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How Text Message Marketing Works for Businesses and Organizations

Text marketing can drive more sales, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately help grow your business. But—before we inundate you with all of its benefits—you likely want to know what text marketing is and how it works.

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What Is Text Marketing?

Text message marketing is the use of SMS or text messages to deliver promotional messages to customers and subscribers. Many businesses use text marketing to generate sales, but it can also improve brand awareness, educate subscribers, increase website traffic, or promote a charity or nonprofit organization.

In case you are wondering, the terms text marketing and SMS marketing are interchangeable. SMS stands for short message service and is a more formal way to refer to a text message.

If you are interested in learning more about the different types of text marketing campaigns you can send, we recommend you visit our ultimate guide to SMS marketing––this resource includes a number of best practices for creating and sending your campaigns using the power of text messaging. You may also want to familiarize yourself with the difference between SMS and MMS when it comes to the different types of messaging.

How Does Text Marketing Work?

Text message marketing is a relatively simple yet effective process that consists of two primary steps. First, you need to enable your customers or supporters to opt in to receive promotional messages via SMS or MMS. Second, you’ll need a service to draft and send messages to your subscribers once they’ve signed up. You can also use text message marketing for two-way communication to enable features like digital customer service, which is a popular feature of many business texting services.

How Does Text Marketing Work?

You’ve likely received a text marketing campaign before, but it’s still worthwhile to cover the basic terminology. In this section, we set out three foundational elements of any text marketing campaign:

  • Opt-in methods
  • Phone numbers
  • Auto responses

Opt-In Methods

Here are a few different ways that customers can opt-in to receive your text messages (more detailed information and additional options can be found in our opt-in compliance guide).


An SMS keyword is a word or phrase that people can text to a 10-digit number or designated text short code. Keywords provide an easy way for people to subscribe to text messages. They can be used to:

When someone texts in your keyword, they are confirming that they want to receive future text messages from your business. For example, if a hotel asks you to text VACATION to 1-800-MY-VACAY, VACATION is the keyword. (Don’t worry, you are not tied to a single keyword and receive unlimited keywords with a SimpleTexting account.)

Thanks so much for your interest in Paradise Cove. You’ll be the first to hear of special vacation offers. Your next great stay is just a text message away.

Web Forms

You can also have your customers opt in via a web form on your website. With SimpleTexting’s web form, you can capture phone numbers, first names, last names, and more. To add one to your website, all you have to do is copy and paste a small piece of code.

If you decide to adjust an existing form with a phone number field, ensure you have a box that users must check to opt-in for messages along with clear and conspicuous disclosure.

Paper Forms

If customers fill out paper forms already, you can also use them to collect phone numbers and get express consent. Just like with a web form, your paper form should have a checkbox that people need to tick off to sign up for messages.

Never send a message to someone who hasn’t properly opted-in; also store your completed forms in a safe place for reference.

The Different Kinds of Phone Numbers For Your SMS Marketing Efforts

The next step is to decide whether your business should use a dedicated short code or a 10-digit long code. Here is a brief explanation of both options.

Short Code

A short code is a special 5 or 6-digit telephone number that’s shorter than a full phone number. Short codes are the phone numbers behind the majority of text blasts. If you want to learn more about the difference between short codes and long codes, than this article is an excellent resource.

Toll-Free Phone Number

With toll-free texting, you have the choice: choose a new toll-free number, or text enable your current one.

Toll-free numbers are the most versatile type of text marketing phone number. You can use toll-free numbers for mass messaging and 2-way communication, which is essential if you want to expand your use of SMS to customer service or sales.

Auto Responses

To tie it all together, when someone texts a keyword to your number or submits a web form, they receive an automatic message back that is fully customizable. Given conventional wisdom about first impressions, it’s worthwhile taking the time to get it right.

You can welcome new subscribers with a special promotion, confirm what they signed up for, or provide a summary of the necessary next steps.

How to Grow Your Text Marketing Subscriber List

Beyond your auto response message, you’ll likely want to send your customers more text messages. It’d be rude not to given that they’ve signed up to receive them!

Therefore if you want to get the full benefit of SMS marketing, you should focus on growing your list of subscribers. The reasoning is straightforward; more people receiving your texts means more people clicking on your links, which leads to more people buying from your business.

To grow your list, you can advertise your keyword on your website with our mobile sign-up widget. This way, all someone has to do to sign up for your text messages is click a button! Then, their SMS app will open with your keyword and phone number pre-filled.

You can also:

  • Offer discounts to people who text in your keyword
  • Promote your keyword on social media
  • Promote your keyword in your store

The list goes on and on, but the general idea is that you can promote your keyword anywhere people will see it. As 64% of modern consumers think businesses should use SMS more often, your promotional efforts won’t be in vain.

Don’t Forget About Compliance

SMS compliance is a critical element of how text marketing works. SMS or text blasts are an effective marketing tool, as long as you follow TCPA guidelines and continue to implement them after customers have legally opted-in for your messages.

To learn more about SMS compliance, head over to our SMS Compliance Guide.

How to Use Text Message Marketing

Last, but certainly not least, it’s time to send out a text message. Whether you want to fill seats in your restaurant with a special 2-for-1 promotion, get rid of last season’s inventory with a flash sale, or let folks know about a refer-a-friend deal at your gym, the text marketing possibilities are endless.

Before you click send, we recommend you read through these tips for SMS marketing success. They apply to any industry or use-case and provide a solid understanding of the dos and don’ts of sending mass text messages.

Does Text Marketing Work?

Your potential customers see dozens, sometimes hundreds of marketing messages every day and everywhere: on social media, on billboards as they drive down the street, on television as they run on a treadmill at the gym.

This kind of marketing typically has a low success rate for one simple reason—it’s easy to ignore. When someone is running at the gym or driving to the grocery store, they’re not focusing solely on your ad.

On the other hand, text marketing is much more engaging due to the nature of the channel. One study found that Americans check their phones 80 times a day while on vacation.

What does that mean for SMS open rates? They are an impressive 98%, and 90% of texts are read within three minutes.

Text marketing helps you communicate directly with customers, which means:

Still Have Questions About How Text Marketing Works?

Our team of SMS marketing experts would love to help. We’re available 7 days a week. Text or call us at (866) 450-4185 or use the chat at the bottom of your screen. Alternatively, schedule a demo or sign up for a 14-day free trial, no credit card required.

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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