In recent years, consumers have grown more accustomed to receiving text messages from businesses. In fact, it's become one of their most preferred methods of communication: According to G2, 85% of customers would rather receive a text over an email or voice call from a brand, and an additional 59% prefer to receive direct messages from a business instead of downloading a separate app.

With this in mind, it's safe to say that text message marketing is the next step for any business that hasn't undergone SMS integration. SMS, the abbreviation of short message service, is another term for text messaging, and companies can easily incorporate these services into their systems using API technology. But, before we get into the technical aspects, let's understand what SMS marketing is and the many ways it can be utilized for business growth.

What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing, also known as text message marketing, is a marketing method that enables businesses to text customers and prospects with promotional material. Like email marketing, SMS requires consumers to opt-in, meaning customers must first agree to receive messaging from your SMS campaign before you can send them marketing content. 

Text messaging practices have shown significant results in versatility when compared to other marketing channels such as social media, email and influencer marketing. The main uses for SMS marketing include:

1. Promotional SMS
This type of marketing campaign aims to spark a customer's interest in a product or service. These text messages often include discount codes, like "Get 20% off all our products using code GET20 on your next purchase. Offer ends Monday!" Or, they can direct the recipient to special offers located in another channel, such as a mobile app or website. For the best results from promotional SMS, it's important to outline the specific call to action to generate traffic and drive leads.

2. Transactional SMS
Transactional campaigns send time-sensitive text message responses following a consumer action. Say a customer buys one of your products through the online store. A text message that thanks them for their purchase is automatically triggered and sent to their mobile device, based on the information and consent the buyer gave during checkout. It also provides an order number and states that you will alert them of any updates. This notifies the customer that their purchase was successful and, in turn, makes your brand look proactive and responsive. Transactional SMS can also be used to send appointment reminders or one-time passwords (OTPs) for two-factor authentication.

3. Remarketing
This is where text messages are used to regain recently interested customers' attention. SMS systems can be programmed to identify when a registered customer has abandoned their basket, which triggers an automated follow-up text that reminds them to return to their order and encourages them to follow through with the purchase. Automated remarketing methods help to engage customers and drive sales through persuasive messaging.

4. Personalized Text Messages
SMS texts have customization capabilities that allow you to send personalized messages on a large scale. For example, you can send texts that address the user by their first name by formatting a message template that begins with "Hey [FIRST NAME]!" The automation system then scans customer information on the provided database and inserts the customer's actual name into the template. Gathering additional customer data, like demographic information, can help personalize your engagement strategy further. For instance, you may send a Mother's Day promotion to people under the age of 40 to encourage younger consumers to purchase a gift from your store.

5. Surveys and Polls
Using these tools for SMS marketing purposes are simple yet fun ways for audiences to interact with your brand and boost engagement. Customers love to have their say in small and accessible ways, so taking advantage of this method can not only spark consumer interest, but can also be a valuable way of collecting information for individual customer profiles.

Why Businesses Love SMS Marketing

As customers have become more comfortable with brands contacting them via SMS, businesses have been reaping the benefits of SMS marketing and the automation methods that come with it.

One key reason why businesses use SMS marketing is because of its impressive reachability and open rates. SMS marketing statistics show that open rates average around 98%, per G2 — that's nearly every single text! The ability to send text messages globally only provides more opportunities for businesses to expand their reach and engage with consumers in new markets.

But, how do you make using such an effective strategy easy and straightforward? The answer is APIs. They're the components that make text messaging easy for businesses. SMS API is the component that shifts person-to-person (P2P) communication — texting from one mobile phone to another — to application-to-person (A2P) which allows text messages to be managed, programmed, automated and sent through a computer. By giving businesses the potential to create customer-based triggers, APIs help engage customers and build customer loyalty by sending personalized messages at the perfect time.

Text message marketing empowers companies by enhancing their capabilities, significantly reducing the manual workload and saving them time and resources. But, SMS has even more in store for businesses.

Major Benefits of SMS Marketing

Open rates and increased customer loyalty aren't the only major advantages of SMS marketing. With its sheer global reach and available automated possibilities, text messaging has so much more to offer. Here are some key perks of an SMS marketing campaign:

Boost Revenue
Text marketing can significantly boost your revenue by driving traffic to your website and promoting your products or services with exclusive sales and events. Remarketing methods also help to increase sales by reminding customers to return to their cart and follow through with their purchase.

Improved Productivity
With A2P text message platforms and automation capabilities, sending mass amounts of text messages is easy. You can plan ahead and set triggers based on customer behavior so you can notify your customer without needing to do any manual labor. This frees up time for teams to focus their efforts on achieving business goals elsewhere and even completes the job with better efficiency.

Customer Service Capabilities
It's possible to implement a new form of customer service with SMS. Customers may find sending an SMS message more useful than conducting a phone call as it's an easy, accessible and non-disruptive way to seek help from your company. Not only does this save customers time, but it's also less disruptive for your workforce as it allows them to respond with fast-pace communication, instead of spending time making conversation over the phone.

Your teams won't be able to respond to a text message immediately, but with automation, you can trigger a read receipt response. For example, a reply could say "Hey! Thank you for reaching out to [company]! We've received your message and our team is working on a response now. They'll be in touch shortly." These customer service capabilities streamline the process and provide consumers with what they need in a more convenient way.

Gather Feedback
Hearing back from customers is an important part of business as it provides organizations with practical insights and helps them understand how to improve the customer experience. Gathering feedback via email prompts can be challenging, with open rates at only 20%, per MarketingProfs' report. Luckily, promoting feedback surveys through SMS can deliver the engagement you're looking for, with the previously mentioned open rates averaging 98%.

Although it's possible to share a link to advertise your questionnaire, it may be more beneficial to survey customers through a text conversation. You can ask customers to rate their experience on a scale from one to 10, and recipients can simply text back with their answers. If respondents give a score below six, you can also set up a trigger that sends a follow-up message requesting more details.

By making the review process more accessible to customers, you increase your chances of getting responses which, in turn, generates valuable information to help your business grow and develop.

How To Build and Retain SMS Subscribers

Building your subscriber list is essential to your text message campaign's success, and retaining them is just as important. Here are a few things you can do to gain subscribers and keep them opted-in to your SMS marketing.

1. Use Opt-In Forms
Online opt-in forms are a simple and transparent way to collect customers' phone numbers. Any customers that fill in the form are automatically added to your subscriber list, provided they give their name, mobile number and consent to receive your brand's promotional SMS.

It's unlikely that customers are going to offer their information without a motive, that's why it's important to clearly outline your main selling points. How are consumers going to benefit from your SMS communications? Maybe you send regular exclusive discounts and inform subscribers of upcoming product launches so they're ahead of the curve. Make sure that the customer benefits are at the forefront when promoting your SMS marketing initiatives.

2. Send Welcome Messages
Once a customer signs up for your SMS marketing campaign, you can send an automated welcome message that thanks them for signing up and establishes your brand. These messages give you the opportunity to introduce yourself to the customer, and they also function as a form of double opt-in. Double opt-in methods are a way to ensure your brand is complying with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), so subscribers are well aware they've consented and signed up for your campaign.

A great way to give your subscribers a good first impression is by providing them with a joining discount. This provides customers with benefits off the bat and gives them the motivation to remain opted-in, which later helps to retain them in your subscriber list.

3. Collect Customer Feedback
To keep subscribers interested in your SMS campaign, it's good practice to request feedback on how you're doing. Using the text message survey methods mentioned above, your business can ask how useful customers find the SMS service and what they would like to see more of in the future.

Requesting feedback on your text message marketing will show customers that your business cares about making changes to effectively meet their needs. This lets subscribers have their say, encourages them to stick around and pushes your business to make the necessary adaptations to improve overall satisfaction. 

Potential Drawbacks

Despite the long list of benefits that SMS marketing provides, there are also some possible drawbacks to be aware of before launching a campaign.

Reducing Opt-Out Rates
Even though many customers have embraced receiving texts from businesses, you'll need to prove that your SMS marketing messages are valuable to the consumer, otherwise, they're likely to opt out of your campaign.

Complying With Laws and Regulations
You may face fines and penalties if you aren't careful with your SMS usage. It's essential that you comply with the TCPA's SMS marketing privacy laws and regulations, and if you're based in the U.S., make sure you register your campaign with The Campaign Registry for authorized SMS use in the United States. To learn more about how to register, check out our blog here.

Best Practices For SMS Marketing

We've listed some best practices to follow to avoid complications with your text message campaign and make the most out of your SMS marketing.

Make Opt-Out Options Clear
According to the TCPA, it's best practice to format opt-out options clearly so consumers have the choice to back out of your SMS campaign if they feel it doesn't benefit them. This helps promote compliance and ensures customers don't feel trapped by your brand.

Establish Your Company
It's likely that new subscribers won't be able to identify your brand because messages will come through from an unknown number. So, whenever you gain a new subscriber, make sure to utilize SMS marketing automation and send them a message that introduces your company. This process is called SMS branding and functions as an effective way to get customers acquainted and engaged with your promotional content.

Keep Texts Short and Sweet
It's important to keep things short and simple if you want to engage your customers effectively. If texts become complicated and overwhelming, readers will switch off and potentially be deterred from future interactions with your company. Make sure your texts are roughly four sentences or fewer — six, maximum. This will allow recipients to successfully receive your entire message, which can lead to higher conversion.

The golden rule for text message structure goes as follows:

  1. Company name.
  2. Customer name.
  3. Offer or promotion.
  4. CTA
  5. Opt-out option.

If possible, avoid using too many links (especially with link shorteners) as they may reduce your message's deliverability. To understand more about how to prevent SMS carrier blockage, check out our 10 main reasons why your text messages aren't getting delivered.

Top Tips for Going Forward

If you're thinking about proceeding with implementing SMS into your marketing initiatives, the first step is finding the type of business number that best suits your needs. This is the phone number your business uses to send SMS messages to your registered customers.

When deciding on one, you must first assess the goals of your SMS marketing strategy. How many texts do you aim to send at one time? How fast do you want the delivery to be? Do you want customers to be able to reply to your text messages? These aspects should be considered and evaluated to make an informed decision on whether you utilize shortcode or long code, also known as 10DLC (10-digit-long code).

Swift SMS Gateway can find the best text message solutions for your business. We're more than happy to discuss your individual needs and provide you with a robust and reliable SMS marketing platform so you can market to your audience on a global scale.

Get in touch to find out more about our services, or test them out by signing up to our free demo!