Billions of SMS messages are sent and read daily, making it one of the most powerful marketing tools for businesses worldwide.
A large proportion of online traffic in some of the most active digital markets in Africa originate from mobile devices, and data shows that some of the prime uses of mobile devices include SMS messaging and mobile payments.
SMS marketing is cost-effective, has a high open-rate and can have a wider reach than other marketing channels. While social networking apps and emails require an account and login to access content, mobile text messages use push notifications, enabling recipients to open them easily and instantly.
To deliver hyper-targeted campaigns, here are some of the best practices brands follow to connect with consumers via SMS.
- Ensure permission from handset user
Before activating an SMS campaign, it’s essential to ensure you have permission from the target consumer. Often brands will collect information when consumers enter their contact details during a completely different transaction.
It is good practice to ensure the customer knows their data is being collected for marketing purposes and informing them of their opt out options.
For customers purchasing products through an ecommerce brand, a mobile number will often be collected at the point of payment. This is often used to confirm the purchase and keep the customer informed of delivery.
For campaigns that are not related to a specific customer journey, for example a request for feedback or survey, brands often send an initial message asking for permission to send a follow up question. This gives the customer the choice to participate if they so wish.
However you collect customer information, you must ensure you clearly state how their details will be used.
- Timing is everything
Timing is arguably the most important factor in running an SMS marketing campaign. Sending a message too early or at the wrong time in a customer’s day could mean your message gets lost or fails to deliver on its objective. Think about the recipient’s working hours, rush hour, holidays and know when is best to engage with your specific customer to best serve their needs. Optimise the time you send SMSes to your customers or potential customers, ensuring it is relevant and respectful.
- Consistency is Key
As with most things, consistency is key with SMS marketing. You must maintain consistency in order to successfully run an SMS marketing campaign. Customers and more likely to follow through with your request when they know what to expect from you.
Powerful ways to use SMS campaigns
- Secure payment
Some companies use SMSes as a secure channel for customers to make a payment. A link or code is often shared which customers can use to make their payments without interacting with anyone else, keeping the customer’s valuable information secure
- Sharing key business updates
Ecommerce is growing across the continent, with 21 million shoppers buying items online last year. As well as confirmation of purchase and delivery tracking, retailers often use SMS messages to keep clients updated on essential business changes such as closing for repairs, issues with their app/website, product recalls or flash sales.
- Conducting surveys
SMS messages can be used to gather feedback on a purchase experience, feedback after a call with a customer service advisor, or following a booking. SMS provide a simple and easy way for businesses to collect feedback on the customer experience, which they then use to improve their service.
- Helpful reminders
Whether it’s an appointment, collection of purchases or upcoming event, SMSes are a great way to share reminders with customers – avoiding no shows and avoiding backlogs of uncollected orders.
Measuring your campaign
In order to truly know if your SMS campaign is working, you need to measure the right metrics against your campaign objectives. This can be done by measuring data on the number sends, replies, click rate, conversions and opt outs. This enables you to continuously test, adapt, and optimise campaigns according to the responses from recipients..
It is relatively easy to integrate specific links in your SMS, to enable effective monitoring and evaluation of each campaign.
SMS marketing remains one of the most powerful ways to connect with the millions of Africans who spend hours on their phones each day. Its relatively high conversion rate, capacity for personalisation and minimally invasive nature means the ROI can be great for businesses of any size.
To ensure you do it right, follow the best practices and measure your results – this is the only way you will know what works and what needs to change.
Daniel Junowicz is the Managing Director of LATAM & Africa at AppsFlyer, the global leader in mobile attribution. Prior to joining AppsFlyer Daniel worked in the manufacturing sector in China for over six years. In 2014, Daniel brought his passion to AppsFlyer as the first employee on the Chinese team.
Holding a double BA in Business Administration and Far Eastern Studies, Daniel is also fluent in Hebrew, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese. Currently, as the managing director in LATAM and Africa, Daniel works to bring his knowledge on digital marketing and innovation to provide a holistic view of the mobile landscape in LATAM, Africa and more.