An Analysis of 15 Top SMS Marketing Campaigns: Commonalities

March 19, 2024 | By Sam Pelton
Phone with sales graph

What are common elements that make a successful SMS marketing campaign?

With SMS, one of the easiest ways to measure success is how many clicks your text blast yields for the link within the message.

We analyzed 15 of our customers’ SMS marketing blasts that yielded the highest total number of link clicks, in order to determine what common elements help make a campaign successful.

What surprised us is how diverse SMS campaigns can be. There are so many companies using SMS marketing for varying reasons, but there are some key elements that showed up recurringly in the most successful messages.

Some of our findings are below.

Common Elements of Successful SMS Marketing Blasts

Common Element% of Texts
Clear call-to-action73%
Company or business name47%
Link to online store33%
Link to Zoom video, webinar registration, or other video content33%
“Immediacy” verbiage (for example, “click now”)33%
Scarcity verbiage ("today only," "don't miss," etc.)27%
Discount offer20%
Mention of new product or service20%

Data from a sample of 15 messages that included a high number of total clicks on a tracked link within the message. Data analyzed in April 2023.

What Can We Take Away About Best Practices for SMS Marketing?

There are a few conclusions we can draw from these numbers. Many are not too surprising, and easy to implement:

  • Include a clear call-to-action (CTA)
  • Identify your business in your texts
  • Add a strong hook
  • Detail a clear offer
  • Use words encouraging immediacy and urgency
  • Employ scarcity language
  • Offer discounts
  • Promote new products and services


A call-to-action is specific language that tells the recipient what action he or she should take next as a result of the message they receive.

73% of high performing messages had a clear call-to-action, meaning 27% of the messages did not have a clear call-to-action (while these other messages may have had an implied call-to-action, usually clicking a link, there was no explicit language telling the audience what step to take next).

From this data, SMS marketers could conclude that although including specific call-to-action language is usually important, it’s not always necessary in every circumstance.

Conversely, SMS marketers who don’t always use clear call-to-action language in their texts could consider incorporating it and see how it impacts audience response.


A hook is an engaging opening line of copy with the intention of catching the audience’s attention and intriguing them so that they read the rest. It’s typically brief and punchy.

Although almost half of the analyzed messages had a strong hook, 53% of the messages did not have a strong hook.

This data suggests that hooks are not as important in SMS marketing as they would be in, say, email marketing.

But, again, SMS marketers who aren’t currently using hooks could consider testing them out.

Description of Benefits

It’s often common marketing practice to explain the benefits of what you’re offering.

Interestingly, only 20% of the analyzed messages emphasized the benefit of what was being communicated.

A couple of factors could explain this:

  • An SMS marketing approach may assume that the audience is at a point in the sales funnel in which they don’t need the benefits spelled out for them.
  • It’s generally accepted that SMS are supposed to be short and to-the-point—explaining the benefits of the offer may use up a lot of space.

You’ll need to make sure you know your audience’s stage of awareness enough to decide whether or not the benefits of your offer need to be laid out for them.


Although it’s generally accepted that marketing initiatives perform better when there are attractive visuals accompanying them, only 20% of the analyzed messages included an image.

A pragmatic reason for this could be that including images in your texts can cost significantly more than plain-text SMS.

However, these findings do indicate that including images is not a requirement in order to have a successful SMS marketing campaign.

You can consider whether the nature of your own text blast would benefit from including an image, and do a cost-benefit consideration of whether the extra cost is worth it.

Bonus: What Kinds of Responses Do People Send to SMS?

We also analyzed 500 responses to SMS sent from our customers (whether for marketing or other purposes).

Our hope was that this analysis would provide some insight into whether businesses can do anything to preemptively help with people’s problems or address their questions—and, therefore, provide a better audience experience resulting in a more successful SMS campaign.

What we found is that there weren’t a lot of commonalities in how people responded to the texts our users sent:

Common Responses to Texts

Common Element% of Texts
Opting out (for example, “stop”)32%
“Ok” (or variation)4%
Misc. questions4%
“Thank you” (or variation)2%
Troubleshooting issues2%

Data from a sample of 500 messages sent in response to texts sent by Mobile Text Alerts users. Data analyzed in April 2023. --

The other responses were miscellaneous or not relevant.

What does this data tell us?

Opting Out

One thing this data reveals is that by far the most common reason people respond seems to be for the purpose of opting out.

This may indicate that SMS senders could do a better job of:

  1. Making sure their recipients have clearly opted in to their texting campaigns
  2. Making sure their campaigns contain highly valuable content so that people don’t want to opt out
  3. Making sure they are sending their campaigns to targeted and relevant audiences, so that he messages are useful and applicable for the intended recipients

As long as you’re following all of those items and you don’t have an abnormally high opt-out rate (the standard for SMS is around 5%), don’t worry too much about people opting out. If they’re not interested in your product, it’s better not to waste your time and resources and theirs.

Generic Responses

This analysis indicates that the second most common response people send are simple generic responses such as “OK” or “Thank you.”

When taking into account that the overwhelming top response people have for texts is simply to opt out and the second most popular responses are generic, it would seem that text blast responses may not always need to be heavily monitored.

That recognition could help ease concerns of business leaders who may feel that they don’t have the bandwidth or processes in place to monitor hundreds of responses to text blasts. A large number of responses, it would seem, require no response back.

This conclusion would especially ring true if you have automated responses set up to trigger to users as soon as they reply back. For “opt-out” messages, these automated responses are implemented by mobile carriers by default, so marketers and business owners don’t have to be concerned about setting those up.

You could also set up a generic automated reply that’s triggered by default. If you don’t have the bandwidth to monitor subscriber responses, your auto reply could be something simple along the lines of “Replies are not monitored. Please contact [email address] or [phone number] with any questions.”

Questions and Troubleshooting

Other common responses to text blasts were miscellaneous questions as well as technical issues that required troubleshooting.

You can preemptively try to address potential questions and issues like this ahead of time by trying to consider what kinds of questions or technical problems may come up for your recipient. If there’s a common question or issue that comes up in regards to the messaging that you’re communicating, you can address it briefly in your text blast.


This analysis revealed that a large number of responses to SMS blasts appear to be individualized, miscellaneous, or irrelevant.

There are a few potential conclusions we can draw from this observation:

  • Texting has the potential to generate a lot of good customer feedback for you
  • Texting also has the potential to generate a lot of irrelevant responses; you can help mitigate this by making sure that only people who are actually interested are added into your text list

Summary: Key Takeaways for Successful SMS Marketing Campaign

By analyzing common elements of successful SMS campaigns and common responses sent in reply to texts sent by SMS platform users, we’ve been able to draw a few conclusions about possible ways to have more success in your SMS efforts.

Some of the key takeaways include:

  • Clear calls-to-action are included in the majority of campaigns
  • A strong hook isn’t as important as it is in email but may be something to consider including
  • Images and benefit descriptions aren’t always necessary
  • Make sure your messages are relevant so that your audience actually engages rather than opting out, and so that your audience doesn’t send irrelevant responses
  • Don’t be too concerned if you don’t have a lot of bandwidth to monitor and respond to replies to your texts
  • Try to preemptively respond to questions and issues

Go ahead and take whatever is helpful from this analysis and apply it to your own SMS efforts, so that you can have the most successful SMS marketing campaign possible.

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