SMS Marketing Strategy 101: How to Start Text Marketing Step-by-Step

How do you create a marketing strategy for SMS? Keep it simple with these seven easy steps.

You’re sold on the benefits of SMS marketing, right?

  • 70% of people subscribe to receive text messages from businesses—and that number is growing year over year.
  • 98% open rates mean your subscribers will see what you send.
  • As many as 45% of your subscribers will buy from you when you send SMS messages.

So, let’s help you actually set up your SMS marketing strategy.

SMS marketing is as simple as:

  1. Determining your business’s text number
  2. Gathering text message subscribers
  3. Sending those subscribers SMS messages

For real. But if you want some insider knowledge on how our team at SimpleTexting would set up a new SMS strategy, here are the seven steps you need to know.

How do you create a marketing strategy for SMS?

  1. Select your SMS service provider. That’s your tool to send text messages.
  2. Choose your business’s text number. This is the phone number from which you’ll send SMS messages.
  3. Set up a welcome text to provide immediate value to your new SMS subscribers.
  4. Gather text marketing contacts to build your list.
  5. Send text marketing messages to your opt-in contacts.
  6. Reply when contacts ask you questions.
  7. Check out your SMS marketing metrics to see how you’re doing.

Let’s explore these SMS marketing strategy recommendations in more detail. 💪

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Step 1: Choose Your SMS Service Provider

An SMS marketing platform is a must for business owners who want to easily manage contacts and conversations. If you don’t have one yet or aren’t crazy about the one you’re using, I’ll share some tips for what to evaluate during your search.

What should you look for in an SMS marketing software?

  • Cost-effective and flexible pricing plans
  • SMS automation features, like scheduled texts and autoresponders
  • The ability to personalize text messages at scale (via custom fields and contact segments)
  • Encryption to help protect your contacts’ data (though you should never send or ask for sensitive data over text)
  • Highly-rated and responsive customer support that’s available every day of the week
  • Detailed analytics on your messages’ performance

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, sign up for a free trial of each texting app so you can get an idea of its capabilities and user experience.

SimpleTexting is SMS marketing software

Businesses that text customers are 217% more likely to report success. Take advantage of SMS marketing. Meaningful connections are just a text away with SimpleTexting.

Step 2: Define Your Business’s Text Number

How will your audience get in touch with you? You have a few options for business text numbers, depending on what kind of business you’re running and whether you already have a number that customers recognize.

The three most popular business text number types are:

  1. Local numbers
  2. Toll-free numbers
  3. Dedicated short codes (DSC)

Local Numbers

What it is: A phone number with a recognizable local area code, like (212) 555-5555.

Best for: Local business owners who want to use SMS for mass texting and one-on-one customer support.

You should also know: Local numbers—also called 10-digit long codes (10DLC)—allow businesses to send a high volume of texts from a local area code. You’ll need to register your 10DLC number to start texting from it, but we’ll make it simple and help you start texting in a day or less.

Toll-Free Numbers

What it is: A phone number that starts with 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 or 833. An example would be (800) 555-5555.

Best for: Business owners who want to send mass texts and one-on-one messages from a number that’s not specific to location.

You should also know: Like local numbers, toll-free numbers need to be registered and verified with wireless carriers. We’ll guide you through filling out the toll-free verification form and will submit it on your behalf.

Dedicated Short Codes (DSC)

What it is: A five or six-digit number that is easy to remember, like 556556.

Best for: Business owners and non-profit managers who want an easy-to-remember number for their mass texting campaigns. Dedicated short codes are especially helpful when using SMS keywords to invite contacts to receive your texts (Ex. “Text DEALS to 556556 for exclusive promotions!”).

You should also know: DSC numbers are leased to businesses and organizations, and it could cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per month. If you plan on sending a high volume of messages and want an easy way for people to opt in to your messages, DSC could be a good investment for you.

If you already have a number that you would like to use for your bulk SMS marketing strategy, ask your service provider if they can port it over to their platform.

For example, you should be able to text-enable your landline number or other business number that receives calls.

Step 3: Set Up a Welcome Text Automation

An automated welcome text can help set expectations and make your contacts feel appreciated when they join your texting list.

Don’t forget to:

  • Send your welcome message right away: Create an autoresponder welcome message so your contacts can add your number to their contacts and look out for future messages.
  • Set expectations from the start: Someone took the time to subscribe to your texting list. Validate their decision by sharing what they can look forward to, like industry tips, exclusive discounts, and new product alerts.
  • Include a compliance message: To comply with SMS industry regulations, let your contacts know how often you’ll message them, how to unsubscribe, how to ask for help, and information about any message and data fees.

📣 SimpleTexting is the only SMS marketing software provider that offers free compliance messages after you send your first text to a new contact. 

🚫 Bad Welcome Text Example:

Thanks for signing up for Simple Shop updates! Reply STOP to unsubscribe

✅ Good Welcome Text Example:

Welcome to Simple Shop! You’ll be the first to know about our upcoming sales, exclusive offers, and expert fashion tips.
You’ve agreed to receive messages from SIMPLE SHOP. Reply STOP to unsubscribe or HELP for help. Msg&Data rates may apply.

Step 4: Collect Opt-In Text Marketing Contacts

Now that you’ve got your welcome message in place, you’re going to need contacts who want to receive your texts. You can invite people to join your texting list through opt-in methods like SMS keywords, web forms, and paper forms.

💡 Take our quiz to see which opt-in method is right for your business, and learn how to set each of them up in our opt-in method guide.

Flyer from a restaurant that uses keywords in its SMS marketing strategy to invite people to sign up for texts. The flyer includes a CTIA-compliant disclaimer.
Always add a CTIA-compliant disclaimer when you promote your SMS marketing program.

Before you start texting your contacts, remember these SMS compliance guidelines:

  • Get express written consent (written proof that you have permission) to send them promotional messages. 
  • Include a clear and compliant invitation to join your texting list that includes necessary verbiage, like message frequency and the purpose of your SMS program.
  • Send a compliance text message after your first message to a new contact.

This even applies to customers or leads who have already given you their number for another reason, like to call them about an order. 

You must have their permission to send them marketing text messages as well before you import their contact information to your text message marketing platform.

Step 5: Send Various Types of Text Message Marketing Strategies

Once people start opting in to your texting list, you can create and send your first text message campaigns.  

These are just a few types of SMS marketing strategies to inspire you:

  • Deals and discounts: Send exclusive promotions and discounts to increase sales and keep customers engaged with your texts.
  • Business and product announcements: Share important updates about your business—like new product launches, store openings, or changes in services—to keep your audience informed and get them excited about your brand.
  • Order updates: Provide timely notifications about order status, tracking details, and delivery updates to enhance the customer experience.
  • Review requests: Encourage customers to share their feedback and experiences by requesting reviews, which can help improve your online reputation and attract new customers.
  • Expert advice: Establish your expertise by sharing valuable tips, industry insights, and other helpful information to show customers that they can trust your brand.

Types of Text Marketing Strategies

🎉 Don’t miss out on this exciting deal! Get 20% off on all dresses this weekend at Simple Shop. Hurry and grab your favorite styles before they’re gone!
📢 Introducing our new collection at Simple Shop! Discover trendy summer essentials, from breezy tops to stylish swimwear. Visit us today and upgrade your wardrobe with the latest fashion must-haves.
Good news, Dom…your order is on its way! Sit back and relax while we prepare to deliver your package. You can track your shipment here: Thank you for shopping with us! 😊
Hi Jasmine! We hope you’re loving your recent purchase from Simple Shop. Would you be willing to leave us a review about your experience? Your feedback helps us improve our products and services. Thank you for your support!
Need fashion advice? Our experts at Simple Shop are here to help! Whether you’re looking for the perfect outfit for a special occasion or need styling tips, reach out to us and we’ll provide you with personalized recommendations. Just drop us a message here

Step 6: Respond to SMS Subscriber Questions

In our 2022 Texting and SMS Marketing Statistics survey, 61% of respondents said they want the ability to text a business back. In other words, they don’t just want to receive mass texts messages—they want to respond and engage with their favorite brands.

Make sure your text messaging platform has two-way messaging capabilities so your contacts can ask questions, get customer support, and send useful feedback.

Here’s how two-way messaging works:

  1. You and your contacts can text each other directly. They’ll receive text messages on their personal mobile devices, and you’ll get responses in your text messaging platform inbox.
  2. Set up templates and autoresponders to save time and respond to contacts faster.
  3. Customize your notifications for incoming messages, and download your SMS platform’s mobile app, if one is available.

Step 7: Check Your SMS Marketing Metrics

Once you’ve sent your first text campaigns, look in your SMS platform’s analytics dashboard to analyze their performance.

Depending on which SMS app you’re using, you should see:

  • Click-through rates of texts with links
  • How many contacts have subscribed to your texts
  • How your contacts are signing up
  • How many contacts have unsubscribed
  • Campaign-level data, like the number of responses and link click-throughs
SimpleTexting's analytics dashboard, showing stats like the number of campaigns sent, responses received, and unsubscribes.
Look at your SMS app’s analytics dashboard to track important metrics about your text message campaigns.

With these SMS marketing metrics, you can refine your strategy based on what works for your audience. 

A Note: How to Include Mass Texting in Your Marketing Strategy

Now that you have the seven steps of building an SMS marketing strategy, consider how it’ll fit into your wider marketing strategy.

Take a look at these five ways to include mass texting in your marketing strategy:

Understand SMS Marketing Compliance and Consent

I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand SMS marketing compliance and consent. You don’t have to be an expert in these topics, but you do need to know how they relate to the way you collect contacts and what kinds of messages you send. 

Ultimately, you’re responsible for: 

  • Getting your contact’s explicit consent to send them marketing messages (even if they’ve given you their number in the past).
  • Including the proper compliance disclaimers when you invite people to subscribe to your texts.

Define Text Marketing Ownership

To make your text campaigns run smoothly, decide up front who will own your text marketing.

If you have a marketing team, define:

  1. Who writes and approves the text messages,
  2. Who measures campaign performance,
  3. And who is responsible for monitoring the inbox for replies.

If you’re running all marketing activities on your own, you’ll steer the ship for all of these tasks.

Set SMS Marketing Goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

For a text marketing strategy to be effective, you need to know where you’re headed. That means setting goals and KPIs for metrics like:

  • Contact list growth
  • Link click-through rates
  • Campaign response rates

Measure and Report Your SMS Marketing Success

Set a schedule for how often you’ll measure your goals, and adjust your strategy by how close you are to your target. Look for trends, like higher engagement when you share a certain type of content or send texts at a specific time.

Complement Marketing Campaigns With SMS as a Channel

Because of its personal nature, texting provides you with a direct way to reach customers. By integrating texting with existing marketing channels, you can get customers’ attention and reinforce your campaign’s messaging.

As you plan your next marketing campaign, think about opportunities to use texting to complement other channels. This might include:

  • Sending abandoned cart texts and emails for higher visibility
  • Setting up a click-to-text button that gives site visitors a convenient way to get in touch
  • Invite your social media followers to text you for expert tips and inspiration

FAQs About SMS Marketing Strategy

How do you create a marketing strategy for SMS?

When you’re ready to start marketing your brand with SMS, you can:

  1. Select your SMS service provider.
  2. Choose your business’s text number. 
  3. Set up a welcome text for new SMS contacts.
  4. Invite people to join your texting list. 
  5. Send text marketing campaigns to your contacts.
  6. Reply when contacts ask you questions.
  7. Track your SMS marketing metrics to see what’s working.

How do you run an SMS strategy?

With your newly-created SMS strategy, start running text message campaigns and tracking their performance. Use data like subscribe rates, click-through rates, and responses to see if you’re sending the right messages to the right audience.

How is SMS marketing effective?

Texting is a popular and personal communication channel, which helps explain why texts have an average open rate of 98%. Another reason is that people have to opt in to receive marketing texts, so they’re already engaged with your brand.

What are the types of SMS marketing?

There are countless types of SMS marketing messages you can send, but the most common include:

  • Deals and discounts
  • Product announcements
  • Order updates
  • Review requests
  • Tips and expert advice

What is 2-way SMS marketing?

Two-way SMS marketing involves one-on-one conversations. For example, you might send a text about a new product, and your customers can ask questions about when it will be available and how much it will cost.

This article was written on May 23, 2023, by Dani Henion. Nathan Ellering contributed to this piece.