SMS Marketing: Overview and Guide

13 minute read

What is SMS marketing?

Simply put, SMS marketing is a type of digital marketing that communicates promotions, sales, and other updates through text messages to mobile devices.

Unlike email marketing, SMS marketing has some distinct differences:

  • It has a higher open rate.
  • It has a higher conversion rate.
  • It is more expensive.
  • It is more regulated.
  • It is heavily filtered by the phone carriers.

SMS marketing is a core feature of the DailyStory platform. and we’ve created lots of great content to help you get the most out of your next SMS marketing campaign.

Let’s start by looking at the benefits of SMS marketing:

Why you should use SMS marketing

If you’re on the fence about incorporating text messaging into your digital marketing efforts, the following are benefits of SMS marketing:

High open rate

Text messages boast about a 98 percent open rate, which is higher than most other marketing channels, including email.

It’s simply a very direct form of communication that is hard to ignore, while emails can get overlooked or not seen at all (if lost in a spam folder).

So, by using text messages, you’re more likely to reach your potential and existing customers with your marketing messages.

High conversion rate

Another text message marketing benefit: Text messages enjoy a relatively high conversion rate, which means that mobile users respond to calls-to-action in texts more than any other marketing channel.

In fact, the average conversion rate for brands using SMS text message marketing is about 45 percent, while the average email conversion rate is about 15 percent.

Because texts are short with few links and images, the call-to-action is clear and concise (and more effective).

Cost-effective method

While texting is not free, it is relatively cost-effective when compared to some other marketing channels (such as Facebook ads).

And, unlike other marketing, text message marketing is conversational and 2-way. This enables you to create engaging conversations with your customers for generally less.

DailyStory offers the ability to use SMS text message marketing and can break down the cost for you at a level that serves your small business best.

But just considering the return on investment alone, text messaging is a cost-effective digital marketing tool.

Mobile-friendly option

As small businesses aim to be more mobile-friendly for consumers who are using their mobile devices more and more, texting is a great show of mobile-friendliness.

According to Statista, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51.53 percent of global website traffic as of 2020, consistently hovering around the 50 percent mark since the beginning of 2017.

And mobile internet usage is only growing. Gone are the days when we can assume that most website visitors are viewing your website on a full browser.

Mobile optimization is about making sure that visitors who access your website through mobile devices have an outstanding experience that’s customized to their device. The most successful mobile optimization should feel seamless for the mobile user. And that’s where text messages enter.

Check out our six reasons why mobile optimization matters, as well as 14 expert tips to improve your mobile marketing specifically.

Complements other types of marketing

SMS text message marketing doesn’t have to stand alone. It’s a tool that can actually be paired up with all the other ways you market your business.

Some ideas include:

  • Generating interest in your social media channels
  • Offering a quick discount for anyone who buys through your website for a limited time
  • Following up on a promotional email that was sent out (with different messaging based on whether they’ve opened that email or not)

Consider the digital marketing campaigns that you’re already doing. Where can SMS fit into those? And how can it make those campaigns more successful?

Check out these eight surprising ways you can use text message marketing.

Strengthening customer engagement

Text message marketing isn’t just a broadcasting medium. Similar to social media, it gives an opportunity for consumers to engage with you. This is another text message marketing benefit.

This makes your business more accessible for them, which can help it become more of a part of their lives as you continue to build stronger relationships.

To better prompt that engagement, check out our tips to write an effective marketing text message.

Flexible and customizable

Another text message marketing benefit: Text messages are extremely versatile. Depending on how you segment your audience and what goals you have for different groups of contacts in your database, you can easily send different messages to different consumers.

It could be a “miss you” message to customers who haven’t purchased from you in a while, a “don’t forget” message to those who’ve abandoned their shopping cart on your website and/or an exclusive discount offer. The sky’s the limit.

In addition, you can personalize these text messages with something as simple as the recipient’s first name. That alone can make your messaging that much more impactful.

Learn more about personalization, as well as our eight benefits of personalization in your digital marketing.

Of course, SMS marketing is even better alongside other digital marketing tactics, such as email marketing.

SMS marketing complements email marketing

About 90 percent of business leads would rather receive a text message than a phone call.

If you are a B2B digital marketer, here are a couple of relevant stats:

And thanks to smartphones and tablets, the use of text messaging is at an all-time high.

What you need to know before starting your first text message campaign

If you haven’t started your first text message campaign yet, you might be unsure of where to start. The important piece is that you want to get started.

SMS marketing campaigns have an engagement rate that’s three to seven times higher than with emails and a nearly six times conversion rate. You don’t want to miss out on achieving higher marketing results for your business.

The following are six things you should know before starting your first texting campaign.

What’s a text message campaign?

First things first, an SMS marketing campaign allows you to interact with your customers through text messages, which can feel more personal than emails.

What do you want to achieve with your texting campaign?

Thinking through your goals will help guide the direction of your first texting campaign. Setting goals increases the success of your marketing strategy by about 429 percent. Consider your overall business goals and how SMS marketing can support any or all of them.

What texting campaign service should I use?

It’s important to identify and sign up for the technology that will enable you to create and deploy texting campaigns.

When surveying what text marketing services are out there, you’ll want to understand all the features available, whether those features make sense for what you want to achieve (or if you need something more) and the total cost associated with a subscription.

DailyStory offers SMS text messaging features, as well as email marketing and more as well. Explore with our free edition.

Who can I text?

Before you launch your first texting campaign, it’s critical that your customers gave you permission to send them SMS messages.

Of course, there are many ways to opt-in your customers and even potential customers, including:

  • Including a contact phone number field and permissions checkbox in your contact or sign-up forms.
  • Using a “text to join” strategy, where consumers text a keyword to a specific number that you give them.

What should I text?

The sky’s the limit within 160 characters, creatively speaking. But you do have some guidelines to follow to avoid getting carrier violations and the resulting impacts from them.

A carrier violation occurs when carriers (such as Verizon, AT&T and such) receive an outbound SMS and opt to not deliver the message to the destination phone number. In other words, carriers monitor and filter SMS traffic, and if your message triggers a perceived violation from the carrier’s perspective, your text will not be delivered.

How should I track my texting campaign?

The metrics tied to texting campaigns aren’t as robust as what you might be used to with email marketing due to technological limitations.

Within whatever texting campaign service you choose to use, you should be able to track the number of sent SMS messages as well as the click rate. You also should be able to see your deliverability rate, depending on the service.

How do I warm-up my sending numbers?

Prior to sending your first SMS campaign, you will want to warm up your sending numbers. Warming up your sending numbers is especially important when sending to recipients that have not received an SMS from you in the past 60 days or have previously received messages from another number.

The power of your SMS marketing begins with an effective strategy

Every business should have an SMS marketing strategy as part of its larger digital marketing efforts.

SMS marketing is the use of text messages to convey your message to potential (and current) customers. It’s also the way many consumers prefer to communicate.

We have eight tips for you to consider to specifically maximize your SMS marketing strategy:

  • Send drip campaigns via text.
  • Create exclusive text-only deals and offers.
  • Use keywords for SMS opt-ins.
  • Prioritize responsiveness.
  • Focus on education before the “sell.”
  • Be functional with reminders and confirmations.
  • Consider running a contest.
  • Gather feedback and monitor performance.

Get creative with your SMS marketing campaigns

How creative are your SMS text message marketing campaigns? Are you seizing every opportunity to engage with your subscribers and ultimately boost sales with your ideas?

Beyond using SMS for reminders or order confirmations, the following are more SMS marketing ideas to help you leverage your SMS text message marketing to grow your reach, increase your conversion rates, and build trusting relationships with customers:

  • Welcoming subscribers
  • Subscriber-only flash sales
  • Blog (or other content) promotion
  • Running giveaways
  • Event promotion
  • Capturing abandoned carts
  • Offering more than a thank you
  • Use photos and videos

How to be successful using SMS marketing

How can you do SMS text message marketing “right”? The following are SMS marketing best practices to make your text messaging efforts as successful as possible:

  • Get permission.
  • Include all necessary disclaimers.
  • Establish consistency with your sending frequency.
  • Consider the timing of your texts.
  • Think exclusivity.
  • Be responsive.
  • Use concise language.
  • Personalize your content as much as possible.
  • Offer an easy, clear way to opt out.
  • Measure your SMS campaign performance.

We’ve put together a great SMS Text Message Marketing guide that details SMS marketing best practices.

How to write a text message that won’t get ignored

The character limit of an SMS text message is 160 characters, so writing a compelling message in so short of a space can be challenging. We have eight tips for writing a text message that won’t be ignored:

  • The shorter the text message the better.
  • Relevancy is key.
  • CAPS aren’t all bad in a text message.
  • Consider personalization in your text message.
  • Include a strong call-to-action.
  • Avoid ‘text speak’ and special characters.
  • Factor in the timing of your text message.
  • Include the option to opt-out.

Avoid carrier violations

Your SMS marketing success can suffer from simple mistakes that will get your message blocked by phone carriers. A text message may not be delivered to a person because they have opted out, the mobile number is invalid, or because the carrier blocked your message.

There are many reasons why a text message won’t deliver:

  • Carrier has blocked your message (carrier violation).
  • Mobile number is undeliverable.
  • Mobile number is not MMS capable.
  • Mobile number is outside your approved sending geography.
  • Message contains spam or illegal words.
  • The recipient has previously blocked your message.

A carrier violation occurs when carriers (such as Verizon, AT&T and such) receive an outbound SMS and opt to not deliver the message to the destination phone number.

DailyStory sends millions of SMS and MMS messages for our customers. And while carriers do not share their exact and unique triggers for a violation (so that spammers can’t game the system), we’ve put together some tips to avoid carrier violations during your text message marketing.

What is 10DLC and how does it impact SMS marketing?

10DLC is a registration process for sending SMS marketing traffic. It requires registration of the ten-digit long codes (10DLC) with the phone carriers.

If your business uses or plans to use SMS marketing, you’ve probably heard about A2P 10DLC requirements.

The details around this constantly changing, but we clarify what is happening and what you need to do.

Why use 10DLC in your SMS text marketing?

Using a long code for your SMS marketing is substantially more affordable than using a short code:

  • Low-cost option
  • Local phone number recognition
  • Both text- and voice-enabled
  • Higher messaging volume (but not the highest)

SMS text message marketing is a powerful tactic that businesses should be using in their overall digital marketing strategies. And 10DLCs can help you drive results.

Boost your SMS marketing by using images in your text messages

Using images in your text messages (otherwise known as MMS marketing) is a great way to convey brand identity and other important content in your text message marketing.

Using MMS will impact your text message marketing budget.

It is often said: “A picture is worth a thousand words,” which can help you communicate more than the typical character limit for a standard text message. Plus, using MMS can also help avoid carrier violations!

But, as great as it sounds, it’s not as simple as just picking an image and sending it. There are important considerations for the type of image and implications surrounding delivery.

Sample terms of service for SMS marketing

SMS marketing, or text messaging, is a popular way that businesses can share offers, deals, and updates with their customers.

DailyStory is a marketing automation platform and includes SMS marketing capabilities. We put together an example SMS marketing terms of service that covers the minimum requirements for text message marketing.

Grow your SMS marketing audience organically

With strict opt-in procedures required, you can’t leap into your first text message campaign before you have a confirmed subscriber list (regardless of how many contact phone numbers you might already have simply through conducting business).

The good news is that about 91 percent of consumers would opt-in for text messages from brands. We have four tips to help grow your text subscribers the right way:

  • Advertise your SMS marketing program on all channels.
  • Use a memorable, but simple, keyword.
  • Offer an incentive to text subscribers.
  • Be upfront about your texting frequency.

Leverage your SMS marketing to retain customers

SMS text message marketing is a great way to reach mobile-first consumers, but you can use it to boost your customer retention rate as well.

Customer retention refers to the rate at which customers stay with a business for a given period of time. Increasing your customer retention rate by just 5 percent can increase your profit by 25 percent to 95 percent.

Text messages can help you foster trusting relationships with your customers, which can grow brand loyalty and ultimately customer retention.

We have five ways that you can use SMS text message marketing to improve customer retention:

  • Offer (and engage through) customer loyalty rewards programs.
  • Provide helpful information.
  • Request feedback from customers.
  • Deliver excellent customer service.
  • Leverage personalization in your text messages.

The do’s and don’ts of SMS text message marketing

It’s tough to beat SMS text message marketing when it comes to digital marketing tactics. Text messaging is fast, direct, efficient and relatively inexpensive when compared to other advertising tactics (such as Google Ads).

The following are nine do’s and don’ts of SMS text message marketing that you should be aware of:

The do’s of SMS marketing

  • Keep it brief.
  • Include a call-to-action.
  • Make your text recipients feel important.
  • Pay attention to timing.
  • Keep it legal.

The don’ts of SMS marketing

  • Bombarding your recipients.
  • Using text slang and abbreviations.
  • Always selling.
  • Forgetting to use segmentation.

How to measure the success of your SMS marketing campaign

It’s impossible to create and execute successful SMS marketing campaigns without measuring key metrics. SMS marketing involves sending promotional campaigns or transactional messages for marketing purposes using text messages.

The following are seven ways to measure the success of your SMS marketing campaign. These metrics will help you track progress toward your goals and maximize your efforts:

  • Interaction rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Delivery rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • List growth rate
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Return on investment

Your SMS marketing campaigns can deliver results for your business. However, you must track these important metrics along the way to best optimize your campaigns and pivot when necessary.


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