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Implementing an SMS Marketing Campaign

SMS Marketing can be used to acquire customers, strengthen existing customer and prospect relationships and provide a service to your customers.

The golden rule "Keep It Simple Stupid" (KISS principle) applies to SMS marketing. The most successful SMS campaigns and services tend to focus on incentives and interactivity as well as relevance to the recipient. As with email marketing, your solution provider pays an integral part to the deliverance process of an SMS campaign, so be sure to choose wisely.

1: Choose Your Campaign

There are four main types of SMS campaigns:

a: Promotional Communication (Pull Campaign). This is the most common form of mobile marketing and is similar to retail promotions. A great example of this is the "Text 'n Win" style campaign, which usually uses a variety of platforms to promote and implement the campaign.

b: CRM. This type of SMS campaign is used to maintain and develop relationships with your existing clients and create loyalty. The type of message sent is usually of an informative nature, such as account balances from banks, or it can be ongoing marketing messages and updates.

c: B2E. Business to employee communication can be used to run staff promotions, such as incentive programs.

d: Outbound (Push Campaign). This is generally the first type of campaign which a promoter thinks of as it is comparable to email marketing. As with email marketing, Spam can be an issue in SMS push campaigns, therefore we have constructed a blueprint for a Spam compliant push campaign.

2: Get Permission For Your Push Campaign

Sending a message to a recipient's mobile phone can be seen as a very intrusive act. So, as long as you have permission to do this, you can be assured that your message/campaign will be read by the recipient, unlike many other mediums.

Unlike pull campaigns, which tend to by-pass privacy problems by using other mediums to drive the promotion, thereby leaving the SMS factor to originate with the client, the most important step in a push campaign is to obtain permission. This generally will involve other types of medium, such as website, email marketing etc. Remember though, just because they've signed up for your e-newsletter, does not mean you have permission to send them an SMS.

Along with obtaining permission, you also need to provide a way for the recipient to readily and easily opt out, therefore making a two-way channel necessary. So check with your service provider to ensure they have this capability.

3: Carefully Plan Your Push Campaign

Plan the details! Most SMS campaigns that fail do so because of lack of planning. As SMS campaigns aren't used for branding purposes (one way correspondence), they can be interactive and involve using a return path so that your recipients can reply/confirm/opt-out/enter. Be prepared for them to use it. Have systems in place, plan and cater for all types of responses, including "thanks" messages, viral marketing (make the most of it!) as well as the typical "You've not won", or "wrong code". You need to plan how you will respond to these and manage them. If you don't, the results can be overwhelming.

4: Be Timely & Add Value

One of mobile marketing's great advantages over other mediums is its timeliness, which can be a benefit on 2 levels. The first is that it means campaigns can be prepared and sent in a matter of minutes, rather than days or even weeks. It also works on the premise of immediacy from the recipient's perspective. Therefore both the content and the timeliness of the message play an important factor in whether it's appropriate. Remember, there must be a good reason to send the message to a mobile, rather than using another medium. For example, a muffin shop sending out an offer for free coffee with any muffin purchase is ideally sent at 10am, rather than in the evening.

SMS marketing should be used primarily as a promotional tool rather than an advertising tool. It needs to add value to the recipient, rather than just containing a branding message.

5: Target Your Message

As we have discussed, SMS marketing should be used to add value to the recipient, whether it be in the form of a promotion such as a competition or providing timely information. It therefore needs to target the relevant audience suited to the promotion/offer/information. The most basic targeting should be based on age and gender and continue adding criteria from there. In targeting your audience, you also need to make sure that you are being relevant. Is your message appropriate to the recipient? You may need to rewrite the message according to the different age brackets of your recipients, or consider a different offer/promotion for the 2 genders or age brackets.

6: Test Your Message

Even though SMS can be more interactive than email marketing, it also shares some of email's positive characteristics, such as real-time response tracking and the ability to segment lists. As SMS is just text, there are no cross platform problems to test, just the message, so test it thoroughly. With SMS your message is limited to 160 characters (even less with the obligatory opt-out option), so test different versions of the message to see the best response. As we mentioned above, check that the time of day (and time zone) is relevant to the message/promotion and that the ideal message is being sent to the relevant age bracket.

Conclusion:

The potential pitfall of a push campaign is that if the message is not appropriate to the recipient, there could well be a backlash against the sender, as it could be regarded as Spam-similar to email marketing, only even more so, because of the personal nature of SMS. Remember, when sending a push campaign, you need to provide an opt-out mechanism, which, depending on who your supplier is, is usually an automated process using a return path.

Kath Pay is Marketing Director of Ezemail, a web-based e-communications tool, which enables you to create, send and track your email marketing and SMS messaging campaigns. For more information please go to http://www.ezemail.com or contact Kath at: kath@ezemail.com.

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