SMS Marketing: What Is Business Text Message Advertising? (Best Campaign Practices)

on Blog May 10th, 2021

While email and PPC marketing tactics continue to surge in popularity, many businesses are unaware of the huge potential of SMS marketing. That said, having a solid text message promotion strategy will only improve the results you get from your inbound marketing efforts.

Text messages are superior marketing tools due to their superior engagement, direct access to customers, and ability to predictably boost sales.

But these are just some of the many advantages text message marketing can bring to your business. Continue reading to learn more about why you should use SMS advertising and for our best tips on how to run an effective mobile SMS marketing campaign.

What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing, also known as text message marketing, stands for “Short Message Service” and is a powerful marketing channel businesses use to share promotional texts, updates, alerts, coupons, surveys, and other marketing materials with customers.

The effectiveness of SMS marketing comes from its ability to contact subscribers directly and its simple and interactive format. Another reason why text messages are so successful is the deep market penetration of mobile phones, with over 72% of the US population owning a smartphone.

sms marketingWhy Use SMS Marketing?

To help you understand why your business needs to be taking advantage of text marketing, let’s run through 5 of the biggest benefits of this marketing strategy:

#1: SMS Marketing is Permission-Based

Permission-based marketing occurs when customers are required to give their explicit consent to be sent marketing materials. SMS marketing is permission-based because it requires subscribers to opt-in to your text campaign.

One example of an opt-in is to send opt-in promotions to customers via email or website pop-ups/ads. These opt-in campaigns require customers to text specific words to a short codes.

For example, a shoe store might ask customers to text “jogging” to a six-digit short code.

Once customers text out the keyword, they’re automatically sent a text message that asks them to text “yes” or “no” to receiving future messages. If they give permission to receive future messages, this second opt-in adds their number to your text campaign.

There are additional ways to secure subscriber opt-ins and marketing permission, which we’ll talk about later in this blog post. For now, let’s continue exploring the benefits of SMS marketing.

#2: Text Messages Have the Best Engagement Rate in Marketing

Because marketing with text messages is based on subscribers giving you explicit permission to text them, this means that your marketing messages are being sent to willing parties — people who have specifically requested to be messaged, that like your product or service, and want to buy from you again.

As you may have predicted, the opt-in nature of mobile text marketing means that SMS has significantly higher engagement rates than any other marketing medium.

Now, before sharing the engagement rate for marketing with text, let’s get some context.

Email marketing has an average open rate of 21.33%.

Cold calling has an average answer rate of about 15%.

And bringing up the rear, PPC ads have an average click rate of just 2%.

In contrast to these, SMS business marketing blows the competition out of the water with open rates between 82% and 99% (depending on industry)!

Of course, these numbers don’t mean that you should stop emailing, calling, and investing in ads. Each form of marketing is optimized for specific types of audiences, products, and services. So, the best marketing strategy for your company takes advantage of all these mediums in order to maximize return on investment.

What these numbers do mean is that you should absolutely dedicate part of your marketing resources towards taking advantage of the huge engagement rates offered by text messages.

#3: Immediate Contact With Your Customers

Another huge benefit of SMS advertising is that it puts you in direct contact with your customers.

Over 72% of Americans own a smartphone, which means that the vast majority of your customers own phones capable of opening promotional links and other marketing messages.

Thanks to the previous section, you already know that between 82-99% of promo texts are opened, but how long does it take someone to open one of your SMS ads?

Are you sitting down?

On average, 90% of marketing SMS messages are read by subscribers within 3 minutes of delivery. Talk about instant messaging!

So, if you can entice your customers to opt-in for marketing SMS messages, then this gives you direct and immediate access to people who love your products and who have asked you to market to them — that’s not an opportunity you find with other marketing channels.

#4: Easy SMS Tracking and Data Acquisition

As texting has developed as a marketing tool, so have the platforms and software available to track, optimize, and execute text marketing campaigns.

Mass texting software enables you to do a lot, including:

  • Easily organize and keep track of your subscribers’ phone numbers.
  • Schedule messages.
  • Marketing automation.
  • Track text read rates.
  • Track promotion click-through rates.
  • Attach photos to campaign messages.
  • A/B testing on your messaging so that you can see which text messages deliver the best open and click-through rates
  • Intuitive dashboards that help you quickly interpret the performance of your SMS campaigns with easy-to-read data visualizations.

Want to learn more about your mass texting marketing software options? Hang tight — we’ll be explaining everything you need to know about texting software later in this blog post.

#5: Highest Conversion Rates in Marketing

In addition to industry-leading read rates, marketing with text also leads when it comes to conversions (i.e. the rate at which consumers make a purchase that was prompted by SMS).

Again, let’s first look at the conversion rates of competing marketing mediums:

And again, SMS marketing obliterates the competition with an average conversion rate between 8-9% for most consumer goods industries.

These high conversion rates are driven by the massive click-through rate earned by text messages. While email marketing consistently brings in a CTR average of 2.5%, an astounding 30% of people click the link in marketing text messages.

#6: Less Marketing & Spam Competition

The average person receives 121 emails per day but only receives 67 text messages. This means that your marketing texts are going up against significantly less competition than if you were to send the same message via email.

Another huge perk of text is that only 10% of text messages are spam, while a staggering 49.7% of email received is spam. Just another reason why subscribers are more likely to open texts and take action.

Why Your Business Should Be Using SMS Marketing

To sum up this section, there are many benefits of SMS marketing. Here’s a quick overview of what text sales offer:

  • Some of the highest open rates and click-through rates in the marketing industry
  • Some of the highest conversion rates in the industry
  • Direct and instant access to your company’s biggest fans

Next, we’ll be teaching you how to get started with SMS marketing and sharing some of the SMS best practices you need to follow to make text marketing work for you.

How to Do SMS Marketing (SMS Marketing Best Practices)

Now that you know about text marketing’s enticing open, CTR, and conversion rates, you probably want a piece of the pie. But how do you use SMS marketing? Or, if you’re already using it and aren’t happy with the results, how can you improve the success of your text messages campaign?

You’ve come to the right place.

Here at Fannit, our team of SMS marketers has spent years helping businesses just like yours take advantage of mobile marketing. And this section of the blog post is dedicated to catching you up on how to run a successful text campaign.

So sit back — industry secrets are coming your way.

Part 1: Tips for How to Get More SMS Subscribers

Let’s start at the beginning.

The first step towards running a successful text messaging campaign is to build a list of subscribers that you can send your promotional campaign messages to.

To help you jumpstart your SMS marketing efforts, here are 5 tips to help you grow your list of SMS subscribers.

Entice New SMS Subscribers With Opt-In Keywords

One of the exciting features of marketing with text is that it enables subscribers to opt-in to your SMS subscriber list using a keyword of your choice.

For example, a pizza shop may lure opt-ins using a promotion like this:

Text “DELICIOUS” to 999999 for exclusive pizza coupons!

This method of collecting subscribers is superior to traditional email list CTAs because it introduces a game-like element — text this fun word and get something fun in return!

Just one of the many reasons why SMS marketing knocks it out of the park with millennials and gen z.

Use a Sweepstakes Contest to Boost SMS Subscribers

Another great way to get started growing your list of text messaging subscribers is to run a sweepstakes contest. Sweepstakes communicate value and urgency, which is why they’re effective ways to entice new subscribers.

There are a lot of different ways to run an SMS sweepstakes contest. Two of the most popular include randomly selecting several winners out of the pool of people who opted-in, or sending out smaller rewards to everyone who participated.

Here are some contest best practices to follow:

  • Make it incredibly easy to opt-in.
  • Offer a compelling reward.
  • Create a sense of urgency so that customers feel like they need to opt-in immediately.
  • Partner with other companies for cross promotion.

Sweepstakes like these are great ways to grow your list at key points during the year. For example, contest like this work really well during holidays, special events, or company celebrations (e.g. anniversaries).

Ask Your Email Subscribers to Join Your SMS List

If your company is using email marketing, then you’re already sitting on a goldmine of potential SMS subscribers.

Your business email list is full of people who have intentionally given you permission to send them promotions, updates, and other marketing materials, so many of them would likely love the opportunity to join an SMS list that provides even greater value and benefits.

Here are some tips you can use to motivate your email subs to convert into SMS subs:

  • Send out a promotional email advertising the benefits of your SMS list.
  • Let your email list know that joining your SMS gives them access to exclusive perks (e.g. behind-the-scenes updates, bonus savings, or sweepstakes).
  • Start including your SMS opt-in info as a CTA in your email signatures.

Promote Your SMS Opt-in Across Your Social Media & Website

In addition to pushing SMS promotions out to your email list, make sure that you’re advertising the benefits of your text list across all your social profiles.

Here are some ideas:

  • Put a pop-up on your website with an SMS opt-in form. Instead of having customers text out a keyword, a pop-up like this can have customers enter their name, phone number, email address, and tick a box that reads “I agree to receive SMS marketing messages.”
  • Use a Facebook Messenger bot (as offered by many SMS software services) to get prospects and customers to opt-in when they message your company’s Facebook page.
  • Make Instagram stories advertising your opt-in and include it in the descriptions of your Instagram posts.
  • If your company has a Youtube channel, add the opt-in to your video descriptions and create pinned comments featuring your opt-in keyword and number.

To sweeten the pot, announce your SMS channel alongside a sweepstakes competition. This will motivate existing customers to sign up while also encouraging them to share your social media posts with friends and family so that they can opt-in for a chance to win as well.

Use Signage to Advertise Your Opt-in in Your Store or Office

If you run a store or office, don’t miss out on the opportunity to advertise your SMS opt-in to visitors.

Put up signage promoting your opt-in. Add it to your business cards, company fliers, signs, posters, and receipts — wherever it has the potential to greet a customer.

Here are some tips to help physically advertise your opt-in:

  • Make the value of opting-in immediately clear.
  • Make subscribing as easy as possible by using an opt-in keyword.
  • Motivate conversions by giving new opt-ins a reward or entry into a contest.

Part 2: How to Get the Most Out of Your SMS Marketing Campaigns

Now that you have new SMS subscribers pouring in, you need to learn how to make the most out of this valuable resource and opportunity.

As we said earlier, your SMS subs are your biggest fans.

These are people who have intentionally opted-in to receiving direct messages from you — that’s marketing gold!

And we’re not kidding, as, based on the statistics shared above, these customers are statistically ready and willing to read your messages, click your promotions, and give you their hard-earned cash.

To help you take full advantage of this incredible opportunity, we’ve designed this section of the blog post to be your SMS marketing guidebook. Here are 6 proven ways you can keep your subscribers engaged, happy, and willing to spend money on your products and services.

Make Your SMS Audience Feel Like Royalty

People need a good reason to opt-in to your SMS business marketing messages and while you can pull them in using compelling CTAs and enticing promises of SMS sale promotions, how are you going to keep them subscribed for the long haul?

This is where SMS has a slight disadvantage when compared to email marketing — while email often requires multiple clicks in order to unsubscribe, ending a company’s text marketing simply requires the subscriber to text back the word “STOP.”

In short, it’s easy for SMS subscribers to leave your campaign. So you need to make it difficult for them to leave by providing a level of value that compels them to stay.

One of the best ways to do this is to view and treat your subs as VIPs — you roll the red carpet out for them, give them preferential treatment, let them know that they’re special customers and that you appreciate them.

The way you communicate value to your customers will differ based on your industry, for example, a grocery store may put up in-store signage letting customers know that they can join an SMS list in order to receive additional savings on top of the sales already available.

Here are a few examples of SMS promo use cases that keep subscribers excited and engaged:

  • Give them early access to coupons and sales
  • Provide behind-the-scenes content
  • Send exclusive offers and promotions that only SMS subs have access to
  • Respond to their questions and requests
  • Conduct surveys and contests

Again, the way you provide value depends on your industry, so make sure you take the time to strategize about what kind of value your customers will appreciate the most.

Create Automated Drip Campaigns

SMS drip campaigns are similar to email drip campaigns — automated messages that are sent out at strategically selected times. The four most common kinds of text drip campaigns are:

  • Automated welcome messages for customers who have just opted-in to receive texts from your company.
  • Lead nurturing texts that educate consumers about products and keep your company on their mind with promotions and other marketing messages.
  • Onboarding and training for new users, helping them get familiar with a product or service and teaching them how to use it.
  • Reminders. Two common drip reminders are shopping cart alerts for people who added a product to your ecommerce store’s cart but didn’t buy it and renewal reminders that let customers know about upcoming renewal periods.

A drip campaign in action could look like this:

  • An immediate welcome text to a new opt-in that includes a 5% off coupon.
  • A 15% off coupon sent two weeks later.
  • A 20% off coupon sent four weeks after that.
  • And so on, providing consistent SMS sales and other promotions to keep your customer thinking about your brand and enticing them to buy from you

Write Compelling Calls to Action

You want your customers to maintain their high engagement with your text messages. This means you need your subscribers to look forward to your texts, to value them, and to interact with them.

Keeping interaction high requires you to carefully craft each call to action.

Need help? Here are a few examples of compelling calls to action:

  • Text-to-win. Tell your customers that you’re running a contest or sweepstakes. If they want to enter the competition and potentially win a prize, then they need to send you a text back. This is an easy way to keep your subscribers thinking about your brand in an unintrusive and exciting way.
  • Show text for reward. This fun CTA encourages subscribers to save your message and show it to cashiers or waiters in order to secure a promotion. For example, “Show us this text and get 15% off your next in-store purchase.”
  • Buy now. Using customer data software you can track subscribers that regularly purchase certain products. Has it been a while since their last purchase? Send them a “buy now” text that enables them to order the product with a simple button tap.
  • Text-to-vote. Would you like to run polls via SMS texts? Text-to-vote campaigns are popular among subscribers because it gives them an easy way to provide feedback about products or services.

Use Live Agent Notifications to Keep Customers Engaged

As your SMS campaign sends out waves of promotions, surveys, and other marketing content, your subscribers may occasionally text back with questions or feedback about your business.

While many of these questions can be answered by SMS software bots, it may be necessary for a human agent to jump into the conversation.

Activating the live notifications in your SMS software will keep your team on top of customer requests and will help subscribers feel cared for and engaged with your brand.

Another way to keep track of customer messages is to use a texting software that comes with a unified inbox or messaging dashboard. These will enable you to view all the conversations occurring in your text campaigns from a single interface, so that you can see how people are interacting with your drip messages and bots.

Using an SMS dashboard also allows you or one of your live agents to step into the conversation whenever necessary.

Be Intentional About Your Timing

The success of your marketing campaign depends on many factors, with one of the biggest elements of SMS strategy being timing.

Text messages can quickly get buried in iMessage, so marketing with texts relies on getting your subscribers to make last-second and on-the-spot purchasing decisions.

This means you need to be extremely intentional about the timing of your texts. Don’t send out messages when the majority of your subscribers are sitting in rushhour traffic and don’t tell people about a Saturday promotion on the Monday before.

Research your subscribers. Figure out what time zones they’re in and when is the best time to shoot them your marketing messages. Segment your audience based on time zone and other demographics to ensure your messages find them at the ideal time — the moment they’re primed and ready to take an impulse action.

For example, let’s say your restaurant has a promotion starting Friday night. In this case, you should send out a “show this text” CTA Friday afternoon — perfect timing for an impulse decision.

Make Your Texts Easy to Understand

Most mass text messaging programs only give you access to 160 characters per text. This means you need to be extremely intentional when you send text promos to your contact lists.

Make sure your message is to the point, not open-ended, and that it leverages your subscribers’ desire to make impuse buying decisions (as mentioned in the previous tip).

For example, if you’re sending out a coupon, put an expiration date on it. This creates a sense of urgency and motivates subscribers to act quickly in order to lock in their savings.

Another great tactic is to include the name of the person you’re sending a text too. This makes your message personal, piques their interest, and decreases the likelihood of them choosing to opt out of receiving communications from you.

Best SMS Marketing Software Options

Running a marketing campaign is labor-intensive. It requires market research, ad copywriting, data analysis, and the ability to efficiently organize and segment your customers’ phone numbers.

If you plan on running your SMS campaigns in-house, then you’ll need to move beyond Excel and start using a dependable mass texting program instead. A good program will equip you with the resources necessary to optimize your messages, track performance, and schedule text campaigns.

BirdEye

This bulk SMS platform enables you to schedule text messages, respond to live messages via an intuitive chat portal, and set up drip campaigns.

Another thing we like about BirdEye is that it offers a free demo and integrates easily with other CRMs for fast phone number sharing.

One disadvantage of BirdEye is that it doesn’t support link shrinking.

EZ Texting

This web-based SMS texting tool offers an immense amount of features, including a free trial, online chat support, two-way messaging, advanced analytic tools, marketing automation, and more.

One disadvantage is that EZ Texting is a bit more expensive than other software options, but in this case you do get what you pay for, as EZ Texting is an industry leader among SMS programs.

Message Launch

Message Launch is an easy to use text messaging platform that equips you with two-way texting, survey capabilities, mass texting, text-to-vote campaigns, powerful analytics, and advanced drip campaign tools. Message Launch also has techs on standby who can guide you if you need help using the program.

If you’d like to take a look at Message Launch, the company offers a free trial.

And to round out this review, one disadvantage of Message Launch is that it lacks MMS capabilities.

Doctible

This is a specialized SMS platform that’s optimized for healthcare professionals and medical organizations.

Doctible enables medical offices to easily remind patients of appointments, communicate questions, and send other alerts. This software is also HIPAA-compliant, so doctors can chat with patients securely.

One disadvantage of Doctible is that it doesn’t include analytics tools, so you won’t be able to access open rates, CTR, and other marketing data.

SMS Software Alternatives

If you’re curious about other options for running SMS marketing campaigns, one of the most popular ways to tap into marketing automation is by partnering with a digital marketing agency.

Digital marketing companies, like we at Fannit, have teams of professionals who are dedicated to optimizing SMS ROI and have the experience and technical expertise necessary to run effective text marketing campaigns.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you take advantage of SMS marketing, please contact our team today and ask about our marketing services.

SMS Marketing FAQs

Before wrapping up this blog post, let’s take a minute to address three of Google’s most asked questions about text messaging marketing!

Does SMS Marketing Work?

Absolutely! SMS marketing delivers incredible ROI for your business. Just take a look at these statistics:

  • SMS messages have an open rate of up to 99%!
  • On average, 90% of SMS texts are read by subscribers within 3 minutes of delivery.
  • SMS texts have a click-through rate of 30%.
  • And when it comes to converting prospects into sales, SMS marketing rocks in with an average conversion rate between 8-9% for most consumer goods industries.

Text message marketing is an incredible resource that produces measurable results for companies that implement it correctly.

What is Bulk SMS Marketing?

Bulk SMS marketing is simply an aspect of mobile text marketing and is when you send promotional messages to thousands of people at the same time.

This is in contrast to other aspects of SMS marketing, like drip campaigns, where you send periodic messages to specific subscribers based on actions they do or a scheduled workflow that you’ve put in place for them.

Is SMS Marketing Legal?

SMS marketing is legal and is a very useful tool that companies around the world use to boost sales.

That said, there are certain laws in place that you need to follow in order to use text messaging legally.

The regulatory bodies in place to protect your subscribers’ data privacy include the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Companies using SMS marketing need to comply with the regulations put in place by these organizations, or else be at risk of fines and anti-spam penalties.

If you’re an American company promoting products and services via text, two of the laws you need to know about are the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the CAN-SPAM Act.

  1. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The law stipulating that businesses may not send texts to customers without their explicit written consent. This is why it’s crucial to only add phone numbers to your text subscriber list that have opted-in and then affirmed via text that they agree to continue receiving messages from you.
  2. CAN-SPAM Act. This is the law that makes it illegal to send commercial texts without consent and that requires businesses to make it easy for subscribers to opt out from receiving messages.

It’s also these laws that require you to use phrases like: “Message and data rates may apply” in your onboarding language and to tell people how to opt out in your initial welcome text. You’ll also need to make it easy for subscribers to find your privacy policies so that they can understand how you’re using their data.

There is additional nuance to each of these laws and there are additional laws that you need to follow should you start texting customers in other countries, so we encourage you to study these laws yourself to ensure compliance or partner with an SMS agency that can guide you through the legal process.

Partner With the Text Message Marketing Experts

Would you like to take advantage of text marketing’s unique potential without the up-front investment of developing an in-house SMS team?

Here at Fannit, our team of marketing experts has spent years helping businesses like yours take advantage of digital marketing and the perks offered by SMS.

If you’d like to set your marketing on autopilot so that you can continue focusing on what you do best, then contact Fannit today. Our professionals are happy to help.