9 Best Practice Techniques for Home Run SMS Marketing Campaigns


SMS marketing remains remarkably responsive.

Despite being over 25 years old and incredibly basic compared to the host of other messaging apps, more and more companies are using SMS to communicate with their customers and prospects.

Every single phone ever made is able to send and receive texts. It’s the one truly universal messaging platform. No other communication channel has the reach or open rate of SMS.

According to UK research company Mobilesquared, over 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes. Response rates can be as high at 30% whereas email open rates are often below 5%.

With SMS being so effective, how can you make sure you get the best possible response. Here are 9 tips for achieving home run SMS marketing campaigns.

#1 – Use an attention grabber

Start your text message with a bang. Within the first few characters, you need to arouse the reader’s curiosity and compel them to read on.

I recently received a marketing text from Photobox, they’re one of the dozens of online photo printing services.

It was one of the best SMS marketing texts I’ve ever received and had a very simple and powerful attention-grabbing opener.

’50% off everything’

There’s nothing complicated here, just an easily understood offer telling me emphatically that there’s an incredible offer to be taken advantage of.

By keeping it simple, Photobox have squeezed maximum value out of their attention grabber.

#2 – Include a deadline

The purpose of your text is to encourage your customers to act without delay. The more time that elapses after your offer lands on their phone, the lower the chance of them responding.

A simple tactic that can dramatically reduce customer distraction is to use a deadline in your offer.

The same text that I received from Photobox used a deadline to great effect.

‘Ends at midnight.’

This ‘deadline’ ruse is as old as marketing itself but it’s still a very effective way of creating a sense of urgency. Unless you order before midnight, you’ll miss out on this fantastic offer’, is the message they’re conveying.

It’s very compelling and is a particularly effective tactic online where offers can easily be switched off after the end time.

#3 – Personalise your text

Research always shows that if you personalise your marketing, you get a higher response. Whether you’re a fan of this corporate familiarity or not, it’s a proven tactic.

By including your customer’s first name in the text, you’re demonstrating that you know them and that you’re speaking with them as an individual.

A word of warning though. If you get your personalisation incorrect and call people by the wrong name, you can expect zero response and worse still, you could be held up as an example of how not to do SMS marketing.

#4 – Include a simple call to action

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to respond. Whatever it is that you are asking them to do, it needs to be crystal clear and very simple. The vast majority of texts will include one of the following calls to action.

  • Click on a URL and visit a landing page
  • Reply to a text with a key word or phrase
  • Call a phone number

Whichever call to action you use, make sure you test it so you can be certain that it works before the campaign goes live.

#5 – Avoid text speak

Faced with only 160 characters to get your message across, it’s very tempting to use text speak to help cram in more information.

It’s almost always a mistake.

Some people feel that it comes across as incredibly unprofessional and overfamiliar to abbreviate, even if some text speak conventions have become the norm.

Remember that your audience is diverse and it’s wiser not to do anything that might alienate sections of you market.

Text speak is also potentially confusing with some abbreviations not being immediately obvious. The last thing you want is for anything in your text to be unclear.

#6 – Segment your audience

Targeting and customer segmentation has long been the bedrock of any direct marketing campaign.

What’s often ignored though is that with SMS you can segment your customers into far smaller and precise categories – meaning a more personalised and responsive message.

SMS has a distinct advantage over all other direct marketing channels in that there is no additional cost to creating multiple versions of the same offer.

Don’t send everyone on your database the same message. Investigate the data that you hold and send different messages that are closely targeted to the individual segments.

#7 – Use a URL shortener for your weblinks

With just 160 to play with, every character counts.

An easy and obvious way of maximising the number of characters you have available, is to shorten the website address using one of the many URL shorteners.

It’s an easy way to win back a few characters.

There’s plenty of choice and they’re all free. Three of the most popular ones are…

#8 – Don’t send too frequently

SMS fatigue is one of the most common reasons why people won’t respond to SMS marketing campaigns.

There is nothing more annoying than when a company keeps sending you roughly the same offer again and again. You won’t win any friends or generate more response simply by bombarding your customers with a stream of texts. In fact, sending too frequently is almost guaranteed to irritate your customers and have them unsubscribing in their droves.

Between October and January last year, I received a ridiculous 23 almost identical texts from my mobile phone carrier.

What’s worse is that there was no unsubscribe option on the texts, meaning I had to endure the tsunami of texts with no way of stopping them.

#9 – Don’t just sell, be useful

SMS is the most responsive direct marketing channel available and there’s no doubt that it’s very effective for generating sales.

But you can have too much of a good thing. If every text that you send is just trying to sell, your customers and prospects will soon become bored and are likely to unsubscribe.

Mix up your sales texts with other useful information. Try and add some value to what you’re sending rather than overwhelming your contacts with sales offers.


SMS Marketing is still as responsive as it was when it started in the late 90s.

If you follow these simple rules, your campaigns will continue to delight your customers and bring you impressive results.

But use SMS marketing with the respect it deserves. No other marketing channel can claim the high response rates but get it wrong and there’s no faster way to lose hard won loyalty.

Author Bio:

Henry is a Director and founder of The SMS Works, which offers a low cost and reliable SMS API for developers. He’s been involved in SMS marketing for 19 years and helps companies of all sizes reduce their messaging costs.

Image Credits:

Photo by Tom Holmes on Unsplash.