How to Set Up an SMS Campaign - Beginner's Guide with Examples & Ideas
Congratulations on including SMS as part of your broader marketing strategy! You may feel daunted by the idea of setting up your first SMS campaign. Don’t be. SMS campaigns have rules, but are just like any other marketing execution - just in 160 characters! And this EZ Texting SMS Beginner’s Guide is your template to getting started. You’ll learn how to plan your SMS campaign, see some examples in action, and we’ll examine successful SMS ideas you can use as inspiration.
Let’s jump in!
How to Create an SMS Campaign
When you send an SMS or MMS message, you’re working with a limited number of characters. An SMS text message can be up to 160 characters without an attached file. A text that includes a file—like a photo, video, emoji, or a website link—or is longer than 160 characters instantly becomes an MMS message. Each is a great way to deliver a concise message or alert, but they’re not the best for telling a long, in-depth story. As you think about objectives for your campaign, consider prioritizing what you can do that conveys your message successfully and also creates a positive result for your business.
Here are some examples of different SMS campaign objectives to add your marketing mix:
- Sell Your Product by using a special offer or coupon.
- Generate Leads by creating a time-sensitive or pricing-based offer.
- Drive Brand Awareness by driving traffic to your social channels to grow your audience.
- Increase Website Traffic by promoting a valuable piece of content that is only available on your website.
How to Plan an SMS Campaign
The fastest way to create management interest in your SMS campaign is assigning SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Use this SMART worksheet with sample goals to begin to organize your SMS campaign. You’ll see how each goal builds on the next in this downloadable SMART SMS Campaign Template.
4 SMS Campaign Examples That Work
You’ve thought about what type of SMS campaign will have the most impact. You’ve assigned SMART goals. Now you're ready to define the details of your plan. When you’re just starting out, borrowing from existing examples is often the best place to start. Review your objectives and use one of the most common examples below to flesh out your initial texting campaign.
1. I Want to Grow My Subscriber List with an SMS Keyword Campaign
If you want to grow your list, then a Keyword campaign is the right strategy. Use a Keyword like “SUBSCRIBE” on a short code like 858585. Then, integrate your Keyword into your other marketing efforts. You can put it on your in-store signage, include it in your email marketing, publish it on your site and in social media posts, and even place it on your product packaging.
2. I Want to Increase Sales Using an SMS Promotion Campaign
Once you have opted-in subscribers, use promotion campaigns to drive them toward a purchasee. Design your offer to capture their interest and always present a clear action for them to take. Make sure that you segment your audience and keep your offer as relevant as possible.
Example: You have a list of vacation shoppers, you might send them something like: “Last minute deals available now at the EZ Beach Resort! Book now (555) 123-4567.”
3. I Want to Save Time & Money with an SMS Reminder Campaign
If your business relies on customers keeping their appointments, automated SMS reminders can be a huge time saver and reduce your number of no-shows. Set up reminders to be sent at specific times before your customers’ upcoming appointments. They’ll get a text message reminding them of their appointment details like date, time, and location. You can even include information telling them what to bring or how to reschedule their appointment.
4. I Want to Reach My Audience with an SMS Notification Campaign
SMS notification campaigns are a great way to get the word out quickly about an event or limited-time offer. You can reach thousands of people in just a few minutes with messages like this: “It’s game time!! Come enjoy some wings and watch the Oklahoma vs. Virginia Tech game at 6:30 on Friday at EZ Wings in Chattanooga.”
Choose Your SMS Marketing Tool
At some point, you’ll need your SMS campaign platform. Now’s the time to begin that process. With so many service providers to choose from, it helps to know what features and functions you need and what questions you should ask your SMS marketing tool provider?
When you’re making your decision, you can simplify the process by asking yourself these five questions during your review. Every provider should be going out of their way to make the answer abundantly clear.
- How hard is it to get started?
- Do they understand your needs?
- Do they deliver the features that you want for your campaigns?
- Is their customer service team helpful?
- Will their software help make your company money?
Ready to get started with EZ Texting?
Analyze Your Target Audience: An Example Case Study
If you’re going to build a successful campaign, you have to know who your target audience is, and — more importantly — you need to know what they want out of your text marketing campaign. Here’s how one company did just that.
Let’s Eat! is a meal assembly store in Atlanta, GA. They prepare meals fresh and then freeze them and include simple cooking instructions on the package. These meals require at least 24 hours to thaw before they can be cooked, so most customers pre-order them ahead of time. Let’s Eat! realized that some customers prefer to pick them up fresh on their way home from work to have something ready to cook for that evening’s meal.
Let’s Eat! SMS Subscription Campaign
Because fresh Let’s Eat! meals spoil faster than frozen ones, they only keep a few on hand. But if a customer comes in, and they are sold out, then they lose a sale. To address this, Let’s Eat! launched their “Dinner Tonight” subscription. The program is simple and effective.
- Every week, Tuesday through Saturday, Subscribers receive a single text message per day at around 4 pm.
- Each daily message includes 3 to 5 daily specials and is sent out just in time for the target audiences’ drive home that day.
Build Text Marketing Assets
It pays to be organized. Before you build your campaigns, start gathering all of the assets that you’ll need. This includes things like:
- Images, videos, or other graphics that you will use in the campaign.
- Digital or physical materials you will be using alongside your campaign — like in-store signage featuring your Keyword.
- The overall message tone and style guide that you will follow to keep your campaigns consistent and professional.
- A compliant list of your existing contacts (people who have opted in to receive communications from your business).
Gathering these assets before the campaign starts will prevent you from making things up on the fly and help you avoid making costly mistakes.
Very important, and you can thank me later. Before you add your whole list into the software, a reminder that each contact must have given you prior opt-in consent under applicable law to all text messages. This is a legal requirement.
Your messages must resonate emotionally and financially with your customers, so you have to find a way to tailor your bulk messages to each person. This process starts with segmenting your list into different groups. Smaller lists are very effective for sending targeted messages tailored to just these individuals on your list. For example, you should separate prospects from customers. You would speak differently to someone that has never purchased from you versus someone that has been a customer before. You can create even greater engagement using personalization tokens that customize your message by addressing text recipients by their names.
Deploy Your SMS Campaign, Track Your Results, & Ramp It Up
Now, you’ve done the hard work. You should have all the knowledge to create your plan and start crafting the perfect SMS campaign for your business. Once you have everything together and ready to go, deploy your campaign to your customers and start tracking the results.
Remember! Right from the start, make sure that you:
- Check your platform's reporting tools to understand what is and isn’t working. This includes texts sent, messages received, click-through rates (CTRs) and trending engagement.
- Look for response rates to determine how successful your campaign was (or wasn’t.)
- Adjust your plan accordingly based on those results.
By consistently reviewing your reporting data, and applying your findings to your messaging, your campaigns will be optimized for conversions. It will also allow your campaign strategy to continuously evolve based on your SMS campaign results.
Need More Information Before You Deploy?
Download your copy of the 8-Step Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing. Learn the tactics and strategies of successful text marketers so you can hit the ground running.
4 SMS Campaign Ideas to Try Out
Finally, here are some inspirational campaign executions that may not occur to you immediately but can be a valuable part of your SMS campaign plan based on your business objectives.
- Offer Personalized Deals to Subscribers: Leveraging your first-party data in SMS can make your texts that much more valuable for your audience. First, monitor your clients’ product preferences. Then, offer a subscriber segment a discount for a preferred product to drive sales while demonstrating how you understand their needs.
- Send Reminders & Show You Care: We are all too busy, right? Reminder texts are fantastic customer service and retention tools. Reminder texts are tailor-made for recurring services like salons, restaurants, (and tailors!). You can confirm appointment dates or help customers reschedule their appointment. Most importantly, you are taking care of the most important part of your business.
- Sell Products & Drive Traffic: If you want to deepen the relationship with your customers, don’t be shy. SMS texts are the perfect way to announce a new product or service and push your customers to your social channel to see it.
- Ask Your Customers What They Think: Between Google My Business (GMB) and Yelp, customer reviews have never been more important as a social signal or an organic driver of traffic to your website. SMS texts are perfect for reaching out to existing customers and asking them for their opinion or requesting a testimonial on your company’s Yelp or GMB page.
What Do Next Steps Look Like?
If you ask ten business owners or marketers what the most challenging part of implementing new technology is, 8 out of 10 will answer the same way — “Starting!”
Well, if you’re here in this article right now, congratulations! You’ve started! Now, if you are ready to take the next step, we are right here, ready to start with you.