Text Message Marketing Best Practices
Now that you're sure you can use text message marketing without any legal repercussions, it's time to move forward with your campaign.
There are nine ideas that you must incorporate into your text message marketing strategy to make sure you're getting the best possible results.
1. Tell Users Exactly What to Expect
When you're asking people for their phone numbers, you need to make it perfectly clear to them what they can expect from you.
The best way to do this is to tell them when you'll send text messages, how often you'll send them, and what they'll offer.
You should include all of this information in your Terms & Conditions. That way, your customers will know where to find it, and they'll understand that they have to read it.
Beyond that, you can also add a checkbox to your signup form that every user must click to confirm that they understand your terms and conditions. That absolves you of any liability if someone later complains that they didn't know what you would send to their phones.
Finally, it's a great idea to create a confirmation text message that you send to every new signup. Confirmation messages are great for making sure that you have the right number and your customer sincerely wants to get messages from you.
Now that you have all the logistics worked out, it's time to decide on some other critical details.
2. How Often You Send Text Messages
The frequency of your text messages plays a major role in how they're received.
If you send multiple text messages per day, you can expect your list of recipients to drop off almost immediately. That's because you're sending messages too frequently, and can start to resemble spam to consumers.
However, if you only send one or two messages per week, you'll have a much better chance of retaining a strong list of recipients.
In fact, you should shoot to only send one text message per week that promotes your company, and you should send it at roughly the same time each week. That helps customers learn when to expect your messages, and can create a sense of consistency.
It may not seem like it means much, but when someone knows when to expect your message, they can respond to it or even start to look forward to it. It's a little detail that can make a big difference.
3. Only Text During Reasonable Hours
As part of establishing regular contact hours, it's best to send text messages during reasonable hours as well.
"Reasonable hours" are the times when most people are awake and active, typically between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
That ten-hour window is a great time to reach your audience. You can further refine your "reasonable hours" to make sure you're appealing to your demographic the best ways possible.
For example, if your demographic is decision-makers in local businesses, it's probably smarter to send text messages during lunch or evening hours to avoid interrupting their days. That also gives them enough time to follow up with your message instead of seeing it, intending to answer it later, and forgetting.
Regardless of who you're trying to reach, it's a bad idea to send messages in the middle of the night or early morning.
Nobody wants to hear from a company at 3:00 a.m., and if you wake someone up, they're not going to be happy to see that you're responsible for interrupting their sleep.
To avoid that possibility altogether, it's best to stick to the "normal" hours that people are awake and active during the day.
4. Write Conversationally
The goal of almost all Internet copywriting is to sound conversational. A conversational tone is essential for engaging and connecting with your audience, and it makes even more sense to do it with text messages.
After all, text messages are about as informal as communication gets. And when's the last time you saw someone using a proper salutation and farewell in a text?
The only time you would need to use those kinds of formalities is if it's appealing to your audience.
Otherwise, you can keep the tone conversational, almost like someone's hearing from their friend through a text.
That's the goal of text message marketing, after all — familiarity. You're reaching someone on their personal phone, and smartphone owners can jump to your site straight from your message.
When you sound more like a friend, someone that the recipient trusts and appreciates, you can maximize the chances of bringing that recipient to your site for a sale.
You can use text speak or text lingo, if that works for your audience.
Basically, you have 160-some characters to create a smart, concise, and compelling message — and it starts with writing the same way you talk.
5. Offer Something Valuable
Along with writing conversationally, you need to have a point to your text message. Otherwise, you're not offering anything to your recipients.
And if you don't offer something to your marketing prospects, you can't expect them to stick around for long.
That's why you should offer something compelling with every text message you send. Are you sending a coupon code? A link to valuable information? A new feature that customers could enjoy?
Regardless of what it is, each message you send needs to have a point. You should also couple that point with a strong (but short) call to action that compels each recipient to take action.
Your call to action can be as simple as "Learn more" or "Click to shop," or however else you'd like to get customers to your site.
The key is that you use the right call to action to get recipients back on your website.
Combined with your value proposition, you'll have just enough space to write a quick message with a link back to your site.
Do you know what's better than hearing from your favorite brand in regular intervals, right on your phone?
Choosing what they tell you!
Customization options are a great way for you to show users that you're serious about your text message marketing campaigns, to the point where you care about what they want to hear from you.
You can even use this section to let customers choose the times they'd like to hear from you. That eliminates all of the guesswork associated with timing, and you can reach your customers when they're at their most receptive.
If you have the development power, you can incorporate any of the following customization options into your text message marketing campaigns:
- Best time to get text messages
- Morning, afternoon, or evening
- Exact hours
- What kind of messages to get
- Personalized offers
- Company news
- Blog updates
- Account alerts
- How many messages to get each month
- Four is a good default
- Any additional messages should be optional
Customization options may not sound like much, but they can give your messages a little extra personal touch that'll resonate better with your current and prospective customers.
Customization lets you engage and appeal to people as individuals, as opposed to speaking to them as a uniform group.
And once you make that personal touch of talking to someone about their needs and their aspirations, you take your marketing to a new level of streamlined efficiency and effectiveness.
7. Let Recipients Unsubscribe
Finally, when you're working with text message marketing, it's essential to give your recipients a way to unsubscribe.
It's one of the least fun features to implement as a marketer, but it's essential to your company's success.
The reason is because people who want to hear from you make great customers — but people who don't want to hear from you aren't helping your business.
In fact, they might even be hurting your business if they're telling other people that they can't unsubscribe from your text messages.
So they're not qualified leads, and they could hurt your business. You might as well let them go!
You can implement an unsubscribe function by creating a keyword — like STOP — that takes someone's phone number out of your recipient list. Then, when a subscriber replies to your texts with that word, they never hear from you again (unless they sign up again).
Adding an unsubscribe feature may be counterintuitive, but it's a great way to make sure you're only marketing to people who are receptive to your messages.
8. Use Five-Digit Phone Numbers
If you're going to invest heavily into text message marketing, you should get an entirely new phone number for it.
These text-only numbers, sometimes called "short codes," allow you to easily communicate with your potential customers on a text-exclusive channel that lets them hear what you have to say, participate in your marketing, or unsubscribe.
That keeps your regular phone lines open for any other kind of business-related calls or messages, as your dedicated SMS line continually sends new messages.
Using a short code also makes it easier for customers to remember your texting number so they can inquire about your business whenever they want.
When you get a short code, you can either have a dedicated or shared line. Dedicated lines take longer to set up and typically cost more. Shared lines are typically already set up, cost very little, and send messages to your business based on keywords your recipients use if they text you back.
If you plan to use text message marketing frequently with a long list of numbers, a dedicated line is the best solution for you.
But if you're a small-town restaurant who wants to send customers a special thank-you and a coupon on their birthdays, you can probably work with a shared line for your short code.
9. Listen to Your Carrier
Just like how your Internet service or email provider can blacklist you for sending spam, cell service providers and text message providers can flag you for texting too much.
The good news is that they'll warn you before you're flagged, so that you can adjust your strategy.
But at the end of the day, your carrier is your lifeline from your business to your customer. You can't use text message marketing at all without them, and that means you have to listen to their guidelines and recommendations.
It's a similar situation with performing SEO for Google. If Google discovers your site is disreputable, they'll give you enough warnings so you can change your SEO strategy.
If you listen, they'll keep you in their results so your company can continue to profit from organic SEO.
If you don't listen, they may penalize you in rankings or remove you from their index entirely, which can bring your Internet marketing to a quick halt.
For those reasons, it's best for your marketing if you avoid biting the hand that feeds you whenever possible.