SMS marketing may have been absent from our blog for a while, but it's far from absent from the marketing world. I feel like every week lately, another company sends either an email or social media post announcing that they're starting SMS campaigns. I usually sign up, to see what they're doing with it.

Most of the time, I regret doing so and unsubscribe within a few weeks. SMS marketing is tricky - you're reaching your audience in a very personal way. Think about email and social media; you receive updates from friends, colleagues, brands, celebrities, etc. But SMS messaging is usually reserved for people you're close with.

When a consumer signs up for your SMS campaign, they're letting you into a personal space where there's a whole new set of rules. You can't take a marketing campaign from another medium and transfer it to text messages. Mobile marketing in general is a whole new territory, and SMS is especially unique. There are some things that are absolute musts, and other things you want to avoid like expired dairy.

Make sure to:

  • Include a link: You only have 160 characters, and there will definitely be time where that won't be enough. Instead of sending multiple, continuous messages explaining details, include a link leading to a mobile-optimized website at the end of your message or in your call-to-action. Even feature phones can connect to the internet most of the time. If you use a shortened link, try to use a custom one instead of a service like bit.ly to appear more trustworthy.
  • Keep it short: A lot of companies send multiple messages at a time as part of the same campaign so that they can use more than 160 characters. But blowing up someone's phone is annoying, even if they're getting some sort of deal out of it. Limit each campaign to one message, and try to make it concise enough that you don't need to resort to "text lingo." Do you really want text abbreviations as part of your marketing copy?
  • Test different times: Timing is key. You want to reach your subscribers when they're awake, near their phones, and free to read your message. If they see the text but don't open it, it's likely they'll get so many new texts that they'll forget about it. You never want to be forgotten, especially if you're sending a time-sensitive campaign. Test different times and stick with the one that garners the best results. It can vary depending on what the goal of your campaign is.

Don't you dare:

  • Send every message to every subscriber: Just like with email marketing, you need to segment your subscriber lists for the best results. Not everyone will care about every message, and sending people irrelevant texts is a great way to lose them as a customer. Have subscribers check off what topics or types of offers they're interested in when filling out the opt-in form so you know what kind of messages they care about. This way, you can segment each campaign accordingly.
  • Bombard subscribers: People get enough text messages already. Don't bombard them with promotional texts every single day, or even every single week. You want to stay top of mind without annoying them. At the most, send out one campaign a week. According to MotoMessage, sending out texts once a week or a few times a month will get you the highest redemption rates, so don't waste your time trying to send out more.
  • Forget a call-to-action: We've said it before, but all marketing content needs a call-to-action. What do you want the subscriber to do after they read your message? Sign up for something? Buy something? Redeem a special offer? Don't make them figure it out on their own, tell them what their next action should be.

What kind of text messages do you like from brands? Leave ideas in the comments!