SMS Marketing: Definition, Examples, and Strategies
Did you know the average consumer spends four hours a day on their phone?
It’s insane, and perhaps a little alarming, but true.
Nearly half (46%) of people even admit to checking their phone before they get out of bed in the morning.
Me? Guilty as charged.
So what better medium to use for reaching consumers than their phone?
And hands down one of the best ways for businesses to communicate is through SMS marketing.
85% of consumers prefer to receive texts from brands rather than a phone call or email, and they’re 134% more likely to respond to a text than an email.
And here’s the kicker. SMS marketing is still fairly uncompetitive, with only 39% of marketers currently using it.
It truly is your oyster as long as you know how to use it correctly and follow some key strategies that have been proven to get mega results.
That’s what I’m going to tackle at length in this post.
SMS Marketing Definition
Let’s start from the top.
What exactly is SMS marketing?
Just so we’re 100% clear, SMS stands for Short Message Service, which is basically another word for a text.
“Standard SMS messages are limited to 160 characters per message, Twilio explains. “If a message exceeds this limit, it is broken up into multiple segments of 160 characters each, depending on its length.”
SMS marketing is simply a marketing technique where brands communicate with customers through text.
It can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Sending info on sales and promotions
- Alerts and notifications
- Raising brand awareness
- Educating consumers on products
- Sending surveys
- Asking for feedback
The Evolution of SMS Marketing
Back in the day when things were more primitive, brands would just send mass texts out through mobile phones.
But things have evolved a lot in recent years, and many now use two-way business text messaging software to reach a massive volume of contacts quickly and efficiently.
Salesmsg, for example, allows you to send, receive, and manage SMS message conversations from a simple dashboard.
It offers a ton of innovative features, like:
- Shared inbox for collaboration across multiple team members
- Easy contact importing
- Text message scheduling
- Canned response templates
- Auto-reply during non-business hours
- Calendar integrations
- And much more
Salesmsg also integrates with 1,000+ third-party apps, such as HubSpot, Marketo, and Pipedrive to automate much of the SMS marketing process and create more engaging conversations with customers.
Real-Life SMS Marketing Examples
Now let’s take a look at some actual examples from a few brands to give you a better idea of the different ways SMS marketing can be used.
SMS Marketing Example: Adore Me
First, there’s this one from women’s underwear brand Adore Me.
This one features two SMS messages, with the first announcing Adore Me’s long-weekend buy one get one (BOGO) deal where shoppers can double up on their favorite products.
The second text was sent a few days later and is a reminder that it’s the last day to take advantage of the BOGO offer.
Adore Me’s campaign is a super straightforward example of how to pique the interest of shoppers by letting them know about hot deals.
By simply tapping the link provided, shoppers can instantly jump from the text to Adore Me’s product page lickity split with no hassle.
And research has found that BOGO offers are one of the most popular promotions pound for pound.
“In a report from AMG, 66% of shoppers say they like BOGO the most out of all discount promotions,” writes SMS marketing expert Matt Ellsworth.
“They also found that 93% of shoppers report that they have taken advantage of BOGO promotions at least once.”
SMS Marketing Example: Buy Buy Baby
Here’s a brand that specializes in clothing, strollers, and accessories for babies and infants.
They’ve got a couple of things going on in the messages from the SMS marketing campaign.
The first text announces they’re temporarily modifying their store hours for cleaning and restocking essentials.
Although this exact type of message wouldn’t be applicable if your business is 100% online without a brick-and-mortar location, it demonstrates perfectly how to use texting for making announcements.
The second message is another straightforward but ultra potent promotion.
Here Buy Buy Baby lets contacts know about their “3 days of Spring Sale” that’s happening over the weekend.
This is the perfect time to scoop up hot deals, and all contacts have to is tap through the link to see the full enchilada.
SMS Marketing Example: INGLOT Cosmetics
INGLOT Cosmetics is a women’s beauty brand that focuses on eyeshadows, palettes, makeup, and skincare products.
In this SMS marketing example, they provide contacts with a link to more information about two of their products — their Gel 77 eyeliner and their color enhancing Duraline.
This doesn’t directly promote their products, but instead provides contacts with helpful educational resources so they can learn the full details.
Then, by learning about the unique capabilities of INGLOT’s products, customers will be more informed, which should compel many to make a purchase.
Given that customers are 131% more likely to buy after consuming educational content, it’s easy to see why this phase of INGLOT’s SMS marketing campaign is so impactful.
And this is definitely an angle worth considering with your own campaign.
SMS Marketing Example: The Mint Julep Boutique
My final example is from The Mint Julep Boutique, which is “your one-stop online boutique for women’s clothing, trendy tops, dresses, shoes, and accessories.”
It’s dead simple.
Here they’re letting shoppers know about their discounted shipping to celebrate Leap Day.
By shopping through the link featured in the text, customers only pay $2.29 for shipping, which should be a strong incentive for many to buy.
By looking at the four examples I’ve provided, you should have a pretty good sense of just how versatile SMS marketing can be.
It has many different uses and can align with marketing goals of brands of all sizes across nearly all industries.
That’s what’s so awesome about it.
For even more ideas on SMS marketing options, I suggest reading this post.
SMS Marketing Strategies
Now let’s get down to some of the tactical details, strategies, and tehniques.
At this point, I’ve explained exactly what SMS marketing is and what it looks like in action.
Here are some uber effective strategies you can use to make your campaign a grand slam.
SMS Marketing Strategy: Always Include Your Brand Name
Put yourself in the shoes of an average contact for a second.
They hear a notification on their phone and instinctively check it to see who it’s from.
They see an offer that’s clearly from a business.
Maybe it’s a promo or a discount, but there’s no clear indicator of precisely who sent it.
If this happens, they’ll more likely than not exit the text, put down their phone, and go on about their day without giving it a second thought.
But if the message is clearly marked from a brand they know and love, chances are good they’ll give it a thorough look over and probably tap through to check out the offer in detail.
So it’s essential that you always include your brand name, ideally right at the top, just like bracelet and jewelry brand Pura Vida does here with their texts.
Notice that it’s the very first thing they include.
SMS Marketing Strategy: Keep Messages Short and Sweet
I mentioned earlier that most text messages have a max of 160 characters.
That combined with limited real estate of a small mobile screen means you should keep the length of your messages to an absolute minimum.
Going back to my example from Adore Me for a second, look at how short and concise their texts are.
They strictly include the essential information and that’s it.
Content marketing manager Whitney Blankenship points out that “limits on characters and your customers’ attention span means you need to get to the point, and quickly.”
To accomplish this, here’s a technique I recommend:
- Focus on getting contacts to complete just one action per message (e.g. checking out a certain offer or participating in a particular promotion)
- Write out a “rough draft” or your message keeping brevity and key points in mind
- Go back and trim it once you’re done, excluding any extraneous information
- Repeat until you’ve nailed it and it’s hyper-condensed
SMS Marketing Strategy: Always Include a Link
Remember that every SMS message you send should have a specific goal in mind where you hope to get contacts to complete a given action.
The best way to ensure they get where they need to go is to “always include a link so they can get more detailed information about the offer/update you’ve sent,” Blankenship adds.
Naked and Famous Denim NYC, for example, provides a link to a customer’s shopping cart in this text.
A big part of being successful with SMS marketing is making stupid simple for your customers to go from checking their text to reading your offer to tapping through.
And giving them a single link to visit is one of the best ways to do that.
Send Messages at Optimal Times
Just like with email and social media, getting the timing right is another huge factor that determines how successful you are with SMS marketing.
While there’s no hard-and-fast rule that works for every single brand, there’s a good amount of data that shows what works best on average.
According to a major survey, the best time to send text messages during the weekdays are:
Early evenings tend to work best because most people are unwinding from work and catching up on texts.
If, however, you wait too late, they’re likely getting ready for bed and less likely to check their messages.
Plus, it’s annoying and disruptive to many people getting hit up by businesses late at night.
Late morning and early afternoons also tend to work well because most people are getting in the groove of their workday and don’t usually mind receiving a text and doing a little shopping online.
As for the weekends, the best times are:
Mornings are popular because most people are just starting their day and open to checking offers out before they get into the thick of leisure activities.
And evenings are the second best time because contacts have likely finished up what they’re doing and have some time to check their texts.
That said, I always recommend doing your own experiments to see what the sweet spot is for your brand — both during weekdays and on the weekend.
SMS Marketing Strategy: Personalize Your Messages as Much as Possible
If you’ve ever done an ounce of email marketing, you know about the importance of personalization.
It’s something consumers have come to expect, and sending cookie-cutter, generic messages just won’t hack it anymore.
And this is something that spills over to SMS marketing as well.
The more you personalize your messages and segment contacts, the more impact your campaign is going to have, the more engagement you’ll receive, and the more sales you’ll make.
It’s really that simple.
Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Address each contact by their first name
- Send offers based on previous shopping behavior and purchases
- Include location-based offers when appropriate
In this example, the brand starts off by greeting the contact by first name.
Then, they tailor their offer to prior travel-related purchases she’s made and invite her to check out travel accessories like sleeping masks, lotions, and sanitizers.
And in this example, the brand also uses the shopper’s first name and promotes a pop-up shop they’ll be hosting in Brooklyn, which is where she lives.
SMS Marketing FAQs
What is SMS marketing?
It stands for Short Message Service marketing, which is marketing to customers through text.
What are some ways SMS marketing can be used?
- Promoting products
- Letting shoppers know about sales and deals
- Sending alerts and notifications
- Directing shoppers to educational content
- Sending surveys
- Asking for feedback
What are some SMS marketing tools you can use to run a campaign more efficiently?
Salesmsg is an extremely helpful tool for two-way business texting.
From a central dashboard, you can send, receive, and manage text message conversations online.
What are some of the best SMS marketing strategies for maximum impact?
- Include your brand name
- Keep texts brief and concise
- Include a single link in each text
- Send messages at optimal times
- Personalize your SMS messages
Learn more how Salesmsg can help you get started with SMS marketing and reach an unlimited number of contacts.
Text us at (888) 409-2298 or start your free trial today.