By Jake Meador | 15 Oct 2020
There are two ways businesses can use bulk SMS messaging as part of their day to day functioning. The first is SMS alerts, which we have discussed in another post. The other is text marketing or SMS marketing. SMS marketing is using mass text messaging to market goods and services to potential customers and past customers. If you think of SMS alerts as generally being for internal messaging and SMS marketing being for external messaging, you have the general idea.
Unlike many forms of marketing, SMS marketing relies upon consent. Whereas most forms of marketing, what you might call “broadcast-based marketing,” work by sending out a message to a large, mostly undifferentiated group, consent-based marketing works by sending out messages to people who have already expressed interest in your product or service.
This makes SMS marketing more efficient since you aren’t reaching a large number of unqualified people. That said, it also creates some slightly different challenges since you obviously need to get a person’s consent before you can market to them via SMS.
How do you do that?
Actually, that’s not quite the right question. Your thought process here should not be “people do not want me texting them so how can I persuade them to change their mind?” If you start there, you’ll end up relying on manipulation and deception to build a list and your results with SMS marketing will be poor.
Instead, think in terms of the problem you help solve for other people. That could be something as simple as “they need to eat,” or as complex as “I need an easier way to manage my finances.” If you’re a business, you exist because there is something you do that people find valuable. So in building out your SMS list, you’re not trying to trick people; you’re trying to help people become aware of something that can help them solve some kind of problem they’re struggling with.
Framed that way, you’re now ready to start figuring out how to encourage people to sign up for SMS updates from you. Perhaps you simply speak directly to the pain point with your pitch: “Sign up for SMS updates from us and receive $10 off your next dinner.” In other cases, you might offer a simpler version of your product or solve a less severe version of the problem in exchange for them signing up. “Sign up to receive text messages from us today and receive three downloadable spreadsheets that you can use to manage your money on your own.”
The key is that you are not trying to manipulate the person into signing up for text messages. You’re offering them something that is genuinely valuable in exchange for them joining your SMS marketing list.
The primary reason to use SMS marketing is that consent-based marketing is incredibly powerful. To illustrate, consider the difference between engagement rates moving from more broadcast-based marketing channels to email (one form of consent-based marketing) to SMS marketing:
When you use SMS marketing you can have a remarkably high degree of confidence that the message you’re sending out will actually be seen. There is no other marketing channel, even email, that comes anywhere close to SMS for simple user engagement.
SMS marketing cannot do all of your marketing tasks on its own. You need to use a variety of channels as each channel has its own strengths. That being said, “reliable user engagement” is obviously a huge need for any marketing strategy so you should be using SMS marketing in connection with your other marketing channels. A marketing strategy that doesn’t include SMS is an incomplete strategy that will struggle to reliable engage your prospects and past customers.
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