The Secret Power of SMS Marketing


Have you ever run an SMS marketing campaign? If not, why?


I recently conducted keyword research on the phrase “SMS marketing” and was surprised to learn there are only 2900 searches per month for this term. That’s a very low number. This research indicates that A) people don’t understand the power of SMS marketing or B) there’s not a serious business case for organizations to explore it.


For some brands, SMS marketing probably doesn’t make sense. In my experience, however, it can become the most powerful marketing tool in your quiver.


SMS as a vehicle


If digital communication were a vehicle, email would be a car and SMS a motorcycle. Cars are practical machines that get you from point A to point B, while motorcycles are also practical machines depending on the task. It’s all relative right?


As an email marketing expert, I understand both the technical and psychological challenges of getting your message seen. SMS removes these barriers, as your message is always seen. Just like sending a text to a friend, you can send messages without fear of being blocked or filtered; the challenge is engagement.


When it comes to sending mass texts or SMS messages, you don’t have to worry about folders, spam filters, IPs, or DNS. Your message will get through 99% of the time. However, the receiver has the power to block your number if the message is not wanted. There are also strict rules from carriers that require you to send only to users who have opted in; otherwise, you run the risk of losing your sending rights.


The power of SMS

A few years ago, I was given the task of helping a brand increase engagement and sales through digital communication. We leveraged social media, email and started building an SMS list. The company, in reference, had a high dependency on email (about 70% of all online sales were from email) and wanted to implement a divergent plan.


Through email links and pop-up forms, we quickly built a large list of SMS subscribers. Those who were also signed up to receive email messages would only get SMS if they preferred or weren’t engaging with email marketing.


After 3 months of running multiple campaigns, revenue from SMS accounted for 20% of all revenue generated online, with email at about 60%. After 6 months, both SMS and email accounted for 40% of all revenue generated online, making up a total of 80% of all revenue generated online.   


Reasons not to use SMS:

  • Doesn’t make sense for my industry

SMS may not make sense for every business; however, many brands are finding unique ways to leverage SMS marketing. For example, it may seem odd to receive a promotional message from a financial advisor, but if that advisor sent a text link to a survey or updates about the stock market, that may be a non-aggressive way to stay top of mind.


  • Already have an app that gets the job done

Some brands may already have an app, so SMS may not be the most efficient way to reach their target audience. But this may be a way for brands without an app to reach consumers directly. Brands may also find that users engage more through text and SMS as opposed to an app.


  • SMS marketing is expensive

SMS marketing can get expensive. If you’re using a shared shortcode, it may cost you about $0.029 per message. That means it will cost $29 to send 1,000 messages. However, if you’re sending an image or an MMS message, you may get charged double.


If you’re using a dedicated shortcode, you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $8,000 to carriers or about $850 per month.


So, what’s the difference between shared and dedicated shortcodes? On a shared shortcode, you don’t have the option to choose a unique number or keyword. Your keyword is the unique identifier that allows users to correspond with campaigns or opt-in to messaging. For example, users may text “help” for customer support or “book” to 111333. On a shared shortcode, your options are limited as the best keywords are already taken by other users, so you have to resort to keywords like help-yourbrandname. Nevertheless, many companies don’t mind using shared shortcodes as it’s much cheaper than a dedicated shortcode and can render the same results.


  • Not that easy to read the metrics

It may be challenging for some brands to track campaign metrics. Some providers like Attentive or Mobiniti offer some detailed metrics, but in my experience, the metrics aren’t that reliable. Things will probably get better in the future; however, I prefer to use tools like Google’s Campaign URL Builder to tag links and track results in Google Analytics.

Why you should start using SMS marketing now

The purpose of marketing is to alert and educate consumers about the products and services that make their lives better. This education can happen through video, movies, commercials, social media, email, SEO and yes, even text messaging.  


Not many are tapping into this powerful resource, giving the advantage to organizations that start leveraging it now. SMS is much like email, with much higher click-through rates. Facebook, Instagram, and the email inbox are competitive, but you don’t have to compete with many on SMS. You could own SMS marketing for your industry.


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