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What Is SMS Marketing? Your Guide to Setting up and Leveraging One of the Fastest-Growing Marketing Channels

March 2, 2023

Have you ever wished for a lightning-fast way to keep your customers in the loop, send personalized offers, or engage with your audience? SMS marketing is likely the answer you’re searching for.

This unique channel allows you to quickly connect with your audience on a personal level and build long-lasting relationships. And don’t worry if you have no experience with SMS marketing — getting started is easier than you think - keep reading!

Data shows that people worldwide send 23 billion texts every day. With the growing number of smartphone and SMS users, there’s never been a better time for your business to use this powerful communication and marketing tool.

In an era where consumers expect to experience brands on their own terms, SMS marketing offers a unique opportunity to reach them right in their pocket. This guide will dive deep into what SMS marketing is, its benefits, the kinds of SMS marketing you can create for your business, and how to get started.

Getting started with sms marketing

What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS stands for Short Message Service. This is the same type of message you’d send to your family and friends via your cell phone.

Simply put, SMS marketing is a form of direct marketing that involves sending promotional offers, updates, tips, news, and other relevant information to customers via text messages. However, these customers have to opt in to receive your messages by either giving their phone number or texting a keyword to subscribe.

In most cases, SMS messages have a character limit of 160. This means that your message needs to be succinct and to the point. Ultimately, you should focus on creating a compelling message that allows you to communicate with your customers personally or prompt them to take the desired action.

Why SMS? If you've thought about SMS marketing and then brushed it aside, it's probably because you’re not entirely sure of its potential. After all, you can use many other channels for marketing your business, so why go with SMS?

Well, here’s what makes SMS stand out from the rest:

Almost Everyone Owns a Cell Phone

It's pretty much a given that almost everyone has a cell phone these days. The latest data shows that the global number of smartphone users is increasing year over year and is expected to reach 6.8 billion in 2023, a 4.2% annual increase. This figure is 86.5% or 3.2 billion more than the number of smartphone users in 2016.

And why wouldn't everyone own a smartphone? It's the perfect way to stay connected, get news and entertainment, and even do some business. All this makes it a no-brainer for any business to consider SMS marketing.

SMS Is High-Converting and Trackable

Your customers are bound to respond positively to the right message.  Gary Vee used SMS marketing to connect with his large user base and reported a 98% open rate and 90% engagement rate. That’s something email marketers can only dream of, as the average open rate of emails is only 21.33%.

And not just that. The click-through rate is also much higher, at 45% for SMS and 6% for email. All this data shows that SMS should be an integral part of your marketing toolbox.

But what makes SMS even more attractive is that you can track, measure, and analyze your results. You can determine which campaigns are effective, which ones need improvement, and how customers interact with your messages.

With Norby’s analytics, you can view your SMS campaign’s performance. Sends analytics will show you how many people have received your message and the time of the day the message was sent from your unique Norby phone number. If your SMS message had a link, you can review the performance for clicks.

SMS Is an Owned Channel

SMS marketing is an owned channel, which means it's entirely under your control. With email, ads, and social media, you have to rely on third-party services to get your message out. That's not the case with SMS, as you send messages directly to customers’ phones.

You have complete control over your SMS content, the recipients, and when you send it. SMS marketing also gives you control over the experience you're providing to your customers. With the help of Norby analytics, you can create a custom journey through SMS messages and help customers get more out of your products and services.

For instance, signup analytics will show you how many people have signed up for your list and where they signed up from. You can go a step further and track their journey from the first SMS message to conversion. Moreover, once you've gathered first-party data from your audience (phone numbers), it's easy to target the right people with personalized messages tailored to their preferences.

Sms marketing best practices

What Kinds of SMS Marketing Are There?

There are different types of SMS marketing that you can choose from. Your choice will depend on the goals you want to accomplish. The most common types of SMS marketing are:

Promotional SMS Marketing

This type of SMS marketing involves sending messages to your audience to promote your products, services, or events. The goal of promotional SMS marketing is to increase awareness of your brand and acquire more customers.

It can be a one-off SMS campaign where you send a message to your audience announcing a sale, an event, or even slots opened for a wellness or coaching business. You can also opt for a series of messages in the form of workflows whereby you send messages via automation.

This form of SMS marketing is ideal for informing customers about product drops or launches, new classes or programs, and activities to take place in the coming week. You can also use promotional SMS marketing to announce a new podcast or podcast episode and collect customer feedback via surveys and polls. If you want your audience to take action, like signing up for an event, you should have a clear call to action in the message and link.

Transactional SMS Marketing

Transactional SMS marketing involves sending customers messages after they make a purchase, reservation, or other transaction. The text messages include order confirmations, payment confirmations, shipping updates, and appointment reminders. It could also be an update about a preorder for a product.

Transactional SMS marketing aims to keep customers informed and engaged with your business. It builds trust, as it shows that you are organized and reliable.

Relationship Building SMS Marketing

This type of SMS marketing involves sending messages that foster a connection with your audience and community. The messages should add value and provide customers with exciting content. For instance, you can send the following:

  • Styling tips
  • Links to quick how-to videos or blogs
  • Motivational messages
  • Interesting articles related to your industry
  • Behind-the-scenes peeks at your business
  • A daily mantra
  • Curated playlists
  • Surveys or polls

Relationship-building SMS marketing establishes trust and shows that you care about your customers. Customers are more likely to stay loyal if they feel connected to your business.

Affordable sms marketing

What Are the Benefits of SMS?

Have you ever wondered why you should adopt SMS for your business? There's so much you could gain from investing in SMS marketing. While the benefits vary depending on your industry and how you use it, here are some of the most notable ones:

High Open Rate and Deep Customer Engagement

SMS has a high open rate of 98%, meaning that your audience will read almost all of your messages. The open rate is much higher than what you'd get from email, making SMS a great channel for reaching your customers and cutting through the noise.

Text messages also outperform emails for click-through rates. If you include a link in your message, your customers are more likely to click it and take action.

SMS messages foster deep engagement from customers, as the messages are conversational. It's much easier to introduce new products and services and collect customer feedback using conversational SMS messages.

Easier Automation

Automation makes it easier to set up and manage marketing campaigns. You can automate sending messages so that you don't have to manually send each SMS message. This is particularly useful if you have a series of messages that should be sent out at specific intervals or when certain conditions are met.

You can also use automation to personalize your messages. You can use customer data such as names, preferences, activities, and more to tailor the messages for a better response rate. Automation will also help you curate conversational text messages more likely to engage the audience.

Instant Access and Reach

Text messages reach customers instantly, meaning that they get information right away. Research shows that 95% of message recipients read them within three minutes. Instant reach is great if you want to inform your customers about special offers and you want them to take action immediately.

The wide and instant reach makes it easy to establish personal connections and build strong customer relationships. You can communicate with them via one-to-many or one-to-one text messages. With such messages, your audience, users, and community will not feel forgotten, and you can keep them in the loop and up to date about your brand.

Your brand's communication is likely to pick up sooner when using SMS than other forms of marketing, such as email, direct mail, and even social media. People are 4.5 times more likely to reply to an SMS compared to an email marketing message.

With tools like Norby’s Inbox, it’s easier to launch two-way SMS communication to engage your audience. Once you send a group SMS through Sends or Event Notification, you’ll get individual replies in the Inbox. From there, you can initiate a conversation depending on individual replies.

How to start sms marketing

3 Simple Steps to Getting Started With SMS

Now that you know how powerful and beneficial SMS can be, it's time to learn how to start SMS marketing. You might wonder whether SMS marketing suits your business. You'll be glad to know that practically any business can jump on the SMS bandwagon.

  • Ecommerce or direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand: Use SMS to announce sales and share exclusive discounts with your SMS list.
  • Business coach or freelancer: Use SMS to send your audience weekly tips, motivations, and reminders for user engagement.
  • Musician, comedian, or entertainer: Use SMS to drop a new project, drop a preorder link for tickets to your next show or gig, and ask your audience to pre-save on streaming platforms.  
  • Author: Drip feed content from your book to your SMS subscribers, promote exclusive deals on pre orders, and send updates on book launches and touring events. Remind your audience to grab that signed author copy.

But before getting started with SMS, you should consider how SMS fits into your marketing strategy and mix. Ask yourself what type of content you will send via SMS, who your target audience will be, and what your goals for using SMS are.

Once you have answers to these questions, you can follow the steps below for a hassle-free experience:

1. Get Permission/Get Opt-in

The Telephone Consumer Protection Agency (TCPA) requires businesses to get permission from their customers before they start sending them promotional messages. Under this regulation, you can’t send messages to consumers without their consent, even if you have a long-standing relationship with them. Cold texting is not only illegal, but it’s also poor etiquette that can hurt your brand.

Getting permission is easy, as people can opt in by filling out a web form or texting a keyword to your number. Whenever you send your subscribers a message, there should be clear instructions on how they can opt out of future messages. For example, they can reply to your text with the word “STOP” or “UNSUBSCRIBE.”

You should comply with TCPA regulations by using legal means to collect phone numbers from your audience. Norby takes care of all compliance-related issues for you. But here's what to do to set up and run a compliant and successful SMS marketing campaign:

Set up an Opt-in Form or Pop-up

The opt-in form or pop-up should educate your audience about what they're signing up for. The goal is to ensure that your subscribers know what type of content they will receive from you and how often.

Norby Signups make it easy to set up an opt-in form in a few minutes and add it to your website, your link in bio, or social media platforms. In the registration tab, you can choose to collect phone numbers from your audience as well as other first-party data. A tactic to create a seamless signup with clear opt-in is to use Signups with a keyword associated with it. Your audience can text the keyword to your Norby phone number to opt in to your SMS list.

Offer a Discount for Signup

Discounts are one of the best ways to get your customers to opt into SMS communication with you. You can offer them a discount when they first subscribe and then deliver that discount immediately.

Norby Signups has a notifications tab that lets you decide what happens when a person you’re targeting registers. You can set up automatic confirmation messages with your signups and deliver the offer as soon as people register.

Make the Opt-in Look and Feel Like You

The opt-in form should look and feel like your brand by using colors and imagery that match it. This can build trust with your subscribers since they know that a message is coming from you rather than a third party. Norby Signups makes it easy for you to customize the theme of your opt-in form, so you can make sure that it looks and feels just right.

2. Create SMS Automations

After getting permission from your subscribers, you should create automations to improve the customer experience and keep them engaged with your brand. Norby allows users to automate the following aspects of SMS campaigns:

  • A custom dedicated welcome series: Automatically greet subscribers by sending them welcome messages tailored to their interests. You can also use this series to build relationships with them and kick off meaningful conversations.
  • Reactivation campaigns or winback: If you’ve noticed a lull in engagement from some of your customers, send them alerts about discounts, drops, new products, or sales. Just ensure that you tailor these messages to their interests.
  • Check-in flow: You can automate the sending of motivational quotes, tips, and tricks or an uplifting message occasionally to keep the conversation going and build emotional connections to your brand.

Norby automation lets you create custom flows for different scenarios to deliver the right message at the right time.

3. Send Your First SMS Campaign and Keep Going

If you have your audience's permission and an automation system, it’s time to start your SMS campaign. An SMS campaign is one of the best ways to build relationships with your audience and drive business growth. Follow these SMS marketing best practices to ensure your campaign effectively complements your email or event marketing efforts:

  • Send two to three SMS campaigns per week: You don’t want to bombard your subscribers with messages, but you also don’t want to forget about them. Send two or three campaigns per week so that they stay engaged with your brand.
  • Make crucial announcements: Use SMS to announce sales, product drops, exclusives, preorders, events, or consulting/coaching sessions that have opened up. People love being the first to know about something, so use this tactic to keep them informed and excited about your business.
  • Use holidays as hooks: Holidays are a great hook to reach out to people since they’re often looking for something special during these times. Offer discounts or surprise gifts, or share stories related to the holiday to connect with your audience emotionally.
  • Promote new products and events: Promoting your new products or events is the perfect way to engage your subscribers with your activities. Use SMS campaigns to give sneak peeks of upcoming products, share exclusive content, or invite them to special events.

Getting started with sms marketing

Launch Your SMS Campaign With Norby

The speed and accessibility of SMS marketing make it a powerful tool for businesses to increase customer engagement and build relationships with their audiences. This form of marketing helps you cut through today's digital clutter, allowing you to send personalized messages directly to your customers. The best thing is that it's easy to get started by following the above tips and using the best SMS marketing platforms.

Norby's platform has all the features you need to launch and manage SMS campaigns. From creating signup forms to automating SMS campaigns alongside analytics, Norby makes it easier than ever to engage your audience and drive business growth. Sign up for Norby today and start taking advantage of all the SMS marketing opportunities that await you.

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