The benefits of SMS marketing for small businesses: Sending the right message
Cost effective with instant delivery, a high open rate, and better engagement levels than email, learn why so many small businesses now text customers
The process of a business texting its customers, SMS marketing has seen a resurgence in popularity recently – and it’s not hard to see why.
With the overwhelming majority of millennials and generation z now checking their phone at least once every hour, and first thing in the morning, SMS marketing gives even the smallest business the chance to directly contact consumers like never before – with the added advantage of receivers being able to text back.
Still overlooked and under utilised by many, SMS marketing can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Informing users of in-store or online promotions
- Advertising opening hours
- Announcing new stock
- Requesting customer feedback
Cost effective with instant delivery, a high open rate, and great levels of engagement, SMS marketing delivers a great return on investment (ROI) too, ensuring it’s an easily considered option for start-ups and small businesses on a budget.
So, with consumers now inundated with emails, and letterbox advertising consigned to the history books, learn more about the benefits SMS marketing can have for your business.
The top 10 benefits of SMS marketing
Ever wondered about the effectiveness of SMS marketing? Read on below and discover the top 10 benefits:
It has a high open rate
It delivers instantly
It’s very cost effective
It’s mobile friendly
It helps you reach a very wide demographic
Customers can opt in/opt out
It’s more reliable than email marketing
It’s more green than letterbox advertising
It’s great for collecting consumer data
Perhaps the biggest advantage of SMS marketing compared to other advertising options, is it’s incredibly high open rate. According to industry expert Henry Cazalet, over 90% business of texts sent are opened within the first five minutes of being received.
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Unlike physical advertising or letterbox marketing, you can be sure that as soon as your business presses the send button your customers will receive your message straight away.
With virtually no wait time, combined with a high open rate, you can be certain customers are hearing about your business as soon as possible.
SMS marketing is incredibly affordable, regardless of how many messages you want to send, and how many people you’re sending them to. This makes SMS marketing incredibly attractive, particularly for new start-ups who might not have the biggest advertising budget.
To compare the prices of some of the UK’s top providers, read on below. Or, to receive a free quote, complete the web form at the top of the page.
With a majority of online users now preferring to browse on their mobile as opposed to their desktop, businesses who fail to ensure their website is properly optimised for mobile could experience a sharp drop in visits – and revenue.
While not online per se, SMS marketing can still instill a sense of trust within consumers that your small business is ready and willing to satisfy their mobile needs.
Spending huge amounts of money on a sleek Instagram or Snapchat marketing campaign can be incredibly effective – but not if the bulk of your target market is over 50.
As almost everyone in Britain has a mobile phone (many people have two!), with SMS marketing you can be guaranteed you’re reaching your target market alongside a very wide demographic.
A lot more direct and intrusive than emails, repeatedly receiving unwanted text messages can be a real nuisance for consumers – so giving them an opt in/opt out option is crucial, but also beneficial to your business.
While consumers will generally agree to receive emails willy-nilly, seeing how many customers, and what type of customers, agree to receive text messages can be useful from a data point of view – which you can use when planning future marketing strategies.
For the same reason, it can be useful to see which type of customers don’t want to be on your mailing list as well. When asking visitors to ‘opt in/opt out’, a clear and defined choice explicitly stating what their signing up to will also instill consumers with a sense of trust.
Incredibly versatile, the possibilities for what actual content you include in your text messages are endless.
With the most popular uses being to inform customers of in-store or online promotions, to advertise opening hours, to reward loyal shoppers, announce new stock, share news or even request customer feedback.
While useful in its own right, email marketing has one big disadvantage, namely, most emails automatically go straight to the spam folder and never see the light of day again.
In fact, most email response rates rarely rise above 1%. This type of unreliability just doesn’t exist with SMS marketing as text messages are much harder to ignore.
With consumers more environmentally conscious than ever before, and with your small business having its own green responsibilities, SMS marketing presents a much more sustainable way of advertising, compared to all the paper and printing required for door drop marketing.
As mentioned previously, SMS marketing is a great way to collect consumer data to mould future marketing campaigns and even help decide on what products or services you’ll offer.
Often used by businesses to ask customers for feedback on a product they bought, or a service they received, the response rate for SMS marketing once again far exceeds any other forms of marketing – and can be as high as 30%.
Expert opinion: The 7 common mistakes of SMS marketing
Speaking exclusively to Startups, SMS marketing expert Henry Cazalet analyses the seven most common mistakes businesses make when using SMS marketing.
The seven most common mistakes of SMS marketing are:
Businesses use dodgy SMS data
There’s no opt out.
Businesses send too many texts
Businesses send confusing texts
Businesses fail to optimise for the mobile web
The URL is a message is too big
Data isn’t segmented
GDPR is coming into effect in less than a month (25 May 2018).
Fines for the misuse of personal data will rise from a maximum of £500,000 to £17 million or 4% of global turnover. Scary stuff!
It’s your responsibility to ensure that the data that you’re using for SMS marketing is GDPR compliant and had been collected using the appropriate consumer opt in.
Under the new GDPR rules, you are required to give an opt-out in every marketing text that you send.
This usually just means replying ‘STOP’ to the text.
Nothing will have us unsubscribing faster than being bombarded by texts.
Sending any more than one or two texts a month and your cleverly crafted marketing message is likely to be seen as spam.
Don’t overdo it.
You have just 160 characters to get your message across. Keep it simple and don’t be tempted to crowbar in more than one simple offer.
It’s likely that you SMS marketing text will invite prospects to click on a web link in the text.
It’s vital that the website people land on has been properly optimised for mobile.
Don’t accept an average mobile experience. Go the extra mile to make your mobile site as good as it can possibly be.
You have just 160 characters to get your message across, so why waste them using a long web site address in your text.
Win back precious characters by shortening the URL in your text.
You probably hold vast amounts of information on your customers. Put it to good use by sending messages that are tailored to the individual rather than everyone getting the same text.
Case study: The Stag Company and SMS marketing
A real life example of a business using SMS marketing, Tom Bourlet from Brighton-based The Stag Company talks to Startups.
Business name: The Stag Company
Date founded: 2002
Employee numbers: 60
Please describe your business model: To send stag groups all over the UK and Europe, combining the greatest activities and accommodation available.
How long have you used SMS marketing?
What do you use it for?
How often do you send text messages to your customers?
How do you acquire customers’ mobile phone numbers?
What are the main benefits of using SMS marketing?
What are the main drawbacks of using SMS marketing?
What advice would you give to other businesses looking to adopt SMS marketing?
We have been experimenting with SMS marketing for around three years.
We had a mixed tactic. Firstly, it was a great way to remind people who have booked and have a monthly payment plan in place, to remind them of their upcoming requirements.
For anyone who put in a quote but hasn’t got as far as booking, it was a way to remind them of why they should book with us and what we can offer.
Finally, for those that put in their number into the quote form but haven’t taken a further step or answered messages, we offered them some ideas for activities in the location they enquired about.
We have a campaign that goes out once per month to people who put in a quote, as pay day approaches, reminding them to book. This is a great way to catch them when they are at their strongest financially before they spend their money elsewhere on other costs.
We have this as a field on our quote form, so we can call them back. We also clearly state what their number will be used for, to meet GDPR compliance, without ever going off from these areas, such as running competitions or passing the data on anywhere.
It actually yielded surprisingly positive results. The bookings directly after a reminder SMS are very high, while it also increases incoming calls quite dramatically.
We also ran a survey to our customers, to help us build a persona and understand what they want, while 65% stated they liked receiving SMS messages.
The strong response to SMS and emails versus phone calls in the survey highlighted that this text based marketing was something we had to use where possible.
Another advantage is that the content requirement is minimal and it is a highly automated process, which can be replicated each month.
Our team of event planners can talk on the phone with our potential customers to answer any questions and help them plan the perfect stag weekend.
However, with an SMS message, there is no follow-up communication necessarily and it is difficult to engage them with the message.
While we are used to being sent emails from brands, it can sometimes surprise people when they receive a text message from a company, therefore this can occasionally have a negative response.
Unless you experiment, you never know what will work. They can be a great way to provide readers with time-sensitive deals or to remind them of anything coming up.
Use some kind of ‘expiration date’ within your SMS message. Whether it is a one-day deal or a free product being included for bookings in May, these always seem to have a better response as people won’t put off the process.
We offered a free voice message from a minor celebrity for everyone who booked within 24 hours and it led to a huge increase in bookings through the day.
SMS direct marketing providers
Rather than managing the entire SMS process themselves, businesses outsource text message marketing to various providers who specialise in this area.
Below, we’ve reviewed some of the best SMS marketing providers in the UK market. To speak to these suppliers directly, or to receive a free quote, complete the webform at the top of the page.
The SMS Works
Having only launched in November 2017, Bristol-based start-up The SMS Works is one of the newest providers on the market – but is backed up by a wealth of experience.
Founded by industry veteran Henry Cazalet, The SMS Work’s unique selling point is that it only charges customers for messages that have been successfully delivered – while it also offers a price match guarantee, meaning if you find a cheaper provider it’ll agree to beat the offer.
New customers who buy over 500 text credits as their first purchase also receive an additional 500 text credits completely free. Texts sent outside the UK use two text credits
|SMS Volume||Price per delivered text (excl. VAT)|
|Any volume above||Contact supplier|
Offering a range of delivery reports, analytics, and great customer service, Firetext is one of the most popular SMS providers in the UK market.
With clients such as amey, tails.com, the Cabinet Office and deliveroo – Firetext’s service can also be integrated with third party apps such as freshdesk, zendesk, Eventbrite and zapier.
Having a pricing system based on credits, one message is equal to one credit – with one credit priced at 4p.
Credits can be purchased instantly on a pay-as-you-go basis, provided you have a FireText account, so you can top up in quantities that suit you as and when is required, making it very flexible to manage. Once purchased, credits do not expire either.
An optional reply number is £5 per month, which enables you to receive inbound messages and replies from your campaigns. Firetext also offers a free trial, which comes with 10 free credits.
A snapshot of Firetext’s pricing is below:
|Message Credits||Price per text (excl. VAT)|
Holding a rating of 9.6 out of 10 on consumer review website Trustpilot, Text Marketer main strength lies in its excellent UK-based customer service team – with the SMS marketing provider trusted by the likes of BMW, Subway, Vauxhall, John Lewis, and Nivea.
Placing special emphasis on security, Text Marketer’s systems are also monitored 24/7.
Claiming to beat competitor prices in most cases by 10% or more, Text Marketer will match the price of any competitor – should you find a cheaper deal elsewhere.
Operating on a pay-as-you-go basis, there’s no minimum terms or volumes, or any requirement to enter into a long term contract.
|Number of credits||Price|
|10,001-24,999||3.0p||25,000-49,000||2.9p||50,000-99,999||2.8p||100,000-249,999||2.7p||250,000-499,999||2.6p||500,000-999,999||2.5p||One million +||Contact supplier|
Committed to only using UK direct connections (known as white routes), when choosing Voodoo, users receive a 100% guarantee that their text messages will only ever be sent through UK main mobile network operators which is better for both security and delivery rates.
Based in the UK, and offering full account management and support, clients include Virgin Media, HSBC, Legal & General, Go Ape!, idm and Bristol Airport.
Voodoo SMS also offers a flat rate of 2.0p to all registered UK charities.
|Number of SMS credit purchased||Price per SMS|
|10,000 – 24,999||2.9p|
|25,000 – 49,000||2.8p|
|50,000 – 99,999||2.7p|
|100,000 – 249,999||2.6p|
|250,000 – 499,999||2.4p|
|500,000 – 999,999||2.2p|
London-based text local currently serves over 165,000 customers including the likes of Just Eat, Greenpeace, tastecard, and Booker Wholesale.
Offering a full managed service, text local allows businesses to completely outsource all aspects of the mobile messaging process.
Despite the name, the SMS marketing provider also specialises in international text messaging – allowing customers to connect with any mobile phone in over 200 countries.
Prices available upon request.
Compare SMS marketing providers
The information on this page should help you to understand what benefits SMS marketing can offer your business.
The best way to find out about specific SMS marketing and CRM packages though, is to speak to suppliers today – Startups can help with this.
By completing the form at the bottom of this page, we can put you in touch with CRM providers who can offer quotes and plans based on your specific requirements.
Comparing quotes with Startups is free, quick and easy, and it could help to save your business both time and money.