fbpx
How to Set up Text Message Marketing

How to Set up Text Message Marketing

Text Message Marketing

Businesses love SMS, because almost everybody uses text messaging, even those that are still using non-smartphones. The tools available online allow businesses to provide many types of messaging services.  So, what is SMS marketing software? SMS marketing software gives businesses and organizations the ability to communicate with their customers via text messages and SMS messages. 

There are two types of SMS software available today and they satisfy different segments of the marketplace — engineers and marketers. When purchasing a SMS service, businesses need to consider whether they need a standalone SMS solution that plays well with their existing tech stack or whether they need a turnkey third party text message marketing program

Text Message Marketing – Engineering Software 

An SMS gateway allows a computer to send and receive SMS or MMS message via an application programming interface (API). Some SMS solutions offer an API to enable businesses to connect their existing applications to an SMS gateway. With this type of integration, developers may text enable an organization’s current communications applications rather than purchase a separate solution. 

In some cases, a business may want to integrate its text messaging into a larger product or business offering. For instance, a trucking company may want to immediately send a text message to every new applicant that fills out their job application online. This would require integration with the website. An astrologer, for instance, may want to send out a daily astrological forecast to his or her followers. This requires integration with its database that recognizes both the mobile phone number and the astrological sign associated with the owner of that phone number. 

Services such as those mentioned above are the ones that are targeting engineers who need to use messaging as a part of an overall business campaign. One high flying business that pioneered this process is Twilio (TWLO – NYSE) . If you had purchased its stock a few years ago, you’d be very happy today. Twilio provides all of the API tools that a programmer needs to easily integrate text messaging into almost any kind of product or service. 

Based on the success of Twilio, there are other companies that have begun to compete with it. One such company to jump on the bandwagon is Bandwidth (BAND – NASDAQ). It beats Twilio on pricing and is poised to be a strong competitor to it. 

Text Message Marketing – Marketing Software

The good news is that there are many great, user friendly, text message marketing services available online that will do exactly what you need to do for your small or large business or organization.

Let’s take a look at a few of those that are commonly found in these services.

  • Interactive Text Message Marketing — With interactive services, the consumer sends a keyword to a short code or long code and then receives a reply message in return. In many instances, this is the initial interaction that kick starts a long relationship between the business and the consumer, because the reply message includes a verifiable opt-in that enables the business to legally add the consumer to its database.
  • Broadcast Text Message Marketing — Once a business has a valid opt-in from a consumer, it now has the ability to send periodic broadcast messages to that person. Broadcast messaging, sometimes called “Bulk SMS,” is really the value center of messaging, because it allows the business to consistently remind the user of its products and services.
  • MMS — With MMS, the business or organization can add an image, video, meme or sound bite to the message. Obviously, this may make the message considerably more engaging than with SMS, but there are also some negatives. A customer who has a feature phone will not be able to see the MMS. And, then there’s the cost. Sending an MMS is about five times more expensive than sending an SMS so if you have a large database, this could be a consideration.

Many online messaging providers also offer special offerings to compliment their basic interactive and broadcast text messaging services. Usually, such services are in the areas of couponing and sweepstakes. 

  • Couponing — With any marketing campaign, the goal is to encourage the consumer to act now. So, with a mobile coupon, it’s important to be able to accommodate your customers accordingly. Having one expiration date for a coupon can be problematic, because perhaps the consumer may only have one day to redeem it. That’s why many online services enable you to set up a mobile coupon with a certain amount of days from receipt to redeem the coupon. Also, some businesses may not want to provide an unlimited amount of redemptions of a coupon. Therefore, the business may include a unique alphanumeric coupon code on each text message so that once that code is used, it cannot be used again.
  • Sweepstakes — Sweepstakes are a great way to increase your database. Remember, getting the consumer to opt-in to your database is never an easy task, because they know they are committing to future promotional text messages. Providing a chance to win a prize can overcome that issue and encourage a greater amount of opt-ins. Some online text message marketing providers have unique offerings for sweepstakes. These may enable the business to award instant winner prizes to those that enter while building a database for a grand prize. 

One of the negatives about shared short codes is that a keyword can only be used once among all of the users of that shared short code. In some cases, the companies above will assign you a random keyword for your test and not allow you to choose a memorable keyword. That’s OK. Use it anyway and when you write your paper just note that you would replace the random keyword with whatever memorable keyword you recommend.

QR Codes: It’s Hip to Be Square

Thanks to the pandemic, the QR code has made an unexpected comeback from the marketing ashes. Once a convenient way to access a website, the once slumping QR Code was replaced by the proliferation of mobile apps and interactive text message marketing programs that utilized embedded links for consumer web access. 

QR codes made a comeback when Snapchat began using them as a quick means to access accounts. Then there was the pandemic when dining out meant scanning a QR code for safety reasons rather than handling a traditional menu. 

A QR code is now hip again. If your ultimate goal is to drive consumers to a website, you can do it with a text message with an embedded link. Or, a QR code can take them directly to the website. With the increased affinity with QR codes, and the fact that smartphones can now scan them without downloading a QR code scanner, those funny black & white boxes are a terrific add on to a text message campaign.

If you are going to integrate a QR code as an alternative option to your text message marketing campaign, consider a custom QR code. Custom QR codes stand out and increase consumer curiosity, thus resulting in a scan rate that is 3x greater than a standard black and white QR code. (Bentz, 2016)

Snapchat QR Code
QR Code

Bob Bentz, President of Purplegator’s Snapchat filter code and an award winning QR code as awarded by CNN.

Types of Messages

Types of Messages

Sometimes the least sexy aspect of something makes the most sense.  Text message marketing is cheap and provides the single best ROI that you’ll likely experience with mobile marketing. 

Messaging used to be just one thing — text messaging. But, today it is much more. Below are the different types of messaging that are currently available.

  • SMS — SMS stands for “short message service” and it’s the one the public and many of its favorite businesses use every day. SMS has been around as a business mobile marketing tool since 1990 and became quite common for business use about 2007.
  • MMS — Multimedia Messaging Services enable a business or organization to send an image, video, meme, or voice file to its consumers. It is used most commonly by retailers in the fashion industry where the image is everything. It certainly is more engaging than SMS, but that comes at a cost. Expect your investment to be about five times greater when sending MMS versus SMS.
  • RCS — Rich Communication Services is the heir apparent to the tiring SMS message. It was created in 2007, but languished for over a decade until recently. RCS allows businesses to send high resolution images, logos, icons and all in color. If you’ve downloaded your airline ticket on your phone, chances are it was sent via RCS.
  • Text to Landline — If you’re 35 and under, you probably can’t recall a time when you couldn’t send a text message to a phone number. Many businesses that have been around for a long time, however, have legacy landlines that have been branded over time. But, on a typical landline, a text message goes nowhere. With Text to Landline, a business can text-enable its landline phone so that text messages sent to the number go to a computer or app where the business can interact with their interested customers while the traditional phone calls continue as normal.
  • OTT Messaging — Over the Top messaging is found on apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger or Snapchat. In other countries, where consumers pay a fee for every text message, the internet-based OTT messaging tools are considerable cost savers for consumers. OTT messaging is especially valuable for Americans when communicating internationally since there is no cost associated with it.

SMS vs MMS 

To brush over these definitions to those who are unfamiliar, SMS allows you to send a text message up to 160 characters to your clientele as long as you have their documented consent.  MMS allows you to send thousands of words and include images, voice files, videos, memes, etc.  For these reasons, MMS is the most popular form of messaging for the retail and fashion industry.  Usually, customers can send a keyword to a short code or a long code to opt-in and receive these text alerts, or reply ‘stop’ to opt-out at any time. The biggest features that differentiate SMS from MMS would be that SMS is considerably cheaper than MMS, mostly because it requires less data to send.

SMS Messaging vs MMS Messaging

The Power of Messaging: SMS vs Email Marketing

SMS is often compared to email marketing. But, the facts are that while the carriers and the aggregators do provide statistics on the delivery of messages to a business list, they don’t know how many messages were actually opened. This data is simply not available. You can’t track whether an individual opened your text message or not. (Although that could be especially valuable in the world of dating.)

There are many studies that contrast the power of SMS messaging and its comparison to email marketing. Some of those studies are clearly biased and were commissioned by companies that work in the SMS business. Regardless, one thing is for sure: the open rates for text messages far exceed those of email marketing. According to Mobile Squared, a UK research firm, the open rate for text messages is 99%, but that study was from 2010. A 2018 study showed that the overall open rate for SMS messages was as high as 94%. The most modern study of SMS shows an 82% open rate

Luckily, email marketing doesn’t have this same problem since email open rates can be determined. Mailchimp recently provided a study that pegged its open rate over many vertical markets. You can read more about the Mailchimp study here. In the restaurant industry, for example, the email open rate was 19.77%. 

Advantages of Text Message Marketing

Text message marketing is a force to be reckoned with and here is why:

  • Your Personal Inbox — Messages flow right to your same inbox, right along with texts from your Mom. Most of us don’t have a burner mobile phone account like we do with promotional email messages which are sent to your old Yahoo or AOL email accounts.
  • Timely — Text messaging is interruptive. When you get a message, your phone notifies you. Have you ever been in a meeting, or talking to a friend, and they whip out their phone to check the text that was just received? Years ago that might have been considered rude; today it is (unfortunately) a generally accepted form of behavior. The immediacy of text message marketing makes flash sales very effective.
  • Spam is Low — Sure, we get the occasional spam message via text message, but it’s nothing like the tsunami of spam that outsmarts the spam filter of our emails. In general, the USA has done a great job of regulating text message spam. Hence, we are more likely to open our texts, because most messages received have a definite value. 
  • Trackable — Every business wants to know just how effective their marketing is. With text message marketing, you can set up tracking links and unique landing pages to track tap throughs and ultimately sales. This enables text messaging to quickly show its value and ROI.
Text Message Marketing: How to Choose a SMS Keyword

Text Message Marketing: How to Choose a SMS Keyword

What is a SMS keyword?

An SMS keyword is the word that a consumer sends to a phone number, usually a short code, to immediately receive information back.  Often, the end result of the keyword is to encourage an opt-in to a database to be marketed to in the future.

CHOOSING A KEYWORD

Choosing an SMS keyword is one of the most important steps in your text message marketing strategy, because the keyword offers branding for your product offering.  A business should choose a keyword that follows these tips:

  • brands the business or promotion
  • is easy to remember, so as to gain the viral pass-along effect from customers and employees
  • is just one word to avoid problems with autocorrect
  • is easy to spell
  • is not an acronym
  • does not include numbers
  • is as short as possible
  • is not some “clever” spelling of a keyword

yOU’LL NEED MULTIPLE KEYWORDS

The primary keyword that a business will want to reserve is its own name.  This keyword will be the master keyword that is used continually for generating opt ins.  This permanent keyword should be printed everywhere — on business cards, literature, t-shirts, outdoor signage, menus, and anywhere else that makes sense.  If the business name is difficult to spell, clever, or contains multiple words, it may be best just to go with a single word keyword that best identifies what the business does.  If a business wants to understandably reserve its difficult-to-spell brand name as a keyword, it should also consider reserving the potential misspellings of that SMS keyword.

Often, businesses have common names, and the keyword that your business wants may not be available from the short code provider.  A second choice may be to pick the primary product that your business sells, but a keyword like “pizza” is likely not going to be available at an online shared short code provider.  If the primary keyword a business wants is not available, you can choose an adjective that describes the business, such as “tasty” or “hungry.”

In addition to the primary keyword, your business is going to want to use different keywords for various promotions.  Some of these promotions may be short-lived, and you will be able to retire those keywords after using them for the short-term promotion.  Others may be annual events, and your business will want to retain those keywords in its online accounts, because if they are released, another business may pick them up.  The advantage to using new keywords is that it will get your regular customers participating in your texting program again, and you can place those users into a different database, which may be helpful in segmenting for future promotions.

TIPS ON KEYWORD SELECTION

One of the great things about an SMS strategy is the tremendous viral advantage.  If a person knows that his friend likes to get coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, he will pass along the keyword and short code to that friend.  It is not unusual for a business to get 15-20 percent of its mobile coupon redemptions from viral sharing.  But the consumer may not remember to do so if the keyword and short code are not easy to remember, so it is always best to keep things simple and memorable when it comes to choosing a keyword and short code.

Keywords that are compound words or two words are also not good choices.  A business might have the best cheesecake in the world, but “cheesecake” is not a very good keyword because some people will spell it as two words (cheese cake), and some will intend to spell it as one word, but autocorrect will “fix” it for them.  Automated SMS response systems cannot detect the user’s intent, only the exact spelling, so picking the wrong keyword could result in lost opt in opportunities.  One memorable SMS promotion was a sweepstakes that gave away a trip to Hawaii.  the advertiser chose the keyword “Hawaii.”  Although a wonderful place, Hawaii is not particularly easy to spell.  Moreover, some people include an apostrophe when spelling it.  Hawaii was not a good choice as a keyword because of the difficulty in spelling it.  Acronyms, such as KFC, don’t make for good keywords either because autocorrect will inevitably try to change the acronym into a real word.  Avoid numbers in keywords as well.  It is confusing to think of texting a number to a number.  But more importantly, there is that zero and “oh” thing.  When it comes to texting, consumers often don’t recognize what is a letter (O) and what is a number (0)!

Typing on a mobile phone is not easy.  There are a lot more misspellings on the smaller screen of the phone than on a desktop computer.  Fat-finger misspellings are a common problem on mobile.  That is why using a short keyword is far better than a long keyword; there are fewer chances to misspell a keyword with fewer letters.

Another poor idea is using a clever spelling of a word as your keyword.  A restaurant called “Finger Lickin’ Chickin'” may be a snappy name, but using “chickin” as a keyword is not a good idea because a customer’s autocorrect is likely going to correct hat word to the proper spelling of chicken.

One of the questions often asked is in regards to capitalization of keywords.  Using caps or lowercase letters has no impact on the SMS keyword so don’t worry about it.  To make the keyword stand out, the best way to write it in your advertisement is to use all capital letters, but if somebody responds in lowercase, the interactive text message will still work properly.

Some keywords are not available to businesses because the phoen carriers have reserved them, and thus they are not available on short codes.  Keywords such as STOP, HELP, INFO, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, QUIT, and others are taken before the short code is activated in the marketplace.

This article is mostly taken from Bob Bentz’s book “Relevance Raises Response: How to Engage and Acquire with Mobile Marketing.”  The book can be found at Amazon and many online book retailers.