Today's consumers are mobile. They're always on the go, sending and receiving messages of all types. As a marketer, you can meet the increasing mobile expectations of your consumers with the basic practices I've outlined here.
These fundamentals provide a solid foundation for how to communicate with mobile subscribers appropriately and comfortably using SMS marketing.
1. Provide above-and-beyond value via "positive disruption." Offer exclusive offers to create a sense of exclusivity. Avoid sending offers and information that consumers can find in your emails, print ads, or on your site. Consumers are extremely connected to their phones and text messages are reserved for their inner circle. If they let you in, make it worthwhile for them.
2. Consider the conversation. As marketers, we know what we want from consumers. Take a step back and consider what the consumers may want to receive from your brand. What types of messages would consumers like to receive? What useful information can you provide? How can you make it easiest to obtain? According to ExactTarget's Channel Preference Study, 15% of consumers prefer to receive financial alerts via SMS and 25 percent of consumers prefer to receive travel alerts via SMS. Another strong use for SMS is customer service.
3. Do not disturb. Don't send promotional text messages after 9 PM or before 11 AM to avoid annoying those who go to bed early and those who are late risers. When a consumer opts in to receive your text messages, request time zone information; and, accordingly, send your SMS in waves to ensure you are optimizing the interaction.
4. Timing is critical. The "when" in the mobile mantra is very important: Consumers expect a marketer to provide information when they want it, how they want it, no matter where they are. Optimize sending time by considering when consumers want to hear from you: for example, just before or during prime shopping times in the case of retailers, and right before mealtimes in the case of restaurants. Also, don't send a promotional message to customers with an in-store deal outside of regular store hours. Review your mobile site and app usage times for intelligence about ideal times.
5. Provide value first, capture data second. Get to know your customers. Right now, you may not know anything besides their phone number and that they want to receive SMS messages. Marketers can gain data along the way (for example, time zone), but don't make data capture your primary objective. Intersperse data capture requests with high-value messages.
6. Monitor opt-outs per send. To gauge content value, calculate opt-out and delivered rates for each outbound campaign. Compile the percentages in a spreadsheet and learn from those what sort of content generates rates above and below your average.