In the era of social media and messaging apps, SMS marketing hardly gets a mention. Many businesses consider it an outdated marketing channel.

But pause for a moment and guess the number of times you’ve checked your phone today. 

It’s probably more than the number of times you checked your email. 

Am I right?

Text messages – short message service – could be the one form of communication that everyone opens. They are intimate, personal, and carry an inherent urgency. People also read text messages immediately at most times.

Isn’t that a marketer’s dream? 

You can communicate your company’s ideas and messages through a medium virtually guaranteed to be opened and seen immediately.

So today, you’ll learn how to do SMS marketing, the best practices, and the mistakes that most companies commit with examples of effective messages along the way. Let’s begin with the basics of this marketing channel and its unique advantages.

What Is SMS Marketing?

Short message service (SMS) or text message marketing is a permission-based strategy to send promotional text messages to your customers. Businesses can generate brand awareness, provide updates about products and services, and generate sales through this marketing channel. 

Text messages have been around for quite some time, but it is only recently that they are being used as a marketing tool. Text message marketing works by sending promotional texts to customers or subscribers who opt in to receiving them from your business through text messaging services such as Jooksms.

These messages can be advertisements for products; notifications about important news updates you want people to know (such as store hours); share web content via links; increase voter turn out, offer promotions on deals so potential buyers may take advantage of these offers before the end date expires, reminders for a webinar or doctor appointment, real estate marketing–the possibilities are endless!

It’s one of the most personal and intimate communication channels. But mobile SMS marketing requires businesses to get consent from their customers for sending them promotional text messages. Offering discount coupons and running contests are great tactics to attract customers to opt in for receiving text messages.

Six Reasons Why To Use SMS Text Marketing For Your Business

In this section, I’ll show you the key benefits of text messaging and compelling SMS marketing stats to make a strong case for incorporating and using text messaging it into your marketing strategy.

1. Ubiquity

Globally almost three billion people use smartphones – that’s about one in three people on the planet. The audience for sms/text message marketing has grown by 81% in the past 5 years! Narrowing that down, 96% of Americans now have a smartphone. In the UK, 95% of households have mobile phones. And Smartphone penetration is a whopping 95% in South Korea.

Mobile phone ownership

The majority of adults also own a mobile phone in most emerging markets. Here are the results of a Pew Research Center survey in eleven emerging and developing countries.

Majority of adults owns a mobile phone

The best part is that people can receive and send text messages even with a basic or feature phone. With SMS, you don’t need a smartphone – that old Nokia will do fine – and you don’t need Wi-Fi.

2. High open rate

So how many of these SMS are read by people?

90% of brand messages are opened within fifteen minutes. Gartner quotes various sources reporting a 98% open rate. Compared to the number of people that open their email (rates around 20%), SMS campaigns could have tremendous potential.

3. Immediate delivery

Text messaging is instant with low rates of spam. It takes people only 90 seconds to respond to an SMS, which warrants their 45% average response rate. 

If you want to compare that with email, the global annual email spam rate stood at 55% in 2018. Users are also wary of clicking on links in their email.

4. Convenience

Mobile phone usage throughout the day is at an all-time high. We spend more time on our phones than ever before.

US adults, on average, spend 3 hours and 43 minutes on mobile devices. Most people pick up their phones 58 times a day. For most of us, it’s the first and last thing we do each day.

It’s easier to send a text to someone than to call or email them. It is more convenient and less intrusive. 

5. Familiarity

SMS is the original form of messaging on your phone, predating apps like WhatsApp or iMessage. It’s an established, essential way to communicate, and businesses don’t need to get customers to install an app. The familiarity presents a great opportunity for your brand to communicate with users, sans the learning curve of new technology.

6. Trust

As a marketer, you know the value of earning the trust of your prospects and customers. SMS marketing offers businesses an easy and direct route through to their customers in a manner they trust. Their devices and contact numbers are closely related to their identities.

So sharing their phone numbers with you (so that you can text them) indicates a high level of trust. In a survey of 346 companies by AT&T, consumers expressed a preference for receiving a text message over a voice call or email.

If you’re now convinced that SMS marketing is right for your business, then the next section will help you get started on the right foot.

Five Best Practices Of Text Message Marketing

Want to maximize your results from text marketing? Here are a few best practices you need to follow:

Purchasing a list of phone numbers is useless, just like buying followers on Instagram. Your messages to them will be spam and will kill your reputation. Under any circumstances, don’t buy phone numbers.

It’s also illegal as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act requires getting “prior express invitation or permission” from the recipient of your promotional messages.

Sending messages to paid contact lists won’t establish trust. Your relationship with these people started on the wrong foot – they never contacted you in the first place. And they don’t know or care about your pizza (or your products).

But the regulations governing SMS marketing are on your side. It makes the medium interactive. As people need to provide you a written opt in by responding to your messages, it gets them to initiate conversations. Whether they say yay or nay, the opt in is a chance to qualify your leads. The information they provide can also lend you insights for your future SMS campaigns.

If they say yay, you’ll have someone who actually opens, reads, and engages with your content. That too, within five minutes.

Begin with creating a landing page on your website like the Subway one below. Note their use of baiting a prospect with discount coupons for sharing their phone numbers. They have also detailed their SMS program in a note below the form and set expectations on the kind of messages users can expect.

SMS contact terms

Note: Your customers might forget that they have opted to receive your messages and get annoyed by receiving them. Instead of annoying them and ruining your relationship, you should (least occasionally) send details of how to opt out of your promotional messages. Here’s an SMS by Forever 21 that allows the user to opt out by giving a missed call. Ethics, you see.

SMS Marketing Example

Note 2: If you’re targeting an international market, then I recommend you to understand the SMS and telecom regulations in the country where you want to send messages. 

2. Say hi, send reminders, and go for that occasional sale!

Your clients aren’t mind readers, so you need to introduce yourself every time you send them messages. Just look at this SMS asking me to “pre-book” meals in advance. It’s a notification related to my flight, but there’s no context.

SMS Marketing Example 2

Compare that with this Airbnb text below. It’s an update about a message I received on one of my inquiries from an Airbnb host. The SMS starts with the company’s name, thereby leaving no room for doubt.

SMS Marketing Example 3

Want some examples of the kinds of SMS marketing messages you can send to your customers? 

You can simply say hi to your clients, thank them for their business, or request feedback on their recent purchase from you. It won’t be a bad idea to wish them on their birthday. Here’s a dental clinic wishing me on my birthday. Little touches like that are often appreciated.

SMS Marketing Example 4

Additionally, appointment reminders, urgent updates about events, and customer orders are a great fit in your SMS marketing strategy. Here’s the same dental clinic intimating me about my appointments with them. They have also requested feedback for my visit to their clinic once.

SMS Marketing Example 6

You can also send updates about your business and products. Here’s an update from Forever New about their store opening back amidst the CoVid-19 crisis in a locality where the text recipient had shopped before. Note how the message provides an option to opt out of updates – it could have been clearer, though.

SMS Marketing Example 6

Even if you’re not operating physically, you can invite your SMS recipients to follow you on other social media. See how F21 Fam smartly does their Instagram handle cross-promotion below.

SMS Marketing Example 7

Occasionally don’t fret placing a direct link to your sales page. Customers expect product updates with offers and links to your website. Add a touch of exclusivity by sharing a special coupon with them. 

Here’s Nykaa, an Indian cosmetic retailer, sending messages about sales on its site. Note the use of words like “now”, “hurry”, and “shop now” in ALL CAPS to create urgency. I would advise you to err on the side of caution and create such urgency sparingly for it to remain effective.

Also, if you include links in your messages, consider branding them using a custom URL shortener like Rebrandly. Unlike generic short links, custom short URLs allow you to add a CTA to the link itself, which can result in an increase of up to 39% in CTR.

Overall be friendly and personable with SMS because that’s what people expect from this communication channel. Refer more SMS examples here to craft persuasive messages. 

3. Mind your frequency and timing of communication

15.2 million text messages are sent every minute. If you bombard your clients with SMS, you’ll drive them to opt out. So let them look forward to your updates rather than dreading them. Here are a couple of adages you need to obey:

1. Less is more – Treat your customers like your friend. They have done you a massive favor by giving you their phone number and opting in to receive messages from you. So use this one-on-one communication channel to send occasional updates that are relevant to them. 

2. Remain careful with time zones – Optimizing the time when you send you messages is key to effective SMS marketing. You can’t send texts in the middle of the night. It’s safer to keep your marketing messages to mid-morning and mid-afternoon in your customer’s time zone.

Here are the three most popular times that retailers send SMS campaigns as per Text Marketer on weekdays.

SMS Popular Times

And here are the popular times on the weekend.

SMS Popular Times 2

It means telling them how often they should expect to hear from you and roughly what they should expect to find in your messages. You can consider these times as starting points, but always be testing. Let your message recipients decide when they want to interact!

At Jooksms, we surveyed customers on the best time they would like to receive messages. The best time to send SMS messages as a business is, surprisingly, not when you think.

You might be thinking that the best time to send messages is early in the morning or late at night when people are most likely not busy.

However, this isn’t true.

We found that the majority of customers would like to receive messages from their favorite businesses or organizations between 10:30 am – 11:30 am or 2:30 to 3:30 pm.

So the best time of day to send text message marketing campaigns is actually between 10:30 am – 11:30 am or 2:30 – 3:30 pm according to our internal survey.

This is when people are most likely to be checking and engaging with their messages from third party companies.

4. Keep it short, but if you send’em “lol”, they will ask you to “stfu”

Your business should not have an association with a 14-year-old child, so please stay away from text speak (lol). It comes off as unprofessional and could leave your customers confused. You’re dealing with a medium that has a limit of 160 characters, so keep it concise and crisp. If you can’t be direct, then consider sending an email or posting a new blog post.

Here’s a text update from an Insurance service provider. They are providing a sigh of relief to their customers by reminding them that their medical policy covers hospital expenses arising out of COVID-19. But the verbose message could have been substantially shorter than 500 characters.

SMS Communication

5. Wisely choose your SMS marketing package

While SMS is a one-to-one communication channel, you can’t go about messaging your customers one by one. SMS marketing tools can streamline your efforts. We don’t charge any set up fee and offer a free trial as well if you want to try free text message marketing.

But how much does SMS marketing cost? It depends on your requirements with the basic package costing $25/month for sending 1033 messages. You can explore other packages and talk to our sales manager on the SMS Marketing Pricing page.

Let’s calculate the total cost of running an SMS marketing campaign. Suppose a basic package from an SMS software provider costs around $25 a month for sending about 1,000 messages. You’ll need to buy a new phone number for the SMS system to work (just like a cell phone). So that will set you back by around two dollars and sixty cents.

JookSMS Buy Number

Now you need to consider keyword rental. Suppose you sell pizza and want to send promotional messages like the one below to your customers:

“Hey pizza eater! If you love a weekly pizza deal, text PIZZA to 12345 and we’ll send you a weekly discount coupon for use at any of our restaurants!”

Do you see that word PIZZA in bold? That’s a keyword, and it costs money to rent. You’re looking between $5 and $25 for a keyword rental, depending on your dealer and the popularity of the keyword.

Many packages provided by SMS marketing software services will include a few keywords in the monthly fee. And many offer a pay-as-you-go service. 

So you’ll pay in the range of $25 to $500 per month, depending on how many texts you send and the keywords your business needs. But if you’re spending $500 a month on SMS marketing, you’re probably a multinational.

Now that you know the ropes of effective SMS marketing, the next section will show you how to do SMS marketing.

Three Simple Steps To Launch A Text Message Campaign

You can’t manually go through your contact list and text people from your phone. It’s time-consuming, expensive, and unprofessional. Plus your fingers will get tired. 

You need to use SMS marketing software like Jooksms. It lets you launch bulk SMS marketing campaigns through an app conveniently. Once you’ve chosen your SMS software system, here’s the first step to start your SMS marketing campaign.

Step 1: Build your contact list

A contact list is like an email list, but it consists of phone numbers with people’s names. It’s a business asset that you own, so start building it. Here are four strategies to grow your contact list:

1. Scrape contact details from your database – You might already have numbers of your leads and customers if your website has a “Contact Us” form. These are existing or potential customers who have already given you their details so you can start building your contact list from there. With Jooksms, you import a contact list you created from your existing database.

Jooksms Import List

2. Offer a number to text to receive a coupon – Either online, in print, or using a guy with a sandwich board, you can persuade people to sign up for your text updates in exchange for discount coupons. Once someone expresses an interest, you’ve got their number on your list. Just be ethical and give them what you say you’ll give them.

3. Stick a sentence in your email signature – If you send out a lot of emails, let people know about how they can sign up for your text messaging service. Share that it’s a quicker way to stay in contact with you and let you help them.

4. If you have something to sell, run a contest  Have you got a prize related to your business that will interest your customers and prospects? Then you can run a text message based contest. Here’s an example of Rite Aid advertising their text to win sweepstakes in one of their stores.

SMS Marketing Example 9

5. Run Facebook lead generation ads Do you know that Facebook lets you run lead generation ads? It’s an easy way to get phone numbers of your target audience without having them log out of the platform. 

Later you can set up a Zap workflow to automate sending the lead data to your SMS marketing software provider.

Choose a few of these strategies to build your contact list. Then move on to the next step.

Step 2: Draft the opt in message

Now it’s the time to get your contact list prospects to opt in for receiving SMS updates from you. The simplest way is to offer deals.

Here’s an example message that a pizza seller might send to their SMS marketing prospects: “Hey pizza eater! If you love a weekly pizza deal, text PIZZA to 12345 and we’ll send you a weekly discount coupon for use at any of our restaurants!”

Instead of cheap or free stuff, you can also promise exclusive updates and make your recipients feel like a VIP.

Step 3: Send your first text message

Now that you have got the opt in, it’s time to draft your first short message. Start with introducing your business (just the name will do) and what to expect from your SMS updates. 

Then try to personalize it by monitoring their activity with your company like recent purchases. Or you can send offers/information based on their location. 

Once you’ve launched your first text campaign, here are a few advanced features inside SMS marketing software you can explore.

SMS Marketing Software: Three Features You Need To Leverage

Once you’ve settled on text marketing services provider, here are three aspects you need to experiment with:

1. Analyze your text campaigns

How many people opened your last message? How many of them clicked on the links inside it, and how many responded to your previous poll? When is the response rate of your contact list the highest? 

A robust SMS marketing software will provide all of these numbers about your text message marketing campaigns. You can leverage it to optimize your SMS marketing and compare its ROI with your email and social media marketing efforts. 

2. Launch a drip campaign

If you’ve dabbled with email marketing before, you might have used marketing automation to send updates automatically on a schedule. These are called drip campaigns. If your SMS software lets you create one, then they are a powerful marketing automation tool. You can onboard new customers, nurture leads, send sales updates with discount coupons, and the like.

3. Customize message templates

Mobile SMS marketing is about personalization. Although the same text will reach the inboxes of your recipients, SMS marketing software lets you use templates that you can customize with custom fields. It’s efficient and makes your messages more compelling for the recipient.

For instance, the following text messages use the first name of the message recipient. 

  • {{first_name}} In the last 24 hours, Concourse Rehabilitation has not had any Covid19 + test results.
  • Good Morning {{first_name}} ! I’m Johnny Malele and my partners and I are interested in investing in properties in the Salt Lake and Utah County areas.

You can also consider personalized updates to your customers on their birthday or other special occasions. Your SMS system could let you schedule messages for such important dates. Here’s an example from an Indian retailer:

SMS Marketing Example 10

Final Thoughts

SMS marketing is a classic, effective, and less-crowded marketing channel. It doesn’t involve a new app’s interface and the user can receive your communication even without an internet connection. What’s more? You can leverage it at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

I would encourage you to send your first text message to create better customer relationships and grow your business.

Are you ready to create in-the-moment relevance through text messaging? If you’ve any queries about SMS marketing, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Jooksms.

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