5 SMS Marketing Do’s (…And 5 SMS Marketing Don’ts)

Sending a bulk SMS marketing message is really easy, right?

  1. Select the people you want to text
  2. Type in the message or select a proven winning campaign
  3. Click send

What could be easier?

But before you get started in SMS there things you should do and things you shouldn’t.

The goal of this article is to let you in on the most important elements to work on as well as areas to avoid.

Let’s dig in!


Don’t Migrate Mobile Numbers Into Your SMS List

This one is tempting.

I get it.

You’ve got loads of mobile numbers from past customers.

And you’re confident that sending out an SMS to these people would bring in a flood of fresh new sales.

It probably would too but the risks are high.

When it comes to any marketing activity you must get a person’s consent before you can send promotions.

While it is very tempting to migrate all of your customers over to your SMS platform and start bulk messaging it’s best to leave it alone because the legal headache probably won’t be worth it.

Here’s a site with some good information regarding SMS Laws.

Here’s a better idea. If you have permission to send emails to your customers you can do this:

  • Promote your SMS list on future company newsletters – create a static ad or promote it at the bottom of each newsletter to keep driving new leads.
  • Send them a personal email asking if they’d like to subscribe to your SMS list.

In either situation, don’t ask them to join but rather promote the benefits of being on your new SMS programme/VIP list/exclusive partners list etc.

  • Will you send them offers that only SMS list subscribers will see?
  • Will they get insider information that is not publicly available?
  • Will they preferential treatment in some way?

The goal is to position the SMS list as something that has high value.



Don’t Send Out SMS Too Frequently

One mistake I see with SMS is treating it like it’s similar to email or social media.

It’s not.

SMS is very unique because you’re marketing is being sent to the SMS inbox which is a place that only friends, family and maybe some work colleagues are allowed access to.

Because of this, the rules change a little.

The SMS inbox is more “exclusive” think of it has an insiders club.

The last thing you want to do consistently pepper that person with promotion after promotion.

From our own client research once per week seems to be the maximum number of times to reach someone and even then you want to make sure you have a good reason.

If you want to send campaigns more regularly here are two ideas:

  1. Let them know how often you will message them on your offer (before they opt-in) or send them a follow-up confirmation SMS that lets them know how many SMS’s they can expect from you and that they can unsubscribe any time


  1. Use a 2-Step Approach – get them on to your SMS list first and send then send them a text saying that you have a special SMS group where you send frequent special offers that come in 3-4 times per week and if they’re interested they can opt-in to that group by texting VIPlist to XXXXXXX this will allow you to grow a list of people who don’t mind regular contact.



Don’t Send Irrelevant Offers

Each SMS you send has the ability to make a lot of money but if not executed correctly can create “list erosion”.

Mobile users have an incredibly low tolerance for SPAM.

SPAM will destroy your list quickly and get angry calls back to the office for your team.

Here’s the best way to avoid this:

Segment your list.

You do this by creating specific contact groups that are linked to specific keywords.

For example, when a person text message’s “keyword A” to your SMS opt-in they are added to “contact group A”.

When you have an offer that is perfect for “Contact Group A” you’re only sending it to that specific group.

This is great for creating highly targeted offers and is also easier to manage your groups.



Don’t Talk To Them As A Group

SMS is a one-to-one communication channel.

Reduce the number of SMS messages that read like the following:

Big special on for our customers 50% off! Tonight only.

Why? Because this doesn’t feel personalised to the person you are trying to engage with.

Think about a text that you’d send to a friend if you’d just become aware of an offer that they’d be interested in.

How would you word it?

Think of yourself as someone who has just stumbled across something amazing and you are keen to let that subscriber in on it.

I’ll let you know why this is very important in a few moments.

You want your text message to read like it was meant for them.

Try something like this instead:

Hey Jill, I know you love Italian shoes so we’ve got a 50% off sale on our Italian shoe range but it ends tonight. Thought you’d be interested. Jack.

It’s a much more human to human interaction.

If they perceive you to be a real person they are more likely to open to text messages and stay on your list since it’s harder to unsubscribe from a person you know, like and trust.

Also, keep it casual.

By casual I don’t mean using the letter “u” instead of “you”.

Use the language and style that would feel natural to the recipient.

This is of course dictated by the buyer persona you’re messaging, right?

Obviously, you’ll talk to school principals different than you would pizza customers but there’s no need to be overly formal.



Don’t Send SMS Users To Pages That Aren’t Mobile Friendly

You have a special offer.

You’ve added to your website that was built in the early 2000’s before online mobile browsing was a thing.

Chances are that when people click through from your SMS message to your website that it’s going to give them a frustrating experience.

They going to have to zoom in and scroll left to right to read everything.

This is not only important for improving your SMS results but as an overall strategy.

Globally, mobile has overtaken computer desktops in terms of online searches and activity.

Google hates non-mobile friendly websites.

Not only that but Google has now shown preferential treatment to mobile users and my guess is that they will start penalising websites that aren’t mobile friendly.



Use Scarcity And Urgency With Every Offer

Scarcity and urgency have always been helpful in terms of driving action and is one of the few strategies that will always work.

Imagine this for a moment:

Think of a product that you would love to have that is in your price range.

Do you feel a sense of pressure to buy it right now?

Now imagine this scenario:

Think of that same product you want but…

That company is running a good-bye promotion where that product is only available until 5pm or until the next 20 units are sold…after the price will go up by 20%.

On top of that, there are people lining up outside that store eager to get in.

Did you feel a hint of anxiety?

Fear of loss is a strong motivator.

Every special offer that you send should have an urgency and/or scarcity to drive more sales.



Use SMS To Improve Other Channels

One of the amazing benefits of SMS is that when you send a message…it will get read.

One of the downsides to email is that when you send an important email…it might get read.

If you’re sending out an important email you can improve open rates by sending out an SMS to those people who failed to open their email.

When someone is shopping online and they get halfway through the order process and then bail you can send them an SMS to recover some of those abandoned carts.

If you have a webinar or live event coming up sending an SMS is a smart way to drive more people to that event.

SMS is a great tool to deploy when you absolutely need to get as many eyeballs on your other various marketing efforts.



Turn Your List Into An Insiders Club

Once you’ve spent time and money getting people on to your SMS list the last thing you want to do is make it easy for people to unsubscribe.

The best way to reduce unsubscribes is to make the people on your list feel like they’re part of something special.

If they feel like if they unsubscribe that they could lose something valuable then you’re likely to have high retention rates.

Here are a handful of ways to turn your “list” into a VIP club:

  1. Make offers to your list that cannot be seen anywhere else.
  2. Make your list invite only.
  3. Have people pay an annual fee to be on your list.
  4. Giveaway stuff for free.
  5. Make it a hassle to get on to your list (application sign up, jump through hoops etc.)



Keep Them Separated

The worst thing you can do in SMS marketing is to lump everyone together into the same group.

Each customer buys your product or service for different reasons so you want to group those people who share the same or similar reasons together into contact group segments.

Segmenting your list into groups of people who share similar needs and interests is great for improving sales because it helps you create offers that are related to the previous offer they purchased or opted-in for.

The Benefits Of Segmentation:

  • Reduce unsubscribes due to making highly relevant and therefore valuable offers and information.
  • It’s easier to come up with promotions when you know exactly who you’re sending the offer to.
  • Conversions, bookings, leads, and sales will go up naturally because the text messages will be highly specific to their needs.
  • If you have 5 group segments then you can send out an SMS campaign every day to drive sales. If you only have one big group you can only text once per week maximum.



Build Your SMS Golden Goose

Would you like it if you have at least a dozen SMS promotions that you knew every time you ran them approximately how much money you would bring in like clockwork?

The most successful animal species are successful because they have gone through multiple iterations (versions) before landing on the model that allows them to thrive on this planet.

Use the same approach when it comes to offers.

If a business is guessing which offers to use week after week, month after month without continuing to improve them then it’s just gambling.

The goal is to create an offer and then through slight iterations, you are able to end up on what is called a Golden Goose Promotion.

This is a promotion that is successful every time it is launched.

Here’s how to create your Golden Goose Promotion:

  1. Select the SMS segment you want to promote to
  2. Craft two offers and give them slightly different codes so you can track them
  3. Send offer #1 to 50% of the list and send offer #2 out to the other 50%
  4. Record results
  5. Drop the losing offer
  6. Create a new offer to replace it
  7. Go to step 3 when you want to do the next round of promotions



The main rules of SMS are:

  1. Avoid legal problems by getting permission from users before sending SMS promotions.
  2. Reduce unsubscribes by creating segmented groups, targeted offers, optimal message frequency and positioning your SMS list as an insiders club.
  3. Create predictable results by testing your offers.
  4. Improve the results of other marketing channels by using SMS to recover sales, drive emails opens and webinar, sales or event attendance rates.
  5. Connect subscribers to your brand by speaking to them as individuals not as a mass audience.


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