Your bulk SMS campaigns can do better

Bulk SMS marketing best paractices

When I think about bulk SMS use in marketing, the old joke comes to mind:

- What is a Navy edition of Valentine day cards?

- One that says “To my one and only love”, sold in packs of dozen.

This is how SMS bulk messaging works: sending the same message, across thousands of recipients, in hope that a fraction of a fraction of a percent would respond.

Yes, SMS spam works for some, but for most of us, recurring to indiscriminate messages just doesn’t worth it – first and foremost, in terms of reputation, regulatory risks, let alone costs of sending messages.

So, the very name “bulk SMS” contains a mental trap. They are of course bulk for the server or software that send them on your request – because neither couldn’t care less about contents. But, if you are a marketer – or a business owner - content should be all that you care about.

What good email, direct and SMS marketing practices have in common?

All of these, when done right:

- deliver an ad: specifically, SMS is an ad, exactly as seen by great Ogilvy in his classic book “Ogilvy on Advertising”, but stripped of everything unnecessary;

- have a specific call to action: the purpose of ad is to sell and to sell only; and give a possibility of immediate reply (2-Way SMS messaging fits ideally);

- are based on data and knowledge: whatever medium you prefer, it is the message that is important, and to craft the message based on what you know about the customer and the product.

So, essentially there’s nothing, save the technicalities, in Les Wunderman’s classic on direct marketing “Being Direct” that doesn’t apply to SMS. Call to action, relevancy, understanding of the customer’s needs, all stay the same – the guy invented the direct marketing as we know it. Wunderman himself would be thrilled to have a tool as powerful as SMS, never mind the 160 symbols limitation.

What are small but important details that are important to make bulk SMS work good?

No need for a regularity and predictability. Email blasts, social media updates should follow a calendar and be regular, SMS campaigns don’t have to. SMS are about a moment, a place, and occasion: according to the statistics, most SMS are opened within 4-5 minutes from the moment of reception. They are bound to be very short-lived, intended to produce a very fast, very measureable result.

Can’t be frequent. Sending SMS is a serious invasion of privacy (even more than calls nowadays), so make sure you won’t do it for a reason that doesn’t worth it, either for you or, more importantly, for the customer.

You don’t want THAT brand awareness

If your SMS campaign hasn’t produce a satisfactory result, don’t comfort yourself saying “Well, at least it increased the brand awareness”. It has indeed, you don’t want to your customer to be aware about your brand in that way: as of something bothersome. Admit it: if no results have been achieved, it only meant the SMS campaign sucked, and some clients may have been antagonized. Lick your wounds, learn your lessons, make sure you won’t repeat the mistake.

What are results that a bulk SMS campaign can produce?

• Compel to repeat a previous order;

• Compel to convert a repeated order into a standing order;

• Provide more data about themselves;

• Accept a limited-time discount or special offer;

• Prevent customer dissatisfaction with a preemptive service disruption notice.

Critical wording elements of a bulk SMS campaign

They are the same as in any direct mail campaign:

• Customer's name – whenever possible;

• Specific call to action;

• As relevant to the customer as it can be;

• Possibility to reply whenever possible;

• Straight to the point simple message;

• Whenever possible, a special offer, discount or freebie to reinforce or reward the desired customer behaviour or aleviate the discomfort.

…all packed into 160 symbols (even less with many countries legal requirements).

SMS Bulk marketing for a pizza place next door

Say, you run a pizza place. Gather mobile numbers from your customers, and keep filling the database (don’t forget your country commercial communication regulation, and gather necessary consents). Try a new trick every day or every week. And, as Ogilvy said, repeat the trick that sells until it keeps selling.

Convert one-time orders into repeated orders

Like, one Friday night, send a bunch of messages to persons who ordered last Friday and ask: “Send YES for another 4Cheeses pizza like last Friday. $1 dscnt on us. PizzaPlace”.

… and repeated orders into standing orders

Some hours after the pizza is delivered, send to those who responded another message: “Reply YES for 4Formaggi every Friday at 21:00?. Discount stays. Pizzaplace”.

Bulk SMS that reward repeated customers

Send a happy birthday message to your repeated customers every day, and offer them a free pizza: “Happy birthday; reply YES for a free pizza. PizzaPlace”.

Grow your email database for email marketing, twitter following, facebook likes or whatever

Say, you want to grow your email database; “Send us your valid email address, and get 10% discount on your order. PizzaPlace”. “Like us on Facebook on this link, and get a discount”; you get the idea.

These are only some ideas. Keep trying, keep experimenting. Your SMS sending pattern will be bulk of course, but no single customer won’t feel they are being bulk messaged.

Apart from this, there’s no trick. There were stories about old-time marketers who hired people with nice handwriting to write personal sales letters to their important customers. Now, anyone can do it, and any client can feel they’re important enough for a personal message.

That’s how time has changed.

So, how do I do all that nice stuff?

Easy. To system integrators and companies with in-house software developers, Apifonica offers an API that allows to create custom bulk SMS and 2Way SMS solutions to system integrators as simple as

curl –X POST ‘{accountSID}/messages’ -H ‘Content-Type: application/json’ -d ‘{ “from”: ”number”, “to”: ”number”,“text”: “Send YES for another 4Cheeses pizza like last Friday. $1 dscnt on us. PizzaPlace. Msg rates apply. Send STOP to opt-out”}’ -u {accountSID}:{authToken}

So if you are one of them, get an API key right now.

if it all Greek to you, contact us and let's talk.


Keep reading:

"Buy milk. Love, the fridge": How SMS messages came to rule the Internet of Things

SMS: The last resort solution for a complicated life situation

Leave me alone: How SMS surveys are better than calls and questionnaires