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Is SMS marketing invasive? Yes, but it doesn’t have to be

There are so many examples of SMS marketing gone wrong. But done right, it can lead to major pay offs.

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Your phone beeps and you’ve got yet another notification. 

What’s the last thing you want it to be?

“Buy our shiny new product. You’ve got 15 mins to get this hot deal!”

Yeah, that’s not great SMS marketing, is it?

Chances are you delete that message without even opening it. 

Or maybe you open it to delete it out of habit. This simple action says to some marketers that their SMS marketing (otherwise known as text message marketing) is working.

So they’ll send you another.

And another.

If you’re the marketer on the sending side of these messages, ask yourself what experience is your recipient getting?

Do consumers like SMS marketing?

The obvious answer here is that nobody likes any form of marketing or advertising. We hate it when products get pushed in front of our faces.

This post on Reddit is a common answer.

Comment on Reddit about how SMS marketing feels intrusive

Unlike cold calls, consumers aren’t that turned off by SMS marketing, however.

Here’s why…

Living in the smartphone age, surrounded by ads, we’ve become accustomed to seeing marketing almost everywhere.

Playing a free game? It’s free because of in-app ads.

Logging your calories? Those in-app ads.

Scrolling through social media? Ads.

On top of this, our phones are almost ever-present. We’ve trained our brains to enjoy receiving communications via our phone. Many psychologists have written about the dopamine hit we get when someone likes our Instagram photo or reacts to a Slack message.

In fact, 59% of people want their communications built into their phones. And that includes marketing.

What consumers don’t want is to log onto their laptops, check their work emails, and get bombarded by offers and adverts from companies that they accidentally subscribed to.

Receiving a text message, however, is a much smaller task. It pops up, it gets read, deleted, or left for another day. In fact, 1 in 3 consumers check their text notifications within one minute of receiving a text.

Sometimes, those text messages are enjoyable for the recipient too.

Comment on Reddit by a user who likes to be on some restaurants' marketing lists to get promotions

Is SMS better than email marketing?

In some cases, SMS marketing is better than email marketing.

The average open rate for SMS marketing is 98%,

The average open rate for email marketing is around 22%.

example email open rates from Mio
Example email open rates from Mio

Plus, with click-through rates between 20 and 35%, SMS marketing sees a better CTR than email marketing, which hovers around 2.3%.

That doesn’t mean you need to add a link to every text campaign, though.

For example, you might send a text message reminding subscribers that your offer ends soon. In some cases, not including a link is more powerful than including a link because it feels less salesy.

A text message that acts as a genuine reminder goes a long way. 

The text recipient retains the information of your offer and checks back for the discount code when they place their order later on.

Sure, you might not be able to track where that specific sale comes from if it’s still pushing customers down your sales funnel. But that’s something we marketers must accept.

Marketers who trust this process refer to this as the “dark funnel” as you don’t have visibility of where new leads or sales came from.

That’s not to say you should ditch emails and go all-in on SMS. A good tactic is to grow your text list using email subscribers. When they opt into email, encourage them to join your text list with an exclusive offer or first dibs on new content (like videos and articles).

💡Read further: Email Marketing vs. Text Message Marketing: Which One Is Right for You?

How to know when SMS marketing is working

Open rates in any form of marketing vary between different industries. And that’s where things start to get interesting.

When you get your audience segments right, SMS marketing can be effective. 

To do this, think about successful SMS campaigns that aren’t about sales or marketing.

For example, when scheduling patient appointments, it acts as a great reminder for patients who’ve lost their appointment time. It’s this element of being helpful that makes SMS work. Apply the same logic to your SMS marketing campaigns.

One Reddit user, Sufficient-Honey-797, a restaurant manager, commented on the success of their SMS promotional campaigns and how they don’t send messages to all subscribers:

“The number of visits has increased by 23% since the launch of the campaigns. We don’t send messages every day. Only by segments and for events that will be of interest to segments.”

It’s these elements (timing and segmentation) that help text message marketing be effective.

Is text message marketing effective?

Yes, text message marketing is effective, when you use it correctly.

The tide is turning on people’s perceptions of SMS marketing. Brands are getting more strategic and they’re seeing the success people can have.

Knowing your customer = improving conversion rates

Applying the same principles as email marketing (segmentation, timing, tracking, etc.) helps when it comes to building an effective text message campaign.

Toroe Eyewear, for instance, saw an ROI of 156x by increasing their store’s conversion rate by 200%.


They had a huge email list but declining open rates. And decided to do something about it.

By adding a text widget to their site, they encouraged visitors to “Unlock Instant Savings” by receiving a text message.

Example of a click to text button from Toroe Eyewear

When people who opted in received the text, they got rewarded with a discount code.

Hey! Welcome, Use 10TEXT to get 10% Off your First time purchase. Go here >

And that’s exactly what people did. Knowing the website visitor had some interest (otherwise they wouldn’t be on the site), they dangled the carrot of a discount and increased conversion rates by 200%.

Low cost and barrier to entry

Thanks to its low costs, text message marketing is also a low barrier to entry. Unlike changing email marketing providers or investing thousands into A/B testing and automation, text messages don’t cost the Earth.

For example, Simple Texting offers 500 credits for $29/month, with a 20% discount when you pay annually.

This includes:

  • Free incoming SMS messages
  • Number that’s all yours
  • Support 7 days per week
  • Unlimited keywords
  • Unlimited contacts
  • Rollover credits
  • 3 user seats

How to use text messaging marketing effectively

There are 5 key ways to get text message marketing right:

  1. Understand your customer; don’t send the same message to everyone.
  2. Learn when customers are responsive; find a good time that’s non-intrusive.
  3. Replicate successful tactics; what works on email might work on SMS.
  4. Pass existing contacts onto other channels; email subscribers might prefer SMS.
  5. Choose a great SMS marketing platform; one that covers all bases.

To test out your next SMS platform, try Simple Texting free here.

Dominic Kent
Dominic Kent

Dominic Kent is a freelance content marketer specializing in business communications technology. He focuses on creating content relating to productivity, revenue, and educating customers.

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