4 Tips to Consider Before Deploying an SMS Program
Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't you? Commonly known as text messaging, short message service has become so popular with consumers that it can be tempting to create an SMS program in a hurry.
But before you jump on the SMS bandwagon, consider the tips laid out here before you spend time or money in the wrong way.
Typical SMS messages come from friends or family members alerting one another that they're "running late -- be there in 5 min," or other quick notes updating their plans. So more marketers are wondering how to use this messaging medium to communicate with their customers or subscribers. But research shows that consumers are wary of receiving SMS messages from companies they know, and they're certainly opposed to SMS spam from companies they don't know.
The biggest reason for this apprehension is they're paying for SMS messages. Even consumers who have unlimited text messaging plans know that they're still paying for text messaging. Subscribers who pay for marketing messages are quick to report abuse of text messaging to their wireless providers. And if you're on the list of abusers, your company's reputation may be negatively affected as you get lumped in with the spammers. That might mean loss of brand integrity, loss of sales and even legal action.
So first and foremost, know that you're communicating something your customers or subscribers really want. Gauge whether SMS drives enough value to your subscribers. To ensure you're on the right path in thinking about SMS, here's a quick checklist:
1. Deliver urgent content. Text messages are always time-sensitive or immediate messages that can't be sent via e-mail, mail or another medium. So if your messages aren't urgent, your subscribers may not want to give up part of their messaging allotment to receive them.
2. Make your messages portable. When communicating with customers or subscribers via SMS, make sure your messages will reach them on the go; if not, don't send them. If your messages can wait until they return to e-mail, your customers or subscribers may not value receiving them via text.
3. Make time for planning. To launch an SMS campaign that drives subscriber value and results, allot approximately three months for appropriate planning, procurement of a private, non-shared short code, testing and implementation. After launch, allow more time for ongoing measurement and optimization.
4. Measure for success. Before you launch an SMS campaign, devise a threshold on how you'll measure its success. Conversion, coupon redemption, list growth or surveys all are common measures for success that can help drive changes or optimizations for your SMS program.
Sure, everyone else may be doing it and the payoff can be big. But that doesn't make it right for your customers or subscribers or your business. A hastily launched program that delivers the wrong message to the wrong audience can have a negative effect. As with e-mail, proper planning for an SMS program is the first step to success.
R. J. Talyor is founder and CEO of Pattern89, an artificial intelligence-based software company that optimizes paid social media advertising campaigns. Previously, R.J. was the driver behind ExactTarget’s mobile strategy, including the launch of SMS marketing in 2002 and spearheading mobile marketing during the launch of the iPhone. His leadership was also instrumental when Salesforce acquired ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013, where he became the vice president of mobile products.