Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

By Jason Lark, Managing Director at Adobe Campaign specialist, Celerity.

Marketing has become more and more focused on reaching consumers on every device, SMS has often been misconstrued as one of the more outdated, limited and perhaps even invasive strategies. Some businesses feel they get a better bang for their buck focusing on TV advertising, social media, or email marketing campaigns where their messaging can be more expansive.

However, this line of thought is far from accurate. Recently, Google published a report indicating that 89% of consumers believe a positive mobile brand experience would encourage them to recommend or engage further with a brand. However, companies should also keep in mind that 46% of users claim they would not purchase from a brand again after an overly interruptive mobile experience.

This indicates that the need to finetune and personalise SMS marketing communications is more important than ever – if done correctly, it can be one of the most effective ways to engage consumers, drive conversions, and increase sales.

But complex SMS marketing campaigns aren’t easy to get off the ground – especially for smaller companies. Here are a few best practices to improve your performance.


Make SMS work with your other channels

We never recommend using a single strategy or medium to reach your target audience. Instead, use SMS marketing to augment other parts of your campaign strategy. For example, a simple text can be used to send a link to an app, or the store where the end-user can install it. You can also send enticing offers such as discount codes to re-engage old customers – or send information on sales and special rewards to ensure that loyal customers stay with you.

Consider the example of Lacoste, which offers direct message rewards within its loyalty program. The brand sends a message to check the customer has received a gift of reward points, provides a link to its website to provoke sales, and suggests that they can earn more rewards if they share the information on social media. Here, SMS is just the first step in a multichannel journey.

This isn’t just the future of mobile marketing – it’s the future of marketing. Using data-driven tools, you can track the customer journey across multiple channels, identify potential friction points, and use analytics to refine the personalisation of your messaging and develop more specific and targeted audience segments. Get it right, and you can learn more about the customer and offer them detailed, tailored information.


Provide specific, high-value offers

If a consumer is going to hear from you across multiple channels, you need to put in the work of developing that interaction into a meaningful long-term relationship. This means more than just a message about a new product. When your SMS goes out, you need to consider the target’s interests, requirements, and your ability to satisfy their needs and desires. Even for quick wins, you must keep all of this in mind.

The best way to do this? Be specific. You want to establish a single customer view of your target’s preferences and behaviours across all brand interactions and touch points – personalising your communications as deeply as you possibly can.

Don’t treat your consumers like a hive or a crowd. A user who gets a message from you that fits into their week at just the right moment is far more likely to engage. For example, if you are selling food, a 10am or 11am text just before lunch with a promotion may get that hungry worker strolling out of their office to your doors. But that same text might be less useful to a segment of customers that are not bound by office hours or the work week, like retirees.

Remember that you also are competing with several other brands, so whatever your message is, it has to be enough to get them to act and focus on your organisation. Consider what will make the user click through on your message and end up on your website, your app, message you back, or visit your store. Give that to them.


Nudge your customers (without annoying them)

Use the impulsive nature of text messages to your advantage. The immediacy of the medium allows you to use timing to create compelling messages.

Let’s say you’re developing a customer loyalty program. If your consumer is close to the next level or earning a reward, a text message might be just the nudge they need to get them spending again. You are just reminding them of how close they are, making your marketing informative and useful.

Another option is to give your texts a sense of urgency. Don’t just tell them that their favourite item is restocked – let them know that if they don’t get it this week, it may go out of stock again. This encourages an immediate reaction, and works best for customers who have existing relationships with your brand.


Develop distinct CTAs

Text messages need to be short and snappy in order to keep the customer’s attention – so be direct. Don’t just use a call-to-action (CTA): make the entire message your CTA.

And this CTA should be specific. Buy this. Redeem this. Visit us for before 5pm for a 50% off sale. This kind of messaging can get an audience inundated with advertising and marketing to actually engage and behave in whatever way you want towards your brand. Keep it simple, clean, and easy to follow.

These four tactics will lead to quick and easy wins for your SMS marketing. But they are just the tip of the iceberg. So, as you begin your mobile marketing campaigns, make sure you are gathering data and using analytics to help finetune your strategy. The more you listen to your customers, the more you can personalise.