SMS Marketing: Ultimate Guide for Businesses (2022)

Open rates for SMS reach as high as 98% - making text messaging one of the most engaging ways to contact your customers versus emails. With the world going mobile, our text-perts spell out the ultimate SMS marketing tips for your success.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is a quick way to communicate with customers. Using an online SMS platform, you can send texts - to either individuals or large groups - and it’s just like sending from your mobile.

From personalising to scheduling messages, SMS platforms help you to easily manage, track and bulk send your campaigns. You also have the option to use a branded sender ID, so customers will recognise you straight away. This doesn't even scratch the surface of FireText's handy marketing features.

SMS marketing platform features

Different ways to use SMS

SMS marketing can be as simple or sophisticated as you like. You can send straight from your online account or from one of FireText's integrations for automated messaging. Some ways to use SMS include:

  • Bulk marketing campaign - e.g. a sale, exclusive discount or product release
  • Transactional message - e.g. an order confirmation text automatically triggered by a purchase
  • Reminder - e.g. a text before an event to remind attendees
  • Lead generation - e.g. promoting a keyword and short number on other channels to allow people to sign up to SMS

Top SMS marketing tip #1: Grow your database

Ask your customers directly

Or as our Cornish HQ team says, ask ‘dreckly.

It’s easy to collect mobile phone numbers for your marketing campaigns. If you own a shop, why not ask everyone who comes in? If you own a hotel, ask your guests. If you own a restaurant, ask your diners.

You could even pop a basic form on your website or social media, and offer an exclusive discount when they sign up. You’ll quickly build a list of loyal customers.

Generate leads via marketing campaigns

If you haven't already got a list of contacts who have signed up, a great way to build a list of contacts is to use an SMS keyword on a shortcode number.

This allows a customer to opt in to a campaign or exciting updates and offers. For example, if you used the keyword ‘JOINUS’ on the shortcode ‘82228’, you can advertise this on your posters, adverts, your website - anywhere and everywhere.

Then your customers can send a text with ‘JOINUS’ in the body of the message to send to the 82228 number. You can even set up an auto-response thanking them for joining.

SMS marketing platform features

Top tip #2: Upload and sort your contact groups

You’ve collated your SMS contacts - whether through a lead generation campaign, sign-up form, or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system - and now you’re ready to upload them to your account. It's super easy to upload contacts within your account.

The most common way to do this is using a CSV file, which can be imported straight from an Excel document.

You may want to upload a batch of contacts a batch at a time. For example, if you wanted to send a reminder for a table booking, you could upload contacts according to the week or day you want to remind them. You can then keep these in separate folders to keep sending as simple as possible.

Top tip #3: Personalise your texts with a {{firstname}}

When it comes to crafting your text, make sure you communicate with your customers the same way you would if they walked into your business. Demonstrate your outstanding customer service skills with a friendly and personal text.

A great way to do this is using the custom fields and personalisation tool in the FireText SMS platform.

These allow you to continue to send out bulk SMS marketing campaigns to your contact list while including personal details such as their first name. There are also extra custom fields you can use, allowing you to add any extra personal details from appointment time to event locations.

For example:
{{firstname}} = Meg
{{custom1}} = Mike
{{custom2}} = Tuesday 13th May
{{custom3}} = 1-2pm

This would look like this within your FireText account (left), and translate to something like this on the recipient’s phone (right):

SMS marketing platform features

Top tip #4: Keep your texts really, really simple

What makes SMS a great channel is its simplicity - and that means keeping your message snappy and sweet. Don't overthink it. if you're having a sale, promote the discount. If you're flaunting a new product, direct your customer to it.

The key thing to remember is that your business text messages don’t need to include all the information. The aim is to capture the attention of your audience in a short message while including the key points of your campaign, and injecting personality from your business.

FireText's character counter makes it really easy to track how long your message is. The system works on the basis that every 160 characters equal one SMS credit - serving as a gentle reminder to keep your text messages concise.

Hint: Avoid txt spk. U may thnk it’s cool and ez txting like this, but does it really reflect your company image? It’s also pretty difficult to read.

Top tip #5: Allow your contacts to opt in (& out)

Let's get the GDPR clear. A vital consideration when sending out SMS marketing messages is to make sure your contacts have opted in for SMS communications. And that every marketing message you send gives them the option to opt-out if they're no longer interested.

There are many easy ways to do this, including opting for an opt-out keyword on a shortcode. For example, ‘opt out? Text FTSTOP to 82228.’

Or a personalised opt-out webpage that would look something like this: 'opt out? Visit: www.sto.pm/itpizza'

Top tip #6: Make it clear who the text is from

Your customers will want to know who you are. Make it clear by adding your company name in the 'From' field (sender ID) OR in the message body if you’re subscribed to a FireText reply number - which we explain more about further down.

Top tip #7: Call your customers to action

While you’re crafting your text marketing message, you can choose to include a call to action for further information. This could be a number to call, an email to touch base with or even a link to direct them to more information.

If you’re including a link, this can be personalised to your brand with a vanity URL - adding even more credibility to your message.

For example, for 'Pizza Italiano', a branded URL could look like this: 'sms.pizzaitaliano.co.uk/ABC123'

By including a clear call to action you will also be able to easily track the success of your campaigns, whilst ensuring that your message remains short, sweet and eye-catching.

Top tip #8: Receive replies from customers

There are different ways to let your customers text you in an instant:

  • A reply number e.g. 07903 969 598
  • Keyword on our Shortcode e.g. HELLO on 82228

Each of these options will let your customers reach you by SMS - sent directly to your FireText account for your to view and respond to. We can even set up a forward so that your replies are sent on to your email too, so you don’t have to check your account for replies.

People can text you for anything. Some popular uses of inbound SMS are:

  • Join your SMS list
  • Book an appointment
  • Request information
  • Enter a competition
  • Vote

Hint: Like with all SMS platforms, the reply function means you cannot send from a brand name, as the customers' handsets need to have a number to reply to. In this case, it's just about making your brand name clear in the body of the message.

We can get you set up with a reply function in minutes, from as little as £5 per month.

Top tip #9: Set up auto-replies

When a customer gets in contact on SMS you can hit them straight back with an automatic reply to reassure them you’re there.

Auto-replies can be set up really quickly for all inbound messages to your SMS number – or even on specific campaigns by keyword.

The ability to track links is one of the most useful text marketing tools out there. FireText's 'track URL' feature allows you to track how many people have clicked on the link - and it shortens it for you.

In a world where precise targeting is vital, this is an essential tool - it means you can use your data to send targeted text campaigns to those who have or haven’t yet clicked.

With intelligent text tracking, we can show you how many click-throughs you get from your campaigns. It gets more intelligent than that – we’ll also tell you who clicked, at what time and using what device.

Also, if you’re tracking eCommerce in Google Analytics, you can actually track how many sales you’re getting from SMS too!

Top tip #11: Time your texts right

Grab a quick second to think when will be a likely time for your customers to choose your product or service – a little thought will go a long way.

Don’t be afraid to try some different ideas out too. This way, you’ll find the optimum time and content for your business.

For example, for text marketing messages, any time between 9am - 12pm on weekdays could be ideal because that’s when recipients may be checking their notifications and messages as the workday begins.

The same may go for any time between 5-9pm, where people are winding down after the workday and checking their phones. Similarly, late mornings on the weekends gives people the chance to wake up and check their phones before they head out to socialise or stay in to relax.

We know you won’t always be able to send the message at the same time you want it to be received, which is why we have a couple of tools to help you time your campaigns just right - including scheduling and repeating messages.

Top tip #12: ALWAYS send a test message

Before committing to a campaign, we always recommend sending out an individual test message to your own phone from your FireText account. This gives you the chance to view the content exactly how the recipient will see it. And you can make sure you are 100% happy with the content before committing to a campaign.

Top tip #13: Analyse your success with delivery reports

Delivery reports show you which numbers have successfully received your message and those that haven’t. This will help you keep on top of your data and filter out unused mobile numbers.

Download your campaign reports or keep them in your FireText account for later.

Top tip #14: Automate your SMS marketing campaigns

By now we’re sure you’ve become a pro at using your FireText SMS account. Let’s take it one step further and think about integrating SMS into your existing software.

Maybe you run a busy online shop, and you want to keep your customers updated on their order process.

Perhaps you run a restaurant and want to send a quick reminder so your diners don’t forget about their booking.

SMS is not only effective, it's highly reliable too. With the FireText SMS API, you can integrate your FireText account quickly and easily into your existing system. When an order is placed, let your system automatically notify your customers by SMS or configure your software to automatically send reminders.

Integrating SMS within your application can save you time whilst boosting your customers experience.

Top tip #15: Get top-notch SMS support

Our support goes above and beyond top SMS marketing tips. Your FireText account comes with a dedicated account manager - so we'll have the pleasure of personally supporting you with SMS content ideas and the platform's handy features.

Richard
Verified Reviewer
Simple and easy to use. Makes it so much easier to send out mass communications to our members in seconds rather than a lot longer than multiple batch sends from my phone. Great customer service with quick response times too. Highly recommended.
Jaz
Verified Reviewer
Brilliant results from using FireText and it's so simple to use! Love the way it interacts with other packages and makes for a seamless environment for marketing and communications!
Anonymous
Verified Reviewer
It has been the most effective tool for marketing for us. The team are also lovely checking up on me without pushing to sell anything.

To get started with SMS marketing, sign up for a free trial account. Once you've carefully crafted your message, click send and watch the results come in. Enjoy that coffee knowing you've saved heaps of time.