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11 effective SMS marketing campaign ideas for 2023

Fatima Puri
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Do you want to drive more customer engagement and conversions in 2023? Then the right SMS marketing campaign can help you.

We compiled a list of the most effective campaign ideas to kick-start your texting game.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is when a business sends promotional or transactional text messages for marketing purposes. SMS marketing can help companies build brand awareness or increase conversions through engagement. 

Why SMS marketing?

SMS marketing campaigns work like an email campaign, except shorter, direct, and more dynamic. But what makes texting a good marketing platform?

Texting has a high open rate of 98 percent, compared to other channels like email at six percent. Because people are more likely to open a text message than an email, it's easier to market to people.

text message icon with 98 percent
The open rate for texting is 98 percent.

Links in text messages also have a higher CTR than other marketing channels. The more likely someone will click on a link, the more likely they will complete a sale.

11 SMS marketing campaign ideas

1. Welcome campaigns

As the name suggests, a welcome campaign is a great way to build a new customer relationship. Customers with an emotional connection with a brand have a 306 percent higher lifetime value. A welcome campaign introduces your brand to your customers and gives them a taste of what to expect from your marketing promotions. 

Welcome messages are the most used automated text message response among marketers. (The second is an abandoned cart message.) Most people sign up for a welcome campaign before purchasing to see if they can get a discount on an item or service. Or, they sign up after a sale to get updates from a company on future deals or announcements.

2. Lead capture campaigns

The purpose of a lead capture campaign is to get customer information. Providing valuable offers (free content, swag, coupons, etc.) attract customers to give you their information. Businesses use email to send leads useful material in exchange for a signup, but they can use text, too. 

Once you collect a customer’s contact information, you can add them to a sequence to nurture them. You can categorize your leads by how likely they are to buy. You can use automated texts for more passive updates, like sharing content or promo codes. 

If your company has a sales team, you can use a mix of texting and calls to drive sales. Texting has a high response rate of 45 percent, so you can send a lead a text message before calling them to increase your chances of speaking to them.

phone icon with 45 percent
The response rate for texting is 45 percent.

3. Abandoned cart reminders

E-commerce stores lose $18 billion in yearly sales revenue due to abandoned carts. The average cart abandonment rate is a whopping 86 percent on mobile.

Sending a reminder text to existing sign-ups can help reduce your abandoned cart rate. But only if it's sent shortly after a customer leaves your site.

Why do people not complete a checkout? Roughly 60 percent of abandoned carts are due to high shipping prices. You can entice customers to finish checkout by offering a discount for free shipping. Or, highlight your return policy to give buyers ease of mind when purchasing on your site.

Customers can also reply to your abandoned cart text to ask questions about a product to encourage them to complete a purchase. 

4. VIP or member-exclusive sales

People love exclusivity. Seventy-nine percent of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with brands.

By creating a loyal customer base, you are encouraging repeat purchases. That means member-exclusive deals will pay off in the long run. You can send these VIP promotions to anyone who has signed up for text messaging from your business. Or, you can segment your list if you have stricter requirements on what it means to be a member.

5. Holiday promotions

Once a customer signs up for member-exclusive sales, you can send them holiday promotions. Holiday promotions can be a flash sale (i.e., President's Day) or staggered throughout the season. People expect sales during the holiday season, so they're more likely to wait to hear about a deal before purchasing. Forty-nine percent of consumers say they are more likely to shop from retailers who send personalized content or offers during the season.

Service providers can use texting to promote holiday deals as well. For example, an outdoor lighting company can offer discounts for Christmas.

6. Seasonal campaigns

Like holiday campaigns, you can set up seasonal campaigns to target customers throughout the year. These campaigns focus on relevancy. Some businesses see the most business in a specific season and can use a campaign to target customers. Customers appreciate it when you anticipate their needs, and proactively texting them can help you close more deals. 

For example, summer months see higher pool cleaning businesses and lawn care services.

But not all seasonal campaigns have to relate to the four seasons. Some home service businesses, like HVAC maintenance, will service customers annually. Or a salon will need regulars to come in for a haircut every six weeks. They can use texting to send reminders and set up appointments with existing customers.

7. Send surveys 

Surveys give customers a seat at the table to share their experience with your brand. You can send CSAT, CES, or NPS surveys via SMS to collect survey data.

Businesses can text survey links to gather customer feedback post-purchase or service. Links in text messages have eight times higher CTR, so more people are likely to click on survey links sent via text.

Customers can also send feedback within the same texting thread. Customer feedback can help you address problems in your company to fix.

8. Solicit reviews

If you get a positive survey result, you can ask that customer to write a review for your business.

Surveys let customers share their experiences with you, while reviews let customers share their experiences with others. Reviews are crucial for businesses because they help build credibility with potential customers. Seventy-two percent of customers say they won’t take action until they read a review first.

written review icon with 72 percent
The amount of customers who say they won't take action before reading a review is 72 percent.

A pest control company can ask a customer to write a review for their Google Business profile if the customer is happy with their results. 

9. Event marketing campaigns

If you're planning an in-store or digital event, you can use texting to spread the word and gain RSVPs. Events are important because they are more personal and engaging than an advertisement. The more engaged your customers are, the more likely they will complete a purchase. 

To reap the benefits of event marketing, you need people to show up. Companies can share links to digital events, like a webinar, via text to increase last-minute attendance. You can also text attendees after an event with an exclusive deal or promo code as a thank you. Once you have a contact’s information, you can continue to follow up with them post-event.

10. Post-purchase campaign

Many products or software can be complex and challenging for customers to understand without the proper help. According to Salesforce, 70 percent of customers say understanding how they use products and services is fundamental to winning their business. 

Post-purchase campaigns can help you onboard new clients or make sure that they optimize your product or service for its full value. 

By helping customers make the most of their purchases, you can ensure that they’re happy with their purchases. A satisfied customer will return for purchases or continue using your service. So, focusing on customer satisfaction is key to customer retention.

11. Waitlist campaigns

A waitlist campaign can help you garner attention for a new product release or update. New or existing customers can sign up for a waitlist. There are several ways to make use of a waitlist campaign — you can let customers sign up to learn more about a new product, give them early access to a sale, or alert them when a product is back in stock. 

The best part about a waitlist campaign is that it allows you to collect a list of potential buyers before a product or service is released. When you drop the product or service, you have more chances to convert these buyers into actual customers. 

3 tips and best practices for SMS marketing campaigns

1. Get consent

Before you can text a customer, you need their consent. Not only is cold texting not cool, but it's also illegal. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) will fine businesses at least $500 for failure to collect opt-ins.

You can get consent by sending customers an opt-in message before texting them about deals. Forty-six percent of customers say they would opt-in for texts from a retail business.

2. Provide an opt-out

Any time you communicate with a customer via text, you must provide them with an opt-out option. You can trigger an automation to opt-out recipients if they reply STOP to a text message.

3. Keep messages concise and relevant

Unlike email, text messages have a fewer word count. So, make every letter count by staying on topic.

You can add a clear call to action to direct recipients to a specific action. Or, you can include links and images to make up for the lack of word count.

The bottom line

The right SMS marketing campaign can help you engage more customers for higher conversions. Because texting enables two-way communication, you can continue to nurture leads even if they’re not ready to buy at signup.

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