What the heck are we doing with our devices all day? Well, when we're not endlessly scrolling the web or social media, we're probably texting.
In 2023, 15 million texts are sent per minute while nearly 70% of people open up a new text message within five minutes of receiving it. With endless stats like this in mind, businesses are presented numerous opportunities and touchpoints to engage their target market through SMS.
What is SMS marketing?
SMS, an acronym for "Short Message Service," is a communication channel used to send and receive text messages on mobile devices. It allows users to send brief messages, typically 160 characters, to individuals or groups instantly. Text messaging has gained immense popularity due to its simplicity, convenience, and widespread availability across different devices and networks.
On the other hand, MMS, or "Multimedia Message Service", goes beyond simple text and allows users to send multimedia content such as pictures, videos, audio files, and even formatted text.
SMS marketing allows businesses to connect with their target audience through personalized and timely text messages. It leverages the widespread use of mobile phones and the convenience of SMS to deliver promotional offers, updates, reminders, and other engaging content directly into the palm of the recipients' hands.
Integrating SMS marketing alongside email and social media allows businesses to strike the right balance when it comes to timing and frequency of their messages.
2023 SMS Marketing Usage Data & Results
Based on the compelling trends from 2023, SMS marketing plays a crucial role for businesses in 2024.
With 86% of business owners and marketing managers having embraced SMS marketing in the past year, it's clear that it's become an integral part of marketing strategies. What's more, 71% of those who used SMS marketing reported an increase in their 2023 SMS opt-in rates in 2023, highlighting its effectiveness in engaging and capturing the attention of audiences across many industries.
Think people are bothered by SMS from brands? Think again. Today, the unsubscribe rate for SMS subscribers is less than 5%, demonstrating the high level of engagement and satisfaction. This is in stark contrast to email marketing, where approximately 20% of subscribers leave each year.
Additionally, incorporating an SMS follow-up to an email has shown to increase open rates by 20-30%, proving the effectiveness of a multi-channel approach. Lastly, SMS advertising also boasts an exceptional return on investment (ROI) of approximately $71 for every dollar spent, exceeding the estimated ROI of email marketing, which stands at around $36 per dollar invested.
AI’s impact on SMS Marketing
Gone are the days of spending hours crafting the perfect SMS message. With AI-powered tools at your disposal, you can now quickly generate personalized and impactful messages that will wow your audience.
Harnessing the capabilities of AI, you can leverage customer data and insights to create tailored SMS campaigns that resonate with your recipients.
How to Get Started with SMS Marketing
1. Identify your SMS use case:
The key to achieving success with SMS marketing lies in effective planning. As you prepare to launch your first SMS campaign, it is essential to have a clear idea of the use case you are addressing with your messages.
By aligning your SMS strategy to the various stages of the buyer's journey, you gain a deeper understanding of the purpose behind each message and how it contributes to both your target audience's needs and your business goals. This strategic approach enables you to ensure that every SMS you send serves a specific purpose in guiding your persona towards the desired outcome.
Consider these common SMS use cases:
- Order updates: provide real-time tracking information and keep customers informed about their purchase progress.
- Receipt confirmation: ensure customers have proof of their purchase and create a seamless customer experience.
- Product launches: generate excitement and awareness among customers for a new product.
- Brand announcements: effectively communicate important updates, new initiatives, or significant milestones to your audience.
- Seasonal campaigns: leverage the time-sensitive nature of holidays or specific seasons to drive customer engagement, boost sales, and create a sense of urgency.
- Loyalty programs: nurture customer relationships, reward loyalty, and promote continued engagement and brand advocacy.
- Event management: effectively communicate event details, updates, and reminders to attendees for a seamless and organized event experience.
- Timely support: providing quick and convenient assistance to customers.
- Onboarding flows: guide new customers through the process of getting started and ensure successful user adoption.
- Marketing to sales handoff: seamlessly transfer leads or prospects from the marketing team to the sales team.
- Upsell/Cross sell opportunities: leverage existing customer relationships to offer additional products or services.
Non-Forbidden Messsage Categories
- If you're using HubSpot’s SMS tools, you should also be aware of use cases that are non-compliant due to the forbidden message categories. These regulations are upheld by most SMS service providers and are outlined by CTIA.
- If you're sending your SMS messages using HubSpot, be sure to review your use case against the forbidden message categories in order to ensure you don’t run the risk of being filtered or blocked.
2. Build a compliant consent process
Establishing a robust and compliant consent process is crucial for the success of your SMS campaigns, protecting you from sending messages to inappropriate contacts, which could undermine the effectiveness of your campaign and expose you to the risk of being blocked.
Depending on the specific use case you have chosen, your consent process may vary, but it should incorporate essential elements to ensure compliance and maximize results. In this section we will explore the key inputs that should be addressed in every consent process, empowering you to build a solid foundation for engaging your audience through SMS campaigns.
Gather explicit consent: Obtaining explicit consent is vital when it comes to SMS marketing, setting it apart as a highly effective and engaged channel. Explicit consent is defined as consent given when you ask an individual for permission to send them marketing materials and they agree. The recipient has to manually opt-in to receive your content through written consent, clicking a checkbox on a form, or by confirming through double opt-in.
Alternatively, implicit consent is defined as consent given when an individual gives you their email address for some business purpose, but has not explicitly stated that they want to receive marketing content from you.
- Utilize opt-in terminology: Contacts have the option to opt in by using any of the three words: START, UNSTOP, or SUBSCRIBE. These keywords allow individuals to express their interest and willingly join your communication channel.
- Provide value in exchange for consent: Transparency is key, so it's important to offer your contacts something valuable in exchange for their consent. Clearly communicate the frequency of messages they can expect and define the specific content they will receive, such as order updates, exclusive discounts, or dedicated customer support. By providing this clarity and promising real value, you'll build trust and increase the likelihood of obtaining and retaining consent.
- Manage contact consent status: Leverage a comprehensive consent management tool to effectively handle and track the consent status of your contacts. This tool should enable you to efficiently manage the consent of your contacts, offering the flexibility to handle consent in bulk or manually as needed.
- Always offer opt-out: Prioritize giving your contacts the option to opt out of receiving messages.
3. Register your business for SMS.
Before sending SMS messages, it is crucial to register your business with your SMS service provider. While the specific nomenclature may vary across providers (check out HubSpot’s process here), the registration process typically involves following these steps:
- Register your business: Provide specific details about your business including status, website URL, registration number, and industry.
- Provide SMS details: Enter additional information about how your business intends to use SMS and manage consent. Ensuring you have properly outlined your intended use cases and consent process is vital to this step.
- Get an SMS number: Generate a phone number that your business will use to send SMS messages.
4. Set up your first campaign.
Create a list of contacts: Compile a list of contacts who have provided explicit consent to receive your SMS messages. It is crucial that all contacts on the list have willingly opted in to receive SMS communications from your business.
If you need assistance in expanding this list with qualified contacts, consider implementing a low-barrier opt-in method, such as a QR code, on another channel like social media. This allows for easy and seamless engagement, helping you grow your contact list while maintaining compliance with consent requirements.
5. Write Actionable SMS Copy
Remember, when you're messaging someone in their SMS inbox, you could be adding to the many texts they're already receiving from family, friends, and other competitors, so you should ensure that your messaging is valuable, relevant, actionable, and concise so they understand why you're reaching out to them there and seeing enough benefit in your messages to stay subscribed.
Customize these messages according to the specific stage of the buyer's journey your contacts are in. For optimal targeting, consider segmenting your list into smaller, more focused groups based on the various stages of the buyer's journey.
SMS Campaign Samples
The SMS copy below reminds users that they're still a member, user, or past customer of a given service and encourages them to re-engage with a brand in some way – ideally by highlighting perks they'll discover when they re-engage.
When hosting an in-person or online event, sending event updates can keep your attendees excited, engaged, and in the know before, during, and sometimes even after an event.
Marketing to Sales Handoff:
When a prospect converts, these messages can help smoothly introduce them to your sales team incase they choose to buy a product.Customer service feedback:
After a deal is made, keep the customer journey going by following up and seeing how their experience went by sending customer service feedback or survey messages.
Kickstarting & Reporting on SMS Campaigns
Once your messages have been carefully crafted and thoroughly reviewed, it's time to initiate sending them to your contacts! Take the step forward and begin delivering your impactful messages to engage and connect with your audience.
To ensure your campaign's running as planned, analyze key performance indicators such as click-through rate and return on investment (ROI). Monitoring and reporting on these metrics will help you measure the success of your campaign and make data-driven adjustments as needed.
SMS Marketing Best Practices
- Say hello! Send a welcome message to any new contact. Clearly state who you are and why you're messaging to provide valuable context.
- Manage your subscriber lists: Effective contact management is crucial for successful SMS marketing and ensures you're sending the right messages to engaged contacts at the right time.
- Segment different groups: By strategically categorizing your audience into segments, you can tailor your SMS campaigns, ensure message relevancy, and optimize engagement with specific segments of your target market.
- Get to the point: By keeping messages brief, recipients can easily read and action the information across smartphones, watches, and digital assistants like Siri.
- Don’t overdo it: SMS is a high cost communication channel. Make sure you reserve SMS for use cases that are deeply personalized and/or express urgency.
- Personalize your copy: Tailor SMS communication, recommendations, or offers to individuanamescipients and/or acknowledge their name, preferences, and past interactions, to create a sense of relevance and make a meaningful connection with them
- Incorporate AI: Want to personalize a campaign, but don't have time to write 1000 individual message,es? AI tools, like workflows or tools can bring a new level of efficiency, personalization, and effectiveness to SMS cahigh-cost
- Avoid forbidden message categories: If sending your SMS messages using HubSpot, never send a message that falls into a forbidden category.
- Be transparent: Consistently reintroduce your brand, purpose, and message frequency.
- Offer a way out: Every message should include the option to opt out.
Step into SMS with HubSpot Today
Not ready to invest in a new product just yet? Check out our free resource with a plethora of SMS templates you can use across many different business strategies by clicking the banner below.