SMS or Text Marketing Best Practices
It’s no longer a question of if your business needs to send text messages.
In one survey of more than 6,000 consumers, 85% wanted to get text messages from brands.
It’s a question of how you text and, more importantly, how you meet your subscribers’ expectations.
65% of people have unsubscribed from text messages for reasons ranging from volume to content.
And on the flip side, companies that retain and grow their subscriber list can see SMS conversion rates close to 45%.
Sending great text messages can help grow your business. (Just ask Year Round Brown who increased revenue by 20%.)
So how do you do it? By following these text message marketing best practices.
SMS Marketing Best Practices
At SimpleTexting, we work with incredible organizations across multiple industries. We’ve witnessed thousands of use cases from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
There are a few common characteristics that form the backbone of all successful SMS marketing campaigns.
Here are eleven elements the most successful SMS marketing strategies have in common.
1. Be Consistent With the Number of Texts You Send
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when using SMS is not sending messages consistently enough.
Their reasoning is sound: they want to avoid spamming customers.
But, send too few messages, and people forget why they even signed up in the first place. When they do hear from you, it’ll seem out of the blue, and potentially unwelcome.
Consumers respond well to consistent messaging. Just like a good social media strategy, successful text campaigns maintain a consistent and regular schedule.
(We touch on how to determine the frequency of your campaigns below.)
2. Consider Adding an Element of Exclusivity
When deciding what kind of texts to send, it’s worth reflecting on what it means when someone subscribes to receive your messages.
Here’s a hint–they’re giving you access to the most direct and personal way to reach them. So, successful campaigns offer value to their subscribers in return.
If you include the same promotions in your email, Instagram posts, and SMS blasts, you’re giving people less reason to sign up.
That means avoiding recycled content or offers from social media or other channels. Everything you text should be relevant, and exclusive to your SMS list.
Our 2020 Text Marketing Report shows that SMS subscribers want first dibs on flash sales or promotions. With that in mind, you could offer early access to new sales.
3. Make Sure You’re Responsive
By offering a text messaging service, you’re committing to a platform of communication that delivers messages instantly. 20% of people read a text message within one minute of receiving it.
If you plan on offering two-way messaging for customer service or sales, responsiveness is something to consider as part of your offering.
You could set availability for a select number of hours a week and see how you and your team manages. From there, you can expand the hours you offer. In other words, it’s always best not to over-commit and face disappointing your customers.
4. Incorporate Personalization Into Your Strategy
SMS marketing is unique because it has the ease of a mass marketing campaign with the advantage of providing the feel of one-on-one communication.
You can also improve your campaigns by using our SMS integrations to connect your existing software with your text marketing efforts. This allows you to send everything from abandoned cart text messages to SMS shipping updates.
5. You Need to Obtain Consent
The absolute first step in any text message marketing campaign is to obtain express written consent. In the SMS world, consent is just a way of saying someone has knowingly agreed to receive promotional texts from your business.
There are a few ways to go about obtaining consent from your subscribers. One of the most straightforward methods of obtaining consent involves keywords. An SMS keyword is a word or phrase that customers can text to your number to subscribe to future messages. Here’s an example.
If you’re ever unsure whether you have consent or need consent, we recommend that you consult with a legal professional to be safe.
6. Watch the Frequency of Your Texts
While some might advise against texting “too much,” instead, we urge you to avoid texting more than your subscribers expect.
Being over-texted as a subscriber is like looking forward to eating your leftovers from last night only to find out someone already ate them. With your expectations shattered, you’re left frustrated (and hungry).
While best practice is to send 2-4 texts a month, your business might send multiple texts weekly or perhaps daily.
For example, a marketing strategy that utilizes SMS for churches may send weekly reminders of when their services are. The most important thing is that you are upfront with your subscribers about the frequency of your texts. Then stick to it.
We make it easy to set a frequency right in your autoresponse, so people are aware when they subscribe.
7. Add in Necessary Disclaimers
In a time before smartphones, the fear that “text message and data rates may apply” was all too real. Now, there are so many unlimited data and texting plans that your subscribers are unlikely ever to receive charges for your texts.
We know adding that disclaimer is kind of like being handed a cup of coffee and reading, “Warning, contents are hot.” However, it is still both best practice–and even more critical–a legal requirement.
To comply with industry regulations, you must include the following information:
- How often you plan to text subscribers (e.g., You may receive up to 4msgs/month.)
- Msg & Data rates may apply
- Information about how to unsubscribe (Reply STOP to end or HELP for help.)
Consult the CTIA’s Short Code Monitoring Handbook and CTIA’s Messaging Principles and Best Practices for full details and remember. These resources are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the applicable laws and regulations. However, it’s always best to consult with a legal professional if you’re unsure about the requirements.
8. Provide Subscribers With a Clear Way to Opt-Out
We believe that all your text messages will be top-notch, but there’s no guarantee that everyone will always feel the same. To keep everyone happy with your brand, you must let your subscribers know they can unsubscribe whenever they want.
SimpleTexting automatically includes this information in the auto-confirmation message. Still, as text message marketing best practices dictate, you should also include instructions on any advertisements.
It’s as simple as including “Text STOP to unsubscribe” when promoting your text campaign. By informing your customers that they can stop your texts at any time, you establish trust and credibility.
9. Get Your Timing Right
Picture this: it’s 9 p.m., you’re in your sweats curled up with an ice cream cone and a bingeable Netflix series imaginable all queued up. The last thing you want is your phone lighting up with a text about a promotion on car insurance premiums.
Assuming alignment with subscriber’s expectations, it’s generally best practice to keep your texts within reasonable business hours to avoid annoying anyone.
Plus, it often doesn’t make sense to text your customers when they can’t immediately take action or respond to you and your offer. So out of common sense and courtesy, schedule your marketing messages at reasonable hours.
10. Watch Your Language
With a typical SMS message, you have around 160 characters per text message. You might feel the need to shorten some words or throw in a little “textese” to save space.
While you might save space, you sacrifice clarity and professionalism more often than not.
For example, let’s compare these two text messages:
– Go2 Joes 2day 4 a gr8 deal! 20% off 1 slice wen u sho this text
– Visit Joe’s today for a great deal! 20% off any slice when you show this text.
Character limits may seem frustrating at times, but they’re a helpful tool for sharpening your message. And if push comes to shove, utilizing MMS will allow you to use up to 1,600 characters!
11. Focus on Bringing Value to the Table
One of the keys to success touched on earlier was the idea of exclusivity. Expanding on this concept is the principle that you must make every text worthwhile.
Instead of blasting your subscribers with the same vague ad each week, focus on “SMART” marketing. With each offer or announcement, ask yourself if it’s SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely).
Discounts, exclusive savings, important announcements, event alerts, and useful information are valuable things to share with your customers. Consider layering in some rich media, like photos or videos, to diversify and engage your audience.
Without value, the odds of your customers unsubscribing increases dramatically. Here are six discount message examples to get you started.
Best Practices for Growing Your SMS Subscriber List
The timing and content of your text messages are essential. But they aren’t the only two ingredients of successful text marketing campaigns–you need to focus on growing your SMS subscriber list.
There is a misconception out there that customers don’t want to provide their phone numbers to you. It makes sense that you don’t want to annoy your customers, but it’s not what we see daily.
Using our free tools and following the below tips, Artist Couture grew its subscriber list by 670% in one month.
The process of building a subscriber list is different, whether you’re text marketing for an e-commerce brand or sending SMS for a nonprofit. With that said, there are certain universal best practices.
To help get you started, here they are.
1. Advertise Your Text Marketing Program Everywhere
The more consumers know about your text marketing program, the more likely they are to trust and get involved.
This means you should be advertising your keyword, short code, or toll-free number wherever your brand is visible. Website, social media, email campaigns, posters…you get the idea!
Give people multiple avenues to learn about your new marketing channel.
- Website: You can add our web form to your desktop website and our Mobile Sign-Up Widget to your mobile site. As people come to your site via their desktop or mobile device, they can easily subscribe.
- Social media: Use our Graphic Generator to make visually appealing images to post or advertise on social media.
- Email marketing: If you use email marketing, we recommend you embed the link to your web form in all of your emails. No matter where your contacts check their email (on their phone or computer), they can easily open the web form and subscribe.
- Paper forms: The web form in your account is already compliant, so you can create a test one just to see what a paper form should contain. Then, be sure to keep copies of completed forms as evidence of express written consent.
💡Here is a full rundown of all the ways you can invite people to subscribe to your texts.
2. Create a Memorable Keywords
We already mentioned SMS keywords above. It’s worth reiterating them because they are a great way to hook new subscribers.
The advice here is to really think about your keyword–you want one that is both creative and memorable. People are more likely to act on it, and it’ll also increase the chances of them remembering your campaign down the line if they don’t subscribe immediately.
For example, if you’re a boutique dog groomer, clients will likely remember a keyword like “VANITYFUR” instead of “GROOMINGSALON.”
Your keyword confirmation–which can be an SMS or MMS message–also gives you an excellent opportunity to welcome new text subscribers right off the bat and reinforce your brand.
3. Motivate People With an Incentive
Where possible, we recommend offering an incentive to subscribe. As we mentioned above, you’re asking for access to their most trusted device. It’s only fair to return the gesture with a reward.
It explains why Toroe Eyewear was able to generate an additional $7K in revenue and increased the store’s conversion rate by 200%. (They offered new subscribers 10% off their first purchase.)
The Wrap on SMS Best Practices
SMS has emerged as one of the best and most reliable ways for large and small organizations to connect with their audience in a more intimate, direct way.
And while text marketing campaigns are unique to each company’s goals and objectives, there are certain universal best practices. If you keep these guidelines in mind, you’re set up for success.
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