SMS Marketing Best Practices

Top 10 Text Message Marketing Mistakes

10 SMS Marketing Mistakes
As a marketer, there’s always a temptation to try new ways to communicate with consumers. Before you add another communication channel to the mix, consider a potentially underutilized channel that you already have: Text Message Marketing.

Recently we published a free guide, in which we explain the top 10 text message marketing mistakes that could be holding you back from fully maximizing your text message marketing campaign, and how to swiftly avoid these potholes.

Free SMS Marketing Guide - Top 10 Text Message Marketing Mistakes
You can download the free text message marketing guide by clicking here, or keep reading below for a summary


What is Text Message Marketing?

When most businesses talk about text message marketing, they mean the practice of sending mass text message alerts to interested consumers. You can compare it with email marketing, only instead of emails, a brand will send out text messages to consumers who have opted in to its text messaging campaign.

An impressive 90% of texts are opened within three minutes of being received — a stat that no other communication channel can touch.


Top Text Message Marketing Mistakes

Below you will find our top 10 mistakes made by SMS marketers, and more importantly, how to fix them.


1. Not Using A/B Testing

SMS Marketing Mistakes - Not Using AB Testing
As a marketer, you’re likely familiar with A/B testing for email marketing and online advertising. But did you know that it’s also something you should use with your text message marketing campaigns? A/B testing can increase click-through-rates by 433% and conversion rates by 550%.

At Tatango, our clients are A/B testing things like:

  • Character lengths
  • Message types (SMS versus MMS)
  • Media content (images, videos, or GIFs)
  • Message content and layout
  • Offers, call-to-actions, and subject lines

With Tatango’s software, you can test up to four different variations of your message.

A/B testing is the best way to ensure that subscribers will not only open your messages — but buy from and share them, too.


2. Not Using MMS Marketing

SMS Marketing Mistakes - Not Using MMS Marketing
MMS is one of the most popular text message marketing formats for enterprise companies, and with good reason; we’ve seen brands generate a 6,000% increase in ROI with MMS. While SMS messages only allow 160 characters of plain text, MMS opens up an entirely new world of eye-catching possibility. Brands like Vans, Ikea, and Starbucks use MMS messages to:

  • Feature eye-catching media like images, GIFs, and videos.
  • MMS messages enable visual content like images, GIFs, and videos. This can entice consumers to take a second look at an otherwise text-only message.
  • Use up to 5,000 characters with MMS — and even subject lines.


3. Not Leveraging Existing Subscribers

Word of mouth is still the most trusted marketing channel, with 92% of consumers saying they trust recommendations from friends and family.

For that reason, at Tatango, we offer Click-To-Share, which enables your subscribers to quickly and easily share your brand’s text message offers with their friends and family. All subscribers need to do is click a Click-To-Share link in one of your text messages, then select who in their phone’s address book to share the offer with. The best part is that you as the text message marketer get to pre-compose the message that your subscribers share, so it’s always clear, on-brand and on-point.


4. Not Using Opt-In Incentives

SMS Marketing Mistakes - Not Using New Subscriber Incentives
If your text message marketing subscriber list is growing slower than you’d like, make sure you’re offering an incentive for consumers to opt-in to your campaign. Opt-in incentives are extremely powerful for growing lists quickly, as we’ve seen brands generate 300,000 subscribers in just 3 days using opt-in incentives. One study showed that opt-in incentives can increase SMS subscriber growth by 520%.

Brands like Starbucks, Rite Aid, Staples and Taco Bell (to name just a few) are notorious for offering enticing opt-in incentives to new subscribers. To generate your own opt-in incentive, come up with a reward, coupon, or deal that your audience would go crazy for. Then be sure that when you advertise your text messaging campaign to consumers, you’re very clearly telling them that by opting-in, they’ll receive your opt-in incentive.


5. Not Personalizing Text Messages

Top Text Message Marketing Mistakes - Not Personalizing Text Messages
75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history. Brands like Old Navy understand this, which is why they invite subscribers to fill out customer preference surveys, allowing them to better know their subscribers.

Tatango clients increase the relevancy of their messages by using the following subscriber information:

  • Online vs. in-store shoppers
  • Engaged subscribers versus non-engaged subscribers
  • New subscribers versus old subscribers
  • A subscriber’s location

Consumers are also more likely to buy from a brand that addresses them by their first name. Using a subscriber’s first name in text message marketing, especially at the start of the message, is a quick and easy way to increase conversions.


6. Not Consistently Reviewing TCPA Compliance

Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991, establishing guidelines around how brands can legally send marketing text messages, as well as obtain and store phone numbers.

TCPA compliance and risk mitigation are essential because the TCPA provides for statutory damages of $500 per unlawful text message, meaning a company sending automated text messages without necessary consent protocols could quickly face significant potential exposure

While it’s important to be TCPA compliant at the beginning of a new SMS campaign, periodic TCPA compliance and risk mitigation reviews are a priority. Because this area of the law remains in a state of flux, companies cannot afford to adopt a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality when it comes to TCPA risk mitigation.

To learn more about TCPA compliance for text message marketing, check out these TCPA videos.


7. Not Using a Double Opt-In

Top Text Message Marketing Mistakes - Not Using a Double Opt-In
While a double opt-in is not strictly a requirement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the level of confirmation that a double opt-in requires makes it the only practical way of meeting the letter of the law. That’s because the burden of proof to establish that a consumer provided consent to opt-in lies solely with the brand. In a perfect, non-litigious world, the mere action of a consumer text messaging a short code, or entering a mobile phone number into a website form, would be good enough. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in, as TCPA plaintiffs can claim that consumers were not aware that these actions meant they were giving consent to opt-in.

Hence, why we always recommend using a double opt-in for text message marketing, which requires consumers to reply “Y” or “YES” to confirm their consent. By using a double opt-in, you’ll be able to produce a clear and concise text messaging history for each of your subscribers, that shows that they consented to opt-in.

For more information on double opt-ins, and why we always recommend them, click here.


8. Not Focusing on Reducing Churn

While growing your subscriber list is exciting, it’s important that you don’t forget about retaining those hard-won subscribers. For any text message marketing campaign, it’s reasonable to expect some subscribers to churn, but there’s one way that we’ve found is proven to reduce subscriber churn.

Want to reduce subscriber churn? Simply add opt-in instructions to your opt-out message, like we’ve done below.

Top Text Message Marketing Mistakes - Not Focusing on Reducing Churn
Want to reduce subscriber churn even more? Offer an incentive in your opt-out message to re opt-in.

By spending a few minutes modifying your opt-out message, you’ll be on your way to reducing subscriber churn.


9. Using a Shared SMS Short Code

Recently, major carriers have announced plans to discontinue support for shared short codes on their networks. It’s critical that if text message marketing is important to your brand, and you’re still using a shared short code, you migrate your subscribers to a dedicated short code immediately.

What’s the difference between a shared and dedicated short code? A shared short code is a 5 to 6-digit phone number that’s shared between multiple brands. Whereas, a dedicated short code is used exclusively by one brand.

To learn more about the problem with shared short codes, click here.


10. Not Making Text Message Offers Exclusive

A consumer’s consent to receive your text messages is one of the most intimate relationships that you as a brand can have with a consumer. One final mistake is to not realize this, and to treat your text message marketing subscribers like you do your email subscribers or social media followers.

Text message subscribers should receive your best offers, your first announcements, and your most exclusive content. Successful brands never offer what they do in a text message anywhere else. Why? Because successful brands understand how valuable this type of relationship is, and they never want their text message subscribers to think they can get the same offers elsewhere.

With each text message, consider what you could offer to existing subscribers that’s above and beyond what you offer elsewhere. This will not only help retain existing subscribers, but it will motivate new subscribers to join your text messaging campaigns.

To hear what Gary Vaynerchuk said on this topic, download the free guide here.


Download Free Guide

Download Free Guide - Top 10 SMS Marketing Mistakes
Want the full guide on the top 10 SMS marketing mistakes? Download the free guide by clicking here.


Top Text Message Marketing Strategies

Ok, since we’ve told you what mistakes are being made by SMS marketers, check out the following video on what you should be doing, starting with if you should even use text message marketing in the first place.

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