7 Ways to Screw Up Your SMS Campaign

by Alexa Lemzy | Last updated 14th November 2016

SMS campaign

SMS is a powerful marketing tool for many reasons. Texts have high open rates, high response rates, and are popular with customers.

But that doesn’t mean that a text-messaging campaign is straightforward. There are certain common pitfalls that need to be avoided in order to make SMS work for you.

Here are some of the top SMS marketing mistakes:

1. Sending messages to customers who haven’t opted in

Once you’ve signed up for a business SMS service, it may be tempting to start texting all your clients about all the cool events and promotions you have to offer them. Unfortunately, that would be illegal and you could even be sued for it. No one has permission to send marketing texts to anyone who hasn’t opted in to their texting campaign. You’ll have to build your SMS customer base over time.

The best way to do this is to promote your new SMS loyalty program through your other marketing media: email, social networks, and in-store signage. Include instructions on how to opt in e.g. “Text “I LIKE ABC” to 23577 to receive weekly coupons and discounts.” It’s also important to show how to opt out of your texting campaign when customers no longer wish to receive promotions (most companies ask customers to text “STOP” to their short code number).

2. Not getting the timing right

Text messages have phenomenal open rates, beating any other communication media by far. That’s partly because an SMS, unlike a push notification or an email, is hard to ignore. That makes it a great tool for marketers, but it also means that you have to be careful about when you send it.

Emails can be sent in the middle of the night without disturbing the receiver. But send a text to a client at 3:00 a.m. on a Sunday and they’ll likely be sending a “STOP” message to opt out. The general rule of thumb with SMS is to send messages during standard business hours (8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.).

Depending on what kind of business you have, you can deviate a bit from these rules. For example, if you own a nightclub and want to bring traffic into your event when people are heading out for the night, you can send a message later than normal.

SMS messages are read quickly and forgotten quickly. Giving clients too much advance notice via text usually means that you’ll have a low turnout. While email requires marketers to send out messages early to give customers enough time to read them, SMS is immediate and your SMS campaign timing should reflect this.

3. Sending messages sporadically

Reading SMS

Keeping up a steady stream of texts sends some important messages to your clients:

  • It keeps you on their radar. Even if they don’t respond to every promotion, the fact that they’re getting messages from you keeps you on their mind when they do head out to shop
  • It lets them know they’re important to you. Maintaining contact with clients, especially with personalized and targeted messages (more on that in number 4) lets them know that you value their business.
  • It shows professionalism. While clients won’t notice that a consistent set of messages makes a company professional, they will notice when messages are sporadic, and will get the impression that the company is unprofessional. Make sure you plan the timing of your campaign. Sending consistent messages followed by a sudden drop-off, and then a just-as-sudden reappearance, makes your business seem disorganized and untrustworthy.

4. Not making use of customer data

These days, businesses of all sizes have access to tools that analyze all sorts of important marketing information about customers: how often they visit your website, what products they normally buy, which stores they shop in, how much they normally spend, and their age, gender, address and other important demographic information.

You should be using this information in order to send your customers targeted messages about promotions, products and events you know they like. While the occasional blanket text about a store-wide sale is fine, hitting your customers with coupons and discounts that are useful to them is the best way to build customer loyalty.

5. Not using call-to-action buttons

It’s not enough to tell customers that there’s a sale. The more you get them to hit call-to-action buttons, the more engaged they’ll be with your promotion and the more likely they’ll be to respond to the offer. Send a link to a coupon that they have to show to the waitress at dinner. Ask them to share the text with a friend in order to win a free car wash. Tell them to click to RSVP for a new nightclub you’re opening. Calls-to-action are designed to get the customer to respond. If you’re not using them, don’t be surprised if your response rates are low.

6. Using abbreviations

SMS stands for Short Message Service. A text has a mere 160 characters in which to communicate your promotion. So, it’s understandable that businesses would want to resort to abbreviations in order to minimize the number of letters. However, it’s not a good idea. You can’t assume that everyone will understand “txt spk” and it’s best to use the full spelling instead of an abbreviation to make your message clear. Instead of shortening your words, use a URL code shortener for any links you include.

7. Failing to test your results

Text marketing has provided some incredible results for the companies that use it. But it’s not enough to just use the service to send texts. It’s essential to A/B test your results to see what strategies yield the best results. Find out which promotions bring in customers, which call-to-action buttons work well, and what time of day is the best to send messages. Continuous A/B testing will ensure that you’re using the most successful texting strategies for your marketing campaign, increasing results and revenue.

And there you have them: the seven deadly sins of SMS marketing. Keep these mistakes in mind and avoid them!

Alexa Lemzytwitter

Customer support person. Interested in customer success, growth, marketing and technology. Passionate about content, reading and travel.