Why Business SMS Campaigns Fail: 6 SMS Mistakes

Why Business SMS Campaigns Fail: 6 SMS Mistakes Featured Image

Though SMS is a powerful tool for both sales and marketing, it’s common for business SMS campaigns to fail—or that SMS is never even pursued to begin with. 

With the clear benefits that SMS has to offer, why don’t more companies do it?

Unlike the traditional channels of emails and phone calls, texting customers comes with a unique set of challenges that companies may not be equipped to handle properly. In this blog, we’ll explain six common SMS mistakes and ways to overcome them.

Why business SMS?

When it comes to sales and marketing strategy, it’s difficult to understate the benefits of SMS. 

While email’s average open rates hover around 20%, SMS open rates are around 98%. SMS is the best way to get in contact with your customers and prospects—right from their smartphone.

In Salesforce’s analysis of communication channels, email continues to lose ground, while SMS is gaining ground—and it’s easy to see why:

Infographic of SMS statistics

SMS has made itself known as customers’ most-preferred communication channel. Customers want to text, and they read their texts. 

However, only 39% of businesses are using SMS to communicate with their customers.

Six Common SMS Mistakes

Despite the efficacy and popularity of SMS, texting customers comes with a set of challenges and common mistakes. For these reasons, many companies either:

  1. Understand the complexity of business SMS, and are intimidated by it.
  2. Underestimate the complexity of business SMS, leading to failed efforts.

When texting, customers have high expectations, including quick response times, personalized responses, brand transparency, and the chance to text back.

Many companies are not prepared or equipped to meet the requirements of SMS, and this is why less than half of businesses are utilizing it. 

On this point, let’s get into six common SMS mistakes and what companies should do to avoid them.

One-Way SMS Communications

The first (and perhaps biggest) of the SMS mistakes that most businesses make is limiting communication to only one-way marketing text messages.

This means that companies do not facilitate a two-way conversation with the customer, but only send promotional messages, leaving the customer unable to respond. 

However, 78% of people wish they could have a text conversation with a business. In contrast, only 13% of businesses enable recipients to respond to their SMS messages.

If that sounds like a major disconnect between brands and customers, it absolutely is.

When companies only send customers one-way text messages such as marketing blasts, the communication can often feel impersonal and limiting for the customer, who may have a question that they would prefer answered over text.

The key to successful SMS campaigns is talking with customers, not at them. 

Underestimating Volume of Work

The lack of two-way communication plays into the next common SMS mistake: underestimating the sheer work involved in SMS communications.

If companies want to provide the two-way communication that customers expect, they must understand the requirements in terms of labor, cost, and staff.

Businessman working in a call center

When a client receives a text from your business, they’ll expect a prompt and human response from a rep. However, this is much easier said than done. 

For example…

Most contact centers are used to measuring speed to reply when calling leads. The ideal lead response time is five minutes, and this is measured for each call. So if you have 1,000 leads, that’s 1,000 times that your center needs to measure speed to lead.

Now take business texting. Say you want to text a lead back just as fast. If your contact center has 1,000 leads and the average text exchange is 12 texts before a qualifying call or unqualifying event, that is 12,000 times that speed to reply must be measured.

Quite different than measuring for phone calls. 

Not only that, text conversations don’t have a set beginning or end like a phone call. Naturally, this pivots into delayed replies from customers, which jams up the whole process.

That means that for every text message, employees:

  1. Will need to wait for the customer to respond, and 
  2. Are expected to be ready when a customer texts back two hours later asking, “can you call now?”

This creates a situation where the lead may be ready to talk, but the agents are on a call or away from their desk. Once they receive the message, the conversation is back to text tag…and the opportunity is missed.

This is why 87% of companies don’t deal with two-way texting, although customers prefer it. 

Solutions include:

  • Improving call center resources—hiring and training more employees to keep up with SMS
  • Outsourcing SMS replies, which could lead to a less consistent customer experience
  • Implementing a fully-managed, AI-enabled, solution like Verse.ai to automate SMS response on your behalf, only passing qualified leads back to your team

Workforce Management

If call centers are equipped with the right number of people, it’s possible for them to handle business texting manually.

However, this approach not only requires the right amount of people to handle great volume, but thoughtful and strategic management. This includes training, scripting, and quality assurance.

To ensure that SMS is creating a great, streamlined, and consistent customer experience, it’s vital that contact centers are well-managed. Proper management includes:

  • Training. Speed to reply should always be top-of-mind for contact centers, and that doesn’t change with texts. In training, employees should be coached on expectations as well as how to respond. 
  • Scripting. Standardizing responses with a script is always the best way to ensure a consistent customer experience. Scripts should include a variety of scenarios with clear guidelines for employees to follow when responding. 
  • Quality assurance. Agents naturally make mistakes. Management should include preparing for mistakes and enacting protocol for when these inevitably occur.

If this approach is thought-out and well-managed, business SMS can work in a company’s favor.

Alternatively, companies can opt for fully-managed SMS solutions, like Verse.ai, and only deal with calls from warm and qualified leads.

Business SMS Compliance

Compliance definition

Regulatory compliance is a vital part of any company’s communication—but SMS compliance is most often overlooked. Although SMS compliance is not well-understood, it’s important for ensuring legal communications that make customers feel respected.

However, a frighteningly large proportion—44%—of firms using SMS marketing are unfamiliar with the TCPA.

The TCPA, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, regulates telephone and text messaging in the United States. Failure to comply can result in lawsuits and fines of up to $20,000 per violation.

A worrying 27% of firms have also sent marketing text messages to recipients who haven’t opted-in. 

Consent is a huge part of both customer respect and regulatory compliance. TCPA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines have strict opt-in and opt-out rules that companies must abide by, or risk reputational and financial damages. 

The basics of upholding SMS compliance include:

  • Understanding TCPA guidelines, including state “mini” TCPAs
  • Gaining permission via opt-in forms
  • Allowing subscribers to easily opt-out
  • Not texting subscribers outside the hours of 8am-9pm (these can vary in certain states)
  • Not texting subscribers over three times in 24 hours
  • Not texting subscribers spam messages
  • Protecting subscribers data

Carrier Relations and Deliverability Monitoring

When conducting SMS campaigns, companies must be aware of carriers and their regulations. Failure to consider carriers’ rules can lead to reduced message deliverability.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), can lead carriers to discontinue and block the texting services of businesses that refuse to comply with them. 

In addition, brands must obtain a trust score with The Campaign Registry (TCR), an organization selected by mobile carriers that has control over message and call deliverability.

Because businesses do not have any visibility into whether their text messages are delivered or not, they must pay attention to carrier guidelines and aim to create good relationships with carriers.

If they don’t, they could be spending money on messages that are not even reaching customers.

When conducting SMS campaigns, brands must:

  • Register for A2P messaging
  • Understand and comply with regulations from CTIA
  • Register their brand with TCR and obtain a Trust Score

Lack of Optimization in Business SMS

The most effective SMS campaigns are interactive, personalized, and optimized for every recipient. Over 77% of marketers rate their SMS marketing sophistication level as average or below average.

While we’ve seen companies are neglecting the interactive aspect of business texting, failing to do the following will also render SMS marketing campaigns less effective.

Optimization Mistake Solution
Sending the same messaging to all contacts Personalize marketing messaging based on known customer data such as purchase history, demographics, and intent.
Texting at the wrong times Use geographic data to text customers at the right time in their time zone. Texting during local no-call hours is also illegal in many states.
Not aligning with other channels Marketers cite aligning SMS messaging with other marketing channels as their biggest challenge in SMS marketing campaigns. Ensure you are sending consistent messaging across all channels.
Using messaging that is too long SMS is great because it’s quick and easy to read. When brands make text messages too long, it defeats the point.
Triggering spam filters Spam filters activate for more than you might think. Brands must stay away from overusing CAPS, emojis, and exclamation marks. Messages also cannot contain certain words; for example, “free”, “urgent”, or “cash” can set off a filter.
Sending too many one-way messages Texting a customer promotional or marketing messages more than 3 times a day is illegal in some states—and customers likely don’t want to receive marketing text messages that often.
Limiting promotional messaging to text-only 51% of customers are more likely to convert from SMS marketing ads if the message contains media. For marketers, switching it up from text-only to provide image, gif, or video media via multimedia messaging service (MMS) can work well.


Overcoming Common SMS Mistakes

There are many ways to overcome each of these six SMS mistakes and benefit from business texting. 

Woman smiling because she's texting with Verse

However, there is one easy and simple way to do it all at once: Verse.ai’s fully-managed, human and AI-enabled, compliant, SMS platform.

At Verse, our SMS platform offers:

  • Interactive, two-way SMS conversations with customers
  • A fully-managed, AI-enabled platform and a full team of human concierges for quality assurance
  • Expert help with creating scripts and training for our team and AI
  • Compliance guidance and enablement, including management of A2P and TCR registration
  • Constant deliverability monitoring and excellent carrier relations team
  • Expert guidance on messaging content and SMS best practices

Get started with an interactive, hands-off SMS strategy that converts more prospects with Verse.