SMS API Guide
Best Tips for Creating Your First SMS API Campaign
There are impressive statistics associated with SMS messages and mass texting. These include a 70% open rate within five minutes, a 90% response rate within 30 minutes, and a 98% engagement rate overall. This far outpaces the open and response rates for voice and email campaigns, making SMS campaigns one of the most valuable marketing methods currently available.
While not necessarily simple, crating your first SMS API campaign is fairly straightforward. You’ll need to collect contact information to grow your campaign list, choose the right SMS keywords, include specific information in your advertisements, create value, schedule your campaign, and infuse it with value.
Below, we’ll cover all of this and more, providing details on everything you need to know to create your fist SMS API campaign. By the end of the article, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge you need to send effective, successful text campaigns.
SMS API Campaign
SMS API campaigns are among the most effective marketing and communication tools, as evidenced by the statistics covered above. As companies increasingly integrate SMS texting into their strategies, consumers increasingly expect companies to be available via SMS.
And if you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve realized the potential of text campaigns and are looking to leverage it for your business. If so, keep reading! We’ll go over the best tips and tricks for creating your first campaign.
But before send any texts, remember: all users must have consented to receive your texts via an opt-in. Barring specific circumstances, you need to get this consent prior to sending any texts. Otherwise, you’ll be in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Along those same lines, you also need to provide your subscribers with the option to opt-out of your campaigns and revoke consent to receive messages.
How to Collect Contact Information to Grow Your SMS API Campaign List
Before you send out your first SMS campaign, you’ll need to collect as much contact information as possible so that you have a robust list of contacts. The more subscribers you have, the more people you’ll be able to reach.
There are a number of ways to collect contact information that you can use to grow your API campaign list. These vary in terms of effectiveness and may not be applicable for all companies, but are generally flexible enough that they could be adapted to fit your business.
If you need to grow your campaign list, try these methods:
- Use website data capture
- Provide SMS opt-in online during checkout and other functions
- Create a VIP club for SMS subscribers
- Connect to your staff by having them sign up for text alerts
- Promote your SMS list online and in-store
- Offer extra incentives in-store for customers who sign up
- Use your voice or email campaigns to encourage SMS sign-ups
- Encourage sign-ups while networking or at social events
If you have an existing SMS list, you can also expand it by offering languages other than English. This way, users who don’t speak English still have the option to opt-in to your campaign.
Most of these options already assume that you have access to a customer base— i.e., that you’re not starting from scratch in terms of marketing and communication. If you are, you may have to more heavily lean on methods like using website data capture until you’ve started accumulating customers.
Choosing the Right SMS Keyword
SMS keywords are words that users can text to your short code or phone number that will trigger an auto-reply or specific action. For example, users may text a keyword to enter a contest, receive a coupon, learn more about a program, or any other number of activities.
Not all words work as keywords, which is why it’s important to choose words that will be most effective. Here are some tips for choosing the right SMS keyword:
- Keep keywords simple so that users are more likely to remember them and will have an easy time typing them on their keyboard
- Avoid keywords that are controversial or have a history attached to them
- Whenever possible, avoiding using both numbers and letters in your keyword; use all numbers or all letters
- Avoid keywords that use special characters, symbols, or emoticons, as not all keyboards come equipped with these
- Use keywords that are recognizable to people, rather than specialized jargon or slang
- Use keywords that are in your users’ native or preferred language
Keep in mind, these are suggestions rather than hard rules. There are exceptions to these tips that work. But until you learn more about your audience and how they respond to keywords, it’s best to stick to methods that have a history of success.
Before choosing your keywords, carefully consider how effective they will be and whether or not it’s the right keyword for your campaign.
What to Put in Your Advertisements
SMS campaigns aren’t a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy, so what you put in your advertisements will vary, to an extent. However, there are some core components that all text campaigns should have. These include:
A Call to Action (CTA)
A call to action is a tangible way that customers can take advantage or act on the information in your texts. CTAs should be explicit so that there’s no confusion on how to act on them. Otherwise, their entire purpose is defeated.
We’ll go over CTAs in more detail later on, but that’s the basic premise.
Value for Customers
Every texting campaign should offer customers some sort of value. Users who opt-in to your campaigns are investing their personal time and energy, so they expect value in return. And it’s in your best interest to keep customers happy— otherwise, what reason do they have to keep receiving your messages?
To learn more about creating value in your SMS API campaigns, skip to the next section.
Customers respond more to text messages that are customized in some manner as opposed to generic messages. There are several different ways to personalize your text messages, some of which may surprise you:
- Include each user’s name in the text message
- Send users additional value on special dates, such as birthdays or holidays
- Text users at times that are convenient to them
- Avoid texting users on days that hold religious or cultural significance to them
- Text users in their native or preferred language
Users will immediately notice some of these methods more than others. For example, they’ll obviously notice when you use their name or wish them a happy birthday, happy anniversary, etc. But while these other methods aren’t as noticeable, they’re just as valuable.
By creating SMS campaigns that are convenient and unobtrusively fit into your users’ lives, you’re increasing the likelihood of responses and interaction. And while users may not notice the presence of such customization, they’ll absolutely notice it’s absence. After all, no one likes to get marketing texts late or night or on Christmas morning.
Taking your users into consideration also pays off in the long-run, as it builds customer loyalty and creates a stronger connection between your company and users. Additionally, it raises the bar for other companies’ campaigns.
All SMS marketing campaigns should create value for customers. This is the basic tradeoff that users expect when they opt-in to receive messages: they give you their time, and you give them something of equal (or greater) value in return.
Above, we briefly covered creating value and why it’s important. Now we’ll go over some different ways you can create value for your customers, thereby making your campaigns more effective and successful.
- Promotions, discounts, and other methods of saving money
- Contests, raffles, and other opportunities to win prizes
- Alerts, reminders, and other useful notifications
- Updates, tracking notices, and other ways to stay informed
Remember, your goal should always be to make the customers happy. Or, if not happy, then at least satisfied with your messages and the content they contain.
The more value you provide, the more likely it is that existing users will remain subscribers and new users will join your SMS contact list.
Scheduling Your SMS Campaign
Scheduling your SMS campaigns saves valuable time and frees up resources, thereby also saving your business money. It also reduces the likelihood of human error and accidentally sending out a campaign that’s not compliant with federal rules and regulations.
We touched on this in an earlier section when discussing what to put in your advertisements and how to customize your campaigns. But there’s more to it than just scheduling your texts to go out after 8:00 AM on a weekday.
When scheduling your text marketing campaigns, keep these considerations in mind:
- What days are most convenient for your customers? On those days, what times are most convenient?
- During what hours are your users likely to have spare time to (1) read your texts and (2) follow up on the CTA?
- What demographics do your users fall into and how might this affect their schedule?
For example, if you’re targeting adults, then it’s likely they won’t have time during a normal workday to read your messages. However, to avoid sending them messages during dinner times or in the evening, you could schedule the campaign for the hours when most people take their lunch break.
Include Call to Action
Calls to action should be brief, clear, and easy to follow. Users should have no questions about how to take advantage of the call to action or what they’ll receive in return. Without a CTA, your texts may seem aimless— a user may ask, “So what? Why did they text me this?” CTAs succinctly answer this question.
Examples of CTAs would be telling customers to respond with a keyword, scan a QR code, or click on a link. The goal is to provide users with a way to continue interacting with your company and capitalize on the value you’re offering, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
At this point, you should have a fairly good idea of what an effective SMS campaign looks like. But for extra clarification, here are some SMS campaign examples:
- “Flash sale! Now through midnight, take an extra 50% off on all clearance items. Click here to view what’s in stock.”
- “Happy Anniversary! To celebrate your special day, have a free dessert on us with the purchase of any adult entrée. Call 755-123-4463 to book your reservation now.”
- “Thanks for signing up! As a new VIP member, you have exclusive early access to ticket sales, seat reservations, and meet-and-greets. Login to your new account to view upcoming concerts.”
- “Time’s running out! Text BOGO to 122-51 to take advantage of this special offer and get a free band for every watch purchased.”
Chances are, you can also look at your phone right now and find at least one example of a marketing text in your messages. Updates from food delivery drivers, notifications about your Amazon package, reminders about your dentist appointment, traffic notices or inclement weather warnings— all of these are examples of SMS campaigns.
Let’s start sending, together.