SMS marketing can be a great opportunity to connect with an audience in an intimate way – when done right, that is.

Mobile usage has utterly changed the marketing game, and text has become one of the best ways to engage customers and prospects, surging in popularity of late. The State of Marketing report reveals a two-year 197% growth in SMS marketing for B2B marketers and a 92% growth for B2C marketers.

While text messaging can create a highly intimate, one-on-one connection with your audience, it also poses some risk. A text message sent at the wrong time can seem annoying or disruptive. Text messages also convey a greater sense of urgency and call to respond – unlike, say, email. If your audience isn’t ready to respond – or doesn’t feel like they’re part of the conversation to begin with – the whole thing can backfire.

Getting started with SMS marketing


The best way for marketers to get their feet wet with SMS marketing is to think about what should happen after the first text message is sent. Do you want customers to move from text to a different channel – like your website for an e-commerce opportunity? The intended journey affects everything from the content of the message to the timing.

Technology is a huge help, giving marketers valuable data to personalise text messages, while also aligning texts to the cadence or format that’s consistent with other brand touchpoints.

To help you get it right, here are five ways in which you could use SMS marketing:

1. A follow-up after customer service calls


The rationale: A simple text message can be a great way to gauge service levels in a way that builds brand affinity, loyalty and preference. The content could be a simple yes/no question, something open-ended or a link to a more in-depth survey on your website.

Best practice: You only want to deploy text messages after problems have been successfully resolved, and only if this is the way the customer prefers to be approached about feedback.

2. A communication tool for industry events


The rationale: If your organisation is exhibiting at a trade show or has a representative speaking at a conference, a text message could be a good way to let long-term customers know how to find your team or when your business is about to take the stage. Over the course of the event, text messages can let customers know of limited-time promotions. Then once the event is wrapped up, an SMS message can build off the theme of the event with a special offer or more information on what they might have missed from your organisation.

Best practice: Your messages shouldn’t get in the way of the event experience itself. It’s best to send your messages during registration, breakfast, networking breaks or immediately after the event wraps up for the day. No one wants to feel hounded or distracted during sessions.

3. Further information following a sales meeting or demo


The rationale: Sales meetings and demos can cover a lot of ground, and it’s not uncommon to run out of time. Text message can deliver quick answers to questions that couldn’t be addressed during the presentation. They can also provide additional links to related content like whitepapers, blog posts or buyer’s guides that take customers and prospects to the next stage of the buying journey.

Best practice: Anything that feels auto-generated – like a generic, “Thanks for coming in to see us!” – will seem disingenuous. You want the content to be as personalised and short as possible, avoiding a “leave me alone!” reaction.

4. Simple signup and subscription links


The rationale: When someone downloads a gated asset from your site, like a whitepaper, usually those leads are passed onto sales, who pounce with a phone call. If you’re getting a rejection at this point it could be because the sales cycle in a particular segment is longer than others or requires more nurturing. A text message that offers a simple signup for similar content shows you’ve noticed them, but are giving them time to digest what they’ve received.

Best practice: Any opt-in or signup should be no more than one click. Ensure the relevant information is pre-populated, and that your privacy policy and subscription settings are easy to manage.

5. React in real-time to industry news


The rationale: You want to capitalise on the good fortune of an industry update, like a competitor discontinuing a rival product or increasing the price. But it can often take organisations a surprisingly long time to figure out what to do, especially if the event falls outside your planned comms cycle. A text message can quickly remind those affected how you can help or even communicate special ‘switchover’ pricing.

Best practice: This requires a strong partnership between marketing and sales. If reps are already on the phone trying to convert people, your text message campaign will only seem like overkill.

Overall, SMS marketing done right can make your marketing team more responsive and effective than ever, and become another vital customer touchpoint.

Learn more about the global marketing trends disrupting the status quo. Download the State of Marketing report.