SMS Marketing: Best Practices for Business Success

With the majority of people owning mobile phones and being constantly connected, SMS marketing offers an unparalleled opportunity for businesses to drive engagement, increase brand awareness, and boost sales. However, like any marketing strategy, SMS marketing requires careful planning and execution to maximize its effectiveness.

In this blog post, we will explore the best practices for successful SMS marketing campaigns.

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.

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. With SMS, you can easily communicate any changes, cancellations, general information, or updates with better real-time engagement than email or other channels.

Appointment reminders

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.  

Internal alerts

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. 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.

Lean into the conversational tone

Your text message marketing efforts should respect the medium’s primary purpose: conversation. Readers should feel like you’re talking to them, not at them. SMS is a great place to bring your brand’s voice to life in a more personal way. Start by using personalization and segmentation to send messages that reflect consumers’ interests and past behaviors. Then, write a text message, not a subject line. Messages should sound like they’re for one person rather than your entire marketing list.

Use SMS as part of an omnichannel strategy

Your SMS marketing strategy can benefit from integration with other marketing efforts. If you have a CX or CRM system, connect it to your SMS marketing software to take advantage of existing data and add new insights. The lessons you learn from other customer interactions can guide your text message marketing efforts. Likewise, SMS campaigns may surface interesting data points that point to new opportunities elsewhere.

Successful omnichannel marketing means sending the right message via the right medium. Not everyone will sign up for SMS, which means you can’t rely on it as a primary mode of reaching people. Given the other constraints we’ve discussed — namely message length and frequency limits — SMS works best when integrated with email, social media, and other marketing tools. Email and SMS work best when they’re used strategically — picking the right medium for the right situation.

Test, test, test!

As is the case with any marketing channel, testing will be key to your success in SMS. As much as we as marketers like to think we know what will perform best, we’re all just guessing. The only way to learn about our audience and what they respond to is by testing. This means trying out different types of offers, different text lengths, different send times — pretty much any variable you can think of — and seeing how your audience responds.

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:

  • Real-time
  • 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 from ValueFirst, 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 on your dashboard. This lets you see exactly how you’re performing across all channels.

Ready to create stronger connections and grow your business? Then ValueFirst SMS is for you.