SMS Marketing

SMS marketing stands for "short message service" marketing. SMS marketing refers to sending promotional marketing ideas using text messages to the consumer.

Sms marketing - Benefits, Tools, Ideas and mistakes to avoid

With the increase in the time spent by people on phones, organizations are implementing SMS marketing campaigns. It is one of the most effective forms of communication and staying in contact with your existing customers and subscribers. In addition, personalized promotional text messages on mobile phones make customers feel more personal than other marketing tactics.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing stands for "short message service" marketing. It refers to sending promotional marketing communication using text messages. These SMS messages are generally meant to communicate updates, alerts, coupons, promotions, or time-sensitive offers to customers through highly targeted, permission-based, opt-in text messages.

Such SMS messages are limited to 160 characters and reach the customer in just seconds after it is sent and act as a push notification. Hence, it is also known as text message marketing.

SMS marketing can be used to:

  • Boost sales: Push various promotions to offer discounts and limited-time deals to increase earnings.
  • Build relationships: Provide customer support and services.
  • Engages audience: Share important updates and the latest upcoming events.
  • Generate excitement: Host different polls and win a prize or vote in a contest, encouraging text-to-win or Text-to-Vote contests.
  • Collect leads: Inquire potential customers to sign-up for text messages.
  • Nurture leads: Keep following your leads and keep engaged with the occasional messages.

But while incorporating texting into your digital marketing strategy, it is very significant to take care that it does not annoy your customers.

How does SMS marketing work?

Opt-In Methods

As discussed, marketers can not send texts to customers without their permission. Therefore, we will discuss different sign-up or opt-in methodologies to obtain customer's written consent for receiving SMS messages. To opt-in means a customer gives written consent to a business for receiving auto-dialed promotional messages.

The different ways by which customers can opt-in to receive SMS messages are:

  • Using keywords

Customers can text SMS keywords to a designated code. These SMS keywords provide a convenient way for people to subscribe to SMS messages. You can advertise your keywords on:

  • Social media posts
  • In-store signage
  • Television ads
  • Radio commercials
  • Using web forms

Customers can also opt through a web form on your website. You can capture the name, phone number, and other details of the customer from the web form.

  • Using click-to-text buttons

To start one-on-one conversations with your customers, use the click-to-text button—someone browsing your website with mobile needs to click the button to initiate a text conversation with you.

  • Using paper forms

You can use consent paper forms already filled out by the customers and collect customer phone numbers and other details. Ensure that your paper form has a checkbox that people need to tick off to sign up for messages. Store all the customer paper forms in a safe place for future reference.

It is a good idea to use Facebook ads to get specific people to subscribe to your SMS marketing campaign. For example, you can ask people clicking on your Facebook ads to provide their phone number to learn more about your product or service.

  • While checkout

You can encourage your customers to sign up for text messages while checking out. You can do this at a retail location with a digital POS (point of sales) or on your online store.  

Phone numbers for your SMS marketing campaigns  

For your SMS marketing campaigns, you can use a dedicated short code or a 10-digit long toll-free number.

  • Short Code

It is a special 5 or 6 digit telephone number specially meant for SMS marketing campaigns. You can use this short code for your SMS campaigns.

  • Toll-Free Phone Number

It is the most versatile SMS marketing phone number and can be used for mass messaging and 2-way communication.

Auto Responses

Whenever a customer texts a keyword or submits a web form, they receive a customizable automatic message. You can welcome your new subscribers with some special promotional offer, or confirm their sign up or provide information on future requirements.

Bulk SMS marketing

Bulk SMS marketing refers to sending out bulk SMS as part of a brand marketing campaign. In bulk SMS marketing, bulk automated transactional messages are sent through SMS to the customers.

These transactional SMS marketing messages are normal messages related to e-commerce like order and shipping confirmation, abandoned cart notifications, etc. Bulk SMS marketing is also mostly used for promotional campaigns, like general sales or seasonal messages, to stay top of mind for your customers.

Features of SMS marketing

  • Text messages are instant and can be sent and received in a matter of seconds. This enables you to control the exact time and date you want your customers to read your promotions.
  • It is consent-based marketing. You can only send text messages to customers that have chosen your communication.
  • It is a mass communication tool and allows you to contact several customers at a single click of a button.
  • It is trackable and allows you to measure which promotions and messages are working effectively. This will assist you in working and brush up on your text marketing campaigns constantly.

Benefits of SMS marketing

The benefits of SMS marketing vary based on the industry type and how they are used for promotions. Let us now go through some of the unique benefits offered by SMS marketing:

  • SMS is intimate, immediate, and overt and is received and read instantly by the customers.
  • SMS marketing provides a stronger personal connection to the customers.
  • SMS messages give you an instant push notification on customers' phones, and customers are more likely to open your text message at least. SMS messages have higher open rates when compared to email.
  • SMS marketing campaigns are eye-catchers and get a higher customer engagement rate.
  • There are chances of customers forwarding interesting and valuable text promotions to friends and family also.
  • SMS marketing increases the foot traffic and the customer base of your business. This, in turn, increases conversions and sales of products and services.
  • SMS marketing rewards your loyal customers, along with creating new ones.
  • The marketing reach offered by the SMS ensures that your customers won't feel forgotten.
  • Through SMS, you can instantly communicate with your existing as well as potential customers.
  • SMS marketing keeps your customers engaged and in the loop with your business.

SMS marketing best practices

However, not new, but SMS marketing is much more refined now. Therefore, to stay relevant to your SMS marketing campaigns, we have discussed here some best practices of SMS marketing.

Get customer permission

For SMS marketing, it is essential to get explicit permission from your customers. To get permission for the same, you need to add the option of including a phone number, along with your newsletter subscription option.

However, overusing this marketing channel can also kill your customers. Like email, you should give customers an unsubscribe link or a number they can text 'STOP to,' along with the SMS.

Personalize your campaigns

SMS is an intimate channel of communication with customers. So try to build and maintain closeness and relationship with the receiver. For example, you can use the receiver's first name, send messages relevant to the location or previous purchases made by the customer, and personalize your messages.  

Use an SMS marketing tool

To send bulk SMSs to your customers, you would need SMS marketing software. These SMS marketing software integrate SMS texts with email and push notifications into a single automated workflow, ensuring a consistent, personalized experience for your customers.  

The SMS marketing tools provide various metrics and reports to measure the impact of your SMS campaigns. It will assist you in improving or making necessary changes in your text campaigns and try different tactics for a successful campaign.

A substantial SMS marketing tool can help you in several ways:

  • First, you can automate your SMS marketing messages.
  • You can send many messages with a single click.
  • You can add SMS directly to your email automation workflows.
  • SMS marketing campaigns can be triggered with a high level of segmentation to target your campaigns.

Keep it short and sweet

Keep your texts short, simple, and to the point. Customers won't bother reading lengthy messages and may opt out of receiving messages in the future. SMS messaging has a cut-off of 160 characters. So you have to grab customers' attention, communicate messages, and close with a CTA, all in less than 160 characters only. So be straightforward and get to the point quickly.

To keep it short, you can incorporate a link to your text message so that your customers can check out details about the offer or update you have sent. Then, after sending a text, you can follow up with an email with complete information if the customer needs it.  

Add value to your customer

Make sure that whatever you communicate to your customers through SMS should be relevant and adds value to the consumer's experience, and your subscribers should be happy to receive it. Providing some useful information and promotional offers can create a level of anticipation and surprise in the customer.  

So, before sending an SMS, check how to add value without being intrusive. If not handled properly, this channel can straightforwardly turn off potential customers and burn out very quickly.

Send texts at appropriate times

Make sure not to flood your customers with messages at odd hours. It is very important to pay close attention to the scheduling of marketing messages. It is always recommended to send marketing text messages during typical business hours.

Offer an unsubscribe option

Make it convenient for your message receivers to opt out at any time if they decide to. For example, you can provide an unsubscribe link for receivers to click or respond to your message with "STOP."

SMS Marketing Ideas

Here we have come up with five ideal situations where with a well-timed SMS, you can make a remarkable difference.

Welcome offers

You can surprise your new customers with a well-timed Welcome SMS message. If you have offered any incentive for signing up, you can send the discount code or link with this welcome message.

Birthday discounts

You can wish your customers on their special day. This will boost the level of personalization with your existing customers. Along with birthday wishes, your can offer special discounts also on their special occasion. Send the offer directly in the SMS message or push it as a teaser to explore email for a special birthday gift.  

Time-sensitive offers

SMS messages are instant and received by the customers in a matter of seconds. So it is best to send time-sensitive offers to your customers through SMS messages. You can add a bit of urgency in the text message and control your SMS messages' exact time and date to make sure your customer has every opportunity to participate in the offer.

Order confirmation and shipping updates

SMS can prove to be the most reliable communication tool for customer order confirmation and shipping updates. You can provide the order tracking links to oversee the delivery route of the product. In addition, customers can track whether the order has been shipped or is back in stock. With automated order status updates on SMS, you can offer convenience your customers will appreciate.  

Cart abandonment

An abandoned shopping cart SMS is sent to someone who has added items to the cart and gotten through a portion of the checkout and then left without purchasing. You can send an SMS to capture your customer's attention to abandoned products and remind them of what they're missing. Usually, a cart abandonment email is sent to customers as a reminder. However, you can combine it with an SMS.

Measuring the results of SMS marketing

Yes, you can measure your SMS marketing campaign and can easily see if it is driving revenue.  

Some common SMS marketing benchmarks are:

  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate is how many messages receivers took after receiving your marketing message, such as purchasing by clicking your link. The conversion rate of your texts can be easily determined using Google Analytics and UTM parameters for free.
  • Phone list growth: A steady and consistent growth in the SMS phone list is a good indicator of your SMS marketing campaign's success.
  • Unsubscribe rate: As per the thumb rule, the unsubscribe rate of your SMS marketing campaign should be less than 3%. If higher, it is alarming.
  • ROI: You can keep track of the purchases made or influenced by SMS. This will help you in accessing the success of the SMS campaign.

SMS marketing mistakes to avoid

Based on the experiences of some unsuccessful SMS marketing campaigns, here we have come up with some common mistakes to stay away from:  

Neglecting the law

Many countries have specific rules about SMS marketing. Marketers are bound by law. They have to get customers' or subscribers' consent before sending marketing communications on SMS. Marketers are also bound to honor opt-out requests of customers.

Sending too many texts

Just because you have a customer's consent to contact through SMS messages doesn't mean that you can bombard them with messages. Blasting your customers with messages without their permission could have serious consequences.

It is recommended to convey to your customers what they can presume from your SMS campaigns and not break your promise. Otherwise, it may prompt your customers or subscribers to opt-out. Better to save this SMS marketing channel for your most amazing offers or messages.

Forgetting to identify yourself

People usually ignore text messages from undisclosed sources. So better to use your brand name in the message to show your receivers who you are when you message them. Otherwise, they won't perceive the context of the message.  

No proper scheduling of messages

It is very important to time your messages wisely. Bad message timing can result in aggravated customers. It may ultimately lead to higher opt-out rates and a corroded brand reputation. The perfect time to send SMS marketing messages depends on the content and intention of the campaign. Be sure to consider the time zone differences for international recipients.

Failing to include a call-to-action

It is very significant to be clear and precise in your text messaging. Incorporate a call-to-action statement, a purpose, time frame, and important instructions in your text message.

Using text slang

Instead of confusing your message receivers with unnecessary abbreviations and text slang, try to be creative enough to convey information using complete words. Don't forget; you have a limited opportunity of only 160 characters to convey your message.


SMS marketing is a great tool for boosting brand awareness, educating subscribers, boosting customer engagement, generating more sales, and increasing website traffic. However, a successful SMS campaign should be well structured and legal. By using our suggested best practices for your SMS marketing campaign, you can improve your ROI drastically.

About the author

has been working as a web developer and in online marketing since 1998. After building up a marketing agency and the exit in 2013, he consulted international groups as a freelance consultant. Since 2022, he and his team now offer staffing services in this field.

Dennis Hoinkis CEO, GLOMASTCO Ltd.

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