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Promotional SMS: A detailed explainer

Alia Paavola
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With 98 percent open rates, SMS is a powerful marketing and sales channel because it gets messages read. Businesses send promotional texts to boost sales, brand awareness, and event attendance. But how can your business effectively add promotional SMS to its marketing strategy?

In this article, we’ll dive into the must-knows about promotional SMS, including what it is, why it’s effective, and some top use cases.

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<h2 id="What">What is a promotional SMS?</h2>

Promotional SMS is a form of digital text message marketing. Brands use promotional text messages to sell services, products, or events to contacts. Some promotional SMS examples include flash sales, price discounts, and product launches.

Boasting higher open and click-through rates than email, promotional SMS helps brands cut through the advertising noise to get their marketing messages read. 

How are promotional and transactional SMS different?

Promotional SMS involves marketing, selling, or advertising services, products, or events. The goal is to boost sales and build brand awareness.

On the other hand, transactional texts are just informational. Transactional texts provide customers with updates on recent transactions or interactions. Some examples are shipping updates, booking confirmations, and two-factor authentication.

A promotional vs. transactional text example.

<h2 id="Uses">Best uses and examples of promotional SMS</h2>

With brands across the globe turning to SMS marketing, there are plenty of examples of promotional text marketing out there. Let’s dive into a few promotional SMS examples and best use cases.

Event invites

Use a text message to promote an upcoming event to your SMS list. You can invite them to the event and encourage them to register. In the following example, a healthcare media company invites contacts to its annual conference. 

A healthcare event promotional text example. 

Encourage bookings

Send a promotional SMS encouraging clients to book a service to fill open appointment slots. Hotels, travel agents, beauty salons, and home service businesses commonly use this type of promotional text.

In the following example, a hair salon encourages clients to schedule appointments by sending them a cheeky text about scheduling even when they’re closed.

A promotional text encouraging customers to book an appointment.

Abandoned cart reminder

A popular promotional text is an abandoned cart reminder which encourages customers to complete a purchase. Many ecommerce brands have seen success by sharing these cart reminders via text.

In the following example, online fitness apparel retailer Alphalete invites customers to finish their purchase.

A promotional abandoned cart text example.

Restock alert

Another promotional text example is a restock alert. Brands use restock alerts to encourage customers to buy a product before it sells out again, fostering a sense of urgency to purchase before it’s too late.

In the following example, Alo Yoga alerts customers they just restocked some online best-sellers.

A restock alert promo text example.

Product launch

Another popular promotional example is a product launch. Many industries, including retailers, restaurants, and technology companies, use this to inform customers about a new product or service. It builds awareness about what’s new and encourages customers to buy.

In the following example, SKIMS informs customers that it just dropped a new cotton fleece. It also uses an image to show off the new product.

A promotional product launch text example.

In another example of a new item launch, a bakery informs customers about its new seasonal menu. 

A new menu launch promotional text example.

Flash sale

Flash sales are promotional messages used by brands to boost sales quickly. Flash sale texts encourage customers to make a purchase at a discount that only lasts for a limited time. In the following example, Show Me Your Mumu runs a 48-hour flash sale to boost revenue.

A flash sale text example from Show Me Your Mumu.

Exclusive discount

Another popular promo text example is an exclusive discount. Businesses offer exclusive text discounts to their loyal customers in these text messages. This encourages customers to make a purchase with the special offer. In the following example, a food delivery company gives customers a $20 credit to encourage them to order food. 

An example of an exclusive discount promo text.

Annual sale

Another way to use promotional SMS is to advertise an annual sale. You could promote a time-of-year sale or seasonal sale. In the following example, Nixon promotes its year-end sale to customers to boost purchases.

An annual promotional sale text example.

Holiday sale

Another popular promotional text campaign is for holiday sales. Brands can run sales for any holiday in the U.S., including Christmas, Labor Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. In the following example, pet sitting app Wag promotes a deal for Labor Day. 

A holiday sale promotional SMS example.

Referral program promotion 

Another way to boost sales is to request referrals from your loyal customers. This is great for personal service businesses like gyms, salons, landscaping, and home repair. In the following example, a gym promotes its referral program by offering a discount on dues if a member refers a friend.

A referral program promotional text example.

Do you want more examples of promotional text messages? Check out this blog for templates that work.

<h2 id="Best">10 best practices for promotional text messages</h2>

Consider the following tips and best practices to get the most out of promotional SMS as a marketing tool.

  • Get explicit consent. You must get an explicit opt-in from contacts before you can send them any marketing text messages. This consent, called an SMS opt-in, is required by law. Opt-ins can be obtained in many ways, including digitally during online checkout, in-person using a form, or by having your contacts text you first.

  • Define your goals. To get the most out of your promotional SMS marketing messages, you must clearly define your campaign objectives and strategy. Do you want to increase product awareness, build loyalty, or grow sales quickly? Defining this goal first will significantly help your brand execute a winning SMS campaign.

  • Refine your CTA. The call to action is one of the most important aspects of any marketing message. Ensure you include a direct CTA to encourage customers to act appropriately. You’ll want to test different CTAs and refine them to ensure they’re working as intended.

  • Keep messages short but interesting. Your marketing messages should be brief and to the point while still being engaging. Standard texts are limited to 160 characters, so keep them concise. However, you can also keep them interesting to prospective buyers by sharing exclusive content via text.

  • Follow marketing quiet hours. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the central law about business texting, enforces marketing quiet hours. This prohibits brands from sending marketing-related texts before 8 am and after 9 pm.
  • Get timing and frequency right. In addition to following quiet hours, you should understand the optimal timing and frequency for promotional texts. These factors will differ by brand, campaign goals, and promotional SMS use case. Interested in learning more about when to send mass texts? Get Textline data and insights.
  • Introduce your brand. Chances are your contacts don’t have your business texting number saved. Always introduce your brand in your texts so customers know you’re messaging them.

  • Create personalized campaigns. Effective marketing campaigns are personalized and tailored to each audience. Ensure you’re creating customized campaigns for your contacts and promote products that are of interest to them.

  • Use MMS. Multimedia messaging (MMS) allows brands to share images, videos, and audio via text. An image can help boost engagement in promotional messages. As a result, consider using MMS to improve engagement in appropriate marketing campaigns, like product launches.

  • Track performance and optimize. With any marketing campaign, you want to measure results and use that data to improve. It’s no different for promotional text campaigns. You’ll want to track metrics like delivery rate, open rate, unsubscribe rate, and more. From there, you should work to improve.

Drive results for your business with Textline’s promotional SMS platform

Promotional texting is the most popular form of SMS marketing. With high open and engagement rates, promotional texts help brands market their products and services effectively.

Ready to make promotional SMS a revenue driver for your business? Try Textline’s SMS platform free for 14 days today. Textline equips businesses with the tools they need to win with SMS marketing, including mass texting, scheduled SMS, automations, and text templates.

Try it for free today. Prefer to talk to our expert team first? You can also request a demo here.

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