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Getting started with SMS marketing

Erin Gusty
October 3, 2022
An illustration of a pair of blue hands holding and typing on a phone on a light purple background.

In 2022, 98% of adults in the US have access to a mobile phone, and 95% of text messages are read and responded to within 3 minutes of being received. On top of that, an impressive 70% of consumers opted in to receive SMS communications from businesses.

It's no wonder brands are investing in SMS marketing, which is the practice of using text or multimedia messages to communicate with customers. Consumers are checking their phones on a minute-to-minute basis, making SMS a desirable touchpoint.

However, texts are also a deeply intimate place typically reserved for family and friends. Brands must tread carefully when implementing an SMS strategy and keep their content helpful and timely; otherwise, they could feel intrusive, pushy, or like an invasion of privacy.

Why should I implement SMS?

A critical part of your omnichannel strategy, SMS is used to meet customers where they are—their phones. It's a powerful channel that offers a new level of convenience for customers.

SMS is primarily used for:

  • Transactional notices (shipping, delivery, or other logistics)
  • Customer service
  • Reminders
  • Time-sensitive offers

SMS has an advantage over most other digital channels. Its click-through-rate (CTR) of 19% is significantly higher than its counterparts, email (3%) and Facebook (1%). It also has the benefit of reaching customers who might not be present on channels like email or social.

Best practices for SMS marketing

Now that we know why SMS is important, let's review some best practices to help you get started.

  1. Get explicit permission
    Before you send a single message, you must get explicit consent from your customer. This means they need to opt in to receive texts from you. To do this, you can request they opt in via a web form, a form field during account creation, or by texting a keyword to a mobile number or short code.
  2. Keep it short
    Once you have permission, make sure to respect your customers' privacy by sending them relevant, short, and timely communications. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters so you'll want to stay within that range. Keep in mind that most SMS providers charge by number of messages sent and received, so lengthy messages will start to add up.
  3. Time it right
    The timing of your message is also important. Make sure you're sending messages when your customers are most likely to be engaged and able to take action (i.e. don’t send a message when it’s midnight local time).
  4. Use it to supplement your other channels
    SMS is most effective when used as part of an omnichannel marketing strategy. Send SMS messages in conjunction with email, in-app chat, or push notifications to create a coordinated campaign that reaches your customers on their preferred channels.
  5. Offer more convenience
    90% of consumers prefer text messages over direct phone calls. Let your customers contact you in the way they want; this might be for general customer support, troubleshooting, scheduling, reminders, order notifications, sharing feedback, and more.
  6. Drive conversions
    Make it easy for customers to convert by providing links to landing pages, product pages, or checkout. You can also use SMS to encourage customers to take advantage of time-sensitive offers or discounts.

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