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The Complete Guide to Commercial Text Marketing

   BONUS MATERIAL: The Psychology of SMS Marketing

Despite the rise in alternative messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, text messaging is still ubiquitous. That’s why many businesses put their focus into commercial text marketing. This article highlights why SMS is still so effective (even though the technology is decades old) and explains how it’s used across different industries to attract and retain customers.

Why use texts for commercial marketing?

When it comes to marketing, SMS offers several benefits over other channels. Firstly, texts are accessible for most people - young and old. Text messaging is a native feature within all mobile phones, even non-smartphones. This means that anyone with a mobile phone number (4.88 billion people worldwide) can send or receive text messages without downloading an app or relying on wi-fi for transmission. SMS relies only on a basic cellular connection, making it very reliable.

Secondly, texts grab attention more effectively than communication via other channels. It’s widely acknowledged that SMS has a near-perfect open rate of 98%. Texts don’t often get ignored because they’re short enough to read quickly and then get on with your day. Compare this with email, and the difference is astounding. Email open rates vary by sector, and the type of email sent. For instance, the average open rate for e-newsletters is just 18.76%.

Thirdly, commercial text marketing is great value when you consider the direct impact texts have and the fact that you only pay for the number of messages you send. To give you an idea of costs, with Messente, you’ll pay 45 € to send 500 texts to Germany. Pay-per-click ads can end up costing much more to reach the same number of people.

Further reading: The Psychology of SMS Marketing

How different industries use text marketing

Commercial text marketing can be used by any business to increase sales, generate brand awareness, or build loyalty. Here are some industry-specific examples:


Texts work really well for communicating special offers, flash sales, back-in-stock alerts and abandoned cart reminders. According to SaleCycle, a cart abandonment SMS can achieve a 36% CTR, while email can be as low as a 3.2% CTR.


SMS is frequently used in the fintech industry throughout the entire customer journey, including for marketing purposes. Texts are sent to attract new customers looking for a loan and existing customers that might benefit from an increase in borrowing. And to encourage more people to download an app. Read more about how fintech firms use commercial text marketing.


Hotels, restaurants and fast-food chains can leverage the power of SMS to promote deals and send out transactional messages like booking confirmations and updates. Papa John’s pizza delivery chain is one example that uses commercial text messaging as a practical way to keep customers informed about the latest special offers and when their order is en route.

Food retail

SMS can cut through the noise in a competitive advertising environment, which can be the case in the food retail sector. FarmFoods, a British frozen food supermarket chain, uses text messages to drive sales. In one case, the company text a list of customers who had stopped interacting with its emails and, in just 24 hours, managed to achieve $4,000 of sales for a cost of just $60.

Commercial text example in food retail industry

Commercial text marketing - best practices and tips

Follow these best practices to ensure your commercial text marketing campaigns get the best results possible in terms of engagement:

Ensure your texts are relevant - only promote products or services that your subscribers are likely to be interested in. For example, if you run a hardware store and a regular customer likes to buy paint, they will probably be interested in paintbrushes or rollers, but not necessarily door handles or hinges.

Add personalisation - texts can have even more impact when they include the customer’s name and your company name. Learn how to create a custom SMS.

Be mindful of timings - sending your campaign too early in the morning or too late in the evening can annoy subscribers. Be aware of when they like to interact with your business (a CRM tool can provide insights) and send texts at those times.

Include a call-to-action (CTA) - tell your subscribers what you want them to do after reading your text message. You can include a phone number to call or a URL to a specific landing page within your text.

Text marketing regulations

If you don’t get commercial text marketing right, your messages could be viewed as intrusive or even spam. And that could lead to hefty penalties. Read how EE got fined £100K for sending marketing texts without consent.

There are rules and regulations to protect consumers from spam texts (and phone calls), including getting express written consent from subscribers to receive marketing-related texts.

Consent can be provided in different ways. For instance, you could ask individuals to text a number to opt-in or offer an online form where people can submit their phone number to receive marketing-related texts.

The main regulations and guidance to check out for commercial text marketing are the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practices and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

Woman with smartphone at home

How to get started with commercial text marketing

Most businesses looking to carry out commercial text marketing need a bulk messaging solution. This is where you compose one text message and send it to many subscribers simultaneously. For this type of service, you’ll need to select an SMS provider - a gateway to many different mobile network operators.

Once you’ve selected a provider, the process is straightforward. You’ll be able to log in to an online application and upload a list of phone numbers or create a signup form to capture new SMS subscribers. Then it’s simply a matter of creating your commercial text campaigns and hitting the send button to distribute them.

What to look out for when choosing an SMS provider

There are many SMS providers around, and it can be challenging to work out which one best suits your needs. So as a starting point, think about your requirements. Ask yourself:

  • How many subscribers do you want to text each month?

  • Are your subscribers local or global?

  • Will one-way texts suffice, or do you need individuals to reply (two-way messaging)? Note that you can include a call-to-action in a one-way message.

  • Do you just need SMS, or would an omnichannel solution be better?

Once you’ve worked out what you need, you should have a good idea of what to look for when selecting the right SMS provider for you. As a minimum, however, check that your preferred provider can offer:

  • Access to an extensive network of mobile operators - this ensures you have a greater and more reliable reach if your subscribers are worldwide.

  • Adaptive routing - intelligent routing algorithms lead to the quickest text delivery.

  • Comprehensive analytics - so you can analyse your commercial text marketing campaigns and see how to improve them.

  • Excellent support - ideally, you’ll want to talk to a human if anything goes wrong.

  • A scalable solution - one that grows with your business.

  • Easy integration with CRM tools - for deeper customer insights and increased flexibility with your commercial text marketing campaigns.

Messente offers all of the above features and more. Getting started couldn’t be easier. Simply create a free account and get access to Messente’s dashboard, where you’ll see how to upload phone numbers, create opt-in forms and compose SMS campaigns.

Piia Sander
2021-04-26 00:00:00 UTC