17 Powerful SMS Marketing Tips [2020 Update]


17 Powerful SMS Marketing Tips [2019 Update]

SMS is an incredibly reliable channel in terms of getting attention from customers and driving sales but with these SMS marketing tips, you’ll be able to kick it up a notch.


1. Making Selling Easy By Understanding Why Your Customers Buy

If you’re looking to drive more sales from your bulk SMS marketing campaigns it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the different types of customers who would be interested in your product or service.

We call these buyer personas.

They are a fictional representation of a real customer segment.

Here is an example of a buyer persona:


Below is another example:



These two buyer personas have different needs, desires and pain points which means that you can’t send them the same SMS otherwise you lower your relevancy to either recipient which results in unsubscribes or even complaints and of course fewer sales.

By understanding why that buyer persona buys from you it helps with offer creation, easier conversions, higher spend and a longer customer cycle.

Relevancy is essential in SMS marketing.


2. Increasing Relevancy (And Sales) With Smart Segmenting

With SMS marketing the ultimate goal is to increase your ROI and there any many ways to do this but the best way is to make sure that you SMS campaigns are tightly relevant to the person you are sending it to.

This is achieved through segmentation which just means placing your contacts into specific contact groups or folders.

For example, if you run a health club and you have a contact group named “Weight Loss Subscribers” then you’re not going to make the mistake of sending them an SMS campaign promoting weight gain supplements.

There are many different ways to segment but here are 5 to get you started.


1. Geographic Location

If you’re a nation-wide or international company then sending location-based SMS campaigns are incredibly effective, for example:

  • Schedule time-based SMS messages to hit different time zones
  • Send region-specific SMS promotions
  • Promote live webinars
  • Send an SMS that shows customers where the nearest store location is
  • Send location specific content using the person’s location in the actual text message


2. Past Purchase Behaviour

Group items – if a male purchased a suite then you could add them to the suites group and promote ties, shirts, pants and complete suites.

Consumables these customers may need reminders for replacement, refilling or renewal.


3. Spending Patterns

Segmenting based on proven past behaviour is a sound strategy since people don’t really change that much so you can have a high level of confidence that your campaigns will hit the mark.

One of these behaviours is a person’s spending patterns.

You could organise them into the following groups:

VIP Customers – this group tends to buy in the upper price range or purchase large quantities and will typically have a high disposable income.

Discount shoppers – this group are more active when you have great deals going on.

Price Conscious – this group will purchase low-end items and may purchase less frequently so an SMS campaign with specials on lower priced items would be a good fit.


4. Purchase Frequency

Brand Loyalists – these customers are consistently buying your products, these people are likely brand loyalists and obviously love your products. Send an SMS once per month and perhaps reward them with a special offer only available to them.

‘Just In Time’ customers – these people tend to only buy when they absolutely need to, so their purchase frequency is a lot lower. Send them a time-sensitive special offers to entice them back.

Hot customers – these people are (for now) “hot” and will typically spend a lot more than the average customer during a short window and then suddenly fall away. Send this group fo people a time-sensitive special offer to re-engage and elongate their spending cycle. As a general rule the longer it has been since a customer purchased the better the offer you’ll need to use.


5. Personal Interests

Another powerful way to get full engagement and prime purchasing behaviour is to send offers that are directly in-line with the customer’s interests.

If you run a health club there will be dozens of different reasons why a person would join for example:

  • Build muscle
  • Lose weight
  • Get fitter
  • CrossFit
  • Improve overall health
  • Sports specific training (running, rugby, powerlifting etc.)
  • Bodybuilding

Segmenting your SMS groups makes absolute sense and makes your promotions easy to put together.


3. Get Your Timing Right

SMS is a high-speed marketing channel where recipients will read your message within the first 3 minutes which means if you want to book out all of your tables for your restaurant then send out an SMS later in the afternoon. The best times to send SMS messages are during work hours.


4. When Done Right, SMS Is Not Spamming

SMS scares a lot of business owners because they associate it with SPAM that is, receiving an unwanted offer from someone you do not know.

This is the definition of SPAMMING.

Professional bulk SMS marketing services follow 1 basic rule:

#1 Rule: Send highly-valuable, relevant offers to people who have given you explicit consent to receive SMS promotions and communications for you.


5. Generate A Flood Of Hungry Subscribers With An NBO (No-Brainer Offer)

In email they say “the money is in the list” and the same is even truer with SMS.

The more subscribers you have the more money you make so the goal is to get as many qualified people onto your lists as possible and an NBO is a great strategy to use here.


What is an NBO?

An NBO is more than a special offer, it’s a strategic offer designed to increase or decrease a key area of your business.

For example, the Dollar Shave Club has a $1 month offer where you get sent a new razor every month for $1 per month – that’s an NBO for men who can’t be bothered buying new razors all of the time.

BUT once you join the club for $1 you soon see the additional goodies they have available like face creams, gels, more expensive razors, brushes etc.

Key metric: Increase subscriber numbers

NBO: $1 monthly razor

The Dollar Shave Club is fine with breaking even with their NBO because they know that a good percentage of those people will buy more products and become profitable long term subscribers which dramatically increases their overall sales revenues.


Using An NBO To Drive More Subscribers

Similarly, by adopting the mindset of aggressively acquiring new subscribers you can send out weekly or monthly offers and drive some serious sales back to your business.

For example, a brand manager for a wine retailer here in Sydney, Australia were are able to outperform their email marketing sales volume by 300% by adding SMS to their marketing strategy!

That’s 3 times more sales just by using SMS but keep in mind you still need to match the offer to the right customer segment group.


Different types of NBO’s


This is when you take a bunch of products or services and package them up into one deal. Typically this is matched to the specific audience they’re targeting.

  • Friendly payment terms: If you’re selling an expensive item you’re going to get a lot more customers by making it easy for them to buy. Offer extended payment terms, make the first 6 payments at 50%, make the first payment $1 etc. get creative.
  • Risk reversal guarantee: A risk-reversal offer is a strong guarantee that places all of the risk on the shoulder of the business which removes friction from the buying process for the customer.
  • For example, a guarantee might be: “Get 100% of your money back if you’re not satisfied”, whereas a risk-reversal offer would be: “Get 200% of your money back if you’re not satisfied.”
  • Risk reversal takes courage but the pay-off is huge.
  • Results in advance: Pay 50% up front and only pay the remainder when you’ve achieved your goal.
  • Pre-order discounts: Reduce the price only for people who pre-order.
  • Limited-time offer: Special off with a hard deadline.
  • Loss leader: If you’re selling a consumable then you would sell the first product at cost or even less.


6. Tell Them Who You Are, Don’t Leave Them Guessing

In some social settings, it can be advantageous to leave your audience guessing but it’s a terrible idea when it comes to SMS.

The last thing you want is to send out an SMS campaign and have your recipients having to guess who you are it really creates a lot of friction and for those who can’t figure out who you are that’s a lost sale.

Always state your brand name in the SMS.

Also, depending on the relationship you have with your subscribers it may make sense to personalise your SMS messages.

Most SMS providers will have a merge feature where you would input a short-code (i.e. #first name#) and the system will automatically populate this field for you.

For example, by adding in this short-code #first name# it will pull the first name of the recipient from the contact list into the SMS if there is no name it will use a fall-back term like “Hi there”.

Hi #first name#, Milligan’s has a 90% Off Special on knitted Santa jumpers go to www.santajumpers.com.au see you there!


7. Tell Them What To Do By Including A Call To Action

It’s only a small thing but adding a direct and clear call to action inside your SMS makes a huge impact on response rates from your SMS campaigns.

If you have an online sale, tell them to go to the web address and include the link and any other instructions.

If you want them to go to your store or trade show event give them the address.


8. Have Mobile Friendly Website Pages

If you’re looking to push people through to a website it’s best if that website looks good on mobile devices.

While you’ll still get people who will complete the desired outcome a lot of them will drop off which will increase the cost of the overall campaign.

The main factors are:

  1. Page speed

When people are on their mobile phones they expect pages to load quickly, in fact, Google found that 53% of users will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. That’s half of your traffic gone and potential sales. Want to know how fast your page loads? Head over to this site to find out.

  1. Readability

People should be able to read your text without having to zoom or dragon their screen around to see everything on your site.

  1. Clarity

Make sure everything is very simple and clear so the visitor knows exactly what to do without having to think too much.


9. Be Polite And Include An Opt-Out In Every Message

Having an opt-out for SMS is vital because it’s such a personal marketing channel.

The last thing you want is to treat your subscribers like they’re caged animals with no hope of ever being released from promotional campaigns.

By having an opt-out option on your text messages it creates a sense of relief in the subscriber and shows that you’re a professional.


10. It’s Ok To Go Past 160 Characters

Most of your campaigns should be able to fit inside 160 characters but there will be times where you will need to go beyond that text limit.

Let’s say you need to type out a message that requires 300 characters just type out your message and when you send it out it’ll be stitched together into one long SMS message on the recipient’s side.


11. Don’t Text Too Often

Email and online SMS platforms share a lot in common but one major difference is message frequency.

People are ok with receiving daily emails from trusted and valuable sources but rarely will this ever be the case with SMS.

SMS requires a little more finesse since mobile users have a low tolerance for businesses that are constantly blasting their phone with SMS promotions. The only excpetion to this is if the person has joined your list knowing that you will text them frequently.

The typical frequency cap is 1 SMS per week but our clients will typically send one SMS per fortnight ot even once per month. I wouldn’t recommend texting less than that just in case a person forgets they subscribed to your list.

Either way you want to ensure that every time you message them that you have something good to talk about.

If you want to send more then you’d need to state this clearly on the opt-in form before they subscribe.


12. Promote Your Offer

Just like with email you need to promote your SMS offer in order to get subscribers so take note of all of the places where potential or new customers are engaging with you and look to insert your SMS promotion into that channel.

Typical places to promote your SMS channel are:

  • Website
  • Email newsletters
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Direct mail
  • Sandwich board
  • Point of sale
  • Storefront
  • Banner ads
  • Relevant blog content
  • Packaging (e.g. pizza box)
  • Receipts
  • Pamphlets


13. Track Performance

A lot of marketers especially want to track everything and that’s fine but most business owners I talk to can’t really be bothered with it and when it comes to SMS it’s ok if you don’t want to track.

BUT as your list grows it does become important because guesswork can cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in revenue if you’re not sure what makes your subscribers buy.

My advice is to keep it as simple as possible, the big trap you can fall into is spending half your day pouring over spreadsheets of data – don’t do this.

If you’re adding a link to your SMS message then add a tracking tag (like this one) and then shorten that link using this tool so you can see inside your Google analytics which traffic came from where.


14. Here Are 10 Metrics That You May Want To Track:

  1. List growth rate (subscription rate): How many people are joining your lists daily, weekly, monthly, annually?
  2. Unsubscribe Rate: How many unsubscribes do you get daily, weekly, monthly, annually? Know what your baseline numbers are here so you can see how different campaigns affect those numbers.
  3. Join/Unsubscribe Ratio: Ratios are a great way to see what is happening at a glance. During the month of January how many people joined X list vs. how many people unsubscribed?
  4. Attribution: What marketing channels are contributing to your list growth? Also, if possible, uncover which marketing channels are delivering you the best quality opt-ins.
  5. List Size: Is your list size growing, shrinking or staying the same?
  6. List value: Knowing what your list is worth to your company is essential, it could be an invaluable asset worth $1,000’s or $10,000’s per year or more.
  7. Revenue Per Subscriber: Another good metric to be aware of is your revenue per subscriber. If the revenue value of each subscriber is dropping then it could mean you have too many unresponsive subscribers on your list and that you need to do some house cleaning (removing people who are unresponsive to your SMS’s)
  8. Conversion rate: Always a good metric to know. Of the people who responded to your SMS message how many of them converted into a sale?
  9. Response rate: How many people are responding to your offers?
  10. SMS Lifecycle: How long do people stay on your list before unsubscribing? If you can double that lifecycle you double your sales revenue.


15. Reduce Unsubscribe Rates With These 3 Tricks

One of your main goals is to reduce unsubscribe rates which can be high if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Here are 3 great strategies to reduce unsubscribe rates:


1. Insider Information & Exclusive Offers

Secret insider information invites and offers elevate our status, it taps into that superiority.

You: “Wow! Where did you get those shoes, they’re not available until next season!!”

Friend: “I’m part of a special club.”

How bad do you want to join that club? And if you are able to join how reluctant are you to want to leave?


2. Make It Harder For People To Subscribe

This may seem to go against the rule of getting as many people onto your list as possible but it’s not.

People don’t value what is free.

People value things that are hard to attain.

By having restrictions or hoops that people have to jump through instantly creates tension and curiosity around joining your SMS list.

This creates massive word of mouth which in turn accelerates subscriber numbers.


3. Invite Only

This one takes patience but works in the same way as the above strategy because it creates instant exclusivity and by giving each new person only 3 invites to share (for example) it means that you can grow your subscriber numbers exponentially.


16. Use SMS To Boost Other Channels

Don’t use SMS in isolation use it to power up your other marketing channels.

For example if you have an important newsletter going out send everyone an SMS asking if they’d received it.

This instantly increases your email open rates.

The same is true for other channels including:

  • Webinars
  • Product launches
  • Opening nights
  • Special events
  • Trade show traffic
  • Cart recovery

I recommend using this strategy sparingly throughout the year.


17. Be Aware Of SMS Marketing Policies

To ensure you’re following SMS marketing best practices it’s important that you or your marketing team are aware of the laws around SMS.

While there aren’t a lot of policies to keep in mind the fines for not following them can be severe so it’s important to understand what you can and cannot do.

The 3 main rules you must abide by are:

  1. Consent: You must ensure that every single subscriber in your list has given you explicit consent to send them SMS promotions.
  2. Identification: Tell the subscriber who you are inside the message.
  3. Unsubscribe option: Having an opt-out option clearly available.


2003 SPAM Act (SMS Marketing Australia)