With those kinds of staggering numbers, the potential reach of sending an SMS campaign is unparalleled.
And “reaching” involves more than just being able to show up in an inbox. Email can do that, but email read rates are only around 38.5% on average at most (many reports, however, put it closer to 21%). SMS, on the other hand, has read rates of up to 98%.
The question is, how can you take full advantage of SMS campaigns? With such powerful potential, you want to get as much out of it as you can.
This guide will walk you through some of the basics, including how to set up an SMS campaign, best practices, examples, and tools.
Before diving into the strategies and techniques for optimizing your SMS campaign, let's first establish a clear understanding of what an SMS campaign entails.
An SMS campaign, also known as a text message marketing campaign, is a targeted marketing approach that uses SMS (otherwise known as “text messages”) to communicate with a specific audience. It involves sending promotional messages, updates, offers, alerts, or any other relevant information directly to individuals' mobile devices.
SMS campaigns give you a direct and immediate way to connect with your audience, as text messages are typically read within minutes of being received.
An SMS campaign contains several components:
Your “sender ID” is what your recipients see as the sender of the message. In the United States, this must be a phone number, but in other countries this can sometimes be an alphanumeric ID (meaning it can contain more than just digits).
As far as phone numbers, there are essentially 3 types of phone numbers you can use to send messages in the current climate:
Before you can start sending out an SMS campaign, you need an opt-in process to collect people’s phone numbers.
You can use incentives and SMS campaign tools (see “SMS Campaign Tools” below) to generate leads in order to send out your campaigns.
You’ll need to set up your message content (or series of message content) within a platform that allows you to send out mass texts, or you can use an SMS API.
You can schedule messages individually, set up a workflow to go out automatically, and/or set up automated responses to trigger based on content your audience sends in to you.
As with any marketing effort, you need to measure the results of your SMS campaign so that you can optimize your future efforts. (More on analytics later.)
There are a few steps to getting an SMS campaign up and running…
It’s best not to just plunge in without any planning.
You want to have a clear vision of what your goals and expectations are before you move forward.
Decide what you want to accomplish with your SMS campaign and how you’ll go about accomplishing those goals. Follow general advice for setting marketing goals to help make sure you have the best outcomes.
You can set up the flow for your SMS campaign within your SMS platform, or by using an SMS API. (In this article, we’ll focus on the platform method.)
If you want to schedule the messages within your campaign individually, you can just type out the message and select the dates/times for the messages to be sent.
If you want to create a workflow of automated messages in your campaign, you can set up the flow as a drip campaign.
If you want to set up automated messages triggered by activity on your audience’s end (for example, if they text in a specific word), you can also type out the content for these messages within the platform, as well as designate the condition that will trigger the automated message.
Use any format at your disposal—social media, email, physical marketing materials, personal interactions—to get your target audience to sign up for your SMS campaign.
You’ll have to make it as easy and enticing as possible. (It’s typically best to incentivize people to sign up with some kind of free item or discount.)
Once people start adding themselves to your SMS marketing list, your campaign will be ready to send out!
Surprisingly, Statista reported that only 37.7% of marketing projects make use of analytics. But without analytics, your marketing efforts may just be a shot in the dark.
When it comes to an SMS campaign, as with any other marketing campaign, it’s best to take advantage of as many analytics as you can. That way, you can measure how your SMS campaign is performing, so that you can make adjustments and optimizations as needed for the most optimal results.
Your data analytics will help you be able to determine things like:
What kinds of messaging best resonates with your audience
How often you should send messages in your campaign
What times of day you should send texts
What kinds of audiences resonate best with your messaging
All of this can help make your SMS campaigns as effective as possible.
When running an SMS campaign, in a lot of ways you can run it the same way you would any marketing campaign.
But there are a few differences.
Here are a few best practices you’ll want to try following.
With an SMS campaign, it’s best not to do the “cold” approach.
Although not necessarily a legal issue any longer (the laws used to be stricter), not obtaining permission before sending could get you in trouble with mobile carriers and providers.
This could result in your messages not actually getting delivered.
Plus, people are less tolerant of cold texts than they are of cold emails. Unlike email inboxes which are often cluttered with more content that people don’t care about than content that they do care about, people don’t like to be interrupted with text messages they didn’t ask for and aren't interested in.
So just ask permission before you send.
Make sure you fill out the appropriate registration forms.
These are easy forms you can fill out in just a couple of minutes and they’re provided by your SMS platform. Your SMS platform will submit these registration forms to the mobile aggregators and carriers on your behalf.
Why? Because these registrations help the mobile carriers know what SMS traffic is legitimate—that way, they’re less likely to filter out your messages as spam.
Unlike emails, which can be as long as your heart desires, SMS technically have a limit of 160 characters per message.
HOWEVER, it’s totally OK to go more than 160 characters (since most phones are able to display longer message in a single unit)—but it uses up more messaging credits in your account.
So if you want to save money, you can try to keep your messages under that 160 character mark.
Don’t inundate your recipients with message after message after message.
It’s a privilege to share the SMS inbox with the other messages your audience enjoys receiving. But if you send too many messages, they may start to tune you out or unsubscribe.
With SMS, sometimes less is more.
A good rule of thumb when you’re first starting is to not send more than 1 SMS per week at the most. You may end up doing more if you find it’s effective for your audience, but let’s not burn them out at the outset.
By the mobile carriers’ standards, you’re responsible to make sure your recipients know that they can unsubscribe from your texts at any time by replying STOP to any of your messages.
The good news is that if they do reply STOP to any of your messages, their phone number will be automatically removed and you don’t even have to do anything.
Making sure that people are aware of how to opt out could help you get the best message delivery rates for your SMS campaigns.
Certain types of content simply aren’t allowed by the mobile phone carriers. If they detect this type of content in your messaging, they may block your messages from being delivered—even if the content is actually legitimate.
Specifically, you’re not supposed to send anything that directly relates to sexual content, hate speech, alcoholic beverages, firearms, or regulated products like tobacco or cannabis.
You should avoid specific mentions of these topics within your text messages. (You can chat with our SMS experts for advice on how to send an SMS campaign if you sell a product related to some of those regulated topics.)
Here are a few other “best practice” questions you may be wondering…
Here are some general guidelines for creating compelling messages within your SMS campaign.
As far as we know, there isn’t hard evidence on what times of day are the best times to send SMS.
So your best option is to consider common sense on what times would be best for your specific audience.
If your audience is busy at work most of the day, then it may be best to send a text before work, after work, or during the lunch hour. On the other hand, you may find that sending a text during work hours is effective for your audience for one reason or another.
You could experiment with some different times and see what ends up resonating the most. Early-morning texts, late-morning texts, afternoon texts, evening texts—try all of them and see which yield the best results for you.
(Just don’t send texts outside of normal daytime hours.)
SMS won’t replace your other marketing campaigns, but it can be a major complement and source of marketing success.
For one, you can take advantage of your other marketing channels in order to grow your SMS list—use email, social media, and other channels to help get people to sign up for your texts.
Email in particular goes well alongside SMS. You can send emails concurrently with SMS campaigns, and you can even use your SMS campaigns to drive more opens for particularly important email campaigns. (For example, a text message could say, “Check your email for more details…”)
Just keep in mind that your SMS campaign will be read at a much higher rate than your other channels, so use that to your advantage.
Here are some examples of SMS campaigns you can run for your business.
You can create a sense of urgency by sending time-sensitive offers exclusively to your SMS subscribers. Promote flash sales and limited-time discounts, using compelling language and clear CTAs to motivate immediate action.
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If your business relies on appointments, you can use SMS to send reminders or confirmation messages to your clients. This helps reduce no-shows and improves customer experience.
Hi Alex, just a reminder that your appointment is scheduled for tomorrow at 11:10am. Reply 'YES' to confirm or call us at 833-576-9888 if you need to reschedule. We look forward to seeing you!
If a customer abandons their cart without completing the purchase, send them a reminder and offer an incentive to encourage them to come back and complete the transaction.
⏳ Don't miss out! We noticed you left something in your cart. Complete your purchase now and enjoy free shipping on us. Click here to return to your cart: http://mbltxt.com/Gy1
Webinars and demos can be highly effective sales tactics. But not if people don’t show up! Send text reminders to help get higher show-up rates.
Don’t forget! The “How to Start a Business with $500” webinar starts in 5 minutes. Join here: http://mbltxt.com/GqZ
If you're organizing an event, keep attendees informed and engaged with timely SMS reminders, schedule changes, or important announcements.
📢 Attention all event attendees! The customer appreciation raffle will be held at 12pm noon, so make sure you show up before then. Can't wait to see you here!
Reward your loyal customers by offering exclusive discounts, bonus points, or special rewards through SMS. Encourage repeat purchases and foster customer loyalty.
🎉 Congratulations! You've earned 100 bonus points as a thank you for being a valued member of our loyalty program. Redeem them for 20% off your next purchase! Show this message at checkout.
Our SMS platform and mobile app Mobile Text Alerts is a solution that opens up access to the tools below that you can use to help you carry out your SMS campaigns.
Several opt-in tools help you collect phone numbers so you can build your subscriber list.
These include tools like:
Keywords that people can text in and be automatically subscribed
A customizable web sign-up form
Integrations with other services you use
Messaging tools allow you flexibility for how you set up and send your SMS campaigns.
These include tools like:
AI outputs to help write message content
Message template creation
As mentioned, you need to be able to measure the results of your messages so that you can evaluate analytics and make good decisions.
Some analytics tools include:
Link tracking reports
Message engagement reports
Lastly, you’ll want to be able to effectively manage your subscribers.
Some tools that can help you do that include:
Custom subscriber attributes
Now you know the in’s and out’s of SMS campaigns—so you’re ready to plunge into the wonderful world of SMS!
Get started with SMS Campaigns today with a free Mobile Text Alerts trial (no credit card necessary). Try it now!
Start sending mass text messages to your entire list today!GET FREE TRIAL