SMS marketing is all the rage, but – as with any other medium of communication – it’s not just using it but how you use it that makes the difference if effective marketing. This article provides some SMS marketing strategies for effective use of text messages.
Strategy 1—Adapting to the Medium
Just as with any marketing medium—whether a TV ad, a radio spot, or a sign on a hot air balloon—one of the key elements of SMS marketing strategies is adapting your message to the medium. Granted, in an SMS text message you have a lot more space than you do on the side of a hot air balloon! But still, 160 characters takes some getting used to. Here are some strategies for adapting to the SMS length:
• Use abbreviations, but only when necessary. If your message fits the space, there’s no reason to use abbreviations, and it can look odd, too.
• Use standard abbreviations, whenever possible. If you stick to familiar SMS abbreviations, rather than making up your own, your customers will have an easier time reading your SMS text message.
• Draw a line on informality. Despite the fact that abbreviations are informal, avoid informal language, slang, and off-color material that is outside the image that your company has created for itself and that could offend your customer.
• Read and reread for double entendres. Especially when working with abbreviations and the kind of shorthand that is required to make substantive messages fit in SMS, it is important to be aware of all the ways in which a phrase or sentence could be interpreted. As many SMS text abbreviations have multiple meanings, check thoroughly to make sure that the ones you choose to employ do not have an alternative that you would be embarrassed to have sent your customers.
• Front the important stuff. With more time and space, ads can lead up to the point. Lead-in is not SMS text messages’ strong suit. It’s best to immediately let your customer know what the SMS text message is about. Coupon, Contest, Free, Sale, Special Offer, Win, and Sweepstakes are all words likely to get positive attention. Speaking of positive, it’s probably better not to start with a negative word. Don’t let laundry stains get you down and similar approaches that begin with a negative word may lose you your audience before they’ve finished reading.
• Don’t get taken for spam. Clearly specify your business name and contact information, and construct your text messages in a professional way to make sure that your group SMS text message isn’t taken for spam.
• Keep the medium in mind. In face-to-face communication, people have many cues besides the words: The speaker’s facial expression, posture, gestures, and voice all give clues to meaning. These are all stripped away in SMS text messages. This makes tone, particularly irony and sarcasm, difficult to judge. For this reason, it’s probably best to avoid snarky comments. They have a large risk of being misread.
Strategy 2—Keep in Touch
Part of effective SMS marketing strategies relies on creating expectations and then fulfilling them. If you send a SMS text message about weekend specials every Friday at 10 a.m., your customers will come to expect it, rely on it, and look for it. You will avoid having your SMS text messages mistaken for spam and your customers will have weekly evidence of your consistency and reliability. The same goes for weekly or monthly coupons, links to a newsletter, etc. Of course, you might have a business where some elements aren’t as regular. But having something that your customers can rely on is a useful approach.
Strategy 3—Target Your Audience
Not everyone on your opt-in list needs to receive all SMS text messages. People who buy soccer equipment can get separate SMS text messages from hockey freaks and baseball fanatics. Make distinctions in what you send to whom when it makes sense to do so via niche marketing.