Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Getting Started with SMS Campaigns

U.S. adults are spending a minimum of three hours per day on their mobile devices–which means mobile is arguably the most effective platform to reach your customers. With that being said, mobile marketing is multi-faceted and can easily miss the mark by getting lost in the clutter of daily notifications, so it’s time to get creative and approach mobile marketing in a different way than just placing ads.

Many businesses are still using email as their main form of communicating messages to consumers; however, the average email open rate is approximately 20 percent. But luckily, there’s another option for mobile communication that hasn’t been worn out yet: texting. Think about it; People are reading 98 percent of the text messages they receive, and 95 percent of those texts are read within three minutes of being sent. This makes text one of the quickest and most accessible ways to reach consumers. With numbers like those it’s hard to ignore the opportunity to switch communication tactics toward a more SMS centered approach.

Let’s walk through some steps and best practices to help guide you through the process of getting started with SMS; however, before we can dive into the details of SMS messages, it’s important to know the difference between a short code and a long code.

Long Codes vs. Short Codes
A long code is a 10-digit phone number that can be used to communicate messages to consumers. These are particularly appealing for companies working locally because the number can begin with the local area code. For example, a message being sent to the customer about their delivery can appear to be from the actual driver, making for a more personal and trustworthy communication. In addition, a long code is typically inexpensive. But it’s not all perks when it comes to long codes…there is no real approval process in place for long codes; therefore, it can sometimes be seen as more “spammy” than a short code and move much slower (for example: only one message per second can be sent via a long code while short codes can send more than 30 per second).

Alternatively, a short code is a five or six digit number that can send messages to mobile phones at a high volume. Not only are they shorter and therefore easier for the consumer to remember, but they are also highly regulated since they’re leased and controlled by the Common Short Code Administration in the U.S. By opting-in, users agree to receiving (and even responding to) messages from the specified short code–which creates a sense of trust between the customer and the brand. Short codes were created to allow marketers to communicate with consumers–which is why we’re going to focus on these for the rest of this blog.

Finding and Leasing a Code
The first step to marketing via SMS is to purchase, lease, and obtain approval for your short code. The Common Short Code Administration handles the purchasing and leasing, while SMS aggregators–such as Twilio or Tatango–are responsible for communicating with all phone carriers to get your short code approved, a process that usually takes six to eight weeks to finalize.

Define Campaign Details
Once your code is paid for and approved, you can get started on the campaign details. Don’t worry, you don’t have to deal with any more cell phone providers–this is also accomplished through the Common Short Code Administration on the short code registry. It is important to set clear intentions for your SMS campaign. Ask yourself: is this text to keep your customers informed about specific events near them? Does it give customers more information on a product they recently purchases? Ultimately, these prompts should all lead you back to the overarching question: will this message provide relevant information that will benefit your customer and improve their experience with your brand? The list of use cases is ever growing for SMS campaigns, but if you can answer that big question with a resounding “yes!”, then you’re good to go! Now, you’re ready for approval and the rollout of your campaign.

Short code marketing is highly successful in reaching your customers where they spend most of their time–on their mobile device. By completing these steps, you are one step closer to creating a trustworthy channel of communication for both you and your customer.