What is SMS marketing?
SMS Marketing is sending promotional campaigns or transactional messages for marketing purposes using text messages (SMS). These messages are mostly meant to communicate time-sensitive offers, updates, and alerts to people who have consented to receive text messages from your business.
If this SMS marketing definition sounds too complicated — don’t worry. This article covers all of the above to give you a better idea of how SMS marketing can enhance your digital marketing strategy.
It’s no secret that developing relationships with customers takes work. If you want to reach your customers, you can’t wait for them to come to you. You have to be proactive and go where they are.
And they’re more often than not on the go, with only their mobile devices in their pockets.
So text messages along with email, WhatsApp, and push notifications, give you a direct line of contact. This has made text message marketing (also called mobile marketing and SMS marketing) one of the most effective forms of communicating with customers when done the right way.
Table of Contents
- What Is SMS Marketing Used For?
- Why Is SMS Marketing Effective?
- Who Can Benefit From Using SMS Marketing Services?
- SMS Marketing Best Practices and Rules
- How Does SMS Marketing Work?
- Can SMS Marketing Work for Your Business?
What is SMS marketing used for?
SMS can be used in a number of different ways. I will share with you some of the most common use cases to give you a better idea of what you can do with SMS and how it might help your business.
Short-term promotions for retail or ecommerce businesses
Coupons and promotions are an excellent way to drive more people to your store or website. If you are conducting a limited-time sale or promotion, you obviously want as many people to hear about it as possible.
SMS marketing campaigns are a great channel to communicate these offers, especially if you want to let customers know while they are on the move. That way you can be sure that they don’t miss out because they didn’t get the message in time.
Related: WhatsApp marketing
Urgent updates about events or customer orders
There are a lot of moving parts that go into planning and executing an event. The more people you have attending the event, the more challenging it becomes to communicate the necessary information to everyone.
Related: Transactional messages examples
With SMS, you can easily communicate any changes, cancellations, general information, or updates with better real-time engagement than email or other channels.
If your business runs on scheduled appointment times, then you know the frustration of having clients forget appointment times and show up late. Even more frustrating, clients fail to show up at all.
Not only does this throw off your schedule, it wastes your time. It means that you may have turned down other appointments because that appointment slot was taken.
Sending reminder text messages is a fantastic way of making sure that people don’t forget their appointments. Simply use marketing automation to set up an automated text to follow up each appointment booking.
Related reading: How to book an appointment
If you have a large number of employees, it can be hard to communicate urgent messages (office closures, emergency updates, etc.) to everyone all at once.
You can send them an email, but they may not see it (I know I don’t check my work email too often outside of work). SMS is a great way to guarantee that everyone receives your message on time.
Why is SMS marketing effective?
SMS is one of the most useful marketing channels at your disposal for several reasons:
Ubiquity of smartphones
With 85% of adults in the US owning a smartphone in 2021, SMS is an excellent way to reach customers directly. By including a link in this text, you can drive engagement with your business online.
Closes the email marketing loop
Although email and SMS marketing have many similarities in their strategy implementation, they work best in tandem. As mentioned earlier, you can use SMS to send instant notifications, while email contains more long-form content like a newsletter with useful resources.
High engagement rates
SMS engagement rates are astronomical compared to email, with 90% of SMS messages read within 3 minutes of receiving them. This makes SMS very helpful in delivering critical information with a high success rate.
Great for emerging markets
If your business is trying to operate in countries where data is expensive and wi-fi is less common, SMS is a much better channel to communicate information.
Who can benefit from using SMS marketing services?
Text messages can be a great addition to your digital marketing efforts, no matter if you’re a small business owner or a corporate communications lead. They serve the unique function of communicating very urgent information in a highly reliable way.
But, there are certain businesses that reap major benefits of SMS marketing:
- Ecommerce stores: Whether you’re sending promotional campaigns, or order/shipping confirmations, SMS is a great ecommerce marketing channel.
- Travel companies: SMS is essential to travel companies because customers need real-time information on the go. This includes flight time updates, gate changes, cancellations, weather alerts, and many more.
- Service businesses that require appointments: Send SMS reminders so your clients never miss another appointment. This will save you tons of time and money wasted on no-shows and late appointments.
- Large organizations with 100+ employees: For urgent information, email is too slow. Using SMS for your internal communication is the best way to ensure that every employee gets the information you want to send them at the right time.
SMS marketing best practices and rules
Make sure your contacts have opted in to SMS
Text messaging is a very effective and direct line of communication to the customer. But, there are rules that you should consider when planning your SMS marketing strategy.
The first, and most important one is receiving permission from your contacts to send them SMS messages. Simply ask for consent to use their phone numbers for marketing, just like you do for email marketing. And don’t forget to leave them the option to unsubscribe via link in each text message.
SMS has an extremely high open rate, but this won’t help you if you’re sending messages to people who don’t want them. Not to mention opt-in for text message marketing is required in most countries.
Mind the timing of your messages
Unlike email or social media, which are only checked a few times daily, people open text messages almost immediately. This is great for urgent messages, but you don’t want to abuse this power by disturbing contacts at odd hours in the day.
Would you want to run out and use a coupon that just woke you up at 2 AM on a Wednesday night? Didn’t think so.
Some countries even have laws about when you can send marketing text messages (e.g. France does not allow SMS marketing on Sundays, holidays, or anytime after 10 PM).
Include your company’s name in your messages
When sending bulk SMS messages, most providers send them through a shortcode, which means your contacts won’t know it is coming from you.
That is why you have to let your contacts know who is sending the message in the first place. You don’t want to send a promotional coupon to customers and not have them know where to go, right?
Always add a call-to-action (CTA)
Just like with other marketing messages, urge people to take the next step. What do you want them to do? Visit your website? Come to an event? Tell them to drive click-through rates.
Use SMS to complement the rest of your digital marketing strategy
The beauty of digital marketing is that there are so many channels that you can use to interact with your customers. All of these channels tie together to create a marketing communication system that enables businesses to build relationships with customers and leads at great scale.
SMS and email marketing are two channels that are very complementary. You can create campaigns through both channels, using email for including more detailed information and SMS to communicate more time-sensitive or urgent information.
How does SMS marketing work?
SMS marketing messages are sent from “short codes,” as opposed to full telephone numbers. These short codes are typically 5-6 digits, and can be associated with one sender, or shared across multiple senders.
Many countries (including the US) do not allow sender information to be altered. This means your message will appear as a text message from whatever short code your provider used (not from your business). That is why it’s important to include your company’s name in the message.
There are two message types you can send with SMS marketing:
- Campaigns: Campaign messages are the classic “one-to-many” bulk text messages. They are typically used to communicate promotions (coupons, sales, etc.), or general information (event details, updates, weather alerts, etc.).
- Transactional: Transactional messages are “one-to-one” messages that are triggered by a certain event or behavior. An example of this would be an order confirmation or shipping notification for an ecommerce purchase. These messages communicate relevant and timely information to an individual.
Can SMS marketing work for your business?
Only one to find out — test it on your audience! If you’re already using email, try including SMS marketing in your mix as well.
Now you should have a better idea of what SMS marketing is, and why it is great. Here’s a quick recap of some of the pros:
- Reliable delivery
- Direct connection to the customer
- High engagement
- Compliments your email marketing strategy
Sign up for an SMS marketing platform, collect phone numbers, and start engaging!
With SMS marketing software from Brevo, you can send promotional and transactional SMS messages from the same platform as your email marketing campaigns.
You can also track engagement with SMS and email campaigns side-by-side in your Brevo dashboard. This lets you see exactly how you’re performing across all channels.