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