Marketers and business promoters all over the world are increasingly realising the need to meet their audiences where they are–on their mobile devices. The same is true for Nigerian brands, as mobile devices gain increasing usage.
SMS (Short Messaging Service) marketing is key to achieving this.
This low-cost, high-return marketing method offers, beyond direct access to the consumer, an ongoing relationship between them and the brand, providing businesses with the opportunity of sending direct, personalised campaigns to each consumer.
With this direct access comes increased engagement. A great SMS marketing campaign can even boost sales and customer engagement simultaneously.
Think this is too good to be true? Well, tell that to Abercrombie & Fitch.
The renowned clothing brand employed SMS marketing to increase sales and gain subscribers simultaneously. They did this by pushing promotional ads, asking audiences to subscribe by texting a short code to receive gift card rewards. Gift cards that could be redeemed by purchasing items from their store. The campaign increased the subscriber list and created a positive foundation for the company-subscriber relationship.
SMS can also be used for appointment reminders and to remind customers about pending transactions in specific situations. This can be very useful for eCommerce stores that lose a lot of sales due to abandoned carts.
Simply for Strings, an eCommerce store for stringed instruments, used SMS reminders to notify customers of abandoned carts, saved items and initiated customer service chats, converting more than 40% of all abandoned carts to completed orders.
Whilst a lot of Nigerian brands utilize SMS for marketing, only a few have mastered using it without spamming their audience. There is a fine line between a great SMS campaign and spam, and crossing that line can anger even the most loyal customers.
Here are some tips on how to avoid crossing that line:
Tips for your next campaign
A little-known fact about SMS is that about 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of their delivery. While this direct access to consumers is a great thing, it also means that your consumers can take a cursory glance over the text and, if bored, dismiss it, never reread it. Therefore, you must grab their attention and go straight to the point with the first word. Remember, you have just 160 characters; use them wisely.
After customers have read your message, your goal is to get them to act immediately. As we’ve seen earlier, if messages are dismissed, they are seldom read again. Therefore, the best kind of message pushes readers to act immediately. Including an expiration date or validity period can help you achieve this.
Consider these two messages:
“Hello, Ade. I hope this message finds you well? This is to inform you that…”,
“Congratulations, Ade! You can now participate in our customer reward program. Click this link to begin! Hurry, offer expires by midnight! bit.ly/shopping-voucher.”
The latter is preferable as it captures the user’s attention from the start and goes straight to the point while maintaining a sense of urgency.
One way to get better engagement from customers is to address messages directly to them; sometimes, the difference between a great marketing campaign and just another broadcast message is personalisation. Including their names or tailoring texts to fit their preferences can make a lot of difference.
In the Abercrombie & Fitch example, we saw earlier, one primary reason for the campaign’s success was the promise of a reward, a gift card or coupon. Offering rewards, gift cards, and special deals via personalised text can make customers engage faster and foster a sense of belonging and appreciation.
Granted, 160 characters are sometimes not enough to tell a user all they need to know about your product, service or campaign; and sometimes a lengthy message may even go unread. Include links to your social media pages and websites in texts to get around this.
For example: “Do you know you can do more with your HollaTags API? USSD, SMS, VAS and many more. Click here to find out more: https://hollatags.com/”
The purpose of every text is to get a customer to do something. These are known as “Call to Actions” and must be clearly described in the text. These prompt the reader to take the next step. Examples:
“Your saved items are now available. Click here <link> to purchase.”
“This survey shows us how to serve you better. Fill here <link> and win fantastic prizes.
In many countries, it is illegal to spam people with texts. It is similarly frowned upon in Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). You must obtain explicit permission from consumers before sending them text messages. This protects both the consumer and provider. It prevents users from viewing unwanted messages and the marketer from losing existing customers. You can make opting in easy by giving them the chance to do this at every point of contact, e.g. website, newsletter, social media pages etc.
Customers should be able to unsubscribe from your text messages or even reject the service altogether. A customer who still gets messages after opting out can get very irritated and even sue. Imagine losing a great customer and, on top of that, getting dragged to court? Respect boundaries.
Following these practices will not only help you avoid losing existing customers but may also help you gain new ones. The goal of a successful campaign goes beyond selling a product or service but building a relationship, a bond between the customer and marketer, service provider.
HollaTags provides easy-to-integrate APIs and platforms for SMS, USSD and Voice messaging. Connect with your customers on mobile using HollaTags.