Most SMS Offer Strategies Need an SOS

Odds are it’s only been a few minutes since you last checked your phone. Some studies say we check our phones 58 times per day, with others estimating we check our phones a whopping 160 times per day. Assuming you’re asleep for 8 hours, that’s anywhere from 3 to 10 times an hour!

Which is why so many brands send out offers via SMS.

Unfortunately, many of them are missing the mark—some, in more ways than one.

SMS marketing has seen a surge since the pandemic began, which is why more and more brands turn to it every day. Nearly 60% of consumers say that texting is the fastest way to reach them, and many of them say they prefer texts over emails, social media, and phone calls. Because consumers love their phones so much, engagement with SMS messages tends to be big and almost instantaneous:

  • SMS open rates can be as high as 98%, which is more than any other marketing channel.
  • 60% of SMS messages are opened within 1-5 minutes of hitting “send.”
  • 67 million Americans redeem coupons on their phone.
  • 97% of Millennials say they would actively engage with a loyalty program if they could access the rewards on their phone.
  • Offers delivered via SMS get nearly 10% more clicks than new product alerts, customer feedback requests, order confirmations, and other brand messages.

SMS is a natural home for retail offers as a whole, but it can be a goldmine for QSR and casual dining offers because these messages are so convenient. After all, tapping a text notification is much easier than logging into your inbox and wading through a sea of emails—which you’re not going to bother to do when hunger strikes or when you have just a few minutes to get away and grab something to eat. Instead, these brands can send a timely message right to the device consumers use most.

But while SMS is quick and easy, it doesn’t mean the strategy behind it is easy. There are plenty of ways to make mistakes. Let’s go over some of the biggest:

Not thinking about attribution

Most SMS offer platforms will track opens and clicks, which is nice. But unless you’re also tracking offer redemptions, you will never know the ROI of your campaigns. Just because SMS tends to generate above-average engagement doesn’t mean it will automatically drive above-average results for your bottom line.

Some brands use Google Analytics to track their SMS offers, but a click to your website doesn’t necessarily equal a purchase. Or, what if someone gets a text for a free cheeseburger and heads directly into one of your stores to redeem it? Google Analytics won’t know about it, and unless you’re tracking redemptions, you won’t know about it either.

Having 1:1 single-use SMS offers that link directly to your POS is the only accurate way to track offer redemptions because that’s how you see the entire marketing purchase loop. No matter how or where those offers are redeemed, your tech will know about it. Even better, you can see all of the results in real-time.

Not making things personal

Some SMS offer platforms only give you the ability to send out bulk text messages. However, just like any other marketing channel, you need to be able to segment your audience so that you can send personalized offers.

One of our team members has experienced this mistake firsthand. He’s an avid customer at a particular drive-in fast-food restaurant, and he almost always orders the same thing. So what would be the perfect reward for him? Getting his favorite entree for free, of course! But instead, this brand sent him a free offer for something else—a meal that had absolutely nothing in common with what he normally orders. If you’re thinking this was the marketing department’s way of trying to promote a new product, it wasn’t. Instead, it was obvious that the marketing team had just mass-blasted this offer without any thought to individual preferences.

Not knowing when to stop

You may get hungry several times each day, but that doesn’t mean you want one brand’s SMS offers popping up at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Over-texting can feel invasive, moreso because the messages are arriving on your phone instead of in your inbox. There’s no one-size-fits-all schedule for sending offers, though, so just like any other marketing channel, do some testing to determine what resonates best with your audience.

This is another mistake our team has witnessed firsthand. A giant sandwich company texted one of our teammates over and over and over—and while he loves their sandwiches, he doesn’t love them that much!

Not thinking about fraud

Just like other types of digital and physical coupons, SMS offers can fall victim to frausters if you don’t protect yourself. Again, 1:1 single-use offers are the perfect solution because the offer code becomes invalid as soon as it’s redeemed. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone blasting your code to all of their group texts.

As SMS’ popularity continues to grow at lightning speed, the right strategy becomes even more important. Your brand needs to stand out in a sea of texts, but if you make these mistakes, you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.