Have you checked your phone messages recently?
No, that’s not a reminder to do so. In fact, it’s more of a rhetorical question than anything else. SMS messaging is such a commonplace part of our lives nowadays that we engage with it almost without thinking.
So it’s no surprise that it’s become one of the largest and most effective communication platforms for conducting marketing campaigns. In this article, we’ll look at one particular type of SMS mass messaging strategy: text blasting. We’ll explore what it is and why it’s beneficial. We’ll also give you a few tips for how to get it right the first time.
What is SMS marketing?
Let’s start with the basics. SMS (or “text message”) marketing involves sending marketing messages to a large number of customers at once via SMS. As a marketing channel, it’s cheap and straightforward. All you need is a text messaging service for business and a contact list of willing customers.
You can use the SMS channel for conveying any kind of marketing message as long as it can be kept brief. It’s not ideal for detailed copy. This means that it’s generally used for sending things like discount offers, opt-in messages and short-burst information such as appointment reminders.
Given the worldwide penetration of smartphones today, it’s not difficult to understand why SMS marketing has become essential for many marketing campaigns.
The total number of smartphone subscriptions worldwide surpassed six billion in 2021, and the market is expected to continue growing rapidly. So it’s easy to see why this is a marketing channel you simply cannot afford to ignore.
Bear in mind, though, that the laws around SMS usage for business purposes do vary around the world. If you’re running an international campaign and considering using SMS, it’s best to ensure you are fully aware of the legal implications in each territory before you begin.
What is a text blast and why is it effective?
A mass messaging text blast is exactly what it sounds like: an SMS message sent in bulk to many people at once. Although the concept sounds similar to the kind of group messaging you’ll be familiar with, the execution is slightly different.
The biggest difference is that most messaging apps limit the total number of people in a group you can message at one time. There’s also the fact that you can usually only message people who have already joined that specific platform. Text blasts, however, can go out to thousands of people at once and aren’t restricted in that way.
Apart from the sheer volume of people out there who own smartphones, here are some other reasons why text blasting can be effective.
This is a big one. According to a survey by simpletexting.com, around 85% of customers check their SMS messages within five minutes of receiving them.
They also found that while 53% of consumers check their text messages at least 11 times a day, only 29% check their email as frequently.
Email has its place in the marketing mix, of course. It’s just that SMS is a much more immediate platform. It’s quite possible to spend a lot of time and effort crafting an email communication, only for it to be sent directly to the spam folder on receipt.
There’s some interesting work being done in terms of merging SMS and email marketing. It’s possible to use both in parallel to create greater impact, so don’t rule out some digital teamwork there.
It’s not just the sheer number of phones out there that make SMS marketing a vital tool of modern marketing. It’s also the nature of the platform.
In the modern world, businesses are finding that customers prefer direct, personalized contact. Hence the rise of mobile marketing campaigns, which all kinds of SMS marketing including text blasts are a perfect fit for.
One of the most crucial elements of running any business is keeping costs down. This is another area where text blasts score highly.
While you may need to hire a large team dedicated entirely to managing your social media presence, this won’t be necessary for your text blasts. All you need is to set up the right business communication tools. There are a number of applications that can help you create and send perfectly pitched text blast messages.
Text blasting best practice
Okay, you’ve decided this sounds interesting and you’re thinking about giving it a go. What’s the best way to go about it? There are a few crucial points to bear in mind as you craft your strategy.
Opting out should be simple
There’s nothing worse than a service that just won’t let you leave. Think back to the last time you tried to cancel a subscription online and the company made it as difficult for you as possible.
We get it. Increasing client retention is a focus for many businesses, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of customer goodwill. And that’s even more relevant when we’re talking about contacting a customer directly.
The bottom line is this: would you want to force a customer who doesn’t want you any more to stay? Obviously not. They’re unlikely to engage and if you annoy them enough, it may even begin to damage your brand reputation.
Make it easy to opt out by explicitly describing how to do so. Something like “please reply STOP to unsubscribe from further messages” works well.
Opting in is better!
The other side of this is that your customers should be opting in in the first place. Building an SMS contact list is something you should be doing regularly.
It should be possible for customers to give their consent to receiving messages from you. Easy ways to accomplish this include asking them to send a text to a number or to tick a box consenting to receive messages during checkout.
You can also promote joining your SMS marketing list on your landing page or during live events. You’ll probably find you need to offer an incentive. Consider juicy discounts or freebies to tempt customers in.
Concise, useful messaging
Keep it simple, keep it relevant. Your customers’ time is valuable, and they only want to receive messages that are actually useful. An SMS message is not the ideal conduit for explaining the latest exciting retail trends, fascinating as they may be.
Sale alerts, appointment reminders, discount codes: all these are examples of good messages your customers will actually want.
Don’t forget that some of your customers will respond to the text blast messages. You need to have a plan in place for when they do.
In some cases, a personal response will be best. Nevertheless, it’s possible that your staff could be overwhelmed trying to answer all the responses. Luckily, there is a solution.
A text autoresponder allows you to set up automatic replies based on keywords. It saves your employees time and makes for an efficient way of keeping customers engaged.
Top tips for text blasting success
There are a few traps it’s easy to fall into if you haven’t run a text blasting campaign before. With that in mind, here are a few of our top tips for getting it right.
Test the content
You don’t need to just guess. Try out different messages and calls to action and see what works best. There are plenty of A/B and functional testing tools on the market that can help with this.
It’s vital to remember that text blasting is not a one-off event. At its best, it’s an iterative process. Each time you do it, you should be analyzing the results afterwards and integrating the insights you obtain into the next round of the campaign.
Personalization is now a standard expectation. The more of a connection consumers feel with a business or other organization, the more engaged they are likely to be.
Segment your target audience and personalize the messages you send as far as possible. This might mean sending discount offers that vary depending on a customer’s search history, for example.
Time zones matter
Another way of segmenting your target audience is by location. This is a critical consideration because people are more receptive to SMS messaging at certain times of the day.
Broadly speaking, you should be sending your text blasts out during the working day or in the early evening. If you’re based in New York, don’t schedule a text blast to go out to your customers in LA at 9am Eastern.
Proofread your messages
This shouldn’t need to be said, but alas, it really does. There’s nothing worse than sending out a message peppered with typos.
Is your current campaign focused on cart abandonment recovery messaging? If your customer receives the message:
Don’t expect them to rush back to check out anytime soon. A polished, professional finish to your messaging every time is key. Remember the golden rule: no-one should proofread their own work.
Make sure every message to be sent out is seen by several people and don’t just rely on spell checkers (many of which would not have picked up on “shaved” or “border” in the above message, since they’re both real words).
Don’t overwhelm your customers with messages
If one message every two weeks works well, three messages a day must be better, right? Wrong! No-one wants to be bombarded with SMS messages constantly.
How often you send out a text blast will depend on a number of factors including the content of the message and how urgent it is. To begin with, take it slowly. No individual customer should be receiving more than a couple of SMS messages from you each month. Over time, you’ll become more familiar with what the optimal frequency of delivery is.
The take-home message
If you’re interested in getting started with text blasting, there are a number of phone number apps for businesses on the market that can help. It’s a good idea to be systematic in your approach, and using a professional tool is best.
The world of SMS marketing offers a wealth of opportunities for the canny campaign manager. And if you remember to hit all the key points, text blasting can be an incredibly effective and successful strategy. So keep it brief, keep it relevant, make it personal—and watch that customer engagement skyrocket!