If you’ve arrived here hoping to learn how to get started with text message marketing for your small business, you’re in the right place.

For small businesses, approaching their consumers via promotional texts is one of the most effective means to communicate with them.

Small business owners can leverage SMS messages to engage audiences and build customer loyalty through a range of marketing initiatives. From sharing business news and sales promotions to sending appointment reminders and personalized messages, there is no shortage of ways to utilize SMS messaging and bake this channel into your overall marketing strategy.

This comprehensive guide explains how text marketing works, how it can be used for small business growth, and how you can get started quickly, along with some best practices to help your efforts bring forth great results.

How text message marketing works

When it comes to impact, text message marketing is often the go-to tool in a marketer’s arsenal; SMS is the channel that gets the highest open and response rates. There are a few reasons why this is the case.

For starters, texts are delivered over a cellular network (no wi-fi needed) and can be accessed by all mobile phone users. Secondly, texts have to be short and punchy (160 characters), making them easily digestible and more likely to get noticed than other types of messages. And finally, texts are highly visible. They usually flash up as a notification on a mobile phone’s home screen, grabbing attention instantly.

To effectively carry out text message marketing, you’ll need to enlist the services of an SMS API provider or platform (an intermediary between your business and the mobile phone networks that handle the delivery of SMS messages). Using a provider allows you to track campaign performance and text an unlimited amount of customers simultaneously. Here’s a snapshot of how the process works:

  1. Create an account with a text message marketing platform.

  2. Import existing customer phone numbers into the platform’s systems. A good platform will offer convenient contact management.

  3. Start collecting new SMS subscribers via the platform’s opt-in app. (Note that for points 2 and 3, you need to obtain consent for text marketing from each subscriber first.)

  4. Compose your SMS campaigns within the text message marketing software (or your own system if integration has taken place).

  5. Send or schedule your campaign for launch. That’s it! Keep reading to see these steps in more detail using Messente’s systems.

Using text message marketing to grow a small business

Man in a light shirt using red smartphone behind a table

Because text message marketing is a speedy, powerful, and reliable way to connect with customers, it can achieve remarkable results - and quickly. Many small businesses use SMS marketing to increase brand awareness, footfall to premises, special offer takeups, and customer engagement. In turn, these can all lead to a boost in revenue and profits - surely the overarching business goal for all small businesses.

If you are a small business owner, you may want to consider using SMS marketing services to drive your text messaging campaigns. With the right solution in your corner, you can send messages to your target audience with ease. Many text message marketing services offer scalable solutions to ensure all your contacts can receive text messages.

Examples of small business text message marketing

Any small business with a reasonably-sized database of contacts can benefit from text marketing. All you need to do is connect your list of contacts to a text message marketing service, and you’re off to the races. When it comes to deploying SMS messages as part of your overall marketing strategy, small business owners are spoilt for choice.

To highlight how SMS marketing can be used for different types of small businesses, take a look at some examples.

Service-based businesses

Beauty salons, auto repair workshops, photographers, cleaning companies, and dental clinics could all use text marketing to spread the word about services or products and special offers, fill appointment slots, and explore cross-selling opportunities. Many SMS service providers offer integration features that enable you to align your text messages with marketing emails.

Snacks in a grocery store

Text marketing is ideal for eCommerce stores for new product launches, flash sales, back-in-stock alerts, and to request reviews from customers. For retail businesses, mass texting is an effective way to inform potential customers directly about exclusive deals. They can also receive messages as part of broader drip campaigns.

Subscription-based businesses

Small firms selling software as a service (SaaS) or monthly box subscriptions (e.g., fresh flowers, food parcels) can rely on text marketing to promote free trials, offer package upgrades, and inform customers about optional add-ons.

B2B businesses

Small businesses like web design agencies, IT consultancies, SEO services, and business finance providers can use text message marketing to increase brand presence and engagement and request reviews. For a B2B business to engage prospective customers, it should leverage a text messaging service to support real-time conversations.

People working behind computers in an office

How to carry out text marketing for your small business

Messente helps both small and large businesses around the world with text message marketing. Follow these step-by-step instructions to get started.

We have the tools and resources you need to get your SMS campaigns off the ground. It’s never been easier for small business owners to conduct seamless one-on-one conversations with potential and existing customers at scale.

Step 1: Create your Messente account (free)

Signing up to Messente takes just a few minutes. You’ll be prompted to apply for a sender ID when you first log in. This can be your business name, a short code, or even a regular mobile phone number.

Step 2: Import existing contact list

If you have an existing list of customers from whom you’ve already obtained permission for text marketing, you can upload them to Messente’s Phonebook. From there, you can split them into smaller groups if you want to run highly targeted text marketing campaigns.

Step 3: Collect new subscribers

Messente offers two ways to collect phone numbers of new subscribers. You can set up a shortcode number and invite prospects to text in their consent if they want to start receiving marketing messages. The second option is to use Messente’s Subscription API and set up a dedicated landing page where customers can communicate their consent by submitting their phone numbers.

Step 4: Write your first text message

Using Messente’s simple interface, type out your first marketing text message. Here’s an example of a special offer message for inspiration. Notice the subtle yet thoughtful personalization in this message.

Text message example for text marketing for small businesses

Step 5: Send your campaign

All that’s left to do is send your campaign. You may want to schedule sending at a specific time when you feel your customers are more likely to interact with the message.

SMS marketing best practices and tips

Bear in mind the following points when using text message marketing. They relate to effective messaging principles and ways you can extract more value from your campaigns.

1. Ask people to opt-in

It’s not polite (or even legal in many regions) to send marketing content, particularly via SMS, to people who didn’t give you their permission to contact them, even if they’re already your regular consumers. Invasive marketing doesn’t help to build trust. Asking for permission before sending marketing texts shows how much you care about your buyers’ privacy.

2. Ensure your text messages are lawful

There are rules and laws to follow in most countries when sending marketing text messages. For example, the TCPA, CTIA, and CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S. and the GDPR for Europe define SMS compliance for these regions. These regulations are designed to protect consumers from text message marketing spam.

We encourage you to research these thoroughly before sending text marketing campaigns. As a starting point, check out the Mobile Marketing Association’s Code of Conduct which briefly summarises some of the key rules to note.

3. Construct quality textual content

If you feel that you won’t be able to do justice to your text messages, it’s a great idea to delegate this task to someone who’s already well-versed in creating promotional content. However, if you’re a one-person team, here are a few pointers for producing quality SMS copy.

  • Identify yourself. You can do that either by using a branded sender ID or by starting your message with your business’s name.

  • Incorporate an appropriate call to action.

  • Keep it simple. Don’t use complex terms, abbreviations, or acronyms that will make the text difficult to understand.

  • Use uppercase only for terms you wish to point out. Don’t go overboard.

  • Be specific. If you’re announcing a sale, make sure to point out the exact categories of articles that are on sale and the amount of discount. If you’re announcing an event, give complete details, such as time, date, and venue. Perhaps you could even include a link in your SMS if the limited space is not enough.

4. Make your SMS promotions exclusive

Make sure that each text you send to your consumers is promoting an offer that’s not available on other marketing mediums. Otherwise, you’re just spamming them by sending repetitive messages.

In fact, this can be a great opportunity to bump up your subscriber count. Let your customers know that if they opt for your SMS updates, they will receive special offers that are not available to non-subscribers. This way, your consumers make sure to not only agree to receive messages from you but also read them more eagerly, giving you a higher chance of conversion and sales.

5. Carry out targeted campaigns

It’s not enough these days to send out a mass text message to everyone on your contact list and expect excellent results. Consumers want targeted, personalized communications that are relevant to their particular stage of the customer journey. So drill down into your data insights and segment your database into different groups.

For example, you might have a group for loyal (returning) customers, one for those that have only made a single purchase, and another for inactive customers that you need to tempt back.

6. Use text marketing with other channels

Many businesses now recognize that some customers use multiple touchpoints for interactions. And so, they use SMS seamlessly alongside other channels for greater prominence and better ROI.

Here’s an example of how this might work in eCommerce marketing. Imagine you send a special offer via text. The text does its job of grabbing attention; the customer reads the message, clicks through to take advantage of the offer, and adds a product to their shopping cart to look at later. Only they get distracted and forget to return.

However, suppose you also had the customer’s email address (and email marketing permission). In that case, you could trigger an abandoned cart alert to be sent out automatically a few hours later to encourage that person to return and complete their purchase. This type of workflow is possible if you integrate SMS with an email marketing automation system.

7. Time your campaigns well

Make sure you deliver your announcements timely. For example, if you’re planning a big sale, send out that info to your consumers the evening before. Also, avoid texting late in the evening or too early in the morning; you don’t want to disturb or annoy your customers. So if you’re planning an evening event, you can announce it the morning of the day of. But don’t wake everyone up at 5 AM.

Additionally, keep in mind that sending out regular info and announcements that bring value to your consumers can easily turn into spamming their inboxes if you don’t exercise caution. This is why you should consider the most appropriate time frame for contacting your consumers. According to marketing experts, each industry has its own acceptable frequency of sending out SMS messages. You could contact an SMS service provider and let them help you make the right choice.

8. Check the results of your campaign

Once you’re implementing your SMS messaging campaign, it’s a good idea to set up some measures to monitor the impact or results it bears. You need to make sure that you are getting a reasonable return on investment. Take notice of click-through rates, open rates, and other statistics that could help you improve the overall results of your campaign.

Compare the results of different messages and how they contribute to achieving your goals (this practice is called A/B testing). If you notice a pattern that shows good results, try to infuse the same elements with every future text.

Woman reading a text from a small business

Get started with text message marketing for small business

We hope these short tips will help you create and implement a perfect SMS marketing strategy that will help you increase conversion and scale your business revenue.

Are you ready to explore the potential of text message marketing? You need to leverage an SMS marketing service.

If you need to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and increase engagement levels, SMS marketing can help take your small business to another level. Messente enables small businesses to connect with customers via text messaging in more than 190 countries. Take the first step in getting started by creating your free Messente account today.