There's only one mobile app that almost everyone has. It's not Facebook, and it's not even email. Think bigger. Imagine an app that is integrated into the operating system of almost all of the 4 billion handsets out there. Guessed yet? I'll give you a hint: I'll text you later.
Yes. SMS is the only mobile app that is compatible with 99.9 percent of your audience's mobile phones, smart or otherwise. It's also the most widely accessible marketing tool, eclipsing email in the 18 to 24 category. If you want to reach young people, it's through their phone.
According to Portio Research, global SMS messaging will break eight trillion by the end of this year. With an open rate above 95 percent, when you are thinking about "going mobile" you had better be thinking SMS marketing first.
SMS marketing basics
Although SMS marketing has been around for a while, many businesses fear it and think that their customers might take offense to it. Yet a well thought out plan for acquiring numbers and sending service-oriented (value-added) messages is hugely successful for many companies.
Here are a few pointers to help you avoid alienating your customers:
Get permission first: No one likes receiving unsolicited messages. Ask for your customer's number, and be clear about what you will send.
Only send what you say you'll send: Most people pay more attention to their mobiles than to their spouses, so once you have someone's personal mobile number, treat it with respect. If you're going to send marketing to someone on your "info updates" list, you need permission first.
Think service first, sales later: People respond much better to service-oriented messages like appointment reminders, announcements of items being back in stock, and messages without an overt marketing message.
Don't abbreviate or use slang: ul b lol'd at best and not understood at worst. Trust me. If you want to be taken seriously, just don't do this.
Tell them how to get out: Any good SMS marketing platform will allow customers to unsubscribe by texting a word such as "STOP" to your number. In the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the U.K., you must have this feature by law.
Send messages at appropriate times of day: Ever had your mobile go off at 3 am? Not nice. Most people sleep with their mobiles in the room with them. Don't give them a reason to STOP your messages.
Discount codes and coupons
One of the most popular uses for SMS marketing is mobile coupons and discount codes. Everyone loves a deal, and when you offer your customers a chance to save, they'll gladly hand over their mobile numbers.
In an eMarketer study, more than half of young adults said they would give their mobile numbers to a company in exchange for discount codes.
Once your customers understand the value of exchanging their mobile numbers with you, you'll find they are responsive and covet the chance to engage with your brand on a more personal level.
While trends in the app store come and go, SMS marketing gives you access to the widest number of mobile customers and is not about to be replaced.
Pavel Webb is affiliate manager at TextMagic.
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"Text message received on a mobile phone" image via Shutterstock.