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How to effectively integrate SMS into your omnichannel marketing mix?

With an open rate of 95%, SMS far surpasses email in terms of engagement. It's simple - practically all text messages are opened. For this reason alone, it would be a shame not to take advantage of SMS as a marketing communication channel.

SMS is therefore a valuable tool in the mobile marketing toolkit, provided of course that it is intelligently integrated into your omnichannel strategy.

SMS is not an isolated channel. It is part of a larger ecosystem, alongside email, social media, and push notifications. The key is to seamlessly orchestrate these different touchpoints to provide a smooth and consistent customer experience.

In this article, we'll give you the keys to successfully integrating SMS into your omnichannel marketing mix. You'll discover best practices to follow, pitfalls to avoid, and our tips for developing a high-performing SMS strategy.

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What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing refers to the set of strategies and techniques aimed at using text messaging as a channel to promote your products and engage your customers.

There are many marketing use cases for SMS. For example, you can send text messages to:

  • Send exclusive and personalized promotional offers to your customers: discounts, promo codes, flash sales, etc.

  • Inform your customers about important events: new product launches, store openings, changes in hours, etc.

  • Re-engage customers after an abandoned cart, for example.

  • Invite customers to leave a review after a purchase directly on their mobile phone.

  • Build customer loyalty by sending thank you messages after a purchase, invitations to join your loyalty program, or wishing them a happy birthday, etc.

Below is an example from our client Truffaut who sends an email to celebrate a birthday and follows up with an SMS if the gift has not been picked up in the garden center.

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Note: Just like with email, you can only send marketing SMS to customers who have explicitly given their consent (opt-in).

The advantages of SMS marketing in an omnichannel mix

SMS marketing has many benefits for companies looking to enrich their omnichannel communication strategy and reach customers effectively. Here's a brief overview of the main advantages of integrating SMS into your mix.

Complementarity with other digital channels

SMS can very effectively complement other digital marketing channels. Far from cannibalizing them, SMS can work in conjunction with email, social media, push notifications, etc.

For example, you can use SMS to re-engage non-openers of an email campaign or to redirect your mobile traffic to a dedicated landing page. There's no shortage of possibilities for creating cross-channel synergies.

The power of immediacy and visibility

The strength of SMS marketing lies in its exceptional responsiveness. With a 95% open rate and 95% of messages read within 3 minutes, SMS guarantees near-instant visibility for your communications.

This is a major asset for broadcasting urgent messages or those with an ephemeral nature, whether it's flash sales or appointment reminders, for example.

Advanced personalization and segmentation

Another advantage of SMS marketing is that it lends itself to personalization and fine segmentation (which, as we know, are now marketing essentials!).

If you have precise data on your contacts (product preferences, purchase history, etc.), you have every opportunity to tailor the content and frequency of your marketing SMS according to your target audience.

The ideal channel for transactional messages

Finally, SMS is the preferred channel for your transactional messages: order confirmations, delivery alerts, appointment notifications, etc. These "useful" text messages generate up to 8 times more engagement than transactional emails.

It's not for nothing that transactional SMS now represents 60% of the volume of text messages sent by companies to consumers, with purely "marketing" SMS, for promotional purposes, occupying the remaining 40%.

Best practices and rules to follow

To get the most out of SMS marketing, there's no secret - you need to know and apply best practices. Here are the main rules to keep in mind.

1 - Obtain opt-in and manage subscriber preferences

Consent is the cornerstone of SMS marketing. Before launching your SMS marketing campaigns, you must obtain the explicit opt-in of your recipients, i.e. their agreement to receive your commercial text messages. This opt-in can be collected via a web form, a contest, or even a non-marketing SMS…

Also remember to set up a simple preference management process. Your subscribers must be able to easily unsubscribe from your communications, by sending "STOP" for example. You need to give them control over the types of SMS received and the sending frequency.

2 - Adjust the frequency and timing of sending

To avoid tiring your subscribers, you need to know how to properly dose the frequency of SMS marketing campaigns. As a general rule, it is advisable not to exceed 2 to 4 SMS per month, but this frequency depends both on your industry and the preferences of your audience.

Also think about the best time to send your SMS. It is generally advisable to avoid too early or too late hours and, of course, to favor the days and times when your audience is most receptive. How to determine the best time? By doing A/B tests. Read our article on this subject: What is A/B testing and why use it.

3 - Focus on personalization and adapt the tone

The performance of an SMS marketing campaign depends largely on the degree of personalization. Adding personal touches (recipient's first name, reference to recent purchases, interests, etc.) creates a closer connection and can only improve the relevance of your SMS communications.

It is also important to adapt your tone and language level to your target audience. Stay in the "mobile" mindset with short messages, a conversational style, and don't hesitate to use emoticons to energize your texts. Your goal is for your SMS to trigger immediate action!

4 - Comply with applicable regulations

A successful SMS marketing campaign is also one that complies with applicable laws. In Europe, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) strictly governs the collection and use of personal data.

We mentioned above the main rules governing SMS marketing: obtaining consent and the ability to withdraw consent at any time to stop receiving SMS…

We could add the obligation to inform your recipients about the purposes of your SMS marketing campaigns (at the time of obtaining consent). Ultimately, these are the same rules that apply to other marketing channels, starting with email. You shouldn't be out of your element.

5- Analyze and optimize performance through A/B testing

Finally, to maximize the impact of your SMS marketing campaigns, establish a culture of testing and analysis. You can test:

  • The content of your marketing SMS.

  • The timing of sending SMS marketing campaigns.

  • The frequency of messages.

  • The segments of your audience.

  • The calls to action.

  • The promotional offers proposed.

  • The personalization elements.

  • The length and format of messages.

  • Etc.

The scope for testing is wide: be careful not to test everything at the same time to avoid misinterpretation. On this subject, read our article: "How to implement an effective A/B testing strategy".

The keys to developing a high-performing SMS strategy

You now know the best practices of SMS marketing. But how do you concretely build your SMS strategy? Here are the key steps to develop a powerful action plan.

1 - Define specific objectives and KPIs

It all starts with setting clear and measurable objectives. What do you want to accomplish with your SMS marketing campaigns? Recruit new customers, retain your buyers, boost your flash sales, improve your conversion rate?

Once your objectives are set, attach specific KPIs to them. For example, an awareness objective will be measured by the open rate, a conversion objective by the click-through rate and revenue generated… These carefully selected metrics will allow you to track your performance over the course of campaigns.

2 - Segment your database to personalize messages

To maximize the impact of your SMS, personalization is key. And it starts with good segmentation of your contact database. Divide your SMS audience into different segments according to relevant criteria: demographic data, purchase history, product preferences, engagement level, etc.

The finer your segments, the more you can tailor your messages to the specifics of each group. Segmentation makes it possible to send mass AND personalized SMS.

3 - Orchestrate SMS in omnichannel customer journeys

SMS should not be thought of as an isolated channel, but as an essential link in your omnichannel customer journeys. Therefore, we advise you to take the time to map out the different stages of these journeys and identify the key moments where SMS marketing will add value.

Here are some ideas for using SMS at key stages of an omnichannel customer journey:

  • When signing up on your site > Sending a welcome SMS.

  • After a first purchase > Sending a thank you SMS with an exclusive promo code for the next order.

  • In case of an abandoned cart > Sending a follow-up SMS with a direct link to the cart.

  • During the delivery stage > Sending SMS to keep your customers informed.

  • Etc.

4 - Automate sending and optimize campaigns

To gain efficiency, focus on automating your SMS marketing campaigns.

With a marketing automation platform like Actito, you can program complex sending scenarios based on the behavior of your contacts. For example: "If customer X has not opened email Y, then send them marketing SMS Z the next day".

Automation will allow you to precisely orchestrate your message sequences, without manual intervention, to combine mass SMS and personalization. You will thus optimize your resources and time, while increasing the responsiveness of your mobile communications.

Finally, your SMS marketing strategy must be part of a continuous improvement process. Analyze the results of each campaign, identify areas for improvement, launch tests to challenge your hypotheses… Keep in mind that an SMS marketing strategy is always subject to optimizations.

Key takeaways

Let's summarize the key points to keep in mind regarding SMS marketing:

  • First, to successfully integrate SMS into your mix, you need to adopt a customer-centric approach. Each SMS communication must find its place in your customers' journey in complementarity with your other channels (email, social media, website…). The challenge is to build a smooth and consistent customer relationship, regardless of the point of contact.

  • Next, don't send SMS blindly. Finely segment your contact database to deliver ultra-personalized messages and boost your conversion rate. The targeting possibilities of SMS are endless, so take advantage of them!

  • Of course, be sure to follow the golden rules of SMS marketing: collect opt-in from your subscribers, control your sending frequency, craft your content carefully, etc.

  • Finally, automate and continuously optimize! Marketing automation tools will allow you to precisely orchestrate your cross-channel SMS campaigns to engage your customers at the right time and place.

You now know the essentials, now it's up to you! And if you want to learn more about the marketing automation platform offered by Actito, if you want to deploy automated and ultra-personalized SMS campaigns, don't hesitate to contact us. We'll be happy to present you with concrete use cases of automation in the context of SMS marketing.

About the author

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Isabelle Henry

Head of Inbound and Growth

Always on the lookout for new skills and always ready to launch new marketing projects at Actito, I rely on my personal experiences but also on everything that is happening in the digital world to continue to learn, educate and share with you through inspiring content. My little extras? Video editing and photography!

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