SMS Marketing

A complete rundown on what SMS marketing is and how to succeed at implementing it.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing refers to businesses communicating with customers via text message. An acronym for “short message service,” SMS has become an increasingly popular way for businesses to build more direct relationships with customers – especially with the near ubiquity of mobile phones. (Today, there are more than 7 billion mobile users worldwide.)

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Why do companies use SMS in marketing?

SMS has quickly become a popular channel for engaging with customers. Let’s dive into why customers and businesses have come to prefer SMS.   

SMS is personalizable 

75% of business leaders say personalization is now table stakes for digital experiences, and customers agree (nearly half of those we surveyed said one unpersonalized experience was enough for them to move on to a different brand). 

SMS is an ideal channel for personalization, especially in real-time due to its fast delivery and high open rates. One example of a personalized SMS campaign is offering a discount code to customers for a product they’ve shown interest in (either through their previous purchases or behavioral history). 

Since smartphones and cell phones are on-the-go devices, using geolocation to further personalize SMS campaigns is a natural choice. (For instance, a store could send an SMS when customers enter a geofence near their brick-and-mortar location with instructions on how to pick up items they reserved online.) 

SMS makes customer communication easy

The average person is said to check their smartphone 344 times in a single day. 

The truth is, our mobile phones have us in a state of constant connection  – which makes SMS an incredibly convenient channel for customer communication. 

Look at the vacation rental company Vacasa, which was able to triple their bookings by embracing an omnichannel engagement strategy (in which SMS was a key fixture). Vacasa would send customers an email with the instructions on how to enter their rental property, access WIFI, and so on. But right before check-in, Vacasa would also send customers a text message that had all this information (like entry codes) to avoid customers searching through their inboxes. 

Some customers prefer SMS

Many customers now prefer SMS over other more traditional marketing channels when communicating with a business. Stat., which has been a top-seller of contact lenses since 1992, saw the potential SMS had for improving customer experiences. That’s why allows customers to choose how they want to share their prescription when placing a new order: through fax, email, or SMS. On top of that, customers can reorder their contacts by simply replying to an automated SMS that sends when they know customers will need to re-up soon.


Frequently asked questions

Here are a few tips for how to write SMS or text messages:

  1. Only message users that have opted in to receive SMS alerts!

  2. Be sure to personalize messages. While SMS has a high open rate, getting customers to engage with you is a bit trickier. Take the time to understand which offers or messages would be most relevant to each user.

  3. Keep the message short and sweet, and conversational in tone – and of course, include a call-to-action!

SMS marketing can be a highly effective tactic, with open rates averaging at 98% and response rates coming in at 45%.

In one survey, 91% of consumers said they would be interested in opting in receiving texts from a business. And from a business perspective, this is an incredibly fast way to reach customers, with recipients receiving text messages in a matter of seconds.

Twilio has a Programmable Messaging API that allows businesses to integrate text messaging into their web, mobile or desktop applications. There’s also a Conversations API that businesses can use for multiparty, omnichannel messaging (having the flexibility to speak with customers 1:1 or to thousands of people at a time).