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6 Common SMS Marketing Mistakes (+ How To Fix Them)

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Your phone vibrates at 10 p.m., and you think you’ve received a message from a friend. Instead, it’s a text from one of your favorite brands.

The message is long, confusing, and completely impersonal. Not to mention the fact that it was sent after you had already climbed into bed for the night after a long day.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can enhance the experience of your consumers on their most valued channel — SMS. Consumers are 209% more responsive to SMS than email or phone calls. By listening to your audience’s wants and needs, brands can engage consumers in a personal way and avoid SMS marketing mistakes.

Let’s explore six of the most common SMS marketing mistakes and some solutions to fix them.

Mistake 1: Sending “batch-and-blast” messages

Consumers are open to receiving texts from businesses, but they want more from those conversations than just spammy, robotic promotions. When you choose quantity over quality in the text messages you send your customers, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with them on a valuable marketing channel.

In 2021, spam texts increased by 58% from the previous year. That’s a huge jump, and brands that use the batch-and-blast method aren’t doing themselves or their customers any favors. If customers find your messages irrelevant and annoying, they’re probably going to ignore them or opt out. 

Think of it this way. You recently opted to receive SMS messages from your favorite clothing store. It was great at first — you were notified about a sale and received a one-time promo code for it. But then, you received that same message six times over the weekend, even though you already used the promo code. That’s annoying and disruptive, not beneficial.

Solution: Segment your audience

Segmenting allows your brand to send messages that will resonate with your customers because you’ve taken the time to send personalized content.

Segmenting can be set up in a number of ways, including by interests, purchase history, pain points, or where the consumer is in the buyer journey. Targeting your audience with segmentation means the text messages you send them will be more relevant to their experiences and desires.

Say you’re the clothing store mentioned above. You’ve implemented a segmentation tool for your text message marketing, and you send a promo code to customers who’ve opted in. But once they’ve used the promo code, they won’t receive that message again. Instead, you might send them a link to a top or an accessory that would be a perfect match with the pants they just bought. Or maybe you send a referral code for them to pass along to a friend. Either way, you’re adding value rather than being disruptive and repetitive.

Mistake 2: Not capturing first- and zero-party data

Brands need first- and zero-party data to understand their consumers’ interests, patterns, and behaviors, so they can optimize their marketing strategy. Many SMS platforms make it difficult to collect that information.

A report from SmarterHQ found that 72% of consumers only want to engage with marketing content that’s tailored to their specific interests. And that 63% said they’d stop buying from brands that don’t personalize their marketing. 

If your brand isn’t investing in gathering first- and zero-party data, you risk missing out on potential sales. Plus, second- and third-party data can be inaccurate because it doesn't come directly from the source. You might not reach the right audience, and you might not be creating a trusting relationship with your consumers.

Imagine this — it’s Friday afternoon. You get a marketing text message with a discount code to order takeout to make it easy to feed your family dinner. Except you’re a college student and don’t have a family yet. The message is harmless enough, but it probably leaves a sour taste in your mouth and potentially makes you less likely to order from that restaurant in the future.

Zero-party data allows you to craft marketing campaigns that will actually resonate with your audience. But traditional SMS channels don’t allow for two-way conversations to collect zero-party data.

Solution: Focus on two-way conversational SMS

The easiest way to gather invaluable insights into your audience is by collecting first- and zero-party data directly from the source. Only two-way messaging makes that possible.

To facilitate two-way conversational SMS marketing, you may need to rethink how you’re sending your text messages to consumers. The first step is to research platforms that offer the capability to handle two-way SMS and implement one that helps your brand meet its goals.

Once you have a platform with those capabilities, you can ask consumers to share details about their preferences, behaviors, and anything else that could help you tailor marketing content and use SMS efficiently. Then use that data to provide them with a personalized brand experience.

It’s a win-win. Two-way conversational messaging and personalization can increase revenue by 40% and lead to greater trust between your brand and your consumers. 

Mistake 3: Using short codes or toll-free numbers

The telecom industry continues to undergo big shifts, and it can be hard to stay on top of the changes. As a result, you may be using outdated SMS methods for your marketing needs.

Short codes are being phased out. Brands have long used shared short codes for SMS marketing because they allow multiple businesses to split the cost and use one short code for their SMS marketing. But the FCC officially banned shared short codes due to spam concerns, and sharing short codes now means your brand could face heavy fines. Plus, short codes can only handle inbound messages, so investing in a 10DLC (a regular 10-digit phone number) makes having two-way interactions easier. 

Non-shared short codes are going away, as well. But even non-shared short code SMS marketing platforms don’t allow for segmentation. It’s a one-sided conversation and lacks the ability to message at scale.

Then, there’s toll-free texting. It’s an outdated solution. Toll-free messaging doesn’t provide scalability and is more designed for live agent customer support, not two-way conversational SMS. 

Solution: Opt for long codes

Long codes are not only a more affordable option than short codes, but they also allow for personalized engagement via two-way conversations.

For consumers, these conversations can feel like they’re texting a friend or family member, as opposed to a generic spam message from a short code.

Unlike short codes that can only be used for texting, long codes are more versatile. Through A2P 10DLC, brands can utilize both automated SMS campaigns and person-to-person engagement with their audience.

For the benefit of your brand and your consumers, you need to understand the differences between short and long codes, A2P 10DLC, and everything in between. That way, you’re doing what’s best for your business and being compliant with the current regulations.

Mistake 4: Sending messages at the wrong time

Even the right message at the wrong time will fall flat. While there isn’t consistent research guiding the marketing industry on which days and times are best for sending SMS messages, there are definitely some times you’ll want to avoid.

Be wary of sending texts too early. Even though most of us check our phones first thing in the morning, you might be annoyed if you see that a brand sent you a promo code at 3 a.m. That annoyance could turn into full-blown anger if that text wakes you up from a deep sleep.

Similarly, be mindful of your consumers’ time zones. A promo for a last-minute lunch deal may be irrelevant if it’s already passed lunchtime for your audience. 

Another “wrong” time to send messages is in the wake of a major tragedy. Whether it’s local, national, or global, be sympathetic to people’s emotions as they process events like that. 

Solution: Run tests to find optimal times for your audience

It may take some time to find that sweet spot for sending effective SMS messages to your subscribers, but it’s worth it for the potential benefits.

Try first sending SMS messages on the same schedule as your email blasts. This is a good way to dip your toes in the water and see what kind of results your campaign produces. You can adjust as needed after observing trends and results for a while.

If the email marketing schedule doesn’t prove optimal for your SMS marketing campaign, you can run more tests to see which times and days work best for your company, industry, and audience and be mindful of time zones.

Also, segmentation capabilities allow you to send blasts to people at the “right” time — or exclude them as necessary — based on where they are in the world.

Mistake 5: Not including a clear CTA

Calls to action are a great way to make sales, reach a wider audience, and generally have an easier time reaching your goals. However, if you’re not including a CTA or it’s confusing, you risk missing out on benefits for your brand.

At Community, we know texts have a 45% average CTR, 78x higher engagement than social media, and 6.5x higher engagement than email. So people are definitely reading your messages and want to take action. Not including a call to action means you could miss out on sales, engagement, or conversions.

Maybe you include CTAS, but they’re not easy to understand or simple to complete. This can create confusion for your audience and a lack of results for your campaign. 

For example, if a text sent in August says something like “Visit our website on September 20 for a surprise offer,” chances are not many people will make a note to do that so far in advance. Sending a direct link to the site on the day of the sale is easier to understand and could increase sales.

Solution: Craft an impactful call to action

To drive interaction with your text messages, make sure your call to action is relevant, interesting, and simple. From the first touchpoint to repeated sales, putting yourself in the metaphorical shoes of your consumer is the best way to reach them and reach your marketing goals.

Get to know your audience by collecting insights from other interactions and help send CTAs that benefit your brand and your target audience.

Personalize calls to action based on where your consumer is in their journey with your brand. If they’re new to your business, offering a 10% promo code for signing up is a nice welcome message. If they’re an existing customer, requesting a review or sharing a link to a product they might need to stock up on shows them their history with your brand is valued. 

Mistake 6: Not making it easy to opt out of messages

Not only is providing an opt-out option respectful to the consumer, but it’s also required under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Customers have to opt in to receive messages, so once they opt out, communication via SMS is done until they opt back in, should they choose to do so.

Repetitively sending messages with no option to opt out can create negative feelings toward your brand. Even a consumer who loves whatever product or service you offer might not want to continue receiving texts. But if they don’t have the ability to opt out, they might just unsubscribe from loving your brand.

Including an opt-out option is just the first part of the equation. The option itself should be extremely simple to complete for the consumer.

Solution: Make opt-out instructions clear and prominent

Make it easy for consumers to opt out, and frequently remind them they have that ability. The “stop” method is simple and fairly universal in SMS marketing. Make it obvious how a consumer can opt out, and keep the language simple, so a consumer doesn’t feel like they’re being guilt-tripped if they want to unsubscribe. It can be tempting to keep pursuing a consumer who unsubscribed, but other than sending one final confirmation message acknowledging the opt-out, communication via SMS needs to stop. Respecting your customer’s wishes is yet another way to build trust and improve the customer experience.

Solve engagement challenges and drive performance by avoiding SMS marketing mistakes

Brands need the tools to effectively engage consumers directly and personalize the messaging experience with two-way conversational SMS. Learn more about building a winning SMS marketing strategy without sacrificing your brand by downloading Community’s 2022 Martech SMS Playbook

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As the co-founder and CEO of Community, I want to make sure our brand reflects what we truly stand for, not just in words, but in the actions we take. We exist to keep people connected to the conversations that they choose to be part of - we choose to connect with Black-owned businesses in SoCal.  For more information on Community or if you want to hear more from me, feel free to text me: 716-330-3003.

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No items found.
As the co-founder and CEO of Community, I want to make sure our brand reflects what we truly stand for, not just in words, but in the actions we take. We exist to keep people connected to the conversations that they choose to be part of - we choose to connect with Black-owned businesses in SoCal.  For more information on Community or if you want to hear more from me, feel free to text me: 716-330-3003.

Other Leaders on Community include: Slutty Vegan; UNWRP; We're Not Really Strangers; Bobby HundredsThe Shade Room; Patrisse Cullors; Kerry Washington; and more

- Matt Peltier
No items found.
As the co-founder and CEO of Community, I want to make sure our brand reflects what we truly stand for, not just in words, but in the actions we take. We exist to keep people connected to the conversations that they choose to be part of - we choose to connect with Black-owned businesses in SoCal.  For more information on Community or if you want to hear more from me, feel free to text me: 716-330-3003.

Other Leaders on Community include: Slutty Vegan; UNWRP; We're Not Really Strangers; Bobby HundredsThe Shade Room; Patrisse Cullors; Kerry Washington; and more

- Matt Peltier

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