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SMS Marketing—a Comprehensive Guide to Effective Strategies

If you’re like most people, you use your phone for everything—from shopping online to engaging in telehealth visits. Chances are your company’s customers do, too. And that means reaching your audience through their phones is a highly effective way to get your message out.

With so many people on their phones, it’s no wonder SMS marketing is surging in popularity: According to Statista, worldwide spending on SMS advertising is expected to reach $870 million by 2029

But is SMS marketing worth it for your business? Done well, SMS marketing can improve customer engagement, strengthen your brand, drive sales, and lead directly to business growth.

Learn the benefits and best practices for engaging in SMS marketing in this guide.

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What is SMS marketing?

Short message service (SMS) marketing is a marketing strategy that allows businesses to reach out to customers and leads through text messages. These messages typically share information about promotions, upcoming events, and appointment reminders.

Why SMS marketing works

SMS marketing is effective because it provides instant connection and convenience. In addition, if someone opts in your texts, it’s because they’re already engaged with your message and interested in learning more, meaning they’re already a great lead.

And the numbers prove it. In 2022, an average of 46% of consumers in the United States stated they liked being contacted by brands via text message. Another survey found that 55% of people in the US would opt-in to texts from a healthcare provider, while 46% would opt-in to messages from an e-commerce retailer. 

Whether it’s an abandoned cart notification, a survey request, or information about a new loyalty program, SMS marketing is quickly becoming one of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers.

What are the benefits of SMS marketing?

Your business can gain a lot of benefits from SMS marketing:

  • Instant connection with your audience: One of the biggest benefits of SMS messaging is its immediacy. If your company can gain a customer’s trust and send SMS messages, you have direct access to what’s likely the first thing they see in the morning and the last they see at night.  
  • Low-cost marketing channel: SMS messaging is also relatively low-cost compared with other marketing channels like digital marketing. Some SMS messaging platforms charge as little as a few cents for each message. 
  • Build customer loyalty: Sending personalized text messages tailored to the recipient can be a great way to increase loyalty to your brand. 
  • High engagement rates: Texts also have higher engagement rates than other marketing channels. A recent survey found that commercial text messages had a 10% higher open rate than email messages. 
  • Convenience for your audience: SMS messages are also highly convenient because your audience has complete control over whether they receive them. In a world where we’re bombarded by marketing messages from all sides, text messages are a convenient way for your recipients to receive the messages they care about most. 

Types of SMS marketing campaigns

There are several types of SMS marketing campaigns businesses send. Here are three of the most common: 

Promotional 

Promotional SMS messages aim to tell the recipient about a sale, product launch, new event, or some other product or service. These texts might include discounts, coupon codes, or free offers. With an effective call to action (CTA) at the end, these messages are a good way to generate interest in your company’s offerings and motivate other actions like clicks and website visits.  

Transactional 

You might send a transactional text message to confirm purchases from your website, verify upcoming appointments, notify people who abandoned their shopping carts, or provide shipping notifications. These SMS messages are time-sensitive and usually have high open rates.

Support

Finally, support text messages are another way to provide convenient and accessible customer support. You might provide recipients with several prompts they can select from to find the answer to their question or use human support agents to solve issues via text.

Getting started with SMS marketing 

If you think SMS marketing would be a good strategy for engaging with your customers and leads, here’s a process to follow when getting started:

Build a subscriber base

The first step in an effective SMS marketing strategy is building a subscriber base. You can gather subscriber phone numbers through website pop-ups, at an in-person event, and in many other ways. 

Always communicate clearly about what a recipient’s phone number will be used for once they opt-in. This helps you comply with privacy laws and builds trust.  

Get an SMS platform 

For effective text messaging outreach, you’ll need a high-quality SMS platform. The right platform will let you send and schedule personalized text messages, run reports on key metrics like opens and clicks, and provide a full view of your relationship with each subscriber so you can nurture the relationship.

See our full list of SMS marketing tools below!

Create your SMS marketing campaigns

Now you’re ready to create your SMS marketing campaigns! Your messaging will be determined by your campaign goal, your company’s brand, and the audience’s needs. Plan out the content of your messages before sending them.

Be sure to use the best practices outlined below for a successful campaign.

You’ll also need to determine a schedule for sending messages. The goal of your campaign will determine how frequently you send texts, but it’s best to avoid sending messages too frequently to prevent recipients from unsubscribing. 

Ensure compliance 

Complying with regulatory requirements should be one of your top priorities when implementing an SMS marketing strategy. There are a lot of misconceptions about the legality of SMS marketing, but the truth is that you can do it legally and effectively if you’re careful to comply with relevant laws and respect your recipient’s privacy.

Some of the most important laws to comply with are: 

Automate when possible

Finally, utilize automation in your SMS marketing campaigns whenever possible. Automating your messaging can help you and your marketing team accomplish more and stay on top of messaging opportunities.

6 SMS marketing best practices 

Ready to get your SMS marketing campaigns off the ground? These best practices will help you plan campaigns that pique your audience’s interest and drive engagement:

1. Only send to people who opted in

It’s the number one rule of SMS marketing—only send to people who have given you clear consent to receive your messages. Otherwise, you risk unsubscribes, a damaged reputation, and even legal action. 

2. Stick to your campaign’s mission 

What do you hope to accomplish with your SMS marketing campaign? Is your goal to drive sales, provide a better customer experience, or increase sign-ups for your upcoming live event? 

Whatever your campaign’s mission, it should inspire your messaging. Use clear, value-driven language to motivate subscribers to take your desired action.

3. Use personalization and segmentation for better engagement 

Tailoring your SMS messages to your recipients can result in higher engagement rates. Use your recipient’s first name if you have it, and segment your audience based on purchase history or location to help build your relationship. 

Sending irrelevant messages or texts that seem spammy is a good way to increase unsubscribes and harm your company’s reputation. 

4. Always make it easy to opt out

When someone wants to opt out of your messages, you should make it easy for them. Having them jump through hoops or visit multiple pages to unsubscribe won’t keep them around—it’ll only make them more frustrated. Include a clear unsubscribe option (like “Text STOP to unsubscribe”) in every message. 

5. Tell them who you are early

Hiding your company’s name low down in a text—or not providing it at all—can confuse recipients and make them more likely to unsubscribe. Let them know who’s texting early on to maintain your recipient’s trust.

6. Keep messages short and sweet

Marketing messages should be short and sweet. Stick to only a few lines that really pack a punch. Your SMS marketing message should include information like:

  • Your company name 
  • Personalized information like subscriber name, purchase details, or appointment time 
  • Information about your promotion
  • A strong CTA 
  • An opt-out option
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11 strategies for effective SMS marketing (plus examples)

What strategies should you use for your SMS marketing campaigns? Here are 11 effective ways to engage with recipients and promote your business:

1. Welcome new subscribers 

It’s always a good idea to send subscribers a welcome message. This text confirms the person’s opt-in and gives them a chance to opt-out if they want. 

By introducing your company and the perks you’re offering right from the start, you also increase interest and give recipients a chance to save your number so they know who’s texting later.

2. Alert about upcoming deals

Have a seasonal sale or promotion coming up? Text subscribers about the exciting deals and provide a link to your website to drive traffic.

3. Announce product releases or company news

SMS marketing can help you generate buzz around a new product, service, or business location you’re launching. You can schedule multiple texts at intervals leading up to the release to keep the details top of mind for subscribers.

4. Start a rewards program 

Have a VIP or loyalty program? SMS marketing can make recipients feel like they’re part of something special. This is a great strategy for letting subscribers know what benefits they’ve already earned and encouraging them to buy more.

5. Collect customer feedback

Want to know what your customers think? Use an SMS message to send out a survey and request feedback. This strategy is great for understanding how customers felt about your products or an in-person event they attended.

6. Ask for reviews

Positive reviews are a good way to build trust and encourage new business. And reaching out to your current customers can help you build your company’s review portfolio. Send recipients a link to an online review platform to make it even easier for them to share their thoughts.

7. Provide customer support

Depending on the products or services you offer, SMS might be a good way to provide support to customers. You could use automated responses through a chatbot or human customer support agents to identify and work through issues

8. Notify when products are in stock

If a customer is interested in a product you don’t currently have in stock, letting them sign up for notifications when it’s back maintains their interest and could help lead to more sales. 

9. Remind customers about appointments 

This strategy is especially popular in the healthcare industry, although other service-based companies can use it. Allow customers to sign up for text reminders for their upcoming appointments or events to keep them in the loop. You can also text them updates if the time or location changes.

10. Promote events

Hosting a live event at your business or online? Generate interest through SMS marketing. Reach out to current customers or those who have attended past events to share information about upcoming activities your business is hosting.

11. Send abandoned cart reminders 

When a customer leaves products in their cart on your online storefront, sending a text message to remind them can push them to complete their purchase. Just be sure to time this message right to catch them while they’re still interested.

The best SMS marketing tools 

There are a lot of SMS platforms out there, all with different features and price points. The best SMS marketing tool is the one that provides the features, app integrations, and cost that fits your business needs.

Check out our complete list of the best SMS apps to find the best tool for your business:

  • Twilio: Provides the ability to pay as you and multiple types of messaging
  • SimpleTexting: Integrates with thousands of other apps and enables SMS drip messages
  • TextMagic: Ability to schedule texts ahead of time and send SMS messages from your email inbox
  • EZ Texting: Provides unlimited two-way text messaging and an image editing tool
  • Textedly: Enables conversation triggers to automatically keep the conversation going
  • SlickText: Lets you text two-way or in groups, plus store unlimited contacts
  • Salesmsg: Personalize texts with data from your CRM or email marketing platform
  • RingCentral: Provides text automation, integrations, and file sharing

The future of SMS marketing 

We live in a digital world, and text message marketing isn’t likely to go away any time soon. In fact, SMS advertising is predicted to experience an annual growth rate of 1.95% over the next five years. 

As companies try to provide a seamless experience for customers across all their marketing channels, many will try integrating their text message marketing strategy with their other channels, like social media and email. It will be critical to gain total insight into every customer touchpoint to provide the best possible experience with your brand.

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Get a better picture of your customer relationships with Nutshell

SMS marketing is an effective tool for maintaining your relationships with customers and leads. If you use it correctly and implement the proven strategies above, you can build trust, drive sales, and grow your business. 

Nutshell CRM makes it even easier to get the full picture of your open leads and customers. Track every interaction and touchpoint, whether a meeting, sales demo, or email engagement, to nurture your relationships at every stage of your sales pipeline. With powerful features like sales automation, reporting, email marketing, web forms, and artificial intelligence, Nutshell has what your team needs to generate and win more deals.

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