Neil Patel

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SMS Marketing Doesn’t Suck: Here’s How to Use it To Generate Revenue

SMS Marketing Doesn’t Suck: Here's How to Use it To Generate Revenue

Did you know the average person checks their phone 344 times a day?

Which is just one of the reasons SMS marketing no longer sucks.

71 percent of people say they check their phones within 10 minutes of getting out of bed.

The point is that people keep their phones handy and are always ready to use them to find information or check the latest social media updates.

Plus, open rates for texts vastly surpass email—98 percent versus just 20 percent for email.

Mobile advertising works, but only if your message makes it to the consumer’s inbox, and only if your ad is mobile-optimized.

It’s the only way to steer clear of the noise and get a positive return on investment.

Watered-down, mobile-targeting tactics are costing you conversions, clients, and revenue.

Meanwhile, SMS marketing is lurking in the background, waiting for you to capitalize on it.

Here’s why (and how) you should revisit SMS marketing to generate revenue.

The Many Advantages of SMS Marketing

If you think Instagram has good engagement numbers, wait until you see what text messages get.

SMS Marketing Advantage #1. Texting Has the Best Engagement Rate of Any Marketing Medium

Emails can sit unread for days, phone calls can go unanswered, but text messages are almost always read immediately after they’re sent.

We already talked about the comparatively dismal open rates for email. The average CTR for PPC ads is even worse at 2%.

The point is that SMS marketing is underrated and underappreciated.

But nothing great comes without a catch.

It’s neither ethical nor legal to send unsolicited messages with text-message marketing.

You need a written opt-in.

sms marketing example of unsolicited message

Fortunately, customers have an easy way to opt themselves in—or out—straight from their mobile phones with most text-marketing services.

Using Attentive’s patent-pending “two-tap” technology, customers can opt-in to a brand’s text messaging subscriber list seamlessly from their mobile website, social media, or other digital channels.

With one tap, a message will populate in their message inbox. They simply press send on the pre-populated text message to opt-in and receive a welcome message.

attentive mobile sms marketing optin

Here are some of the advantages of mobile text messaging.

SMS Marketing Advantage #2. It’s Trackable

There are countless text message advertising texting platforms that allow you to manage your campaign all from your desktop.

Find a solution that will give you access to detailed analytics that lets you track each step in the conversion process, starting with the initial delivery and opening.

One great option is SlickText. They’re an SMS advertising and marketing solution that offers analytics as one of its features. You can track everything from clicks to abandoned cart revenue.

SMS Marketing Advantage #3. You Can Leverage Interactive Content

Text message advertising makes it possible to get feedback from your recipients quickly via a quick tap on the ‘reply’ button or a click on your link.

You can deliver quick and simple messages that direct subscribers back to your site.

For example, Chipotle excels at using mobile messaging to drive sales.

sms marketing example from Chipotle

It’s short and sweet. It gets straight to the point with “free chips and guac” if you play their game.

Not a bad deal, right?

Especially since they have queso now, too.

Get creative with your text-marketing campaigns and take a page out of the Chipotle playbook.

SMS Marketing Advantage #4. Immediate Delivery

Overall, mobile marketing is fast. Once you press “send,” your message goes out instantly.

You can set up a text message advertising campaign and have hundreds of clicks within minutes.

sms marketing example from subway

SMS Marketing Advantage #5. Add a Personal Touch

Sending a text message via your mobile device gives you an informal opportunity to personalize the message.

For example, the Banana Republic often sends text messages that include words like “friends” and “your.”

Using words like “you” and “I” is one of my favorite techniques for driving engagement.

The Banana Republic also does an excellent job of tapping into local events that are relevant to the recipient.

SMS marketing example banana republic

See? The opportunities with SMS advertising are endless.

You can personalize your message, direct users to fun games where they can win coupons, and track every step of the conversion process.

Here’s how it works.

The Basic Components of SMS Marketing

The two basic components of a typical SMS marketing campaign are the keyword and the shortcode. Here’s an example of SMS advertising:

Text “POPCORN” to 555555 for our weekly list of flavors!

“POPCORN” is the keyword that gets placed in the body of the message.

“555555” is the shortcode that gets put in the recipient box.

When a customer sends that message, they’re “opting in” to your campaign. It’s as easy as that.

From there you can do a few different things.

Go ahead and send them a single, automated response to follow up and let them know what to expect next. Or you can just add them to a list that will send additional texts over time.

There are other ways to get customers to opt-in. Let them check a box on an order form or submit their phone numbers online.

Numbers received this last way have to be confirmed, however, since a customer could always enter a number incorrectly.

dominos sms marketing opt in

So before you add them to a campaign, you’ll have to confirm their participation with another message.

For example, you could send. “Text ‘YES’ to receive weekly coupons.”

Once they’ve opted in, customers can also respond to your messages with sub-keywords.

For example, sending the phrase “Hours” could trigger an automated text to send business hours, and “Stop” could remove the subscriber from the list.

Allowing customers to use sub-keywords gives them a way to interact with your business. It also enables them to opt-out of your campaign if they wish to stop receiving messages.

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can tap into creative ideas—like Chipotle’s game, which we covered earlier.

SMS Marketing Strategies to Try

Mobile texting tactics are diverse.

However, they should be pretty familiar if you’ve already run social promotions and contests.

For example, you can send coupons, drive traffic, or engage people through fun, simple games.

Here are some of the best potential uses for SMS marketing.

SMS Marketing Tip #1. Coupons and Exclusive Deals

Start by creating uniquely-generated coupon codes to prevent non-subscribers from taking advantage of your deal.

That way, people have to subscribe to save.

Check out this example from Redbox:

sms marketing example redbox

Redbox also takes advantage of “add to wallet.”

It’s giving you a simple one-click option to hook up your phone’s payment system with its offer.

Plus, the subscriber gets an extra incentive for taking this additional step. Customers don’t have to take an extra step to pay when they want to rent movies.

SMS Marketing Tip #2. Use Drip Campaigns 

Drip campaigns are automated messages sent based on specific factors, such as how long someone has been a customer.

Think of this as just another form of marketing automation.

You can create triggers or tailored responses depending on each individual’s status.

In the context of coupons, for example, you could send a 5 percent off coupon right after the subscriber signs up, a 10 percent coupon after three weeks, and a 20 percent off coupon after two months.

The longer they stick around, the bigger the potential bonus. So you’re incentivizing the action you want.

Best of all, you can schedule these to run automatically.

One will be sent as soon as a customer signs up or opts in. That way, you don’t need to keep sending individual messages.

SMS marketing send drip campaigns

SMS Marketing Tip #3. Poll Your Customers

Polls let your customers text different keywords to cast a vote.

With most services, you can you can run polls to collect responses over a period of time and graph the responses from your online dashboard.

sms marketing poll

These are relatively simple when you think about it.

However, they offer an interesting content piece.

You can use the results internally to improve your operations.

Or you can reuse the results in both blog and social content to leverage your unique, proprietary information.

The people who left an answer will also be more eager to find out what the eventual results were and even help you share them.

SMS Marketing Tip #4. Run a Sweepstakes Contest

You can have customers sign themselves up for sweepstakes by texting a particular keyword.

Once again, this is a standard promotion tactic.

You can select some winners from everyone who opts in. Or you can also give away a smaller prize to every person who texts your keyword.

You can even use it as an opportunity for cross-promotions.

Sterling Vineyards and Uber did that to give away free rides to Sterling’s customer base.

sms marketing tip create a contest

SMS Marketing Tip #5. Send Photos and Videos

In addition to the actual text portion of SMS messaging, you can also send photos and videos.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say you wanted to send an eBook preview or another image-style CTA.

Check out this example I created to see what’s possible with just a few minutes worth of work.

Sms marketing tip send photos and videos

Want to create this type of marketing message? I’ll show you how a bit later in this piece.

Use Facebook to Grow Your SMS List

Instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket, use multiple channels to segment subscribers.

Text message advertising and Facebook Ads are excellent on their own. But they can be even better when you use them together.

I recommend checking out Facebook’s lead ads to integrate with your SMS campaigns.

Lead ads are great for collecting data and information to build up a large subscriber base.

Here’s how to get started.

Head to the Facebook Ads Manager and create a new ad, selecting lead generation as your objective.

sms marketing choose a goal in facebook ads

After you’ve set your target audience, budget, and placements, head down to the lead form option to set up your ad and collect phone numbers.

SMS marketing create facebook ads

Here’s what the finished product should look like.

SMS marketing facebook ad example

Now you get a multi-step form that doesn’t bombard the user with an instant information grab.

Instead, it uses multiple steps to warm them up to your offer.

Pretty cool, right?

Here’s what the second step of the form looks like.

SMS marketing facebook ad example

Once you’ve configured your settings, you’ve got a simple way to collect phone numbers immediately.

That means you’re almost ready to start getting your first SMS campaign off the ground.

How to Automate SMS Advertising and Marketing

Since we’re into the idea of working smarter and not harder, I suggest automating the text message advertising process.

Let’s face it: Marketing automation saves precious time you can spend growing your business.

For example, you don’t have to manually export and import lead data. Instead, you can use a tool like Zapier to quickly build out an automated process.

Zapier connects with just about every marketing software you can think of, including MailChimp, Gmail, Facebook Ads, Slack, and many of the biggest CRMs on the market.

sms marketing automation use zapier

So if you get a few people submitting phone numbers in your Facebook lead ads, you can send them directly to your CRM, your messaging platform, and even various SMS marketing platforms. All at the same time!

Here’s a few of the texting apps they work with, or you can search here.

sms marketing use zapier

Let’s dive straight in, shall we?

First, select Facebook Lead Ads from the workflow ideas list.

connect facebook lead ads SMS marekting

Next, select it as your trigger.

sms marketing connect fb lead ads and zapier step 2

So whenever a lead fills out your lead capture form, it will trigger the following action that you want to set.

I’ll show you how to set that up in one second. But it could be anything from sending that lead form information to your CRM to connecting it to your SMS marketing software.

Now, let’s select this action once you’ve connected your Facebook account to Zapier’s workflow.

The action determines what happens with the data from your lead forms.

SMS marketing zapier and FB lead ads step 3

For example, you can instantly add a new lead to your SMS app of choice. Then you can even automate the first message that will go out to them after they’re added.

All of this automation saves you countless hours of manually transferring data and information.

SMS Marketing Frequently Asked Questions

What is SMS in marketing?

SMS, or short messaging services, refers to using text messages to communicate with leads or customers. Brands can share promotions, news, shipping updates, and more.

Does SMS marketing annoy customers?

If you don’t use them correctly, SMS marketing can definitely backfire and annoy your customers. Make sure to ask permission, make it easy for consumers to opt-out, and only send specific or time-sensitive messages — such as a sale.

Is SMS marketing expensive?

No, it’s often much cheaper than other types of marketing like paid ads because each message usually only costs a few cents each to send.

Why should I use SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is cost-effective, easy to deploy, and incredibly effective because messages are delivered directly to users’ phones.

Conclusion: SMS Marketing

Let’s be honest: SMS marketing can be kind of spammy.

It has evolved a lot over the past few years, though.

People are attached to their phones more than ever, and SMS advertising and marketing allow you to get direct access to your customers.

If you can get them to opt-in, they’re never going to miss an update or offer from your company ever again.

Especially if your SMS are personalized for the recipient!

Find an SMS app and start sending coupons, polling your customers, running sweepstakes, sending photos, and driving sales. The options are limitless.

Get creative with your text offers and watch your ROI grow fast.

Have you received any SMS marketing messages that you just had to respond to?

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