The Ultimate Guide To SMS Marketing In 2020

How often do you check your phone for text messages? Don’t be shy. You can tell us. You check it a lot, don’t you? So do we. So does everyone. Text messages – or SMS (SMS stands for short message service for geeks in the know) – could be the one form of communication that everyone opens.                                 

And not only does everyone open their text messages, most of the time they open them immediately.  

Isn’t that any marketer’s dream? To communicate their company’s ideas and messages through a medium virtually guaranteed to be opened and seen immediately?  

But let’s back up a bit and talk about mobile phone usage in general. 

Mobile phone usage is at an all-time high and we spend more time on our phones than ever before. SMS is an established, essential way to communicate, and that now includes businesses. The thing is, too few businesses realize the power of SMS marketing. Here we break down the essentials on how to use text messaging to boost your business. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones we miss. 

Having a few facts about mobile and smartphone usage under your belt will help you better understand the impact of SMS marketing today.  

To start, did you know that globally, almost three billion people use smartphones? That works out at almost one in three people on the planet.                                                                                           

Narrowing that down, 77 percent of American adults and 78 percent of British adults have a smartphone. In South Korea, you’re looking at a whopping 94 percent of adults with a smartphone in their pockets.  

We won’t even mention emerging markets like Brazil, the rest of Latin America, India, and China. The numbers are too staggering. Ditto Canada, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. 

All these people around the world use their smartphones a lot.

For example, we check our phones over 50 times a day and average almost three hours a day using them. 80 percent of us check our phones within an hour of waking up and going to bed. For most of us, It’s the first and last thing we do each day.

Our phones have become an essential part of us, a critical element of our being. 

And a large part of our extensive mobile phone use is SMS messaging. The humble text message. 

Once seen as a way to stay in touch with your contacts while on the go, SMS messaging has come a long way but it’s worth remembering that it’s the original form of messaging on your phone, predating apps like WhatsApp or iMessage.

With SMS, you don’t need a smartphone – that old Nokia will do fine – and you don’t need wifi. We’ve been talking about smartphones here, but the reality is you don’t need one to receive an SMS message. 

Nowadays we rely on SMS more than ever, and more of us use messaging as our prime method of communication. It’s easier to send a text to someone than to call or email them. It feels way more convenient and less intrusive. 

Perhaps that’s why so many of us actually open, read, and respond to our text messages. We prefer this to answering the phone and, gulp, speaking to someone. 

In recent years, there’ve been many studies on open rates for SMS messages. 

While final numbers may differ, one thing every study has in common is that the percentage of people who open their text messages is high

On the low end we’re looking at around 82 percent and on the high end, an eye-watering 98 percent. 

The actual figures, averaged out globally, are probably somewhere in the middle. That means we’re looking at a realistic percentage somewhere in the late 80s to early 90s. 

That’s amazing. It means the vast majority of us open our text messages. 

Compare that to email, where we only open around 20 percent of our messages, and you can see the potential. 

Going further, when you consider almost half of all email is some sort of spam, and that virtually no-one will click a link in an email anymore, you can see how SMS messages are a clear winner in the communications stakes.

Not only do we open more SMS messages than email, we also respond more. 

Simply put, people trust text messages more than email. 

And for marketing purposes, trust is key. SMS marketing offers businesses the easiest, most direct route through to their customers in a manner they trust. 

It’s this trust that makes SMS marketing so effective for you and your clients. 

To send a text message you need a phone number, and if you have a phone number, chances are your client or potential client has given it to you. There’s a level of trust right there.

And unlike email, most people say they have no objection to receiving text messages from companies. It’s the most un-intrusive method of communication out there. Tried, tested, and trusted. 

So yes, as we said before, SMS messaging is a marketer’s dream.

Which brings us to the next question. If SMS marketing is so great, why aren’t more businesses doing it? 

Well, maybe we’re so used to using text messages on a personal basis, we fail to see the potential in our professional lives. We don’t know where to start. 

Also, we read about regulations governing SMS marketing and we don’t want to fall foul of them. We’re a little nervous about trying, so we persevere with other marketing methods, reaching out to an ever-dwindling amount of people via email and social media. 

But there’s nothing to be nervous about. If you’re thinking about branching out into using SMS as a way to promote your brand or talk to your customers, know that the regulations are on your side.

Know that it’s the regulations that help make SMS marketing the effective tool that it is. 

It’s the very regulations in place that maintain the high level of trust people have in SMS. This keeps the message opening and response rates so high.

Allow us to explain. 

Going back to basics, text message marketing is a method used by businesses to communicate by text.

As we mentioned, you’ll need a phone number to communicate by text message. And so chances are you’ve had some form of interaction where someone has given you their number.

Once you have that number, instead of cold-calling them, you can use SMS messaging to inform them of anything you want. 

Is SMS marketing legal? Yes, but the key is to get permission from the people you want to text.       

What’s not legal about SMS marketing is messaging people without a written opt-in. And this is where inexperienced marketers can get nervous. 

But don’t be that nervous guy. All you need to do is create a campaign where your potential clients or customers can opt in to receive your SMS messages.   

Once you do that, they’ll say yay or nay. And if they say yay, you’ll have someone who actually opens, reads, and engages with your content. You’ll have an audience where at least 98 percent of them are opening your messages. And fast, too.

Like we keep repeating, a marketer’s dream!

So once you have permission, you’re good to go. The world of SMS marketing is your oyster and you can get creative.

Examples of SMS marketing messages include using the service to touch base and say hi to your clients, or reminding them of a special date in your calendar or any offers you might be running.

You can use SMS to send existing clients a text message to thank them for their business and offer them support. Little touches like that are often appreciated.

Or you can let clients know an email is in their inbox so they don’t miss it or let it fall through the cracks into the dreaded spam folder. 

Drive clients to your website by providing a link. Announce new products to your clients. Send them coupons.                                                                             

Be friendly and personable while using SMS, and offer a call to action at the end of each text. You’ve given them some info, now let them take action or not. Any marketing or sales approach to a client without a call to action is meaningless, whether that’s an email, phone call, or SMS message. 

If you’re including links in your messages, you should opt to use a custom URL shortener like Rebrandly. Unlike generic short links, custom short URLs allow you to add a CTA to the link itself, which can result in an increase of up to 39% in CTR.

Remember, your call to action should also include the option to opt out of your messages at any time. It’s all about being ethical. 

But don’t be over consistent.

Use common sense. Don’t bombard your clients with SMS messages. Remember they’ve done you a massive favor by giving you their number and opting in to receive messages from you. Don’t abuse that and drive them to opt out. Less is more. Let them look forward to your messages rather than dread them. 

That means being careful about time zones and not sending texts in the middle of the night. Be safe and keep your marketing messages to mid-morning and mid-afternoon their time.                                                      

It means telling them how often they should expect to hear from you and roughly what they should expect to find in your messages.

If you stick to these few simple rules of basic etiquette, you can build yourself a lasting relationship of trust with your clients. They may well come to view your messages as those from an old friend.

Oh – and introduce yourself in your messages. Your clients aren’t mind readers so tell them who it is. And remember that you’re not a 14-year-old child, so no text speak (lol). 

So let’s summarize how SMS marketing can help your business before talking about how to get started:

The bottom line is if you have something to sell, clients to look after, or a brand to promote, there’s no better way than SMS marketing to get your message across. 

Convinced? We hope so. SMS marketing should be a no brainer for any type of business, no matter how large or small. So what’s the best way of getting started? 

Well, you’re going to need some SMS marketing software to help you. After all, you’re not going to start going through your contact list yourself and start texting them all manually on your own phone, right?

It’s up to you, of course, but we recommend you don’t do that. It’s time-consuming, more expensive, and plain unprofessional! Plus your fingers will get real tired. 

We recommend using SMS marketing software like that provided by JookSMS or other platforms. 

SMS marketing software is a tool that helps you send bulk text messages to your contact list. You do it online or through an app rather than by pulling out your phone and doing it that way.

It’s the same kind of thing as MailChimp, but for SMS messaging instead. That’s the simplest way to think of it. 

Like MailChimp, another advantage of using SMS marketing software is you can track your results. These tools can analyze your results, from how many people open your message, click any links, and so on.       

They offer you the ability to compare your SMS marketing with your email and/or social media marketing with hard data. You can also schedule times to send messages based on the recipients’ time zones. 

Another cool feature that many of these services offer is the ability for your clients to text you back toll-free. 

There are a lot of SMS marketing tools out there, offering various degrees of service, so it’s worth shopping around. 

But for any serious SMS marketer, using some sort of software is essential. 

Now we’ve convinced you of the the benefits of SMS marketing, how it can help your business, and why you need a tool, you’re probably wondering what the next step is. 

As we mentioned earlier, the first step, once you’ve made the decision to delve into SMS marketing, is to build your contact list.

You might already have one, if your website has a Contact Us form. You can scrape your numbers from your database. After all, these are existing or potential customers who have already given you their details. 

Another thing you can do is offer – either online or in print – or even using a guy with a sandwich board or whatever – a number to text to receive a coupon. Once an interested party texts that number, you’ve got their number on your list. Just be ethical and give them what you say you’ll give them. 

Or you can stick a sentence in your email signature letting people know about how they can sign up for your text messaging service. Tell them it’s a much quicker way to stay in contact and for you to help them. 

If you have something to sell, run a contest. Offer a prize for those who enter it by text message. Alternatively, offer discounts to people who sign up to receive text messages. 

Depending on what your business is, there are tons of ways to get people’s numbers.

Remember again though, you need to get them to opt in to your messages. That’s the law, remember? We mentioned it above.

Again, an opt in is simply asking them if they’re okay with you sending them SMS marketing messages. The simplest way is to offer deals if they agree. Something like this:

“Hey pizza eater! If you love a weekly pizza deal, text PIZZA to 12345 and we’ll send you a weekly discount coupon for use at any of our restaurants!”

Easy, right? Who wouldn’t sign up for discounted pizza? No-one, that’s who. And by sending something like that, you’ve got their permission. Also offer a way for them to decline your fantastic offer if they’re that crazy. 

But in all seriousness creating a list and getting them to opt in is easy with some creativity. Everyone likes free or cheap stuff in return for receiving the occasional text message. 

One word of warning here is to not, under any circumstances, buy phone numbers.

Not only is buying a list of phone numbers about as useless as buying followers on Instagram, it’s also illegal. You’re buying the numbers of people who never contacted you in the first place. 

People who don’t know or care about your pizza. 

Your messages to them will be spam. That will kill your reputation and deservedly so. Don’t do it. 

Talking of buying things, how much does all this cost? What’s the price of SMS marketing?

Well, we’re talking about simple text messaging here, when all’s said and done. That means cheap!

The truth is that SMS marketing is one of the least expensive marketing strategies you can utilize. But let’s try to break it down for you a little.

We’ve already established that you’ll be using some form of SMS marketing software. There are a lot of options out there, and most options have their own packages depending on your needs and how many messages you want to send out each month.

But a good rule of thumb is to look at a basic package with an SMS software provider coming in at around $25 a month for over 1,000 messages.

Another thing to consider is keyword rental. Let’s have another look at our pizza text again:

“Hey pizza eater! If you love a weekly pizza deal, text PIZZA to 12345 and we’ll send you a weekly discount coupon for use at any of our restaurants!”

You see that word PIZZA in bold? That’s a keyword and it costs money to rent. You’re looking at somewhere between $5 and $25 for a keyword rental, depending on who you’re dealing with and the popularity of the keyword. 

But a lot of the packages provided by SMS marketing software services will include a few keywords in the monthly fee. And many of these guys will offer a pay-as-you-go service, too. 

So, depending on how many texts you send and how many keywords you need you’ll more than likely pay somewhere in the range of $25 to $500 a month. But if you’re spending $500 a month on SMS marketing, you’re probably a multinational. You can check out Jooksms pricing here.

So that’s the scoop on SMS marketing in 2020.

If you have any questions on this method of marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to explain anything in more detail and help get you using the tried and tested method of text sending to help grow your business.