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SMS Marketing 101: How to Get Started

SMS marketing 101: How to get started

Technically, the first-ever text message was sent in 1992, and it wasn’t precisely sent from a cell phone but from a desktop computer. Nokia’s cell phones didn’t have buttons for texting at that time; only after 1993 were people able to send text messages through cell phones using T9 keyboards. And then, in 2007, came iPhone’s touchscreen functionality in cellphones, and the rest is, you know, history!

15 years later, in 2022, over 55.4 % of people have subscribed to receive SMS campaigns from brands to get regular updates on products and sales promotions.

Why SMS marketing is important

Doesn’t it sound like a solid opportunity to promote your sales by taking advantage of SMS marketing?

That’s why we have created this beginner’s guide on SMS marketing. Read on to learn more about how to get started with SMS marketing!

What Is SMS Marketing? 

SMS marketing is sending direct promotional messages to customers who signed up for your SMS marketing list. It is done ethically and helps brands to stay in constant contact with customers!

SMS marketing is ethical example

Your subscribers can opt out of your list anytime they want, and if they choose to stay on the list, they benefit from receiving your brand’s promotional texts. 

You can use SMS marketing to announce product launches, send coupon codes, send sales promotions for events, and keep the conversation going with your subscribers!

Unlike any other marketing channel, SMS marketing communicates with people, even offline; SMS marketing messages are short and direct. These two advantages of SMS marketing make it unique and robust for your business!

Benefits of SMS marketing for your business

Before discussing the benefits of SMS marketing for your business, ask yourself:

What is essential for any business?

  • Brand awareness
  • High customer engagement rate
  • Increased sales

And what can make your business achieve these three essential goals?

Let’s look at the case of SMS marketing and see how it will allow your business to reach these goals:

How to Increase Brand Awareness Using SMS Marketing

SMS marketing has quickly become one of the most preferred marketing channels for B2C businesses. And over 62% of consumers want to get sales promotions through SMS marketing, and you need the right SMS marketing software to give what the consumers expect!

Here are a few things you can do using SMS marketing to increase brand awareness:

  • Stick to a straightforward brand story before starting your SMS marketing campaigns.
  • Use MMS in SMS marketing (people love GIFs or any visual element)
  • Integrate your SMS Marketing with email marketing. (Emails will fill the gap of long content in SMS marketing)
  • Be consistent with your texts (don’t send too many or send too few)
  • Personalize your text messages
  • Keep it short and simple

How to Improve Customer Engagement Rate Using SMS Marketing:

As I mentioned earlier, most people want to be contacted through SMS for promotions, and over 60% of customers want to text back to resolve customer support issues.

And this is where your brand needs to step up; you need to allow your customers to engage with you actively through text messages and give out a toll-free number where they can express their issues and get them resolved with proper support!

A happy customer is a repeat customer, and a high engagement rate will get you there!

Here are some tips to improve your customer engagement rate using SMS:

  • Use SMS keywords to allow your customers to engage with you, e.g., “STOP,” “START,” “MORE,” OR “COUPON.”
  • Send SMS sparingly
  • Integrate SMS with multichannel or omnichannel platforms
  • Send a review request link to your customers to get to know more about what they think of your service or products.
  • Adhere to SMS marketing compliance; this is very important if you don’t want to get blacklisted.
  • Track your CTA performance and improve your CTAs for your next campaign.

How to skyrocket your sales using SMS marketing:

In addition to increasing brand awareness and customer engagement, the main focus of any marketing effort is to improve sales. Isn’t that why you are trying hard at your business venture? So don’t lose focus on that!

SMS marketing can help you achieve higher ROI than ever before. It can be used to nudge customers who haven’t purchased from you in a while.

How to improve sales with SMS marketing

Like the example above, you can send in a discount code link to re-engage with customers and get them back in the lifecycle. With SMS campaigns, you can use personalized messages and reach customers directly!

You can also give abandoned cart notifications and get back lost customers who left their carts without completing the purchase.

Here are some tips to improve your sales using SMS marketing:

  • Know your audience and segment them
  • Focus on your best customers
  • Write clear and concise messages
  • Give out offers 
  • Send product updates 
  • Announce when you launch a new product
  • Provide customer support via SMS
  • Give links to a landing page or a product page

Now that we have discussed why SMS marketing is important for your business and what it can help you with let’s figure out how to get started with SMS marketing!

How to Get Started with SMS Marketing

There are three stages to an SMS marketer: the beginner, the intermediate, and the pro. 

Which one are you?

The beginner:

The first step in starting SMS marketing is growing your list, more importantly, growing your list ethically. You need people to opt-in for your mobile marketing messages, which is not easy!

The beginner in SMS marketing

Here’s how you can build SMS marketing lists ethically:

You need to get consent from your potential or existing customers to send them test blasts or automated texts. Follow this to avoid many laws like TCPA or the CAN-SPAM act, and your services will be blocked, or you will risk getting a lawsuit against your business. So tread carefully!

  • Incentivize opting into your SMS list (nothing is free in this world, even an audience)
  • Send only important text messages (even 2 text messages from the same brand in a day is considered annoying by consumers)
  • Launch new products and give out the best deals. (who doesn’t like to be exclusive? , give that exclusivity to your SMS list)
  • Use other channels to encourage SMS opt-ins (make use of pop-ups, email marketing, Social media, and chatbots)
  • Give them free sample products for signing up for your SMS list. (This is my personal favorite, I love sampling skincare products before deciding to buy one, and I’m sure I’m not the only one)

Now Let’s say you have done all you can and have built a solid SMS list; what’s next?

The second step is giving your list a proper welcome into their SMS experience with your brand. This welcome text will let them know what they can expect from your text blasts or automated texts. 

Automated welcome text series is a great way to introduce your brand, educate them about your products, and even nudge them to buy them. 

  • Include your brand name in the first sentence.
  • Highlight what you are offering.
  • Use emoticons to make it interesting.
  • Personalize all your text messages.
  • Use their first name to address your audience.
  • Send a shortened link with a clear CTA.

As a beginner, you should measure your welcome automated SMS campaigns’ performance in the final step. This is crucial to understand your audience’s perception of your text messages, and the best way to jump your results is to A/B test your SMS campaigns before sending your entire list. 

The report from your A/B test will give you an idea of what to focus on: is it the time? Is it the text character count? Or the number of SMS sent? 

You can also measure CTA, opt-outs, and conversions using A/B testing. Based on your A/B test result, you can choose the best variation for your brand; this method will boost your campaign’s success rate!

The Intermediate:

After building a solid SMS list, sending welcome text blasts, and measuring your lists, you will better grasp how to run a basic campaign. And you will have graduated to become the intermediate. 

Now, what can you learn and achieve in this stage of mastering SMS marketing?

You will have to perfect a few things before you can call yourself a pro!

The first step is to launch an abandoned cart SMS campaign series. Did you know that over 70% of your website visitors will abandon their cart before completing their purchase?

And utilizing mobile marketing can help you recover carts by over 65%; all you have to do is send a series of abandonment text series.

To make an abandoned cart SMS automation series a success:

  • Use GIFs in your texts to make your SMS into an MMS.
  • Give the link to the products they abandoned in your store.
  • Send them a code to redeem an offer voucher.
  • Mention the name of the product they abandoned (e.g., wave print satin dress)
  • Send three abandoned cart text messages with a good time interval between each. (Don’t send more than one SMS a day!)
  • And most importantly, never schedule texts to be sent at night. (As a consumer myself, I still hold a grudge against certain brands for sending me text messages in the middle of the night while I was sleeping)

The Pro:

The next step to becoming a pro SMS marketer is to start a 2-way conversation with your subscribers with keywords and then integrate SMS with email.

What is a 2-way conversation in SMS?

An SMS tool like BayEngage, allows you to send and receive text messages from your subscribers by sending them Keywords like ‘START’ or ‘MORE.’ You can generate your own keywords using the keyword ideas feature and start conversations with subscribers to provide support, close deals, and connect with customers at the right time!

What can you do with 2-way text messaging?

  • Schedule replies
  • Provide a better customer experience
  • Understand your customer’s pain points 
  • See higher CTR and replies
  • Give customer support through text messaging
  • Close more sales
  • Resolve completed conversations
  • Undo text blasts that have factual errors

And the final step is to integrate SMS with email marketing to eliminate the gaps that SMS creates. Let’s be honest, text messaging limits characters, and it’s impossible to send downloadable digital assets for customer access. So, I suggest you fill that gap by integrating SMS with email marketing and sending detailed information or digital assets like ebooks or product portfolios through emails!

How to run a successful SMS marketing campaign

There are some best practices that you need to follow to run a successful SMS marketing campaign. 

1. Keep your text message within 160 characters

Ensure your subscribers are aware of long and winding text blasts; keep it short and get to the point in 160 characters. Moreover, anything more than 160 characters will be considered 2 text messages, and most SMS marketing tools charge for each text message. So, save your subscribers’ time and your money! 

How to keep it short:

  • Shorten the URL
  • Use action words like ‘Get,’ ‘Grab,’ and ‘Click’ instead of using complete sentences like “Please make sure to click the link below” ❌
  • Don’t use text abbreviations
  • Be clear with your message

Use UPPERCASE for important DEALS, OFFERS, and DISCOUNTS                                                     

2.  Encourage people to Opt-in 

As I mentioned earlier, sending text marketing messages to people who didn’t opt in will land you in soup! So, make sure to encourage people to willingly sign up to receive marketing text messages from your brand to avoid getting fined for sending unwanted promotional messages.

3. Be relevant

Your text blasts should be important to your subscribers. It should have a clear purpose! Nobody likes their phones buzzing with random text messages that serve no purpose in their lives.

Instead of sending irreversible text messages, inform your subscribers about exclusive deals, contests, offers, order confirmations, date of delivery, and about new product launches. These are the kind of message people will open and look forward to as they serve a purpose!

4. Allow your subscribers to take action

Get your customers to take action by texting you back with a 2-way conversation or redirecting them to your website to check a new product or sign up for a contest. Like how you need a clear Call-to-Action in your email marketing campaign, you need to send a shortened URL to your subscribers to nudge them into buying or just visiting a product page.

5. Make your text blasts sound human

Avoid sounding like an AI sending the message across; put a human touch to your text messages. This can be done by adding a pinch of humor to the message you want to convey or by introducing yourself with your first name!

You can also understand the subscribers based on their purchase behavior, earlier conversations, and online culture and send relevant messages tailored to them!

6. Increase organic traffic to your website

Add shortened links to your websites in the text message you send; this will improve the organic traffic to your website, increase conversions, and increase customer retention.

However, don’t send links to your website without relevant contextual information. Sending a link on a welcome automation series doesn’t make sense, but sending a product link for an abandoned cart text series does wonders for your sales!

7. Use the whitelisted hours feature

Your subscribers’ time is important, and your brand should not disrupt their daily life. If it does, your brand will be associated with something negative, and you don’t want that. You want to be the customers’ pet.

To be the favorite, 

  • Use the whitelisted hours feature to not send text blasts for a certain amount of time on a day.
  • Don’t send text messages in the middle of the night or early in the morning.
  • Segment your SMS contact list into regions, time zones, religions, gender, and age to understand their habits, interests, holidays, and rest day better.

These best practices will help you run a successful SMS marketing campaign that will improve sales and customer satisfaction. 

Generally, text messages are underestimated compared to social media marketing. Still, an SMS marketing campaign has to be tapped in the right direction, and you will see rapid growth that you never thought possible!

Examples of Some of The Best SMS Marketing Messages:

1. Yandy’s clever text message

Yandy's SMS campaign as an example

In this text blast, Yandy has managed to make the subscribers feel unique with a VIP alert. They have also given a coupon code to gently encourage customers to take action by clicking the link to their website. The message creates a sense of urgency among the subscribers by adding the end of the free shipping offer!

The only issue is that the link could have been shorter, so this promotional text gets a 4.8/ 5.

2. GREATS’ 2-way conversation

GREATS SMS campaign as an example

GREATS has ethically used the double opt-in to make sure the subscribers want to continue getting text blasts from them by using the keyword ‘Y.’

Later, when the subscriber replied, they sent a confirmation message of their subscription and informed them that the message frequency was recurring. The subscribers also have the option to send STOP whenever they want to unsubscribe from the text blasts.

However, GREATS missed out on the opportunity to send a shortened URL to their website to improve traffic or sales.

And so, this SMS campaign receives a 4.5/ 5!

3. Naked and Famous Denim NYC’s abandoned cart recovery SMS

Naked & Famous SMS campaign as an example

I personally love this brand’s attempt at recovering an abandoned cart. This text campaign has everything we need in a successful campaign: a sense of urgency, a shortened link to the abandoned product, and an option for the customer to opt out.

This text message gets a 5/5!

Take these examples as a standard for your next text campaign and use all the right elements to get higher open rates, CTR, and conversions!

10 SMS marketing statistics you should know!

  1. According to 64% of consumers, firms should Contact them by SMS more frequently.
  2. Consumers prefer to receive messages with exclusive offers 75% of the time.
  3. Most marketers—about 61%—still do not employ SMS.
  4. Customers expect more than simple texts from you. Among customers, 43% texted a company proactively.
  5. But only 13% of brands allow customers to reply to their text messages.
  6. Two-way conversations can increase client satisfaction scores by about 80%.
  7. Within 1 to 5 minutes, 6 out of every 10 consumers will view your text.
  8. Nearly 50% of people would think about clicking the link to your website.
  9. The main reasons for unsubscribing from a subscriber list are spammy messages (31%) and receiving too many messages (30%)
  10. Among 18 to 40-year-olds, text messages are the preferred channel of communication.

These statistics on SMS marketing should nudge you into starting your SMS campaigns and introduce you to a reliable way to build a good customer relationship!

Creating SMS marketing campaigns with BayEngage

Now that you know everything you need to know about SMS marketing in this 101 blog, it’s time for you to use the right tool for your business to kickstart your SMS marketing campaigns.

BayEngage is one of the reliable SMS marketing tools that can be integrated with email marketing. It mainly focuses on helping ecommerce businesses to improve their sales with its features: 2 ways conversations, over 12 SMS marketing automation workflows, prewritten SMS templates, delivery control, and many more.

With BayEngage’s full suite of tools, you can integrate your SMS with emails, any ecommerce platform, Zapier, or Smile.io to create a wholesome experience for your customers!

Create a free account

Picture of Ajitha Victor

Ajitha Victor

Ajitha Victor is an Associate Content Lead at the TargetBay Marketing team. She loves creating content and inbound marketing. She loves reading and creative writing whenever she gets time and she never misses a chance to have a good conversation with someone over a cup of chai!

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