What is SMS Marketing?

Marketing your small business can take up a ton of time and resources. For independent retailers, it can be difficult to gain traction through your marketing efforts due to social media algorithm updates and the sheer volume of emails that most people receive daily.

SMS marketing, or text message marketing, is a simple way to reach your customers and get a much higher ROI. Customers welcome it, too—with 70% agreeing that it’s a great way for businesses to get their attention.

Brands can use SMS marketing to build genuine relationships with the people who interact with them. Once you understand the types of text message marketing available for brand communication, you can optimize the channel and target your most engaged segments.

What is SMS?

The term “SMS,” 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.

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.

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.

Benefits of SMS Marketing

SMS marketing has several advantages over other forms of digital marketing.

It’s fast. Text message marketing is fast in more than one sense. Unlike social media or email marketing, you don’t need to design any images to go with your content. Text messages also have a low character limit, so you don’t need to write a ton, either. They’re quick and easy to produce and send.

Secondly, texts reach your recipients faster than an Instagram post or email would. Your customers receive instant notifications on their phone when they get a text. Comparatively, they would need to take the additional step of opening a social media app or email client to see your other forms of marketing.

It has near-perfect open rates. If you want people to open your messages, sending them by text is the most effective way to get them to do so. Marketing texts are opened a whopping 98% of the time, which is about as close as you can get to a full 100%. By comparison, a study by Mailchimp found that the average open rate for a marketing email is 21.3%.

It gets high response rates. Since SMS open rates are high, its response rates are high as well. The average response rate for an SMS marketing message is 45%, whereas email click-through rates don’t normally break higher than 7%. Customers are significantly more likely to click on a link you send through text versus email.

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

  • Transactional text messages. Transactional SMS messages are texts that contain information your followers need like donation receipts. If a customer makes a purchase from your campaign, texting them delivery updates could be a great way to keep them informed and build customer loyalty. 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.

SMS Marketing Strategies to Try

Welcome texts. Similar to a welcome email, try sending a welcome text after a customer signs up to receive your updates. You can even offer special information for new sign-ups to encourage them to continue following and supporting you.

Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Text messaging has emerged as one of the most powerful and affordable tools for driving votes. Research conducted by Tech for Campaigns found that people contacted via text were 1% more likely to vote. While that may not seem like a lot, that can make all the difference in a close race. This same study found that people who received information about issues unique to the candidate or the district were 8.2% more likely to vote, and people who responded to texts were 9.6% more likely to vote. On Election Day (or when early voting begins or ballots are mailed), text messaging is your direct line to supporters.

Campaign and Candidate Engagement. It’s crucially important to create an effective way to engage with your supporters about campaign, event, and polling updates, along with other important information. Among other channels such as social networks and email marketing, text messaging serves as an unfiltered and direct way to communicate with your supporters. By establishing text messaging as the primary channel for a candidate’s information, a candidate can use that to incentivize users to subscribe to their text message program.

Volunteer Outreach and Management.

Use mobile marketing to recruit new volunteers from your most engaged supporters by sending them timely, targeted volunteer opportunities or information about upcoming events. With SMS, you reach supporters immediately and drive them directly to the information they need—without the distractions presented by social platforms. Collecting information about a subscriber’s location enables your campaign to send messages about nearby volunteer opportunities and events, leading to higher response rates.

* Check out our 7 tips to leverage the power of SMS marketing to create a winning strategy for your campaign!

Is SMS marketing effective?

All data trends for SMS marketing messages suggest it is one of the most effective channels for targeting consumers:

  • High text open rates and increased 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. 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.

  • Text message marketing allows brands to reach customers instantly People often read texts quickly once they receive them. In fact, they open 90 percent 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.

  • Texting creates 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.

It’s important to choose the right SMS marketing service for your political campaign; it is a key factor in your campaign’s success. Robocent offers easy-to-use software and industry expertise to help political campaigns solve their SMS marketing challenges. Whether your SMS marketing campaign focuses on fundraising, getting out the vote, engaging with supporters, or organizing volunteers, Robocent’s platform helps political campaigns win.

Some features that set Robocent apart from other text message marketing companies include:

Segmentation: Robocent offers subscriber segmentation that allows campaigns to send to custom subscriber segments so campaigns can create highly optimized messaging.

Messaging Workflows: Robocent offers a messaging workflow that allows campaigns to create virtually any messaging workflow, without any coding knowledge or experience.

Analytics: Gain insights and visually display subscriber data trends with our easy-to-use responsive graphing tools.

Merge Tags: Use merge tags to personalize each text message. For example, include a subscriber’s first name in each mass text message.

ROI: Recall that in a recent internal study, we found that for every dollar invested in building and operating a texting program, campaigns net $5 in donations on average.