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Let's Talk About Text, Baby

Beloved by Gen Z, millennials, and Baby Boomers alike, text messaging provides mobile users with a fast, convenient, and constant channel for communicating. Technology advancements over the last few years make it easier than ever to send SMS and MMS messages at scale. At Lev, we’re working with modern marketers and brands looking to harness the power of SMS and MMS to connect with consumers and customers alike. 

Thanks to its highly-personal nature and immediacy, SMS and MMS delivers knock-out open and engagement rates compared to other channels like email or auto-dialers. Depending on your business or marketing goals, SMS and MMS can function as a stand-alone channel or can complement existing email campaigns. Many brands and businesses see the most success in using SMS or MMS for appointment reminders, account alerts, and other time-sensitive messages.

If expanding into SMS or MMS messaging is on your 2021 marketing strategy vision board, get started by learning five, basic best practices before connecting customers using text messages.

1. Driving SMS opt-ins by asking for permission

Unlike other digital channels, SMS and MMS have stricter federal regulations and restrictions to ensure consumer protections. Make sure you are following the proper protocols when adding SMS as an additional communications channels. Even if you have mobile phone numbers of your customers or subscribers, they must explicitly opt-in to receive text messages from your brand or business. 

Additionally, brands must include language regarding carrier rates and terms and conditions as they apply in all communications promoting their SMS short code and campaign keyword. This language also helps ensure a good customer experience. 

2. Choosing a vanity short code vs. a random short code 

Depending on your brand, your marketing objectives, and your advertising plans, a vanity code may be worth the extra investment. A vanity short code helps drive SMS opt-ins by providing an easy-to-remember code for optimal customer experience. A good use case for vanity short code is a B2C/D2C brand looking to drive SMS opt-ins by running multi-million advertising campaigns across multiple channels, including both physical locations and online. 

However, for small-to-mid-sized or local businesses, a vanity short code may not be worth the extra investment. For smaller businesses, using digital channels to specifically target customers and prospects in promoting SMS as an additional communication channel is highly-recommended to drive opt-ins. As a more personal and direct communication channel, brands and businesses have a higher likelihood of engaging with current customers via SMS. 

3. Promote the short code using numbers not words

In any advertising, be sure to clearly communicate the short code using numbers and the campaign keyword. Avoid using words as the alphanumeric equivalent of a vanity short code thinking it is easier for consumers to spell out a word on a mobile phone keypad. SMS is an extremely new concept for the majority of consumers, so it is critical to be as clear as possible. 

In all advertising, specifically both print and radio, It is easy to mix up words when hearing or reading the SMS campaign short code and keyword. When a campaign spells out the short code, consumers can get confused when they go to compose the text message on their phone. Confused consumers are quick to abandon opt-ins and form submissions. 

Always use “Text [KEYWORD] to [XXXXX]” in your SMS campaign advertisements and promotions. 

4. Be kind, concise, and compliant

When a consumer opts in to receive SMS messages from your brand, they are showing an extreme interest and affinity for your communication. A more direct, personal channel, SMS messages should be timely and extremely relevant to your customers. Send customers triggers alerts or notifications like upcoming appointment reminders or low balance alerts. 

Avoid using SMS for gimmicks or overzealous sales or promotions to prevent unsubscribes. Sometimes it depends on the industry, but generally stick to sending marketing or promotional SMS or MMS messages once a week. 

For any SMS or MMS campaign, consider the customer experience by including keywords users can use to opt out or request assistance. Let your users know that they can text to the short code and use STOP to opt-out or HELP to get in touch with a representative.

5. Measure what works 

SMS marketing provides a direct, measurable, and trackable marketing channel. Brands can easily determine which messages and promotions are working and which ones aren’t. Clear metrics makes it easy to continually refine text campaigns and improve performance. 

By keeping these best practices in mind, you can create engaging, immediate, compliant, and measurable SMS campaigns that help you acheive this year's marketing goals.