Nov 27, 2023

A Compact Guide to SMS Marketing

We might as well be honest: Here at RelationCity, we’re big fans of SMS marketing! And we’d like for you to join the club.  That’s why we’ve collected all the most important things to know about SMS marketing in this blog post – so you can learn all the ins and outs of the medium as well as collect ideas for how you can apply it to your own business.  So whether you’ve dabbled in SMS marketing already or you are just beginning your journey, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s start at the very core ⬇️

What is SMS marketing?

You might think that the SMS medium is a bit old-school and mostly used when your parents are trying to get a hold of you to come fix their wifi. However, even though the very first SMS was sent more than 30 years ago, it is an incredibly efficient and relevant way of communicating, and it is certainly not just for personal conversations – it’s just as useful for marketing. So to put it short, SMS marketing is all about utilizing the Short Message Service (SMS) technology for marketing purposes to message customers who have given their consent to receive this kind of promotion from a business. The messages are typically promotional or informational messages such as time-sensitive offers, general updates or requests for feedback – but more on the use cases further down. The interesting thing about SMS marketing is that many businesses overlook the potential of it or dismiss it completely, as the SMS isn’t exactly new technology. However, SMS messaging is a reliable medium and does offer lots of functionality that can measure up to that of apps or emails, but in a format that is super easy to use and frighteningly effective – and it is extremely well-regarded amongst customers which means that it can really strengthen your brand to utilize it.

Why SMS marketing is great

We’ve teased it above, but there are many reasons why SMS marketing is a great way to reach your target audience. Let’s go through some of the benefits: 
  1. Sky-high opening rates: SMS messages have an opening rate of up to 98% – and 95% of texts are read within five minutes. This means that the likelihood of your message being seen is pretty great compared to other forms of communication. 
  2. Instant delivery: Since SMS messages are delivered instantly, and keeping in mind that almost all of them are read within minutes, this combo means that the vast majority of your target group will read your message at the exact time you ideally want them to – for example if you are sending time-sensitive information.
  3. Wide reach: With the majority of people owning mobile phones, SMS marketing can reach a vast audience, including those without internet access. Unlike other forms of communication, there is no need to rely on apps or hidden-away features to get your message through – an SMS delivers to smartphones as well as the sturdy old-school mobile phones those of us over 25 originally got them through.
  4. Highly regarded: More than 90% of customers are interested in SMS marketing, but not enough companies offer it yet – this means that your target group is willing and able to sign up for SMS marketing, and they will view it as a positive way of interacting with your brand as long as the medium isn’t abused.
  5. High engagement: SMS marketing has the highest engagement rate amongst all marketing channels. This is helped by the fact that, just like other marketing channels, your message can be personalized and include links or other calls-to-action. This way, you can utilize SMS marketing either as a standalone tool or by incorporating it into your greater outreach strategy.
The list goes on (and so could we!). However, many benefits also lie in the versatility of SMS marketing as there are endless possibilities for clever use cases. So let’s have a look at some of them.

What you can use SMS marketing for

Your business is probably as unique as you are yourself. That means that you can utilize SMS marketing in the exact way that suits your brand – from who you include in your target group to how you tailor each message. However, there are some general categories that provide very popular uses of the medium: One that simply screams marketing is promotional SMS messages. These messages are aimed at promoting sales, special offers, events, you name it. Whatever you want your customers to see, you can text them about. Remember those high opening and engagement rates we talked about before? This is where the SMS truly shines! A business is rarely a good business if no sales are made, but even with products or services ‘selling like hot bagels’ (to quote Heidi Klum), enhancing the sales experience is also extremely important – which is where transactional SMS messages enter the picture. These are messages triggered by a user action and are super handy throughout the buying experience for the customer. This could be order confirmations, shipping notifications or appointment reminders, just to name a few. Many other scenarios also provide good times to reach your customers effectively, meaning that informational SMS messages also prove useful. This could be for updates on new products, services or changes to your business that will be good for your customers to know. If you’ve already got a loyal following or are building one, SMS messages as part of loyalty programs are also super useful. They can be used to enhance customer loyalty programs, offering exclusive deals or give other updates to members. And don’t forget that SMS marketing does not have to be a one-way channel – by using conversational messaging, you can encourage your customers to interact with you via SMS!

What messages to send

“BE MORE SPECIFIC!” you might be shouting at your screen, and good on you for being so invested! Below you will find some more examples of how you can use SMS marketing: Promote exclusive deals: To help get more sign-ups for your amazing SMS marketing, put on special discounts or early access to sales exclusively through SMS. This could either be done at quieter times or in the eye of the marketing hurricane – for example on Black Friday or leading up to Christmas. Announce a flash sale: Send an SMS to your customers to announce limited-time offers – by creating a sense of urgency and adding a call-to-action such as a direct link to the sale, you encourage your customers to take immediate action (as the FOMO will be real!). Create personalized alerts: A great way to activate your customers is by sending them personalized product recommendations or restock alerts based on previous purchases they’ve made. You can also message them to remind them of an abandoned cart to gently push for the sale to be finalized, or even sweeten the deal by offering a discount code if they check out within a given time frame. Notify about events: If you do any kind of event, be it in-store, online or some hybrid, send your customers a reminder via SMS to ensure they have all the details handy. If your company does appointments, it is also a great opportunity to make sure to remind your customers of when and where you are expecting them. Get feedback: Hearing what works directly from the source is always extremely valuable – which is why carrying out surveys or just giving your customers the chance to provide feedback about products or services via SMS will give you insights you won’t otherwise get.

What to keep in mind about SMS marketing

Finally, with great power comes great responsibility – which is why we’d like to share some best practices to help you optimize your use of SMS marketing.
  1. Obtain consent: Topping the list is to always get permission from your customers before sending SMS messages. It’s important to comply with legal requirements and respect privacy!
  2. Be concise: Use the SMS medium for what it does best – keeping it short! Make sure your message is short, clear and to the point (So no unnecessary rambling. It doesn’t add any value. It’s simply a waste of time. As you probably already realized before reading this bracket).
  3. Provide value: Thinking about value is key to avoiding spamming your audience – so ensure that each message offers some kind of value to the recipient, whether it’s a discount, important information, an exclusive offer or something else they will treasure.
  4. Think about timing: Be mindful of when messages are sent to avoid annoying the recipients by making their phone buzz at 3am or early in the morning before they’ve had their coffee.
  5. Monitor and adapt: Keep an eye on how your messages are performing and adjust your SMS strategy based on the feedback and metrics you get.

How to get started with SMS marketing

We could ramble on about SMS marketing all day, but with this crash course done, you’re now ready to start making the most of the medium! If you have any questions, you’re always welcome to reach out to our team. Otherwise, the best way to embark on your SMS journey is by signing up via the button at the top of the page – follow the simple steps, and then you’ll be ready to send out your first SMS campaign in no time! Thanks for reading along, and keep an eye on this blog for more tips, tricks and use cases for SMS marketing.