Business SMS FAQ (We Answer Your Most Asked Questions)

Short message service (SMS) – commonly known as text messaging – has established itself as among the most effective marketing channels. That is despite the prevalence of the latest tools and technologies that marketers can use to create killer marketing campaigns. 

This compilation of statistics can attest to the vast popularity of SMS as a marketing platform:

  • In 2020, nearly 49 million people opted in to receive branded messages.
  • Between SMS and email marketing, mobile texting has a higher rate at 98% compared with email’s 20%.
  • About three-fourths of consumers aged 44 and below prefer to communicate with businesses via text.
  • Among SMS recipients, 45% are likely to take action after receiving business texts on their phones.

With such impressive numbers, SMS marketing can be a force to reckon with. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Companies are either not maximizing mobile messaging – with only 13% of businesses allowing customers to respond via text  –  or making the mistake of overlooking SMS as a marketing channel altogether. 

But SMS for businesses can be an excellent tool as long as it’s properly used. On that note, this post will discuss how to implement SMS marketing to help you reach your business goals. In particular, this FAQ will tackle your concerns regarding the various aspects of business SMS from types to strategies and tips.

Frequently Asked Questions About SMS for Businesses

How is SMS marketing done?

SMS or text message marketing involves using an application, software, or platform to deliver bulk texts to phone numbers saved in your business contacts database.

This type of marketing solution relies on customer data such as age, location, SMS engagement, and shopping history in segmenting audiences and sending them targeted content directly on their mobile devices.

Who should I send SMS messages to?

SMS marketing is permission-based. This means a customer must first agree to receive text messages from your company. Once they’ve given their consent, you can then add them to your company’s contact list and start sending them messages related to your business.
You can ask customers’ permission to be registered in your organization’s SMS marketing activities in several ways—via your brick-and-mortar store, your business app, email, social media, or website.

Alternatively, you can request potential or existing customers to subscribe to your SMS alerts by texting a keyword to your assigned code or address from where you send and receive text messages.

What types of campaigns work with SMS?

You can be as versatile as you want with SMS marketing, with its most popular uses including sales promotions, such as rewards and coupons.

Fun fact: As of 2021, 67 million Americans have redeemed mobile shopping coupons. That figure could even reach 289 million in 2022, according to forecasts.

Besides promotional content, you can also tap SMS for transactional messages like confirming payments, reservations, or appointments, as well as sending reminders (read: 83% of consumers welcome this) and sharing delivery status—the list goes on. 

You could also use business text messaging to provide customer support. Remember, not everyone may want to communicate via email, messaging apps, or phone calls.

Last but not least, SMS lets you highlight new products and recent announcements from your company, such as your updated business address or office hours.

Regardless of how you incorporate SMS into your marketing campaigns, subscribers are four times more likely to respond to a text than to an email.

What is the maximum number of characters per SMS?

Business SMS messages are limited to 160 characters, typically consisting of an opening greeting, a short explainer, and a call-to-action (CTA). Depending on your provider, messages longer than the character limit may be broken into segments but will still be viewed as a single message on the recipient’s mobile phone.

What are keywords used for in text message marketing?

Keywords are short phrases that you set up in your SMS platform to trigger a specific response or action whenever a mobile user texts that keyword.

For instance, you may use the keyword “SALE” to entice your customers to place an order for a discounted sale price. A customer texting that word then sends an alert to your SMS platform to include that customer’s name in the list of shoppers to get discounts upon checkout.

Similarly, you could set up keywords like “NO” or “STOP” to allow your subscribers to opt out of your marketing message.

How often should I be messaging customers?

Globally, individuals and companies exchange billions of text messages every day. While it is common for 43% of consumers to proactively text a business, you need to manage the frequency of sending marketing messages to people in your SMS list so you don’t cause them to feel overwhelmed.

Most consumers don’t mind receiving up to two text messages in a week, although it’s in your best interest to conduct surveys or tests to determine if that frequency works with your customers, as well.

Pro tip: During the opt-in or sign-up process, tell your subscribers how often they’ll receive text messages from your company to set the expectations straight.

How long does a message take to be delivered?

Almost instantly. In general, it only takes a few seconds to send a text message to SMS subscribers and for your message to appear on their phones. In fact, 62% of businesses use SMS because of its ability to immediately reach their target audience.

However, in less-than-ideal situations such as during heavy network traffic or when the recipient is out of the coverage area, there might be delays in sending or receiving text messages.

Why do I need an SMS marketing provider?

SMS marketing providers employ a specialized platform, which enables you to create your marketing copy, import phone numbers, segment the mailing lists, and push out your messages at designated periods. These functionalities are necessary for launching organized, timely, and effective SMS campaigns for your business.

What are the key factors in choosing a business SMS provider?

Your business SMS platform or software of choice must have the right capabilities, including bulk messaging capacity, on-time message delivery, and customer engagement features.

And although SMS is generally supported across devices and mobile networks, you want your SMS marketing’s API (application programming interface) to be scalable and compatible with other messaging channels to give users a seamless customer experience. In turn, this approach will enable you to expand your audience reach and grow your business faster.

How can I receive replies?

SMS marketing is primarily concerned with engaging customers, building brand loyalty, and, ultimately, increasing sales or conversion. As such, it’s crucial to set up your SMS platform to allow customers to be heard and reply to your text message. This way, you can have an opportunity to receive feedback, resolve queries, and make sales (or do upsells).

Decide on the type of response you want to receive from your customers. Do you want to limit their responses by asking them to choose from a given set of keywords? Or would you prefer to accept regular text messages to facilitate a two-way conversation with SMS users?

How can I track the results from SMS marketing?

An efficient SMS marketing platform lets you track and analyze your text messaging campaigns’ KPIs. These may include the number of text messages you’ve sent, open and response rates, and specific promotions that led to successful results. From there, you can have an idea of how to maintain the momentum or do better in your future campaigns.

What are text messaging regulations I should note?

Besides giving customers a way to opt in and opt out of text broadcast messages, you must be diligent in following guidelines relating to the protection of consumers’ privacy.

For example, you should only communicate marketing and other non-essential messages with your subscribers during business hours. You are also not to spam them with irrelevant offers or offensive content at any given time.

In the Philippines, the National Telecommunications Commission says you must display your company name in business SMS to properly identify who’s sending the text message.  

How much does SMS marketing cost?

This depends on several factors. For one, business text messaging services may charge per text or a fixed monthly fee—or both. Another consideration here is whether you’re availing of global messaging services, which will most likely cost you more since you’re sending texts to international numbers.

The number of subscribers you have and the frequency of your text messaging campaigns will also play a role in business SMS pricing.

The bottom line is that SMS marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to help your business operate more effectively.

How can SMS help in improving my conversion rates?

Employing the best practices in SMS marketing can make for more achievable goals. Here are some recommendations:

  • Use images and videos to capture your customers’ attention.
    Multimedia messages convert four times more than regular SMS.
  • Include links to your website or social media page in your SMS.
    Text can be an excellent jumping-off point to direct your audience to your ads, articles, and other content offers.
  • Leverage SMS drip campaigns.
    Each time a subscriber performs a specific action, an automated message is sent to follow through with that behavior trigger.

For example, once a user opts in, a welcome message with a discount offer is generated by the platform to entice the customer to make a purchase. SMS drip campaigns also work well with customers who have abandoned their carts or who have not visited your site recently.

How much time does it require to set up a text message marketing campaign?

Typically, text marketing platforms can readily launch an SMS marketing campaign in a matter of weeks. It’s also common for business SMS providers to offer a free trial that may last up to a month to enable you to test and explore the tools and features available on the platform. 

Do More for Less with SMS for Business

SMS ticks all the boxes for your business. It allows you to communicate with potential and current customers on their go-to device: their phones. That direct access to consumers can lead to a host of possibilities—from increased brand awareness to improved customer relations and a much-needed sales boost. Not to mention, you don’t have to spend a fortune before you start seeing ROI.

If you have any more questions about business SMS, simply contact the experts at Semaphore to learn about our best-in-class business SMS solutions.

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