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How to build a winning SMS marketing strategy [FREE GUIDE]

Alia Paavola
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In a world where attention spans are fleeting and competition for customer engagement is fierce, finding the right marketing strategy that cuts through the noise and truly resonates with your audience is paramount. Enter SMS marketing – a dynamic and powerful tool that enables businesses to connect with their customers directly and personally, right in the palm of their hands.

But how do you unlock its full potential? How do you create an SMS marketing strategy that captivates your audience and propels your brand forward?

This article will give you a basic understanding of the steps required to create an  effective SMS marketing strategy for your business. But if you want to dive deeper, get this free in-depth guide, which walks through each strategy creation process step with instructions, examples, and visuals.

Jump right to:

<h2 id="understand">1. Understand SMS marketing</h2>

<h2 id="define"></h2>

The first step in any successful marketing campaign is understanding the channel you’re using to deliver your message. This includes understanding what it is, how it works, best use cases, and benefits. We’ll dive into these below.

SMS marketing, which stands for short message service marketing, is defined as sending promotional content to contacts via text message. It helps companies reach their customers quickly and directly on their mobile devices. 

Businesses commonly use it to send time-sensitive offers, order confirmations, flash sales, product launches, and reminders. Some of the top SMS marketing benefits include:

  • High open rate
  • Instant delivery
  • High conversion rates
  • Increased reach
  • Versatility

Learn more: SMS marketing 101 

<h2 id="define">2. Define your audience</h2>

The most effective SMS marketing campaigns target their ideal customers, or buyer personas, with relevant messages. So before you can create your SMS marketing strategy and start crafting tailored messages, you must define and know your target audience.

The best way to understand your target audience is to:

  • Analyze existing customer data
  • Conduct market research
  • Identify demographics
  • Define psychographic traits
  • Build buyer personas

Once you have your buyer persona, deeply learn their interests, goals, and pain points. Treat this buyer persona as your north star for helping to craft messaging. 

<h2 id="determine">3. Determine SMS marketing goals</h2>

The next step is to create goals for your SMS marketing campaign. Your SMS goals should align with your company’s overall marketing and business strategies.

One way to define your goals is to use the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework. This framework consists of objectives, key results, and initiatives. Objectives set the direction, key results set measurable outcomes, and initiatives create the projects to help you achieve those goals.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say your objective is to get more paying customers. Some key results for this objective could be:

  • Increase the number of new trial sign-ups by 10 percent
  • Improve free trial to paid user conversions by 20 percent.

Some initiatives could be: 

  • Run a new paid social campaign targeting restaurant owners 
  • Create an automated email sequence for customers on free trials

<h2 id="choose">4. Choose the type of SMS campaigns</h2>

After defining your audience and campaign goals, you must decide the best type of SMS campaign to help you get desired results. Here are some campaigns to consider:

  • Welcome series
  • Promotional campaigns
  • Informational messages
  • Abandoned cart reminders
  • Feedback solicitation

Need more inspiration? Check out these 21 SMS marketing campaign ideas.

<h2 id="pick">5. Pick the right SMS platform</h2>

A crucial component of an effective SMS strategy is choosing the right SMS marketing platform for your business. You’ll want to compare SMS marketing software providers and determine your must-have tools.

To determine the best fit, decide what features, pricing models, and integrations you need. Some other components to consider when choosing software include scalability, technical support, and reputation. 

<h2 id="set">6. Set KPIs</h2>

Next is setting key performance indicators or metrics that help you measure the success of a particular SMS campaign. KPIs can help you better understand if your campaign messaging is working.

Here are some examples of SMS marketing KPIs to consider:

  • Open rate
  • Delivery rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Revenue generated
  • Return on investment
  • Click-through rate 

<h2 id="build">7. Build your SMS contact list</h2>

Like email marketing, your campaigns are only as good as your contact list. For SMS marketing, you can’t just buy lists of phone numbers. Your customers must willingly subscribe to your SMS channel before you can send them any type of text. There are multiple ways to grow your SMS list, including text keywords, sign-up forms, advertisements, and more. 

<h2 id="segment">8. Segment your subscriber list</h2>

Now that you have a list of SMS subscribers it’s time to segment your audience. This will help you send targeted messages that resonate with each group, which will ultimately result in improved engagement, customer satisfaction, and conversion rates. 

There are many ways to segment your audience. For example, it can be based on customers’ product interests, loyalty status, purchase behavior, or demographic data. When messages address the specific needs and interests of a segment, subscribers are more inclined to take the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for an event.  

<h2 id="smsworkflows">9. Build SMS workflows</h2>

SMS workflows are time-based or action-triggered sequences of text messages. SMS workflows allow you to automate your messaging process, saving time and effort. Instead of manually sending individual messages, you can set up predefined sequences of messages that are triggered based on specific events or conditions. This automation ensures consistent and timely communication with your audience.

To craft effective SMS workflows, map out your messaging series. Ask yourself:

  • What content should SMS subscribers get?
  • When should they get messages?
  • How frequently should contacts receive messages?

These questions can help identify your goals, define the triggers, and map out the workflow. By building SMS workflows, you can streamline your communication, deliver personalized experiences, nurture leads, and effectively guide your subscribers through their customer journey.

Some common SMS workflows include:

  • A welcome series to introduce yourself to new subscribers
  • Abandoned cart campaigns to win dollars
  • Post-purchase series to request reviews
  • Re-engagement series to encourage SMS subscribers to purchase or view your content.

<h2 id="test">10. Test your message</h2>

Don’t let misspellings or poor formatting negatively affect your open rate, click-through rate, or brand reputation. Test your marketing message before you send it to customers. You’ll have time to proofread, check links, and see what the message will look like on a mobile device.

<h2 id="measure">11. Measure success</h2>

Monitor the impact of your SMS campaigns to determine their effectiveness. Track their performance using your predefined KPIs. Create reports and continuously measure performance. You’ll want to keep this data on your campaigns to help you make improvements down the line. 

<h2 id="optimize">12. Optimize your campaigns</h2>

Once you collect enough data on your SMS campaign performance, start looking for ways to fine-tune them. One common way to find improvement areas and identify the best campaigns is A/B testing the frequency, content, and timing of your messages. 

For example, consider testing:

  • Different content like wording, visuals, or CTAs
  • Other send times like morning, afternoon, evening, or post-purchase
  • Different frequencies like six monthly messages or one weekly message

<h2 id="tips">SMS marketing tips</h2>

Now that you know how to create a text message marketing strategy, here are some tips for effective SMS campaign execution

  • Don’t text without an explicit opt-in. Never send text messages to customers if they didn’t opt in first. Opt-ins are required by law.

  • Consistently grow your subscriber base. Don’t settle; always be working to build and grow your subscriber list.

  • Honor opt-outs. Always honor opt-out decisions. If someone replies with STOP, make sure you no longer text them. This is required by law.

  • Keep messages short. Standard text messages are 160 characters. Use that character limit wisely by being concise and straight to the point.

  • Add a clear CTA. Make it clear what customers should do next after reading your message by adding a clear call to action. Some to consider are “shop now” or “book now.”

  • Personalize message content. Boost engagement with text messages by personalizing them. Address your customers by name, add emojis, and keep messages relevant.

  • Stay on brand. Don’t stray from your brand voice because it’s a new marketing channel or a more limited character count. Use appropriate language, spelling, visuals, and more.

  • Frequency matters. The message frequency matters. Too many messages may cause customers to unsubscribe. In contrast, too few may jeopardize your SMS marketing goals. In general, be more conservative with text message frequency compared to email marketing due to the personal nature of cell phones and texting.

  • Manage customer replies. Customers may reply to your SMS marketing messages; make sure you have a plan to manage them. Don’t leave customers feeling ignored. Instead, set up an auto-reply instructing customers how to get in touch or have your customer service team field incoming questions.

Execute your SMS strategy with Textline

Ready to put your SMS marketing strategy to good work? Don’t forget that the SMS platform you choose plays a big role in the execution of it.

Choose a robust platform like Textline that is packed with features to help your business send, automate, and measure SMS marketing campaigns. Try Textline for free today. Claim a 14-day free trial and see how easy it is to connect with customers and exceed your marketing goals. 

Reach your goals with Textline’s top-rated text marketing platform.

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