Business News Daily receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
BND Hamburger Icon

MENU

Close
BND Logo
Search Icon
OfficeMax Logo
Get a FREE $25 Office Depot Card with $125 or more qualifying purchase.

Online only.

Updated Oct 26, 2023

Text Message Marketing: Tips, Tools and Services

author image
Kiely Kuligowski, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer

Table of Contents

Open row

Today’s consumers are so bombarded with marketing campaigns, advertisements and communication from brands that they have become adept at controlling when they receive those messages. Through ad blockers and notification settings, many consumers simply can choose to avoid your marketing campaigns altogether.

That’s why text message marketing, also called mobile marketing or SMS (short message service) marketing, is on the rise. It’s a way to reach your customer base in real time, with a near guarantee that your message will be read.

Like email marketing, text message marketing requires customers and clients to opt in to the service. Once they sign up and provide their mobile phone number, you have the right to send them text messages about what’s going on with your business.

How businesses use text message marketing

The key to text message marketing is to regularly engage customers and build a two-way dialogue with them. There are three main features that businesses can use to increase back-and-forth communication.

  • Auto-responders: One of the most popular options is auto-responses, which you can set up in advance so you don’t have to respond to each customer individually. You can program auto-response messages to send only when certain criteria are met, such as when new customers opt in to start receiving messages, when a customer participates in a survey, or when they use certain keywords in their text message.
  • Surveys and polls: By sending out polls, you can gauge what consumers are looking for, whether you want to know which food item customers would like to see on the menu or what deals people want to receive text messages about. Surveys are an important tool in two-way communication that can improve your marketing and service offerings.
  • Coupons: Offering coupons to customers is an easy way to drive new business. Consumers are always looking for a good deal, and coupons can get them through the door and spending money.

Benefits of text message marketing

Text message marketing can deliver several key benefits.

1. You can connect with your customers in a unique way.

Text message marketing gives you the ability to connect with your customers on a more familiar level, like they would with a friend or relative. It can help humanize your business in a way that forges a closer relationship between brand and customer. You can leverage this relationship to build customer loyalty and drive repeat business.

“[Text message marketing] reduces the pressure of conventional correspondence like email or snail mail and helps to reduce the pressure already inherent to sales,” said Leslie Crews, senior content strategist at BPC Content Co. “People buy from you because they feel comfortable.”

2. It has high open rates.

The average American checks their phone every 12 minutes, which leads to a nearly 98 percent open rate for text messages — much higher than the 20 percent average for email campaigns. Text message marketing also eliminates the risk that your messages will land in the spam folder.

3. Text message marketing is personal.

Engagement marketing is becoming the order of the day. Consumers are rejecting traditional marketing techniques in favor of companies that connect with them on a personal level, and what’s more personal than a text message?

4. It puts you in front of your customers.

An age-old best practice in marketing is to go where your customers are — and your customers are on their phones, where texts are immediately visible.

There is a concern that mobile marketing is invasive, but Maria Kiagias, founder of Social Gold, said that responsibility and restraint are key. “It’s how you use it that counts. Get in the mind of your customer [and] don’t abuse the technology.”

Bottom LineBottom line

Text message marketing is effective because of its high open rates. Keep texts relevant and engaging to your audience, and don’t send them too many messages.

How to use mobile marketing: do’s and don’ts

To maximize your mobile marketing ROI and continually send marketing text messages, you need to follow certain best practices. These include the following “do’s” and “don’ts” of text message marketing.

Do’s

Collect opt-in information. First, get written permission from your customers to send them text messages (see below for more on laws governing SMS marketing). You may even want to create a double opt-in option, where a user that signs up also checks a box consenting to receive text messages from you. Many data privacy laws, like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), require opt-ins for text message marketing content. A double opt-in ensures you remain compliant.

Plan your text message marketing campaigns so they’re timely and relevant. Make sure each campaign is pertinent to both your target audience and your business, and keep it short — no more than 200 characters. Because it’s a text campaign, you don’t have to worry about curating graphics or being overly clever. Brevity is key.

Add value for your subscribers. Strive to make your content worthwhile for people who opt in to receive texts.

“You want your text message channel to feel like an exclusive VIP club for your customers,” said David Hamilton, founder of Oppilo Marketing. “Offer exclusive access to new products and special deals.”

Don’ts

Don’t send random messages. Instead, be mindful of when and how often you’re texting. Send marketing text messages during business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and no more than once or twice a week.

“Do not spam your customers with messages,” said Bryan Heredia, founder of AstroStork. “If you do, they’ll just end up ignoring you.”

Don’t ignore scheduling. Trying to write and send text messages for a marketing campaign on the fly is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it stressful to rush out your content, it can lead to mistakes. Craft your entire text message marketing campaign and all its content, then schedule your content or create a drip campaign triggered by certain user actions. 

Text message marketing laws

It is critical for any business to get permission before sending out text messages to current or prospective customers. Pizza giant Papa John’s found this out the hard way when it was sued for $250 million for sending out 500,000 illegal text messages. In the end, the pizza company settled the class-action lawsuit for a reported $16.5 million.

Businesses must follow the text message marketing regulations established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2012. According to law firm Perkins Coie, businesses must abide by certain rules to obtain customer permission:

  • The potential recipient must sign the consent form, either by hand or electronically.
  • The consent form must clearly authorize the business to send the customer text messages.
  • The consent form spells out that customers might also receive telemarketing calls from an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice.
  • The consent form needs to make clear that the business does not require a person’s signature and that signing is not a condition of any purchase.

Businesses that violate the FCC rules face a fine ranging from $500 to $1,500 per message.

FYIDid you know

Violating FCC rules on SMS marketing can be extremely costly. Consult legal counsel to ensure your planned text message marketing campaign is legal.

How to choose a text message marketing service

When choosing a text message marketing service, closely review the reporting tools available, as these will give you the insights you need to improve your campaigns in the future. Also consider how easy the software or service is to work with, and ensure you have great customer support to set right any potential issues with the service.

Reporting tools

In addition to the ability to send different types of messages — including auto-responses, surveys, polls and coupons — the service should have reporting tools to help you gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns. These tools enable you to track your conversations with customers, keywords in responses, poll results and delivery rates.

Ease of use

You are busy running your business and performing other essential tasks; the last thing you need is a text message service that is difficult to use. When considering a service, ask about its functionality and ease of use. Does the service require extensive training, or is it line with tools like Microsoft Office in ease of use?

Customer support

Should a problem with the service arise, access to knowledgeable customer support representatives is a must. The top services provide support by phone, email and live chat to deal with immediate needs. On top of that, the best text message marketing services offer online documentation and video tutorials to help businesses handle smaller issues they may encounter.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Consider the ease of use, reporting tools and customer support of a text message marketing service before you sign up.

Text message marketing can keep your audience engaged

Text message marketing campaigns offer the unique benefit of connecting you directly with your customers. Text messages are opened faster and more frequently than emails, which gives you a direct line to your audience at all times. However, it’s important to use that access wisely, lest you spam your audience with messages that are irrelevant to their needs and they opt out of receiving future text messages from you. By following the do’s and don’ts above, you can craft an effective and meaningful text message marketing campaign that resonates with your audience and drives more business.

Tejas Vemparala and Marisa Sanfilippo contributed to this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

author image
Kiely Kuligowski, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
Kiely Kuligowski is an expert in project management and business software. Her project management experience includes establishing project scopes and timelines and monitoring progress and delivery quality on behalf of various clients. Kuligowski also has experience in product marketing and contributing to business fundraising efforts. On the business software side, Kuligowski has evaluated a range of products and developed in-depth guides for making the most of various tools, such as email marketing services, text message marketing solutions and business phone systems. In recent years, she has focused on sustainability software and project management for IBM.
Back to top
Desktop background imageMobile background image
In partnership with BDCBND presents the b. newsletter:

Building Better Businesses

Insights on business strategy and culture, right to your inbox.
Part of the business.com network.