New to the world of text marketing?
You’re in the right place.
In this article, I’ll go over what text marketing is – and why it’s a big deal – as well as give you the rundown on two platforms that will help get you started.
What is Text Marketing?
Text marketing is exactly what it sounds like.
It’s marketing through text messages.
In practice, it’s marketing strategy or campaign that delivers promotions to users mobile devices.
The types of messages vary by industry and strategy, but can include anything from sale alerts and promotions to product images and website links.
Text marketing is permission-based, meaning users have given their explicit permission to receive text messages from your business. Usually, it’s done with the help of a platform that lets you send messages in mass – and we’ll be covering two of those platforms in-depth momentarily.
First, let’s cover why you’d set up a text marketing in the first place.
What are the Benefits of Text Message Marketing?
At first glance, it’s easy to see how text marketing could easily become more of a hindrance than a help to users.
But the thing to remember is that this is permission-based marketing, meaning the users receiving texts agreed to so, you’re not sending them unsolicited.
In that way, text marketing is most comparable to email marketing. Both operate on an opt-in system, meaning both should also offer participants the opportunity to opt-out at any time.
The major advantage text marketing has over email is that these days, everyone and their neighbor is on their phone – all day long.
There are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, tallying up to about 95.5% of the world population.
Which means that when it comes to marketing, texting has the potential to extend your reach exponentially.
Check this out: Mobile Marketing Watch reports that SMS text messages 98% open rate, whereas email hovers at just 22%.
Particularly, if you’re marketing to a millennial audience, SMS marketing is the way to go:
- Among 18-34 year-olds, text is the preferred channel for notifications from businesses.
- 83% of millennials open SMS messages within 90 seconds of receiving them.
- 75% of millennials prefer SMS communications for deliveries, promotions and surveys.
Beyond that, communicating via text offers a more one-on-one vibe with your customers.
Think for a moment about the rise of chatbots and other messaging apps. People like them because they offer a more personal approach without actually having to pick up a phone.
The problem, again, is that reach is limited to those who actually download your app or engage with your bot on your website.
With text marketing, you can offer a very similar experience, with the added assurance that people are almost certainly aware of your texts.
How to Grow Your Text List
As we’ve covered, text marketing is a purely opt-in practice.
With means when starting with a software, you need a customer list to upload or to start building a new, text-only list.
The question, of course, is how you get people to opt-in to text messages.
Like email, you can include various calls-to-action (CTAs) on your website through pop-ups, etc.
But the most popular – and likely most effective – strategy is to use short codes and keywords.
You’ve probably seen these before. They’re the ads that say “Text “JOIN” to 12345 to get 15% off!”
In this case, “join” is the keyword, and “12345 is the shortcode.
When that keyword is sent to your shortcode, congrats! You have a new text opt-in.
You can get as creative as you want with your keywords, and use them to group contacts as they join. For example, if you’re a flower vendor you could ask users to text back their favorite flower, and then sort them into groups accordingly.
Most software (including the two belwo) will come with this option built-in. They’ll generate the shortcode for you and add users to your contact lists as they opt-in.
Your job is to promote that keyword. You’ll see this done throughout websites, digital ads across Google and social channels, email newsletters, package inserts, etc.
SMS Texting Software: Textiful vs. Skipio
As text message marketing becomes more widely adopted, plenty of software has popped up to help streamline and manage the process.
For now, we’re focusing on two of my favorites: Textiful and Skipio.
But before we dig in, let’s cover the basics of what this software does.
Essentially, it streamlines the process for you. If you’ve engaged in email marketing with a service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc., you should have a good idea of what to expect.
The key difference, of course, is that instead of sending emails, you’re sending text messages.
The real function is to send one message from a single source to a large group of people, simultaneously.
And keep in mind, these text blasts aren’t just used to update customers on special sales and discount codes; these can be used by any organization to keep in better touch with their members.
When choosing a software to work with, there a few things you should always look for:
- The option to segment your contacts into groups. Just like with email, you want to create audience segments based on interests, demographics, etc.
- Personalized text features, like the ability to include each receiver’s name.
- The ability to send images, GIFs, etc.
- Analytics to monitor how your campaigns are doing
- The ability to save text templates to be used in the future
There are many more features that will vary by software, but consider these the bare minimum.
Textiful vs. Skipio: Key Differences
Let me preface this by saying these are both great tools for text marketing – they deliver clean, quick texts and check all the boxes listed above.
The biggest difference between them is approach, and which one you choose will ultimately come down to your goals.
Skipio is all about text message marketing. It sees it as the latest and greatest, and as a tool that can arguably overtake email.
Skipio is largely in the camp that users simply prefer to be reached via text message. After all, it’s where they’re spending their time anyways, and communicating with them there will ultimately form a more personal connection with each customer.
Textiful, on the other hand, takes a more integrated approach.
They integrate with software like MailChimp to help you grow an email list via text. And while they do offer strictly text marketing services, one of their major selling points is using text as a vehicle to collect more emails.
With that in mind, the one best for your business will come down to how much you’re willing to invest in SMS marketing.
Skipio Review: Highlights
If you’re looking solely for a text marketing service, Skipio is hard to beat.
First up, it offers fully automated campaigns which work with existing contact lists or with your short code (called SkipLinks here). When a new user opts-in, it will trigger a Smart Campaign which automatically sends a welcome text.
Additionally, you can automatically separate users into separate campaign flows based on the questions and responses within your conversation. Again, like with email marketing, this will trigger different messages to be sent to users based on segments.
As any good software should, Skipio allows you to send multimedia messages with images and videos, and provides a set of analytics including response rate by sentiment, total pending messages, total sent messages, and the number of links clicked in your messages.
With Skipio, you also get a local 10-digit number where you can send messages and collect numbers from, as well as send ringless voicemails. Ringless voicemails allow you to record a message in advance and send it directly to your contact’s voicemails.
As an added bonus, Skipio writes a frequently updated blog that offers tips, insights, and ideas for using text marketing.
Skipio offers a month-to-month subscription plan that includes unlimited outbound and inbound text messaging. For more information on pricing plans, request more information here.
Getting Started With Skipio: Campaign Creation
Once you’ve signed up with Skipio, one of the first things you’ll want to do is create a campaign.
Luckily, Skipio is extremely user-friendly. Simply navigate to the Campaign tab and click New Campaign.
You’ll then be prompted to enter a name and description and select if you’ll be running a Keyword campaign. Remember, a keyword is a word recipient will text back and usually triggers another action from you. For example, they text back “IN!” and you send them a discount code.
The next section is message creation, where you’ll be able to create a series of texts for each campaign.
First, you’ll set the timing. You decide when texts are sent. For example, when a new user opts-in, you can choose to wait one day before sending them a welcome message (or any time frame you before).
Next, you’ll set a reference name for that message. If it’s a thank you being sent to an opt-in, you could call it “thank you” or “welcome.”
Last, you’ll enter the message content. This can include plain text, images, or videos, and you can choose to personalize the message by first name.
If there are more messages in your campaign, you’ll create those here as well to form an entire conversation flow.
The entire set up is easy and intuitive, and in case you need evidence of the power of Skipio, check out this video from Elance. They used Skipio during a summer sale and ended up with 4x more sales than the previous year.
Textiful Review: Highlights
You’re probably feeling pretty good about Skipio right about now – and you absolutely should.
But Textiful isn’t without its perks.
First up, as mentioned before, Textiful integrates with email to help you collect more addresses. It works similar to a keyword campaign, except you’re asking customers to text back their email address.
From there, their address will automatically be added to your email marketing platform. So not only did you get a text opt-in, but an email address as well.
Textiful offers all the customary bells and whistles like list segmentation, shortcode support and campaigns, multimedia texts, and drip campaign set up.
One of the more advanced features you’ll find here is city, state, and zip code information. This is captured from phone carriers (and available at no extra charge to you) and helps you better segment contacts by location data.
For information on pricing plans, visit their site here.
Getting Started With Textiful: Data Collection
While Textiful can be used solely for text blasts, it’s primary purpose is for data collection.
To set up any campaign, you’ll begin by setting up a keyword.
Like Skipio, this will be a message sent to users asking them to reply with a specific keyword. When they do, it will prompt a series of data collection messages to be sent.
For collecting emails, you’ll go into your main navigation and select the Keyword tab. Next, click “Edit Messages and Settings.”
In the left-hand navigation, select “Collect Email.” There, you’ll be able to customize your message, as well as a follow-up. Remember, it should be clear that users should respond with their email address.
Then, when a user responds with the keyword you initially entered, they’ll be sent a follow-up message asking for their email.
If they respond, this will prompt Textiful to add any incoming addresses to your email software.
You can also choose to send a follow-up message to anyone who doesn’t submit their email (highly recommended). You set the time delay – however any many minutes or days you’d like – and craft the message, again asking for their email.
But email addresses aren’t all Textiful collects. Head over to Data Request tab, and you’ll find many more options, including first name, zip code, and even favorite color. These will be sent in a series, for example, keyword message > email address collection message > first name collection message > favorite color collection message.
Based on their responses, users will be segmented into different groups.
Again, you can choose a text marketing-only plan with Textiful, without the added data collection.
Wrapping It Up: Which Platform is Right For You?
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that text marketing is worth exploring, no matter what industry or niche you’re in.
The software you choose to help you do it will depend on largely on your overall goals.
If you’re looking to go all in with text message marketing, Skipio is probably the platform for you.
If you’re looking instead for a platform that will integrate and aid in your other marketing efforts – primarily email – then Textiful may be more your style.
Whichever you choose, the ability to engage with your audience and promote your business via text message represents an incredible opportunity for brands. Make sure you don’t miss it.