Despite being around since the early 1990s, Simple Messaging Service (SMS) did not become a solid marketing channel until 2018. Even email marketing was more popular than promotional text messaging until 2016. These days, SMS marketing is a widely-used marketing channel in the United States. It is a cost-effective way to reach a large audience and can be an excellent strategy for driving engagement and conversions; however, success is contingent upon how campaigns are crafted and managed.
What You Need to Know About SMS Marketing Campaigns
As long as you work with established partners such as SlickText, mobile marketing strategies are relatively easy to manage. In 2015, when the fifth season of the cable television series “Game of Thrones” came to an end, HBO executives launched a clever text messaging campaign to build excitement for the sixth season.
The campaign featured messages with links to mobile landing pages that displayed video clips and other teasing bits of information. The messages were written in the literary style of George R.R. Martin, author of the novels that inspired “Game of Thrones,” and they were coded to expire by a time indicated on each message; this was done to create a sense of urgency.
Months later, NBCUniversal launched a text messaging simulation game that tied into the first season of the hit “Mr Robot” series, and it proved so successful and engaging among viewers that USA Network executives initially lamented not having released an SMS marketing campaign instead. For subsequent miniseries such as “Queen of the South,” they ensured that text messaging was part of promotional efforts.
How to Design Highly Effective SMS Marketing Campaigns
The first step to creating an effective text messaging promotion strategy is to research the audience you will target in terms of demographics, interests, or even past purchase behaviour. At the same time, you will want to double-check compliance, which is why choosing bulk SMS providers that have coded jurisdictional compliance into their platforms is vital.
This compliance check should be performed before going any further, even before sending the first batch of messages for testing. You know you will be working with a limitation of 160 characters, so you want to keep messaging short and sweet. The call to action is always placed at the end, along with an invitation to opt out; these two elements must always be included.
Making your SMS marketing special comes down to making it exclusive. Whatever you offer must be exclusive to the text messaging channel. This gets prospects interested in what you offer, including coupons, discounts, early access to new products, or behind-the-scenes content.
Why SMS Marketing is Making a Comeback
By the time Nike launched the first major SMS marketing campaign in 2005, European brand managers and business owners had already used SMS short code technology as a promotional tactic. Advertising and marketing campaigns that featured text messaging became playful and innovative until about 2007, and then it fizzled upon the introduction of the iPhone by the late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.
American brands abandoned SMS marketing as they focused on social media marketing and search engine optimization. It wasn’t until the 2016 presidential election that ambitious text messaging campaigns returned widely.
High mobile phone penetration and the high open rates of text messages are not the only reasons you are seeing a resurgence of SMS marketing in the U.S. There is a more important and growing concern about personal data privacy, which in 2018 resulted in the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.
Although no federal comprehensive law is equivalent to GDPR, states such as California, Colorado, and Virginia have introduced similar legislation. It is more difficult for brands these days to collect and use personal data without the consent of consumers, and this is where SMS marketing shines because the platform is all about letting audiences opt in or out through replies and shortcodes.
Recent surveys conducted by market research firms show that 70% of Americans already receive promotional text messages, and the opt-out rates are lower than 40%. Keep this in mind as you plan your next strategic marketing move.