Bulk SMS has been around for some time but is often thought of as too intrusive by people who don’t understand permission marketing that is, marketing only to those who want you to send them marketing promotions and information – this is a key distinction and what separates bulk SMS marketing from many other marketing channels.
For those that do understand this style of marketing, it is a wonderful way to engage a lot of people and ultimately drive return on investment.
For example, while working for an online wine retailer our bulk SMS marketing campaigns would routinely generate 3 times the sales orders than our email marketing program.
The best part was that it took a fraction of the time to create an SMS message than it did to create an email promotion.
In this article, I’ll share with you what bulk SMS is, who is using it, why to use it and finally how to get the most from your bulk SMS marketing campaigns.
What is bulk SMS?
Bulk SMS use an online SMS gateway provided by SMs services like SMS Papa that allows its users to push out thousands of text messages to mobile numbers. It is similar to email in the sense that people need to subscribe to hear from you, you can segment your SMS campaigns, schedule and automate, etc.
Who uses bulk SMS?
It’s used mostly in the business sector as both a way to communicate with employees as well as give customer support, and send out promotional materials.
Education is another sector that has greatly benefited from being able to communicate with parents and students to keep them updated on exams, trips, sick children, safety drills, etc.
Finally, everyday people are also using this to communicate with their family and friends but this group tends to be a lot smaller since most mobile plans offer unlimited texting.
The people who would use an SMS platform are those that see the benefit in scaling up and streamlining their communications which trying to do on a mobile phone would just not be possible.
Why use bulk SMS?
- Simple to set up – all you need to is sign up for a free account or plan and you are almost ready to go. Most setups will include uploading your mobile contacts, setting up templates (if need be) and setting up the Sender ID i.e. do you want people to see your mobile number, a virtual number or your business name – that’s it.
- Versatile – since it uses an online SMS gateway all you need is a device with an internet connection. You can also use their email to SMS feature which means you can send text messages to mobile phones using your email client.
- Engagement – probably the number one reason why businesses would use SMS is due to the engagement rates, where emails typically have an open rate of 20%, SMS has a staggering 90%+ which means virtually everyone who you send your marketing campaign to will actually open and read it.
- Short – once a person opens you message, they can read the whole thing in seconds making it incredibly powerful. One of the problems with emails or articles is that people will not read the entire thing – they will skim or even just read the first sentence and then bail. With SMS you can get the click a lot easier.
- Easy to use – think of the other marketing channels available to you, social media, email, paid ads, etc. they all require expertise to use them correctly – these are not beginner friendly platforms. SMS is one of the very few marketing channels that anyone can pick up and start using – if you have ever sent a group text message then you are 90% trained up on how to use SMS.
How to get the most from bulk SMS
Personalize your messaging
If you have been in marketing for any length of time then you know the critical importance of personalizing your messaging the reason for this is that it increases your return on investment and when you are paying a few cents for each person that you send your message out to you want to use every tool available to recoup that money and some.
Personalizing is more than just adding a person’s name to the start of a text message it is really about using the words that the prospect uses, targeting the pains and desires and offering highly relevant solutions to help them solve those problems.
If the recipient feels like you understand them, they are more likely to take your recommendations.
Segmentation is a big part of personalization. By segmenting your subscribers and customers into specific groups it is easier to personalize for example you wouldn’t use the same messaging for prospective customers that you would for active customers.
People tend to have different needs before they make a purchase – after purchase, they are likely to want add-on solutions or specific servicing features.
Another example is separating men and women – again you wouldn’t use the same messaging to men as you would to women there would most likely be nuances or completely different solutions required.
Have an opt-out
This should go without saying but with any bulk SMS marketing campaign, there should always be a way for subscribers to cancel their subscription. The fines for not offering people a way out can be quite harsh so make sure that you include one in every single promotional message.
If you are only sending messages to workmates, family or even sending reminders or updates then it is probably not required, you will need to check your local spam laws.