What is SMS Marketing? The Complete Guide

What is SMS Marketing?

Jewelry Text Message

SMS marketing is a technique used to reach customers through the use of SMS text messages in order to achieve a marketing objective. It is primarily used to communicate updates, time-sensitive offers, events and alerts to individuals that have opted in to receiving these types of messages from the sender.

People today are more attached to their phones than ever before. This makes text messages the most direct line of contact in getting your information across, effectively and efficiently. Businesses of all sizes have found incredible success in generating leads, increasing sales and building brand loyalty. Coca Cola themselves stated that 70% of their entire SMS mobile marketing budget is allocated to mobile messaging. (Tom Daly, Group Director, Coca-Cola).

Sending text messages is not only reserved for the big players within the retail industry. Everyone from mom and pop shops and start-ups to mid-size and larger corporations can take advantage of this effective tactic and experience fantastic ROI.

Why Does SMS Marketing Work?

Fundraiser Text Message

SMS marketing works because it cuts through the noise generated by other direct marketing channels. People are more attached to their phones than ever before—in fact, 98% of texts are opened within the first five minutes or less of receipt. SMS marketing offers an effective and efficient way to get your information across to users where they spend the most time.

Coca Cola themselves stated that 70% of their entire SMS mobile marketing budget is allocated to mobile messaging. (Tom Daly, Group Director, Coca-Cola).

Consider these additional statistics:

  • 90% of people have a mobile device constantly within reach all day, every day (study by Morgan Stanley)
  • 72% of cellphone users check their mobile devices for new messages as soon as they wake up (International Data Corporation)
  • 94% of messages are read within three minutes of delivery, compared to a mere 22% open rate for emails (ImpigeMobileStrategy)
  • When used for coupon redemption, SMS text marketing produces engagement rates eight times higher than retailers normally achieve via email marketing (Cellit)
  • Brands using SMS advertising to support other marketing activities successfully reach 95% of their target audiences (GoMoNews)
  • SMS text marketing performs four to five times better than online advertising for creating brand awareness and increasing purchasing intent (Neilsen)
  • 44% of consumers prefer offers via SMS compared to email (18%), smartphone apps (11%) and voicemail (8%). (Direct Marketing Association)

An additional advantage that mass text messaging services provide is the ability to reach older-model cellphones. This will work especially well for those businesses that target an older demographic who may not yet be on the smartphone trend. Having a means to reach all generations, without the limitation of a specific device, is a huge key to success.

What Can SMS Marketing be Used For?

Retail Text Message
  • Send coupons for users to receive exclusive deals.
  • Start a drip campaign. In the context of coupons, when a user signs up, send them a discount code for example of 5% off. After a month of being subscribed, send a 10% off coupon, and then a 20% off coupon another 2 months after that.
  • Promote an event happening at your store or in an off-site location that your users may be interested in.
  • Poll customers by letting them cast a vote of what they prefer.
  • Send photos or videos showcasing new in-store items, an updated restaurant menu or printed flyers to draw users in.

How to Build Your SMS Marketing List

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In order to launch a text message marketing campaign, you’re going to need not only a message, but an audience. And at this point, it goes without saying that buying lists is far from the best practice. Response rates from purchased lists are extremely low, which does not bode well for a successful strategy. The people on these lists have not expressed any interest in your business, so it stands to reason they wouldn’t be too interested in what you have to say.

If you want to be sure you are reaching an engaged audience, you’ll need to build your own list. While this process may not be as quick as you’d like, it’s far better for your long-term strategy. Start off by giving people a reason to opt in to your list. Most individuals will need some sort of incentive, like claiming an offer, or opting in to your service to reap future benefits.

  • Social media: Your followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are already engaged with you, otherwise they wouldn’t be following you. Post your code on these accounts and encourage them to text it back and share it with their network.
  • Website: Add a simple call-to-action on your homepage, for example, right next to your social media icons. Include your keyword and shortcode in a way that advertises all signups will receive specials coupons and important news events.
  • In-store: On the back of your receipts, on the wall, in a window, on your business card….use your real estate to reach customers directly in a place they are sure to see it.
  • Radio/tv spot: If you promote a strong offer on the radio or on television, people can simply pick up their phones and take advantage of it immediately.
  • Direct mail, postcards and offline media: If you’re already spending the money to promote your business via print, add in an extra line or two to incorporate your keyword and short code.

How to Implement Your SMS Marketing Services

Keyword Pizza

Implementing SMS marketing services can be achieved in five simple steps. 

  • Sign Up - Businesses start by signing up for their keyword and shortcode. Ex. Text "Pizza" to to 321321 for 15% off.
  • Promote - Promote the chosen keyword and short code through existing marketing campaigns, social media, websites, storefront or other various platforms.
  • Opt-In - People will opt-in by texting the shortcode, which they will then receive an automated response that can be customized by the business. This adds them to the marketing contact list.
  • Monitor Results - Use the group texting platform to monitor delivery rates, open rates and spikes in engagement - this allows you to fine tune future campaigns
  • Text Away - Continue sending out text messages for events, specials or reminders and watch your business take off.

Working with a service provider, such as EZ Texting, you’ll be provided a username and password that will grant you access to the online platform. 

From there, you’ll create a “Keyword” and “short code”, such as, text “Pizza” to the number “321321”. Once you’ve advertised this to your community, you can begin composing your message within the platform, uploading your list of “opted-in” contacts and pressing the send button for simultaneous distribution.

Marketing messaging platforms can then track the sent text, and report back on delivery rates and open rates. Replies and responses are sent back to the online platform so your provider can produce reports that analyze contact counts and spikes in engagement. These analytics will allow businesses that opportunity to fine-tune their mobile marketing by improving results of future campaigns.

Free SMS Marketing From EZ Texting

9 Step Roadmap

If you have any questions about SMS marketing, how it works or how it can benefit your business or organization, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of Client Success Managers has more than a decade of experience providing assistance to organizations of all sizes. Among the topics on which we can provide free text message marketing assistance are:

  • How to integrate SMS software with existing CRM software.
  • How to export contacts from Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.
  • How to use multimedia and voice messages in marketing campaigns.
  • How to get discounts on the cost of an SMS service for business.
  • How to schedule drip campaigns and recurring campaigns.
  • And much more.

Additionally, after you’ve signed up, we invite you to download our free guide: The 9-Step Roadmap to Mastering Text Message Marketing. In this guide, we show you the nine steps all successful text marketers take when they are just getting started. While following these nine steps doesn’t guarantee success, it will give you the head start you need to accomplish your text marketing goals and objectives.

Join the 165,000 customers who have used SMS marketing to connect with their audiences.