SMS Marketing: Text Messages You Can Use Today

We look at successful examples of SMS marketing (i.e., text messages) and how to incorporate them into marketing campaigns.

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5 tips to draft a marketing text message

Text messages have become a near-ubiquitous form of communication. 292 million people send and receive text messages in North America alone, and it’s estimated that 65% of the global population are texting on a day-to-day basis. From a marketing perspective, incorporating texting into a campaign strategy is a great way to reach customers (who’ve opted in, of course). 

You’ll often hear text messaging referred to as SMS marketing in a business context (with SMS standing for Short Messaging Service). As a quick reminder, SMS is text-only, whereas MMS (or Multimedia Messaging Service) can incorporate images, videos, or other attachments. 

But even with the popularity of texting – and its high open rates – SMS can be easily ignored by customers. Below we share 5 tips for crafting the perfect SMS message that will resonate with your audience. 

1. Keep it short

Great marketing copy walks a tightrope between being informative and concise (not to mention catchy). Every day, people are flooded with emails in their inbox, push notifications on their phone screens, and incoming text messages. How do you get yourself to stand out? 

Getting to the point is one surefire way to break through the noise. In the book Smart Brevity, the authors reference a mantra they pinned to a wall in their office: “Brevity is confidence. Length is fear.” People know relatively quickly whether they’re bored or uninterested in a message, so the goal is to hook them from the start. 

For quick context: A single SMS can typically support up to 160 characters, but there are some caveats to this (e.g., the inclusion of emojis or Unicode characters, message concatenation, etc.). You can learn the full rundown on SMS length requirements here.

2. Use CAPS strategically

Capitalization is a great way to draw the eye to the selling point of your message. Like a FLASH SALE! Or letting customers know that the items they’ve been interested in are BACK IN STOCK! 

BUT CAPITALIZATION CAN ALSO BE ANNOYING OR TOO INTENSE WHEN IT’S OVERUSED. 

To be more strategic, think of the reason that you’re sending this message in the first place. Are you trying to tell a user they’re getting a discount code? Or that you’re offering free shipping on items? From there, you can pull out the right words to capitalize so that someone skimming your message can quickly glean what you’re offering (and not just glance and delete). 

3. CTA

Call to actions are essential for moving customers through the funnel. They’re the gateway to a conversion (whether that’s making a purchase or activating their account). When crafting your SMS campaign, make sure your message ends with the relevant CTA, and tells users how to move forward. For example, should a user simply reply to the message, or is there a link they should click?

4. Create urgency

Creating a sense of urgency is a popular tactic in marketing, speaking to people’s fear of missing out (i.e., FOMO). 

Discount codes that have an expiration date, flash sales, a special offer for a free trial, alerting users that items are almost out of stock (i.e., scarcity) are all ways to incentivize people to take action. 

5. Personalize

Last but not least: always ensure that SMS campaigns are personalized to the user. Bland, one-size-fits-all messaging doesn’t hold much sway to begin with, but having it pushed to a person’s mobile device can come across as in-your-face spam. Both customer satisfaction and loyalty now heavily depend on personalization (62% of consumers said a brand would lose their loyalty after just one unpersonalized experience). 

You can personalize SMS campaigns based on customers' known preferences and behavior. For example, you can personalize offers based on items you know that person has been browsing on your website. Or, let’s say you're a food delivery app and notice that one customer habitually orders takeout on Sunday night. Using this information, you can send a well-timed SMS asking if that customer wants to reorder their favorite dish.

Marketing text message examples

Opt-in message

Both potential and current customers need to consent to receiving text messages from your business. This is more than being considerate – it’s adhering to the law. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was created to protect consumers from robocalls and spam, and states that users must consent to receiving messages from a business (and should be easily able to stop messages at any time). 

The opt-in message is essential, as it asks customers if it's ok to engage with them through SMS. 

Opt-in-SMS

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Welcome messages

After a user completes a purchase or creates an account, they can opt in to receive SMS communications from your company – which is where the Welcome Message comes in. 

A welcome message should act as a confirmation in way (e.g., you’ve successfully created an account! Or, your order is on its way). It can also provide a link to more information for the customer, or a logical next step. For example, with account creation you could include a link in your SMS asking users to fill out a quick survey to better understand how they’ll be using your service. 

Welcome-SMS

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Special day message

Milestone messages are an excellent way to keep users engaged and strengthen the customer relationship. A special day message could be crafted for a customer’s “anniversary” (e.g., they’ve been a member for a full year), or it could be in celebration of a birthday or a holiday. 

holiday-sale-sms

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Flash sale message

SMS is a near-instantaneous form of communication, which is why it’s a great way to alert users to limited-time offers, like a flash sale. This tactic speaks to one of our best practices for SMS writing: creating a sense of urgency. Here’s an example of how Benefit Cosmetics used this tactic below (note their selective use of capitalization to call out important specifics, like their sale being “24 HRS ONLY”).   

flash-sale-sms

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Order Updates

Order updates are a great way to manage user expectations, and keep customers in the loop. This type of SMS message can be used to give updates on when the company receives an order, its tracking number, if the item is out for delivery – the list goes on.

Order-update-sms

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You can make these messages highly personalized by using geolocation software like Radar to perfectly time customer engagement. 


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Frequently asked questions

This is when a business incorporates SMS (or texting) into their campaigns. It’s a way of reaching customers via their mobile devices, ideally with a concise and personalized message that encourages that person to action.

The content of your marketing text message will depend on the objective of your campaign. However, a few best practices include:

  • Keeping the message concise.

  • Personalizing the message.

  • Including a call to action.

Customers often want to know the value of what you’re offering. Words that convey a deal, like free shipping or an ongoing sale are a great way to incentivize customers. Bonus points if these words also create a sense of urgency, encouraging people to “act now.”

Powered by real-time data, Twilio Engage is a customer engagement solution with which you can build, enrich, and activate Audiences. Engage Channels builds on top of these Audiences, helping you connect with and market to your customers through email and SMS campaigns.