If you want your business to achieve exceptional growth and success, you must leverage all the marketing channels available to you. One such channel which most businesses often ignore is SMS or text messaging.

If you haven’t yet incorporated SMS into your digital marketing strategy, consider this:

  • 58% of consumers said they would view a business more positively if it offered SMS capabilities.

  • The open rate for text messages is over 98%, with a 45% response rate, both much higher than email.

  • 85% of customers voiced their preference for being approached by businesses via text rather than phone call or email.

Thus, SMS marketing is essential for promoting your brand, but it should also be carried out correctly with consistent efforts. Only then can it bring about real results for your business.

A great SMS marketing strategy can help you connect better with your new and potential customers on a more personal level. It can help you grow your brand community of loyal supporters and keep your customers updated on your product or/and service offerings. Moreover, with a good text messaging marketing framework, you have the opportunity to stand out from competitors.

This guide starts with our six-step method to help you lay the groundwork for an effective SMS strategy. We’ll also share a few ideas for the different types of campaigns you can run via SMS. And let’s not forget how important it is to measure the impact of all your hard work. So, in the last section, you will learn about signs to look out for when running SMS campaigns.

Let’s get started.

The 6-step process to build an effective SMS strategy

Before you can start sending out mass text messages to your entire customer base, take a step back to strategise. There are a few preparatory steps you need to follow to make sure that you get the maximum payoff from your SMS marketing efforts.

Step 1: Identify the ideal customer profile (ICP)

The main focus of all your marketing efforts is the buyer. Hence, the first step to building an effective text message marketing strategy involves defining an ideal customer profile, which means you must identify who it is that you are trying to advertise your business to.

This step requires collecting lots of relevant data about your customer to lay a sturdy foundation upon which your campaigns can be built. Common data types include age, education, income, marital status, interests, likes or dislikes, buying preferences, and browsing habits, all collected and utilised consensually, of course.

The data you need can be obtained from multiple sources, such as:

  • Support representatives

  • Sales representatives

  • Product managers

  • Existing customers

  • Any business software you might already be using which records any type of customer interaction

Based on the data you gather, you’ll know which consumer groups should be part of your target audience. Additionally, you’ll know what type of products different customers lean towards.

All of this knowledge will play a critical role in steering your marketing content in the right direction.

Step 2: Set a goal

What do you want to accomplish via SMS marketing? It’s imperative to ask yourself this question.

The best way to set a realistic and achievable goal is to think about what type of solution you provide. For example, if you sell vintage furniture, your goal would be to increase sales. Similarly, if you are a SaaS provider, you’d want to increase your subscriber count. The eventual goal would be to boost sales revenue, but there can be many intermediary goals as well. These will depend on what you want for your business in the short and long term.

Try to be as specific as you can. Defining your goal(s) clearly will help you design a solid SMS marketing framework. If you don’t have an objective that is worthy of the audience’s attention, you might not be able to get far, unfortunately.

Therefore, go over all your offerings, your initial motivation for starting the company, and the different business objectives that you want your brand to achieve.

Step 3: Work on your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch or boilerplate is typically a short piece of text that outlines what your brand is all about. In this context, however, you won’t be writing it so you can share it with customers—SMS length restrictions won’t allow you to.

The goal is to clearly define your brand’s identity. All your team members should be on the same page when it comes to determining what kind of brand image needs to be presented to new and old customers. It will ensure that your messaging is consistent across SMS and any other marketing channels you choose to utilise for marketing.

Answering the following questions can help you define your brand identity.

  1. Who are you?

  2. What problem(s) are you solving?

  3. What is your solution to the problem(s)?

  4. What is your approach?

  5. Why did you choose this particular problem? What does it mean to you?

  6. How will your business’s solution(s) benefit your customers?

  7. What makes you special? How are you different from competing businesses offering similar solutions?

Step 4: Create a brand promise

A brand promise is exactly what it sounds like. It’s something your brand promises to deliver to every single one of its customers. It could be anything, from promising to be an environment-friendly brand to guaranteeing affordable prices for as long as your brand lives.

You don’t need to include your brand promise in every text you send to your customers. The main purpose is to fortify your brand’s identity further, set expectations, evoke curiosity, and ultimately gain trust and credibility by turning your promise into action. But your brand promise can also come in handy for filling empty spaces in short texts, reminding inactive customers of your existence, and even just reinforcing your brand’s commitment to your target audience every few weeks or months.

A length of under ten words works well for brand promises (especially for SMS campaigns since you have a character limit to stick to). It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence as long as it accurately communicates the message. You can even base it on your tagline, except it should be even shorter yet clearer.

Step 5: Find the right language(s), tone, and style

You can’t communicate successfully with your target audience without speaking in the same language that your target audience uses or prefers. Choosing the best local language(s) shouldn't be that difficult if you’re a local brand. But if you have customers all over the world, you might want to include multiple languages in your brand’s portfolio.

That’s not all there is to language. Your brand’s language will also be determined by the tone and style of your SMS copy. For this, you can turn to your ideal customer profile. What is their age, income level, or marital status, for example? These and many other attributes can all clue you into determining your target audience’s linguistic preferences.

The tone and style also greatly depend on your brand’s image, its product or service offerings, its usual approach to customers, and how its customers expect to be spoken to. Depending on the various factors, your tone can be:

  • Progressive

  • Empowering

  • Informative

  • Straightforward

  • Humorous

  • Friendly

  • Playful

  • Solemn

It’s not necessary to stick with just one tone. That would be pretty monotonous–literally! You can pick a few styles that you think will be appreciated by the audience.

Not investing enough thought into tone and style is one of the most common errors in text marketing. It is very influential on the audience’s perception of the message you are trying to convey. Sometimes even flawlessly written content can’t achieve the desired effect if the tone and style are all wrong.

So whatever your choice, remember that the overall language of your content should resonate with consumers well enough to push them towards successful conversion.

Step 6: Set up testing and tracking mechanisms

Before you go ahead with the implementation of your brand-new SMS marketing strategy, it’s important to make sure that you have certain mechanisms in place to measure each SMS campaign’s success and a contingency plan in case things don’t go according to plan.

Constant tracking of customer activity and monitoring their response and feedback are one of the most surefire ways of guaranteeing success from SMS marketing strategies. Regular in-depth analysis of collected data will help you find out if your methods are perfect or need some tweaking.

And now, you’re ready to run your first SMS campaign!

Ideas for running successful SMS marketing campaigns

We’ve gone over why it’s important for businesses to invest in proper SMS messaging campaigns in this age. But it is also essential to implement the right SMS campaigns if you want to see an impressive increase in sales revenue.

Here are some ideas and tips to assist you in your efforts to promote your business via SMS and help your marketing messages stand out.

Push exclusive SMS-only offers

Offering exclusive discounts and promotions to your customer base is an excellent way to market your products and services via SMS messaging. Your promotion is more likely to get the right traffic with a high open rate for such text messages.

You can send out text message offers such as:

  • Use code ABCD at checkout to get an exclusive 10% discount.

  • SMS exclusive offer! Visit [link] and get a 15% discount this weekend.

  • Get a 10% shopping discount in-store every Friday! Show us this text at checkout.

Discount codes are a great incentive to keep your customers shopping all year round, and making them exclusive to your SMS list ensures that more and more customers subscribe to your list and stay on it. You can also use SMS to market other types of promotions such as exclusive product or service bundles, e.g., “Buy two sundresses and get one sunhat FREE! Bundle offer valid for TODAY only.”

Send personalised SMS messages to specific subscribers

Another great SMS marketing strategy is to send personalised text messages to specific customers on your SMS list. The logic is simple. Imagine a customer visits your site, puts something in their basket but doesn’t buy it. Or maybe they like a product, but it is out of stock, so they add it to their wishlist. Sending SMS notifications to customers to remind them and keep them updated is a great way to engage with them and make them feel included.

This can prove more effective when done via text rather than email because many people have their phones on them at all times and are more likely to open an SMS immediately than they are to open an email, which can result in more impulse buys.

All this may seem like a lot of work, but of course, you don’t have to do it manually. It would take forever! There are many SMS marketing platforms that can automate these kinds of promotional and transactional messages based on your customers’ behaviours and actions.

Here are some easy examples of how to craft these kinds of messages.

  • Still interested in THIS ITEM? Only 3 left! Get it while stock lasts.

  • Back IN STOCK. Shop our back-in-stock products now.

  • We haven’t seen you in a while. Come take a look at our best-sellers this season: [link]

Engage your subscribers with interactive content

Engagement is a great way to drive conversion. Make sure you are pushing engagement in your text marketing just as you use for other channels, such as social media marketing or display advertising.

One trick to maximise customer engagement on interactive texts is to make sure that your message content is focused on your customers and their needs and not on your business. Check out these texts, for example:

  • “What’s one new product you would like us to add to our line? Text us your idea.”

  • “Reply with your favourite products from us: [Options listed against numbers].”

  • “Which product do you want to see on sale next?”

Interactive text messages like these are invaluable for getting customer feedback while growing a loyal following of engaged customers.

Upsell other relevant products or services

This is another worthwhile marketing campaign that your business should consider focusing on. A form of remarketing or profile-based marketing, it targets customers who have made a purchase recently and sends them recommendations for future purchases based on that previous purchase.

For example, if a customer buys a phone from your online shop, you can send them a text message that goes like this: “Cracked phone screens can be the worst. Protect your phone today with our Gorilla phone screen protector. Prices start from $2. [link]”

With this message, you can generate more revenue from a single customer and gain their loyalty.

Remind customers about upcoming events or appointments

This is an especially helpful strategy if you are in a service industry, where people often make appointments and then forget. With this marketing strategy, you can significantly reduce the number of customers that don’t show up to appointments by sending them a reminder via text message.

An appointment reminder can look like this: “We can’t wait to see you tomorrow by 4 pm! Want to reschedule? Do it here: [link].” Notice the gentle and respectful tone. It even tells them that it’s okay to reschedule if they can’t make it. You can also be more straightforward or formal if that’s what goes with your brand’s tone.

While appointment reminders work wonders in the service industry, you can also use them where products are involved. Perhaps you can remind customers about sales that are about to begin or special events such as the launch of a new product with a simple reminder like this one: “NEW collection dropping at NOON today! You can’t miss it!”

Use SMS marketing as a form of inbound marketing

Not every SMS sent to your customers has to be about convincing them to buy something to boost your sales figures. It can also be used for inbound marketing, which works on the principle of attracting customers towards your brand by providing them with valuable, quality content, such as valuable tips and advice.

Suppose you are a skincare brand. Here are some examples of the kind of SMS content you could send.

  • “Did you know using sunscreen is a good way to protect your skin?”

  • “Cleaning your face before going to bed is a good way to keep your skin free from acne.”

  • “Want to know 5 tips for a quick and manageable skincare routine? Read here: [link].”

Whatever tip or advice you are sending, make sure that it

  • Shows you’re an expert in your field

  • Is super relevant to your SMS subscriber base

  • Isn’t common knowledge that you’ve picked up from the first Google search result

Signs your SMS marketing strategy needs a revamp

Not all SMS marketing campaigns are created equal. Some companies fully integrate SMS into their brand’s mobile marketing strategy, while others see it as a supplemental project. Herein lies the danger–the SMS marketing effort soon runs aground for lack of attention and a sound strategy.

For any significant ROI on marketing programs, SMS channel included, there must be a concerted effort and strategy to monitor and manage them using defined metrics.

Here are some signs you should look out for that can help you figure out where you’re going wrong with your text marketing strategy.

1. Stagnation and reduced revenue

The primary goal of any marketing effort is to drive up numbers. You want to see increased prospects, leads, conversions, repeat purchases, sales volumes, and practically anything that proves your business is achieving some form of growth.

It’s a cause for alarm when your SMS strategy is not showing significant ROI. If you notice that there have not been enough new leads, let alone conversions, from one or more campaigns over a certain period, it might be time to review your strategy.

Pull all the existing marketing material for review to pinpoint where and why you’re not achieving the desired results. You can also consider investing in AI-powered solutions to help you analyse the current data for weaknesses and, perhaps using machine-learning capabilities, develop content that resonates better with the target audience.

2. Shrinking subscriber list

When you fail to reach a sufficient number of subscribers for your SMS notifications or engage your current ones, something’s not right. It’s time to figure out why your messaging is not working and set up appropriate remedial measures.

This could be happening for a number of reasons. For example, it could be that in a bid to sell to everyone, your messaging has become too general in form and lost its appeal in the process. Or you’ve lost sight of who it is you’re catering to. Perhaps it is time to define and narrow down your target audience to specific, more refined groups for more effective messaging.

3. The numbers are there, but they’re not paying

If the metrics clearly show that interest has been peaking, but you don’t see a corresponding increase in the number of paying customers, consider that a warning sign.

Generating traffic from all your marketing channels, including SMS, is incredibly important, but you can’t lose sight of the actual goal—sales.

Look at your messages again to discover why they fail to generate leads as expected despite attracting interest. Something as minute as the wrong choice of words could lead your customers to ignore your calls to action. There could also be issues with the level of clarity with which your text message conveys product information. Ambiguity confuses prospective customers. To ensure that your content is on point, you could consider bringing a marketing communications expert on board.

There are many other possible reasons behind low conversion rates, such as incorrectly defining your ICP, targeting the wrong segment, not optimising your website for mobile, placing CTAs incorrectly, and using outdated SMS marketing techniques or formats. Whatever the reason, you need to go back to square one and redefine your SMS marketing strategy.

4. Your text content is too old

Customers can get bored and eventually stop registering your texts if they keep seeing the same or similar messaging all year round, or maybe even for a shorter period than that. If your SMS content is more than one year old and still in circulation, it might’ve lost its charm. Maybe you’ve depended on recycling your content for too long.

“But,” you say, “I keep refreshing my campaigns regularly!” Well, if you think your content is still catchy and interesting, it likely lacks suitability. Perhaps your target audience’s behaviours and patterns have evolved, and they need a different type of content now.

You also need to stay on top of all kinds of marketing trends. Your content should continuously move with the changing times. Customers are not going to continue sharing old messages that addressed last year’s tastes, for example—it is just not cool. Changes in overall marketing styles can dictate your target audience’s reaction to your content and, subsequently, their buying patterns.

In any case, if you find something missing in the content of the messages you’re sending, you need to reevaluate your goals and your approach to writing SMS copy. It’s great to switch things up a bit from time to time. Consider creating fresh content that appeals to changing trends and your consumers’ evolving tastes.

More importantly, you must revamp your SMS strategy to include regular periodic revisions to maintain relevance and appeal to both new and customers.

5. SMS is the only channel not performing

If you’ve decided to adopt SMS as a marketing strategy, you must give it as much importance as you give to other channels. And when it is the only marketing channel not performing out of all the ones you’ve taken up, you need to find out why. There can be many reasons behind its failure.

For starters, ensure you’re not treating SMS as a standalone operation. Every action you take regarding text marketing should align with your overall mobile marketing strategy because there is a much bigger picture to consider here.

Another possible reason is that you apply the same rules to all your marketing channels, which might work for the others but not for SMS. So while you pay equal attention to SMS, you also need to acknowledge the many ways it differs from other marketing methods. Deploy your resources to work together towards shared goals for the greater success of your business.

6. Rushed, last-minute messaging campaigns

Do you often throw together some quick content for the SMS platform at the last minute, just before publication? If this has been happening with your campaigns frequently, it’s time to rethink your SMS marketing strategy.

To achieve a good ROI on any marketing effort, you need comprehensive and proactive strategy and guidelines, and not reactive afterthoughts, to ensure quality results. Hastily assembled campaigns usually lack a foundation in research and can thus be riskier. Try to set a clear plan of action for each SMS campaign to avoid knee-jerk and impulsive reactions.

Preparing your marketing content long before launching a campaign allows you time to make revisions should the market conditions shift suddenly. It also allows you time to put together a cohesive campaign working across all channels in harmony for easier brand recognition.

Wrapping up

With an easy-to-understand yet comprehensive step-by-step process, you can set up an effective SMS marketing strategy that will bear a good return on the resources you decide to invest in it. As long as you regularly monitor and measure the progress of each campaign you run, you will be able to stay ahead of your competitors and consistently provide value to customers who choose to subscribe to your SMS updates and notifications. By putting in the right amount of effort and dedication, you will be able to establish SMS as a viable marketing channel for your brand.