Anatomy of a Successful Text Message Marketing Campaign

Text message marketing is being touted as the latest, greatest means of reaching customers since the advent of the Internet.

After all, more than 50 percent of all adults have smartphones (and that number jumps to 80 percent for adults between the ages of 18 and 34) and most open text messages within an hour of receiving them.

However, just because people have the capability to receive messages and will read them doesn’t mean that your text message marketing campaign is guaranteed to be successful. There are a number of factors that can torpedo your campaign before it even starts, and if you aren’t careful and strategic, you could alienate a potentially lucrative customer base.

So what does it take for your text campaigns to meet and exceed your goals?

Step 1: Reach the Right Audience

Text message marketing is covered under federal CAN-SPAM and Telephone Consumer Protection Act rules, which essentially state that in order to send commercial text messages to consumers, you must have their written consent to do so and offer the option to opt-out of receiving messages. This means that as tempting as it may be, you cannot simply add all of your customers’ mobile numbers to your text marketing list without their consent.

However, you can request that your customers join our text marketing lists, or use a commercial list to gain new subscribers. Ideally, you should carefully segment your list to target specific demographics or behaviors to ensure that the recipients see your messages as useful, and take action. You might send to fewer numbers, but you’ll have better results.

Step 2: Timing Is Everything

Just as the timing of email messages can dictate the success or failure of a campaign, the same applies to texts. After all, few people will respond in the middle of the night. Try to time your messages to when recipients will be most receptive and likely to act. When are people using their phones? For example, sending an offer for a discounted pizza is likely to get a better response if it’s sent at the end of the day, when people are headed home from work, while a discounted ticket offer might be better received early in the day when plans are still being made.

Step 3: Understand That Content Is Still King

Quality content is vital in other forms of online marketing — and it might be even more so in the realm of text message marketing. When you only have 160 characters to work with, your message must be succinct and engaging, as well as free of fluff and hype.

You need to offer something of immediate value. Oh, and you also need to identify yourself (would you respond to an anonymous text?). To do so, create messages that not only capitalize on the sense of urgency that is inherent in text messaging, but focus on creating a message that provides value and a feeling of exclusivity — everyone loves feeling like they’ve gotten a deal, and all the better if they feel they have gotten one that no one else has. Don’t forget to include a clear call to action and instructions for redeeming the offer.

Step 4: Check for Common Errors

Sometimes, text message marketing campaigns fail, and no one can figure out why. In many cases, it’s because the marketing team forgot that the devil is in the details, and certain seemingly small mistakes can turn into big losses. For example, choosing the wrong short code (the five or six digit number that subscribers send messages to) can cause problems; if you use a word instead of numbers, customers can be confused by sending a word to a word.

Keywords also have the potential to trip you up too. If a subscriber has to send a keyword in order to qualify for an offer, make it easy for them to do correctly. Including special characters, surrounding the word with quotation marks, and failing to account for autocorrect can all lead to unrecognizable responses – and unhappy subscribers who don’t receive the incentive offered. Consider all of the angles of your campaign, and identify potential pitfalls before you waste time and money sending out useless texts.

Text message marketing has the potential to increase sales and engagement, but only when it’s done right. Before you jump on the SMS bandwagon, take some time to carefully plan your campaign and address all of the possible issues — or risk ending up in the bad campaign hall of fame.