SMS marketing is quickly becoming a go-to method to reach, engage, nurture, convert, and retain subscribers. But using SMS personalization strategies is what will set your text message marketing apart from the companies that are just blasting out generic texts to their lists.
Over half of consumers (54%) say they’ll be more likely to purchase products from companies that use personalized text messages to communicate with them.
But is that true? People often say things in surveys that conflict with what they actually do in real life.
Now that more companies are using SMS personalization in their marketing, data is starting to trickle in. One report showed much lower unsubscribe rates when personalized SMS was tested against non-personalized messages. It also reported greater click through rates (CTRs) from personalized SMS. For example, one service provider earned a 49% CTR when texts were personalized, but only 23% with generic messaging.
And by the way, if those CTRs seem extraordinarily high in both cases, one reason is because of the unique way that SMS marketing engages customers. You’re talking directly to them, right on their phone, in the place where their family and closest friends talk to them. So you’re likely to get exceedingly high engagement. That’s just one of several unique benefits of SMS marketing.
There’s even an academic study that attempted to find out if SMS personalization made any difference. They found it produced a positive effect on response rates — even when the only form of personalization used was in the greeting.
So yes, in this case, what customers say they want, they appear to really mean.
With that in mind, what strategies should you be using to personalize your text messages to subscribers? Here are ten to consider.
1. Use Dynamic Fields
This is the most obvious SMS personalization strategy, but that’s because it’s easy to implement and it works.
You can personalize using a great variety of fields such as names, zip codes, phone numbers, job titles, company names, cities, last order date, interests — all sorts of things, if you have the data.
All these little details make your text message more authentic, so the subscriber feels like you are trying to speak directly to them and meet their needs and interests.
2. Personalize by Location
There are many ways to use segmentation in your SMS marketing, and we’ll discuss those more in a bit. Geographical segmentation can be powerful for any business, but especially retail and brick and mortar companies.
Some offers might appeal to people in a particular city or state. Others will be relevant to their zip code or the part of town they’re in. For instance, a concert will draw people from a larger region than a restaurant. But both can use location-based personalization in their SMS marketing.
3. Personalize by Behavior
You could develop an offer that will appeal to customers who have clicked on more than one text from your company in the last three months. These high-engagement customers are more likely to click, and thus more likely to buy.
Conversely, you could create a different campaign to reach customers who have not clicked in six months. Maybe they need an extra sweetener in the offer.
You can also personalize by past purchase behavior. This might be based on product categories, frequency of purchase, average order size, recency, and many other behaviors.
For instance, maybe you have a male customer buying jewelry, perfume, and makeup, often around particular holidays or on the same date every year — likely his significant other’s birthday. Send that customer special offers around those times, and you increase the likelihood that he’ll make more repeat purchases in those categories.
4. Personalize with Birthdays and Anniversaries
Birthdays don’t just have to refer to the subscriber’s. A baby supply store or a toy store, for example, should be attempting to get the birthdays of the kids whose parents are shopping for them. Then, you can send SMS promotions to the parent as the kid’s birthday gets closer.
For other businesses, the birthday or anniversary of the recipient of your SMS marketing is a great opportunity to sell.
5. Personalize by Weather
Is hurricane season approaching? That doesn’t matter to people living in Oregon, but it does matter to those living in certain Southeastern states. If you sell products that help people get through hurricanes or other severe weather, create SMS marketing campaigns and send them out during those times of year.
Look for known weather patterns in particular regions, and see if you can create SMS marketing campaigns for products or services that might relate.
You can also react more immediately to current weather, such as heat waves, snow storms, cold snaps, and pleasant sunny days. SMS is so immediate, and requires relatively little effort to create marketing assets compared to other channels, that you can respond quickly to what’s happening right now.
6. Send Personalized SMS Quizzes and Surveys
Do you want to be able to send personalized SMS marketing, but have incomplete data? Send out a text-based survey or quiz, and start filling in the gaps. The great thing about this strategy is that you can use these as marketing opportunities at the same time.
For example, here’s a cosmetic store that sent out a quiz to help women pick the perfect foundation and lipstick for their complexion. The quiz provided data for the company and also served the customer by helping them solve a difficult problem. That’s a big win for a product that’s notoriously difficult to sell online.
A restaurant could survey about food or drink preferences, dietary restrictions, interest in gift cards, and favorite menu items. A sports apparel store could survey about favorite athletes or sports. There’s no point in texting soccer jersey offers to someone who only likes baseball and football.
So, you may have a sizable SMS marketing list. But if you don’t know enough about your subscribers, use surveys and quizzes to gain more valuable data and insights.
7. Send Texts in Consideration of Timing and Time Zones
Are your customers more likely to buy on weekends? Then don’t send texts on a Monday. Are they more likely to shop on their lunch breaks? Then send texts at 11am. Consider the timing of your SMS marketing, because this too is personalization.
Don’t text people while they’re sleeping. Pay attention to the time zones where your customers live. If you have a robust national list and want to text people as they’re leaving work, you’ll need to break up your list by time zones to get the best results.
8. Ask for Reviews and Feedback
If a customer just made a purchase, or just had a call with your customer service team, send them a quick text asking them to rate their experience or leave a review.
This is personalization because it acknowledges and values that customer’s specific experience. And if it also increases the number of online reviews for your company, that’s a double win.
9. Send Exclusive Offers
One of the keys to effective SMS marketing is to continuously nurture your list by making them feel special for receiving texts from your company.
Sending special offers to repeat and loyal customers, or to members representing recurring revenue, will make them want to stay on your SMS marketing list. Let them be the first to have access to a new product or special deal. Send them an early chance to enter a contest with a limited number of entries.
These sorts of offers work great when you give your SMS customers a few days or hours to take advantage of them before sending them out to everyone else. It makes them feel special, like a VIP, knowing they got first dibs at the deal.
Privilege and exclusivity sell.
Another way to do this is to send special offers only to people who have spent more than a certain dollar amount in a specific amount of time, or on a single purchase. Motivate your best customers to spend even more, and they’ll likely do so.
10. Make SMS Part of Your Sign Up and Onboarding Process
What’s your process when you get a new subscriber? Is there an attempt made to learn anything unique? Even getting one real, specific data point can be extremely valuable.
So, when you win a new subscriber, consider your SMS marketing plans and start working toward them right on the spot.
To do this without taking too much time out of your subscriber’s day, think about the types of offers you want to send, and determine the one piece of customer data you would need to personalize those offers. This might be a birthday. It might be a job title. It might be a product preference or interest like a favorite sport.
The more you know about your customers and subscribers, the more you can personalize your SMS marketing to serve them and fit their needs, interests, and preferences.
Close Encounters with SMS
SMS marketing provides an opportunity for you to cut through the marketing noise and capture the subscriber’s complete attention. Even better, this encounter comes in a highly-personal inbox used for communication with those closest to them. Using personalization in SMS marketing helps complete the puzzle by making you feel like a welcomed guest. Data is important to make this work, but you don’t need reams of information or complicated algorithms to segment messages for a more human feel.
No matter your strategy, SMS marketing should be on your agenda. If this is new at your company, speak to your emfluence representative to create a game plan for your first campaign.
Get more SMS marketing opt-in tips and strategies here or download our Top Ten Best Practices of SMS Marketing eBook.