Everyone reading this has something in common: you all own mobile phones. So do all your prospective and current customers. With over 6.71 billion people already using mobile phones, there’s no doubt this is one of the best ways to spread the word about your business. SMS marketing is here to stay, and with a few insights, you’ll discover how to use this to improve your digital marketing efforts.

In this article, we’ll discuss SMS marketing, including the types, benefits, best practices to follow and examples of marketing strategies that will take you ahead of your competitors.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing (or text marketing) is a form of mobile marketing that allows businesses to send text messages to customers and prospects. This involves using a short message service (SMS) to send messages like promotional offers, discounts, appointment reminders and shipping notifications.

SMS marketing has many advantages over other marketing strategies, such as email marketing. One advantage to SMS marketing is a 98% average open rate, which is 5x that of email (20%), meaning there’s a higher chance your audience will see your text message than your email. SMS marketing also boasts a 9.18% click-through rate compared to email’s 2.5%.

SMS marketing is a great way to reach your target audience with a concise and clear message. You can use it to inform your customers about a weekend sale or promotion and advertise your business with a higher chance of receipt and action.

Types of SMS text marketing campaigns

There are many types of SMS marketing campaigns, from simple to complex. Here are three of the most effective forms:

1. Promotional SMS marketing campaigns

Promotional SMS marketing campaigns are designed to generate interest in a product or service. They can include discounts, coupons and other special offers. Everyone loves an incentive, and freebies have always been a great way to grab attention and drive more people to your store. This works even better with a compelling call to action (CTA).

Take a look at this SMS marketing example from Jenni Kayne, a fashion brand featuring a personalized coupon code and a direct link to their shop page.

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from brand Jenni Kayne offering the subscriber 20% off with a code for subscribing to texts.

2. Transactional SMS marketing campaigns

Transactional SMS marketing messages are sent in response to an event or action. These campaigns offer time-sensitive information to the customer, such as appointment reminders, shipping notifications, password resets, or product releases. Because these messages are timely and relevant, they have a high open rate and can effectively drive conversions.

An example of a transactional SMS campaign is an order confirmation from an e-commerce purchase. Here’s an example from Baking Steel that includes order confirmation, tracking information and an unsubscribe option.

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from brand Baking Steel providing order details and updates to the text subscriber.

3. Conversational SMS marketing campaigns

The major difference between conversational SMS marketing and other conventional SMS marketing methods is that it involves text responses as prompts. This two-way SMS marketing campaign mimics human conversations, with automated back-and-forth responses between your brand and the customer.

Conversational SMS blends natural language processing for lifelike digital chats, combining human agents and automated texts for effective customer engagement and retention.

Benefits of SMS marketing

With 7.3 billion people estimated to have smartphones by 2026, wouldn’t you rather use this to reach your target audience? Here are five benefits of SMS marketing:

1. Reach customers faster

If you have time-sensitive information to share, SMS is the right medium, as 95% of text messages are opened within three minutes of receipt. For example, if you’re running a limited-time offer, you can use SMS to inform your customers.

2. Increase response rates

Unlike other marketing channels, SMS allows you to reach customers directly on their mobile devices, and customers are 134% more likely to respond to an SMS than an email. Because text messages have a much higher response rate, they can keep your customers engaged with your SMS marketing and open opportunities for further offers.

3. Complement other marketing channels

While an SMS marketing strategy is strong on its own, it can also be used to enhance other marketing channels. For example, you could use SMS to promote a contest or sale on social media or increase your email newsletter subscribers. You could also use SMS to remind customers of an upcoming event or webinar to increase signups.

4. Build customer loyalty

SMS marketing can help you build customer loyalty by sending personalized messages and offers to individuals. This is a great way to make your customers feel valued and increase their chances of returning to your business.

5. Increase revenue

SMS marketing platforms can boost revenue by driving traffic to your store or website. You can use SMS messages to promote special sales and events and remind customers to complete their cart purchases. This mobile commerce approach takes advantage of the accessible nature of texts and seamlessly integrates into your brand’s marketing efforts.

6 SMS marketing best practices to follow

Now that we’ve gone over how to do SMS marketing for your business, let’s look at some best practices to get the most out of your campaigns.

1. Only send texts to those who opted in

Only send texts to those who have permitted you to do so. The best way to do this is to include an opt-in form on your website or other online channels.

Even if you have an opt-in, it’s a good idea to send an initial text thanking a new subscriber and asking them to confirm opt-in with a simple reply of “Yes” or “No.” A great example of this is the opt-in message from Flexispot, which states their business name, to alert who is texting before confirming subscriptions to marketing and promotional messages.

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from brand Flexispot, who opens the text by stating their brand name and asking the recipient to confirm subscription to recurring automated texts.

2. Make it easy for customers to opt-out

Make it easy for customers to stop receiving your texts by including an unsubscribe option. This could be as simple as replying “STOP” or “Unsubscribe” to the text. Opting out of your SMS marketing campaign.

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from brand Rain City Games, who welcomes subscribers to text alerts and a link to review account details.

3. Identify your brand early

Keep your messages concise. When you have your target audience’s phone number, introduce your brand immediately. This makes recipients more receptive to your message from an unknown number. Start with your brand name, followed by an irresistible offer within the second sentence. Instant brand recognition and brevity are key.

4. Keep messages short and to the point

For SMS marketing success, keep it within the 160-character limit. Eliminate unnecessary content to boost message open rates and clicks. An effective framework for SMS campaigns is usually in this format:

  1. company name
  2. customer name
  3. enticing offer or brand promotion
  4. conditions for opting in
  5. a strong call-to-action, and
  6. an opt-out option

Providing opt-out options makes consumers feel more relaxed since this is presented as a choice, not a requirement. If needed, include a shortened link for additional information.

5. Create a consistent SMS marketing strategy

As with any type of marketing effort, consistency matters. Find the right balance of messages you can send within a reasonable timeline. Don’t overwhelm subscribers with too many messages, but don’t go silent either. Striking this balance keeps your brand relevant without becoming a nuisance.

6. Adhere to privacy laws and regulations

Finally, ensure you comply with Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) privacy laws and regulations for SMS marketing. Obtain express written consent, always include your business name, provide clear terms and conditions, offer an opt-out option during business hours, and respect consumer privacy and rights. Adhering to these regulations saves you from legal issues and protects consumer privacy.

SMS marketing strategies (with examples)

Ready to ramp up your SMS marketing? Here are some creative SMS marketing strategies, along with examples, to get you started:

1. Send welcome messages to new subscribers

Once a customer subscribes to your SMS marketing campaign, send them a welcome message. This will ensure they know they’re subscribed and allow you to engage with them immediately. Plus, it sets the tone for future interactions.

Welcome messages don’t have to be long or complex. A simple “Thank you for subscribing!” will do. You could even include a coupon code or special offer to sweeten the deal.

2. Announce new product releases

Another smart use of SMS advertising is to announce new product releases. Share the excitement with your subscribers to create buzz and re-engage customers who haven’t shopped with you in a while.

You can also drive traffic to your store or website by including a link in your SMS campaign to entice people to check out your latest offering. For example, texting “Check out our new arrivals” with a direct link to your website can boost traffic and give people a reason to visit your site.

3. Follow up on abandoned shopping carts

The average cart abandonment rate for e-commerce businesses is 70.19%. That’s a lot of potential revenue that’s left on the table. SMS marketing can help you recover some of that lost revenue by sending abandoned cart messages to customers who have left items in their online shopping carts.

4. Inform customers when products are back in stock

As a consumer ourselves, it’s frustrating when desired items are out of stock. SMS marketing offers a solution to notify customers when products are back in stock, ensuring they don’t miss out on a restock opportunity. You can also alert customers about similar or related products that may go on sale.

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from brand IKEA, who sends a product restock notification to a specific product at a specific store location to text subscribers.

5. Collect customer feedback

Customer feedback is essential for business improvement. SMS surveys collect customer feedback quickly and easily. You can create a short survey using tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey and send the link via SMS. Or, ask customers to reply with a rating (from one to five) and follow up with those who give a low rating to uncover areas for improvement.

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from brand Refresh Financial asking the recipient to rate their experience.`

6. Provide text-based customer service

You can use text messages to provide customer service. This is especially useful for businesses with a mobile workforce, like plumbers or delivery drivers.
If a customer needs to get in touch with someone, they can simply send a text rather than making a phone call. This can save the customer time, and it can also be less disruptive for the business.

Here’s an SMS marketing example from U-Haul, which offers customers the opportunity to check in and out via text:

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from U-Haul alerting the recipient of their rental reservation return time and location.

7. Ask for production or service reviews

Many companies use SMS marketing services to gather reviews about their service or staff. You’ve probably seen this from companies like Uber, asking customers to rate drivers after their ride to get feedback on their experience and identify improvement areas.

According to the Sprout Social Index™, 83% of consumers recommend a brand they follow on social media to friends and family. Consider displaying these reviews on your website, social media pages, and SMS marketing messages.

8. Promote online and in-person events

Promoting your upcoming events through SMS marketing can get people excited and engaged. Your SMS event reminders can include:

  • Date, time and location of your event
  • A CTA to encourage people to buy tickets or sign up
  • A link to your website or event page
  • Details about what attendees can expect
  • Hashtags to promote on social media
  • Emojis to increase engagement

If you have a limited number of spots available, be sure to include an RSVP link in your text so subscribers can reserve their spots right away.

Screenshot of an SMS marketing text from BeachSide CrossFit alerting the recipient of a virtual event and of safety precautions of their gym locations.

9. Start a VIP program

A VIP program encourages loyalty among your customers and subscribers. People love to feel like they’re part of an exclusive group, so make them feel special by offering VIP-only discounts, early access to sales and new products and other benefits.

To promote your VIP program, include a signup link in your SMS messages when customers purchase a product. You can also promote your VIP program on social media, your website or in-store. Use the right SMS marketing service to send relevant messages to different groups within your target audience and increase your conversion rate.

SMS marketing software to try

Rather than spend more time and effort on traditional SMS marketing methods, leverage SMS marketing software to streamline your strategy for greater success. Here are some standout options:

1. Attentive

With an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, Attentive ranks high as an effective SMS marketing software for sending personalized messages to your brand. You can integrate this with your email subscriber list and provide targeted messages for diverse groups.

2. SlickText

Integrate SlickText seamlessly with your brand’s existing software using its global API platform to get the best SMS marketing experience. Overall, this SMS marketing software features core features like text message scheduling, two-way text messaging, analytics and tracking reports for monitoring user engagement.

3. Klaviyo

Say hello to an omnichannel platform with automation and advanced segmentation capabilities. Klaviyo contains specific features that allow you to target specific consumers based on preferences and behavior. You can leverage this to increase conversions, especially with other marketing channels.

4. Birdeye

You don’t have to be technically inclined to use Birdeye. An amazing feature that makes Birdeye stand out is its easy integration with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This means you can easily incorporate a visual aspect into your SMS marketing campaign and spread your success across multiple platforms.

Take advantage of SMS marketing

SMS marketing can help you reach your target audience and increase engagement. By marketing to your customers where they are most active, you have a better chance of keeping their attention.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of SMS strategies at the start. Some customers may prefer discounts or deals, while others may be looking for customer service support through order confirmation or shipping updates. By incorporating SMS marketing into your overall marketing efforts, you can further refine and define your social media marketing strategy.