Messaging for the smartphone age
One of the reasons why texts are a favored means of communication for marketers is that it works off a device that so many people literally have in hand for just about all their waking hours. Here are the relevant stats from Techjury:
- In 2020, there are 3.5 billion smartphone users around the world
- 77% of Americans have smartphones
- 47% of US smartphone users say they couldn’t live without their devices
- 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase on the device
They also increase the odds of having your message clicked, according to VoiceSage. Very few people can resist checking on their messages regularly, as 90% say they open their messages within 3 minutes, and 82% say they open every message that comes in.
Customers are also much more likely to click on links in a text, which boasts a 19% click rate in contrast to the mere 2% of links within emails. In fact, 70% of customers polled by VoiceAge consider texting a good way for businesses to be in touch with them.
As a result of the ubiquitous smartphone, text message marketing blends seamlessly with consumer habits. That makes it possible for marketers to be in touch in a way that’s less invasive than a call and more immediate and likely to be read than an email.
But which form of texting should you use? Now you have a choice between the standard SMS short communication and MMS, which increases your options for more engagement.
The difference between SMS and MMS
SMS stands for Short Message Service, the one with the classic 160 character limit. It’s one of the oldest texting technologies and is still the most frequently used.
In recent years, though we’ve also seen the rise of MMS, which stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. MMS works off the same technology as SMS, but its character limit is 10x larger.
That makes it possible to embed images, gifs, audio clips, and short videos, and more in texts. If a picture is worth a thousand words, being able to include one with your short text message is guaranteed to increase its impact — so long as you do it right.
Getting it right is key. While much governing MMS is the same as SMS, you do have to add on additional considerations for making the most of the multimedia possibilities. Here’s a quick rundown of the best practices to bear in mind when using text messaging to engage your customers.
1. Keep it legal
Legal requirements governing SMS preclude any business from sending SMS or MMS to anyone without consent. That applies even if the customer has given you a phone number as part of an order confirmation or the like, because getting the number is not the same as getting consent.
Be sure you have a clear opt-in that customers can find from an email, a link to a form, or a designated page on your site. That’s where they put in their written consent to subscribe to SMS and MMS. It’s one opt-in for both, which means you can send an MMS to anyone who agreed to SMS from your company.
As a courtesy, you should warn subscribers of the possibility of charges being incurred by their carriers. You don’t have to look up whether or not they get unlimited free texts but do warn users of the possibility of message rates so that they don’t have any unpleasant surprises.
Also every single text message you send has to include an option to stop further text communication.
2. Be clear about who and what
Be sure your messages are clear cut and easily understandable. The right picture in an MMS will help convey what your message is about quickly.
3. Make your MMS picture perfect and your message will pop
Do use an attractive image that matches your message, preferably one that is unique to your brand or site.
Marketing MMS options include your logo, a coupon, a product you’re promoting, or a short video ad. You want the pictures to enhance the message like when you’re introducing something new or offering a special of promotion.
For example, if you are sending out a text about a new spring collection, you can show the actual items or the color palette you’re working off. You can brand this more by including your logo along with the illustration.
Remarkety supports PNG, JPEG, and GIF formats. The image file size should not exceed 600 KB to avoid the problem of distortion due to compression.
4. Segment and make it personal
Personalized messages are far more effective at drawing attention and engagement than generic blasts. Achieving personalization is a matter of matching the right message with the right person and letting them know that it is customized for them.
That takes two components that Remarkety helps you with segmentation and name tags.
Draw on Remarkety’s data to come up with segmented lists for specific groups of people. That way you can send out, say one message to your Gen Z group and another to your Gen X group of customers, or one to those who tend to buy for families and another to those who tend to buy just for themselves.
That tailored approach is far more effective than sending a single message blast to the entire list. But to really make it feel personal, you want to use the customer’s name. Remarkety allows you to use dynamic name tags to insert the recipient’s first name in your text blasts.
Remarkety also enables you to set up personalized promotions and coupons that allow you to track their use to see what motivates each customer to convert.
5. Make the immediacy of texts work for you
The reason that texts grab more attention than emails is that they convey a sense of immediacy. They arrive as soon as they go out and are usually seen within seconds. That makes them perfect for notifications of time-sensitive offers.
Build on that to excite your customers with a sense of urgency with a notice about a flash sale that is only on for a few hours or that something they looked at on your site is about to go out of stock. The urgency can also be used for holiday marketing with reminders to get their gifts in time for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or other upcoming occasions.
6. Automated texts
As a general rule of thumb, there should be no more than two messages a week, though the frequency may rise close to a holiday or with specific automated triggers.
Specific triggers for automated SMS include a welcome series for new subscribers that let them know what kind of messages they can expect. SMS can deliver a “thank you for your order” or confirmation of order message as soon as it has been processed.
Where the automated messages have the biggest impact is in recouping potentially lost sales through browse and cart abandonment by motivating the customer to come back. The same messages may also be sent via email, and it can be effective to alternate between the two for a dual-channel approach.
You can set up a rule for automated response through Remarkety that will carry through on such a strategy with a rule to send out a cart abandonment message after an hour has elapsed, followed by an email within 10 hours, then a follow up text after 24 hours, and another email after 36 hours, followed by a text 48 hours from the abandonment.
What to avoid
1. Being anonymous
Leaving out your brand name will make your message look like spam. That is almost guaranteed to at best get your message ignored and at worst get it blocked. So be sure you identify yourself clearly.
While your emails will automatically carry a signature and can include the logo on a template, that is not the default setting for SMS.
Don’t be tempted to skip that due to the SMS character limit. Instead take advantage of the shortened links Remarkety provides you to save on character count.
2. Too many texts
You can use automation to send out SMS blasts, but don’t let the ease of contacting your customers through that channel lead you to contact them too much. There’s far less tolerance for too frequent texts than there is for emails because emails are less obtrusive and don’t typically clamor for as much attention as texts do. That means if you message too aggressively, you’ll be tempting your customers to unsubscribe.
3. Random pics for your MMS
Avoid generic pictures just taken off the internet, particularly those that may be copyrighted. That’s wasting the opportunity to showcase something unique to your brand and possibly getting yourself in legal hot water if the image is one you’re supposed to pay for.
4. Skipping the heads up
You must let your subscribers know if you change your terms and conditions in any way. For any change, you also have to get consent with opt-in permission to continue their subscription. Typically, you’d ask them to reply with CONTINUE or YES.
Don’t switch things around on your customers without warning them in advance. That erodes trust and loyalty.
How to make MMS marketing magic
Make MMS marketing magic by incorporating these forms of texts into your marketing strategy:
Welcome texts let them know they’ve subscribed and what to expect. They also give you a way to talk about what you’re currently promoting: “Welcome to [your brand]! Check out our favorite holiday looks/gifts/recipes.”
Sweeten the deal with a special welcome promotion good for a limited time. Consider a free gift with purchase, free shipping, a gift card worth a set amount, or a percentage off.
If they’ve registered their birthday with you, you can send birthday wishes and a link to a special birthday promotion with a gif or image of a birthday cake, balloons, or an animated personalized message. Add in a special link that applies a promotion for the occasion that is good for the birthday week or month to encourage them to treat themselves.
If they don’t respond at first, you can send a follow-up message that includes pictures of products they browsed with a message like, “How about one of these for the birthday boy/girl?”
The same approach can work with any theme that relates to your marketing, whether it is for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or any other occasion that relates to what you sell. The right picture and link will not just draw more attention but more conversions.
Want to turn subscribers into customers, win back inactive customers, recover abandoned carts, or incentivize repeat sales? Including a dynamic coupon easily set up through Remarkety’s template can make it happen.
Get on board now with Remarkety’s text marketing
Now is the time to capitalize on the mobile habits of your customers! Following the best practices above will keep you on track to getting the most out of your MMS and SMS marketing.
Remarkety makes it easy to reap the rewards of mobile marketing.