Dec 21, 2023
13
mins read

SMS Guide for 2024

Product Manager at Message Central
SMS Guide for 2024

Key Takeaways

  1. SMS marketing with its wide reach allows business to communicate with their customers across the globe
  2. SMS marketing is cost effective with high ROI, engagement and open rates
  3. You can integrate SMS marketing in your communication strategy and also leverage AI at the same time
  4. You would need to do compliance formalities before you start sending SMS
  5. SMS providers like Message Now provide advanced functionalities and help at each step for SMS marketing

Short Message Service (SMS) has emerged as a powerful communication channel, allowing businesses to connect with customers instantly and effectively. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of SMS marketing, its benefits in the context of the coming year - 2024, best practices, and how you can leverage it to take your business to new heights in 2024.

1. Introduction to SMS Marketing

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing, also known as Short Message Service marketing, is a communication channel that allows businesses to send and receive text messages on mobile devices.  

It enables businesses to deliver personalized and timely messages directly to their target audience's smartphones. SMS marketing has gained immense popularity due to its simplicity, convenience, and widespread availability across different devices and networks.

Why is SMS Marketing Relevant Today?

In today's fast-paced world, where people spend hours on their phones, SMS marketing offers businesses a unique opportunity to engage with their customers.  

With the average person spending five to six hours on their phones, and smartphone users unlocking their devices around 150 times a day, SMS has become an integral part of people's daily lives.  

Moreover, SMS boasts impressive statistics, such as 15 million texts sent per minute in 2023 and 70% of people opening a new text message within five minutes of receiving it. These numbers highlight the potential reach and impact of SMS marketing.

2. SMS Marketing Statistics and Trends

The Growing Popularity of SMS

In recent years, SMS marketing has seen a significant increase in adoption by businesses. In 2023, 86% of business owners and marketing managers embraced SMS marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy especially as SMS verification services. This widespread adoption demonstrates the effectiveness and relevance of SMS as a communication channel.

High Engagement and Open Rates

One of the key advantages of SMS marketing is its high engagement and open rates. SMS messages have been found to have open rates as high as 98%, significantly outperforming other popular channels. This high level of engagement ensures that your messages are seen and read by almost all of your customers, increasing the likelihood of them taking the desired action.

Cost-effectiveness and ROI

SMS marketing offers exceptional return on investment (ROI), with an estimated ROI of approximately $71 for every dollar spent. This high ROI can be attributed to the low cost of SMS messages and the ability to reach a large audience quickly. Compared to other marketing channels, SMS marketing provides a cost-effective way to engage with customers and drive results

3. Integrating SMS Marketing into Your Strategy

SMS vs. Other Communication Channels

While email and social media are popular communication channels, SMS marketing offers unique advantages. Unlike email or WhatsApp marketing, which can easily get lost in crowded inboxes, SMS messages are delivered directly to the recipient's phone and are more likely to be seen and read. Additionally, SMS marketing can complement other channels, such as email and social media, by providing a timely and personalized touchpoint.

Finding the Right Balance: Multi-channel Approach

To maximize the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, it's important to strike the right balance between different communication channels. Integrating SMS marketing alongside email and social media allows businesses to reach their target audience at different touchpoints, increasing the chances of engagement and conversion. By leveraging the strengths of each channel, businesses can create a cohesive and impactful marketing strategy.

The Role of AI in SMS Marketing

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have revolutionized SMS marketing. AI-powered tools enable businesses to generate personalized and impactful messages quickly and efficiently. By leveraging customer data and insights, businesses can create tailored SMS campaigns that resonate with their recipients. AI tools also help automate processes and improve efficiency, allowing businesses to scale their SMS marketing efforts effectively.

In terms of verification or OTP service providers, AI is coming to disrupt the industry with some new age authentication solutions.  

4. Identifying Your SMS Use Case

Aligning SMS Strategy with the Buyer's Journey

To achieve success with SMS marketing, it is essential to align your messaging strategy with the various stages of the buyer's journey. By understanding the purpose behind each message and how it contributes to both your target audience's needs and your business goals, you can ensure that every SMS you send serves a specific purpose in guiding your persona towards the desired outcome. Some common SMS use cases include informative messages, promotional campaigns, customer service support, and marketing to sales handoff.

Common SMS Use Cases

Informative: Provide order updates, receipt confirmations, product launches, and brand announcements to keep customers informed and engaged.

Promotional: Leverage seasonal campaigns, loyalty programs, and event management to drive customer engagement, boost sales, and create a sense of urgency. With the advent of RCS, this use case has become even more popular. RCS offers messages with rich media which certainly gives it an edge. Although, sometimes you might get ‘sent as SMS via server’ instead of read receipts for an RCS.

Customer Service: Offer timely support, guide new customers through the onboarding process, and identify upsell/cross-sell opportunities to nurture customer relationships.

Marketing to Sales Handoff: Seamlessly transfer leads or prospects from the marketing team to the sales team to ensure a smooth transition and maximize conversion opportunities.

Non-Forbidden Message Categories

It's important to be aware of non-compliant use cases in SMS marketing. Certain message categories are forbidden and may result in filtering or blocking by SMS service providers. These regulations, outlined by CTIA, are upheld by most SMS service providers. By reviewing your use case against the forbidden message categories, you can ensure compliance and avoid potential issues.

5. Building a Compliant Consent Process

The Importance of Consent in SMS Marketing

Obtaining explicit consent is vital when it comes to SMS marketing. Unlike implicit consent, which is given when an individual provides their email address for some business purpose without explicitly stating their consent to receive marketing content, explicit consent requires individuals to manually opt-in to receive SMS campaigns. This level of consent ensures that recipients have willingly agreed to receive your content and helps build trust and engagement.

Gathering Explicit Consent

To gather explicit consent, businesses should clearly communicate the frequency of messages and the specific content recipients will receive. This transparency helps set expectations and ensures that individuals understand the value they will receive in exchange for their consent. Methods of gathering explicit consent can include written consent, checkbox opt-ins on forms, or double opt-in confirmation.

Opt-in Terminology and Providing Value

To make the opt-in process clear and accessible, businesses should utilize opt-in terminology such as START, UNSTOP, or SUBSCRIBE, which allows individuals to express their interest and willingly join the communication channel.  

Additionally, it's important to provide value in exchange for consent. Clearly communicate the benefits recipients will receive, such as exclusive discounts, order updates, or dedicated customer support, to increase the likelihood of obtaining and retaining consent.

Managing Contact Consent Status

Managing contact consent status is essential for compliance and effective contact management. A comprehensive consent management tool enables businesses to efficiently handle and track the consent status of their contacts. This tool should provide flexibility in managing consent in bulk or manually as needed, ensuring compliance with consent requirements.

Offering Opt-out Options

Every SMS message should include the option for recipients to opt-out of receiving further messages. Prioritizing opt-out options respects the recipient's preferences and helps maintain a positive relationship. Offering an easy and hassle-free opt-out process demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and compliance.

6. Registering Your Business for SMS

The Registration Process

Before sending SMS messages, it is crucial to register your business with an SMS service provider. The specifics of the registration process may vary depending on the provider, but it generally involves providing details about your business, website URL, registration number, and industry. In India though, you can bypass DLT registration for OTP SMS if you are using OTP service providers like Verify Now.

Providing Business Details and SMS Information

As part of the registration process, you will need to provide information about how your business intends to use SMS and manage consent. This information helps SMS service providers ensure compliance and deliver a secure and reliable service.

Getting an SMS Number

Once registered, you will need to generate an SMS number that your business will use to send SMS messages. The number can be customized to align with your brand identity and should be used exclusively for business messaging purposes.

Registering With the Concerned Authority

A business entity needs to register with required authority to start sending SMS. For example: DLT registration in India. SMS templates also need to be registered.

7. Setting Up Your First SMS Campaign

Compiling a List of Contacts

To kickstart your SMS marketing campaign, compile a list of contacts who have explicitly consented to receive your SMS messages. It is crucial to ensure that all contacts on the list have willingly opted in to receive SMS communications from your business. If needed, implement low-barrier opt-in methods such as QR codes on social media to expand your contact list while maintaining compliance with consent requirements.

Writing Actionable SMS Copy

When crafting SMS messages, it's important to make them valuable, relevant, actionable, and concise. Your messaging should clearly convey why you're reaching out to the recipient and highlight the benefits they will receive from engaging with your messages. Customize your messages according to the specific stage of the buyer's journey your contacts are in, and consider segmenting your list into smaller, more focused groups based on their journey stage.

Customizing Messages for Different Buyer's Journey Stages

Tailoring your SMS communication to the buyer's journey stage of your contacts helps create a more personalized and relevant experience. Whether it's sending re-engagement reminders, event updates, marketing to sales handoff messages, or customer service feedback requests, aligning your messages with the recipient's current stage in their journey enhances engagement and increases the likelihood of conversion. You can also refer to our guide on how to use SMS marketing for your business 

Sample SMS Campaigns

To inspire your SMS campaigns, here are some sample use cases and copy examples:

  1. Re-engagement Campaign:

SMS Copy: "Hey [Name], we noticed you haven't visited our website in a while. We miss you! Come back and enjoy a 20% discount on your next purchase. Use code WELCOME20 at checkout. Happy shopping!"

  1. Event Updates:

SMS Copy: "Hi [Name], we're excited to see you at our upcoming event on [Date]. Just a friendly reminder to mark your calendar and get ready for an amazing experience. See you soon!"

  1. Marketing to Sales Handoff:

SMS Copy: "Congratulations, [Name]! You've successfully qualified for our premium service. Our sales team will be in touch shortly to discuss the next steps. Get ready to unlock exclusive benefits!"

  1. Customer Service Feedback:

SMS Copy: "Hi [Name], we hope you had a great experience with our customer service team. We value your feedback! Please take a moment to rate our service and help us improve. Reply with a number from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Thank you!"

8. Kickstarting and Reporting on SMS Campaigns

Initiating Message Delivery

Once your messages have been carefully crafted, it's time to initiate sending them to your contacts. Take the step forward and begin delivering your impactful messages to engage and connect with your audience.

Analyzing Key Performance Indicators

To measure the success of your SMS campaign, it's essential to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) such as click-through rate and return on investment (ROI). Analyzing these metrics helps you understand the effectiveness of your campaign and make data-driven adjustments as needed. You can do the same in an SMS dashboard provided by your SMS service provider like Message Now.  

Monitoring Click-through Rate and ROI

Click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link or took the desired action in your SMS message. Monitoring CTR helps you assess the engagement and effectiveness of your campaign. ROI measures the return on investment for your SMS marketing efforts, highlighting the financial impact and benefits of your campaign.

9. SMS Marketing Best Practices

Saying Hello: Welcome Messages

Welcome messages play a crucial role in building a positive first impression with your audience. Sending a personalized welcome message to new contacts helps establish a connection and sets the stage for further engagement. Clearly state who you are and why you're messaging to provide valuable context.

Effective Contact Management

Efficient contact management is essential for successful SMS marketing. Regularly update and manage your subscriber lists to ensure you're sending the right messages to engaged contacts at the right time. Segment your audience strategically to tailor your SMS campaigns, ensure message relevancy, and optimize engagement with specific segments of your target market.

Keeping Messages Concise and Relevant

SMS is a concise communication channel, so it's important to keep your messages brief and to the point. Recipients should be able to easily read and understand the information across smartphones, watches, and digital assistants. Focus on the key message or call-to-action and avoid unnecessary fluff.

Avoiding Overuse of SMS

While SMS marketing can be highly effective, it's important not to overdo it. SMS is a high-cost communication channel, so it's best reserved for use cases that are deeply personalized and/or express urgency. Be selective in your use of SMS and ensure each message provides value to the recipient.

Personalizing Your SMS Communication

Personalization is key to creating a meaningful connection with your audience. Tailor your SMS communication, recommendations, or offers to individual recipients. Acknowledge their name, preferences, and past interactions to create a sense of relevance and build a stronger relationship.

Compliance with Forbidden Message Categories

If you're using a specific SMS service provider, make sure to familiarize yourself with the forbidden message categories outlined by CTIA. These categories are non-compliant and may lead to filtering or blocking of your messages. By avoiding these categories, you can ensure compliance and maintain the deliverability of your SMS campaigns.

Being Transparent and Offering Opt-out Options

Transparency is crucial in SMS marketing. Consistently reintroduce your brand, purpose, and message frequency to remind recipients of their opt-in. Additionally, prioritize giving your contacts the option to opt out of receiving messages. Including an opt-out option in each message demonstrates respect for their preferences and helps maintain a positive relationship.

You can also refer to our detailed guide on best practices for SMS marketing.  

10. The Future of SMS Marketing

Evolving Technology and Trends

SMS marketing continues to evolve with advancements in technology and emerging trends. As AI and automation become more prevalent, businesses can expect further improvements in personalization, efficiency, and effectiveness. Staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends will be essential for businesses looking to maximize the potential of SMS marketing.

Leveraging SMS API for Enhanced Capabilities

SMS API integration allows businesses to leverage advanced features and capabilities of SMS platforms. By integrating SMS API into your existing systems and workflows, you can streamline processes, enhance personalization, and automate message delivery. SMS API integration also enables businesses to connect with other communication channels, such as email and social media, for a seamless multi-channel experience.

11. Case Studies and Success Stories

Message Now by Message Central

Message Now is an SMS API provider by Message Central. Although, they themselves have used SMS marketing quite effectively. The same has been used for the following use cases:-

a. SMS verification and seamless onboarding  

b. Informational SMS marketing to keep in touch with the existing customers

WOO TV by U2opia Mobile  

WOO TV has also used SMS marketing quite effectively to streamline their overall communication flow. They have used a multichannel approach where they are using both SMS and WhatsApp marketing.

12. Conclusion and Next Steps

SMS marketing presents a unique opportunity for businesses to engage with their target audience effectively. By leveraging the growing popularity of SMS, businesses can reach a wide audience, achieve high engagement and open rates, and enjoy a significant return on investment. With the right strategies, compliance practices, and personalization techniques, businesses can unlock the full potential of SMS marketing.

To take action and start leveraging SMS marketing for your business, explore the solutions and services offered by Message Central. With their expertise and comprehensive SMS platform, you can enhance your communication efforts, build stronger customer relationships, and drive business growth.