SMS Marketing Ideas

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August 26, 2014

How to Say Sorry After a Text Fail

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Text message fails are so common in the business world there’s a website devoted to cataloguing them. Unlike other workplace errors, which usually don’t spread beyond the safe confines of the office, a mistake-laden text blast is sent to customers, with potentially disastrous consequences for your brand image. 

Luckily, members of the public are, for the most part, likely to see the funny side - as long as we’re talking about an unfortunate autocorrect or some other minor error, and not personal insults or sharing of sensitive data! In most cases, then, there is a way back.

A big part of your recovery lies in the apology you issue after an SMS marketing fail. The way you go about apologizing can cast you in a positive light. The best case scenario is that public opinion of your company will actually improve (although we wouldn’t suggest sending an error-strewn text message just to test this theory!). So you’ve messed up and sent an erroneous SMS to thousands of customers. Here’s how to apologize:

React Quickly

You know how it goes. You make a big mistake - one that everybody will soon know about – and you freeze. Except for the back of your neck, which burns. All you can do is close your eyes and pray that when you open them you’ll have travelled back in time. The paralysis brought about by guilt and fear is of no use to anybody, so instead of waiting around for stuff to hit the fan, you need to immediately own your error. Go directly to your boss and break the news before they find out about it from someone else.

Be Honest

Squirming around for a way to downplay a mistake is uncomfortable for everyone. Don’t do it. Admit exactly what happened so you can strategize the best plan of action. Don’t be tempted to drip feed your coworkers in the hope your mistake will seem less serious. It won’t – it’ll just look like you’ve made a series of errors and then tried to sweep them under the carpet. 

Face the Music

In most cases, you will need to issue an apology to the recipients of the erroneous text. Yes, this is embarrassing in itself, but it has to be done – and quickly. Have a creative meeting and craft a humble, humorous apology that will appeal to your audience’s better nature. Depending on the scale of the error, you may need to offer some kind of promo code or discount. This will usually do the trick of getting people back onside. Your budget will take a hit, but it’s worth it to retain those all important contacts. 

Have Faith

Don’t dwell on the mistake. If you allow it to distract you, it will only set you back. Don’t let one error define you.

Own It

That said, it’s worth following your apology SMS up with a reference to the mistake on Twitter or social media. If it was relatively funny, and threatens to be shared by outsiders, you should pre-empt this and talk about it yourself. Own It lest it Owns You.

Mistakes happen on the way to success. Learning how to deal with them via sincerity, humility, humor and efficiency will turn a stressful situation into a bona fide learning curve.

 

August 20, 2014

The Big Mobile Marketing Match: Email vs. SMS

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No doubt about it, email marketing has been king for many years in the new media advertising realm. The accessibility to potential clients, coupled with low-cost delivery has proven to be a boon for marketing campaigns across the board. Since spam filters have enhanced and email open rates have decreased, however, SMS text message marketing has taken a leading spot in digital advertising.

First off, there are a great deal more mobile users than email users. According to a study by Ericsson in 2014, there are reportedly 4.5 billion mobile users in the world. This number does not include users who own and use multiple devices. Each of these users has the capability of receiving a text message via SMS. The Radicati Group recently reported that there are a projected 2.5 billion email users around the globe. Essentially, that’s about 45% more people who can receive SMS versus email.

SMS, unlike email, has not yet been impacted by spam – at least not in the same fashion. Often emails that are completely legitimate are considered spam simply because inboxes are inundated with junk mail. This has driven down the possibility of connecting with readers of email, with only 22% of messages having the opportunity to be opened and read by email users. SMS, in contrast, has a 98% open rate by mobile users, with only 1% filtered by spam text messaging.

Think about how the average mobile user addresses a text message versus an email. For years, email users have complained about the content of their inboxes, scrutinizing the subject lines to determine if each email is worth opening. When mobile users receive texts, however, they choose to open virtually all of them. It is still natural for mobile users to assume a text is coming from a more trusted source, whereas email users are highly skeptical of the correspondence they receive – especially if they do not recognize the sender. Perhaps as text marketing is adopted by more companies, this trend will alter toward the high filtration rate of email filtering. On the other hand, with such strict guidelines set forth by the FCC when it comes to SMS marketing, the level of spam texting may stay significantly low for quite some time.

The real benefit of SMS marketing is the increased rate of return. It’s true that companies must still market via email, just as they must continue employing traditional advertising channels. But the open and click-through ratio for text messaging far surpasses that of email or traditional marketing methods. The numbers don’t lie – consider ramping up your marketing game by developing an effective SMS campaign today. You’ll be happy with the results.

August 12, 2014

How to Devise a Mobile Marketing Strategy in the Hospitality and Travel Industries

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Nowadays, consumers expect a great deal from travel and hospitality companies, particularly when it comes to ease of access and information in utilizing their mobile devices. Travelers are using their mobiles for all of their needs: booking flights and accommodations, researching events and local hotspots, as well as restaurant reservations, of course. Mobile engagement is at an all-time high for these travelers, with an estimated three out of four people using devices while on a trip – that’s more than four times as many people using their mobiles to enhance their travel experience since 2009.

Corporations in the travel and tourism business have been at the forefront of keeping travelers connected via their mobile devices. The level of engagement is unparalleled. The mobile platforms in place can empower customers to find local, real-time information, and they allow these corporations to make recommendations for customers according to their preferences. Customers, in turn, can read reviews, compare prices and amenities, and score loyalty points. Best of all, customers may send and receive immediate feedback from their purchases and their experiences, increasing customer spend and attracting repeat business. And the best companies in this business are now rising to the top, managing to give the customer that “ideal experience” throughout their travels.

Creating a Mobile Marketing Strategy: Incentive, Experience, and Rewards

Devising a mobile marketing strategy requires an adherence of three specific best practices. First, a business must focus on incentives: travel deals, discounted fares and hotel stays, even parking coupons. Promotion codes are an excellent way to track advertising, offering free upgrades or deals on dining out. Second, businesses must enhance customers’ experience throughout their travels. In the age of Yelp, several bad reviews can spell disaster for a business. Cater to guests needs: update them on local events and when rooms are prepared, keep them apprised of new offers, and be sure to warn them of any potential trouble (i.e., bad weather, directions to locations, etc.). Finally, customers expect rewards for their loyalty. Give them points and coupons with detailed information about their membership: list their mileage balances, what they’ve purchased, their reservations and confirmation codes, as well. For repeat business, offer them discount codes and find out how their trip went by asking for their feedback.

Every aspect of a mobile device goes into this mobile marketing strategy. Marketers should incorporate all kinds of communications, from SMS, push, and email, to a good old-fashioned phone call. By carefully designing a targeted strategy according to your customer’s individual preferences, marketers can thereby properly execute the right level of customer engagement. The benefit to the consumer is right up-to-the-moment information and access, while travel and hospitality corporations may track customers and market to them directly in order to maximize their reservations and revenue. All in all, the key to a good mobile marketing strategy in the hospitality and travel industries is to increase and enhance customer engagement. The best in the business practice this and – with a little ingenuity and the right direction – your travel or hospitality business could also benefit from the latest in mobile technology.

August 11, 2014

Mobile Brings 1:1 Marketing Full Circle

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Mobile marketing is the modern face of advertising. Sophisticated tools like geo-location software and mobile apps are stripping away the barriers between business and consumer, affording even the most modestly-budgeted mobile marketing campaign to foster precise, personalized relationships with an audience that never stays still, but for whom smartphones are a constant companion.

If the technology is cutting edge, the concept of one-to-one marketing is anything but. It dominated the commercial landscape until the middle of the 20th Century. Before radio, television and print media were widely available, the romantic image of the door-to-door salesperson selling his wares directly to customers was very much a reality. ‘The user experience’ – as nobody called it then – was top notch: a sales rep came to your home, demonstrated the worthiness of their product and, perhaps most importantly of all, put a face to the brand.

This marketing strategy provided accountability, intimacy and transparency, but was ultimately put to bed by the rise of mass broadcasting technology. Instead of reaching a few thousand people by sending out a hundred reps to knock on doors, businesses could reach millions in one go via a television commercial. For much of the post-war 20th Century, big advertising meant big networks and big money. Corporate muscle (devoid of accountability, intimacy and transparency) ruled the roost and the little guy was out in the cold. Who could compete?

The advent of cable television dealt the first blow to this monolithic, monopolized marketing culture. By appealing to niche markets on specialized channels, the company message might reach fewer people, but the percentage of conversions would be higher. Slowly but surely, broadcasting was superseded by narrowcasting.

Narrowcasting allows marketers to:

  • Disseminate messages to different demographics and adjust each message accordingly
  • Make sure content is only available to specific groups
  • Provide high levels of relevance to the recipient

The trend started by cable television went stratospheric with the arrival of the internet, an ultra-targeted information portal that didn’t have to predict what people wanted; you could find exactly what you needed by filtering out everything else. Direct marketing wasn’t just back in business – it was business.

But the web solution also presented a problem: market fragmentation. One of the earliest constituents of the internet lexicon to take root in the public imagination was ‘SPAM’ – and it wasn’t because people liked it. In addition to filtering the information they wanted via search engines, people were ignoring the information they didn’t want by automatically trashing unsolicited emails from businesses. As soon as every business was shouting from the same platform, the public simply turned the volume down. By the mid-noughties, online marketing was threatening to become white noise for all but the richest of traders, who could afford to roll out costly SEO campaigns and buy space on premium web real estate. 

Just when it looked like marketing power would once again be predicated on deep pockets, SMS messaging stepped into the breach with a more refined approach. Ironically, commercial texting’s wilderness years were brought to an end with the rise of the smartphone. Mobile devices are no longer simply convenient portable versions of landline phones. They are indispensable hi-tech appendages, the use of which is beginning to overtake desktop as people’s primary point of access to the web.

This increased focus on handheld devices has done wonders for SMS messaging. While consumers continue to spam filter emails, more than 90% of text messages are opened and read within minutes. Long before the humble text became a mobile marketing strategy, it was used primarily for personal communication. As such, it is a trusted channel, and mobile marketing campaign managers have cleverly reciprocated that trust by building opt-in only contact lists. In 2014, the holy grail of mobile marketing tactics is to transmit a unique message to individuals who want it, tailored to their wants and needs.

This new, consent-driven iteration of 1:1 marketing is allowing companies to reach customers on their own terms, and to offer preference-based special offers. Personalized marketing is back – and you don’t even need to leave the office to do it.

August 09, 2014

Six of the Best: Reasons to Use SMS

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Despite the appeal of other emerging forms of communication, text messaging via SMS is still the most popular choice for mobile users. Four billion people around the globe use SMS, sending upwards of a trillion messages each year. Due to its popularity it’s no wonder that mobile marketers agree: pound for pound, SMS allows for the furthest reach to the widest audience. But why is SMS the best selection for a mobile marketing campaign? Here are several reasons:

1)Popularity

As mentioned above, SMS is the most popular form of mobile communication. At least 70% of the world’s populace uses a mobile phone, and of those subscribers, 80% of them use text. With reach like that, mobile marketers will want to incorporate SMS into their marketing strategy.

2)Permanence

First off, text messages can be sent at anytime to anyone. Even if the receiver is offline, they will receive the SMS once they are back online. Messages do not expire, and will be read as soon as the recipient is free to read it.

Furthermore, SMS users tend to remain SMS users. Many different communications platforms have been developed since the late 20th century: fax, email, IM, as well as the more recent platforms of apps, multimedia messaging, Facebook and Twitter. Consumers choose text messages due to their widespread availability and the low cost. Also, practically everyone knows how to send and receive text messages. For years, SMS shall go head-to-head with the mobile user’s other most common type of communication (voice calling).

3)Capability

SMS-style messages have numerous capabilities. They can include binary data, pictures, music, logos, animations, and coupons/vouchers. Information can be exchanged between applications. And in fairly recent news, SMS is able to utilize mWallet services – an invaluable asset to have in today’s mobile marketing landscape.

4)Dialogue

Text messages are a two-way street, allowing for back and forth communication between users. From a marketing standpoint, this paves the way for feedback, comments, and join-in promotions using SMS. Many marketing campaigns ask users to send them photos within messages. In one example, BBC radio ran a picture-messaging campaign for the MDA that was wildly successful – to the tune of over forty-thousand picture messages in a 24-hour period!

5)Payments

SMS promotes the use of reverse payments, where the recipient may opt to pay for the message. In the case of valuable mobile content, this is the most common method to receive payment. Also, charities have utilized SMS’ payment capabilities, providing a channel and a means for eager donors.

6)Economy

Certainly, bulk SMS messages can be costly, but they are cheaper than the Post Office. Also, since the messages are short, they are more likely to gain the attention of busy mobile users. And clever retailers can do a lot using only 160 characters.

Perhaps one day there will be a way for advertisers to break through the noise, creating targeted cross-platform advertisements that reach every mobile user available. Since SMS is the most widespread and powerful mobile marketing tool currently available, be sure to incorporate text messaging strategies into your marketing campai

August 03, 2014

Hispanic Market Growth Reaches New Heights

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Though we are still in the early days of mobile marketing, new technologies are allowing businesses to share their brand in revolutionary ways. Reports about new advertising techniques and ways to reach consumers on their mobile devices are flooding the blogosphere. But are advertisers paying attention to the changing face of the mobile marketplace? The real news flash: The Hispanic Market represents the fastest growing segment in the U.S.

This information from the Census Bureau and Nielsen is not really new. Marketers have been watching for years as this minority has grown into a significant force in the advertising world. Currently about 1 in 6 Americans are Hispanics. By the year 2050, however, Hispanics will represent one-third of the entire American populace.

These statistics are even more significant when we look at buying power. Hispanics command over $1 Trillion dollars in spending capital. The media have been aware of their buying power for a couple of years now: in 2012, the U.S. media spent $7.9 billion in advertising dollars that target Hispanic consumers.

Market analysts have been mining this data to find out what makes Hispanic consumers tick. The average age of Hispanics is 28 years old, and nearly 8% of Hispanics use their mobile devices to seek out content. Neilsen studies have shown that Hispanics outpace all other ethnic groups in mobile downloads of music and photos, and they are more likely than others to watch video on their mobile phones. Most Hispanics age 18 or older spend about 4.5 hours per day using social media. About half of Hispanics use social media during purchases, in the form of product reviews, the best deals, and to share their own shopping experiences. By incorporating this data into their strategies, mobile marketers have the opportunity to take advantage of how and where Hispanics spend their money.

Hispanics are also heavy phone users. On average, they send and receive more than 900 texts per month – more than any other ethnic group. Also, they make an average of thirteen calls per day, which is 40% more than the average U.S. consumer.

Hispanic consumers have a history of committing to certain brands. They are 25% more likely to follow a brand than the average U.S. adult. In a recent survey, 38% of Hispanics admitted that they generally select certain brands when they have customer loyalty programs. In a similar fashion: Hispanics are 18% more likely to follow a celebrity. 

According to Nielsen, Hispanic video viewers are 68% more likely than non-Hispanic White viewers to watch video on the Internet, and 20% more likely to watch video on their mobile phone. This may be due to the fact that Hispanics are less likely to have internet access at home than the average U.S. consumer (14% less likely, in fact).

There is a wealth of data available surrounding customers in today’s fast-paced world of mobile marketing. Knowing the ways that Hispanics choose to do business can give you a leg up against the competition. By approaching the Hispanic population with a mobile app, service, or direct mobile marketing, marketers can successfully target a consumer base that practice brand loyalty and constant engagement. It’s time for mobile marketers to wake up to the thriving Hispanic market.

July 21, 2014

3 Effective Negative Marketing Strategies

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Though it must undoubtedly be tempered by positivity and come attached with something of real value to the consumer, ‘negative marketing’ can be one of the most compelling ways to engage an audience. Whether it’s self-effacement, common enemies, or simply a list of the wrong way to go about things, spinning the ever-sunny face of web and mobile marketing into a scowl can work wonders for driving traffic.

Almost every industry should consider using it as part of their mobile marketing tactics, but many companies are hesitant to adopt such a potentially risky strategy. Last week we looked at the reasons why negative marketing, when done right, is so effective. Today, examine a few specific negative marketing methods…

1) Negative Titles

One only has to spend five minutes looking at clickbait headlines that pepper the web to spot two common patterns. One tactic is something we like to call ‘Inducing Incredulity’ – those titles that read ‘You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened After This Cat Ate Spaghetti’ or ‘This Free Weight Loss Method is HATED By Doctors.’ The pot of gold promised at the end of those link rainbows is always profoundly empty, and you’re left kicking yourself for trusting any content with such a profligate attitude to capital letters.

The other common – and far superior - approach to headlines is to present articles from a negative angle. Let’s say there’s a news piece about crime statistics in the United States, and you have a choice of two headlines: i)’Most Crime-Free Cities’ or ii)’Worst Cities for Crime’ – the content is precisely the same, but guess which title will generate the most clicks? It works just as well for lifestyle advice articles. Instead of ‘How to Roast the Perfect Chicken’ go for ‘How to Get Roast Chicken Wrong’. It may not be the most flattering comment on human nature, but the fact is, negative headlines translate into more clicks.

2) Shared Experiences

Creating brand loyalty relies on bonding with your audience, and one way to do this is by sharing negative experiences with them. If you can tap into an emotional touchpoint in an unexpected way, your reader will think of you as less of a corporate powerhouse and more of a friend. This is an especially effective mobile marketing strategy to launch your campaign with, as it puts you on an even footing with consumers, letting them know you share their pain. However, once you’ve created that bond based on shared negative experiences, it’s important to shift the tone to more positive, solution-oriented content.

3) Self Effacement

Nobody likes a braggart. That’s as true for businesses as it is for individuals, and whilst every company needs to ‘big themselves up’ in some way, a touch of self-deprecation is a really attractive way to get attention. Sharing your mistakes will make you seem more human, plus, if you do make a slip up, you can be the first to condemn yourself (before the blogosphere pounces). As long as your product or service is unimpeachable, you can afford to poke a little fun at your logo, CEO, or recent advertising campaign. 

July 19, 2014

From Zero to Hero: How Mobile Revolutionized Planet Marketing

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Mobile marketing has gone stratospheric since the advent of the smartphone, but it’s been around in some form or another for more than 20 years. SMS messaging gave marketers a whole new channel to pursue during the 90s, when cell phone ownership first became widespread. Now, with text messages the most commonly read form of communication, advertisers are cautiously rediscovering the possibilities of SMS marketing.

But mobile marketing is about much more than SMS. The smartphone age has seen to that by putting the power and connectivity of a desktop computer into the palms, pockets and handbags of almost everyone in the western world. Some inroads were made into serious, non-SMS mobile marketing tactics during BlackBerry’s first flush of success in the early noughties, but when the first iPhone hit stores in 2007, marketing execs really sat up and began to take notice. 

As developers clamored to create apps to go along with Apple’s devices, the first wave of modern mobile marketing tactics began to take shape. The focus was very much on volume, and publishers relied largely on getting high app store chart rankings in order to gain visibility. Marketing efforts were all about short-term gains, with the main objective to generate as many downloads as early as possible in order to climb the charts. Quantity reigned supreme over quality.

These early years of app/mobile marketing were dominated by incentivized downloads – something Apple continued to allow until April 2011, despite the obvious credibility problems. Tracking performance was problematic. Platform regulations were loose, and developers took full advantage; it was essentially a land grab, the Old West of app and mobile marketing. 

By 2012, developers began thinking about the possibilities of quality and performance tracking. CPI-based campaigns gathered steam and, and better quality tracking was sought. For their part, Apple tightened its rules, clamping down on people accused of gaming the chart system by using bot farms to generate inauthentic downloads.

Around the same time, publishers became more data-focused, integrating in-app analytics software to collect metrics like usage, engagement, retention and monetization potential. There was a growing focus on high-quality user experience – but mostly with the objective of retaining customers for the medium-term.

That all began to change over the last 18 months, as a new climate took hold in the tech world. The shift is now overwhelmingly moving in the direction of stellar quality, as mobile marketing campaign managers realize that acquiring new users, even for a pittance, is not sensible unless they are retained, engaged, and monetized. Against that backdrop, some unlikely transactions have taken place – such as the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook – but there is no doubt that the app world has raised it’s game. With GPS technology and other location-based tools fast improving, the future of mobile marketing is unpredictable, but undeniably exciting.

 

 

July 11, 2014

The Pitfalls of Using Long Codes in your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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Before we tear into long codes, let’s be clear: they have some useful capabilities outside of the United States. Long numbers create interactivity and an ongoing conversation between users and businesses, and the very best examples provide a truly premium experience for participants.

All well and good, but if your mobile marketing campaign is aimed squarely at users in the United States, the benefits of long codes are irrelevant. According to the Wireless Association, long codes may only be used for person-to-person messaging, and is not allowed for SMS blasts, time-based alerts or automated search.

For many businesses, these restrictions will simply prove too much to even attempt getting round them. The ethical demands of conducting a long code campaign that not only abides by the regulations but also gives an ROI means most marketers will stick with the tried and tested short code method. So why the big fuss about long codes?

In the United States, one of the trademark concerns of the mobile marketing industry – and the regulators that govern it – is consumer protection. Network carriers are held responsible by subscribers for unauthorized communication; they also have a legal obligation to minimize spam. Long codes are known as a ‘grey route’ to market, and attract unscrupulous businesses. Legit companies should stay well away. Until such time as long codes are officially allowed by U.S. carriers, the best advice is to leave them out of your mobile marketing strategy altogether.

Meanwhile, short codes are gaining traction in both domestic and foreign markets, despite being subject to financial constraints that other marketing channels are unencumbered by. Their popularity is down to the high success rate of SMS messaging as a method of engagement. In fact, the open and read rate of text messages is reckoned to be somewhere between 90% and 98%, depending on who you ask.

July 09, 2014

How to Make the Perfect SMS Pitch

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Using SMS messaging in the most effective way requires an understanding of the singular properties of the medium. If you approach your text marketing campaign in the same way you would an email campaign, you’ll miss out on the many advantages of an SMS-focused strategy.

Perhaps the most important differentiator between email and SMS is the character limitations of the latter. If you’ve already engaged with social media via Twitter, you’ll understand the unique challenge of crafting a message in less than 140 characters. You may have an extra 20 characters at your disposal with SMS, but the same rules of clarity, brevity and levity apply to the creation of a good message.

But there is a key difference between a social media campaign and an SMS messaging campaign. Tweets don’t require opt-in subscribers, or incur even a minimal additional cost to the viewer. To engage with your texts, consumers have to give up their cell phone number and agree to receive messages. This is no mean commitment, and it demands a new standard of ethics and responsibility on the part of mobile marketers.

With an open-and-read rate of more than 90%, it’s worth getting your SMS strategy right from the start. If you fail to impress with your first message, subscribers will simply opt out. Hooking recipients with those first 160 characters they see is essential for the long-term survival of your mobile marketing campaign. Here, we offer a few pointers on making the perfect SMS pitch…

Be Relevant

You might have a large portfolio of services to offer a wide range of different consumers. The beauty of SMS lists is the ease with which you can ‘divide and conquer’ according to personal preference. Don’t waste that opportunity by viewing your contact list as a monolithic, static entity. Instead, view each phone number as an individual organism, with highly specific needs. If you run a hotel with a public restaurant, for instance, don’t send updates on room rates to someone who only signed up for meal deals.

Be Appropriate

Striking the right tone for your audience is one of the tricks of the SMS marketing trade. This will vary hugely depending on industry, but there are a few rules of thumb that apply across the board:

  • Don’t use text speak in an effort to appeal to a youth demographic, or simply to save precious space. Unless you are aiming purely for a tween crowd, it will come across as unprofessional at best, and incomprehensible at worst. Remember, many people dislike text speak, but nobody objects to proper English.
  • Having said that, your messages should be more informal than a letter or even an email. Strike a friendly but professional tone.
  • Avoid jargon. When working in a specific industry, it’s easy to get caught up with insider jargon, so remember who your audience is before rattling off a message containing a foreign acronym.

Be Link Friendly

In all likelihood, you have a lot more to say than you can possibly fit in a text message, so don’t forget to include a hyperlink to your website. View text as a gateway to your brand, and encourage recipients to click with a clear call to action.

Be Plugged In

Segmented mobile subscriber lists are an invaluable source of user information. You should be constantly tracking the analytics of your mobile marketing campaign to see what each subscriber likes or dislikes, and adjusting your messages accordingly. The more you seem to be speaking to each customer as an individual, the better your SMS pitch will be.