SMS Marketing Best Practices

SMS Campaign with Web Links

Here at Tatango we always get asked by our clients if they can put a web link within the text message they send to their customers. The short answer is sure, you can put text, web links, even a phone number within a text message. The more interesting question though was, is it a good idea to put a web link in a text message? Will customers be able to open the web link on their mobile device? If they are, will customers know how to open it? Most importantly though, if they are able, will they even want to open the web link?

The first step in figuring out these questions was to find a Tatango client that we could experiment on. Luckily for us, it wasn’t that hard to find a Tatango customer that was interested in diving deeper into how their customers interacted with different types of SMS campaigns. We selected Tatango customer New York Pizza a thriving full service restaurant in our hometown of Bellingham, WA to run our experiment on.

The second step was to come up with an SMS campaign for New York Pizza that would encourage their customers to open the web link on their mobile device when they received it. The restaurant decided on the following campaign, which you can see below.

New York Pizza restaurant SMS campaign promotion with a mobile web link

The third step was one of the most important steps in this experiment, we needed a method to track the results. We needed a method that would allow us to track how many of their mobile subscribers opened the web link on their mobile phone. Sounds like a daunting technical challenge right? Not so much with service like, which converts any web link into a shortened version of itself (very nice for SMS marketing when there is a limit to the amount of characters available), and easily allows you to track how many customers open the web link.

The fourth and final step was for New York Pizza to send the SMS campaign to their customers and track the results. After a week, 312 out of the 1,217 subscribers (26%) had opened the web link on their mobile device. You can see the graph below.

Open rate graph for SMS campaign with web link at bottom of promotion

The above results definitely didn’t blow any socks off, considering that text messages themselves have a 98% open rate. That meant 3 out of 4 customers saw the web link and didn’t open it. But wait!!! How many customers are even able to open a web link on their phone? Well according to Comscore, only 25% of the U.S phone owning population has a smartphone. That means that if you apply the national average of smartphone users to New York Pizza’s customers, 100% of customers that were able to open the web link in the SMS campaign did in fact open it. Obviously there are some assumptions here in the data, but overall this definitely illustrates the power of a call to action in an SMS campaign, as long as everyone has the right mobile device to participate in that call to action.

Our advice: If you’re a business owner thinking about including a web link in one of your SMS campaigns, wait a little while. With only a 25% penetration of smartphones in the U.S., you either want to wait until this passes the 50% threshold, or include a web link but don’t make it the primary call to action.

Don’t worry though, new statistics from Gartner show that smartphone sales were up 96 percent from the third quarter of 2010. It won’t be very long until smartphones account for over 50% of the mobile devices held by your customers.



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