SMS Campaign: A Quick Guide With Examples

11 min

When SMS became available to the public in 1992, it changed the game — it turned the telecommunication world from a verbal platform to a text-based one. 

And SMS marketing has soon followed. In fact, consumers are more likely to open text messages before any other form of mobile communication (such as push notifications or emails). 

Successful SMS marketing campaigns also produce engagement rates six to eight times higher than what retailers normally achieve via email marketing, and Gartner predicts that 80% of customer service organizations will abandon native mobile apps in favor of messaging by 2025. 

These tiny tools are great drivers of brand awareness and can make your marketing campaigns varied and delightful. So, whatever your goal is for marketing your business — be it brand awareness, promoting your social channels, or boosting sales — you should consider adding SMS marketing campaigns to your tool kit.

Let’s dig into how you can use this tool to upscale your marketing initiatives.

Why should you run SMS campaigns?

Besides having an open rate of 98% (yes, really!), text messages are also more accessible than emails or social media blasts. But the benefits don’t stop there. Here are a few reasons why you should explore SMS marketing.

Reason #1: SMS campaigns don’t rely on internet connectivity

While the internet is more prolific than ever, a staggering 40% of people still live without online access. Text marketing campaigns bypass this barrier while still delivering relevant information to your customers. 

If a portion of your target market lives in countries with poor access to the internet, SMS messages are your holy grail for reaching this clientele. They are also an effective way to reach off-grid areas such as hiking routes, campsites, or trekking trails. 

Reason #2: SMS messages are concise

Text messages need to fit within 160 characters, so you have to be incredibly concise. And, in a world where the average person has an attention span of just 8 seconds (less than that of a goldfish!), brevity is a virtue. SMS campaigns are one of the most effective marketing channels because they are direct, to-the-point, and free of fluff. 

Reason #3: They are more accessible

The average American checks their phone 160 times a day, making SMS messages well-placed and, therefore, accessible. While social media blasts or even email marketing campaigns may take time to get noticed, text message marketing is nearly instant and pushes people to act quickly. 

How to run an SMS campaign

Let’s say we’ve convinced you and you’ve decided to implement text message marketing as part of your marketing strategy. Now what? Here is a thorough guide to help you create your first marketing campaign. 

1. Pick your SMS campaign tool 

When creating a text marketing campaign, having a good SMS campaign tool will make all the difference. Here are some key features to look for when you are selecting your campaign tool: 

  • Simple automation: to save you time
  • Easy personalization: to make your customers feel valued
  • Tracking features: to generate data for updates and improvements 
  • Text scheduling according to different time zones: to land in your customers’ inboxes at exactly the right time

For example, promotional offers for holidays or important events may need to go out quickly, but they also need to be well-crafted and unique. Good SMS marketing services can bridge this gap by personalizing the texts for your customers as well as personalizing the process for you.

On the business end of a text marketing campaign, it is crucial to track the activity on your text messages, from open rates to click-through rates on links. This gives you insight into your customers, their needs, and what they respond to. A good SMS marketing tool provides an inbuilt channel to measure the effectiveness of your SMS campaign. 

Case in point: GetResponse’s SMS Marketing Automation tool offers valuable insight into how texts are received and responded to. It also allows you to personalize information for different contact lists and deliver your message when the time is right. 

2. Start building your SMS list

Building your list is the next step in launching your first SMS campaign. You can do this through multiple marketing channels, some of which you may already be using:

  • Add a call-to-action button to your promotional emails. Have a sale coming up? Tell your customers to “sign up for our SMS alerts to be notified when the sale goes live!”
  • Have a link on your social media channels telling people they can “sign up to be the first to know when we launch a new [product/collection].” 
  • If you have items that go out of stock on your website, add an option to “text me as soon as it’s back!” This will build a list of customers who already planned to buy something and will come back when it becomes available. 
  • Abandoned cart mobile messages have the potential to tap into customers who might have left your site unintentionally, like having gone to get their credit card and gotten distracted. A simple SMS can bring them back to your app.

This text message by Ajio, an eCommerce service, has a great way of calling back its customers with an exciting offer:

A screenshot of an SMS text: "Ring ring! It's your cart calling!"

Lists can be categorized depending on customer demographics, how they chose to hop onto your SMS list, or how frequently they visit your links.

Building segmented SMS lists helps you craft an SMS campaign that has a higher probability of receiving engagement — one that is niche, relevant, and tailored. 

Read now to learn how to build an email list from scratch!

3. Determine when to send your message

How often have we heard people attribute their success to “being in the right place at the right time”? Well, this phrase holds equally true for the success of text message marketing. 

Good timing on SMS marketing messages can make unaware people curious, curious people active, and active people convert to paying customers. 

The ideal time to show up in your customers’ inbox will depend on the SMS campaign you’re running. Here are a few statistics to guide your decision: 

  • The peak time for people to buy online is either between 10 and 11 a.m. or between 8 and 9 p.m. So, it makes sense to send your SMS campaigns in the minutes leading up to these peaks. 
  • Similarly, Wednesday and Thursday are the days that see the highest activity from online buyers. 
  • Salaries are usually paid between the first and seventh of each month. People are more likely to spend when their accounts have recently been credited. 

In the midst of a broader marketing strategy, timing can make the difference between people being unaware of your existence (such as if you text them at 3 a.m.) and recommending you to their friends (such as if you message them on evenings and weekends).  

Remember to check time zones and seasonality before you hit enter on your texts. 

It will breed more annoyance than loyalty if you show up in someone’s inbox at five o’clock on a summer morning, only to tell them the sweater they were interested in six months ago is now half-off. 

4. Choose your channels

Before sending your message, choose the channels it should lead back to. 

If your goal is to build brand awareness, link back to social media channels (43% of global shoppers research products online via social networks). 

If you’re informing your customers of sales, link back to your website (direct-to-site is a leading traffic driver). 

If you’re distributing promotional content with a partner, link back to your partner’s website as well to double your potential conversions. 

5. Double-check for errors

When bulk sending text messages, even one mistake can turn into a catastrophe. 

Errors can show up in varied damaging forms, including broken links, defunct coupons, misleading information, or incorrect spellings. For example, you don’t want your personalized text to read “Dead Bani” instead of “Dear Bani.”

The good news is that with so few characters in a text message, proofing is easily achievable. Before you press send on your SMS campaign, take a few minutes to check for the following common errors:

  • Broken links
  • Incorrect social media handles 
  • Typos or commonly misspelled words
  • Expired coupon codes 
  • Inaccurate dates and time slots (especially for time-sensitive offers like flash sales, sneak peeks, or giveaways)

SMS campaign best practices 

We all want you to succeed and your SMS marketing messages to bring the highest ROI. Fortunately, there are some bullet-proof tactics you can apply for the best outcome.

These practices lend credibility, authority, and a sense of style to your brand; use them as a checklist as you create your next SMS campaign. 

Follow the rules

It is important to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules and add disclaimers and unsubscribe links to the end of your messages. Adidas, for instance, adds an easy unsubscribe link to the end of their messages:

An SMS text featuring an unsubscribe link: "Last few hours to get flat 50% off!"

You can either manually add this link to every message you send or use an SMS marketing tool that does it for you. GetResponse’s SMS tool automatically adds this link for you, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors. 

Know your audience

The tone of your SMS marketing should not only match your brand voice but should also be tailored to your audience. The way you write will be quite different if you’re targeting high school students versus small business owners. 

An example of an SMS text from Forever 21: "Time to Slay Girl's! Fall in love with Forever 21's Newest arrivals"

Forever 21, a clothing brand that targets Gen Z, appeals to their audience by starting off their marketing campaign with some pop culture slang. They’ve even forgone spelling and grammar to stay within the character count.

Add exclusivity and build suspense

Some of your text messages should tell your customers that they are exclusive and valued. You can accomplish this by offering them unique time slots to preview sales, limited-time coupons, or even memberships to an exclusive club. 

This message from Forever New invites you to an in-store sale preview and welcomes you with a gift:

An SMS text example: "Forever New invites you to an exclusive preview"

Create urgency

Creating a sense of urgency encourages your readers to act quickly before they might forget about your message and move on with their day. Simply adding alarm sign emojis or similar animations might make people act faster. 

Nykaa does this well by announcing the early access to their sale:

An SMS text example: "[Breaking news]: Early access to hot pink sale has begun!"

Be clear

In both your offer and your call to action, be clear about what you want the reader to do. Do you want them to visit your store? Use a discount code? Text you back? Be explicit in your instructions and include any links or contact information they need to act on.

Get creative

No matter what it is that you’re selling, if you can find a way to make it fun and creative, people will respond — if not by visiting your links, then by telling their friends about the fun message they just received, which helps build awareness and loyalty. 

Baskin Robbins got creative in their SMS marketing campaigns while being clear about their offer:

An SMS text example from Baskin Robbins: "Slurp you way to happyness with our new super duper range"

SMS campaign examples and ideas to inspire you

An SMS marketing campaign can take a variety of shapes and forms. It can be innovative, witty, seasonal, or even plain promotional. Here are five examples with takeaways to get your creative marketing juices flowing.

Example 1: Swiggy’s SMS marketing campaign addresses mental health 

Swiggy, a food delivery app, doesn’t sell food delivery in the following marketing campaign. Instead, it sells the idea of well-being and how food delivery ensures it. This works really well in a pandemic-inflicted world and shows Swiggy’s customers that they matter. 

Swiggy's SMS campaign example

Example 2: Domino’s SMS campaign encourages people to vaccinate

Domino’s Pizza launched an SMS campaign encouraging people to get vaccinated. This is an exercise in awareness-building while still directing people back to the Domino’s app. 

An SMS text example: "Get your shot, get your reward!"

Example 3: Tata CliQ gets creative

Tata CliQ, an eCommerce platform, added a quirky touch to their text messages by using a capitalized Q to represent its brand. They also create a sense of urgency by telling you to “PiQ these items now!” 

PIQ's text message campaign example with created urgency

Example 4: Flipkart’s SMS sales campaign calls you to action

Flipkart, an ecommerce merchant, leverages both creative copy and images to introduce its end-of-season sale. Their campaign is a lesson in creative writing and effective calls to action (“wishlist now” and “start shopping”). 

Flipkart also does a great job of representing its target market through the images they use. 

An example of an SMS text with rich media: "Life's too short to wear boring clothes"

Example 5: Zomato’s campaign won hearts

Zomato, a food delivery service, sent out the following message as a part of their marketing campaign. It’s shamelessly self-promotional, but its users still shared it all across social media. 

An example of a rich media SMS text: "4 pick-up lines to try on your crush"

Pro Tip: Attaching images in the body of the text acts as a refreshing change from the monotony of the same-font text.

Final remarks

SMS campaigns are easy to scan and impossible to miss as they appear right on your customers’ home screens — sometimes even on their lock screens! A well-planned SMS marketing strategy can make people visit your app, follow your Instagram channel, and even buy directly from your website. 

Personalization, good timing, and creative campaign ideas go a long way in ensuring your messages delight and captivate your customers. Take the ideas from this article, set up your own SMS marketing campaign, and surprise your customers with exclusivity, suspense, and gift codes sent straight to their inbox. 

Need some ideas for automated messages? Here are 7 Connectable SMS Marketing Automation Ideas to get you started!

Ready to set up your own automated SMS campaign? Sign up to GetResponse and start sending text messages!

Anna Kvasnevska
Anna Kvasnevska
Anna is a content marketing specialist and a proud member of the GetResponse team. With more than 5 years of experience in content creation, as well as her intercultural background and cross-industry perspective, Anna is happy to share her insights into the latest updates from the world of online marketing, eCommerce, and technology. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.