What is SMS Marketing? How Brands Can Use Text Messages with Customers

Brands want to build genuine relationships with the people who interact with them. You can use SMS marketing to accomplish just that, once you understand the types of text message marketing available for brand communication.

Keep reading to learn: 

What does SMS mean in marketing?

While most of us know the term “SMS,” did you know it stands for “short message service?” In marketing, SMS refers to how a brand communicates with customers through text messages about campaigns, promotions, news, updates, and more.

Besides SMS messages, you can also send your customers MMS (multimedia message service) messages. These messages allow you to send pictures or GIFs (and other animated images) over text.

Like email marketing, SMS is an owned channel. This means you have complete control over who receives an SMS marketing message, what content you share, and when you decide to send it. With text marketing, you have ownership over the experience you create for your customers across this marketing channel from start to finish.  

Types of SMS messaging for businesses

When you implement SMS messaging as part of your marketing strategy, there are two types of communications you might send to your audience: promotional and transactional text messages.

Promotional text messages

Promotional SMS messages are texts you’d send to your audience to increase sales, promote a product, or build brand awareness. 

You can use these kinds of messages to let your customers know about the launch of a new product, offer a special sale or promotion, share company announcements, promote branded events, and even provide tips on how to best use the products you’re selling.

A promotional text marketing message from MATE the Label

Event-triggered promotional SMS messages are communications you can send to your customers based on the actions they take on your website. 

If a shopper signs up to receive text messages from your brand or adds an item to their cart on your website, you could send them a welcome text or an abandoned cart text to encourage them to place an order. 

Transactional text messages

Transactional SMS messages are texts that contain information your customers need, like order confirmation details or shipping information. If a customer makes a purchase, texting them delivery updates could be a great way to keep them informed and build customer loyalty.

transactional sms marketing message from South Bay Vet Group with shipping information

They’re pretty simple messages, and unlike emails, there’s not a lot of creative liberty you can take with transactional texts in terms of content or design. 

One thing to note: If your customer or website visitor signs up to receive transactional text messages, you can’t market to them through this channel unless they explicitly give you their consent to do so.

Is SMS marketing effective?

There are many benefits of sending SMS marketing messages, but here are three that stand out:

1 | Increase customer engagement 

SMS elicits exceptional engagement numbers—think 98 percent open rates. 

While this number may seem exciting, remember that a lot of consumers may only open a text message to get rid of the notification on their phones. That’s why it’s important to place more value on engagement metrics like clicks and conversions.

The good news? Depending on the content you share with your audience, text messages can outperform email on both click rates and conversion rates. For example, GhostBed sees 32 percent click rates with their SMS messages.

Text messages are often conversational (or at least, you can automate them to be), which means you can encourage your subscribers to respond to your texts.

Quick tip:
If you wouldn’t send your text message to a friend, consider not sending it at all. Use this as your standard for sending and you’ll create meaningful text conversations with all your customers.

2 | Reach customers instantly

People often read texts quickly once they receive them. In fact, they open 90 percent1 of them within three minutes. 

If you have a special offer you want your subscribers to take action on immediately, notifying them via email means they may miss your message and not act in time to drive the results you want to see. 

Instead, if you send them this timely message via text, they are more likely to see it sooner and take the action you’d like them to take. 

Example:
You want to let your existing customers know that in one hour, they can shop a sale before the general public. A text message is the best way to relay this information quickly.

3 | More personal customer relationships

Texting is how people communicate with their friends and loved ones, which means their phones are often only an arm’s length away. 

You can use SMS as a more exclusive channel, similar to a VIP program, to communicate with your highly engaged segment of customers since texting is so personal. 

Example:
Let people who sign up to get your text messages be among the first to know about your new products and special sales.

When should an e-commerce business use text message marketing?

Text message marketing is an opportunity for you to deepen your relationships with your customers, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you get started. 

Because it’s a more intimate channel than email, you need to think critically and strategically about which messages you send to your SMS subscribers and how often you send them. Text messages are a great way to build brand loyalty, but you can also lose your customers faster if you abuse this channel.

The more familiar you become with SMS and collect data on what your subscribers respond to, the better you’ll understand how to navigate texting your customers

As consumers look to brands to serve them more personalized communications and e-commerce marketers focus on creating stronger connections with customers, SMS will be essential for brands that want to stand out, deepen engagement, and create exceptional customer experiences. 

Ready to get started with SMS marketing? Check out these tips to fast-track your strategy. 

Start sending SMS messages to your customers.

 

Sources:

1  “The Value of SMS Marketing.” Salesforce.com.

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