Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

With the rise of smartphones and increased access to communication tools such as WhatsApp, it may seem as though text messaging is a thing of the past. But SMS remains relevant for many marketers around the globe.

SMS allows for the personalisation of messaging, which is high on the list of consumer demands in the marketing landscape. According to researchers, the average open rate of text messages is 99%, with 99% of these messages being read within 15 minutes of delivery.

To make the most of an SMS campaign, marketers should be clear about their unique value proposition: what makes their offering most attractive to consumers and why they should buy into your brand as opposed to a competitor.  

The brand name should appear in the message, together with a call to action. Brand names equate to customer affinity and trust, while examples of transparent calls to action include messaging such as “Reply YES, to receive a call”, which increases the chance that the message will be opened.

Messages should be short and simple. For greater personalisation, address the recipient by their first name and use the type of language that people use in everyday conversation. These include words such as “Get a great deal”, “Hey there Richard” or even “Howzit”. That said, the tone of the message should also reflect and resonate with the brand’s positioning in the market.

The big take-out:

Despite the myriad mobile platforms available to marketers, SMS remains a firm favourite. Using a few clever techniques increases the chances of creating a successful SMS campaign.

Creating a sense of urgency, such as including a deadline on the offer, is an effective way to gain a response. A good example of this is the hype around Black Friday and why it is such a highlight on the retail calendar.

By keeping up to date with industry trends, marketers are more likely to attract attention with their messages. For example, the SMS should begin with a reference to a current trend or event that will resonate will consumers, followed by a solution and a call to action. For example, “Petrol prices are on the rise again – order online to avoid the drive”.

Free replies are key to receive a good response to a lead generation campaign. Most customers will be reluctant to respond to an SMS if they think it will cost them money. Reverse billed rates allow them to reply for free, though it does incur a cost for the client to cover the response on behalf on the customer. This method is useful when working with an undecided customer, or when information is required from them.  

Finally, be cautious not to overtarget your audience. The rule of thumb is to use three to four targeting variables like age, salary, gender and race. Once new leads have been generated, it is crucial to ensure that these are followed up.

- Gareth Mountain is the co-founder of online and mobile marketing company Olico.