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Mailchimp SMS for Small Businesses: The Ultimate Guide

SMS is a valuable tool for reaching your contacts with the right message at the right moment. In 2023, Mailchimp launched its SMS Tool, allowing users to integrate SMS messages into their existing email strategy. After 1 year with the tool, we’ve helped clients navigate the entire process– From getting messaging set up to sending SMS and analyzing the results. Here is our ultimate guide to Mailchimp SMS, with expert-backed tips to optimize your strategy.

What is SMS? 

SMS stands for short message service. In layman’s terms, that’s a text message. With Mailchimp SMS, you can send messages directly to your subscribers’ smartphones. When you add an image to your SMS, it becomes an MMS. MMS stands for multimedia message service. AKA: Text messages with pictures. 

Getting Started: Mailchimp’s SMS Application

Before you can send SMS or MMS with Mailchimp, you’ll need to fill out an application. This helps Mailchimp ensure you are a legitimate business following all relevant regulations, so they can protect all their users.

The application features a few key steps:

  1. SMS Goals: Choose from a list of approved uses for SMS, including order notifications, promotional campaigns, and more. Be sure to check your intended use against the list of “Unapproved ways of using SMS.” Unapproved use may result in account suspension.
  2. SMS Experience: Select your level of SMS experience or hit “Skip” to receive default how-to pop-ups from Mailchimp.
  3. Business Information: Fill out key business details including website, address, and Tax ID.
  4. Phone Number: Create a new phone number or send using an established number for your business.
  5. Sender Information: Choose your SMS audience (We recommend a single-audience strategy.) and fill in some additional information about your business.
  6. Terms & Conditions: Mailchimp requires terms & conditions and a privacy policy for SMS users. You can use Mailchimp’s template language, or link to existing pages on your website. Check out Mailchimp’s guide to creating a privacy policy.
  7. Credit Subscription: Choose how many credits you’d like to buy per month once your application is approved.

Mailchimp takes up to 5 business days to review your application, during which time you will see a “processing” status. Once your SMS application is approved, you’ll get an email from Mailchimp & be ready to send immediately!

How Mailchimp’s SMS Credits Work

Mailchimp SMS is available to users on the Essentials plan or above. Once a user completes their SMS application, they can choose to purchase anywhere from 1,000 to 450,000 credits per month. Users spend credits every time they send a message.

How do you know how many SMS credits you’ll need? It may take a little math. Mailchimp SMS messages consume 1 credit per 153 characters, or 1 credit per 63 characters if you use emojis. MMS messages consume 3 credits per 1,600 characters. 

Once you know how many credits your message is likely to use, you can multiply that # by the number of subscribers you’ll be reaching.

So, if you send 3 messages per month to 1000 recipients, and each message is under 153 characters long with no emojis, you’ll need 3000 credits per month.

Small businesses on a shoestring budget may want to start with 1000 credits and purchase more as needed.

Sending SMS & MMS Campaigns

Just like with email, Mailchimp users can schedule SMS messages in advance to moderate their send frequency. The SMS builder is a fairly simple interface, with a text box where users can type in their message, and an option to add an image. Images in MMS campaigns should be no wider than 640px and no taller than 1138px. If you’ve optimized image sizes for email before, you’re already on the right track!

Using SMS in Mailchimp Journeys

SMS messages can also be sent automatically using Mailchimp’s customer journeys. Just add a “Send SMS” journey point and customize the message to your preference! 

Here are some journeys small business owners can use to increase revenue with SMS:

  • Welcome new subscribers as they sign up (This can help decrease unsubscribes down the line!)
  • Send order notifications
  • Trigger reminders when a subscriber registers for an event
  • Send abandoned cart texts to accompany your emails
  • Use date-based automations to beat the competition during holiday rushes (Hello, Black Friday)

How Do I Know if an SMS Campaign is Successful?

Mailchimp offers a range of reports to analyze your SMS campaigns’ performance. For a general benchmark on engagement, click rates and open rates are a great place to start. According to Forbes, SMS open rates can be as high as 98%. However, your first few SMS messages are unlikely to reach such a high open rate and open rates don’t necessarily equate to high click-throughs.

SMS success is best measured in the context of your larger business goals. For example, if you’d like to increase revenue by 25% this quarter, see what percentage of your sales come from SMS. It can also be valuable to evaluate your first quarter using SMS against the same quarter the previous year.

If you’re not seeing the growth you’re hoping to achieve, don’t worry! It can take time to perfect your strategy and reach the right people with the right messages at the right times.

What Not to Do: SMS Practices to Avoid

As you develop your SMS strategy, be sure to avoid the most common pitfalls for new users!

  1. Never cold-SMS: All SMS subscribers MUST be actively opted in
  2. Don’t Send Too Frequently: Keep your messages to 1 per week at absolute maximum
  3. Message with a Purpose: Don’t send SMS just for the heck of it– Always share something valuable for your subscribers
  4. Keep it Personal: Use merge tags to personalize your messages
  5. Don’t Forget Your Numbers: Monitor campaign analytics to ensure your messages are bringing the intended results

When in doubt, put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes! If a message would annoy or upset you, it’s likely to do the same for your customers.

Optimize Your SMS Strategy with Pure Firefly

Pure Firefly was founded to provide high-quality, cost-effective marketing solutions for entrepreneurs, nonprofits & small businesses. As an agency with a combined 10+ years of experience, we’re committed to staying ahead of the curve in digital marketing. To get started with SMS, try booking a training call with one of our experts. Or bring us on a retainer for help with all your Mailchimp needs! We offer a wide range of services to fill your marketing needs.

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Are You Ready for Mailchimp’s New SMS Tool?

Technology is constantly evolving, and so are Mailchimp’s marketing channels with the upcoming addition of SMS marketing. SMS (Short Message Service) has been around since the early 2000s, but only recently emerged as a powerful marketing tool. Mailchimp’s SMS feature is currently in beta testing, but you can still take steps to prepare for the tool’s launch. In this blog post, we will help you prepare to leverage this exciting channel in your marketing strategy. 

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing involves sending short, concise text messages to subscribers’ mobile phones. Because mobile phones are so integrated into most people’s day-to-day life, SMS is a great way for businesses to communicate directly with their audience. It’s especially well suited to time-sensitive messages like promotions, event reminders, and more. SMS marketing provides a direct and personal way to engage with customers, often leading to high open rates and quick response times.

Gather Opt-In & Phone Numbers

Before you can start using Mailchimp’s SMS tool, it’s essential to get permission from your subscribers to send them text messages. Implementing a clear opt-in process is crucial for legal compliance and demonstrates respect for your audience’s preferences. Update your subscription forms to allow users to provide their phone numbers and opt-in for SMS communications. 

You can also send a landing page for your current subscribers to opt-in for SMS. That way, you’ll have contacts to send to when your SMS campaign is ready to launch. Make sure to communicate the value of receiving SMS messages from your business and consider offering a special discount to encourage opt-ins. 

Wondering how to optimize your opt-in process? Try a strategy call with one of our Mailchimp experts.

Build Your SMS Strategy

Like any other marketing channel, SMS requires a well-defined strategy to maximize its effectiveness. To avoid being overwhelmed, remember to market smart. Determine your goals for using SMS, whether it’s to promote new products, send exclusive offers, or provide timely updates. Consider the send frequency of your SMS messages and strike a balance between staying top-of-mind and avoiding overwhelming your subscribers. Craft concise and engaging content that delivers value in each text message. 

As Mailchimp rolls out SMS tools to more users, they are likely to launch more help articles on SMS strategy. For now, their post on 5 Key SMS Strategies is a great place to start.

Apply for Mailchimp SMS

To access Mailchimp’s SMS tool, you’ll need to apply for it once it becomes available. Keep an eye out for announcements from Mailchimp regarding the public launch of the SMS feature and the application process. Once the application is live, be prepared to confirm your business information and compliance contact details. While SMS is in beta, availability is likely to be limited, and the application process may change once the tool launches.

Understand Mailchimp SMS vs. MMS

Mailchimp’s SMS tool will be able to send both SMS (text-only) and MMS (multimedia) messages. Understanding the differences between the two will help you optimize your communication strategy. SMS messages contain only text, while MMS messages can include images and videos. SMS messages are technically limited to 160 characters, but users can insert over 160 characters and allow Mailchimp to break it up into multiple messages. Consider the type of content that will best convey your message, and be sure to consider image size when sending MMS.

Build an SMS Strategy with Pure Firefly

You can never be too prepared. While Mailchimp SMS is still in beta, consider developing your strategy with a Mailchimp Pro Partner like Pure Firefly. Pure Firefly is a leading marketing agency offering comprehensive digital marketing services and one-on-one strategy calls. From implementation to data analysis, Pure Firefly can assist you every step of the way. Contact us at any time to set up a consultation.

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What Else Can Mailchimp Do? Beyond Email Marketing

Email is our happy place, but effective marketing requires more than just sending emails. As Mailchimp Pro Partners, we’d like to highlight the tools and features Mailchimp offers beyond basic email. In this article, we’ll explore how the following Mailchimp tools can enhance your marketing efforts:

  1. Social Media Posts & Ads
  2. Landing Pages
  3. SMS
  4. Postcards
  5. Surveys

Engage your audience beyond email to reach new levels of engagement & conversion!

Create Social Media Posts & Ads

In 2023, almost everyone has a social media presence – Including brands & organizations! Mailchimp recognizes the importance of a robust social media presence and offers tools to reach your audience on some of the most popular platforms. With Mailchimp’s Social Media Posts & Ads, you can seamlessly connect your Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook accounts. Schedule, publish, and manage posts from your campaign page.

By integrating your social media marketing efforts with your email campaigns, you can maintain a consistent brand voice and expand your reach to a wider audience. Check out our post on multichannel marketing to learn more!

Landing Pages

Visually appealing and conversion-focused landing pages can make or break a marketing campaign. Mailchimp’s Landing Pages feature gives you the tools to create an effective landing page. With a user-friendly drag-and-drop builder, you can design and customize landing pages that align with your brand. These pages allow you to promote products, announce special offers, acquire new leads, and more. 

You can also automatically tag contacts who sign up via a landing page, in order to send them targeted emails later on down the line. To learn about this process and implement it yourself, set up a training session with one of our email specialists.

Use Mailchimp for SMS

In a world where people are constantly connected to their smartphones, SMS marketing has emerged as a highly effective communication channel. Mailchimp understands this and offers an integrated SMS feature to send personalized text messages and alerts to your audience’s mobile devices.

Currently, transactional SMS is only available to users with a Mailchimp Store. However, Mailchimp has big things on the horizon! They are currently beta testing a more advanced SMS tool, which many users can apply for today. Keep an eye on their product updates page to see when this feature becomes available to all.

Postcards

By reaching beyond the digital realm, physical mail can have a powerful impact on your audience. Mailchimp’s Postcards feature enables you to design and send personalized, printed postcards to your customers. Whether it’s for announcing a special offer, expressing gratitude, or simply staying top of mind, postcards create a lasting impression on your subscribers, who may be overwhelmed by a crowded email inbox. 

Mailchimp’s Custom Surveys

Direct audience feedback is essential for improving your products, measuring campaign success, and understanding your audience. Some contacts are even more likely to engage with emails that include surveys or other interactive components.

Mailchimp’s Surveys feature allows you to create and distribute customized surveys via email or using a shareable link. The survey templates are easy to use, with options to add content, set up auto-tagging, and create robust reports. If you need a hand getting your first survey set up, reach out to Pure Firefly.

Maximize Your Mailchimp Investment with Pure Firefly

With tools reaching beyond basic email, Mailchimp helps businesses connect with their audience wherever they are. To fully embrace the capabilities of Mailchimp and take your marketing efforts to new heights, consider working with a Mailchimp Pro Partner like Pure Firefly. Our comprehensive audit is a great place to start for businesses looking to strategically expand their digital marketing efforts. Contact us today for a quote!

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