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Bulk SMS Marketing: Getting Started Successfully

  BONUS MATERIAL: The Psychology of SMS Marketing

The simple text message has been around for almost thirty years, so what is it about bulk SMS marketing that makes it one of the best ways to get your brand or business directly in front of your target audience? This article explains all about SMS marketing, why it’s definitely not an old hat strategy, and how you can get started sending SMS campaigns quickly and effortlessly.

What is bulk SMS marketing (and why use it)?

Bulk SMS marketing refers to the promotion of goods and services by text message to a group of subscribers. It’s also used to send notifications, alerts, reminders, order status updates and to request customer reviews. SMS is incredibly beneficial when used as a stand-alone marketing channel, or as part of an omnichannel strategy.


According to the GSMA, in 2019, 5.2 billion people worldwide subscribed to a mobile phone; a figure that’s expected to rise to 5.8 billion by 2025. Given that almost every mobile phone has a text messaging facility, the majority of the world’s population can send and receive SMS messages.

Numerous sources around the web report that text messages have a remarkable 98% open rate. This figure is much higher than the average email open rate of 21.33%. Furthermore, it’s estimated that 90% of text messages are opened within just three minutes.  

Bulk SMS marketing allows you to connect with your customers or clients instantly, which is essential when sending time-critical campaigns, such as retail flash sale notifications, or service messages like delivery updates.

Getting started with bulk SMS marketing

In essence, you only need three things to get started with bulk SMS marketing: a list of subscribers; a robust marketing strategy and an SMS messaging platform. Let’s look at these in detail:

1. Subscriber list

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to start collecting a list of contacts so that you may start marketing to them. Really think about who you want to target – focus on the quality of your list as opposed to gathering as many phone numbers as you can.

There are data protection regulations to consider when collecting personal data for marketing purposes. You’ll need to get express permission from all subscribers to send marketing communications to their mobile phone. (You shouldn’t automatically opt your existing customers into marketing texts, or perish the thought, scrape random phone numbers off a website.)

Data protection laws vary depending on the country (or countries) where your target audience is based. For instance, if your subscribers are based in Europe, you’ll need to abide by the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the US, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) applies.

2. Marketing strategy

Before you start bulk SMS marketing to your subscribers, consider what you want to achieve from your campaigns. Is it more conversions? Better customer engagement? Stronger brand loyalty? Decide your end goal first – and be specific about metrics – as this will guide your SMS content strategy.

3. SMS messaging solution

The best way to start bulk SMS marketing is through a trusted global messaging platform. Look out for one that has partnerships with a large selection of mobile network providers, as this means you can benefit from competitive SMS rates and provides greater scope for worldwide message delivery. Messente, for instance, offers a full-service messaging API and has connections with more than 800 mobile network providers in over 190 countries.  

Bulk SMS marketing – best practice tips

Once you’re up and running, there are some things you can do to give your SMS campaigns every chance of being delivered, opened and read.

Use data insights for personalisation and targeting

Look closely at subscribers’ data to understand their demographics (age, gender and location) along with their previous buying behaviour. This can help to identify what subscribers might be interested in, so you can send them relevant marketing communications.

For example, a store selling hygge clothing could determine that a millennial female customer, who bought an oversized Nordic knitted jumper might be interested in a new range of Scandinavian Christmas knits.

Graphical illustration of bulk SMS marketing

Keep messages short and sweet

Text messages have a limit of 160 characters, although you can go beyond this and send as multiple messages. That said, to keep costs under control, and your subscribers interested, stick to short messages that get your point across succinctly.

Make your message easy to read, use a clear call-to-action (e.g. VIEW SALE) and avoid overusing emojis. One or two is fine and gives your message a friendly vibe – but too many are overkill and take up precious space.

Be mindful of SMS marketing rules

The last thing you’ll want to do is annoy your subscribers and get your business reported to one of the regulatory bodies. So get your messaging frequency right, don’t send during the ‘do not disturb hours’ stipulated in the TCPA, and don’t spam your subscribers with irrelevant texts. Also, check your subscriber list regularly to remove any inactive numbers.


Bulk SMS marketing in action

Businesses of all sizes can use bulk SMS marketing to increase engagement, deliver outstanding service or boost profits. Here are some examples of organisations doing this already:

  • UK Government – in March 2020, the Government sent a text message to millions of UK residents telling them to stay at home due to Coronavirus restrictions. And in September, another UK-wide SMS was sent informing citizens about the NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 App.

  • Telekom Deutschland (German mobile network provider) – this company wanted to position itself as a responsible and sustainable brand to people aged 28 and younger. Realising that this age group tends to ignore traditional communication methods, Telekom Deutschland engaged an SMS messaging provider to create a personalised SMS video campaign. This resulted in a 45% open and watch rate with double the conversions compared to a standard SMS campaign.

  • Nordstrom (US high-end department store chain) – this retailer uses SMS marketing to offer its ‘TextStyle’ fashion concierge programme, allowing customers to shop by text.

  • John Lewis (UK retailer) – in this screenshot below, check out how John Lewis uses SMS marketing not only to confirm delivery of a product but also to gather customer feedback while increasing customer loyalty and engagement.

Example of John Lewis SMS marketing

Bulk SMS marketing: a powerful tool

Text messages are impactful, highly convenient, easily digestible and instantaneous, making SMS an instrumental channel to add to your marketing strategy. You can get started sending bulk SMS marketing campaigns once you’ve got your list of contacts ready. Messente’s messaging API will ensure your messages are delivered globally, reliably and at a reasonable cost.

Try out Messente for yourself – create a free account today with credits to get you going!

Taavi Rebane
2020-11-04 00:00:00 UTC
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