The Do’s and Don’ts of SMS Marketing: Best Practices & Mistakes to Avoid

How to do text message marketing

 

Our texts are sacred space. It’s far more personal than our emails and snail mail. As marketers we have to tread very carefully here.

Just because we have the ability to send text messages to our leads and customers doesn’t necessarily mean we should. Text message marketing can be very powerful, but it can also do more harm than good.

There are some simple rules of thumb you can apply to know whether SMS marketing is right for your business or whether you should avoid it.

 

DON’T send texts simply because you can

Just because you have a contact’s phone number, doesn’t mean you should use it. You may have collected a stack of business cards at a conference. Or, your customers may have given you their phone number during the checkout process. You may be tempted to put those numbers to use. But, it’s a really, really bad idea to think of these phone numbers and texting as “just another messaging channel to leverage.” Instead…

 

DO have a good reason to use SMS instead of email

Text messages are best used for time-sensitive, important messages. If it’s not time-sensitive, surely it could have been sent as an email they’ll see next time they check their inbox? And, if it’s not a critical message, why interrupt their attention with a text?

 

DO get permission to send for a very specific purpose

That being said, there are very valid reasons to use text messages and, in those cases, they can be very effective. For instance, as a retailer you may have a sign up at the register asking customers to “Send a text to 7834 to get notified of flash sales in the future.” A company that issues stock tips may prefer to send those alerts by text because they’re extremely time-sensitive and provide a lot of value.

I go to a barber shop that always seems to be busy. They say there are slow times but I haven’t been able to figure out when. If they had a sign up in the waiting area “Send a text to 90743 and we’ll text you when our wait time is less than 10 minutes” I wouldn’t mind getting those texts. It would save me time and it would help the barber shop maintain a more even flow of customers.

 

DON’T send anything but the messages they opted into

If you told people they’d receive messages about flash sales as they happen, do not send anything but messages about flash sales. Don’t tell them you have new products available. Don’t tell them to refer their friends. Do not deviate from the messaging they opted into… at all.

 

DO keep your message short

Respect the 160 character limit of text messages.

 

DO personalize the message as much as possible

Rather than sending the same message to everyone, you’re likely to get better results if you tailor the message to the individual as much as possible. If you can’t personalize it any other way, using their name certainly doesn’t hurt.

DON’T fail to take time zones into account

A text in the middle of the night promoting your business is a great way to lose a customer for life.

 

DO stay away from marketing speak and jargon

Try to write in a conversational way, use a friendly tone, and avoid being overly-promotional. You’re not trying to fool anyone into thinking it’s not a SMS promoting your company, but you’re trying to avoid being too abrasive about it.

 

DO limit how often you send

In my earlier example of the barber shop using texts to bring in business during slow times, I’d caution them to only send out texts once a week or less, when they’re really, really slow. But, the frequency is going to depend on how you’re using text messages in your business and how much value each message provides. “Less is more” is a good rule of thumb, though.

 

Text message marketing can be very effective if you respect its strengths and weaknesses and remain in tune with how your messaging will be received by your contacts. See this guide for more information on how to get started with SMS marketing.

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