Back to Contents

A Complete Guide to SMS Marketing

Digital marketing is becoming harder every day. Sponsored content is becoming less engaging, and with all the false advertising, spam emails, and annoying pop-up ads who can blame users for choosing to block ads?

While many forms of digital marketing fail to perform decently, there is still one model that brings in results – SMS marketing. This guide will look at the information necessary to comprehend the value of SMS marketing, and start an SMS marketing campaign.

Understanding the concept of SMS marketing

The strengths of SMS marketing lay in its immediacy and cost-effectiveness. SMS can can reach a target audience within seconds. With open rates of 98%, SMS marketing is still one of the reliable forms of marketing today.

Compared to the 22% open rate that emails obtain, SMS marketing is the clear winner when it comes to marketing efficiency. Learn the basics of SMS marketing:

  • What is SMS marketing: SMS (an acronym for Short Message Service) marketing, is a marketing channel that allows businesses and organizations to successfully implement a marketing campaign by using coupons, promotions, and alerts via permission-based, opt-in messages sent to mobile phones.
  • The beginnings of SMS: The creator of the SMS texting concept was Matti Makkonen. The first SMS was sent on December 3, 1992.In 1993, Nokia created the first text message-enabled cell phones. Ever since then the technology has been improving as the trend of texting has quickly gained popularity on a global scale.
  • SMS today: SMS marketing is surprisingly still growing in popularity as more users choose to opt-in and interact with various brands and organizations. SMS remains an effective method for consumer engagement, and it is predicted by TextLocal that 48.7 million consumers will opt-in to receive SMS marketing messages by 2020.

The fact that SMS has higher response rates than traditional media makes it an important channel for marketing communication. Through a dedicated SMS marketing strategy, businesses and organizations can reach their customers with relevant information almost instantaneously.

The perks of SMS marketing

Technology has grown by leaps and bounds since SMS marketing was first invented. Despite all of these advances, many marketers still rely upon the ‘old’ SMS for the following benefits:

  • Doesn’t rely on an Internet phone sms marketing
  • Incredibly fast, with texts being delivered in seconds to a device right on the palm of consumers’ hands.
  • Over 97% of all messages are read within the first 4 minutes.
  • Can be used with any type of mobile phone.
  • 7 times better performance than email campaigns.

SMS marketing is more personal and engaging than emails or other forms of digital marketing, making it a key aspect of marketing campaigns the world over.

Who uses SMS marketing

Almost every business can take advantage of SMS marketing. Some of the most common businesses that rely on SMS marketing are:

  • Restaurants
  • Online stores
  • Government agencies
  • Salons
  • Retail stores
  • Small businesses

Any business in any industry can use SMS marketing to some degree. This is because of the number of people who have a mobile phone, making it so any industry can connect with their prospective clients through their mobile phone.

The strict rules of SMS marketing

Prior to creating an SMS marketing campaign, it is smart to review the do’s and don’ts of SMS marketing. There is a specific set of regulations established by the national law of each respective country that you always must comply with if you choose to start your own SMS marketing campaign. SMS marketing is regulated in every country in order to protect the privacy of the users:

These are some of the acts and legislation that countries have enforced in order to prevent invasion of your privacy, and to stop spam.

The most common of laws amongst all of these countries is the requirement for SMS marketing to be and opt-in option. This means that people must state that they want to participate in SMS marketing. Failure to do so will result in fines.

Get familiar with SMS marketing terminology

Creating a successful SMS marketing campaign requires some knowledge regarding its most important elements:

  • SMS: SMS stands for Short Message Service. With an SMS, you can send a message of up to 160 characters to another device.
  • MMS: Is short for “Multimedia Messaging Service.” MMS marketing is similar to SMS marketing, expect MMS messages have a longer character limit (500 characters), and they also offer the possibility of including photos, files, gifs, and video files.

  • Call to action: A short sentence telling recipients the right keyword or shortcode combination to subscribe to a text marketing campaign. A call to action can also direct them to click on a link.
  • Keywords: A word or a phrase that the user can text in order to interact with a marketing campaign. Most of the time keywords are used to join a campaign, but they can have multiple uses. Avochato is an excellent tool for keyword use.
  • Opt-In/Opt-Out: This is the decision mechanism which allows a certain subscriber to enter a campaign, or to remove their subscription from the campaign.
  • Shortcodes: A shortcode is a 5 or 6-digit phone number that a user can send a message to in order to join or interact with a text marketing campaign. One shortcode can serve many different purposes.

  • Autoresponder: This feature allows senders to distribute automated texts based on specific periods of time, depending on recipient actions.
  • Short URL: This is a shortened web link which lead to a longer web link. These links are particularly useful for fitting longer URLs into the 160 character limit of SMSs.

Being familiar with these terms will help you better communicate with those in the SMS marketing world.

Types of SMS marketing campaigns

Various brands, businesses, and organizations lean on the effectiveness of SMS marketing in order to reach their target audiences. There are many different types of SMS marketing campaigns that you can use in order to best connect with prospects:

  • Broadcasting: This is what most SMS marketing campaigns focus on. The core purpose of this type is to share relevant information about the business or organization, such as announcements, limited time promotions, offers, etc. Marketing360 excels at this with easy mass-texting tools.
  • Appointment reminders: Appointment reminders are aimed at a particular group of people at specific times to remind them of their scheduled appointments. There is also the possibility to prompt clients to respond by confirming, rescheduling, or canceling the appointment. Doctors, dentists, and hair salons typically use this style of SMS marketing.

  • Text-to-collect-info: With the text-to-collect-info campaign, businesses or organizations ask clients to respond with specific information. This type of SMS marketing is used to collect missing information such as email, home address, alternative phone numbers, etc.
  • User poll: Companies often use user polls to create a survey regarding their product or service. In these campaigns, the subscribers receive questions about the product or service, and their feedback helps them improve customer experiences.
  • Text-for-info: Text-for-info offers the client the possibility to receive information about a business (open hours, link to a website, phone number, etc.) by texting a 5 or 6-digit shortcode.
  • Text-to-vote: Customers have the chance to vote on certain promotions in order to determine a winner. This is done by offering an SMS shortcode. American Idol is an example of this SMS marketing campaign.
  • Text-to-win: In text-to-win campaigns, customers can enter sweepstakes or other contests by texting an SMS shortcode.

These are some of the most popular and common SMS marketing campaigns that brands, companies, and organizations use.

How to grow your customer database

Building an SMS marketing campaign starts with building a list of customer phone numbers. The point is to offer a convenient way for people to subscribe to the SMS campaign. Here are the appropriate ways to do this legally:

  • Mobile opt-in: The mobile opt-in method is the most common way to opt-in to a campaign. Entering these types of campaigns involves texting a keyword to a designated shortcode. Most of the time, the shortcode and keyword are advertised online, in-store, on billboards, or in another form of traditional marketing.
  • Social media: Particularly useful for mobile opt-in, social media is very useful when it comes to promoting shortcodes and keywords. Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram posts are ideal for advertising these campaigns. Using a call to action which specifically mentions the updates and special offers associated with it are particularly effective.

  • Web opt-in: A web opt-in is an effective ways to drive subscriptions. Users enter their phone numbers into a form on a website and receive a confirmation via text message once their application is verified. If your website drives a lot of traffic, this may be the best solution for you to boost your campaign subscriptions.
  • Traditional media: Traditional media, such as billboards, print ads, direct mail, or other visually accessible forms of marketing are an excellent opportunity to promote SMS campaigns. Think about all those people walking around on the street with their phones, and then picture them looking up at a print ad billboard on a street. An effective call to action with prominent keywords and shortcodes will drive opt-ins for these campaigns.
  • QR codes: QR codes are included on printed materials for easy ways to opt-in to SMS campaigns. Software generates a unique QR code, and when someone scans it they are automatically entered into the campaign. TargetEveryOne has an effective QR code feature.
  • Paper forms: Although the paper form is less popular than web or mobile opt-in methods, it’s still effective for driving subscriptions to your campaign. This is typically done by staff members asking people to sign-up at point of sale terminals.

These techniques are the most effective at building an SMS marketing campaign. There is also no harm in promoting an SMS marketing campaign with more than one promotional tool.

Tips for a successful SMS marketing campaign

There are a number of ways which an SMS marketing campaign can be more effective, here are the trends:

  • Keep it short: Messages should be short and to that point. There is a 160 character limit, but people rarely read beyond the first few words. Longer messages tend to be ignored, and may be better as emails.
  • Timing: SMS marketing is most effective when the message is being sent when people are most active on their phones. The best SMS marketing software will include analytics reporting on this, such as SendHub offers.
  • Get to the point: Even though SMS messages are relatively short, the attention of the reader must be grabbed quickly. Whether it is an announcement, special offer, update or a sale, the most important piece of information needs to appear first.
  • Measure your success: Tracking, analyzing and measuring the performance of SMS marketing campaigns makes them more effective in the long run. The campaign objectives should dictate the metrics analyzed so that there is a clear understanding of the ROI of the SMS marketing campaign.

Every form of digital marketing can be optimized through data analysis. Campaign managers who focus on measurement, especially in regards to the timing, often have the best results.

SMS marketing is here to stay

While there are many new forms of digital marketing, nothing seems to beat the effectiveness of SMS communication. There are a number of different aspects to it which favor an SMS marketing campaign:

  • SMS has a higher open rate than email
  • The practice is widespread and used by many businesses
  • SMS legislation clearly lays out what is and what isn’t allowed
  • Established SMS terminology helps industry communication
  • Different types of SMS marketing play to the strengths of different industries
  • Both online and offline marketing tactics can build an SMS marketing campaign

SMS marketing is not only effective right now, but it is also projected to grow in the future. Using it effectively is a sure way to build a business, drive ROI, and get the conversions which better the bottom-line of any business.