How do I set up an SMS campaign for my company?

Amid all of the possible methods of B2C communication, SMS is perhaps the most prominent – simply because it’s so effective. The fact that so many people have access to mobile phones these days makes it easy for firms to text their customers with promotional offers, product information or even just a quick hello.

Such great rewards don’t come without a little bit of work, though. From choosing the right provider right through to sending the most effective messages – it all has the potential to affect the success of your campaign. So what do you need to consider?

Choosing the right provider for your SMS campaign

Before anything else, think carefully about what you’re trying to achieve from your SMS campaigns; only then will you be in a position to choose the right provider. Then, make every effort to look at the bigger picture.

SMS marketing should be an ongoing thing as opposed to a one-time investment, so choosing a supplier based only on its up-front costs is likely to be a counterproductive move. Securing a cheap solution might sound like a great idea at first, but what does it actually include? Comprehensive support must be available throughout and the package should provide everything you need right from the start. That’s not to say that price shouldn’t be taken into account at all, but focus on the total ownership costs instead.

Look as well for a reputable provider. Accurately evaluating a given provider’s reputation can sometimes be difficult, but its client history will tell you a lot. If it’s working with some of the biggest names in their respective industries, you’re likely onto a winner. After all, a powerful multinational organisation can spend what it wants on marketing, so its choice speaks volumes. Case studies will also be valuable here – they should give you an idea of what’s possible, and may even provide some inspiration.

Building a contact list to send bulk communication

Having the best SMS provider in the world on your side will mean nothing if you don’t have decent contact list. Decency in this sense is not defined by size – it’s the quality that should be considered. Many firms have made the mistake of purchasing data relating to customers, only to find that contacting them is not just ineffective but in some cases counterproductive. Put simply, most people don’t like to receive messages from unknown sources when they haven’t actually expressed any prior interest in their services.

Instead, it’s crucial to target messages more specifically, and to focus on those who could potentially convert. Take the time to develop your list naturally, encouraging customers to hand over their details at the point of sale or when making an enquiry. When they’re aware that you might contact them with offers, recipients are likely to respond more positively. Also, when you’ve gathered enough information, you’ll be able to send messages at times when they’re likely to have the desired impact.

Keep the following in mind, too: your contact list will never be finished. The more organic additions you have and the more detailed the information you have on them, the more effectively you’ll be able to split the audience up into target groups. This gives you the chance to send out tailored messages.

Sending the right messages

When you’re new to text marketing, it can be difficult to know what to say in your messages. It’s important to realise that it’s not just the recipient dictating the response you get – the content will also play a big part. Think about the language you use, bearing in mind that the first ‘S’ in SMS stands for ‘short’. Flowery language, therefore, is a bad move. Keep it succinct and to the point to ensure you come across in a serious way – the last thing you want to do is bore or annoy the reader.

What do you want to achieve by sending your message? If you’re looking for the recipient to visit your website, say so. If you’re after a response, be sure to invite a reply. Vague messages without any calls to action are much less likely to be acted upon, so think about the language you use. Words like ‘buy’, ‘order’ and ‘visit’ are all effective here, simply because they act as encouragement. You have to make it as easy as possible for the recipient to act in the desired way.

Next, think of timing. Though it isn’t everything, it’s definitely important. In this case, timing should be considered in two ways:

First, expiration dates on promotional messages are extremely effective. When people think they’re likely to miss out on something, they’re much more likely to act quickly. If they think they have all the time in the world to act, they may well forget.

Also, messages should be sent at appropriate times. Think about what it is you’re selling and who you’re targeting; contact the parents of school-age children first thing in the morning and your message is likely to get buried under a pile of other stresses. Text a group of students about drinks promotions when lectures are about to end, however, and you might have a bit more success.

SMS campaigns aren’t as simple as flicking a button and reaping the rewards, but it’s definitely worth putting the effort in. With so much to gain, it won’t be long before your initial investments are justified.