Ding. Your smartphone lights up, and your eyes instinctively glance down, drawn to the newly illuminated screen.

New message.

If you’re like many of us, there is an almost knee-jerk reaction to check a text message right away. In fact, 95% of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt, and 98% of text messages in general are read compared to 22% of emails.

An estimated 4.77 billion people have a mobile phone, and many wouldn’t think about leaving home without it. With nearly everyone and their mother owning a smartphone these days, a perfect opportunity exists for businesses to directly reach their prospects — with an incredibly high open rate.

However, text message marketing, also known as SMS (short message service) marketing, is a largely untapped area especially for small businesses. We reached out to business experts who have tested various SMS marketing strategies, and they shared their best tips with us. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Time messages around your target audience’s schedule.

“Research when the most opportune time to text your target audience is. For instance, many people are in a daily meeting or rushing the kids off to school early in the morning, but they may have more time to dive deeper into your SMS message at lunch or after work. Timing is everything in business, and it is also a vital part of SMS marketing.” – Stephen Seifert, SEO Manager,  Day Translations

“When doing B2B SMS marketing, send your text messages five minutes before the top of the hour. Why? That’s when busy executives are preparing for their next meeting and have a few minutes of down time to check their text messages.” – Bob Bentz, President, 84444

“Try experimenting with late afternoon or evening messages. I’ve noticed that for us, messages sent out in the evenings get better responses. This makes sense, of course, because people are not at work and have more time to respond immediately to a text received. Our engagement on evening campaigns fare better than those that go out during the day. I suspect this will be the case for many marketers, but test it out to see which time of day works best for your users.” – Danielle Kunkle, Co-Founder, Boomer Benefits

2. If you’re reaching out to people in a specific area, use a local area code.

 

“My company has been described as Uber for lawn care, and we onboard lawn care professionals through direct text messaging campaigns. One trick that has worked well is creating a local Google phone number to text the vendors from. When texting from a number outside of their area code, it looks like spam. But if you use a number in their area, they are more likely to actually open it and read it — it buys you a little more validity.” – Gene Gaballero, Co-Founder, GreenPal

3. Keep it casual.

“One of the best tips that I have in regards to text message marketing is to be as casual as possible and to not leave any sort of sign-off, it makes it come off as too formal, too pushy, and lowers response rates.” – Josh Haber, Lead Customer Success Manager, All Set

4. Keep it short and concise.

“People tend to skim messages, and if your SMS takes longer than 30 seconds to read, you may have lost the attention of your intended audience.” Stephen Seifert, SEO Manager, Day Translations

5. Include a short opt-down instruction.

“Make it easy for the recipients to choose the frequency of the texts they get from you. Chances are those who would opt out would simply choose to receive your texts less often (if given the option).” – Alexa Lemzy, Customer Support Specialist, TextMagic

6. Know your audience.

“Age and generational experience will play a big part in whether your text is well-received. Gather solid demographics on your customers before you begin a text campaign. As you might guess, younger consumers are more geared toward texting.” – Julia Angelen, PR Consultant, Z Group PR

7. Make it a two-way street.

Paul Blacquiere, president of Spirepoint Real Estate, used SMS messages for the first time to send out reminders before his webinar, resulting in the highest attendance rate he ever had. To top it off, this opened the opportunity to engage with his prospects in two-way conversations.

“I’d use text messages to send an announcement and then a reminder, and I got people who were texting me as if they were texting a friend saying, ‘Hey, I’m running late.’ I also found there were people after the webinar saying, ‘Is there a replay?’” – Paul Blacquiere, President, Spirepoint Real Estate

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7 Expert Tips on How to Use Text Message Marketing
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7 Expert Tips on How to Use Text Message Marketing
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It’s time to integrate SMS text messaging into your marketing campaigns. Hear from experts and small business owners on their best strategies.
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About Camille Smith

Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Public Relations and Social Media Assistant, Camille Smith came out to California to attend UCSB and fell in love with Santa Barbara’s perfect mountain to ocean ratio. During her time in college, Camille also worked on the growth marketing teams for several technology companies. When she’s not putting her Communication degree to use at work, she’s using her minor in French to remind everyone the correct pronunciation of her name à la française (pronounced cah-mee, not kah-meal).