Most modern businesses focus on apps as their sole method of mobile marketing. Apps are an excellent mobile marketing channel because of the interactive experiences they offer customers, but they’re not always the quickest way to communicate with your customers: instant messaging is. Instant messaging compares competitively with both apps and email marketing.
On average, customers open 20% of marketing emails that land on their email and click links only 2.5% of the time. Compare this to instant messaging, where customers report opening 90% of all the text messages within the first three minutes of receiving them and clicking on the links thereof 19% of the time.
For a marketer, there’s no better news! Instant message marketing would be an excellent method to add to your marketing arsenal whenever you want to quickly get a message across to your customers and get their response. This new frontier is taking marketing by storm. The following are some instant message marketing tips that you can use to boost your sales.
Build a Phone Numbers Database
Take your time and build a mobile list: a database of your customers’ contacts. Remember to ask them whether they wish to opt into receiving SMSes from your business. This is usually done through a shortcode. They send a text to your business’ code to give consent. If possible, find out the most appropriate hours they would want to receive the SMSes.
A good strategy could include offering a gift (e.g., a discount on your service or product) to those who opt-in. Remember, you’re trying to increase engagement. Offering exclusive SMS offers is bound to nurture better relationships with your customers. Examples of text messages that you could send include:
- Get a gift/item by showing this text at any of our shops
- Complete the following survey via SMS and receive a $20 discount the next time you buy our product
- Use the code “1234” at check out for a 30% discount at MyBusiness.com
Find the Right Time to Send Your Text Messages
Your instant messages will have different levels of effectiveness based on the time you send them. Finding the best time is about figuring out when your target audience is most likely to open, read, and respond to your messages. Before and after office hours or during lunchtime often work, but you’ll need to test out different times to see what works best for your business and its products. Whatever you do, don't send your customers marketing emails after nine at night.
Go Straight to the Point
The easiest way to fail in SMS marketing is by telling long stories. No one will read them. Your messages must be brief but actionable. If you want them to learn more, include a link where they get more in-depth information. Send clear messages that immediately tell your customers what you’re advertising. Use plain text, ensure you don’t go beyond 160 characters, avoid abbreviations and emojis, and ensure there’s a clear call to action.
Word choice cannot be overemphasized in instant message marketing. Take time and find call-to-action phrases that tell the customer exactly what you want them to do. There’s no room for ambiguity and confusion. Examples of call-to-actions include:
- Show this text!
- Buy Now!
- Shop Now!
- Use this CODE at checkout.
- Click here!
Tell Tales of Upcoming Sales
SMSes are an excellent way to tell your customers about ongoing and upcoming sales. Text messages carry a sense of urgency and are likely to get your customers’ attention. You can include a link that would direct them to your website where they can shop. Here are some examples of upcoming sales messages you could send:
- DON’T FORGET our July 4th holiday sale: everything on our website is 20% OFF!
- Flash sale: begins TONIGHT!!! Exclusive OFFER! You can’t afford to miss out!
A Chance to Win
Everyone likes winning. Instant messaging is an excellent way to engage your customers in contests. Here are examples of text messages you could send to your customers about contests:
- Text “WIN” to enter the draw and get a chance to win our new product
- Text “WIN” to participate in our contest for a chance to win a whole month’s supply of our product. Go to our Facebook page and tag three of your friends for three additional entries.
The second example above shows how you can use text messages to boost your other marketing channels like social media.
Link Instant Messaging with Other Advertising Methods
An effective marketing strategy integrates different forms of media in a way that increases your audience. For instance, your social media messages can tell your followers about opting into your SMS service. On the other hand, your SMS service can inform your customers about a contest you’re running on social media or a video you published that they should check out.
Surveys will help you better understand your customers’ needs, what your product or service is doing right (and wrong), and what you can do to improve. Available research shows that customers respond to SMS-based surveys 31% of the time. That’s a good number to work with; just make sure your survey is brief and concise. Here are some examples:
- Tell us what you think about our service. What should we improve on?
- Please rate our service on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best.
Customer surveys are an excellent way to show your customers that you care about delivering solutions that work for them and your willingness to make changes to improve their interactions with your business.
Follow up Faster
Available research shows that vendors who respond quickly get as much as 50% of the sales. This is why quick follow-ups could help you with customer retention. Some examples of follow-up instant messages include:
- Checking in with clients
- Shipping confirmation
- Customer service help
Sometimes it might be helpful to offer customer service through SMS instead of email or phone calls. Emails can be pretty ineffective given their low open rates, and not everyone fancies calling customer care reps for help. By offering instant messaging-based customer service is quite convenient and could make your business stand out. What’s more, it’s significantly cheaper than other customer service forms: more than 69% cheaper than call-based customer service. Some of the customer service SMS that you could consider include:
- Payment reminders
- Service issues
- Product questions
- Rating transactions
- Delivery and shipment confirmations
- Appointment confirmations and reminders
- Technical issues updates
Few things are as irritating to customers as spam, whether via email, phone, or instant messaging. Over-doing your instant messaging outreach will result in your customer marketing your messages as spam, and they’ll most likely opt out of your text messaging service. The rule of thumb is not to send more than four messages a month; quality over quantity.
However much you would want to keep sending your customers messages, you need their consent. And even after getting those customers, you must give them an opt-out option in case they change their minds at some point. No one likes to feel trapped, and it would be respectful of you to provide them with a choice so that you only retain customers who, by their choosing, have opted to receive your business SMSes.
You’ll get additional points when you personalize the SMS messages you send to a customer. For instance, calling them by their name will make them feel important and immediately get their attention. After all, 75% of customers would rather buy from a store that recognizes their name, knows their buying history, and recommends new products based on those past purchases.
Engage Millennials and Gen Z
Put extra effort into increasing your reach to a younger target market, especially people aged 18-49. These are Millennials and Gen Z individuals who are used to using mobile phones to text. What’s more, many people in this category always have their phones with them, meaning they’ll almost always receive and open your instant messages.
Send Email Previews
Most people disable email notifications, especially for promotional messages, yet they don't have the same rule with instant messaging. And given that they carry their phones everywhere they go checking it now and then, you could send previews to those very important emails. Use the SMS to send a heads up, informing them of an email you’ve sent that they should look into. Some examples of email preview text messages you could send include:
- Testing results
- Changes to a contest or scheduled event
- A report they need to respond to within a short timeline
This tip is an excellent one for retailers with brick-and-mortar stores. You can use an automated system to send your customers a message whenever they’re near your store. For instance, some airlines communicate with their customers through instant messaging, giving them information about their flight, including possible delays, luggage details, etc.
Instant messaging beats many other marketing techniques. With more than five billion people worldwide texting and receiving text messages, there’s a massive pool of conversion potential you need to pursue. Regardless of the type of business you run, you can find ways to connect with your customers through instantaneous and convenient SMSes. Dedicate considerable time to crafting messages that will grab your customer’s attention as soon as they open your text message. To do this, you’ll need to analyze your customers’ demographics, invest in an automated SMS system, and work with an SMS-savvy marketing team.
About the author
Rithesh Raghavan is the Director at Acodez, a Digital Agency in India. Having a rich experience of 15+ years in Digital Marketing, Rithesh loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development.