SMS as a marketing channel

Created by NotifyVisitors Team, Modified on Mon, 02 Oct 2023 at 10:43 PM by NotifyVisitors Team

Nowadays, various brands compete to gain attention of potential customers through long-established communication channels such as email and phone. Likewise, in this day and age, people receive a plethora of promotional notifications from almost every single company they purchased products from in the past. 

So, it is quite natural for people to get exasperated when they find their email inbox getting inundated with promotional messages or when they receive recurring phone calls from a multitude of brands. Such an occurrence might in turn cause potential customers to ignore the mailed promotional messages or remain inaccessible over phone calls. In such situations, channels such as SMS and WhatsApp prove to be beneficial and come in handy in motivating prospective customers to finalize purchases. 

NotifyVisitors provides you with the flexibility to incorporate multiple channels including SMS and WhatsApp within your workflows in order to decrease the likelihood of your messages being overlooked, notifications being ignored and campaigns going unnoticed. In this article, we delineate how you can begin using SMS as a marketing channel to dispatch promotional notifications and automated campaigns.

Before you begin

Prior to leveraging the SMS channel to engage your customers, you need to take into account the following information:

  • You need to purchase an adequate amount of SMS credits in order to dispatch SMS campaigns.
  • You can dispatch messages via the SMS channel to all those customers who have subscribed to receive notifications through this particular channel. The subscription statuses of each of the channels are managed separately.
  • The SMS channel can be incorporated within automated journeys and can also be utilized to dispatch individual campaigns.
  • In case you wish to dispatch advertisements and promotions via the SMS channel to recipients residing in the United States, then in addition to procuring opt-ins or subscriptions for the SMS channel, you have to ensure that you follow the TCPA requirements and CTIA guidelines.

Garner subscriptions for the SMS channel

Over 60% of the people surveyed believe that they would utilize messaging to consummate purchases for years to come. That being stated, the SMS channel is quite a powerful means of advertising for any brand since nowadays most people live a busy life, are constantly on the move, have minimal time to check promotional emails or attend advertisement-based phone calls from various brands and that’s why people prefer to be notified quickly and succinctly about the products they desire to purchase, through messaging. 

Moreover, the SMS channel enables customers to swiftly and readily contact their favorite brands and thereby receive prompt responses to their queries. Likewise, via leveraging SMS as an advertising channel, organizations can enhance the probability of obtaining instant responses or feedback to their marketing campaigns, which in turn directly impacts the conversion rate.

However, it is imperative to procure explicit consent from your existing customers as well as your prospective clients prior to dispatching notifications through the SMS channel. There exist a few ways to acquire your customers’ permission to receive messages via this specific channel. NotifyVisitors enables you to collect SMS channel opt-ins via the undermentioned ways:

Sign-up forms

One easy and effective way to obtain your customers’ consent to dispatch marketing campaigns via the SMS channel is by utilizing sign-up forms. Through a sign-up form, you can divulge what type of notifications customers will receive in the near future, provide incentives, and even start off a conversation by adding an SMS message to the welcome sequence.

Since, such lead forms enable you to conveniently capture permission-based personal data & contact information such as name, email address, phone number, country of residence etc. of your current and potential customers, you can also employ them to gain explicit consent to dispatch advertisements, discount offers, promotional messages etc. via SMS in the near future.

You can do so by incorporating a checkbox along with a piece of text such as 'I would like to receive notifications through SMS to the mobile number provided', within your sign-up forms. Utilizing this very strategy, you can also obtain TCPA consent from US recipients by including an additional piece of TCPA legal text within the sign-up forms.

Import SMS subscribers via a CSV file

You can upload a separate CSV file to your NotifyVisitors account, that lists all those customers who have opted-in to receive promotions via the SMS channel. Once you upload the CSV file, our software will automatically create a distinct segment of those specific customers, and you can thereby target and dispatch your SMS marketing campaigns exclusively to them.

SMS credits

As previously stated, in order to commence marketing via the SMS channel, you need to purchase an adequate amount of SMS credits. The total number of messages that can be dispatched with a single SMS credit depends on the price of a single SMS in your recipients’ countries. You can check the details or status of the purchased SMS credits in the billing section of our software. 

Note

We do not provide any SMS credits on the Free Plan i.e. you will have to upgrade your plan type to either 'Startup' or 'Growth' in order to purchase SMS credits. However, in case you have your own SMS vendor then regardless of your chosen plan type, you can dispatch SMS campaigns through our software while availing the services of that particular vendor.

Kindly click here or refer to our article titled 'NotifyVisitors billing plans', to learn about pricing for each of the paid plans in detail.

Implementation of SMS as a marketing channel in NotifyVisitors

NotifyVisitors allows you to leverage the SMS channel to dispatch precisely-timed automated texts both via individual campaigns and through journeys. You can utilize this channel to intimate clients about lucrative discount offers, upcoming events, latest products and much more. You can dispatch birthday messages, shipping information, order confirmations, abandoned cart reminders etc.

As previously mentioned, since the probability of SMS messages getting ignored at the receiver’s end is fairly low in comparison to email campaigns, sending bulk notifications and advertisements via this particular channel is a smart way to reach a wide range of audience and thereby boost sales. NotifyVisitors allows you to leverage the SMS channel for advertising and brand promotion in the undermentioned modes:

SMS broadcast campaigns

NotifyVisitors enables you to broadcast promotional SMS messages in bulk to all of your customers by means of creating SMS campaigns. We offer you the flexibility to design your SMS campaigns as per your organization’s communication style and marketing requirements. You can customize text, include emojis, and even add CTA links in order to swiftly & conveniently redirect customers to a desired URL such as their abandoned cart.

Equipped with such customizations, you can create personalized messages with bespoke content that effectively engage and rivet the attention of your current/prospective clients. Since an SMS is succinct in nature, you can jump straight to the point and promote new products via cross-selling or up-selling, notify customers about season specific sales, timely inform about available discounts, provide ad-hoc customer support and much more.  

Segmentation-based Campaigns

NotifyVisitors enables you to broadcast your SMS campaigns to a specific segment of your customer base or a particular audience group that is more likely to purchase a specific category of products and services offered by your organization. In other words, we enable you to target your campaigns, fashioned specifically to advertise & promote a certain product, to a relevant section of your customer base.

Organizations don’t usually manufacture a single product, but might mass produce a variety of products. For instance, Apple Inc. manufactures and sells laptops, tablets, smartphones etc. Furthermore, an organization's entire customer base might not be interested in a singular product but in a variety of products offered by the brand. Additionally, each existing & potential customer would be unique in the sense that he/she might desire to purchase a different combination of products offered by the brand.

Likewise, businesses aim to dispatch only relevant and appropriate notifications to each customer exclusively regarding those specific products in which he/she expressed interest. This is because irrelevant intimations can be perceived as a dedicated effort by the organization to promote and sell its products.

It is primarily for this reason that NotifyVisitors provides you with the flexibility to create segments based on demographics, product preferences etc. and to design your SMS campaigns in a manner that they resonate with the specific requirements of the niche audience. To learn more about segmentation-based campaigns and germane product notifications, kindly have a look at the following articles:

How to create a segment.

Populate products from events.

Journey-based Campaigns

NotifyVisitors enables you to dispatch automated SMS campaigns by means of incorporating them in preconfigured, condition-based or segment-based journeys. In other words, we enable you to automatically dispatch SMS campaigns based on predefined/preprogrammed conditions and events such as order confirmation, cart abandonment etc.

Within journeys, in addition to SMS, you have the flexibility to incorporate other channels such as email, WhatsApp, web push, app push etc. to engage your customers. Such a practice of incorporating multiple channels within workflows, significantly enhances the probability of notifications getting viewed and read at the receiver’s end.

Whenever a specific event is performed by a visitor on your organization’s official website or on your brand’s official app then a particular predesigned workflow gets automatically triggered, begins its execution and consequently dispatches the incorporated SMS campaigns in a precisely timed manner.

Such workflows can also be designed to commence execution whenever a visitor/customer/subscriber enters or exits a conditionally predefined segment. To learn more about journey-based campaigns, kindly read our article titled:

How to create a journey.

SMS message restrictions

  • Whether the sender’s name will or will not get displayed in the dispatched SMS message depends on the recipient’s country of residence. In case the disclosure of sender’s name is not supported within the recipient’s country of residence, then only the sender’s phone number will get displayed.

For instance, the United States and Canada do not support divulgement of the sender’s name. Click here to check whether the countries you are dispatching your SMS campaigns to, support or do not support disclosure of the sender's name.

  • NotifyVisitors doesn’t track open rates of SMS campaigns. In order to track engagement through SMS campaigns, you will have to include a CTA link within your campaign that redirects to your online store and we can thereby track the click rate on the added CTA link and you can check the same in our campaign analytics reports.
  • A standard SMS can contain up to 160 characters, depending on the symbols used. Kindly note that some carriers might not deliver an SMS message in case it includes more than 160 characters. In case you dispatch a message that includes text longer than the maximum number of characters allowed per SMS, then we will automatically split the overall message for you and forward multiple SMSes to carriers.
  • Your clients won’t be able to reply back to your SMS campaigns. We recommend including a CTA link that redirects to a specific product page or a particular post on your official website, within your SMS campaigns in case you intend to continue communication with your clients through the dispatched campaign.

You should also include opt-out instructions to enable your customers to conveniently unsubscribe at any time. Kindly note that it is mandatory to add opt-out instructions in all non-transaction SMSes dispatched to the US customers.

Best practices

In order to design and dispatch SMS campaigns that actually convert mere visitors into paying customers, we recommend you to adopt the following best practices:

  • Start your message by stating your brand’s name
    Including your brand’s logo and mentioning your brand’s name at the very beginning of your message, not only helps recipients to recognize your brand right away, but also enables them to have a better memory or recollection of your brand.
  • Commence the initial conversation via a transactional text
    In case you have never sent an SMS campaign to a customer before, do not dispatch a promotional SMS straightaway even if you have the permission to do so. Introduce your customer to SMS via an opt-in or a transactional message prior to advertising additional products manufactured by your brand.
  • Be mindful of geography and timing
    Since your organization might have customers from all around the world, you need to make sure that you dispatch messages at the time when they are most likely to be viewed. Prepare segments of your user list based upon country codes and consequently schedule your SMS messages in a timely manner, so as to increase the likelihood of them being read at the receivers’ end.
  • Blend various channels into a single workflow
    In addition to SMS, incorporate other channels such as email, web push, whatsapp, app push etc. within your journeys, since such a practice significantly decreases the probability of messages getting overlooked at the receivers’ end.
  • Personalize the message content
    Creating bespoke content for your SMS campaigns will inevitably enhance engagement since personalized campaigns with relevant product notifications tend to appeal to the customers more than the standardized or generalized ones. 
  • Obtain explicit consent to dispatch promotions
    Your customers must be aware about what kind of notifications they will receive via SMS from your brand and you must ensure that you have obtained their approval to dispatch those specific types of notifications in the near future. For instance, in case your customers accede to receive messages pertaining to shipping confirmation, then you do not have the right to dispatch promotional notifications.
  • Simplify the unsubscription process
    You should allow recipients to unsubscribe at any time since dispatching messages repeatedly to those people who do not wish to receive notifications from your organization might probably irk them and eventually cause them to report to a concerned authority, which in turn can tarnish your brand’s reputation. So, as a best practice, simplify the unsubscription process by providing an opt-out link or by intimating receivers beforehand about an unsubscribe keyword such as 'STOP'.
  • Keep your messages concise and avoid over-sending
    While advertising via the SMS channel you should keep your messages short and concise, since it is highly unlikely that your recipients would want to read a long SMS message on a pocket-sized screen. In case you wish to dispatch a lengthy message, then choose an alternative communication channel such as email. 

Additionally, each SMS message you send will 'ping' the recipient and if the message is short, the likelihood is high that it will be read instantly. However, if you dispatch multiple SMSes back to back then such a practice would potentially annoy receivers and might cause them to unsubscribe from receiving further notifications.

FAQ

  1. What will happen in case the phone number to which I dispatch the SMS is invalid?
  1. In case the phone number to which an SMS campaign is dispatched doesn’t exist, then the campaign will bounce and our software will automatically invalidate or unsubscribe that particular phone number.
  1. Why isn’t the SMS sender’s name getting displayed at the receiver’s end?
  1. Whether the sender’s name will or will not get displayed in the dispatched SMS campaigns, depends on the recipient’s country of residence. In case the disclosure of the sender’s name is not supported within the recipient’s country of residence, then only the sender’s phone number will be displayed.
  1. Which phone number will be shown to the receiver in case the sender’s name can’t be displayed?
  1. In case the sender’s name can’t be displayed due to country-based restrictions, then one of our pre-selected phone numbers will be shown to the receiver or customer.
  1. Via which all platforms can the phone numbers be synced?
  1. In addition to syncing phone numbers for SMS marketing by means of uploading CSV files and via signup forms, we also identify, filter, register and map phone numbers synced through Shopify, of all those customers who subscribed to receive notifications through the SMS channel.
  1. Why don’t I see any click rates for the dispatched SMS campaigns?
  1. Since, we do not track open/click rates for SMS campaigns, we recommend you to include a CTA link that redirects to your online store within your SMS campaigns. We will track the click rate on the included CTA link and you can verify or check the same in our campaign analytics reports.
  1. How should I ask my current subscribers to provide their phone numbers?
  1. You can target your current subscribers via a landing page which in turn incorporates a phone number input field or acquire phone numbers along with consent for SMS marketing, through signup forms.
  1. Will my customers be able to respond to the dispatched SMS campaigns?
  1. At present, it isn’t possible for the receivers to respond back to the dispatched SMS campaigns. However customers can reply back using certain predefined keywords such as 'STOP', 'HELP’ etc. We recommend that you intimate your customers about the fact that they won’t be able to respond back, by means of including a piece of text such as 'not calling for action' within your campaigns.
  1. Why are my contacts unsubscribed to SMS?
  1. In order to start receiving SMS messages from your brand, customers are required to provide their explicit consent to receive advertisements and promotional notifications via the SMS channel.
  1. Are there any formalities such as Sender ID registration, SMS template verification etc. that I need to fulfill prior to dispatching SMS campaigns?
  1. Whether prior approval of SMS content templates and registration of Sender IDs will be required, depends upon the country to which you choose to dispatch your SMS campaigns. In other words, in certain countries such as India it is mandatory to fulfill such formalities while in others such as Switzerland, you will not be required to fulfill the aforementioned requirements.

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