It's a fact: the world is going mobile. The smartphone market is growing at breakneck speed, while developing markets are becoming awash with non-smart traditional handsets. A growing population of text-ready consumers represents a glowing opportunity to market your business - but SMS marketing is also intrusive and it's easy to do more harm than good.
Type 'SMS marketing campaign' into a search engine and you'll be confronted with a list of companies offering bulk text services. Media Burst, Text Anywhere, Esendex and Text Marketer are just a few names to look out for.
As with everything in business: research before you buy.
Opt in, and opt-in again
If receiving an unsolicited message via email is annoying, receiving one on your mobile is unnerving. People are used to inputting email addresses in websites and grudgingly accept that they are open to spam, but mobile numbers are far more private.
Mine customers' numbers without their express permission and watch them run for the hills in a panic. For them, a text message out of the blue feels like someone is watching - which is not likely to get them in the mood for shopping with you.
Even when customers opt in to receive text alerts, they are liable to forget they have done so. This means you need make doubly sure they are happy for you to contact them. When they tick that box, make it absolutely clear that they will receive marketing messages.
Turn glowing customers into frothing enemies by preventing them from opting out of marketing messages. Every one of your SMS promotions should include a message along the lines of 'to stop receiving messages reply to this message with the message STOP'.
Sure, you'll lose a few people from your marketing list, but that's infinitely preferable to a whole list of unhappy people who won't use your business and will encourage their friends to stay away.
Email and SMS are different in many ways. Not least because people are generally happy to receive emails on a more regular basis than texts. Texts can be annoying, especially if the recipient is expecting a message from a friend and not from your business, or if they have their hands full.
It makes good sense to relate your SMS activity to your email campaigns. For example, if you send customers an email a week, consider sending one SMS every two weeks. It's important to get a balance between texting too regularly and not regularly enough.
Text your customers once in a blue moon and you risk them forgetting that they ever signed up to receive your promotions - and you know what that means.
Text messages are by definition short bursts of information that people can consume and act on in a matter of seconds. Keep yours pithy and get key messages in quickly. Use short, uncomplicated sentences but refrain from text speak - it makes you sound like an idiot.
For the best results combine your SMS campaign with your email and social media offering. In addition, give customers the option to forward your text to friends and leave space for them to leave their own message (ie 'I just got this 2-4-1 offer - gotta be worth a purchase').
Offer an incentive for signing up to texts. Either a competition entry or something for free (vouchers work well) is best. Everyone loves something for nothing!
#MWW offer: share minutes with your colleagues
As part of Mobile Working Week, BlackBerry and O2 have teamed up to offer Smarta readers an exclusive offer. To find out how you can share your minutes for free, click here.
For more information about how BlackBerry can help your business go to www.blackberry.co.uk/sme
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