SMS Marketing

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SMS marketing is marketing using a mobile phone. SMS stands for short message server, otherwise known as text messaging.

In short SMS marketing is done using a mobile device to transfer marketing communication to interested consumers. It's an area that is gaining a great deal of interest by businesses both small and large. Which of course is understandable, considering that 70% of the world population now have a mobile phone.

In the United States alone that's 9 out of 10 people that carry a mobile device according to research done by MobiThinking.

An infographic done by Microsoft predicts that in 2014, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage. Which makes sense, considering that already in 2011, more than 50% of all “local” searches are done from a mobile device.

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SMS marketing is considered to be one of the more direct and personal forms of marketing, but how do you know if it's right for your business?

While it is true that consumers rarely receive texts from businesses and the cost is pennies per text messages, especially if purchased in bulk as a business it's important to do your due diligence before jumping in head first.

Three things you must consider before diving into the SMS marketplace:

How will you collect mobile numbers for SMS marketing?
What pitfalls should you be aware of when it comes to SMS marketing?
How will you send your SMS marketing messages?

Step 1: Collecting Mobile Numbers for SMS Marketing

Consumerssee there mobile phone numbers has sacred, so you may find that many of them are not as apt to give you their cell phone number like they are their email address.

We all know what's happened to most of them regarding email marketing and they have a right to fear that the same will occur with SMS marketing. In order to gain their mobile number they will have to have a great deal of trust in you and a relationship will help as well. They also need to know that what you'll be sending them via SMS message is exclusive offers, not the same offer that you give via email and social media.

Be clear with your customers - and use the following guidelines when introducing SMS marketing to your customers:

Guideline 1: - Infrequent messaging, perhaps once a month, no more than two times a month.
Guideline 2: - Offers will be exclusively for customers that share their cell phone number with you.
Guideline 3: - SMS will be used to send them premium notices such as an order coming in, an appointment reminder or a upcoming service date.

You will have a greater chance of gaining access to their mobile number by following these guidelines and making it clear to your customers what you will use their number for.
You can collect their numbers using a sign up sheet at your register, asking them when talking on the phone, allowing them to submit a form on your website, or by giving them a number that they can text to subscribe to your SMS messages. Whatever you do keep a copy of their permission to market to them via SMS, if you run into problems you will be glad that you did.

Step 2: Do Your Due Diligence

As you collect the numbers and begin to use them in your SMS campaign be sure that you have measures in place that if a customer unsubscribes they are removed from your list immediately, it is illegal not to do so.

There are actually a few laws you need to be aware of when it comes to mobile marketing.

Opt-In Only
You must obtain consent from the customer before sending an SMS text message.

With every message you send you must provide an unsubscribe option in the message and if they select that option you must unsubscribe them immediately.

Be Aware of the Cost
For customers without unlimited text messaging plans they can incur costs from your messages if it puts them over their limit. You need to make the customer aware that additional fees may apply if they are not on an unlimited SMS messaging plan.

These are only guidelines, be sure to consult with an attorney to ensure that you have fulfilled all of your legal obligations before venturing into this marketing medium, it's your duty to understand the relevant laws.

Step 3 - Setup, Create and Start Your SMS Campaign

Once you've collected your mobile numbers, verified that you have followed all of your legal responsibilities you can start your your SMS marketing campaign. I'd suggest using a 3rd party service provider to ensure that you are able to track the return on investment for you campaign, embed an unsubscribe message and easily manage your SMS marketing database including unsubscribes. I must admit my favorite provider at this time is SignalHQ. Their interface is easy to use and with only 500 subscribers, it's free so you have nothing to lose.
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