SMS Marketing Works. Use These 5 Tips To Do It Right.


SMSMarketing to your prospects and customers on their phones, via SMS can work, you just have to do it right.

Josh Lange, Lead Client Success Manager of SMS marketing company CallFire helps us understand how to do it right, in this post.

It’s no secret that smartphones have taken over the world. In fact there are almost as many cell phones (6.8 billion) as people on the planet (7 billion). With those statistics in mind, why go through all the work of marketing anywhere but where consumers are already looking?

For most businesses this is not a profound or groundbreaking thought. More and more businesses are employing tactics like apps, SMS, geo-fencing, and other mobile marketing strategies. And, it isn’t just big companies with equally big marketing budgets. Small businesses have more access to mobile marketing tools and technology than ever before, and they often have a much better response and return than the big guys.

One of the most cost effective and accessible mobile tactics for SMBs is SMS messaging. Yes, it’s a technology that’s been around for years, but the ways it’s being used are evolving every day. And, for small businesses with smaller spends, no other outlet can offer 90 percent of messages to be read within three minutes of delivery. But, just because you are getting the consumer to read your message, does not guarantee marketing success. Below are some guidelines for a company, of any size, to see return on investment using SMS messaging:

Specific Calls to Action

Though this seems like common knowledge, so many marketers do not include something for the customer to DO within their message. A common example of this is, “Check out this sale! Click here before it’s too late.” With this example there are no specific calls to action other than to click a link. A more specific approach would be, “Today only at XYZ jeans, 50% off all jeans for our VIP members. Use promo code XYZ at the register or online.” This is not only a clearer message, but it gives the customer a strong action to take and a timeline in which to act.

Another approach for a time sensitive call to action would be to have customers reply to your message. Some customers may not even know they CAN reply to your messages. This is a great way to interact with your customers. For example, “Be one of the first 100 people to reply to this message and receive a one-time 25% off coupon on your next purchase. Reply XYZ for your instant coupon.” Be sure to use clear impactful language – DISCOUNT, COUPON, or SPECIAL.

Time Sensitive Flash Sales

Flash sales have become a great way for businesses to get immediate results by giving customers a sense of urgency. This approach ties into an, ‘act-quick or it’s gone forever’ enthusiasm. Giving these limited time specials to your customers by text message only is a great way to continue customer excitement about your future messages. Similarly, flash sales can really pickup sales during typically slower seasons. Keep in mind that your messages should offer some sort of instant value that was previously unavailable. Traditionally, flash sales are only offered for a 2-3 hour period.  


Make your customers feel special. Text messages are geared to be more urgent than an email, and can be perceived as a more private way to speak to your customers. Don’t lose their trust by sending them a generic message. Customize your messages to include customers’ names (or any other personal identifier) for each message, which requires minimal effort on your part. Your messages will be much more impactful if customers perceive that they have qualified for a limited VIP promotion.

No Repetition

If you send the same message every Saturday, your texts will quickly lose their flair. Be creative and relevant with your messages. You have 160 characters to speak to these customers directly and instantly.

Do not send the same SMS message as you did for the email you sent earlier that week. Use all marketing channels efficiently and purposely. If a customer gets an email offering $2 off their coffee, then receives a text message offering the same thing, and then walks into the store with signage prompting the same special, what is the point?

And, don’t forget to test and modify your messages continuously. Your messages need to evolve with your customers.

No Fluff

Mobile marketing is geared to be concise and keep brands top of mind for customers on the go. Be focused, familiar and succinct. Make sure to include from whom the message is coming to decrease the perception of spam. Know your target audience and speak specifically to them.

Though you are using a text message to reach out to your customers, stay professional. Try not to use abbreviations, slang or ‘text lingo.’ Keep in mind no one has ever lost a customer because they used correct grammar.

The cell phone is the most widely adopted consumer technology in the history of the world. Most people find themselves checking their phone even if it did not vibrate or ring. You already have your consumers’ undivided attention – be sure to present the right message at the right time with the precision of just 160 characters.

One thought on “SMS Marketing Works. Use These 5 Tips To Do It Right.

  1. Ray Sidney-Smith

    This is a great article and a method I’ve been promoting to my small business clients for several years now; an untapped marketing opportunity for so many Main Street businesses especially! I was recently doing a talk about a my book, SoLoMo Success, and one of the participants seemed irritated with my discussion about SMS marketing until I explained one small fact: you are getting these numbers from people who are specifically opting-in to receive your SMS text messages. (MMS is a completely different “beast” and you should have an agency work with you if you intend on doing pictures and videos. #MyTwoCents) So, the point is: please be sure to follow good non-spamming guidelines for email in your SMS marketing strategy and you’ll likely do well. I think it’s good practice to send an initial sign-up SMS when clients join your SMS list with a welcome and end it with “Reply STOP to unsubscribe.” This at least gives them notice that you care about sending them valuable messages and if they ever don’t feel like it’s valuable, they can take themselves off your list. And, it shouldn’t have to be said, honor those unsubscribe requests. Additionally, almost every US state has criminal codes against “cyberharassment” ( ) so you don’t want to get caught up in criminal proceedings because of a disgruntled customer or client thanks to a few SMS text messages! Thanks, Ramon, as always!


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