smsiconphone2The nature of SMS as a mobile response mechanism lends itself perfectly to lead generation, but doing so effectively requires careful consideration, detailed planning, a dose of creativity and strict adherence to best practices and privacy-based regulation.

The key to leveraging SMS for lead generation is to first identify your audience and then create incentivized campaigns that cater to them.  This, in turn, drives leads while providing value to your prospects and creating long-lasting, brand-based relationships.  Depending on the nature of your business, there are several different types of message strategies that can be utilized.  These range from mobile coupon offers that are designed to drive foot traffic to mobile contest campaigns that drive awareness of an event.  The initial engagement via SMS, regardless of the type of message sent, is aimed at \”getting your foot in the door\” in order to begin the lead generation process.

To drive initial engagement with your SMS campaign, it\’s important to promote your call-to-action prominently in other forms of media.  This provides the initial awareness of your campaign and acquires the necessary opt-in to receive future messaging.  You should promote your call-to-action through traditional media, such as print-based newspaper ads, flyers and coupons, as well as on digital mediums like your Website, blog, and social media channels. SMS also has the added advantage of being able to be posted in specific geographic areas and therefore can be targeted by the recipient\’s location.  The initial engagement is meant to incentivize the user to respond to your offer.  Once \”subscribed,\” you can engage further to foster the lead generation process.

As users respond to your calls-to-action, you will begin to accumulate a fully opted-in database of users who are already interested in your brand and receiving communications from you.  Each opted-in user is an instant lead for your business.  The next step is to continue engagement through relevant offers and incentives to produce the desired results from the leads you acquire.

As an example, a nightclub could initiate an SMS contest with the call-to-action \”Text DANCE to 99158 to gain free entry to the club this Friday night before 10pm.\”   The club could then promote the call-to-action via flyers and leaflets placed around the venue, at other local businesses, as well as on their Website, blog, and social media channels.  As users respond, the club begins building a relevant opt-in database of people who are interested in visiting the venue on Friday night, allowing a targeted lead-generation process to begin.

With its growing database, the club can then initiate a second offer such as “Reply DOUBLES to receive double shots for half price this Friday night,” which furthers the incentive and may attract others through word-of-mouth.  As the database grows, the club can even target users to create completely new leads, with an offer such as \”Tell your friends to text DANCERS to 99158 and you will both get free entry to ‘Club Example’ this Friday before 10pm.”

As with all mobile marketing efforts, and especially SMS marketing, there\’s industry best practices and regulation that must be taken into account as well, such as user privacy and consent.  Sending out new offers to subscribers who opted-in to previous or old campaigns, for example, could be considered spam.  Because of this, it\’s important to always gain explicit consent for each individual campaign to ensure consistency, compliance, and quality of the leads you generate in the process.

Through careful planning and execution, SMS can provide an endless stream of fresh leads for your business, as long as the appropriate steps are taken to foster each lead from initial engagement through final execution.  Once you\’ve created and launched lead generation campaigns using SMS, it\’s as simple as repeating the process to target your various audiences and providing the right offers based on those audiences to drive results.