SMS is not a new marketing tool, but there are some marketers that remain hesitant to dip their toes in. This could be because there are some myths and misconceptions surrounding SMS marketing.
Well, those myths — like that it’s obsolete or annoys customers — have well and truly been debunked. In fact, 61% of businesses in the U.S. were expected to increase their text marketing budgets in 2020, largely due to the pandemic. But for those of you who still find SMS marketing a bit of a mystery, we’re here to explain how it works and the best ways to use it.
How SMS marketing works
SMS (or text) marketing is a direct marketing tool you can use to communicate with customers, whether that’s sending abandoned cart messages, getting customer feedback, to announcing sales or promotions and confirming appointments.
Text marketing makes sense for many businesses, particularly those that rely on building personal connections with their customers or send important and time-sensitive information. SMS has an open rate of over 99%, with most people reading an SMS within 3 minutes of receiving it. This puts SMS marketing as the fastest and most direct way to keep in touch and ensure your messages are getting read.
So, how exactly does it work? Don’t worry, you’re not going to be sitting on your phone, writing text after text. SMS marketing tools, like Vision6, allow you to create, personalise, automate and schedule bulk SMS messages, all from the one platform.
There are essentially three ways that marketers can send SMS messages:
- You can send quick, ad-hoc SMS messages to one or more contacts as a one-off. These can be sent to numbers that you manually input and aren’t necessarily on our contact lists. But remember, the contacts still need to have opted-in to receieve your messages!
- You can bulk-send messages to subscriber lists of your choosing, with personalisation wildcards and scheduling options.
- Or you can create automations that send predetermined messages to contacts, triggered by certain events or behaviours (just like email).
Our SMS marketing tool has the capabilities for all three. You can learn more about it by signing up for a free account or watching our video guide to creating SMS.
How the ‘From’ number works
After you’ve sent the messages, what happens on the other end? There are four ways that the ‘From’ number works, and each option will look slightly different on the receiver’s end. Plus, they each give marketers different capabilities.
- Use a default number – the default number is a system phone number, shared by all Vision6 users who have opted for the default setup. This option gives you the ability to view and respond to all replies in your account. Plus, all of your unsubscribe requests will be handled automatically.
- Use your own mobile number – you can use your own mobile number as the ‘From’ number, but this will mean you’ll be managing all responses and unsubscribe requests manually which may chew up a lot of your time.
- Add ‘From’ text, not a number – instead of a number appearing in the ‘From’ field, you can add text, like your company name. It’s great for brand recognition, however, it will mean that recipients won’t be able to reply to your messages. On top of this, some telecommunications providers don’t look favourably on using text ‘from’ numbers, so you might not receive 100% deliverability.
- Create a dedicated ‘From’ number – if you don’t want to use the shared default number, you can purchase your own dedicated number in the system. This will give you all the same benefits, plus it means you can share or advertise this number on your other marketing material.
If you want some more info on ‘From’ numbers, take a look at our support article.
How to set it up
Setting up SMS marketing is pretty simple, with Vision6 at least. It’s inbuilt into all of our accounts, all you need to do is follow a few steps:
- Sign up or sign in.
- Purchase SMS credits. For reference, one SMS message (that is 160 characters or under) is equal to one SMS credit. When you run out of credits, simply top it up.
- Build or import contact lists with mobile phone number data. Just like email, you can’t message someone if you don’t have their phone number — or their consent. You can build your contact lists in a number of ways, like sign-up web forms, QR codes, YouTube, even via text itself.
- Write your messages. Whether it’s an ad-hoc message or a bulk text, remember to keep it short and sweet, add emojis to show your personality, personalise it with wildcards, and always include an opt-out option.
- Save the messages and then choose to either send right away, schedule for a later date, or add it to your automation workflows.
SMS marketing best practices
When you’re all set up and ready to start incorporating SMS into your marketing strategy, there’s a few best practices to keep in mind. They’ll help you get the most bang for your buck and keep you compliant with Australia’s anti-spam regulations.
- Ensure your contacts have opted into receiving SMS – Whether it’s express or inferred, permission is a key part of compliance.
- Clearly identify yourself – Make sure your business is identifiable, such as using your business name in the ‘From’ field or including it in your message.
- Always include the option to opt-out – You need to ensure every message has a way for people to opt-out. With Vision6, this is as simple as choosing from our automatic unsubscribe options when composing your messages.
- Be careful of timing – No one wants to receive a promotional text at 4am. Think carefully about the time you send your messages, and be mindful of things like time differences and your target audience’s schedules.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your SMS marketing. Think about what your customers or clients would like to hear from you, and as always, track your results and optimise.
Want to learn more about Australia’s most reliable SMS Marketing tools? Book a free demo today.