SMS should be a marketer's dream. People read their texts; 98% of SMS messages are opened. But it's also easy to get SMS marketing wrong.
That doesn't mean you should be put off. Instead, we have identified the top three mistakes that we see people making with SMS marketing.
Read on to make sure you avoid these common errors and, instead, create effective text message marketing campaigns.
1. Sending Messages in Isolation
You're probably thinking, "Hang on a minute. I'm a professional marketer. I craft campaigns." And, of course, you're right.
But even a well thought out campaign might seem jarring if it lacks context.
Think about how your customers interact with your business. More and more, customer communication takes place as an ongoing conversation.
And it doesn't matter what the channel is. Both consumers and business customers are getting used to the idea that when they interact with a business, the person they're dealing with has the full context of that ongoing conversation.
Imagine you're chatting with a friend in a coffee shop. They go to order a drink. When they return, not only do they show no sign or indication that they remember what you were just talking about, but they also jump right into pitching you their latest side-gig.
Sending a marketing text message to existing customers, or warm prospects, without acknowledging your past history would be just as weird.
Remember that SMS is intimate. It's the medium where people sign-off with kisses. Craft your marketing text messages in such a way that it's part of the ongoing conversation between your brand and the recipient. That way, your message will feel more natural, more intimate, and more engaging.
2. Thinking that Engagement is a Numbers Game
We've seen that SMS has great engagement. If 98% of people are going to open your message, then it's easy to think that text message marketing is just a numbers game.
Even if 98% of people who receive your message ultimately read it, then what about the people who never even receive it?
Deliverability can be a significant issue when it comes to SMS marketing. If a chunk of your messages never even arrive, then you're starting your campaign at a disadvantage.
You might think deliverability is out of your hands but you'd be wrong. There are several ways to improve the chances of your text messages reaching their destination, including:
Follow local regulations: did you know that major carriers in France will refuse to deliver your marketing SMS messages on a Saturday? Or that promotional text messages sent to Indian numbers after 9pm will be queued for delivery the next day?
Verify your contacts: using Nexmo's Number Insights API you can programmatically check the current status of numbers in your contact list and scrub any that are no longer active.
Choose the right communications partner: not every SMS API is equal. At Nexmo, we have direct relationships with carriers around the world, meaning that we minimise the number of hops it takes for your text messages to reach their destination.
When you improve your chances of delivery, then you can get more text messages to more recipients.
3. Stopping at SMS
SMS provides an amazing way to contact people almost instantly, and it happens in a way that they're proven to engage with.
But there is more to messaging than SMS. Over-The-Top (OTT) messaging services, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber take what's great about SMS and give you even more.
At best, an SMS gives you 160 characters of plain text. OTT messaging lets you add images and video, while delivering more text, offering reliable read notifications, and the potential for even greater engagement than SMS. And it doesn't stop there. OTT messaging platforms evolve quickly, meaning you expect to enjoy innovative new ways to engage with your audience.
There is a caveat, though. When you're working with an over-the-top messaging platform you must abide by their rules. Sending cold marketing messages through WhatsApp isn't possible. But that's a strength for you as a marketer. Users of platforms such as WhatsApp know that the messages in their app are the ones they want to receive. And that's why engagement in OTT apps can be higher than SMS.
Try it with Nexmo's Messages API.
SMS is Both Easy and Hard to Get Right
There's a lot you can get wrong with SMS marketing. The good news, though, is that once you get it right you'll find strong returns.
So long as you follow the rules, treat SMS as part of the ongoing conversation between your brand and the recipient, and have a compelling offer, then you're on the right track. And when you're ready for the next level, think about how much more you could do with over-the-top messaging.
Either way, we at Vonage are here to help.