What is SMS Marketing? How to Run a Text Marketing Campaign
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Learn What SMS Text Message Marketing is and How to Run Your First Text Marketing Campaign

According to a recent Hubspot analysis, "...more than 76% of businesses plan to invest in text message marketing in the next year."

But what is text message marketing and why are so many businesses investing in it?

I’ve written on why text message marketing works, but the short answer is because:

  • Texting increases reach and awareness
  • Texting is a conversational and time-sensitive way to boost engagement
  • Texting makes it easy to personalize marketing messages at scale
  • Texting saves time with automation
  • Texting is cost-effective and reduces overhead

So what does an SMS marketing campaign look like for your business? In this article, I cover text message marketing basics including:

  1. What SMS marketing is
  2. SMS marketing vs. email marketing
  3. 5 steps to crafting a text message marketing campaign
  4. 5 text message marketing examples + bonus campaign

By the end of this article, you'll be well on your way to building effective SMS marketing campaigns.

SMS marketing is a conversational and naturally engaging way to generate leads and build relationships. SMS marketing operates similarly to email marketing. But texts are often shorter than emails and messages route straight to a recipient’s cell phone.

Some basic uses of SMS marketing include:

Here’s an example of what MessageDesk’s SMS marketing broadcasts look like:

messagedesk-broadcast.png

Once you have a list of contacts, SMS text marketing campaigns typically start with a pre-saved text message template. These templates often contain personalization tags and come with additional MMS media like an image or a gif.

Personalization tags allow you to automatically insert customer information like "first name" into every message. This makes each text message unique and personalized to the recipient, even if you’re sending hundreds of messages.

Here’s an example of a MessageDesk MMS marketing message that utilizes personalization tags:

MMS-520X344.png

SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing

Compared to email marketing, text message marketing has some advantages. There’s debate over which is best, email marketing or text marketing, but each has its pros and cons.

Email is tried and true conversational messaging technology. It’s actually the most widely adopted communication channel in the world next to SMS.

Both SMS and email marketing campaigns involve:

  • Segmenting contacts into lists
  • Scheduling messages
  • Automating messages into campaigns
  • Sending media in messages
  • Personalizing messages with tags

But email marketing can suffer from lower engagement rates compared to text campaigns.

In fact, people are sending an average of 15 texts per day vs. 12 emails per day.

Plus, many emails go unread and even get deleted without ever being opened.

So it’s no wonder then that email also has lower engagement rates than SMS. We’re talking about 20% open rates and only 6% average response rates. And that’s on a good day.

Compare that to text messaging. Text messages have up to a 98% open rate and around a 45% response rate. In fact, 74% of customers will even respond to a text from a business.

Customers are also much more likely to mark advertising emails as spam. So when it comes to receiving email, some audiences may never even have the chance to see your message.

Email marketing vs. text marketing engagement rates

Open Rate Response Rate Spam Rate
SMS Marketing 98% 45% 3%
Email Marketing 20% 6% 53%

But text message marketing campaigns and email marketing campaigns don't have to be an either-or arrangement.

As you learn more about your customers, you'll find that some messages are better suited for email, while others work best as texts.

As you refine your campaigns over time, you'll find a place for both in your overall marketing strategy.

5 Steps to Crafting Your First Text Message Marketing Campaign

We’ve covered what SMS marketing is and how it stacks up compared to email. Now it's time to craft your first text campaign.

These are the steps you’ll want to consider when developing a campaign:

1. Define your key performance metrics (KPIs) and set realistic goals

What's your goal for your marketing campaign? It's important to focus primarily on one objective per campaign. This helps you to align your content and calls to action. It also makes it easier to tailor your messaging and get message recipients to achieve the desired objective.

Some SMS marketing campaign goals might include:

Setting clear, specific goals tied to performance metrics also helps you optimize campaign performance over time.

Some SMS marketing campaign metrics to track include:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR) - Tracking the number of times a link gets clicked in a text
  2. Engagement Rate - Tracking the number of responses you get
  3. Return on Investment (ROI) - Tracking your revenue created per text message sent
  4. Un-subscribes - Tracking opt-outs from your text list

When you choose a business text messaging service, make sure it includes analytics for sent and received texts. Many SMS marketing platforms like MessageDesk provide you with metrics for every text message sent.

Here’s are some of the metrics you see when sending text messages using MessageDesk:

messagedesk-broadcast.png

2. Segment your contact lists and personalize your messages

Segmenting your contacts into lists is a marketing best practice. The more segmented your list is, the more you can personalize your messages to that specific audience.

Personalization can be the difference between a high-performing campaign and a low-performing campaign. In general, leads and customers respond better to friendly, personalized messages that include their first name.
You’ll also want to consider automating different messages for different contact lists based on the customer’s life cycle.

For example, brand new text-list subscribers may receive a welcome message. Whereas long-term repeat customers may receive promotional offers and refer your friend discount codes.

MessageDesk groups and multiple inboxes with custom views are a great way to segment your customers into SMS marketing lists. You can create groups based on any contact property or even form submissions and interactions.

3. Be mindful of consent and consider customer expectations around text messages

There are best practices and text messaging etiquette to consider before you send your first message.

Top 10 texting etiquette rules for business:

  1. Avoid sending and receiving confidential information over text
  2. Move complex conversations to a different communications platform
  3. Personalize your text messages to feel human and conversational
  4. Write clear calls to action (CTAs)
  5. Respond to inbound text messages quickly
  6. Keep your text messages short, simple, and to-the-point
  7. Send your texts during normal business hours
  8. Limit your text message frequency - don’t double text
  9. Sign off from conversations properly
  10. Get the right kind of permission, and stop texting when asked

The most important thing to know when sending promotional marketing messages is TCPA compliance and consent. For promotional text messages you need express consent from your contacts.

MessageDesk automatically handles all of the opt-in and opt-out requirements for you per TCPA guidelines. The first time you text a new contact MessageDesk automatically displays opt-out instructions. When a contact opts out, they’re automatically put in a “do not text” list.

messagedesk-opt-out-message.png

4. Add media and craft relevant and timely text messages

SMS marketing also includes MMS (Multimedia Message Service). MMS allows you to add images, media, and graphics to your messages. This is a great way to boost engagement and interest.

Like email, SMS marketing can be visual. This works especially well when you’re marketing a product.

Almost every business text messaging platform includes MMS messages, including MessageDesk. MessageDesk MMS media folders even make it easy to organize images, videos, or gifs and attach them to any text message.

messagedesk-attach-media.gif

5. Use links to create compelling calls to action (CTAs)

Every text message should have a call to action that prompts recipients to take the next step. Without that prompt, you're not progressing the recipient down the funnel and through your sales cycle.

So craft clear CTAs like:

  • Connect with us
  • Schedule a consultation
  • Learn more
  • Watch how it works
  • Get your guide
  • Try for free

It's always better if you include a link in a text message. Embedding the URL in the SMS message removes a barrier between your audience. It makes it easy for recipients to take the next action directly on their mobile phones.

When you include a link in a text message, MessageDesk will automatically shorten it for you.

shorten-your-link.png

There’s no need to waste character space by sending the full URL. You can send a shortened URL in a message that looks like this:

messagedesk-link-tracking.png

5 Text Message Marketing Examples + Bonus Campaign

To get you started, I've crafted a few example SMS marketing messages. Add these text messages as templates to your campaign library:

1. New customer or subscriber welcome campaigns

Pro Tip: Automate this message so it goes out as soon as a customer subscribes or creates an account.

2. Promotional offer campaign

3. Happy birthday campaign

Pro Tip: Personalizing messages with names boosts engagement and builds the relationship faster.

4. eCommerce cart abandonment campaign

Pro Tip: You can also build urgency with time-limited discounts or promotional offers to reengage shoppers.

5. Thank you for your purchase campaign

These messages keep the conversation going. They give shoppers friendly insight into tracking and delivery schedules so your brand seems even more trustworthy and transparent.

Bonus: Feedback and review collection campaign

Reviews and five-star feedback provide great social proof for reaching new audiences. If you know a customer had a good shopping experience, ask for feedback immediately after the interaction is over.

Ready to launch your first SMS marketing campaign?

I’ve covered what SMS marketing is. Now you’ve got a grasp of the basic in’s and out’s of running a campaign. What’s next?

If you’re ready, consider starting a free MessageDesk trial - no credit card required. You’re also free to schedule a demo and meet with one of our messaging experts.

We’re here to help your small business or organization generate leads and find success.

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