With a whopping 98 percent open rate, SMS is one of the most powerful marketing channels. But there is one thing that marketers must take into account: advertisements and marketing campaigns constantly surround the consumers. Thus, they block the emails, skip the video ads within few seconds, block the banner ads, and discover other ways to avoid engagement.
Like any other channel, there is potential for disaster when it comes to SMS marketing. As a direct line of communication, SMS marketing requires certain etiquette. Let us dive into the worst mistakes of SMS marketing and learn how to avoid them to make the best of this marketing channel.
#1. Sending Messages Without Permission
SMS is a permission-based marketing channel. Sending messages without permission not only frustrates and annoys the recipients but is also illegal. While the laws may differ for all countries but you can expect heavy fines when reported.
For example, in the US, you can expect a fine of USD 500 to 1500 per SMS for sending messages without permission under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In Europe, companies can receive a penalty of up to 20 million Euros in the most serious scenarios. Legal action for not taking permission will not only cost you more than any profits you gain but will also cause bad publicity.
To avoid getting into such a situation, ensure that your customers opt-in to receive promotional messages from you. You can take their consent either by asking them to sign up using an online or paper form or focusing on other methods such as sharing an SMS opt-in in your email signature or on your website, or including prominent signs with QR codes to sign up.
For more information, read our article on SMS Marketing Compliance to know more about what is acceptable and not.
#2. Forgetting The Opt-Out Instructions
Not allowing your subscribers to opt-out of your SMS club is as illegal as sending messages without permission. As a marketer, you must ensure that only the interested people are receiving your messages. Receiving unwanted messages will potentially annoy customers who previously had a favorable opinion of your business. Besides that, people who do not want to receive texts from you are least likely to do business with your brand, and there is no incentive to keep in touch with them.
To avoid such a blunder, ensure that opting out is clearly explained in your messaging. It can be as simple as advising your subscribers to message you "Stop" to unsubscribe. It also gives your subscribers the possibility to opt-out readily if they have signed up accidentally or they were interested in signing up temporarily. Giving them the liberty to opt-out whenever they want will also build their trust in your brand.
#3. Lack of Clear Call To Action
With a limit of 160 characters per SMS, you must use them wisely. If you do not include a crisp and clear call-to-action, your recipients would probably fail to understand the purpose of your contact. The recipients should not have to guess why you are contacting them. In fact, an unclear message might even annoy them.
You must factor in that your recipients are not mind-readers, and call-to-action must be to the point. Use phrases such as, visit our store, use a discount coupon or click the link to our landing page can also do the trick. It will encourage them to take a step ahead in their journey with you. Further, it will help in boosting your conversion rates.
Including a call-to-action that is unclear or confusing is even worse. It might annoy your recipients so much so that they might opt out in irritation. For instance, during an SMS marketing campaign, Pepsi asked its customers to text “PEPSIMAX to 710710.” The use of quotation marks created ambiguity, and the campaign went in vain.
It is noteworthy that if the designed message gets longer than 160 characters, it breaks into two or more parts in your subscriber's inbox. It results in a sequence of alerts and makes the messaging complicated to read. It is wise to design a message that fits the 160 character limit.
#4. Monotonous Content
If you want to keep your recipients engaged, you have to avoid sending the same message multiple times. No one will respond to your call to action if it is the same every time. It reduces the motivation for your customers as they know what is in store for them, and they might no longer be intrigued.
While the objective of SMS marketing is to generate sales, avoid being an obsessive seller. A good mix of informational and transactional updates coupled with the traditional advert messages will drive better customer engagement and save you from being nosy.
#5. Do Not Forget to Identify Yourself
If your recipients receive any messages without knowing who you are, they are likely to ignore or consider it spam. Ensure that you identify yourself. Also, avoid using shared shortcodes. While the shared shortcodes are typically cheaper than dedicated shortcodes, the shared ones might get your customers confused with other businesses. Your customers are more likely to respond to your call to action when they are aware of your business. Further, repeating your identity multiple times will help you improve brand recognition.
#6. Use of Unprofessional Language
When you have a restriction of 160 characters, using abbreviations and text speech might tempt you. While it might help you squeeze more content in the given character limit, reading the text might become difficult for the recipient.
The language also comes across as inappropriate and unprofessional in the marketing medium. Some of your existing customers might get infuriated with such language. Since there is no way of knowing in advance if your recipients would be comfortable with such language, it is best to play safe and avoid using abbreviations and text speech.
#7. Poor Frequency
While sending too many messages may risk annoying your customers, sending a one-off message will keep your business out of sight and out of mind. It can also cause them to sign out of your SMS club. Since there is no one sweet spot for every business, you must optimize the frequency based on your industry and the target audience.
Studies have identified that an astonishing 41 million text messages are sent every minute. You do not want to add to this stress by sending the same messages now and then. If there is nothing new to share or offer, it is best not to text at all. While there is no perfect frequency but based on best practices in the marketing world, a couple of promotional texts a month can help you stay strong in the game.
#8. Bad Timing
Another mistake that will most likely irritate your customers is receiving messages at inconvenient hours. Nobody wants to be woken up in the middle of the night to know about a promotion. It will only result in annoyed customers who will probably opt out of your SMS as soon as they wake up the following morning. Your customers will likely ignore promotional texts received early in the morning, on festive holidays, or at weekends.
You must be strategic about the timing of the messages to ensure they do not become an interruption. While the Telephone Consumer Protection Act restricts timing for promotional texts between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., the convenient time may vary based on your business, culture, and time zone. It is worth noting that a nightclub has a different target audience than a book club.
Most businesses automate SMS marketing; the marketers must keep an account of recipients in different time zones while automating the strategy.
#9. Lack of Personalization
Text messages are more private and personal than any other form of advertising. When your promotional messages lack personalization, you are missing out on your privilege. People are less likely to open and engage with your messages if they do not have a personal touch. Personalizing is more than addressing customers by their name. Segment your audience and based on demographics, their buying habits, and any stated preferences. Send relevant messages based on the segmentation.
Offering one-way communication, not being easily reachable for concerns or feedbacks also feels impersonal. To avoid such an estranged relationship with your customers, ensure your customers feel valued. Integrate two-way messaging with your customers in your SMS marketing strategy. It allows them to reach you in case of any queries and serves as a feedback channel. Make prompt replies to the communications initiated by your customers.
SMS Marketing is a privilege. It allows you to connect with your prospect consumers and tap into their personal space, like no other marketing campaign. However, the strategy is not one-size-fits-all. As a business, you need to figure out what works best for you based on your product or service and the target audience. Avoid the discussed mistakes while integrating SMS marketing into your marketing mix to make the best use of the marketing strategy.
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Our customers see up to 35X ROI on every dollar that they spend on Winback’s plan. You can read our case studies to know how brands like Ocha and Co., The Slay Brand, among others, benefited from Winback’s SMS marketing plans. To know more about our services and plans, drop us an email or send us a message through the live chat option available on our website.