SMS Marketing Podcast: Top Five SMS Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

SMS Marketing Podcast

Left on Read is back and discussing the top five SMS marketing mistakes modern marketers should avoid.

  • You collect mobile phone numbers at a massive scale but do not opt in, or nurture the new subscriber in an appropriate time frame.
  • Your SMS marketing promotions are the same as your email promotions.
  • Your acquisition entry points for your SMS programs are not widespread.
  • Your CTA’s are not explicitly clear.
  • When a customer needs help, you push them out of the text channel to email or phone.

More importantly, Nate and Drew discuss the ways to fix these mistakes and create a better customer experience for your subscribers.


Drew:
Hello and welcome to Left on Read, the podcast about making marketing better for brands over the text channel. My name is Drew and with me as Chatitive’s, VP of marketing, Nate Odell


Nate:
Hey, good afternoon Drew.


Drew:
How’s it going today Nate?


Nate:
Well, it’s going well. It’s sort of sunny here in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s always good.


Drew:
That’s good. For everybody listening at home, I live in Seattle, basically almost downtown. Nate on the other hand is isolated out on the peninsula on a nice piece of land.


Nate:
Yeah. doing the social distancing right from the woods of the Pacific Northwest.


Drew:
Yeah, absolutely. How are you holding up?


Nate:
Good man. Yeah, doing good. You know, it’s, it’s you know, we’ve discussed this several times in previous podcasts. Everybody, you know, across the planet is going through you know, a whole new changes in how we, you know, exist day to day. And I think it’s challenging for everybody. But you know, fortunately we live in a world where we can still be connected and we can still, and we have, you know, technology that helps us do things like, you know, have conference calls like this or do podcasts. Remotely no matter where we are. One thing, you know, one thing we started doing in our personal life’s using zoom, you know, to do weekly family calls between ourselves and other families, family members distributed. And it’s just an awesome way to keep in touch. And I think about other pandemics throughout history where that wasn’t a possibility. And


Drew:
Yeah


Nate:
You know, how fortunate we are to live in a time where we can still function. Albeit challenging. It’s, it’s so possible, but it’s busy and keeps business going.


Drew:
Yeah, no, I totally agree. I’ve been, I’ve been doing the same stuff with my family too, so it’s been nice. But today’s podcast we are going to focus on the top five mistakes marketers make over the SMS channel. We have some of the more core ones too, that sort of shaped Chatitive’s worldview. You know, making the channel conversational, making it two way, collecting data from the replies from your customers, you know, but I think that I want to focus on more of a high level and make this podcast more about sort of like a beginner’s guide. And sort of like where you need to be at in order to do those more challenging and interesting things on the channel. Sound good?


Nate:
Yeah, this is great. I love it sometimes and I think it’s always good to sort of come back to fundamentals, whether you use a, you know, more sophisticated texting technology like chat or you use something else. The examples that we’ll cover today are applicable across the board. So it’s just, you know, sort of a reminder of like whether you’re new to messaging with customers or you’re somewhat experienced we see some of these examples that we’re going to cover today still, you know, across the board. So it’s always a good refresher to come back to those fundamentals to make sure that you’re doing the best that you can to give your customers a world-class texting experience.


Drew:
Yeah, totally. The first one that I have here and it seems almost like a no brainer, but I talk to a lot of really smart marketers that aren’t doing this. And that is if you’re collecting phone numbers, if you’re opting in subscribers to your channel at a massive scale, but you’re not opting them in and sending them a welcome message right away to your channel, then you’re missing out on the appropriateness of that timeframe and you’re not nurturing or initiating the level of trust that needs to be occurring in the channel right away. So an example of this would be somebody signs up for SMS notifications from your brand. They click the checkbox, they opt in, you know, they understand the T’s and C’s of it. They hit submit, they’re on your list and they don’t receive a text message from your brand. I think that it should be pretty instantaneous. No.


Nate:
Yeah, it should. And you know, we surprisingly, we see the frequently with, with you know, new customers that we speak to on a regular basis where we’ll ask customers, Hey, do you, you know, do you have a mobile subscriber list? And they’re like, Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. And we’re like, okay, that’s great. And you know, how many does that look like? And so we talked to a customer just recently where they have got somewhere in the neighborhood of 85,000 subscribers to you know, mobile subscribers and I, you know, and I asked them, Oh great. Well what kind of, you know, how are you using texting today? And their answer was, well, we’re not, we’re just collecting the information so I don’t want to hand that good cause at least you’re taking that step. It’s your point Drew. Like if all of a sudden you want to text us subscribers, you better anticipate you’re going to have, there’s going to be an initial cliff in opt outs.


Nate:
One because people had probably forgotten that they opted in. Or you know, enough time has gone by where they, you know, just gotten about your brands or whatever. But the point is if you’re going to go through the work to ask somebody for their phone number and specifically their mobile number, I think that’s another really important distinction that that you take the time to just build what’s called a welcome series. And a welcome series is very similar to a drip campaign where it’s like, you know, Hey drew, thanks for opting in to, you know, my brands. As you know, as a new subscriber to our texting channel, I’d like to go ahead and offer you 10% off your next, you know, purchase with her. Yeah. But then like follow up with them and another week and then follow up with them and another week and let that run for like four weeks.


Nate:
And that’s a very, very easy use case to do. So your PO, your point is like, don’t set it up and then just forget about it and walk away. Make sure that you use the love and care that you would, you wouldn’t be an analog to this cause you wouldn’t ask for somebody’s email address and then not send them the Nino. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Right. Where like a good old website, you punch in the email, you get an email right away. So you should do the same thing with texting.


Drew:
Very good. And sort of the [inaudible] going off of that email number two is your SMS promotions are the same or look very similar to your email promotions. And that’s just in my opinion, bad practice. And you’re also not taking advantage of the opportunity in the channel to, to create a specific voice for your brand and also you’re not delighting the subscribers in a new or different way. Okay.


Nate:
Yeah, this is a really important one I think for a lot of folks who have been email marketers, you know, for a long time. You’ve got quite a bit of flexibility in terms of what you can do with email marketing. Right? You’ve got, you know, whether it’s best practice or not, there’s not a whole lot of limitations on the number of characters or, or my activity. No. You know, brevity is always recommended. But you have, you know, rich images and you know, you’ve got it. That is links and that sort of thing. And and so there’s a tendency to say, Oh, well I’m just going to take what we’ve done and optimize for with email and just apply it to text and then therefore we should see, you know equal or better results because these emails have been optimized and, and so they must do well on, in text message and text has higher open rates. So therefore it will be wonderful, you know, hooray. Yeah. That’s not the case, right? Like it’s a, it’s a different form factor, right? You’re you know, your tech texting application inherently has limitations around the number of characters, like, you know, roughly 160 characters or so. And image quality matters as well. You know, not factoring into a world of rich communication services like RCS, which will change this.


Drew:
Yes.


Nate:
So you know, you can’t take your long email. And when I say long, even if it’s like, you know, three or four sentences that aren’t as easily applied to text messaging. So you really need to think about text marketing as a separate thing that you build a new set of requirements and a new set of discipline around and not try to take well what always worked for email and that needs to apply to texting because it won’t work that way.


Drew:
Yeah, that’s, those are all great points. And similarly number three that we have here on this list is that your entry points to the channel are not widespread. So what that means is maybe you are offering opt in on your home landing page, but you’re not offering subscribers to opt into your channel via affiliate marketing or at checkout or even inside of other emails. So I think that it’s really important that you give customers the ability to opt in for wherever it makes sense for them. And it’s also important for your texting provider. You’re a vendor too, allowing you to optimize for those different entry points so you can recognize where exactly they may be at on their buying journey. And an example of this would be to have a different key word for somebody that’s opted in at [inaudible] on your home landing page rather than at checkout. Right? Does that make sense?


Nate:
Yeah. It’s all about optimizing your investment, right? So the companies that do this to best give customers options to pay, and as human beings, we all love options. We don’t like having to pick one or the other. Well, I’m very bullish on direct to consumer you know, texting and mobile messaging as a strong alternative to email marketing. I have a bias to that. I’m also very, like, I’m also very grounded in the reality that not everybody wants to give their mobile phone number and this will always be the case. Likewise, there’s a whole generation of people that don’t want to give out an email address because they don’t have one or they don’t pay attention to it and are willing to give ’em their mobile number. So the best thing to do in the example of like calls to action on the homepage or throughout your website is to give customers the option of doing one or the other, both right. And, and manage them as separate communication channels. The other side of the coin to this is what you mentioned about optimizing and you know, creating entry point points everywhere you market digitally. And that’s really important because like you might have an email subscriber base of half a million people that you email on a routine maybe on a routine basis.


Drew:
Yes.


Nate:
And you might get, you know, 0.1% conversion on that 500,000 people. But you might get a higher, you might have on your social media platforms, you know, 10,000 followers, but maybe what you do on social media converts at 2%.


Drew:
Yeah. Right.


Nate:
So you have to like texting, what’s great about it is it is as ubiquitous as email and it should be tested everywhere. So don’t think about it in terms of, well it can only be a form on a website. No, it most certainly should, or a check box. But it could also be in your social, on your Instagram account that says text, you know, start to, you know, to a keyword to initiate a welcome series. It can be, you know, it can be on your Facebook pages, it could be on your, you know, your, you can promote it via Snapchat. Try everything, measure everything, and then you’ll get a bunch of data that says, Hey, we’re seeing, you know, consistency of conversion rates across all channels. Great. Let’s just step on the gas. Or they, you know, we’re finding that just earned media through the website is converting at a higher rate than anything else we’re doing.


Nate:
So we’re just going to double down there for texting. Right? So it’s really, you know, like anything, there’s not, we’ve seen texting work best when it’s applied broadly. But you’ve got to measure everything. This isn’t, you know, this isn’t, we’re not suggesting that text message marketing is the thing where you just set it and forget it and walk away like this. Like all things requires care and feeding. But the results that you’re going to get out of it can be, you know, 10 to 20 to 30 X factor than what you’re putting into, you know, and that’s huge.


Drew:
Yeah. Right on. Number four was that once somebody is subscribed to your channel, your call to actions are not explicitly clear enough. And what we mean when we say that is a CTA is anything, any, any specific action that you would want somebody to take over the channel, which is you know, could be applying a coupon, could be responding with a rating for a product. You know if those aren’t clear enough, then your subscriber is going to get bored of the experience and opt out or they’re going to be frustrated with your brand and they could potentially even churn not repeat as a customer. These are really important when you start talking about retention and life cycle marketing and how to maximize profit and revenue from each customer as an individual.


Nate:
Yeah, that’s right. You know, being [inaudible] transparency and brevity early is always the best. Yeah. Right? Like, make it very clear to your customers and make it very easy. Yes. And don’t overthink stuff, right. Like, you know, there to get started and to add value and to keep customers coming back. You can do very, very simple small things now and work towards scale. But make sure you, you’re very clear and you’re very transparent early on and that will build trust with your customers forever.


Drew:
Yes. and speaking of trust, number five, and this is one that is universally looked up, looked past on the over the text channel as a huge missed opportunity for a lot of vendors out there and also brands and direct to consumer companies that are utilizing the channel. And that is when a customer needs help, that you push them out of the channel to email or to give them a call on the phone when you actually have them. Right. They’re looking for a way to contact your brand on their native mobile texting application. This might not be the use case or a scenario where it is the biggest moneymaker, but if we’re talking about trust and creating a seamless experience with your brand, this one becomes extremely important.


Nate:
It is the same as the most important one for last. And, and this one personally drives me crazy. As a, you know, as a consumer. Yup. Trust speeds, lifetime customer value, right? So, yes, you have a customer that is, you know, that is in love with your brand and you established trust early. The value, the lifetime value of that customer, becomes exponentially longer. Yes. If it’s a rocky relationship from the very beginning.


Drew:
Yeah.


Nate:
In a perfect world, you have customers that come and buy your product and they are delighted by your products and they never need help. But that is rare where you have somebody who is a routine customer that buys and buys and buys from you, but never asks or needs, you know, customer support. And and in this day and age, you have an SMS program and a strategy built where you’re communicating with your customers on a, you know, let’s just say a weekly basis you’re sending offers or promos or you know, engaging with consumers in a personalized way and your customer has a problem, ask for help and you take the opportunity to direct them to a link to a webpage to fill out a form.


Nate:
Yeah.


Drew:
It’s like the worst possible experience. It doesn’t need to happen that way. Like, no, it’s, it’s, it’s just terrible user experience. Even worse than that is when somebody texts, you know, help and you have a canned automated response. I see this all the time, which is, you know, call this 800 number and it’s like, Oh, sweet. So I get to jump into a phone queue and talk to a human being, you know, rehash what my problem is. Just an awful, awful experience. And if the reality is like, look, you have my phone number and now you’re giving me a separate number to call you, like very disjunctive. Right? So the great thing about, you know, more advanced messaging solutions is you can configure help scenarios via text that automatically route the text thread to a support agent that’s, you know, they can handle the messages in the exact same conversation. Correct. And you can do that today, you know, with solutions like chat is where it’s, you know, I don’t have to go look up what the customer support form is for a brand. I can just say, Hey, I need help. Like my, the thing I bought is broken or it’s the wrong color. You gave me the wrong size or like whatever it is. Use that challenge cause it’s the fastest path to your customers. In real time to get, you know, to get feedback and to build that loyalty in that trust. It makes it an awesome experience.


Drew:
Yeah, exactly. And I think one opportunity here to maximize revenue off this use case is that when you cut down on the time it takes from a person to ask help and then receive it and have that problem taken care of, that is more time that they’re now spending to interact positively with your brand. So support agents that are trained to use Chatitive via, whether it’s a Zendesk integration or any other sort of help desk are now being trained to solve the problem quickly, usually within under two minutes from ticket creation. And then they are able to quickly move on to retain that customer, up-sell that customer and get that customer back on their next buying journey, which is way better and takes way less time for your support agents than it is for them to be on the phone, answering phones, typing in call notes. Because the beauty about a solution like Chatitive is that it is all text-based and those notes practically take themselves. So it’s pretty awesome.


Nate:
Yeah.


Drew:
Okay. And, and you know, from there, you can solve those tickets, put them back right in this specific part in that buying journey or that customer journey after the problem is solved. So it’s truly seamless. Right. Alright. Well, Nate, I want to thank you for going through these top five with me. There are so many more. We could probably do five more. Maybe we will at some point down the line. But for right now, I think that this is a good start. It’s a good arrow to point in the right direction.


Nate:
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks too for putting this together. Again, the fundamentals are so important. And oftentimes we lose sight of them. And these are, these are great examples, so I always loved revisiting these things. It’s great content.


Drew:
Yes. Thanks for joining me today.


Nate:
Yeah, thanks, Drew. Thanks everyone.


Drew:
Today’s episode of Left on Read was about the top five mistakes marketers are making over the SMS channel. I’d like to thank everybody for tuning in this week, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 

Conversational Messaging Evangelist at Chatitive