Not too long ago, a significant section of the adult American population was averaging the exchange of over 85 text messages per day. The numbers have only gone up since, especially post-pandemic. Needless to say, SMS is a preferred method of communication for millions of people. That's one reason why SMS surveys have become so popular for businesses. In fact, it's a form of marketing that is actually widely accepted by consumers, with 86% of US consumers happily opting in to receive SMS notifications from businesses.

SMS marketing material has a high open rate — anywhere from 90-98%, which likely has to do with people's perceptions of text messaging. They don't often see it as advertising because they're so used to receiving multiple texts in a day.

There are numerous ways businesses use SMS for marketing purposes. How do SMS surveys fit into their marketing efforts, and how can you conduct one? Let's dive in to find out!

What is an SMS survey?

SMS surveys are questionnaires that you send to your customers over text straight to their phone numbers. They are a great way to get valuable data and insights from your target audiences. Text message surveys are a quick and convenient way to collect customer feedback about the services provided. Not only that, but they can also be used for market research, such as floating new ideas for products or services and seeing how customers respond to them.

Survey data can thus prove very valuable and help businesses bump their customer satisfaction scores. By showing customers that you care about them and hold their opinions in high regard, you can also boost customer loyalty.

But a survey is only worth its weight if the person receiving it actually clicks through and completes it.

So, sending SMS surveys and hoping for the best is not enough. Instead, your focus should fall on how you can influence a consumer to participate in a survey and keep their attention long enough to complete it and submit their response.

4 best practices for conducting text message surveys

Let's look at a few strategies to make it easier and help you focus on how to improve your success rates when you send surveys to your customers.

1. Be as personal as possible

People are inundated with thousands of advertisements every single day. As a result, many people have been able to tune out traditional forms of advertising. When it comes to digital marketing, this is sometimes known as “banner blindness,” in which a user can completely ignore advertisements on a website or social media platform.  

One of the benefits of SMS marketing is that it already feels more personal. You can reach customers right on their mobile devices, in their personal and private SMS inboxes. But you can take things one step further by:  

Another great way to be more personal and gain the attention of mobile users is to develop your own app. Creating a mobile app for your business can help you connect with customers and potential followers, and you can even build surveys into the app itself. All you will have to do is share survey links via SMS. This will open up a new touchpoint for customers. An in-app survey will allow you to show off your business's personality. You can encourage users to complete surveys by offering exclusive incentives like a percentage off of a product, free shipping for items, or an entry into a contest or giveaway.

2. Step away from social media

There's no denying the importance of social media when it comes to any successful marketing campaign. So, don't think you should take a leave from your social media platforms entirely. In fact, you can use social media analytics and data from platforms such as Facebook to learn more about your audience's content preferences, so you can adjust and fine-tune your SMS surveys based on what your followers are interested in.

But, again, the best marketers find ways to break through the noise of everyday advertising to reach more people. One way to do that is to focus more on your brand's SMS marketing. Text surveys can be a great way to create a referral program for your business. Word-of-mouth advertising simply can't be beaten or easily replaced.

In fact, 92% of all consumers trust references from friends and family. You can create a word-of-mouth campaign through text by asking those who complete your SMS surveys to share with their friends and family. Again, this often feels more personal to people, and since most individuals send nearly 100 text messages daily anyway, they are more likely to pass on your business's information.

So, while social media is certainly important for brand-building and advertising, don't be afraid to step outside the box and focus more on SMS to gain direct customer feedback and more referrals.

3. Send follow-up messages

There is a difference between spamming the people who opt into your messages and offering a friendly follow-up. Keep in mind that because people receive so many texts in a day, it's easy for them to forget about the one you sent. Maybe they intended to complete your SMS survey when they had more time, but they lost track of it because something else came up. For others, it can take just a bit more nudging to get them to actually click through and complete your survey questions.

A good rule of thumb is to schedule your follow-up messages with enough space in between. The last thing you want to do is annoy or overwhelm your customers. Try sending a follow-up a few days after your initial text message, then after a week, and then a month if you still need some important customer data.  

4. Keep it short

The SMS feature on a standard mobile device allows the exchange of a very limited number of characters per text message. If you try to stuff long surveys through, your message risks getting split into multiple pieces. This could lead to the order of the messages getting messed up during delivery. We've also seen very long messages get cut off after a certain number of characters, leaving the recipient confused due to the incomplete message.

Even if your SMS service allows you to send long texts, the entire point of an SMS is to grab the recipient's attention with brief, crisp messaging. A long text brings with it the risk of not being as impactful as a short one. Long SMS messages can also overwhelm the reader, causing them to abandon the text entirely. Additionally, sending multiple SMS messages per customer means that SMS will no longer be a cost-effective means of marketing. Costs will rack up according to the number of texts sent. (If you really need to have that detailed a conversation with your customers, perhaps phone calls would work better. Or you can build a survey in Google Forms and share the link via SMS.)

Now, you might be thinking that the whole point of surveys is to collect data. The more data you have, the better you will know your customers, and the better you will be able to cater to their demands and meet their expectations. So what can you do with a short survey?

We have seen short surveys bear valuable results for businesses. The trick is to use the right questions and divide them such that the customer isn't put off. One way is to shoot a series of questions one after the other, in quick succession, as the customer responds to your SMS survey in real-time. Another way is to send out multiple questions spaced out over a longer time, such as one question every three days or every week.

Try using friendly language that is easy to understand, and ask to-the-point questions that don't require typing out detailed answers, such as the multiple-choice question (MCQ) or Likert scale format. One example, a question that a lot of companies ask their clients, is:

"How likely are you to recommend XYZ company to a friend? Pick a number out of 10
[1 = not likely, 10 = very likely].

This seemingly small piece of information helps determine a brand's net promoter score, which is a key metric in measuring the performance of a business and the customer experience it provides.

Getting started with SMS survey software

By using proper SMS software specially made for fulfilling business texting needs, you can send SMS surveys that are to the point, are guaranteed to be delivered timely, and, most importantly, allow text-backs to your dedicated business short or long code.

You can get started with Messente's SMS platform for building proper and effective surveys for various purposes and use cases, such as marketing research and collecting feedback for the products, services, and support you offer to your customers. The text survey software also allows you to schedule messages to be sent out at appropriate times.

You can also set up certain questions to be sent automatically when certain events are triggered. For example, you can have a text message survey question sent out to gather feedback the second a customer support ticket is closed.


Mobile advertising is likely to continue to grow. Millions of people strictly use the Internet on their phones, so marketing on a device already in someone's hand is a great way to get attention.

Keep some of these tips in mind to encourage your opt-in users to click through to your SMS surveys and complete them so you can receive the best data possible to keep your business growing.