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How to Launch an SMS Marketing Campaign in 7 Easy Steps

Woman shopping for clothes and looking at her smartphone

Introduction

Sending SMS or MMS (image and text) to your clients is a “no brainer.”

Text messages are great for…

  • Boosting sales and revenue.
  • Driving traffic – to both physical or virtual locations.
  • Soliciting Google or Yelp reviews

… and just about anything else you can think of.

Unlike email newsletters, which on average are read by only 17% of recipients and social media posts, which are only seen by a tiny fraction of your business’ followers, almost every text message your customer receives is seen.

As long as your messages provide value and are in alignment with your audience's expectations, it's simply impossible not to generate a very respectable ROI from your text message marketing efforts.

Of course, this also assumes you have done all the necessary “foundational” work which is absolutely critical to launching a successful SMS marketing campaign. 

That's where “How to Launch an SMS Marketing Campaign in 7 Steps” steps in and provides you with instruction on rolling out your campaign the right way.  

Before We Begin…

A caveat before we start our journey together…

You may be tempted to skim through the steps listed below or skip the set up process altogether.

Please don't.

While setting up an SMS campaign is often advertised as being “quick and easy”, the truth is setting the foundation for successful campaigns takes some planning and thought.

Cutting corners at the set up stage therefore, has the pontential to significantly impact your results for the worse. 

So pretty please. With a cherry on top. Read the whole thing. 🙂

I recommend having a pen and paper handy – or the digital equivalent – to make notes during the process.

Step 1: Define a Benefit (or Two).

The success of your campaign hinges on the ability to convince large numbers of your customers to subscribe tp receive your promotional messages by text message.

Just like email, text messaging is by “opt in” only; customers need to provide you with their cell phone numbers in order for you to message them.

As a general rule, it's harder to obtain a cell phone number from your customer than an email address.

People value their privacy and tend to reserve text communications for those in their immediate social circle.

That's why your program's benefits are so important, they clearly define what the customer gets out of this relationship and helps overcome any possible hesitations they may have about subscribing.

What are some common benefits? Let's have a look…

  • Early bird access: Giving your mobile subscribers the ability to skip the queue and access your sales items 24 hours before everyone else is a powerful benefit, especially if you sell one-of-a-kind items, sell out quickly of certain styles or sizes, or have limited inventory.
  • Exclusive discounts: Let your customers know that in order to gain access to your deepest discounts and most competitive offers they'll need to be subscribed to  receive your text message promotions.

    Do not undermine this by sending the same promotions out on your regular marketing channels. It’s important that they are only available by text message.

    This is very powerful, especially if your customers are already subscribed to receive promotions from you elsewhere and you need a compelling reason for them to sign up to receive texts.

  • Additional discounts: Let your clients know that members of your mobile club get an extra 5% off all your regularly posted sale items. Subscribers of your email and social media updates do not get this discount.
  • Convenience: There’s real value in providing your customer with the option to access your promotional messages on their preferred communication channel. This is especially true if you cater to a younger demographic (18-35), who communicate almost 100% by text and rarely use other channels like email at all.
  • Never miss a sale: Promotions sent by email or social media are easily missed. Offering an easy way for customers to ensure they never miss a sale again is a compelling benefit, especially if they buy from you regularly and are on the lookout for savings. 

This is a good starting point, but it’s by no means an exclusive list – depending on the nature of your business, there may be other things you can offer.

Before you continue, grab your pen and paper and jot down a few notes. What benefits will being subscribed to receive your promotions offer to a subscriber?

Step 2: Brainstorm a Compelling Incentive

Now that you've clearly defined the benefits of your SMS program, it's time to talk about the value of offering an incentive to your customers.

Incentives are a great tool for tipping the scales in favor of a subscription, especially for your most hesitant customers.

Think of your incentive as an “ethical bribe.”

You GIVE something to your customer in order to GET something from them in return… their cell phone number.

In a retail or service environment, this is usually best accomplished by offering a coupon for a discount on their next purchase – either a fixed amount (i.e., $10), or a percentage (i.e., 10% off their next purchase).

Your incentive is normally delivered via an automatic message (“autoresponder”) that is sent after the customer subscribes to your program. This message can be edited to include details on obtaining the incentive, “to receive 10% off your next purchase mention coupon code TEXT100 at the checkout.”

Other options?

A restaurant might offer a free appetizer, a supplement retailer may offer a free shake or protein bar and a pet food store might offer a bag of dog or cat treats.

Take your time and think about what you can offer.

If you’re hesitant about offering an incentive, keep in mind…

  • You don’t have to use one (although businesses that do get better results – 200 – 500% more opt ins, some data suggests).
  • You are getting unprecedented access to your customer. Your incentive is a short-term investment that will generate results in the long term and a fantastic return on investment.
  • Not everyone who signs up to receive your text message promotions will redeem the incentive. The incentive only “costs” you if the customer uses it, and they only way they can do so is if they return to your place of business and do more business with you.

Take a few minutes and think about what your incentive will be.

Write that down and continue on to the next step.

Step 3: Define Your Messaging Frequency

Your customers love text messaging because it is easy, convenient and unlike email, not cluttered with low value marketing messages and spam.

And you can bet they want to keep it that way.

As a result, it’s very important that you be clear about how often you intend to message them and then stick to that publishing schedule.

As an example, most retail businesses we work with do well messaging their audience 1-2 times per month.

And yes, most customers will be receptive to receiving occasional messages from you, but you can expect their interest will diminish the more frequently you plan to send promotions.

If in doubt, start with fewer messages and gauge the response before boosting your messaging frequency.

What customers do not like is not knowing how often they are going to receive messages from you, so it's critical you define this or you can expect to see subscription rates fall.

Step 4: Eliminate Trust Barriers

If your customer has any hesitations about subscribing to your SMS/MMS promotional program, it is likely because they have concerns related to messaging frequency, privacy and control that typically run along these lines…

  • Is my cell number going to be sold or shared?
  • Will I suddenly start receiving 100’s of promotional messages daily?
  • Is there a charge to receive these messages?
  • Can I unsubscribe if I no longer want to receive them?

In print or digital promotions, these concerns are best addressed by featuring a disclaimer along with any content that promotes your text messaging program.

A typical disclaimer looks like this…

Disclaimer: We normally send no more than 2 messages per month and only when we have something important to say. There is no charge to receive these messages (short of what your services provider charges to send and receive text messages – usually free) and your contact info is secure, encrypted and never sold or shared. If at any time you no longer want to receive our messages, reply with the word STOP and you will be unsubscribed immediately.

…And it should be included in any print and digital promotions.

If you're verbally upselling the service and soliciting subscriptions in your place of business, it's a good idea to weave key elements of the disclaimer into your discussion with the customer as it will put them at ease.

 Step 5. Craft Your Benefit Statement

Now that you've finished your brainstorming, it's time wrap up everything up in a single “benefit statement” that you will use when introducing your texting program to your customers.

Derived from your program's list of benefits (Step 1) and incentives (Step 2) this short statement clearly defines the “what's in it for me” about your program.

Here are a couple of examples of benefit statements that can use as a starting point for crafting your own…

  • Never miss a sale again! Join our text club to get our best sales and discounts directly to your phone. Unsubscribe anytime.
  • Join our Mobile Savings Club for an extra 5% off all sale items, plus an instant coupon for 10% off your next purchase. Unsubscribe anytime.
  • Join our VIP Text Club for early bird access to exclusive offers not available on email or social media. Unsubscribe anytime.
  • Get VIP sales notifications and discount coupons to your phone by joining our text club – plus get an instant coupon for 10% off. Unsubscribe anytime.

This “benefit statement” should be used in all print and digital promotions and weaved into in personal upsells you or your staff may do in your place of business.

Remember that your disclaimer should always accompany your benefits statement to address any possible reservations the customer may have about subscribing.

Step 6: Implement Your Subscription Systems.

With the foundational work out of the way, it's time to start thinking about the “practical stuff.”

And when I say “practical stuff”, I mean putting “subscription systems” in place to allow your customers to add themselves to your text messaging database to receive your messages.

In order to do this you will need to obtain a subscription to our BROADCASTsms service (book a call or a demo here to get started), and then implement our recommended “subscription systems.

Step 7: Promote, Promote, Promote.

While the previous steps have built a solid foundation for success, it is only through constant promotion of your texting program that you will build a massive list of contacts.

It's not enough to mention it once or twice and throw up a small promotional poster in your place of business.

You have to be proactive. And consistent.

That means upselling the service…

  • To every client who walks through your door.
  • On your active social media platforms every other day.
  • In every email newsletter you send.
  •  In all print promotions.
  • On your web site or online store.

In addition to the subscription systems discussed in Step 6, don't be afraid to brainstorm other creative ways to solicit subscriptions.

For example, one of our clients occasionally puts together a gift basket of goods and, in exchange for a phone number and permission for marketing, provides a ballot for entry to win it.

Other interesting options include incentizing signs up by rewarding staff members for doing so, or encouraging subscribers to forward your offers on their friends, not only to drive additional business, but to encourage those people to get sign up as well.

Be persistent, stress the benefits and I have no doubt you will acheive great things!