Blog Post

What is SMS Marketing?

April 1, 2021
Table of Contents

SMS marketing (short for Short Message Service, or simply text messaging) is a method for businesses and other types of organizations to send promotional materials to customers. SMS messages (sent via text message) are limited to a maximum of 160 characters, so they’re best used when attempting to distribute coupons, promotions, and short alerts.

An SMS marketing message differs from traditional email campaigns in that it requires customers to opt-in to receive promotional material. Read to learn the ins and outs email vs text along with  SMS marketing best practices

Sending Material to Opted-In Customers

Only after you’ve received the express consent of your potential customers can you begin to send them additional SMS marketing promotional message materials. This consent may be given in various ways.

  • Completing Online Opt-In Forms – An easy way to receive mobile messaging consent is by attaching a sign-up form to your website’s e-blast. If your business has a web form to collect email addresses for email-based campaigns, you can add an additional question requesting that they give you permission to send them promotional materials via text.
  • Entering a Contest or Sweepstakes Entry Forms – If your business collects entry forms for any sort of contest or sweepstakes, you can also use that as an opportunity to obtain consent for SMS marketing. Most contest or sweepstakes entry forms require participants to give their phone number, so adding a question requesting consent to send them promotional materials via SMS can complement the flow.  
  • Having Customers Text You First An SMS marketing campaign employs easy-to-remember short telephone numbers (often called shortcodes). Potential customers text a keyword to a specific shortcode. Once the customer has sent you an initial text message, your SMS marketing service can respond automatically with an opt-in question to receive consent.

It’s important to receive permission from an sms subscriber before contacting potential customers. Obviously, customers don’t want to be bombarded with unwanted spam texts, so the FCC regulates that express consent is obtained for this type of SMS marketing strategy tactic.1

Despite the difficult up-front requirements, SMS marketing has many benefits that make it worth the effort.

Why SMS Marketing is Worth It

Have you noticed an uptick in SMS marketing on your own cell phone? Whether you’re receiving donation requests from political campaigns or getting notifications when your favorite sneaker brand drops new styles, SMS has probably reached your device.

In fact, we’re betting you’ve already clicked.

There are several basic benefits of SMS marketing that make it an appealing marketing tool to pursue for organizations from nonprofits to SMBs. 

  • Increase Potential Customers – Once you’ve received consent from a potential customer to send SMS marketing materials, you can begin to find ways to draw them into your brand. You can entice customers to your site with promotional codes or deals, garnering traffic. This could in turn increase sales and your customer base.
  • Reward Existing Customers – For some customers, loyalty goes both ways, so sending deals to existing customers can be an effective stratagem. Rewarding existing customers is a great way to strengthen your bond.
  • Engage with Your Customers – While your business doesn’t have to find a way to create individual connections with customers via SMS marketing, it can be helpful to provide customers ways to interact with your brand. Whether this is with promotional codes they can share via text or alerts about social media content, customers love to be kept in the loop!

How well does it work? Below, we’ll dive into some of the SMS marketing statistics.

SMS is Quick

When dealing with time-sensitive marketing materials like promotional deals, speed is of the essence. So can you be sure that your customers will see your email campaign before the sale ends?

  • The average American checks their phone 52 times a day.2 
  • 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes of receipt.
  • In contrast, it takes 90 minutes for the average email to get read.3 

With text message marketing, there’s considerably less concern about how long the message waits in a potential customer’s inbox.

SMS Has High Open Rates

What if your email campaign did make it to your customer’s inbox, but it got lost in a sea of unread emails? If your campaign relies solely on email marketing services, you must always be mindful of potentially low open rates.

By incorporating SMS text message into your campaigns, you might experience a unicorn 100% open rate.4 Typically, you’ll gain more eyeballs on an SMS campaign. 

SMS Also Has Higher Response Rates

CTR is a potential measurement to analyze a campaign’s effectiveness. 

After all, a higher response rate ultimately leads to an increase in sales.

Besides its impressive open rates, the SMS marketing platform has a nearly 19% click-through rate. Compared to email’s average 3% click-through rate, it’s easy to see how important SMS marketing solution can be to your next campaign.5

Characteristics of Successful SMS Campaigns

Most people text differently than they write—emojis, gifs, and abbreviations are simply part of the medium.

When you implement SMS marketing software, it’s important to craft a strategy that embraces the brevity of the medium while staying true to your brand’s voice.

To succeed, use the following guidelines:

  • Identify yourself. If the recipient doesn’t realize a text is from a beloved brand, they’re more likely to mark it “spam.”
  • Know your audience. Do they want to receive text updates when a product ships, a sale drops, or when you update your social media? Make sure they’re only receiving highly relevant texts.
  • Keep your tone consistent. If your biggest brand strength is your authority and technical expertise, make sure your texts convey the same professionality. Go easy on the emojis.
  • Establish a clear CTA. What’s the goal of your campaign? Clicks, follows, or sales? Without a clear objective in place, it’s impossible to measure your success.

Creating Boundaries with SMS Marketing

As you develop a digital marketing strategy, boundaries are just as important as brand voice.

While most customers are happy to receive promotional materials, they won’t appreciate unwanted or persistent messages. 

Establishing a good SMS marketing strategy is vital to keeping customers interested in your marketing materials, so setting some boundaries is imperative in fostering trust. 

  • Initially, limit SMS communication to once per week. If you notice a high unsubscribe rate, it’s possible that you should text even less.
  • Only text during appropriate times of the day. No matter how eager a customer is to hear about your big sale, they don’t want the news to wake them up in the middle of the night.
  • Keep track of open rates and click-through rates. If the data suggests your approach isn’t working, listen.

Thankfully, there are some simple ways to increase customer engagement and allow customers to feel excited about receiving a SMS marketing promotional message

  • Offer a Coupon – Who doesn’t like a discount? Customers will always appreciate a deal regardless of where it came from. Rewarding customers for signing up for your SMS instantly gratifies their decision to do so. 
  • Provide Appointment Reminders – Having a missed appointment is never fun, so ensuring customers remember their session can be a lifesaver. 

Key Takeaways

SMS marketing can be an effective channel to add to your marketing strategy. However, there are some important guidelines to follow before integrating SMS: 

  • Get Permission – It’s extremely important to properly obtain consent from customers to send SMS marketing materials. Unlike email, the FCC regulates text message marketing. Following the FCC’s guidance on how to properly obtain consent is a critical part of any SMS marketing campaign. 
  • Don’t Over Do It – People don’t like getting hammered with marketing materials, so knowing the proper boundaries for SMS marketing is paramount. If you don’t have much experience doing SMS marketing, using SMS marketing tools or consulting an agency is a wise decision. 
  • Provide Value – Customers who opt-in for SMS marketing expect businesses to provide them with coupons and promotional codes. They want your SMS marketing messages to be useful, so find ways to ensure your customers see the value in receiving SMS messages from you.
  • Make It Personal – For a lot of people, texting is mostly a way to communicate with friends or family, so a lot of customers expect SMS marketing to be tailored to them. Grouping customers together to receive personalized “just for you” promotions is an easy way to make each customer feel special.
  • Cut to the Chase – You only have 160 characters in each text message. Make them count, but use them wisely. Starting an SMS message with something like “Incredible Deal Alert” may be eye-catching, but using a phrase like “Special Offer” expresses the same idea in fewer characters.

While you should certainly try to incorporate SMS messaging into your next marketing campaign, be mindful that improperly utilizing text messages can make future campaigns harder.

SMS Marketing with Power

If you’re hesitant about any of these steps, we can be your guide. Here at Power, we can facilitate your SMS campaign from end to end. From identifying your target audience, ensuring you have the proper boundaries in place, to highlighting your specific value proposition, we can help you execute an effective SMS strategy. 

Ready to make headlines in inboxes? 

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  1. Forbes. Don’t SPAM The Text Messengers, FCC Says.
  2. Business Insider. How To Keep Your Customers Coming Back For More.
  3. CBS News. Do You Check Your Phone More Than Most Americans?
  4. Forbes. Why SMS Is The Marketing Tool Of The Future.
  5. Forbes. Marketing 2020: A Shift From Loyalty To Relevance.

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