about the different types of customers you have, if you are a pet store then you need to consider the different types of pet owners you have and so what you would want to do is create an offer for each of the groups.

The benefits of this approach means that you’ll be:

  • Sending highly relevant offers and information
  • You are able to send more frequently
  • You will get less unsubscribes
  • Overall you’ll generate higher sales volume

A classic mistake business owners will make is creating one giant SMS list and once per week (or less) send out an offer or information that is irrelevant to 80% of the list – this is okay in the email marketing world but is not tolerated in the text messaging world.

Always segment.

Once you’ve got your customers organized it’s time to create an offer that pulls them into your list.

  1. Grow your list with irresistible offers

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One of the best ways to fill your list with ready to buy leads is by using keyword opt in offers.

You’ve seen these around the place:

Text “50OFF” to 12345 and receive a special code giving you 50% off storewide during October.

The goal here is to get as many qualified people as possible subscribed to your list so you can generate more sales.

I’d like to emphasize the word “qualified” because one of the mistakes I see with companies using this strategy using a great offer that is not related to the solution they sell.

For example, a car wash giving away a holiday to Bali if they subscribe to their list, this will fill your list with people who love holidays, this doesn’t mean that they’re interested in developing the relationship any further with you.

So, make an offer that is directly related to the thing that you offer.

Secondly, don’t make it something weak like 5% off your next X – you need to remember that people are handing over their mobile phone numbers, this is tough to accomplish with an offer like this plus you’re going to be driving a lot of revenue over time from this list so put an offer together that would make it tough for them to turn down.

Once you’ve got your offer together, there is another super important step you need to consider.

  1. Keep Your Text Message Short

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The beauty of online SMS is that you are forced to cut away the fluff and get straight to the point, SMS is friendly to the low attention span we all suffer from.

A standard SMS message is 160 characters but this doesn’t not mean that you can’t send higher character text messages, some SMS services will allow up to 1000 characters, although I’d recommend not using that many unless you’re sending important content that requires such length.

For promotions, keep it to around 160 – 450 characters (max), SMS will force you to become a ruthless editor where you focus on the words that matter which actually rolls over nicely to other marketing channels.

  1. Don’t Text Too Often

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In the email and social media world frequency is an important component and is necessary since there is a lot of competitive noise, the squeaky wheel gets the grease sort of strategy is necessary here.

But inside the SMS world this will get you in trouble fast, I’ve even heard of customers showing up to the store just to give the retailer hell for sending them text messages.

The recommendation is at most once per week, for most businesses this will even be pushing it, the frequency will depend on your industry.

If you are a restaurant then you can get away with once per week text messages easily, and possibly even daily if you’ve set up the expectations correctly – a car dealership not way.

One of the main problems with SMS is that you can’t send as frequently, because the more you send the more you earn so one way to get around this is to segment your customers.

For example, if you have 5 customer segments then that means you can send 1 SMS out every day of the working week which means more sales revenue.

  1. Always use an Opt-Out

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We started with a legal tip and we’ll end with one.

Always include an opt-out option for your subscribers, this will build trust and reduce and expensive legal headaches – the fines for not having a simple unsubscribe option will cause serious damage to any business.