Marketers are eagerly adopting SMS/MMS for customer engagement, which isn’t surprising given consumers' preference for texting. Text messages in general have a 98% open rate and 90% of those opens are within 3 minutes. Specific to marketing messages, SMS has an impressive open rate average of 82% and those with a URL have an average 36% click-through rate (CTR).
In addition to building loyalty and growth, carefully constructed SMS marketing campaigns provide measurable ROI. One great example is Klaviyo, which helped its marketing customers see an ROI of $24 for every dollar spent on SMS. Another such example is HomeFinder.com, an online real estate listing company, which found that customers receiving a text message were 10x more likely to leave a review compared to email.
Regardless of the benefits, securing internal stakeholder support of an SMS marketing program can sometimes be challenging. This blog post will help you get the internal stakeholder support you need to move forward.
Planning your pitch for texting for marketing
When planning your pitch, it’s good to keep your audience in mind. A few of the stakeholders that you may need approval from include:
- Developers and software engineers are those who may be chartered with building the texting communication features or capabilities into your business’s applications.
- Product managers are typically chartered with defining a roadmap for growth, implementing it, and then ensuring the results meet the predefined expectations (ROI).
- Information technology (IT) is often involved with text messaging either from an implementation perspective or from an oversight perspective to ensure it doesn’t interfere with other systems such as voice.
- Champions: CMOs and VPs are accountable for managing budget and understanding the cost from team size, technology investments, and campaign spend to the amount of business they’re bringing through the door.
Your first step is to find out if your company already has an SMS strategy. If they do, getting buy-in for marketing may be easier, but you’ll want to ask these important questions:
- How is our company using texting today?
- Who is our current provider and is the texting system a prepackaged software solution or was it built to our specifications?
- NOTE: If it is out of the box, it may not fit your marketing use cases. Simple examples are the ability to shorten hyperlinks with your brand name in the URL, measure and optimize results (e.g. A/B test), conduct bulk distribution of promotional messages, and provide 2-way conversational texting when desired.
- Learn more in our blog, SMS Marketing: How to Decide Whether to Build or Buy a Solution
- What type of phone numbers are being used for texting? For example, in North America, the different types of phone numbers for consideration are Short Codes, Toll-free, and 10DLC.
- Do they recommend the current provider (why or why not)?
- Is it possible for the marketing organization to begin texting without having to sign a new contract? This can alleviate challenging and time-consuming contract negotiations.
- How is the pricing structured with the existing provider? Common examples include a subscription model (priced per number of lines or users) and a usage model (pay per number of messages sent and received).
- NOTE: A usage model may open a couple of benefits for you. By only paying for what you use, you can get started with a small budget and then grow when the ROI proves out. Additionally, there may be an opportunity for your marketing volumes to contribute to the greater company volumes and commitments.
How to prepare for internal objections
Before you move forward with building your pitch, you should prepare for the most common internal objections to building a new SMS strategy for marketing.
Inertia - We are fine already
It is imperative that you help overcome inertia.
Begin by creating a sense of urgency. Make it clear that if your company is not already using SMS for marketing then you are likely behind your competitors. In 2020, 70% of brands had already been texting to communicate with customers or employees and 55% of consumers had signed up to receive texts from brands.
Next, turn the concept of SMS for marketing into a numbers-based business decision rather than a subjective opinion. This is simple to do by building a mini business case using Twilio’s texting for marketing ROI calculator. Update the inputs with your company’s specific data and in a matter of minutes you’ll be able to share your potential ROI.
Be prepared to convey your information as uplift, or in addition, to your normal channels such as email and advertising. For example, if you develop a program targeting 1,000 consumers, the pushback you may hear is, “What percentage of those would we have already won without texting?”
Budget and the increasing cost of an expanding MarTech stack
Keep the outputs from your texting for marketing ROI calculator handy.
Next, propose a crawl, walk, run approach. You can start small and then prove out the actual ROI of SMS marketing before expanding to greater volumes. This is especially feasible when purchasing from a usage-based pricing provider. The typical cost per SMS in the US is less than $0.01, meaning that sending 1,000 texts will cost less than $10.00. Some quick math can help you develop a powerful statement, such as:
“Our average revenue per sale is $90. This means if we send 9,000 texts and secure one additional sale that we wouldn't have achieved from email and advertising alone, we break even.”
The bottom line: SMS marketing can drive dramatic ROI that is measurable. The business risks of not including texting in your strategy far outway the relatively inexpensive costs of getting started.
The third objection you may hear has to do with having resources such as headcount or the experience necessary to benefit from SMS marketing. Here are some suggestions for addressing this challenge:
- Expertise in using SMS for marketing: Check out Twilio’s SMS for Marketing Ebook, which includes everything from developing your overall strategy to capturing consent and creating effective campaigns at each stage of the customer journey.
- Time and staff: Be firm in why the project is a priority for the business, with a hard focus on the ROI. Then simply ask, “What are the steps I need to take to secure resources?”
- Trust and compliance: Convey to internal stakeholders that you are using SMS to provide desired information and build strong relationships with your customers. As we describe in Twilio’s SMS for Marketing Ebook, explain how you will first capture customers’ consent by creating a value exchange and then deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time while being personal and engaging!
Build and deliver your pitch
Your ultimate goal is to secure approval, budget, and support from all stakeholders involved in the decision. Here’s how you can do that in five steps:
Step 1: Determine how you intend to use texting for marketing
List out the many different ways that SMS can enhance your marketing strategy and help you achieve your business goals. For example, share what you might be able to achieve using SMS for loyalty reward programs, special promotions (e.g. Black Friday), and abandoned cart campaigns.
Step 2: Draft key criteria for success
Next, you’ll want to put together and share a list of items that are required for SMS marketing success, and also inform stakeholders of the various groups that may be impacted. Common examples include:
- Tech stack integration: Ability to integrate with the existing CRM, Customer Data Platform (CDP), marketing automation tools, etc. in order to facilitate:
- Viewability: Ability to have a singular view of your customer across communication channels to ensure consistency (e.g. use correct name) and create a positive customer experience (e.g. refrain from over-messaging)
- Trackability: Ability to effectively measure and report on results
- Deliverability: High deliverability (% of messages that reach the intended recipients) and transparency into deliverability metrics (reporting) in order to optimize campaigns and quantify ROI
- Scalability: Ability to support growth of SMS marketing to XX volumes in YY countries in ZZ years
- Trust & compliance: Resources, processes and direct support to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and trust from existing customers
- Timeline: Ability to be implemented within [timeframe]. Note that the timeframe can be staggered based on your intent. For example, a crawl, walk, run solution may require a way to test quickly but then include the long term capability of CDP integration.
- Implementation resources: Agreement from internal teams to ensure immediate and ongoing success
Step 3: Develop a short list of providers
The short list should be positioned as examples of providers that will likely satisfy your key criteria for success. Don’t conduct an exhaustive search at this point, as your stakeholder pitch will likely lead to resources and processes to finalize this step when required.
Step 4: Build a mini business case
As mentioned prior, use Twilio’s texting for marketing ROI calculator by inserting your company’s specific data and in a matter of minutes you will be able to cite the potential business impact of implementing texting for marketing.
Once you have your data, reduce confusion by presenting only the most important numbers. You can still provide links or files for the full analysis in your backup documentation.
Finally, remove skepticism of your numbers by making the following abundantly clear:
- The analysis uses your company’s historical rates of marketing success when appropriate
- The analysis uses SMS marketing industry averages when appropriate
- The resulting ROI is based on sales/revenue that is specifically from SMS marketing, beyond other channels such as email, advertising, etc.
- You will be able to effectively report on the results of the SMS marketing program
Step 5: Pitch SMS for marketing to internal stakeholders
Finally, it’s time to put your pitch in action. Here are some tips to help you deliver an effective pitch from start to finish.
Slide 1: Title slide
When presenting this slide, take a minute to drive interest before diving right in. Show that you’re passionate about this new channel!
Slide 2: Agenda
Set a clear agenda to keep the meeting moving. For example, if the group knows you’ll present financials on Slide 5, you can avoid answering questions about them on Slide 4.
Slide 3: SMS for marketing: What it is and how we’ll use it
Use this slide to explain how your company will use SMS for marketing while keeping your audience in mind.
Slide 4: Why now
Take great care to deliver this slide effectively because this is your chance to combat inertia. Start by saying something like, “On the next slide, I’m going to show you the financials that paint an amazing picture of our ROI potential. But before showing you those, you should know that....”
Then, share industry statistics and what your competition is doing. Explain how your company needs to engage customers in a more meaningful way to improve your relationships. Tell them how business success is dependent upon standing out from the mass of marketing messages being sent today.
Slide 5: Financial summary
Again, simplify the financials to a few key numbers that will resonate with the stakeholders and direct them to the full analysis if they’d like to learn more.
Slide 6: Key criteria for success
You’ve already drafted information for this slide, but you should be careful in how you build and present it. The challenge is in showing just the right amount of information. Too much and you’ll confuse or lose the audience; too little and your audience won’t fully understand your support needs. Additionally, your audience may share your pitch deck with others in the company, and you want to make sure the content tells the right story on its own.
Slide 7: Next steps
This part will depend on your particular company. Do your leaders prefer to see calendar views with deadlines? Do the people in the room have individual authority or do they need to convene with peers and get back to you?
Whatever your particular situation, put it directly on the slide and do not leave room for ambiguity. Call out what you need. Ask if there are any dependencies (e.g. more information from you), and request a specific date for an answer.
Slide 8: Questions
Practice your presentation to get an understanding of how long it will take and make sure you have enough time for Q&A. You need this time to ensure your stakeholders are clear on the benefits and willing to move forward with securing the support you need.
Your appendix slides are a terrific place to provide detailed information that was too dense for the presentation. This is also a great place for explainer slides in case the materials are forwarded to others when you will not be walking them through it.
For some final presentation advice, you can never go wrong by telling a story that connects your attendees to the problem you are trying to solve and deliver the “what’s in it for me.” And remember, when in doubt, focus on the numbers and potential ROI. Driving revenue is what business decision makers care about.
Build your SMS marketing strategy today
Texting for marketing can undoubtedly help your company build loyalty and growth while providing measurable ROI. If you’re ready to deep dive on SMS for marketing, download Twilio’s SMS for Marketing Ebook. You’ll learn how to develop an overall SMS marketing strategy, capture consent, and create effective campaigns at each stage of your customer journey.
And remember, by choosing to propose your SMS marketing program, you’re also setting yourself up for recognition and personal growth in your career. Good luck!
Bill Higbee is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Twilio. Bill has 20+ years experience in technical marketing roles spanning API, SaaS, Telecom, and more. When Bill isn’t helping businesses enhance their customer engagement, he’s most likely skiing, golfing, or finding some other way to have fun outdoors. Feel free to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or linkedin.com/in/billhigbee