SMS Campaign Done Right: Best Practices for Marketers

Alex Danchenko

Co-founder, Reteno

October 28, 2022

In the age when people always have a phone at hand, text campaigns can be the silver bullet for your marketing efforts. But depending on what, when, and how you text, you will see different results.

In the best-case scenario, SMS marketing will help you retain and grow your customers with real-time updates, promotions, and more. In the worst-case scenario, you will annoy and antagonize your audience.

Be on the right side by following these SMS marketing best practices.

Why Is SMS Marketing Still Relevant in 2023?

SMS Marketing

Let’s start with the basics — what is SMS marketing? As you may know, SMS stands for Short Message Service. And SMS marketing is the practice of sending promotional or transactional text messages (SMS), thus establishing a direct communication channel. 

SMS marketing campaigns are based on short and actionable messages informing users about new offers, products, features, or something else. 

If you look at SMS marketing statistics, you’ll have no doubts that this approach should be in every marketer’s toolbox:

  • 41% of people would rather receive updates through texts, and only 22% would prefer email.
  • 60% of people read messages within five minutes. 
  • 90% of all SMS messages are opened, whereas the open rate for email is only 20%.
  • Nearly 6 billion people will have access to SMS technology by 2025.

As a marketer or business owner, you can express anything you want through these messages — just make sure the content corresponds with the audience’s stage of the sales funnel. Some SMS marketing examples are:

  • Thanks for signing up.
  • Get 20% off with code FRIDAY20.
  • Your appointment is tomorrow.
  • This product is back in stock. 
  • Your cart will expire soon. 

And now, let’s discuss eight elements the best SMS campaigns have in common.

Ask for Users’ Permission

First and foremost, you need permission to send messages. Otherwise, you may not only damage your customer relationships but also could face legal issues. 

Remember that SMS is a more personal channel than some other forms of mobile marketing, like social media, so you want to start these interactions properly. Give users the option to accept or reject future messages at the stage of their choosing — when they download an app, make their first purchase, subscribe to emails, etc. 

If they respond affirmatively, you can go on with your SMS marketing campaign. If they respond negatively, analyze the potential reasons. Perhaps you’re asking too soon, or you need to tweak your request for more opt-ins.

Don’t Spam

Every company has its own approach to bulk SMS marketing, with the frequency of messages depending on the overall strategy and seasonality. But as with most marketing interactions, less is more. The more meaning you can insert into a small set of messages, the better.

Start with 4-5 messages a month, examine the results, and slowly increase to 10. To keep your subscriber count low, avoid mass text messaging that goes way into double digits. There are exceptions, of course. For example, high-frequency buyers won’t mind getting texts more often. Or you can be more intense with marketing during the holiday season. 

You will be able to figure out your ideal frequency through trial and error. Monitor any upticks in churn, and go lighter on messages. 

Be Creative

SMS Marketing example 1

Text communication with your audience should be fun. While true originality is hard to achieve, you need to somehow stand out from an endless supply of content and advertising.

Also, SMS is highly conversational, so treat it as a two-way interaction channel. Ask questions and encourage users to message you back, which will provide a human element to your marketing.

Some of the best promotional SMS examples:

  • Your delivery is scheduled for 12/20. On a scale from 1 to 10, how excited are you?
  • Got plans for the weekend? Join us for a $50 bottomless brunch. 
  • Did you know strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges? Try our new strawberry drink at the nearest store!
  • You have a secret discount. Enter the code SECRETSMS at checkout to find out how much you’ll save.

Talk to Your Audience

When talking to customers in real life, most people adapt to the person in front of them, whether subconsciously or intentionally. It doesn’t mean treating people differently. This recommendation simply states that you should keep your messages specific and relevant for your digital audience. 

Segmentation is key to attentive SMS marketing. Know and differentiate your users by location, psychographic tendencies, shopping behavior, intent, and other parameters you think are important.

Avoid a mass marketing campaign by dividing it into several subcategories. Let’s say a VIP-tier user will get a special offer, a repeat customer will be sent items from their favorite category, and a reluctant customer will receive a reminder of the latest collection.

Promote Exclusive Content or Offers

Provide additional value by advertising deals that are not available anywhere else. SMS ads with exclusive deals give your subscribers a reason to stay and open your messages. 

A few exclusive promotional message examples:

  • It’s the final countdown! Today is the last day to get the summer collection for 20% off. Follow the link to shop with no code needed. 
  • Don’t miss out on Cyber Monday! Early deals are up to 70% off. Online only. 
  • Treat yourself today and get a free cookie with your coffee order. Show this text at checkout. 

Also, write your content and pick your offers specifically for SMS. Using recycled content or deals from other channels defeats the purpose of exclusivity. Why would users subscribe to SMS if they get the same message everywhere else?

Develop Your Communication From Scratch 

Don’t rely on standard marketing plans or copy what other brands are doing. After all, you want your messages to be attention-grabbing, not just a knock-off of your more successful competitors. 

Sit down with your marketers and the tech team to find your way around SMS marketing platforms. It helps to take your time learning about the tools/features and how they can convey your ideas. 

Bear in mind that your SMS campaign is part of your broader communication strategy. And while not all the company’s departments will be involved in writing SMS, a communications plan will require inputs from different professionals. Marketers are just the final link between the company and the user.

Choose the Correct Timing

SMS Marketing example 2

Do you know your user audience’s daily habits? When are they most likely to be on their phone? What would be the best time to present your offer? 

As with other aspects of text marketing, you’ll find out the most through tests. Most companies have the lowest response rates on Mondays, early mornings, and evenings. But your specific brand may see the most engagement at these exact times — you just need to experiment to be sure. 

Take into account time zone differences, local holidays, and facts from customer profiles. If not to maximize your marketing efforts, schedule your marketing at reasonable hours out of common sense and courtesy. SMS marketing tools should help you keep up with all the requirements.

Ensure Your Customers Know How to Opt-Out

Circling back to keeping customers’ opinions in mind, you should make it easy to unsubscribe. As much as it seems to hurt your SMS marketing strategies, it’ll help you down the line.

There are a couple of ways to offer opt-outs. At the end of your message, mention that the user can text STOP, QUIT, UNSUBSCRIBE, OPT-OUT, or CANCEL to no longer receive messages from you. Or you can include a separate tab on the website’s user account page. 

You shouldn’t hold on to subscribers that don’t want to receive your messages. That’s just part of keeping everyone happy with your brand, even if it means fewer people participate in your bulk SMS campaign.

Building Your SMS Strategy With Reteno

It bears repeating that with people already tied to their phones, SMS is the perfect tool for customer acquisition and retention. But as significant parts of growing a business, acquisition and retention should be handled properly. 

For a targeted approach to reaching your customers in one-to-one communication, get in touch with our team at Reteno. Our platform makes it possible to build omnichannel campaigns, integrating mobile SMS marketing, email, app notifications, and other revenue-making avenues. 

Craft your messages carefully. You can build them off text message examples and templates, or craft your message specifically for the audiences you want to reach. It may not be perfect right away, but our platform is great for testing different message iterations. 

If you’re ready to start your sales outreach, check out our guides on SMS marketing automation, and don’t hesitate to use our software packed with a range of growth, engagement, and reporting tools. Overall, it’s a no-code, intuitive builder that fulfills many business needs!

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