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Are you hearing crickets every time you send an email to your customers? That’s because email is so 2018. As we prepare for 2020, it’s time to get serious about engagement to grow your business. Believe it or not, text message marketing earns 4X the revenue of email and costs mere peanuts to put together. We sat down with Arri Bagah, SMS marketing whiz and owner of Conversmart, to bust text message marketing myths and cut to the heart of how to do SMS marketing for more ROI.
IN THIS POST
Unless you’re trapped in the days of 1960s Mad Men, you’re ditching traditional marketing avenues and promoting your biz online. We’re saying sayonara to billboards and magazine ads in favor of social posts, blogs, paid ad campaigns, and email blasts. What a time to be alive!
But just because these strategies are digital doesn’t automatically make them ROI-positive. Plenty of entrepreneurs throw away thousands of their hard-earned dollar bills on marketing strategies that don’t work. I would be rich if I got a nickel every time someone said, “Facebook Ads don’t work!” or “Nobody answers their email anymore!”
Even if you’re a multi-million dollar brand, your marketing dollars are limited. You want to get results for the work you put in, but it’s not always so simple.
Email marketing is one strategy that’s effective and cheap to implement. But there’s a problem: the world will send 246 billion emails by the end of 2019. How many of those emails are clogging up your customers’ inboxes, making their way to the trash, unread? Email is still a great strategy, but it’s not the be-all, end-all answer to promoting your business.
There’s a new sheriff in town that promises to get you more customer engagement and ROI: SMS marketing. It’s a far cry from Don Draper’s Kodak Carousel campaign, but text message marketing is the new frontier for ROI-hungry brands. We got the inside scoop from SMS marketing pro, Arri Bagah, who breaks down text message myths and shares his tip for getting 4X more revenue from your marketing efforts.
Arri Bagah’s story begins when he started college at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. He met a friend there who had swanky digs in downtown Chi-town. That’s not an easy feat, by the way, since rent can be upwards of $3,000/mo there. In awe, Arri asked his friend, “What are you doing for a living?” His pal said he made mad bank by coding and building websites.
Arri decided that was the life for him, so he pursued a computer science major in college. During his first semester, he learned how to code and realized he loved it. After building a few websites, he (as entrepreneurs are wont to do) found himself falling into a niche: Facebook marketing. So after graduation, Arri moved to Los Angeles to handle eCommerce Facebook campaigns. “I ran marketing for 15 different eCommerce brands at once. It was pretty crazy, but I got a lot of experience,” he says.
The crazy thing was, Arri realized his clients were getting insane ROI from Facebook Messenger campaigns. After lots of experiments and learning opportunities, Arri fell in love with the world of messenger marketing.
He loved it so much that he quit his job at the agency and formed the company Conversmart. He got amazing results through Facebook Messenger, but soon realized that SMS marketing got even better results. Today, Arri helps direct-to-consumer brands market themselves with Messenger and SMS marketing campaigns. “I’m excited about text messaging because it’s a different way for brands to reach their customers,” he says.
Yes, really! So many brands overlook texting because they think it’s spammy, ineffective, or expensive. But in practice, SMS business marketing campaigns are actually more effective than other marketing channels.
And the data backs it up. Consider this:
- Customers respond to SMS 209% more than they do to email or phone calls.
- Text messages have a 98% open rate. No, that’s not a typo. 98%.
- SMS marketing campaigns get 3X – 6X more engagement than marketing campaigns.
- 75% of consumers don’t mind getting promotional text messages from brands.
Texting is more effective than the other channels in your marketing mix because they contact consumers directly. Because we’re glued to our phones, you have a very good chance of connecting immediately with customers in a distraction-free environment.
Plus, your customers check their messages pretty frequently. Texting takes advantage of something called psychological arousal. We get a hit of dopamine every time we answer our phones because we find the activity enjoyable. If we know we have an unread message on our phone, it bothers us to the point that we’re compelled to check it. That’s why 80% of Millennials open a new text message within 90 seconds.
Arri had a customer named Ramon who wasn’t sure that SMS marketing was the way to go. He did a trial where text messages brought in 4X the revenue that his email campaigns did. Arri did a separate campaign for Halloween where they got 10-15% click-through rates and 6% conversion rates.
The point here is that text messages should have a place in your marketing mix. You can become the Don Draper of 2020 by embracing wild, crazy ideas like text message marketing.
But don’t change the channel just yet! Before you write off texting altogether, consider this: most brands aren’t doing text message marketing. That’s mostly because they’ve fallen prey to these 4 SMS marketing myths. There’s nothing wrong with your competitors being ignorant about this, but you need to be informed, pal. Let’s dig into these SMS marketing myths to find the truth.
1. “Email Marketing Is More Effective.”
To be clear, Arri doesn’t have anything against email. If anything, he recommends that you keep doing email marketing and use texting to complement those efforts. But if you think that email is better than text message marketing in the form of conversions and ROI, he’s got some news for you: you’re wrong.
The problem isn’t your emails. The real issue is that everyone and their mother, dog, and cousin are doing email marketing, especially with the holiday shopping season around the corner. It’s not unusual for customers to get 4-6 promotional emails from brands in their inbox every day.
Because brands are sending emails at such a high volume, opens, clicks, and conversions decrease by a lot. “People are sending 3-5 emails per day. Performance drops when everybody’s sending that much volume in emails,” Arri says.
Text messages are more effective because the space isn’t as saturated. You aren’t competing with as many brands for people’s attention in their text inbox. That’s because consumers are choosy about which brands they invite into their texts. Because it’s such an exclusive environment, you get a one-on-one relationship with customers without your competitors butting in.
Oh, and remember how you have to pull teeth to get people on your email list? Text message marketing is actually faster and more effective. If you have an eCommerce site, you’re likely getting mostly mobile traffic. Arri capitalizes on that by creating mobile-only popups that invite mobile users to join the text list. With a click, they can send a message to the eCommerce store to opt-in, saving the hassle of filling out a form, checking their inbox, and returning to your site.
To put it simply, texting has less friction than email, and that’s why it’s so darn effective. And yes, it gets results. Arri’s clients say they’re seeing triple the conversions that they get on their email campaigns. “The average return we see is 25X. And I’m being super conservative here,” he says.
So, while you shouldn’t stop using email, remember that email isn’t the king of conversions. Text message marketing campaigns bring home the bacon.
2. “SMS Marketing Is Spammy.”
There’s a misconception by entrepreneurs that customers hate getting text messages. They assume that people will find it spammy or annoying. But when you follow the letter of the law for SMS marketing (as you should), there’s nothing spammy or sketchy about text messages. “With text messaging, we have to get people to double opt-in,” Arri says.
Just like email marketing, you need to get a double opt-in to talk with your customers. If you haven’t tried your hand at email marketing, a double opt-in is a more secure way to add people to your list. They enter their information and press “submit.” Your system then sends them a message that the subscriber clicks on to approve their subscription. Not only does this prevent fake opt-ins, but it also ensures that only interested folks are joining your list in the first place.
It’s all consent-based and makes sure only interested customers join your list in the first place. “Customers are super specific about which branded texts they subscribe to,” Arri says.
In fact, text message marketing campaigns have such high click-through and conversion rates because of this double opt-in. Consumers expect to hear from you when they opt-in and they’re ready to engage. So no, texting isn’t spammy or sketchy, like Don Draper’s office etiquette with secretaries. When you focus on honesty and consent, you’ll get good results.
3. “Texting Won’t Work For My Customers.”
Every business and every entrepreneur is different. Because of that, biz owners often fall into the trap of assuming, “Well, that works for you, but it won’t work for my customers.” And that’s true to a degree; what someone else is doing won’t always work for you.
Or sometimes we think that nobody wants to receive text messages from brands. That sounds like our worst nightmare, hearing about the newest spatulas from an Amazon seller in our text inbox.
I hate to break it to you, but that’s not the case with SMS marketing for business. You might think it’s only applicable to eCommerce or DTC or Amazon brands. We’re prone to thinking our customers’ brains work differently than everyone else, but that isn’t true.
At the end of the day, you aren’t your customer. You can’t market the way that you would market to yourself; you have to market in a way that appeals to your customers, who have different demographics and interests than you do.
If you have a great product and happy customers that want to hear from you, you can use SMS marketing. Industry and business model don’t matter here. “It doesn’t matter what space you’re in. It’s always worked for our clients’ target audiences,” Arri says. That’s because his focus is on value-laden content that solves customer problems, deepening relationships over time.
And don’t worry. If you have a SaaS or B2B business, text message marketing can still work for you. Arri says he just got a text from a vendor about a software demo, all live directly in his chat feed. Neat, huh?
4. “Text Message Marketing Is Expensive.”
At first blush, texting sounds expensive and kinda complicated. But there’s good news! Text message marketing is ROI-positive. In fact, Arri’s clients see an average return of 25X on their spend; so for every $1 they spend on texting, they earn $25. That’s just an average, though; often his clients see much higher returns.
The costs to do SMS marketing for business depend on how many texts you want to send. Platforms charge by the number of messages sent on a credit basis, so you can spend as little or as much as you want to let ‘er rip.
Okay, so now that we’ve broken down the BS, we can see that SMS marketing is looking pretty enticing, like that aged scotch sitting in the corner of Don Draper’s office. But how in the world do you do texting right? Never fear. Arri shares his 4 tips to 25X client results with text message campaigns.
1. Have Decent Site Traffic
Let’s pump the brakes for a sec, though. To make the most of SMS marketing, you already need to be getting robust traffic to your site. Because SMS is a bottom-of-the-funnel kind of activity, Arri recommends you have at least 20,000 – 30,000 website visitors a month to really move the needle with SMS marketing for business.
SMS marketing works best when you capture interested leads from your website and then nurture that relationship. From there, you can start building your text list with mobile-friendly website popups and Facebook Ads.
2. Minimize Friction
Good marketing minimizes friction. You don’t want customers to have to go through 4 pages before they subscribe to your list. They’re going to say, “Screw this,” and bounce.
Arri recommends using a method to decrease friction when you’re building your text message list. Here’s how it works:
- The user visits your mobile website.
- They get a mobile-friendly popup that promises some juicy tidbit or discount in exchange for them joining your text list.
- The user thinks that’s a pretty sweet deal, taps the ad, and the system pulls up their phone’s native messenger app.
- The user clicks “send” to send you a message and completes a double opt-in.
This gets around the problem of people using fake phone numbers because you’re requiring them to text you to opt in. That means your list is squeaky clean and primed for results. “It’s all powered by our partner platform, PostScript,” Arri adds.
3. Content Is Still King
Nope, you can’t escape it here, either. Content still matters. Think about Don Draper’s ad pitches: they were selling pretty mundane stuff, like chocolate bars and cameras. What made the pitches special wasn’t the products themselves, but the stories backing those products.
The same principle still applies to text message marketing. For kickass click-throughs and conversions, you need equally kickass copy and creative. That’s why Arri focuses heavily on creative for his campaigns. “The key is to come up with really good content that people will like,” he says. Arri’s team actually creates custom GIFs to encourage engagement.
And boy, does it get results. Campaigns with GIFs get twice the conversion rates of campaigns that don’t include GIFs. So don’t neglect the visual component of texting. It’s easy to implement, too. RCS is a technology that enables brands to send engaging experiences via text instead of bland, black and white copy on a screen.
Of course, your text copy matters, too. Instead of blasting “buy my stuff!” messages to your customers, approach SMS marketing with more finesse. Arri rarely promotes sales for his client campaigns. Usually, he’s sharing cool, helpful content with GIFs. Occasionally the campaigns feature a modest discount code, but by and large, they’re about providing resources and engagement over spam.
4. Create Nurturing Sequences
Okay, so you’ve got:
- Good web traffic
- People joining your text list
- Awesome content ideas
The next step is to nurture the people on your text list. Much like email campaigns, you can nurture new subscribers with text messages. Arri says there are two approaches to this: automated flows and one-off messages (also called broadcasts).
You’ve done the hard work of getting someone subscribed to your list. Woohoo! Now the real work begins. Automated flows happen when you automatically send an offer when a user subscribes to your list. You can even send them reminders to take action on that offer. After that, you might send a welcome series of texts, firing them out every 3-4 days.
However, Arri recommends pausing that user if they haven’t replied to 5 messages. This gives people the chance to catch up and reply or to unsubscribe if they aren’t interested anymore. And don’t be afraid of unsubscribes; you only want interested peeps on your list in the first place. Unsubscribes keep your list clean!
Other popular automation options include abandoned cart recovery messages or post-purchase upsells. No matter which way you slice it, text automations quickly bring new subscribers or new buyers into the fold and increase engagement.
But what if you don’t want to send an intricate, three-part welcome series? You can instead send one-off messages to connect with customers. But make sure your intentions behind this are correct. Arri gets a lot of clients who prefer one-off messages once a month, fearing they’re going to annoy their list if they communicate too often.
Here’s the thing: customers want to hear from you. If they hear from you just once a month, I guarantee they’re going to forget they opted in. That’s a recipe for more unsubscribes and low engagement. Only send one-off messages if it works for your brand. You still need to be sending 2-3 messages a week to stay relevant to your customers.
Fortunately, the world has changed since the Mad Men days of yore. We aren’t using billboards, magazines, or even TV ads these days to find customers. Instead, we’re reaching people digitally through text message marketing campaigns. But we’ve still got to get a return on our hard work, and that’s why text message marketing is so important.
By ditching these 4 myths and embracing a new channel for your marketing, you can get a 25X return on your investment. By having established site traffic, minimizing friction, focusing on content, and nurturing subscribers, you can grow your biz without setting your wallet on fire.
Let’s get ready for the next generation of Mad Men: entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to engage, whether that’s in an email or text inbox. Are you ready to press “send”?
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