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Mobile MarketingJanuary 19, 2017Written by Dean Withey

5 SMS Best Practices your Boss Expects you to Know

SMS-best-pract

Everything you need to know about SMS

Boss on your case about mobile messaging? (he has probably seen one of our super informative blog posts or insight downloads about it).

Here is a rundown of the top 5 (and a half) things you need to know about SMS best practices. Be prepared to dazzle your boss and become the mobile messaging guru you were destined to be.

SMS is personal

You have been given direct access to a person's private space. Your message will be read by 98% of the people you send it to. You must treat people as an individual, much more so than with direct mail or email. If you do not get personalisation right, you will beat up your brand and ROI pronto.

A person's mobile phone is their life. It contains family photos, diaries, browsing history, personal conversations and who knows what else.

When you communicate with a person through that same device, you must respect the privilege. Sending an SMS is a direct-line to personal space-dom. Respect that, and you will do fine.

You should also super-profile your target market. It is critical you get your message right and clearly understand what people expect from your messages.

A willy-nilly message about some boring company update sent directly to customers personal space?

I do not think so.

A juicy discount code for those lovely blue sparkly shoes they left in their abandoned cart? Now we are talking.

Sending a message for the sake of sending a message will not a happy subscriber make.

The best time of the day

Timing is everything.

Your messages have to arrive when your subscribers:

  • want them to, and
  • when they will not disturb them.

Mobile messaging allows you to reach users at any hour of the day and, if you can get it right, you will enjoy a lovely 98% read rate within 3 minutes.

Speaking to someone about work?

Stick to regular business hours for your messaging (9am-4pm) (who likes to get a message about work when they are sat on the couch watching X-factor?)

With lifestyle and consumer messaging, you can sneak into the early evening hours and encourage people to grab their iPad and download/signup/buy something (6pm-8pm), (as long as it does not disturb X-factor too much).

Like email - Mondays are a no-go. Everyone is still busy playing catch up after the weekend.

Unless you want to encourage people to use their phone while driving, I would recommend staying away from 6am-9am and 4pm-6pm in their local time (you are segmenting your audience based on their time zone, right?).

While we are talking time zones, it brings us back to the whole personalisation thing. The best time for you to send a message depends on your audience. Use software that can track opens and clicks and like any awesome marketer... test and optimise.

What the message should be

Readers are on their mobile phone. They might have a screaming baby in one arm, cooking or pretending to talk to their wife at dinner (oh wait, that is just me).

The point is that a mobile phone (the clue is in the title) is mobile.

Your audience is not going to sit and read your elegantly written summary of War and Peace. Moreover, if they do read your message they will not click to go through some long-winded checkout process.

While you are writing your messages, your mantra should be...

Short, precise and what they want to read.

Cut words, tighten your message and get to the point. No one cares that you know long fancy words (that no one understands).

Imagine you have just received a message on your phone, what would you read and action?

Good morning Dean. I just wanted to write you a note to see if you are OK and to ask if you have visited our website lately? We have launched a new promotion, and I am excited to offer you a discount across the men's range. It is shaping up to be a huge event, and I am excited for you to be involved. Do let us know if you want any more information with an email to [email protected]

Or.

Dean, you wanted us to let you know when the men's range is on sale. You are in luck; your local store is 50% to 75% off this weekend. Enjoy.

The two messages say the same thing.

The first one might seem all friendly and fluffy, but who cares? It is an SMS, just tell me why you are disturbing me and why it is worth my time. Save that crap for email (that no one will read).

The second one appears more personalised, they know I am interested in the men's range (if your SMS software cannot segment it is time to move on...), it is insinuating they know where my local store is and it is telling me when and how much I am going to save.

Magic.

Consent

No if's no but's.

You must get consent from recipients before sending any mobile marketing messages.

If you do not, you will be smashed in the face with heavy fines. You will also have to deal with raving-angry people who's personal space you invaded and you will damage your brand.

Get consent first, and not only will you avoid that smash in the face, but you will also have a better ROI, happy customers and a warm fuzzy feeling when you look back at your day.

"What is consent and how do I get it?"

Ever seen a huge banner advertisement IRL or online?

If they want you to contact via SMS, they typically say something like "Text OFFER to 52711".

Hey presto, there is your consent. By sending you the keyword to subscribe, people are giving you consent to receive your lovely messages.

There is a grey area around importing contacts manually. If you can prove you have spoken or written consent, you might get away with it. I would recommend to just stay clear - who does not like a nice fresh marketing list of opted-in, consensual subscribers anyway?

Finally, you may not need consent for some transactional messages. Things like appointment reminders or messages from a non-profit or church. It is highly dependent on region and reasons for sending a message, so it is best to do some googling or drop us a message for advice.

Provide value

People have given you explicit permission to invade their private space (well done for getting them to opt-in and their consent so far).

It is now your duty, your solemn promise, and your one true goal to make every interruption worth their while.

Here is the formula.

Subscriber gives you permission = you give them value.

Consent does not equal blasting them with un-personalised, vague advertising every week (I am looking at you Dominoes and Papa Johns... grrrrrrrr.)

Targeted discounts, local information, exclusive savings based on purchase history, announcements that directly affect them and alerts about events they have expressed interest.

Now we are talking.

If you do not provide value, it is ever-so-easy for that individual to reply with your unsubscribe keyword (which in most regions, providing one is law. You are telling them what it is, right?).

(...and a half) switch people to messaging apps

So, you have those five things under wraps. Good one.

Now let me catch you up to 2017.

Messaging applications (you know, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and the like) have grown exponentially in the last few years. More people now use messaging apps than social media (those three apps above all have over 1 BILLION users per month... each...).

Messaging apps are free to use, for both consumers and business.

As a top-drawer marketer, this presents a super opportunity, you can converse with users through most messaging apps at zero cost (except Viber, who requires some $$ for a business account).

All the rules of SMS apply, consent, personalisation, well-crafted messaging, and everything else above. However, now you get to play for free, and with rich media.

No more boring text and URLs.

Now we are talking images, video, audio.

Please control oneself and check out our YouTube channel for some demos of mobile messaging via messaging apps and contact us for more info about developing a super-smart mobile messaging chatbot for your brand.

There we have it.

Send your boss an email. Delight him with your new mobile messaging marketing strategy.

Need help to create one? www.ubisend.com/deanwithey. I would be delighted to help you.