In my regular trawls through the Internet researching my blogs and guides, articles on email and sms marketing spring up from everywhere. Some are worth spending time with, many others are not. Likewise the amount of wordage used expended on predicting the imminent demise of emailing in favour of social media marketing is breathtaking, and mostly wrongheaded. What I rarely see is a commonsensical practical piece about the use of SMS in conjunction with email campaigns. What I do see tends to discuss “marketing to mobile” rather than use of SMS messaging to deliver brief, important texts to both existing email clients or those who wish to only communicate via texts.

So, in Part 1 of this two part series, I want to concentrate on relatively simple and straightforward alert messages, informational texts and acknowledgments of orders received. There are many other innovative ways you can use SMS in this way, your imagination will dictate which way you go.

Text reminders in practice

What prompted me to turn attention to this were two recent personal experiences. Actually the first was a friends experience not mine and concerned an appointment with the family vet. A text reminder of a future appointment prompted her to call the surgery to change the date as she was unable to make the original date. Seems simple really but actually such a mechanism helps the vet manage his day much more effectively, in his view the costs of sending such reminders are outweighed by the efficiency cost saving.

The second example was from my GP’s surgery. As we all know we are approaching both winter and, more importantly for GP’s, flu season. By sending out text reminders that flu jabs were available for vulnerable groups, OAP’s, pregnant mums, heart patients etc, the surgery will reduce the workload later on in the year, thus, as with the vets, enabling them to time manage more efficiently and take care over patients welfare. Once again well worth the expenditure.

These two are concrete examples of the ways particular organisations can use SMS to good effect. Financial institutions often use similar texted alerts, banks, loan companies etc. Some on-line retail companies also give their clients a choice to receive text notification that their order is out for delivery on a given day, often in conjunction with a normal informational email, and one of the customer groups to benefit most are events organisers.

Advantages of using simple text messages rather than email bulletins

  • The sheer immediacy of a text messages comes close to guaranteeing an acknowledgement or at least some reaction.
  • An appropriate text message, and by this I mean one that is not an extension of a selling process, is often seen as a sign of good customer service.
  • Text messages are much more individually targeted, they are relevant to that person and so again are seen as the sender caring about the user.
  • The brief nature of the messages mean that the sender can easily batch them with a common wording without them appearing to be part of a mass sending, of course using appropriate personalisation, name etc.
  • Can be timed to be received at appropriate times of day.

What’s great about using SMS creatively is that you are not overtly selling, persuading people to pay for this product/service. You are voluntarily providing a free service without the need for the recipient to click on links, subscribe to anything, request samples or any of the associated subtle demands that often accompany email.

Of course you are selling your company and its brand, the individual had bought from you and now, through SMS texts you are helping to ensure they continue to buy from you. It’s simple straightforward and as I have illustrated with the GP surgery can be very cost effective. So, again in my view, money spent on this tool will not be wasted.