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How To Use Text SMS To Boost Your Marketing Audience

SMS or short message service, more commonly referred to as texting, may not have crossed your mind as a way to promote your business. This new marketing method has had surprising success.

For starters, more than three billion people on the planet have a cell phone. Majoritively, those cell phone users are able to text. Text messages are also a preferred method of communicating for a large portion of cell phone users.

When it comes to using texting for marketing, it is perhaps one of the most effective ways to get your message read by your audience. A breathtaking 97% of SMS marketing messages are opened within 15 minutes of being sent, and according to Forbes, the response rate is around 45% for a particularly low-cost channel.

Email has remained a consistently good performer for marketing throughout its continued use, and it only has about a 6% response rate. As new as it may seem, SMS marketing is showing out its ROI while fitting nicely in virtually any sized marketing budget.

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Notes on SMS

By its nature, SMS marketing is…well…short. An SMS has a maximum of 160 characters, including spaces. As they are sent and received over mobile devices, your audience can read them quickly.

In addition to being short and easily read, text marketing is virtually instantaneous. A text can arrive seconds after it’s been sent and read within minutes. Unlike email, probably the most comparable marketing technique, you don’t have to wait for consumers to check their email.

Just about everyone keeps their phones with them at all times, and the instant reminder that a message has arrived puts your marketing messages directly into your customers’ attention in short order. There’s little else available that can give you that kind of access to your audience.

Now, it may occur to you that consumers see an enormous amount of advertising every day. In fact, the high volume of ads seen per day may shock you. As of 2007, over a decade ago, consumers saw about 5,000 ads per day. The rate of exponential growth suggests that that number is much higher now.

With that many ads per day, it’s easy to understand how consumers have become almost desensitized to advertisements. The answer to this marketing dilemma is permission-based marketing.

In permission-based marketing, customers consent to targeted marketing campaigns on platforms that they’ve opted-in to receive them on. SMS marketing is a form of permission-based marketing. Because customers have asked to receive these messages, they respond more favorably to them.

Developing an SMS marketing strategy that works for your brand and business can boost your marketing audience. Here are some steps to consider as you develop your strategy:

Build your database

Of course, you can start sending text messages any time, but if you don’t have anyone to send them to, they’re not going to do you much good. As in other permission-based marketing channels, like email, you need to begin allowing people to opt-in.

Customer opt-in to SMS marketing is fairly simple. Ask customers to text a keyword to your short code. Short codes are special 5- to 6-digit telephone numbers designed specifically to send and receive messages to and from mobile phones.

You can also use other marketing mediums to promote your opt-in campaign to begin building your audience and database. Incentives such as a free gift or promotional discounts will also help promote customer opt-ins.

At this stage, it is critical to ask customers what hours they are willing to receive messages from you. This will help you to schedule SMS messaging campaigns as you plan and strategize going forward.

Engage your audience

When people opt-in, they are opening themselves up to communication with you and your brand. That can be viewed as making themselves vulnerable. You should take this placement of trust seriously.

If you told consumers when they opted-in that they would receive a specific type of message, like coupons, treat this as a promise you made to your customer. Don’t break that promise.

Also, people who opt-in to SMS campaigns respond more to personal messages. Less personal messages tend to feel like spam, and customers are less likely to feel engaged.

Consumers who opt-in also feel more engaged when they receive quick replies and instant gratification. When you maintain trust and engagement with your customers, you will reduce opt-outs.

As you engage your customers, you can use promotional offers similar to those used in the initial opt-in process in return for a referral. This is two-fold. The exchange for referrals enhances customer loyalty, and it’s a simple way to broaden your audience and increase brand awareness.

Connect SMS to other marketing channels

Marketing strategies that integrate different marketing types and diverse forms of media have been the most effective strategies. Including content about your SMS opt-in campaign on other platforms can grow your audience and increase participation.

Mentioning it on printed signage, making a social media post about it, or providing details in a video description where you informed viewers about your opt-in campaign are all ways of expanding your reach and the number of people in your SMS audience.

Being visible on multiple marketing channels is the key to brand awareness, and brand awareness is life in just about every market.

Send timely messages

Timely deliveries are the difference between success and failure in just about every form of marketing. Because text messages are received within seconds of being sent, reception is almost instant. For this reason, it’s important to time your messages so that they don’t arrive too late but also don’t arrive too early.

As most of us know, timing is everything. Knowing when you want to deliver your messages allows you to schedule in advance as you strategize the best plans for your business.

Time of day can create differing response times. The nature of your product and the behavior of your audience can also impact your message’s effectiveness. For example, sending a promotional text at six in the morning to college students to promote a 20% off at a local night hangout is probably not going to be very popular simply because of the time of day.

Another example would be to send a BOGO lunch coupon at 3:30 in the afternoon. By the time your message arrives, today’s lunch hour is gone, and your message will have been forgotten by tomorrow’s lunch hour.

Preview your work

Remember that text marketing needs to be concise because it has to be short. Also, text marketing is viewed via mobile devices. Test view your text messages on different mobile devices to visualize what your customer will see when they arrive.

Use line breaks to improve readability. Announce yourself to put your brand in your customer’s mind immediately. Be careful with links within messages. If you change a link with anything, even an accidental space, it can make your links not work.

As with previewing the look of your text messages, preview links to ensure they work. Use URL shorteners to stay within your character limits.

Don’t be afraid of using CAPS LOCK to grab attention in the small space, and be comfortable with using snippets of text.

Provide exclusivity

When you’ve begun to master SMS marketing, remember to show appreciation to your customers that have opted-in to your campaign. Providing exclusive offers to your SMS database really rewards consumers.

Consumers that feel rewarded are also more loyal consumers. Just remember that exclusivity here is key. People like to feel special, so the rewards you send to your database need to be exclusive offers that they can’t get on any other platforms you use.

This creates what is called positive disruption. The reality of sending a text message is that you could easily be interrupting your customer. However, exclusive offer texts contain information that they deem as vital and appreciate. This also means fewer opt-outs.

Things to remember

  • Be brief and concise. If you can say your message in under 140 characters, do it.
  • Don’t overdo it. Annoying your customer won’t prevent opt-outs.
  • Respond Quickly. You want instant access to your customer, and they want instant access to you.
  • Always check for readability.


In this age of communication, connections between consumers and the brands they love are essential. The use of cellphones around the world and text messaging make it almost natural that marketing would find its way into SMS messaging.

Marketing this way is cost-effective for just about any marketing budget, and it has one of the best ROIs of any marketing technique in the same price range and in general. Marketing dollars are well spent on this high response rate marketing channel.

SMS marketing is still new, and it does require attention to timing and readability. After learning what works for your company, SMS marketing works in tandem with almost all other marketing channels, providing an additional layer to your strategic marketing plan.