The Advanced SMS Marketing Guide
Optimizing your outbound SMS marketing campaigns to achieve higher redemption rates, lower opt out rates and increasing overall subscriber satisfaction is not hard. You already know how to create value, to pay attention to campaign frequency, and include a call to action. Let's touch on some of the most important advanced components that will take your text campaigns to the next level.
Strong Calls to Action
A call to action is must for any marketing method. Whether it's email, print ads or SMS marketing, if you're not including this fundamental component, you've got work to do. Make sure that your call to action is clear, strong, and nudges the user to take the intended next step. Terminology like "check out our website" or "stop in to learn more" are less powerful, as they don't require immediate action. Provide clear and strong next steps, all while creating a sense of urgency.
Let's take a look at some stronger alternatives.
- "Show this text tonight"
- "Use promo code ABC20 today"
- "Visit our store within the next 6 hours"
You'll notice these examples are strong in terms of next steps, and they also include a time component which creates that sense of urgency.
Timing is key with any great SMS marketing campaign, and has the power to make or break your response and opt out rates. Before you send or schedule a campaign, think about when your subscribers are most likely to take action on your offer.
For example, if you own a restaurant and want to increase traffic for Tuesday night dinner, don't send your text at 6PM. Most people have already decided on dinner plans, and your campaign will have little to no response. A better time, in this instance, would be to send it mid afternoon, when the work day is close to ending and people are starting to think about dinner plans.
In addition to being mindful of the time of day, think about where your campaigns lie in terms of the day of the week, and even in relation to common pay periods. Depending on your business's clientele, you may see better redemption rates just after the 15th and 31st of the month.
The bottom line is to make sure the time at which you're sending SMS marketing campaigns jives well with your offers, and that your subscribers feel a sense of urgency, all while having a considerable amount of time to act.
Scheduling your text messages in advance is a great way to stay ahead of the game. Not only does it force you to plan out your campaigns ahead of time, but it also helps you stick to your promised monthly frequency. In addition, scheduling gives you time to ponder the campaign message, and allows you to make any necessary changes that surface before launch. Good SMS marketers plan and schedule at least half of their campaigns in advance.
If you're marketing for an ecommerce site, or looking to drive your subscribers to a place on the web, you should use link tracking. It allows you to see how many people and what percentage of your total subscriber base took action and clicked your link. Normally you'd have to use a third party service like bit.ly to create trackable links, but Slick Text actually provides integrated support for outbound campaign link tracking. This helps you identify what's known as your "click through rate", and how many people completed the action intended in your text message.
Unique Promo Codes
Unique promo codes, as mentioned previously, allow you to send individual promo codes to each subscriber on your text list. This helps eliminate promo code abuse, and also allows you to track, on a subscriber by subscriber basis, who is taking advantage of your offers. These codes are normally generated through the third party CRMs or point of sale systems that accept the codes.
Most advanced marketers leverage the power of A/B testing in some way, shape, or form. The same goes for SMS marketing. Split your subscriber list up into two random, yet equal parts and send them each a different variation of your campaign. One half would get what's known as the "control version" and the other half would get the "test version". Make a slight variation to your control, and then see what impact that change has on response rate. You can then use your observations to optimize future SMS campaigns and enjoy the benefits of a better response going forward.
Here's an example of an A/B test for a restaurant's SMS marketing campaign.
Let's say The Italian Fisherman has used SMS marketing for a year. They've grown their list to 10,000 subscribers, and always use the same call to action.
They want to see what time sensitive verbiage will do to their response rates. They split their 10K subscriber list into 2 random groups of 5K - half with the time pressure and half without.
Here are the 2 versions:
It's Tuesday night and we're offering a free appetizer with the purchase of any 2 entrees. Show this text to your server to get the deal!
It's Tuesday night and we're offering a free appetizer with the purchase of any 2 entrees. Show this text to your server to get the deal! Good only for tonight."
They send their campaign, and that night they have servers keep a count of how many redemptions contain the time sensitive message versus not.
Here are the results:
- Non-Time Sensitive Campaign - 528 redemptions
- Time Sensitive Campaign - 864 redemptions
It looks like adding "Good only for tonight" motivated subscribers to take advantage of the deal. It lead to an additional 336 redemptions. Going forward, The Italian Fisherman will be including a time pressure component to all of their SMS marketing campaigns.
Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure your testing results are accurate.
- Make sure the difference between your control and test versions are narrowed down to one thing per test. In any A/B test, multiple changes from version to version can often create false positives or negatives.
- Split your lists into random test groups. If they aren't random, this could also lead to a false positive or negative.
- Send your campaigns at the same time. Even a variation in time sent can impact the validity of your test results.