What Is SMS Marketing? Definition, Types, Best Practices, and More

SMS marketing can increase engagement and sales. But what is SMS marketing, and why should you consider incorporating it into your digital marketing strategy? In this blog post, we’ll delve into text marketing, explore its different types and benefits, share best practices for creating engaging text message campaigns, and introduce you to text marketing software platforms that can supercharge your efforts. 

Learn how SMS marketing can help you forge stronger connections with your audience and boost your business results.

Key Takeaways

  • SMS marketing is the act of sending promotional and informational messages directly to a customer’s mobile device, leading to higher open rates and faster response times for the business.
  • Types of SMS messages include promotional, transactional, appointment reminders, and customer service and support.
  • The benefits of SMS marketing include high open and engagement rates, instant notifications, personalized communications, and cost-effectiveness.
  • To ensure a successful text message marketing campaign, obtain customer consent, create clear and concise messaging, be mindful of timing and frequency, and comply with relevant regulations.
  • Popular text marketing software options include Twilio, EZ Texting, Textedly, Sendinblue, and SimpleTexting.
what is sms marketing

What Does SMS Marketing Mean?

SMS (short message service) marketing, aka text message marketing, is the practice of using SMS to send promotional and informational messages directly to your customers’ mobile devices. These messages can include special offers, promotions, transaction confirmations, and appointment reminders.

SMS marketing messages boast several advantages over traditional marketing channels (e.g., email marketing and social media marketing), such as higher open rates, faster response times, and a more personal touch.

By leveraging the power of text message marketing, you can engage with your audience on a platform they use every day, leading to higher conversion rates and stronger brand loyalty.

Types of Text Marketing Messages

While you might immediately think of promotional texts when you think of SMS marketing, there are actually a variety of types, each with its own benefits. Here are the main types of text message marketing that you can use to connect with your audience. 

Promotional Text Messages

You can use promotional texts to announce special events, sales, or discounts. They are designed to entice customers to take advantage of limited-time offers, drive traffic to your website, or visit your physical store. Promotional messages include flash sale announcements, exclusive coupon codes, and new product launch notifications.

Example: A clothing retailer sends SMS promotions to customers offering a percentage off their next purchase. This often leads to repeat purchases and increased customer loyalty.

Transactional Text Messages

Transactional SMS messages are automated messages triggered by specific actions or events. These messages serve as confirmation and assurance for customers, informing them about critical updates, such as order confirmations, shipment tracking numbers, or payment receipts. Using transactional texts as part of your SMS marketing strategy can enhance your customers’ overall experience and build trust in your brand.

Example: A healthcare provider sends a text message after a user refills their prescription. They send a receipt and follow up with a tracking link once shipped.

Appointment Reminder Text Messages

Appointment reminder text messages are particularly useful for service-oriented businesses, such as dental offices, hair salons, and fitness centers. They help reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations by sending timely reminders to customers about their upcoming appointments. These messages improve customer satisfaction and optimize the efficiency of your business operations.

Example: A vet’s office sends a reminder text to pet parents about an upcoming appointment two days in advance. They ask the customer to reply with “confirm” or “cancel” to ensure they still want the appointment. This reduces missed appointments and ensures a seamless experience.

Customer Service Text Messages

For fast, reliable retention measures, SMS customer service messages are a great way to communicate with customers in real-time and address their concerns or inquiries. By offering SMS customer support, you provide a convenient and accessible channel for your customers to reach you, resolving issues quickly and efficiently and reducing the need for phone calls. Customer service text messages include resolving billing inquiries, providing technical support, and handling product returns or exchanges.

Example: A software company provides an SMS service so customers can quickly take care of small tasks, like updating an address or upgrading a plan, without having to call and deal with long hold times that cause frustration and lead to lower satisfaction levels.

Informational Text Messages

This type of SMS marketing focuses on providing customers with valuable information, such as news updates or industry insights. This can be particularly effective for businesses in the financial or consulting space, where clients seek valuable thought leadership.

Example: A financial services firm sends informational updates to clients via SMS, providing real-time information about market trends and investment opportunities.

Survey-Based Text Messages

This type of SMS marketing involves sending bulk SMS messages to customers requesting feedback on a product or service. This is great for businesses looking to improve customer satisfaction or drive product innovation.

Example: A fitness company sends SMS surveys to customers after each class, requesting their feedback on the class experience and instructor performance. This feedback is used to improve subsequent classes and drive customer satisfaction.

Personalized Text Messages

Personalized SMS marketing involves sending customized messages to customers based on their specific preferences or behaviors. This type of marketing is helpful for industries such as travel or hospitality, where personalized experiences are highly valued.

Example: A hotel chain sends text messages to customers offering personalized discounts and upgrades based on their previous booking history.

What Are the Benefits of SMS Marketing?

sms marketing benefits

Text message marketing offers several benefits that make it a valuable addition to your digital marketing strategy. 

High Open Rates

SMS messages have an impressive open rate of 98%, which is significantly higher than email marketing, which averages around 20%. This means recipients read almost every message, providing you with plenty of opportunities to generate leads and get more sales.

Quick Read Time

People typically read text messages within minutes of receiving them, making it an ideal channel for time-sensitive promotions and important notifications. The immediacy of text means businesses can use them to send timely reminders, alerts, and relevant promotions to their customers. For example, a restaurant can send an SMS message to its customers offering a discount on a meal during lunchtime or happy hour.

Real-Time Updates

This immediacy enables you to send real-time updates, urgent announcements, or limited-time offers that can prompt immediate customer action. For example, if a business runs a flash sale on its website for a limited time, it can quickly and easily send an SMS message to its subscribers to inform them of the sale and provide a link to the website. This can prompt customers to take instant action and purchase before the sale ends.

Personalized Messages

SMS marketing also allows you to create personalized messages based on preferences, interests, and previous interactions with your brand. By addressing your customers by name and providing relevant content, you can foster a deeper connection and enhance their overall experience with your brand.


Text marketing is surprisingly affordable compared to traditional advertising like print, radio, or television. On average, you can expect to pay between $0.01 to $0.05 per SMS text message. Many SMS marketing platforms offer a pay-as-you-go pricing model, so you only pay for the messages you send. Businesses of all sizes can find affordable solutions to leverage the power of SMS marketing and reach customers without breaking the bank.

Increased Engagement

SMS marketing is an effective way to increase customer engagement. By sending personalized and relevant messages to your customers, you can keep them interested and engaged with your brand. This can increase customer loyalty, repeat purchases, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

Higher Conversion Rates

SMS marketing can lead to higher conversion rates compared to traditional marketing channels. Since SMS messages are short, direct, and personalized, they can be more persuasive and effective at driving customer action. This can increase sales, bookings, and other desirable customer behaviors.

SMS Marketing Best Practices

Ready to text your customers? Before you get started, consider the following best practices.

Obtain Opt-In and Consent

Obtaining explicit consent from your customers is essential for an effective SMS marketing strategy. This process involves asking customers to provide their mobile numbers and agreeing to receive marketing texts from your brand. It ensures compliance with relevant regulations and respects your customers’ privacy.

Use Clear and Concise Copywriting

Keep communications short, clear, and easy to understand when crafting your text messages. Use simple language and avoid jargon or complicated terms that may confuse your customers. Focus on providing value in every message, given you have limited characters to communicate your message.

Pay Attention to Timing and Frequency

Will SMS marketing annoy customers? It’s possible — if you don’t get your timing and frequency right. Send messages during normal waking hours based on your subscribers’ time zones, and pace them out to maintain a healthy balance between engagement and intrusion. Monitor your customers’ responsiveness to your messages and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Comply With Laws and Regulations

Understanding relevant laws and regulations is crucial for an effective SMS marketing campaign. Regulations like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in the United States require businesses to obtain explicit consent from customers and comply with other rules. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines and damage your brand reputation. Ensure you meet all legal requirements to protect your business and customers.

SMS Marketing Software Platforms

Consider using an SMS marketing platform to streamline and automate your efforts. These platforms offer a wide range of features to help you quickly create, manage, and monitor your SMS campaigns. Some popular text marketing software options include Twilio, EZ Texting, Textedly, Sendinblue, and SimpleTexting.

When choosing the right SMS marketing software for your business, consider factors such as ease of use, scalability, integration capabilities, and pricing. The ideal SMS marketing program should be budget-friendly and accommodate the specific needs of your business while offering room for growth.

How to Create an SMS Marketing Campaign That Gets Results

sms marketing campaign

Before you hit “send” on your first SMS marketing message, you’ll want to map out your strategy. Here’s a quick overview of how you can find success.

Set Clear Campaign Goals

Before sending the first message, setting clear goals for your SMS marketing campaign is important. These goals will help you tailor your messaging and measure the success of your efforts. Consider goals like increasing sales, driving website traffic, or building brand awareness.

Build an SMS Subscriber List

Now it’s time to build a list of SMS subscribers who have opted in to receive messages from your brand. You can collect phone numbers through online forms, social media promotions, in-store sign-ups, and strategic lead magnets. Ensure you get explicit permission from each customer before adding them to your list.

Add a Persuasive CTA

Once you have a list of subscribers, you’re ready to create your text campaigns. Keep your messages concise and clear. Make sure they offer real value to your customers. Adding a compelling call-to-action (CTA) encourages recipients to take the desired action, such as visiting your website or redeeming a special offer.

Use clear and action-oriented language to let your audience know what action to take. Use phrases like “Shop Now,” “Redeem Offer,” or “Book Today.” Integrate a sense of urgency into your CTA. Emphasize time-limited offers or exclusive deals to create a sense of limited supplies.

Measure Your Campaign’s Success

To measure SMS marketing campaign success, track key performance indicators like open, click-through, and conversion rates. By analyzing this data, you can identify areas for improvement and fine-tune your messaging and strategy for future campaigns. Use metrics like customer feedback and response rates to refine your messaging and optimize your campaigns.

Try A/B Testing

Choose a specific element to test, such as the message copy, CTA, or time of day. Create two or more variations of the tested element, keeping other factors constant. Then, send the variations to randomly selected segments of your audience. 

Monitor the performance of each variation by measuring key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. Here, you’re looking for significant differences in performance. Analyzing the results can provide key insights into your ideal customer’s behavior and can help inform future marketing techniques. 

Global SMS Marketing: Key Factors to Consider

Thinking of going global? When using SMS marketing campaigns across different countries, you must consider the unique regulations and cultural nuances that may impact your strategy.

  • Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding text marketing and make sure you’re compliant. This includes understanding consent requirements and messaging restrictions.
  • Localize your SMS content to better resonate with your target audiences. This includes using appropriate language, tone, and cultural references.
  • Test and optimize your campaigns for different time zones, network providers, and device capabilities to provide a seamless user experience.
  • Monitor the performance of your international campaigns and adjust your messaging and targeting strategies accordingly to improve engagement and conversions.

Final Thoughts

SMS marketing is a powerful and effective way to engage with customers in a highly personal and immediate manner.

Now that we’ve answered the question of “What is SMS marketing?” you should understand how to use the different types of text messages, implement best practices, and leverage the right tools to unlock the potential of SMS marketing as a valuable component of your digital marketing strategy.

Embrace the power of text messaging and start forging deeper connections with your audience to achieve greater business success.