Commentary

Optimize SMS Response

A recent study by Experian found that those who subscribe to both email and SMS were four times more likely to transact with a particular brand than subscribers to email alone. This is somewhat a self-fulfilling prophecy; your super fans are more likely to engage via multiple channels.

On the other hand, it underscores the need to ensure that every channel is optimized for your super fans.

Email marketers know that relevance and personalization drive results: response, conversion and ROI. SMS marketers don't seem to have received the memo. Or perhaps they don't have the data on subscribers or know how to get it.  

Let's talk about the what and how of SMS personalization. I will use retail for the illustration, but the basics will apply to most verticals. 

We know that personalizing email subject lines almost always improves response. Have you ever received a broadcast SMS with your name in it? Me neither.

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     First Name – Hey Melinda, here's an offer just for you

     Last Name – Check out this offer for the Krueger household.

GPS-enabled geolocation is not practical for SMS, but that doesn't mean we can’t tailor the message to the customer's home base.

     ZIP Code – Baby it's cold outside!  Deals on outwear, comforters and more.

     City – We're opening a new store in Whitefish Bay!  Join us for the grand opening Jan. 30th.

Celebrate the customer's special occasions: birthday, or, why not, half-birthday.

     Birthday – Happy Birthday Melinda!  Here's our gift to you!

There are many sources that can provide these data points, but text “Gap” to 36888 and see a brilliant example of SMS progressive profiling. Not every customer will take the time to provide additional data, but as the saying goes: don't let perfect be the enemy of good.  

To avoid exceeding the character count for long names, calculate a maximum personalization string and create a rule to substitute a generic message for personalized when it's exceeded. Note that MMS senders don't have this constraint.

If you can match your SMS subscribers with email address, online account, cookie, credit card, loyalty and/or app data, you have many more options for relevance and lifecycle messaging. Loyalty programs are especially fruitful as phone number is most often the proxy for loyalty number. Phone number is mandatory for online shipping and credit card accounts.  Not all phone numbers will match with SMS numbers, but the majority will. For those that don't, simply substitute a generic offer.  

Consider the possibilities!

     Last Purchase Date – We miss you.  Come back and take $10 off your next purchase.

     Last Purchase Date – Thank you for your purchase! We appreciate your business.

     Anniversary – Thank you for being an Acme charge customer for 6 years. Take $6 off your next purchase!

     Categories Purchased – Take $10 off your next _______ purchase 

     App User (=N) – Keep all your discounts & deals in one place with our app  

     Loyalty Member (=N) – Save even more when you sign up for our Rewards Program. 

The Experian study cited above also found that transaction rates for SMS were 10X higher than their industry average for email and revenue per message was 3X greater. I am the last person to suggest that you abandon email, but why not make the most of this highly effective medium and get the big lift that happens when customers engage in both? 

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