Insights & Resources7 min read

How to Create the Perfect SMS Sales Funnel

Are SMS sales funnels right for your business? With high customer engagement and conversational messaging, here's everything you need to know.

Brian Segal
Business owner using SMS sales funnel
Sales funnels are the foundation of marketing. Usually, SMS is treated as a supplement to a larger sales funnel. But you can—and should—create a complete SMS sales funnel, where you can walk people from first contact to sale, using just text communication.
Then you can plug your SMS sales funnel into your overarching sales funnel, so long as you understand exactly how the SMS sales funnel work.

What is an SMS Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a system for walking customers through the process of buying from you, from the point of discovering your business to the final purchase. An SMS sales funnel is a funnel that steps people through this sales process using text as the communication channel.
With an SMS sales funnel, customers can contact you, get information, and make a purchase, all through text. And, your SMS sales funnel can work side-by-side with your other sales funnels. Customers can start the process in email, ask questions through SMS, and finally complete the purchase in person, if they wish. In short, an SMS sales funnel is both a standalone sales asset, and a booster for your other advertising and sales media.

Getting Started with SMS

SMS sales funnels can be incredibly efficient. But there are some special considerations that only apply to SMS marketing. So there are a few crucial elements that you must understand before you can build the perfect SMS sales funnel.
Pay careful attention to these steps. Because it’s easy to make costly compliance mistakes in SMS marketing.

Stage 1: Customer Opt-In

One of the unique parts of your SMS sales funnel is that you cannot send SMS messages to customers without their permission. Even sending a text to ask for permission is off limits.
You’ll have to create opportunities and offer incentives for customers to ask you to text them. One of the simplest ways to get people into your SMS sales funnel is to offer a discount for signing up to receive text messages. Then ask customers to text a keyword to your SMS phone number to opt-in and get their discount.
That way customers text you first, and you can confirm that they are officially agreeing to let you text them. Again, never text a customer without their permission. This violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and can cost you over $18,000 per text message.

Stage 2: Personalized Response

SMS has a couple of unique features that make it an especially effective marketing channel. First, it’s incredibly easy to personalize text messages. And SMS has ridiculously high open rates.
Personalization is a well documented tactic for improving marketing performance. It works in every marketing channel. It’s just that certain types of marketing are very difficult to personalize.
SMS is super easy to customize. All you need is a first name. This easy personalization means it’s simple to craft high performing SMS messages.
Then, SMS gets open rates as high as 98%. So customers are incredibly likely to see your personalized messages. That’s a recipe for a profitable marketing funnel.

Stage 3: Mobile Friendly Landing Page

People read SMS messages almost exclusively on their phone. And most internet traffic is from mobile devices. That makes it incredibly important to create mobile friendly landing pages.
But, since the majority of SMS messages get opened on a mobile device, any link you include in an SMS message should link to a mobile friendly landing page.
Viewing and using desktop web pages on a mobile device is difficult and irritating. Linking to a desktop landing page in an SMS message causes your SMS sales funnel to perform poorly. People will drop out of the funnel because your landing page is difficult to use.
A mobile friendly landing page makes the customer experience seamless and maximizes conversion rates.

Stage 4: Sequencing

Although your SMS open rates will be phenomenal, people often won’t click through or take the next step in the sales process based on a single text message. That’s why it’s important to create sequences of SMS messages.
This is a common and simple framework for creating a sequence of SMS messages. It’s an initial message, supported by two follow-up messages:
1. Initial Message: This will often be your opt-in confirmation message. But the first message should introduce your offer, supported by a call-to-action to get the customer moving through your SMS sales funnel.
2. Check-In Message: This is a follow up message that’s framed as a reminder to let the customer know that your offer is still on the table.
3. Check-Out Message: The last message is just a heads up to the customer that they still haven’t taken you up on your offer, and that this is the last message you’re going to send regarding your offer. It’s a good idea to include instructions on how to opt-out of further text messages at the end of this message.
There are certainly other ways to structure your SMS message sequence. But, if you’re stuck, this is a good framework to start with.

Stage 5: Split Test and Analyze

Tracking performance is always important in sales and marketing. However, it’s also super important to methodically test and improve your SMS sales funnel.
The best way to get incremental improvement is through split testing. The process is simple:
First, create your SMS sales funnel, and use it for a while to gather performance data.
Then analyze the data to get an idea of where your SMS sales funnel could be improved.
Lastly, make one change to your funnel and run it to see if that improves the performance. If the performance goes up, keep the new version. Otherwise, revert back to the old version.
Analyze the data again, and identify one other change that might improve the performance. Go through the same process of making the change and testing the new model against the old one. Keep the changes that work. Discard the changes that don’t.
This process will help you steadily improve your SMS marketing funnel and achieve the best possible sales performance.

SMS Funnel Tips to Keep in Mind

Even though there’s a reliable process for improving your SMS sales funnel performance, it’s obviously best if you start with a relatively high performing funnel. These tips will help you create a strong SMS sales funnel first draft.
  • Leverage the Buyer’s Journey
    The purpose of your SMS sales funnel is to give customers a guide to buying from you, one step at a time. That means that it’s vital that you craft messages that match where the customer is in the buying process.
    Obviously, you don’t want to ask customers for a review before they’re completed a purchase. And you shouldn’t ask people to make a purchase before they understand your business and your product very well. Make sure that your messages are delivering the information the customer needs, when they need it.
  • Respect Boundaries
    Follow the normal rules of decency in your text messaging. Avoid texting late at night or inappropriately early in the morning. Keep texting during working hours to a minimum, since many people don’t want to get texts at work. And avoid sending tons of text messages in quick succession.
  • Use Branded Messaging
    Establish a tone for your messages. You have very little space in a text message (160 characters). A consistent tone will create a brand customers trust and keep people engaged in your SMS funnel.
  • Focus on Quality
    Quality beats quantity. Sending too many messages looks like spam, and people don’t like getting tons of text messages. Texting too often will decrease customer engagement and could cause spam filters to block your messages. Make sure that you’re delivering real value in every message.
Using these tips, you’ll be able to create an SMS sales funnel that will be a great foundation for building your SMS marketing platform.

Build Your Own SMS Sales Funnel with Telnyx

A strong SMS sales funnel is an incredible sales asset that will boost the performance of all your marketing efforts, in addition to generating revenue on its own. Telnyx gives you the reliability you need and the API support for integrating SMS funnels into your marketing strategy, to maximize your SMS marketing ROI.
Get in touch with a Telnyx SMS marketing expert to start assembling your SMS sales funnel.
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