7 Tried-and-True SMS Marketing Campaign Ideas
What if there was a channel most of your customers not only tolerated but actually wanted you to use for marketing?
This is the reality of SMS.
To be precise, 90% of customers say they’re up for receiving marketing SMS messages from brands.
This channel has only been gaining traction ever since the pandemic started, and companies are jumping on the bandwagon across industries.
HBO used SMS to hype up Game of Thrones, which became one of the most popular shows of all time.
Pizza Hut UK ran a geofencing SMS campaign that sent alerts to customers when they stepped into a half-mile radius of their nearest restaurant. They found it was 142 times more effective than other marketing channels.
So, what about you?
Even if you’re a complete novice, by the end of this blog, you’ll understand where to fit SMS into your marketing strategy and how to start an SMS marketing campaign of your own.
What Is an SMS Marketing Campaign?
An SMS marketing campaign uses SMS (short message service) for sending promotional or transactional messages to a group of recipients.
SMS is a highly effective channel because it allows companies to reach customers quickly and practically guarantees the recipients will read them – SMS has a 98% open rate.
For SMS texts, each message contains 160 characters.
This is an assurance to the recipient that reading it won’t take lots of time or energy on their part, which is convenient when you need to get their attention quickly or run an important notification by them.
The specifics of your SMS marketing messages depend on your goals, the purpose of each text, and your marketing segmentation.
What Are SMS Marketing Campaigns Used for?
SMS has many use cases.
You can bulk-send updates, deals, or offers to a large audience quickly and ensure they read and respond quickly.
You can also send personalised and time-sensitive messages for better service to each user when they do something to trigger it.
For example, they schedule an appointment and receive an SMS reminder the day before.
Some popular types of SMS include:
- Order or payment confirmations
- Shipping status notifications
- Real-time account alerts
- Appointment reminders
- Abandoned cart reminders
- Limited-time offers, coupons, and announcements
We’ll continue talking about campaign ideas in a moment.
But first, what makes this channel so special compared to others, and why not just stick to email?
Why Use SMS Marketing Campaigns?
We’re used to seeing marketing in print and online – who doesn’t simply Google a problem and read a blog all about it? Even the most helpful guides are usually trying to sell you something (wink-wink).
But SMS campaigns are on the rise for a reason. They have specific advantages compared to other marketing channels that make them worth including in your company’s strategy.
1. Deliver Time-Sensitive Messages
SMS enables companies to be in the right place, at the right time for customers.
People read SMS messages at an astonishing click-through rate within a few minutes of receiving them.
This is essential for urgent and time-sensitive messages like appointment reminders, delivery information, and expiration reminders.
It’s also a great opportunity for geolocation-based offers. When your customers are nearby, you can message them about a special deal and incentivise them to stop by.
You can also get their responses and feedback faster than ever with 2-way messaging.
This is perfect for rescheduling, offering a different pickup option, or optimising your campaign ASAP when you’re running on a tight schedule.
2. Quick and Simple
SMS is a pretty straightforward channel.
Its speed and convenience are one of its greatest selling points, along with how normal and personal it feels to receive an SMS text message compared to email.
The fact that a message only contains 160 characters means that nobody will roll their eyes like they might while scrolling through pages and pages of content, looking for that one useful link.
Instead, SMS focuses on the CTA (call to action) right away and gives readers everything they need in less than a minute of their attention.
For companies, it’s a quick and easy way in to start a conversation with customers.
Over time, ironically, people might even spend more time engaging with your messages than they would have on other channels because SMS content is bite-sized in comparison.
Kind of like a Netflix paradox. You don’t want to watch a 2.5h movie because it’s too big of a commitment.
However, you will binge 5 hours worth of series that’s broken down into 20-minute episodes because it feels like you’re more in control and can stop at any point.
It’s pretty easy to personalise SMS marketing campaigns.
One of the reasons why is that you get to literally ask customers what they want right then and there via 2-way messaging.
It’s a useful channel for surveying customers, so you gain a better understanding of their intent and needs.
This information feeds into your marketing segmentation and helps improve your marketing strategy in general, not just your SMS marketing campaigns.
But, in terms of SMS, you can use this data for SMS marketing customisation.
- Automate messages to include each recipient’s first name
- Only send welcome messages to freshly acquired customers
- Send loyalty points to repeating customers
4. Cost-Effective (with High ROI)
SMS doesn’t require a huge upfront investment. It starts paying off pretty quickly, and you can expect a high ROI if you’re following some basic SMS best practices.
In fact, not every SMS text campaign contains a long string of messages to nurture customers.
Silverstone, a British motor racing circuit, generated 680% ROI from their single-text SMS marketing campaign.
They literally bulk-sent one text to 45,000 recipients. But they did it strategically:
Silverstone’s text message marketing campaign was designed to increase ticket sales for the upcoming Formula 1 British Grand Prix by specifically targeting:
- People who expressed interest in future car events, and
- People who had purchased a Formula 1 ticket in the past
On top of defining its segment, the company timed the message to reach customers immediately after BBC’s coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix.
We’ll talk about more specific messaging campaigns like this later on.
The point is that a small but smart investment in an SMS marketing strategy can pay off big time.
5. Easily Build Customer Relationships
SMS lands in people’s inboxes.
Your message is right above or under a message from a friend or family member, so it feels more intimate and important.
SMS marketing campaigns enable you to show up frequently with bite-sized content, updates, and reminders.
You can prove yourself helpful to customers and build a positive rapport naturally, without sounding like a salesperson.
6. Convenient for Customers
People read texts more than they do email.
This succinct, to-the-point communication channel doesn’t have room for fluff – you barely have room to fit all the important bits into one SMS message.
With successful SMS marketing campaigns, you’re not wasting anyone’s time and you ensure you can reach customers whenever it makes sense, wherever they are.
In turn, this:
- Reduces the need for calls for service or replaces them altogether
- Enables a more convenient service with autoresponders and regular 2-way messaging
- Makes communication smooth and customisable by allowing you to survey people quickly and cater to their needs
SMS Marketing Campaign Best Practices
Over the years, we’ve studied what the best SMS marketing campaigns have in common so you can spend less time experimenting and more time profiting.
Below are the pointers you don’t want to miss:
|Use the right tech stack/services
|Always ensure you have opt-in consent
|Know your target audience
|Keep it short, succinct, and focused
|Track campaign metrics
|Have a clear CTA (and only one!)
|Offer an easy way out
These best practices apply regardless of what kind of SMS marketing campaign you create.
How about we brainstorm some ideas for your company?
7 SMS Marketing Campaign Ideas
There’s no need to start entirely from scratch.
You can get inspired by real examples and common SMS use cases and use them as a solid foundation to work with.
SMS Marketing Campaign Idea Summary Table
Here’s a quick overview of the ideas we’ll discuss below:
|SMS marketing campaign idea
|1. Welcome messages
|2. Order confirmations and “thank you for your business” messages
|3. Special perks and sales to campaign subscribers
|4. Content promotion to nudge subscribers towards your website or blog
|5. Automated drip campaigns
|6. Information about upcoming events, news, and company changes
|7. Appointment reminders and booking confirmations
The details include real-life SMS marketing campaign examples.
1. Welcome Messages
Welcome messages are a great way to initiate the conversation with new customers, let them know they put in their contact info correctly, and make them feel, well… welcome.
It’s a small gesture that goes a long way. Here’s a real example from Umbra:
To ensure your welcome message is a success, you just need to take care that your segments are well-defined so you don’t send a welcome message to a long-standing customer and annoy or confuse them.
You can consider using the opportunity to give customers an initial discount or similar reward so they already get a taste of your SMS marketing and like it.
2. Order Confirmations and “Thank You for Your Business” Messages
Order confirmations and thank you messages provide an expected closure to customer interaction. They’re friendly and confirm everything is alright.
However, these texts are also an opportunity to:
- Highlight positive experiences with the company
- Drive repeat business
- Add customers to a new SMS marketing campaign
- Ask them for feedback and reviews
For instance, Rise PT reaches out to customers after their appointment to ask them for a Google review while their experience with the company is still fresh.
Since they started doing that over automated SMS, they’ve seen a significant increase in reviews.
3. Special Perks and Sales to Campaign Subscribers
Everyone likes to feel like a VIP.
One solid SMS marketing campaign idea is to play into that by rewarding customers who opt-in to your campaign and loyalty members with “first pick” and other special offers.
There are lots of ways you can do that. One way is to make your offers limited in either time or quantity.
You can take TAO Nightclub for example. They made a $6170 profit in one night by sending a well-timed, exclusive event promotion for one of their parties.
How can you do what they did?
- Incentivise customers to join with an attractive offer
- Keep it simple and focused with one CTA per message
- Find the right moment to reach customers
TAO Nightclub bulk-send their SMS on the same day as their events; it’s early enough that customers have time to organize their day and make it, but late enough that their initial excitement doesn’t fade before they commit to their decision.
In other words, catch customers when they’re in the mood to say yes to your offer.
4. Content Promotion to Nudge Subscribers Towards Your Website or Blog
We’ve seen some one-text-wonders on this list already, but SMS marketing campaigns don’t have to go for the hard sell.
You can also use them to grab your audience’s attention and redirect them to where they need to be.
Maybe that’s on your website, browsing through your offerings. Maybe it’s your blog or newsletter where you’re educating them on relevant topics.
This is how you play the long game with customers.
Over time, they get familiar with your brand and start trusting you as a subject-matter authority.
So, when the time comes to close them, they’ll naturally pick you as their service provider or brand because you’ve already helped them without forcing the relationship.
5. Automated Drip Campaigns
An automated drip campaign is a sequence of messages you schedule ahead of time and automate, so they practically send themselves.
You can program them to be sent at set times each week (best if it’s not the exact same minute each time), or they can be triggered by an event.
Automated drip campaigns are perfect for segment-based promotional sequences and nurturing customers while you’re busy with other important tasks.
They can reduce the need for calls and free up a hefty chunk of your time.
If you’re on the phone with customers a lot, this is a triple service improvement:
- Texts are quicker and save everybody time, including your customers
- You can reallocate that time to cater to your customers better
- Automation is scalable so you maintain your high-quality service as you grow
For a real-life example, James Crawford Law increased its monthly close rates by 92% via automated SMS drip campaigns.
6. Information About Upcoming Events, News, and Company Changes
Have a quick update for your audience?
SMS is the best way to guarantee the message reaches every last contact within minutes. Use it to:
- Divulge details about an event they’re interested in
- Tease new products or services relevant to them
- Introduce new policies or company changes that may concern them
- Inform them about back-in-stock items they were checking out earlier
- Follow up with them without calling each individual customer
This can be a single text or an ongoing sequence.
SMS works better than calls or emails alone. Seriously, take it from RenoRun.
They had low customer engagement despite phone calls and email marketing.
SMS made the difference for them: the company improved customer engagement by 30% and increased retention rates by sending them follow-ups, promotions, updates, and surveys.
7. Appointment Reminders and Booking Confirmations
If you’re a healthcare, law, or financial services company, ensuring that clients show up for their scheduled appointments is pretty important.
SMS is the perfect channel for quick reminders.
You can set up your SMS to react to a trigger. When the client books an appointment on your site, they receive an automated booking confirmation.
Your SMS service can also schedule a reminder the day before the appointment to ensure the client doesn’t forget about it or mix up the timetables and miss it.
If you want to go a step further, 2-way SMS allows recipients to respond to your messages, and you can use it to offer rescheduling options right there in the same thread.
The beauty of doing this over SMS is that you don’t have to worry about it.
It all happens automatically at just the right time for your clients, so more of them show up to appointments, and it doesn’t pile extra work on your plate.
How to Make an SMS Marketing Campaign
This is the practical side of things. Like, literally, how does your company do an SMS marketing campaign in a convenient and cost-effective way?
The logistics are actually not very complicated.
All you have to do is follow 5 simple steps – and some of them only once. 😳
- Choose an SMS marketing service
- Activate one or more phone numbers to do the texting
- Upload your database and cleanse the numbers before sending
- Create your first campaign
- Track your campaign and monitor metrics
Keep reading for the details.
1. Choose an SMS Marketing Service
Your SMS marketing service choice can set you up on a great path or cause issues down the line.
But how do you choose?
Think about your use case first. What industry are you in? What kind of SMS marketing campaigns are you looking to create?
Ideally, your SMS provider needs to have relevant case studies to show for their work so you know they’re familiar with your kind of needs.
For example, an eCommerce-focused provider with all the Shopify-related features doesn’t do much for you if you’re a professional service company.
Keep your use case at the front of your mind when you look at the features to discern truly good candidates from bells and whistles.
Finally, regardless of your industry, don’t forget about customer support.
A company that has agents ready to help and handhold you throughout your SMS journey like Mr Messaging is always going to be easier to work with, crucially if you’re a SMS novice.
It takes a bit of research.
But, if all goes well and you pick the right provider, it will pay off a thousand to one in that you’ll get the most out of your SMS marketing campaigns, pay the best rates, and avoid having to redo this step ever again.
2. Activate One or More Phone Numbers for Texting
How many numbers does your SMS marketing campaign need?
You need more than one if:
- You’re sending multiple campaigns at the same time for clarity and easier tracking
- You’re sending a huge volume of texts or have a large audience
- If your campaign is international and you need local numbers for different countries
After you pick your caller ID, your provider can activate it for you.
This is another one of the steps you’ll likely only do once, so let’s make sure you get it right.
You have three options: numeric short code, numeric long code, and alphanumeric ID.
Short code is great for print and billboards, high throughput and urgent 2-way messages, but it’s more expensive.
Long code numeric ID looks like a normal phone number, and you’d have to use those for some international SMS campaigns, depending on the region and their rules.
Alphanumeric looks more like a social media handle than a phone number. Instead of your recipients seeing a random number, they see your company name, which is great for building brand awareness.
On top of that, some countries only support alphanumeric IDs, so that’s worth considering.
3. Upload Your Database and Cleanse the Numbers Before Sending
Now that you’ve taken care of your end, you need to prepare your database.
There are many good ways to get numbers for SMS marketing, including:
- Advertising your SMS channel on your other marketing channels and your website
- Incentivising leads to sign up by tying your SMS into a giveaway
- Offering a discount or special deal in exchange for an opt-in
The most important thing here is to be sure you have express consent before texting anyone so you’re in compliance with all laws and regulations.
But that’s not all.
Before you start mass-texting your entire contact list, do yourself a favour and cleanse the numbers.
This eliminates your budget losses on incorrect numbers and helps you reach all of your customers.
Your provider should be able to cleanse your database, and it’s a good idea to ask them about mobile number portability lookups as well.
4. Create Your First Campaign
With the logistics sorted, it’s time to get creative. But more importantly, analytical.
Your SMS marketing campaign needs to align with your business goals – but don’t put all the pressure on the same marketing campaign (especially the very first one).
Want to get more attendances? Improve client communication? Get sign-ups for your loyalty programme?
Pick one or two and focus your campaign on them.
Your campaign should also align with your overarching marketing strategy.
Complement the other marketing pushes, but don’t send a completely contradictory message or do a 180-degree turn on the tone.
You need consistency across the board, or customers will get confused and turned off.
With that in mind, you can use our SMS marketing campaign ideas above for inspiration and get cracking on your campaign.
5. Track Your Campaign and Monitor Metrics
Knowing your audience is not a one-time effort.
Keep updating your segment information with new insights as you go along.
Fine-tuning the optimal time, cadence, language, and other specific how-to’s of your customer approach is key to keeping them happy.
Aside from that, you need to track your performance because business isn’t built on gut feeling alone.
Here are some metrics you can track to get an idea of how your SMS campaign is doing:
- Interaction rate
- Unsubscribe rate
- Delivery rate
- Conversion rate
- Customer acquisition costs
- Growth rate
And that’s you all set!
Start Your First SMS Marketing Campaign Today:
SMS marketing campaigns are effective and simple.
There are so many ways you can customise them to reach customers in more meaningful, personal ways and improve your customer communication.
Side benefits might include saving time on calls, providing a better service, and growing your base of customers.
So, what’s holding you back?
To be thorough, you can read about mobile engagement strategy and more on our blog.
If you have any other questions about your SMS marketing campaign, feel free to contact us! We’d love to help.