After digesting the first two parts of our series, you’ve got a strong grasp on the SMS marketing landscape – you understand:

  • Part 1
    • Important steps and resources for achieving MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) compliance
    • How SMS will fit into your multichannel marketing efforts
    • What to consider when determining your program’s success
  • Part 2
    • Tactics for acquiring SMS subscribers

Now, to pull it all together, here is how to engage your SMS subscriber base while affirming your brand essence, gaining key consumer insights, driving desired behaviors, and most importantly, remaining timely and relevant.


First Things First…

Before diving into these four areas of SMS engagement strategy, it’s important you also have a firm grasp on two important marketing elements:

Your Marketing Database: A highly integrated marketing approach can yield near-endless amounts of actionable subscriber data. As en example, if your SMS opt-in stemmed from an email campaign, you should be able to segment based on all existing email subscriber data. Access to purchase history can drive inferred targeting such as common purchase categories, frequency or average order value. The point is, a keen understanding of your CRM data will compliment any engagement strategy and help differentiate your campaign from your little brother’s text message.

Mobile Marketing Strategy

Your Company’s Marketing Plan: Anybody can duplicate a social post or email content as an SMS message, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective use. Smartphones are both on the go and web enabled, so be sure to support digital and offline initiatives alike. Get outside of the norm – look at the marketing plan as a whole and get creative with your end-goals.


Affirming Brand Essence

Much like Social, SMS is highly personal. Unlike Social, SMS is almost entirely proactive and very little reactive. The DEG Social Media team often creates a “social voice” when developing content. They think “If [company] were a person, how would they post?” Take a page from the Social Strategy playbook and create a voice to represent your brand as a person on the other end of a text message. This will prevent your SMS marketing from looking like trite mass marketing, i.e. newspaper inserts.

Let’s assume we’ve examined the marketing calendar and it’s looking like the equivalent of a “slow news day.” No major initiatives to support, events to push or data we want to collect.  Now is the time to lean heavily on that newly created “SMS Voice.”  Check out how Starbucks does it in this “just for fun” type of example:

Building you company's SMS program

Bonus: MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is a great way to share pictures that assert your brand essence, just because.


Gaining Key Consumer Insights

Since you’ve got a firm grasp on your marketing database, you know what subscribers haven’t yet provided key information. Segment those subscribers and make a simple, straightforward ask of them. This example from Pottery Barn Kids shows them learning how to market to their subscribers more effectively by interjecting a fun survey:

 Building your company's SMS program

Oh, P for preschool you say? Safe bet says the next email received highlights Pottery Barn Kids’ “My First Collection.”

Not all asks have to be under the cover of a survey or seem “fun.” Something as simple and straightforward as asking for a ZIP code to help provide more relevant offers could yield a very strong response, just be sure you don’t ask the people who have already provided it!


Driving Desired Behaviors

Take a look back to that Marketing Plan – what’s going on this week? New store opening? New product launch? Hosting an RSVP only event? Use this opportunity to support those initiatives. Remember, not every campaign will be easy to track, but don’t let that hold you back from supporting important business events.

On the other hand, some behaviors may be a bit easier to measure. Consider taking that Abandoned Shopping Cart or Post-Purchase Review email campaign to the next level by supporting with an SMS reminder. Incentivizing with personalized coupon codes makes redemption tracking a reality. If purchase history makes it full circle to your CRM, you’ll know if that cart remained abandoned as well. Or, keep it simple like this Van Heusen example advertised in-store and aimed at tipping the purchase conversion:

Building your company's SMS program 

Remaining Timely & Relevant

The credo of digital direct marketing – timeliness and relevance. The MMA makes this a bit easier on us – guidelines suggest you should stick to a cadence aforementioned at time of opt-in, i.e. 4 messages/month. Do your best to stick to that schedule, don’t send late at night or early in the morning and you’re off to a good start on the timeliness front. Most automated response campaigns are triggered immediately following the mobile originated (MO) request, so no worries there.

Relevance, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier to nail. Much like email, triggered messaging based on user behaviors or expectations often significantly outperform basic promotional messaging. Consider using SMS as a value add to existing service or product offerings. Take some notes from Walgreen’s prescription refill program:

Building your company's SMS program

This value add service differentiates Walgreen’s from their competitors and serves as a near flawless call to action which drives the subscriber in store.

Bonus: Use location targeting with generally available information such as weather or current events to achieve hyper-relevance. For instance, an outdoor apparel brand may target New Yorkers when a big snow storm blows through the northeast.

Tying it All Together

We’ve covered off on key resources and considerations, tactics for building your subscriber database and strategies for engaging your audience.  Now, it’s up to you to craft the campaigns that take your brand from mass-marketer to targeted, timely and relevant.

Get creative and use your data wisely.

Don’t be shy, tell us about your campaigns in the comments below.


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