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How to engage your customers with SMS

Alysha Spencer, Head of Enterprise Acquisition and Upsell Marketing at O2, discusses the role of SMS in engaging with customers. And shares her advice on how to get the most out of this simple but effective marketing channel.

For most of us, texting is part of our everyday lives and has been for a very long timeIt started as a way to communicate with friends and family, and has since expanded to include colleagues, brands and all different types of organisations 

Even though 90% of marketing texts are opened – typically within minutes, SMS is still relatively underused by UK organisations, from both a customer service and marketing perspectiveThere’s plenty of potential for growth in SMS marketing: 50% of consumers say they want to text their favourite brands and 54% of people were keen to receive discount offers via texts

 With this in mind, I’ve pulled together my top tips on best practice for SMS marketing, from my own experience and what I’ve learnt working with our business customers.  


How can your business use SMS? 

Every business can benefit from SMS, whether they use it to engage prospects or provide reminders for a better customer experience. It’s a really accessible channel, that doesn’t require a large amount of design, build or technical involvement. Just a well thought through message and customer journey. Popular use-cases include: 

  • Appointment reminders 
  • Delivery updates 
  • Customer feedback 
  • Offers/competitions 
  • Safety checks (password confirmation) 
  • Donation collection 

Some organisations are particularly well-positioned to benefit from SMS, such as retail, healthcare, restaurants, and not-for-profit. But most companies can adapt to benefit from one of these use-cases. 


What is SMS marketing best practice? 

Research has shown that 98% of all SMS messages are opened, with a click-through rate of 19%, compared to only 3.2% for email campaigning. So why not test out this channel? Particularly when email has become such a crowded environment. If you do want to try out SMS marketing, here are my six tips for getting the best response: 

  1. Deliver a clear, concise message. You often have only 160 characters to get your message across. So, strip back to the core value you’re offering your audience and keep things simple.
  2. Make it personal. This is quite a personal channel after all, so add names and reference recent interactions with your organisation. This helps the reader feel like you are speaking to them directly. 
  3. Time your messages well. Timely texts tend to perform best, so think about when people might like to hear from you mostIf youre promoting a restaurant, sending an offer ahead of the weekend may get the best response. And consider when not to send your texts too. No-one likes to be woken up by a promotional message at 4 am! 
  4. Respond in real-timeCustomers expect SMS to be instant and a quick reply will help increase engagement. I recently saw some sales stats from Lead Response Management that said you were four times more likely to win a deal if you respond within 10 minutes. Amazing. 
  5. Use relevant short codesUse offer codes that are short and linked to the theme of your messageIf you’re a café offering discounts on coffee and croissants, you might choose the keyword BREKKIE. This will help your customers associate your brand with that topic – so hopefully, next time your customer thinks of breakfast, they’ll think of you. 
  6. Use texts as part of your customer journeyWhether this is to drive traffic, remind customers of certain events, promotions or actions – keep texts short, and drive customers to other platforms to find out more or complete their journey.  


Staying compliant 

Wherever possible, make sure you have optout available on your SMS messages – to keep ticking those GDPR boxes and to make sure your CRM is up to datePlus, if your industry is highly regulated, choose a managed messaging service that gives you complete control over when and who you message. So, you can stay compliant with your regulatory obligations. 


How to get started with messaging?  

At O2 we’re experts when it comes to SMS. We have an award-winning network and a strong track record in business messaging – especially in highly regulated industries. So, you know you’re in safe hands with us. If SMS marketing is new to you, we’ve got the experience and the service wrap to support you every step of the way

Find out what your company can do with O2 Business Messaging, book a free discovery session, today.  

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