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17 SMS marketing tips to set you up for success

Alia Paavola
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SMS marketing drives conversions, keeps customers engaged, and grows businesses when done right. But, because it’s a newer marketing channel, not every marketer knows how to execute these campaigns effectively. 

This article provides some of the top SMS marketing tips to help you knock your next campaign out of the park.

17 SMS marketing tips for stellar results

Check out the following tips and best practices to help you succeed with SMS marketing. 

Create an SMS opt-in strategy

You can’t just send texts to any phone number. SMS requires opt-ins first, meaning you must get consent from every contact. 

To make your SMS marketing campaigns more effective, you’ll want to have a strategy to collect these opt-ins and grow your contact list. Some standard methods are using a text-in keyword or adding opt-in language at online checkout.

Read more: 12 ways to grow your SMS subscriber list 

Keep SMS texts simple

You have 160 characters in an SMS message. Use this character limit wisely by keeping texts short, simple, and direct. Don’t overcomplicate messages; they just need to contain:

  • Your purpose for sending the text
  • An action step
  • Opt-out instructions

Add a clear CTA

Always include a call-to-action in your SMS marketing messages. You want customers to take a desired action; always ensure they know what it is by creating a clear call to action.

Here are some common CTAs used in text marketing for inspiration:

  • Shop now
  • Shop here
  • Buy now
  • Explore now
  • Show this text
  • Reply to claim
  • Reply to book
  • Learn more
  • Pick up where you left off
  • Head directly to checkout
  • Checkout now
  • Click here
  • Enter code [X] at checkout

See the following example from Alphalete. It provides a CTA with instructions and a link to click.

A clear CTA example from Alphalete.
A clear CTA example from Alphalete.

Mix up your message content

The beauty of SMS marketing is its versatility. Don’t limit yourself to only sending promotional offers via SMS. Use SMS to contact customers throughout the buyer journey. For example, you could send the following:

  • Abandoned cart reminders
  • Welcome offers
  • Order confirmations
  • Appointment reminders
  • Flash sales
  • Exclusive discounts
  • Product launch alerts
  • Restock alerts
  • Referral requests
  • Review requests

Read more: 21 SMS marketing campaign ideas

Be creative and helpful

Don’t just push a sale or product. Instead, send creative, enticing, and helpful messages. This will encourage more customers to buy over time and stay subscribed to your SMS marketing list.

See the following example from CVS Health. The organization provides helpful advice while promoting its service.

Example of CVS Health following an SMS marketing tip.
CVS Health provides helpful information in a promotional message.

Pay attention to message frequency

Message frequency matters. Sending too many texts may come off as pushy, while sending too few may impact the success of your SMS marketing campaigns. Remember that SMS is a personal channel, so it’s best to be more conservative about text frequency than email or social campaigns.

Ultimately, the optimal frequency will depend on the industry, seasonality, customer base, and more. Textline recommends testing message frequency to find the right monthly cadence. 

Time messages correctly

Timing is a critical success factor regardless of the marketing channel. While the optimal timing will depend on your goal, use case, and customer base, a good rule of thumb is to consider and get to know your customers. 

Additionally, to comply with text message marketing laws, you must send messages between 8am and 9pm in recipients’ time zones.

Align campaigns with business goals

Ensure your SMS campaign aligns with your overall marketing and business goals for the year. Setting goals will help you define success and measure it. Plus, it helps with timing, content creation, and planning. 

A few goals you could be looking at are:

  • Enhance customer engagement
  • Boost sales
  • Improve abandonment rates
  • Cut churn
  • Increase brand awareness

Segment your SMS subscriber list

Like email marketing, segmenting your contact lists is a great idea. That way, you can present tailored messages to different groups of customers based on their interests, engagement level, or purchase history.

Creating groups lets you better target customers to save time, money, and other resources.

Personalize your messages

Ensure your marketing messages are personalized to boost engagement. Use your customers’ first names and send them relevant content. Sending impersonal messages about irrelevant products may negatively impact your campaign goals.

See the following example from Fit Athletic. The company addresses the customer by name about a relevant topic.

A personalized SMS marketing message example.
Fit Athletic’s personalized marketing message.

Introduce your company

Your contacts likely don’t have your business number in their address book. This makes your introduction critical. This lowers the likelihood of unsubscribes and spam reports. 

See the following text marketing examples from Aerie. You’ll notice each message starts with the company name.

Aerie introduces itself in a series of marketing texts.
Aerie introduces itself in a series of marketing texts.

Stay on brand

Although text messages are short, ensure the language or images used are on brand. Don’t veer away from your brand’s voice, tone, and imagery because it’s a new marketing channel.

The following example from SKIMS shows that the selected image fits its website and social media aesthetic. 

Example of SKIMs staying on brand. 
SKIMS staying on brand with imagery and language.

Get a plan in place to manage replies

The reality is some customers will reply to your text messages. Get a plan in place for when this occurs. Your plan could include setting up an auto-reply that instructs customers on contacting your business, or you could have a customer service department manage replies. 

The key is to keep your customers from hanging or feeling ignored. See the following examples from SKIMS and LovePop. 

Two companies following an SMS marketing tip to manage replies.
Example of LovePop and SKIMs managing customer replies.

Know SMS rules

You must stay compliant with the critical SMS marketing rules and regulations. This includes the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act. 

Some of the vital rules to know are:

  • Get opt-ins from customers
  • Honor opt-outs
  • Maintain a do-not-call list
  • Use clear language
  • Send promotional messages between 8am and 9pm

Take a look at our SMS compliance checklist for more tips.

Leverage automations

Automation helps you time messages and reduce manual work, and ultimately, scale your SMS marketing. You could set up an automated text message to trigger after someone abandons a shopping cart or start a welcome text immediately after they opt into SMS texts. 

Read more: 15 auto-reply text message samples 

Measure your results

Track the performance of your SMS marketing campaigns. This will help you understand the success of your campaigns and help you make adjustments to improve over time. Measure things like click-through, open, and unsubscribe rates.

Choose the right SMS marketing platform

The right text marketing platform will equip you with the right tools and allow you to integrate SMS with other marketing channels. As a result, look for features like:

Common SMS marketing mistakes to avoid

Don’t succumb to these SMS marketing mistakes:

  • Buying contact lists or not getting customer opt-in. To comply with SMS marketing laws, you must get explicit consent to text customers. This SMS opt-in can be obtained in several ways, but the key is providing clear language about what a customer is opting into.

  • Forgetting opt-out language. Businesses must provide a way for customers to unsubscribe from marketing texts at any time. This means allowing and reminding customers that they can reply STOP to your messages to opt out.

  • Sending non-personalized messages. Don’t send generic messages to your entire contact list at once. This will make SMS marketing feel intrusive since you don’t address customers by name or tailor messages to their interests.

  • Linking to websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. A common mistake is sharing a link to a website that isn’t optimized for mobile visitors. This creates a clunky experience for customers who open the link on their mobile devices.

  • Untimely messages. Don’t send your promotional messages to customers at random times or intervals. Pay attention to their time zone and buyer journey to schedule messages accordingly.

  • Forgetting to identify your business. To avoid spam complaints, make sure you’re introducing yourself or your business when you initiate a text conversation or mass message. Chances are customers don’t have your number saved, so it’s nice to remind them.

  • Not analyzing SMS data. Like any marketing strategy and campaign, SMS results should be examined. This can help you optimize and improve your next campaign.

Start your SMS marketing on the right foot with Textline

Ready to crush your next SMS marketing campaign? Give Textline a try for free for 14 days

With features like automated SMS, mass texting, metrics, and more, you’ll see firsthand how easy and effective SMS marketing can be. 

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