Is SMS Marketing Too Personal for Your Brand?

After reading that headline, you’re probably doing a double take. With virtually every blog and Twitter talking head espousing the benefits of getting personal with your text contact list, it might not make a lot of sense. However, there’s definitely a line that’s just waiting to be crossed by unsuspecting brands that don’t know when to put the brakes on the personalization tactics. To help you navigate the tricky landscape surrounding SMS marketing and personalization, let’s take a moment to look at what constitutes going too far in terms of personalization and what you can do to make sure your audience is never turned off when they see your company name in their inboxes.

A Prime Example of Going Too Far

Recently, the organizers over at Manchester’s Parklife in the United Kingdom found out that sometimes trying to make a mark with text messages can backfire in a big way. As part of its awareness campaign for parties starting up after the main Parklife event, the organization shot off a text message from “Mum” reminding the reader to be home for breakfast after the festivities. While this sounds like a cute and creative way of promoting these parties at first glance, some of the sadder parts of real-life quickly turned the campaign sour.

Unfortunately, plenty of the partygoers reacted negatively to the messages based on the fact that losing loved ones – particularly mothers in this case – is simply part of life. For those who no longer have their mothers in their lives, this message turned into a jarring and painful reminder of what they had lost. In some cases, receiving a text from “Mum” literally brought members of the contact list to tears. For those of us that have lost mothers too soon, it’s easy to understand the raw, emotional nature of this reaction.

Understanding the Thought Process

Obviously, this is not where you want to be with your messages moving forward. However, it’s hard to blame the Parklife organizers completely. On paper, it seemed like a smart tactic for breaking the monotony that comes with using a random string of numbers to spearhead your inbox offerings. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this faux pas put a huge damper on the event, leading to a wave of backlash on Twitter and Facebook, as well as culminating in an official apology from the organization. While time will eventually help soothe the wounds caused by this mental misstep, having this shadow hover over your brand, regardless of the intentions behind the process, is not something your brand can afford.

Finding Balance with Smart SMS Tactics

So does this mean you should say goodbye to personalized text messages and go back to the boring, generic staples that flood the rest of your audiences’ inboxes? Absolutely not. If you really want to make a positive impact on your consumers with these SMS offerings, you’ll need to learn to walk the tightrope between personalization overkill and an amount that’s just right. Thankfully, a few key tactics can steer your brand in the right direction while still maintaining a level of familiarity that cuts away unwanted brand anonymity.

First up is finding a replacement for “Mum” and other identifiers that are far too personal. While it might seem a little obvious, going with your company name is the easiest way to build familiarity and make things simple for your audience. This helps break down the barrier of anonymous texting, all while avoiding overstepping certain boundaries. Additionally, cutting out the text slang and abbreviations can also work wonders. In its place, focus on wording that makes your reader feel special, like “exclusive” or “limited.” Letting them know that you’re looking to reward them personally for signing up, while still maintaining a professional tone, is a powerful combo for SMS marketing campaigns.

Protecting Your Brand Now and Into the future

After reading through all of this, it’s clear that protecting your brand via SMS, while still firing off great content, requires a little thought and effort. However, a well-planned and properly personalized campaign can provide a massive boost to your brand in the short and long-term, ensuring that your hard work is well worth the effort. The key point to take away when it comes to SMS messaging, emails, and any other form of contact with your customers is that one of the most powerful things you can do is to simply step back and look at your content from as many perspectives as possible. This way, you can cut down on the risk of accidentally alienating your audience with a message that looked like a winner on the drawing board, but turned into a catastrophe in practice.

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About Victor Green

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