Key benefits of SMS marketing

Martina Ivanović

SMS marketing has taken a front seat in business growth strategies over the last couple of years.

It’s been forecasted that in 2023 there will be 7.33 billion mobile phone users globally, nearly all having the capability to send and receive SMS – making SMS the most ubiquitous communications channel in the world.

However, SMS messaging has evolved from a primarily person-to-person (P2P) communication channel to a new and innovative way for businesses to connect with customers. Today, Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS solutions drive user growth, augment marketing campaigns, and provide new levels of customer service through two-way communication.

But still, text messaging is more than a reliable channel for reaching customers—A2P SMS should be a key part of your growth and marketing plans.

Here we highlight what SMS marketing is, the benefits of SMS marketing for businesses, best practices, and how you can get started.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is a strategy businesses use to communicate promotions, time-sensitive information, reminders, feedback, and more to customers through text messages of up to 160 characters.

Businesses can use SMS to share promotional codes and discounts, lead customers to their website or app, connect customers to agents, minimize call center queues, and collect feedback through surveys.

Customers must opt-in to receive SMS marketing messages from businesses, compared to social media marketing, where communication is public.

With high delivery and open rates, and relatively low costs, SMS is a marketing channel with high ROI for businesses – which is why we’ve seen more brands turn to SMS to improve their marketing efforts.

In fact, according to our latest messaging trends report, there were 75% more SMS interactions between businesses and customers on our platform in 2022 compared to 2021. And 16% of these interactions were related to customer engagement and marketing interactions.

Why SMS marketing is important?

Consumers understand the value of SMS for security, verification, transactions, updates, and now business communications. A2P SMS is an exceptional channel for marketing, support, and customer growth because it’s direct, personal, and simple.

SMS marketing is a perfect complement to existing digital channels and is especially effective for real-time offers and specials. SMS augments other marketing channels and offers customers choice over how, when, and where they hear from companies. Pair that with an average 98% open rate and 45% response rate; SMS promotions have a strong appeal for reaching your most engaged customers.

Opting in to receive messages, especially texts, signals not just interest but customer engagement with your brand. Engaged customers are more likely to participate in loyalty programs, coupons, surveys, and updates.

SMS marketing eases customer support pain points, too. From quick answers to simple questions or an alternative to waiting on hold, SMS provides another way for customers to connect with your agents alongside phone or email.

Benefits of SMS marketing

SMS marketing has many benefits for your business and customers. Below are the top ways marketing through text messages can help you reach your goals:

1. Global reach

As we mentioned above, most of the world’s population (approximately 93%) own a mobile phone – and most of these phones (if not all) can send and receive text messages. This means businesses using the channel have the potential to reach almost all their customers anywhere in the world.

A competitive advantage comes from using two-way SMS through a global communications platform. Our customers, for example, can send SMS messages to customers across the globe through our 650+ direct operator connections in over 190 countries.

2. Cost-effective

SMS campaigns cost less than traditional forms of marketing and advertising. They see higher engagement, including high open and response rates. Businesses that implement SMS marketing can expect higher ROI than other marketing mediums. It will also be easier to track performance and make changes along the way.

3. Versatile

Text messages can contain any form of written content, making it a quick and simple way to tackle any use case for your business. You can effectively communicate:

  • onboarding information
  • promotions
  • delivery updates
  • tracking information
  • appointment confirmations
  • surveys
  • and more

The 160-character limit for SMS messages also prevents you from writing lengthy messages so you can focus on getting important information to customers, fast.

4. Reliable

SMS is one of the most reliable channels to ensure that customers receive and open your messages. SMS has an average delivery rate of 98%, and if you use it through a well-connected platform, you can expect fast delivery with little to no downtime. And since 90% of text messages are opened within the first three minutes, the likelihood that your customers will receive the important information you share with them is high.

It’s also a channel that doesn’t need an internet connection, enabling customers in rural areas with little to no Wi-Fi or cellular data to send and receive messages from their favorite brands.

SMS marketing best practices

It’s one thing to implement SMS as a new marketing channel – but if you want to see the best results, there are a few practices you should follow:

1. Collect opt-ins

Before you start reaching out to your customers via SMS, it’s important to collect a clear opt-in from them. You can do this through their communication preferences when signing up for your service, at checkout when they make a purchase, or through other channels such as on the phone or email. Regardless of if you’ve collected their phone number through previous interactions, customers must opt-in to receive marketing text messages from your business.

sms marketing opt ins

You must make sure customers know:

  • Messaging or data rates may apply
  • How often you’ll be sending messages (how many times a day and if the frequency can be changed)
  • When you’ll be sending messages (time of day)
  • What kind of content you’ll be sending (and if they can choose different content)

The consequences of not getting consent and spamming customers can include steep fines or being banned from sending future messages.

2. Offer opt-out options

Just like email subscriptions, it’s best to offer a clear way for customers to opt out of receiving your SMS marketing messages. You can communicate it through a text message, offer it through your other forms of communication, or have a clear place on your website or in your app where they can change their preferences and opt out of specific channels.

3. Follow SMS limits

We recently highlighted the details about SMS limits and the best practices for navigating them. And although there are ways around the 160-character limit, such as turning UCS characters into GSM ones, it’s best to stick to the initial limit to avoid potentially fragmenting your customer experience. Messages that exceed the SMS character limit will be delivered in broken pieces which can lead to confusion and poor engagement.

4. Send messages at the right time

Many tools and solutions are available to businesses that want to optimize their customer communication. Leveraging artificial intelligence for your SMS marketing efforts can help you analyze your customers’ engagement history, so you know when the best time to send a message is. The right timing of a message can influence its open and engagement rates. Imagine the difference in your own engagement with messages you receive at 1 A.M. when you’re most likely sleeping versus messages you receive at 1 P.M. when you’re most likely scrolling your phone during a midday break.

5. Use it alongside other channels

SMS is an even more powerful channel when used as a part of a wider omnichannel communication strategy. Businesses can use SMS as a primary marketing channel or set it up as a failover option to other channels, such as push notifications. Due to its high deliverability rates and no reliance on internet, brands can implement cross-channel communication to ensure customers receive their messages and can reach their support teams anytime.

6. Make it conversational

Sending one-way promotional messages might have been a good practice back when mobile marketing had just gained popularity. However, customers today expect two-way communication with brands. And it seems to be the only way to keep them engaged. Therefore, implementing two-way conversational SMS marketing can lead to even higher ROI, customer satisfaction, and open rates.

SMS Marketing use cases

As we mentioned above, SMS can be used for a variety of marketing use cases. Here are a handful of ways you can connect and engage with your customers through text message:

1. Welcome message

Welcome messages are a great way to say “Hi” to new customers and share your most important details with them. It’s also a great way to confirm they opted-in and can now expect to receive SMS messages from you. Give them a warm welcome and use the opportunity to direct them to your website or app.

sms marketing welcome message

2. Promotional discounts

Use SMS to inform customers of your latest promotions or give them an extra discount code for opting in to your SMS marketing communication.

sms marketing promotions

3. Seasonal campaign

Seasonal campaigns or products only last for a limited period – and SMS is the best channel to ensure your customers receive and read the details about your latest offers on time.

4. Upsell or cross-sell

Tap into customer purchase or conversation history to suggest new products or services related to their previous interactions. Remember that personalized SMS marketing is the best way to increase engagement.

5. Loyalty programs

Remind customers of their current point balance and what they can purchase with them. Share other details about your loyalty program they might not know about and influence engagement on your website or in your app.

How to set up SMS marketing

You can choose to set up SMS marketing messages on your own. Simply purchase SMS messages from a carrier and start sending them to customers. However, this practice has seen less than optimal results in most cases since it can be expensive and time-consuming.

The other option is to find a communications provider that does all the heavy lifting for you. These providers have worldwide connections already set up and often offer an easy-to-use solution to make messaging fast and effective.

Omnichannel communication solutions can make setting up SMS marketing messages easy. A drag-and-drop interface can help you set up dynamic messaging flows that trigger specific automated messages based on customer behavior. Solutions that leverage customer data to create customer profiles will help you personalize marketing messages and increase engagement.

An omnichannel customer engagement solution, for example, can have added benefits, including send time optimization functionalities and real-time analytics and reporting. This will help you improve your overall SMS marketing results by leveraging technology such as artificial intelligence to make data-driven decisions.

SMS marketing success stories

Here’s how brands around the world have used SMS as a key marketing channel:

  • GOAT Interactive enhanced customer engagement through 47.3 million messages and an 87% delivery rate
  • LankaBangla increased delivery rates to 92% through personalized SMS messaging
  • Wefarm retained 97% of its members using two-way SMS
  • Oladoc saw a 10% increase in appointment show-up rates, a 25% reduction in costs, and a 5% increase in revenue after implementing SMS as a customer engagement channel

The future of SMS marketing

From browsing to ordering to delivery to feedback, everything can be done with a few texts instead of the barrage of emails, phone calls, or app notifications. SMS blends in with any communication environment for true omnichannel communication and marketing.

As technology evolves, the capabilities of SMS as a marketing channel will evolve too. With the metaverse on the horizon, developments in AI, and 6G on its way, SMS will continue to play a large role in successful communication strategies for brands worldwide.

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Jan 20th, 2023
9 min read

Martina Ivanović