SMS is a powerful marketing channel for all businesses. It is gaining momentum due to its cost-effectiveness, high engagement, and impressive ROI. In fact, text messages have a 98% open rate, compared to about 20% for emails. High open rate means higher engagement and higher conversions.
According to one study, consumers are 134% more likely to respond to a text than an email. Another study found that over 60% of consumers have opted-in to receive texts from at least one business.
SMS is also a cheaper form of advertising compared to other channels. The average cost of an SMS per send is $0.07, whereas the cost-per-click is $1.39 for Google Search and $3.87 for LinkedIn.
Marketers use SMS in many ways, but the most popular is for sending transactional and promotional messages.
Transactional messages are messages that provide valuable information about products, services, or processes. Examples of transactional messages include:
“Your order has been processed”
“Your item has been shipped”
“Your booking has been confirmed”
Promotional messages, on the other hand, are messages that inform recipients about Flash sales, deals, and offers. An example of a promotional message is:
“MID YEAR SALE on NOW. Save up to 40%. Ends Monday. In store & online.”
Promotional messages are typically automated in the lead-up to specific sales periods like Black Friday and the holiday season.
Aside from sending transactional and promotional messages, businesses use SMS to build customer nurturing campaigns and re-engagement journeys.
The benefits of SMS marketing
We’ve already touched on some of the quantitative benefits of SMS marketing, such as high open rates compared to email, and cost-effectiveness compared to some other advertising channels.
There are also qualitative benefits of using SMS marketing, such as improving the customer experience and building lost-lasting connections.
One study found that 67% of people would rather text a business about appointments than scheduling via email or phone. Considering that 78% of consumers say that checking, sending, and answering text messages is the activity they do the most on their smartphones throughout the day, it makes sense that consumers want to manage transactional activities on their phones because it’s more convenient.
Also, the average person receives 100 emails on average per day, so it is more likely that crucial messages like booking confirmations will get buried in a recipient's email inbox (or, worse, directed to the spam folder) and therefore missed by the recipient. For many of us, our SMS inbox is – at least for now – more manageable.
5 ways to use SMS to enhance marketing efforts
As mentioned earlier, most businesses use SMS to send transactional and promotional messages, but there are plenty more uses cases. See five use cases below.
1. Gather feedback and reviews
SMS can be used to ask customers to share their feedback on a recent purchase, or to gauge customer sentiment using a short survey, such as an NPS survey. A NPS survey is a simple question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our [product/service] to a friend or colleague?” Ortto users can easily automate feedback gathering messages, and depending on the responses, can send customers on relevant customer journeys.
2. Nurture high-value customers
The purpose of such a message can be to say ‘thank you’ to a customer and perhaps offer them a unique discount code, or to inform them about upcoming features or products they may be interested in.
3. Re-engage customers
SMS can also be used to re-engage customers whose engagement has slipped. Disengagement can occur for a number of reasons: e.g. the customer’s needs have been met elsewhere; they no longer have a need for your product and/or service, or they are dissatisfied with your product and/or service. An ecommerce business may send the customer a discount code to use on their next purchase in hopes or resparking interest. Or, a B2B/SaaS brand may send a message to a disengaged user noting that they have not been active in their account for a while, and to ask whether there is anything they can help them with.
4. Inform about upcoming events
A B2B company may inform SMS subscribers about an upcoming webinar that may be of interest to them, with a link to register. Or, a fitness SaaS might let users know they are hosting a live workout and Q&A session.
5. Welcome/onboard customers
B2B and SaaS businesses can use SMS to welcome/onboard customers onto their platform. For example, they could send “Welcome” message to new customers, and subsequent messages that guide the customer through the onboarding journey, such as setup tips and instructions on how to get the most out of the service.
Cloud-based SMS marketing platforms facilitate SMS marketing efforts, enabling businesses to grow their SMS subscriber lists, automate marketing campaigns, and send highly personalized messages to boost engagement.
With a SMS marketing platform, businesses can automate transactional messages like reminders, notifications, or confirmations, and send promotional messages at scale.
Many SMS platforms are able to be integrated with other key marketing platforms such as email, to ensure customer data is unified and to allow better communication across channels.
How to choose the right SMS platform for your business
So, you know why SMS marketing is beneficial and that investing in a SMS marketing platform is a good idea, but where do you start? Below are some key features to look for when shopping around.
Bulk messaging: Sending a SMS message to a large number of users at once (i.e. a broadcast) – usually a promotional message. This is a basic feature that all platforms should offer.
Opt-in/Opt-out: SMS recipients should easily be able to opt in and out of SMS communications via keywords or through links.
MMS marketing: Multimedia messaging service (MMS) refers to multimedia files like images, video and audio. With MMS capability, users can send multimedia SMS messages.
Short codes: A SMS short code is a 5-digit number to which an SMS can be sent, often used by businesses to allow customers to opt in to their SMS communications.
Automation: Automated SMS campaigns can enhance marketing efforts. Messages that are typically automated include reminders, autoresponders, events, sales and promotions, and abandoned carts.
App integrations: Integrating your SMS platform with your other apps is a smart way to ensure all your customer data is unified. APIs (application programming interfaces) enable such integrations.
Ability to add links: Links can be used in SMS for multiple reasons, including for opt-in/opt-out, for event information/registration, and to direct customers to a brand’s website.
8 best SMS platforms
Armed with your checklist of must-have features, it’s time to explore your options. Below are 8 SMS marketing platforms to consider, what they offer and their main features, so you can get one step closer to finding the best-fit platform your businesses.
Best for: Unifying all your customer data to enhance personalization in SMS communications; giving you a single view of your customer, and robust reporting analytics.
Ortto’s SMS marketing tool is a one-stop shop for best-of-breed SMS marketing. Ortto’s visual SMS builder enables users to create a number of highly personalized, automated campaigns, including appointment confirmation, abandoned cart recovery, and customer surveys and feedback requests. Users can also create QR codes and capture subscription permission through opt-in keywords.
Unlike other software, Ortto’s customer data platform has reporting functionality, giving users a single view of the customer journeys and allowing them to visualise customer, transactional, and behavioral data and activities.
Ortto offers a 14-day free trial and different pricing plans to suit your business’s needs. Check out Ortto’s pricing here.
Ortto offers SMS alongside a wide variety of other marketing automation and customer journey features. Here are just some of the features that will supercharge your SMS strategy:
Visual journey builder
Mobile insights reporting
Advanced reporting with built-in attribution
Marketing automation including email, pop-ups, and in-app messaging
Those looking for custom configuration will enjoy Twilio because it is a blank canvas. Twilio offers a wide range of APIs including Zapier, HubSpot and Zoho CRM, enabling users to build SMS features into their own apps, depending on their need.
Twilio’s APIs are tools for web developers, but it does offer solutions for non-developers too.
Twilio is used by global brands like Airbnb, Netflix, and Uber. In terms of pricing, Twilio automatically scales with the use case, and users only pay for what they use.
Users looking for a platform that will simplify transactional messaging, like booking confirmations and delivery notifications, may get on well with Sakari.
The platform is easy to use. There’s a ‘Conversations’ tab where users can view messages between individuals and groups, and a ‘Campaign’ tab where users can create campaigns. Users can also integrate Sakari with other apps like HubSpot using Zapier.
In terms of pricing, Sakari is good value for money compared with some other platforms, starting at $16/month for 500 SMS messages sent or received.
EZ Texting offers users all of the expected features. Users can set up various marketing campaigns; they can text customers as a group or one-to-one; they can configure a opt-in keyword, and they can view reports. What sets EZ texting apart is the ease of use.
EZ Texting offers clear instructions and walk-throughs to help users to get up and running quickly. Upon sign-up, users are prompted to select their goal – ‘Delight Customers’; ‘Market and Engage’; or ‘Simplify Operations’ – and based on the goal they are presented with the necessary features.
EZ Texting’s accessibility is what makes it a favorite among over 165,000 customers. There are four pricing options: Value, Essentials, Premium, and Custom.
SlickText offers all of the features you would expect from a SMS marketing platform. It also enables users to build website popups, opt-in forms, and landing pages to entice their customers to subscribe to their SMS list. SlickText users can also generate QR codes to give people an easy way to opt in to their subscriber list.
SlickText offers integrations with popular email marketing services so users can prompt customers to join their text lists when they are capturing their email addresses.
SlickText offers users a 14-day free trial with 50 free text messages. They offer different plans for different message usage, and upgrading from one plan to the next is simple.
SlickText’s main features:
Two-way text messaging
Automatic URL shortening
The time to adopt SMS as a marketing channel is now. With the right SMS marketing platform, you can automate messages, grow your subscriber list, and increase ROI.
To find out more about how Ortto’s SMS feature could benefit your business, sign up today.