SMS Marketing, What Every Entrepreneur Should Know

When it comes to SMS marketing, keep it simple and don't make your audience think too hard about what you’re saying or what you want from them.

Whether you have experience with SMS marketing or plan to start using it, you already know it’s one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. It allows you to contact people on their mobile devices at any time.

SMS marketing provides you with extremely high read and response rates. Yet, as with any type of marketing, there are certain guidelines to keep in mind if you want to get results.

I’ve analyzed thousands of SMS campaigns and concluded that one of the most reliable rules to follow is K.I.S.S., or “keep it simple, stupid.”

The biggest SMS marketing mistakes involve marketers who overthink their campaigns. In the process, they confuse and alienate their audiences. So, let’s look at how to keep SMS marketing tactics simple, straightforward and effective.


1. Don’t confuse your audience

Text messaging is a fairly simple platform. However, SMS marketing campaigns must be set up carefully to avoid possible confusion on issues such as keywords and short codes. Otherwise, people who aren’t familiar with the process may not respond correctly.

Keywords are one of the most powerful features of SMS marketing, making it possible to set up campaigns such as: “Text keyword PIZZA to 12345 for a 25 percent discount on your order.”


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Use keywords that are short, relevant and easy to remember. Avoid using numbers and special characters, which make it harder for your audience to type in the right keyword. A zero, for example, can be confused with the letter O. Special characters can be hard for people to find on the keyboard. Using a single word is the best, otherwise, our smartphones may auto-correct a keyword comprised of two words.

This may seem trivial, as most people could overcome their confusion by taking a few extra seconds. The problem, however, is that people today are busy and have very short attention spans. If it seems too complicated to reply to your message, engagement rates will drop.


2. Make SMS messages clear and concise

Text messages are, by nature, short and terse communications that focus on essentials. One way to save space is to use a URL shortener for your links. Long URLs are unsightly and waste valuable character space. You can even create a branded short url with tools like Rebrand.ly to increase brand recognition and trust.

Text messages are also not the place to oversell subscribers on the features and benefits of your product or offer. Your objective is to get them to click on a link or respond. A short message doesn’t provide ample space to educate the consumer. For this, you have to rely on your company website, retail store, videos, sales pages or print ads.


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While messages must be concise, they also must include all essential information people need to respond. If it’s an event, be sure to include the time, date and venue. If it’s a coupon or promotion, tell people what’s special about it and how much they’ll save. Naturally, include any relevant links as well.


3. Tell SMS recipients what you want

The idea that you must have a clear call-to-action is really “Marketing 101” and it applies to every type of promotion. With text messaging, however, some SMS marketing beginners forget this ironclad rule.

Perhaps, because SMS marketing is a relatively new and dynamic form of marketing, people sometimes believe that any text message is inherently fascinating to the recipient and will provoke a great response. This, unfortunately, is not the case. You still need a clear objective for each message you send.


Get the most out of your SMS campaign

In order to get the most out of a message, it should be targeted to an audience that’s expressed an interest in this type of offer. You can benefit by segmenting messages to make sure people get the type of information they signed up for.


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For example, many nightclubs use SMS marketing. Imagine you signed up to receive text messages from XYZ Nightclub. Which of these messages would you find more compelling?


  • “Come to XYZ Friday for great music.”

  • “Hear local jazz legend Mary Smith at XYZ Friday. Text TIX to 12345 for a free drink.”


The first message is vague and contains no call-to-action. The second message has two advantages: it’s more specific, and it gives people a task to complete – as well as an incentive to do so (a free drink). This principle holds for any type of SMS campaign. Within the constraints of a 160-character limit, give your audience a call-to-action and a motivation to carry it out,


Successful SMS campaigns keep it simple

These are just a few ways to apply K.I.S.S. to your SMS marketing campaigns. Most of your customers carry around their mobile devices everywhere they go. They’re accustomed to texting their friends, family and co-workers. That’s why people are so receptive to texts.

While a marketing text is always going to be a little different than a social one, you want your messages to be as simple and non-intrusive as possible. This means keep it simple and don’t make your audience think too hard about what you’re saying or what you want from them.


This article has been edited.

Kalin Kassabov is a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise level text message suite of services. Connect with @kalinkassabov on Twitter.


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