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What Is SMS Marketing? Complete Guide for Beginners

SMS marketing is a fantastic way to get a directed and succinct text message to a targeted audience - fast. Let's see how SMS marketing works:

Fernando Cintra

wrote inHow To

7 min read

One must wonder: "why should I bother with SMS marketing in 2022?". 

Granted. 

It's not an obvious assumption that SMS and text marketing is still a force to behold in an era with Metaverse and NFTs. After all, messaging has been around us for so long, right?

Well, right. And the answer to this question lies in itself: SMS is still around after all these years. And there are good reasons why that is.

In today's article, Appointible is going to take you on this tour to explain:

  • What is SMS marketing;

  • Why is it relevant in 2022 (and beyond);

  • Who is SMS and texting marketing for;

  • How to get the most out of SMS marketing services based on your industry.

Let's get to it:

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS equals Short Message Service. SMS Marketing is the use of texting to transmit a transactional or promotional message to an audience.

SMS marketing can be geared externally or internally, reaching both potential customers as well as current clients.

It has been present in our lives ever since the first Nokia phone beeped a "Merry Christmas" message in the distant month of December 1992.

Fast forward 30 years, and there is an enormous likelihood that you either already received at least one SMS today or will get one before you go to bed. Whether it is to get a promo code from a brand you love, a delivery status notification about your dinner or a second-factor authentication to log into your bank account.

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Why is SMS and texting relevant in 2022

SMS marketing is an essential channel for your company in 2022 and beyond.

Here is some evidence:

SMS marketing applications (in 3 ways)

As with every piece of communication a company sends out, SMS marketing can operate in 2 different ways (internally or externally) and with 2 different aims (promotional or transactional).

When we use the term "SMS marketing", we are actually referring to campaigns that are external and promotional.

Campaigns can also be external and transactional, internal and transactional, and, ultimately, internal and promotional.

Let's dive a bit deeper into each one of them.

I. SMS for marketing and promotions

As mentioned above, this is what is meant when talking about external and promotional campaigns. Basically, SMS for marketing and promotions is the holy grail of texting as a communication tool.

Here are some of the most straightforward ways SMS marketing can be used:

  • Sending promo codes;

  • Product launches;

  • Discounts on special occasions

And while SMS is definitely valuable when approaching your potential customers for sales, the potential for text message campaigns doesn't end there.

Another very important way to keep people engaged with your brand is by sending them useful information about your industry and your business, as well as messages that work towards building a deeper relationship with your audience.

For example:

  • Cross-referencing your social media accounts;

  • Sending links to newly published blog posts;

  • Sending anniversaries or other date-based messages;

Anything that not only gets them to buy - or keep buying from you - but also that will close the gap between them and the "buy" button.

II. Notification messages

The second application for SMS marketing goes to show how extensive and vast texting can be. SMS should be used not only to have people go all the way from lead to customer but also to take care of what happens after they purchased.

This is what external transactional messages are for - they notify customers about the purchase they already made or for using your product. For example:

  • Appointment reminders for clinics, hairdressers, etc.

  • Delivery status for meal orders;

  • Second-factor authentication or password recoveries;

  • Payment notifications from bank apps.

As you can see, there is no more effective way to send status notification messages than through SMS. It is as close to "guaranteed" as possible when it comes to making sure your users will open the message and read that important information.

III. Internal uses

The utility of SMS campaigns and marketing doesn't end when you communicate with people outside of your organization. There are plenty of utilities for text messages to people inside your organization as well.

Internal SMS campaigns are extraordinarily fruitful when addressing employees, investors, or recurring customers about an array of different things.

Here are a few of them:

  • Holiday and non-working day reminders;

  • Payroll information for employees; 

  • Product update or downtime notifications;

Who can benefit from SMS and text marketing

With such a broad and deep range of applications for SMS marketing and texting campaigns, it goes without saying that there are a few industries that can benefit immensely from employing SMS in the aforementioned cases.

We name a few of our favorites, remembering that Appointible itself is built to provide customers in the following niches with the best SMS marketing service. 

  • Real Estate: send property information to potential buyers;

  • Gyms: announce classes, membership plans and more;

  • Restaurants: offer reservations, coupons, and specials

  • Medical: remind patients about appointments and send test results

  • Human Resources: organizing employee contacts and internal communications

  • Small start-up companies: getting a name established and building a customer base

  • Retail: promoting loyalty programs, special offers, and notifications of upcoming sales

These are, of course, to name a few.

Top SMS marketing best practices

As with any other means of digital communication, there are a few boxes to check before implementing your SMS marketing campaign.

You will find a few of them listed below:

Respect your contact's privacy

There is no more straightforward way to put it: if your contact hasn't subscribed to receive an SMS from you, do not reach out to him or her with a text message!

This might seem a great strategy if your aim is to get your message across as many people as possible. Nonetheless, the long term side effect of sending unwelcome text message campaigns to people far outranks the benefits.

Furthermore, most countries have strict opt-in regulations in place, meaning one should only ever be receiving your message if it choses to.

It all starts with great start

As redundant as that may sound, SMS marketing does start with a great start. That is because, in contrast with Email Marketing, SMS campaigns don't have a title associated with them.

In the lion's share of the cases, it is also unlikely that your audience will have saved your number. It means that a good start to your text campaign will unquestionably be the main factor for its success.

One useful piece of advice would be - mainly if this is the first-ever campaign this particular contact receives from you - to personalize the send to start with your company's name.

Cross-reference your marketing channels

As much as SMS marketing is effective and has astoundingly high open rates, it is also worth noting that it should be used as part of a digital marketing strategy.

Cross-reference your social media accounts, send links to your newsletter, share your blog posts. In other words, use text message campaigns as a way to get your audience to engage with you in as many different channels as possible.

Do not use abbreviations

We text message daily - a lot. A way we cope with so much SMS going back and forward is through abbreviation. Granted: it is a fast and acceptable way of talking among friends, but nothing more than that.

When sending business SMS text messages, abbreviation must be avoided at all costs. Not only it is highly unprofessional, it also can confuse your audience. Shortening words like "text" to TXT might not me understood by everyone, which can lead your message to frustrate your audience and not achieve the desired goal.

Grow your SMS text list

Growing your SMS list is key to getting your message across to as many people as possible. And this should be done consistently and frequently. Needless to say that, even if you are just starting in SMS marketing, there are many ways that you can grow your SMS list.

Here are a couple of them:

Register current and past costumers

People that are currently your costumers or that have purchased or hired you in the past should be the first ones to be added to your SMS list (again, with their consent).

The rationale is straightforward: if they bought from you, they are likely to return as costumers and even want to hear your updates, launches, organizational changes and more.

SMS for marketing proves to be a fast and concise way to gather these people around your brand - and keep them that way.

Provide value

Another great way to get people to want to listen to you - or in this case, to want to read your SMS - is to provide them with value first.

Examples are limitless. But here are a few you can test to get some phone numbers going your way

  • Provide a free and useful "how to ________" guide that is relevant in your industry;

  • Promote a set of SMSs that run daily with discounts and promo codes;

  • Bring quick news from a specific topic that is interesting to your audience.

Moving forward, we will analyze more advanced topics in SMS marketing, such as timing, bulk sending, scheduling text messages, text reminders, and more.

What is the best time to send SMS?

The best time to send SMS campaigns is from 10am to 1pm during working days. That is the short answer.

How many times have you deliberately woken up at 2 AM to open your SMS inbox, clicked a link in a campaign, and performed a purchase?

Not only timing the clock correctly for your SMS marketing campaign is vital, but also some days of the week are better than others for trying to engage with potential buyers.

One study from Sprout Social shows just that. It measured engagement across a variety of marketing channels - from social media to email marketing - and spotted the following behavior:

Needless to say, however, that engagement varies immensely from industry to industry. That is why testing different times and days of the week to try to find the best send moments is a key factor in SMS marketing success.

At this stage, you might be wondering, "doesn't SMS have one of the best open rates across all text message channels? What is the point of sending it at one specific time rather than another"?

Yes, your SMS will most likely be open eventually. But its engagement is a whole other story. The table above present the best time engagement wise.

This is why having a professional SMS marketing tool is vital for a great text message campaign. With a professional tool you will be able to schedule SMS to be sent at the exact best time for your audience to engage with your message.

Speaking of which:

How to schedule SMS to send anytime you want?

You can schedule SMS to be sent at any time you want with a professional SMS marketing tool, such as Appointible.

The greatest advantage of using a text message marketing tool for businesses is that you can composed, prepare and schedule SMS for whole audiences, instead of just a single person at a time.

Scheduling with a SMS platform also enables you to track the open rates and CTR, so that you can continuously optimize the best time to schedule and send messages.

One way in which scheduling works great is with reminders. Text reminders are great to keep your audience alert for important upcoming events. Let's take a look at a few next.

What are SMS reminders?

SMS reminders are pre-scheduled or automated text messages that are sent to certify that a person doesn't miss an upcoming event. Some examples of what SMS reminder can target are appointments for medical clinics, payment reminders for rent, upcoming church cerimonies, and more.

Let`s dive a bit deeper into two of the main formats SMS reminders work best.

SMS appointment reminders

SMS appointment reminders are scheduled automated text messages that are sent when an appointment date is approaching.

As we covered in our recent SMS Appointment Reminder Guide, four in every ten patients miss medical appointments due to forgetfulness. If only they would receive a simple text message reminder to counter that. That is where text message appointment reminders come in. With it's high open rate, it is almost a certainty that clients will engage with the notification.

This is not the only reason why text messages work great as a reminder, however.

Roughly 80% of all adult Americans don't pick up incoming calls from unknown numbers. The percentage is even greater among millennials and gen-z. Moreover, SMS are private. Considering that certain appointments might be sensitive topics, confirming it with a real person - many times in public around other people - is not the best idea.

SMS payment reminders

SMS payment reminders are scheduled text messages that are also automated and can be sent when payment due date is approaching.

Text message payment reminders are great tools for landlords, subscription based businesses, recurring payment plans, and basically any other business that needs to need to keep their clients aware that pay day is near.

Some of the reasons that makes SMS the best way to deliver payment reminders were already discussed in the example above for appointments, such as privacy and overall phone call rejection.

Another reason why SMS payment reminders work great is that it can be saved for further reference and be easily opened from a mobile phone, even when not connected to the internet. Moreover, if your customer is having an issue making the payment, they can easily reply to your SMS, starting a text message conversation. Which is our next topic.

What is two-way SMS?

Two way SMS is when you send and receive text messages from your audience, creating a SMS conversation. It is also called as two-way texting or conversational SMS. This conversation is profoundly beneficial and can purposed for many different areas across varied business.

Two-way SMS for costumer support

Customer support is one way in which two-way SMS works fantastically well. Your clients can simply reach out to your text number and ask questions, make complaints or get more information, or you can initiate a conversation.

One example is with what we saw above for text message payment reminders. Maybe a client is having some issue making a payment with a PayPal link you sent. By replying to that message, your client will be able to make contact with you and clear out how they can proceed with payment.

Two-way SMS to generate more sales

But two-way SMS doesn't work great just for supporting customers you already have. It is also a great tool for those wanting to sell more. One way this works is with upselling. To upsell is to promote a complement or an upgrade to a service or product you already sold to your customers.

One way this works great is with a massage saloon, for example. You can follow up on your customer's purchase and send an SMS offering an additional 30 minutes massage per session on a discount. By interacting with your business through two-way SMS, your client will be able to accept your offer, make a payment, clear any doubts and much more.

For more information on how to create work with conversational text messaging, check our two-way SMS marketing strategy guide.

Who SMS marketing is for?

SMS is a fantastic marketing tool that shows no sign of slowing down. Instead of declining with the surge of new technologies, it just solidified its presence in the text messaging world with growing numbers of adoption with each passing year.

Even if you already have an email marketing or social media marketing strategy in place, SMS marketing is a great complement to those approaches and can even help those channels grow, by cross referencing these platforms through text messages.

That being said, SMS marketing is perfect for any business that are looking to connect with their audience and create highly targeted and robust campaigns. It is a perfect mechanism for any business that want to:

  • Sell more online and attract new customers;

  • Remind patients or clients of appointments;

  • Notify costumers on deliveries;

  • Announce new product releases;

  • And much, much more;

There is a high chance that you would benefit greatly from SMS as a tool of communication, even if you are not included in the examples bellow.

At Appointible, we strongly believe in the power of SMS for marketing, notifications, reminders and much more.

We hope that this beginners' guide to what is SMS marketing helped you clarify doubts and motivate your company to take its marketing strategy to the next level with text messages

But not try it yourself? Get started right now:

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