What Is SMS Marketing? Everything You Need To Know

What is SMS marketing? This article has everything you need — from showing you how it works, to helping you leverage it for your business.

What Is SMS Marketing? Everything You Need To Know

Note: this post on SMS Marketing was originally published in November 2019. We have periodically updated it to ensure that the information is as current as possible. We last refreshed it on November 21, 2021.

What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS (short message service) marketing is the process of sending promotional, transactional, and other marketing-related messages to customers via SMSs on mobile phones.

SMS marketing is just another marketing channel for your company to reach your customers. For example, you can combine SMS marketing and email marketing for more targeted drip campaigns.

However, unlike most other marketing channels, SMS marketing tends to be extremely precise due to its 160 character limit.

Despite those limits, many marketers today rely on SMS marketing as a quick, affordable way to engage their target audiences. Indeed, SMS marketing is one of the most commonly used marketing tactics today. It’s reliable, accessible and will help you reach your customers in no time.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about SMS marketing and show you how to leverage it for your company.

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Let’s get started.

How Does SMS Marketing Work?

Now that we’ve covered “what is SMS marketing”, let’s get down to understanding “how it works.”

SMS marketing campaigns are fairly straightforward. They usually follow two steps:

Step 1: Customers Opt-In to Receive Text Messages

The first step in an SMS campaign is getting the customer to opt-in to your messages.

Getting their consent is important as unsolicited SMS messages come across as spammy and can deter a customer from engaging with your brand. Plus, being compliant with rules, such as A2P 10 DLC regulations, helps you avoid potentially costly legal complications.

Most SMS marketing opt-ins contain two things:

  • A keyword - the word/phrase the customer has to type to opt-in to the SMS campaign.
  • A short code - the number they have to message the keyword to.

For example, if you were a food delivery business looking to get more customers, use a messaging service to send an SMS message like:

Fresh food is just a message away! Text “TASTY” to (000)000-0000 for amazing food delivery promos!

In this example, “TASTY” is the keyword, while “(000)000-0000” is the short code. Once the customer texts “TASTY” to the short code mentioned, they’ll be part of your SMS campaign.

Step 2: Sending Marketing Campaigns

After a customer has opted-in, you can start sending them SMS messages. Most companies use SMS marketing software to send targeted messages to their customers at the right time. 

For example, your messaging service can send a customer loyalty offer to encourage them to make a purchase.

Why Is SMS Marketing Popular?

Here are a few reasons why tons of com

Some companies think consumers don’t want SMS marketing, but it turns out they are, in fact, more open to SMS communication than many other platforms. Just consider how often you read a text message versus open an email? 

Here are a few reasons why tons of companies have realized this and adopted an SMS marketing strategy:

1. SMS is Accessible

SMS marketing’s reach gives it an edge over most other marketing channels.

According to Statista, there are 7.1 billion mobile phone users. As almost everyone has a mobile phone, they can easily receive and engage with a short message immediately!

Also, as smartphones can easily access the internet, you can include links in your SMS messages to drive your online engagement too. Per a 2020 report from the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), more than an additional one billion more people have gained access to mobile broadband networks in the past five years, and it’s expected to grow with expanding infrastructure, including the powerful 5G network.

2. SMS is Quick

Another great thing about marketing SMSs is that they’re instantly delivered to your customers. This way, you won’t have to spend hours waiting for them to receive your message. 

When you use a messaging service, simply click send, and the SMS message will pop into their phone instantly! You can even use an SMS platform with marketing automation to schedule your text messages in advance.

This speed of delivery is one of the main reasons why companies are adopting an SMS marketing strategy. If you’re looking for instant customer engagement, this is the way to go.

3. SMS is Cheap and Effective for Businesses

When compared to other marketing channels, an SMS marketing strategy is extremely cost-effective, even for small businesses with fewer resources. It’s an affordable way to increase brand awareness, share news about your brand, and send general alerts or personalized updates to your customers.

Most companies with bulk SMS numbers have great discounts on outgoing messages that reduce their cost-per-message to nearly zero!

What Is SMS Marketing Good For? Who Can Benefit From It?

The real question should be - who can’t benefit from SMS marketing?
As the SMS platform is so versatile, pretty much anyone - in any industry -  can benefit from it.

Here’s a deeper look at how SMS platform marketing can help:

A. Retailers

Retailers stand the most to gain from short message marketing. In fact, according to eRetailers, 77% of consumers will like you better if you employ SMS. It’s the perfect marketing platform to inform customers about deals, new store additions, and other promos to encourage purchasing. It’s no surprise that SMS advertising is on the rise!

Here’s a text message example:

Hey Roger, thanks for shopping at ShirtsandShoes! Lots of exciting deals are coming up, so visit your nearest SnS store today or log into www.shirtsandshoes.com today!

B. Service Providers

Service providers can also use text marketing to communicate promos; however, that isn’t all they can use it for. Most service providers also use SMS marketing to send reminders to their customers about appointments or services they’ve booked. According to GSMA, 97% of customer service departments found SMS makes their teams more efficient.

Here’s a text message example: 
You have a 16:00 appointment at Dr. Smith’s Dental Clinic today. Pls reach 15 mins early. If you can’t make it, click here to reschedule. 

C. Travel Companies

Like service providers, travel companies can use text marketing to promote offers and inform their customers about their upcoming bookings. Per Mobivity, a platform for connecting brands with customers, 55% of US consumers would like to receive SMS from travel, restaurant, and food delivery industries.

Here’s a text message example - 
Your PNR is JA1111 for flight AA1111 on Sunday, 10th Nov from LAX to JFK at 18:30. Have a nice flight, American Airlines.

3 Ways To Use SMS Marketing

What is SMS marketing good for?

You could use SMS marketing services for:

And that’s just scratching the surface of what a text marketing tool can be used for! 
However, most people use text marketing for one of these three reasons:

A. SMS for Promotional Messages

Tons of companies use SMS marketing services for SMS advertising. They use it to promote offers and coupons to their customers. This encourages the customer to make a purchase which increases your sales revenue and improves retention.

Here’s a mass text messaging example:
Show this SMS to your waiter to receive a complimentary entree on your next 2 meals at Sal’s Pizzeria. The offer is valid till 12/12/19.

B. Transactional Messages

Companies also use SMS marketing services to send personalized messages that are triggered by certain customer actions, such as making a purchase. Most credit card companies use these messages to keep their customers informed about their purchases.

Here’s a short message service example:
You recently paid $50 to XYZ. Txn ID: 123456789. Updated balance: $1000. 

C. Update/Reminder Messages

Companies also use message marketing services to keep customers in-the-loop about important messages.

Here’s a short message service example:
Mr. Adams, your package AWB 29913333 is out for delivery. To track your parcel, visit www.trackmypkg.com.

Here’s our list of 20+ sample text message templates for all your SMS marketing needs.

The 4 Best Practices For SMS Marketing Success

Here are four key things to keep in mind for text message marketing success:

1. Always Get Your Customer’s Consent

This is an incredibly important step that most companies overlook.
You can’t send unsolicited text messages to customers and expect them to be receptive. 

Remember, they already receive tons of texts everyday - you’re just adding to it. That’s why unsolicited text messages can annoy customers and deter them from engaging with you.

Plus, they could also come across as spammy.

Think about it.

How would you feel if you suddenly started receiving promotional offers from an unknown number?

Always ensure that your customers have opted-in to your marketing campaigns. It’s a great way to ensure that they’re open to your marketing strategy; which will increase your conversion rates.

2. Time Your Marketing Strategy Messages Well

One of the best things about text message marketing is that it’s incredibly fast.
Most customers instantly receive and open your text messages the moment you send them.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to time your messages well.
You can’t afford to send an SMS message to a customer that wakes them up at 2 A.M, right? 

Always send messages when your customers are primed for engagement.
But how do you know when they’re primed for engagement?

As there’s no specific time that’s standard across all customer demographics, you’ll have to figure this out yourself.

When starting out, send out a few SMSs at different times of the day. For example, you can send a batch at 10 A.M, another batch at 2 P.M and another one at 4 P.M.

You can now monitor SMS marketing statistics like the click-through rate to gauge the engagement level of these batches. If you notice that customer engagement was particularly high with a specific batch, that’s the best time for your text marketing strategy! 

3. Tie Your Marketing Messages To Your Overall Campaigns

Remember, text message marketing is just one channel in your marketing arsenal.
Most companies don’t solely rely on SMSs for their campaigns. 

Instead, they employ multi-channel marketing strategies that include SMS, social media and email marketing efforts.

Don’t look at SMS marketing as a standalone marketing channel. Instead, tie your SMS efforts  to your other campaigns to create a multi-channel marketing strategy. For example, you can use social media marketing and text message marketing together to attract new customers. 

However, as you’re incorporating your SMS outreach into your overall marketing campaign, there needs to be uniformity in its tone. 

For example, your promotional messages can’t differ too much from your social media marketing efforts. Doing this will confuse your consumers as they’re used to a certain style that’s not being conveyed through your promotional messages.

This will interfere with their expectations of what your brand stands for - confusing its identity in their minds.

4. Ace Your Message Signature

No marketing SMS is complete without a message signature.

You can’t receive SMS messages without a signature and know who sent it!

However, you can’t use the same signature for your entire multi-channel marketing strategy. Remember, with SMSs, you’re working with a 160 character limit.  Your signature can’t take up over half of that quota!

Here’s an example of what not to do:
Will get back to you soon. Thank You!
Roger, Roger’s Furniture, 9876 Park Avenue, CA, roger@rogersfurniture.com, (000) 0000000

Instead, aim for a signature like this:
Will revert soon. Thanks! - Roger @RogersFurniture

This lets the reader know who the message is from without taking away valuable characters from your actual message! 

Using SMS Broadcast Texting (Mass Texting the Smart Way)

A vital part of your marketing strategy, SMS broadcasting, or mass texting, is designed to grow your reach and convert leads, but it can be high-risk, high-reward, endeavor. 

Put simply, instead of texting just a few friends, you get to message thousands of people at once. You construct the text and then your SMS software does the rest. With a few minutes of work, you can connect with a vast customer base or pool of prospects simultaneously. Again, think about how much higher open rates are with text messages versus emails, with quicker response rates, as well.

Now, before you unleash a reckless volley of text messages, you need to establish a thoughtful approach. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Phone carriers use filters to prevent certain kinds of texts from being delivered. Unless you use a proper SMS software, such as Salesmessage which uses A2p messages, your mass texts may not get through to customers.
  • You may encounter routing limits, which can also hinder delivery.
  • Encoding variables are another possible barrier. If an SMS app delivers a non-unicode message, it may get blocked by filters or not be received by customers.

And then, of course, there’s the question of spam. Nobody likes it.

Part of why SMS broadcasts were so bad in the past is because of—you guessed it—bad software. Fortunately, the SMS software space is improving, with solid options that help to create a better experience for customers and senders. As long as you’re compliant with 10 DLC and being thoughtful about who you text, and what you're sending, your business shouldn’t have to worry too much about it.

Look for an SMS software that can target specific audience segments and schedule when texts go out for optimal deliverability and keep the previously mentioned filter snags in mind, as well, and it should be smooth sailing.

Why You Need the Best SMS Marketing Software

If you really want to boost your SMS marketing campaigns, consider investing in a dedicated SMS marketing software, such as SalesMsg. It’s going to give you all the functionality you need to effectively manage your marketing campaigns and interact with consumers for maximum engagement.

What’s SalesMsg?

SalesMsg is a simple two-way SMS marketing tool that will streamline sending, receiving and handling your marketing SMSs. It’s a marketing tool used by companies like Comcast and CrossFit and has everything you need to maximize your text message marketing outreach. 

Shows the SalesMsg dashboard.

Here’s a brief look at what this SMS marketing tool can do for marketers: 

Automated Texting - The SMS service can automatically send text messages to leads in your SMS marketing campaigns.
MMS Texting - The marketing tool lets marketers send SMS messages with pictures, gifs and vCards for better customer engagement. It also supports two-way communication to let consumers respond to your text messaging marketing campaigns.
Schedule Messages - Marketers can use the SMS marketing tool to schedule text messages in advance to ensure that they reach customers at the right time.
Double Opt-In - This SMS service streamlines the opt-in process to get your customers’ consent easily.
Bulk SMS Texting - The SMS service also supports bulk SMS texting using your own dedicated shortcode.


It’s no secret that SMS marketing is a core digital marketing strategy today.

Its accessibility and speed have made it the go-to option for tons of businesses looking to boost customer engagement. However, it can be tricky to master if you don’t know what you’re doing. Simply follow the tips we listed out in this article and you’ll be fine!

Also, remember to invest in a dedicated SMS marketing platform like SalesMsg to take your SMS marketing game to the next level. It has everything you need, so why not sign up for a 14-day trial and get started today?

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