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SMS Campaigns 101: Things To Know Before Starting (With Examples)

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Karolina Petraškienė
Content Marketing Manager
Reading Time: 5 minutes

SMS marketing is living in its renaissance. Over the Thanksgiving week alone, Omnisend ecommerce merchants sent more than one million SMS campaigns—more campaigns than ever before.

DTC brands and ecommerce retailers invest in SMS heavily for a reason. According to VoiceSage, over 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes of receipt. The engagement rate is three to seven times higher than with emails and SMS campaigns generate an almost six times higher order rate.

No other marketing channel can brag about such results.

SMS as a marketing channel has been available for several decades now. Although some retailers have been sending promotional SMS campaigns for a while, they have never been so versatile as they are now.

Let’s dive into the peculiarities of SMS marketing and see how you can employ Short Message Service into your business strategy.

1. What Is an SMS Campaign?

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An SMS Campaign is a means of business marketing that enables you to interact with your customers via text. SMS campaigns have a lot in common with email campaigns.

However, an SMS campaign is even more personal than an email. This is because people use text messages mostly for communication with their friends and family.

SMS campaigns have limitations on visuals, with a character count of up to 160. Yet this marketing channel is faster and, so far, proven to be more effective.

Like email marketing, in SMS marketing you can send different messages to your audience. Automated text messages that confirm transactions, inform about shipping, remind about abandoned carts are automated. They are being sent only when triggered and only to customers who trigger them.

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Meanwhile, SMS campaigns like email campaigns, are initiated from your side. You create a campaign, pick an audience/segment of recipients and send it out to the list you just selected.

Both types of text messages are powerful. Only this time, we are digging deeper about bulk SMS campaigns sent to multiple recipients at once.

2. How to do an SMS Campaign

You can’t send your SMS campaign simply by using your mobile phone. First of all, you have to find an SMS marketing provider—our list of SMS marketing tools can help with that. Omnisend is one of the best candidates for that, mostly because of sales-per-campaign reporting.

The process of composing an SMS campaign might slightly differ on different platforms. But since an SMS doesn’t contain any design assets, it’s pretty easy to create one by using whatever dedicated tool.

All you need to have is a short and actionable copy and a list of phone numbers of your subscribers.

Sms campaign editor using Omnisend platform

You could use SMS campaigns solely to deliver critical and time-sensitive messages at every step of the customer journey. However, the best practice shows that short text messages are incredibly effective when combining them with other communication channels, like email and Facebook retargeting.

For example, SMS campaigns to non-openers. Firstly, you launch your email campaign, the next day you segment your subscribers who didn’t open your email and send them an SMS—which you can do step by step with Omnisend.

omnichannel marketing campaign including email, email campaign booster and text message

An SMS marketing channel is more expensive than email. Because of this, it’s worth trying to reach out to your customers initially. This can be via email and followed by SMS messages exclusively to those who missed out to engage with an email.

Simultaneously, you may also launch Facebook retargeting to the same audience. This way you will get more touchpoints with your customers and it will be easier to convince them to shop with you—particularly with holiday campaigns.

3. Is an SMS Campaign Template Needed?

As the short message service supports only text format, SMS campaigns can’t have any specific layout.

The only template that you might use for your SMS campaigns is for copywriting. Below there are five great text messages. Since they follow best practices, you can take them as an inspirational example—even for your own campaigns.

  1. Hi! It’s [brand name]. Your 10% off code is: [code] Shop now: [link] Text us at [phone number] if you have any questions!
  2. [Brand name]: Our best offer just got even better. Buy a Hardcore Bundle and save an additional 20%, on top of the usual 25%. Seriously. Click the link below to access now [the link]
  3. TWO HOURS LEFT to get 40% off your entire order at [brand name]! Use code: [code] at checkout! Sale ends TONIGHT Dec 1st, 11:59pm EST! [the link]
  4. [Brand name] DEALS! Today all swim is BUY ONE GET ONE FREE! Code: [code name] expires tonight at midnight. [Brand name] will be offering a new deal every Friday in December, so stay tuned! Shop at: [the link] Unsubscribe: [the link]
  5. [Brand name]: Here are some great gifts for you to give or to keep! All on sale are ready to ship. [the link] Unsubscribe [the link]

4. SMS Opt-in and Consent

Before launching your first SMS campaign, make sure your customers permitted you to send them SMS messages.

International Law requires this permission. Same as with email permissions, you need to get your contacts’ opt-in for promotional content via SMS.

You can collect opt-ins in a few different ways:

  1. By adding an extra field for phone numbers in your signup forms.
  2. By asking for a customer’s phone number at the checkout, which you can do with Shopify.
  3. By texting a keyword to a short code. However, only a few providers offer that, you should check it with yours.

Besides the customer’s permission, your SMS campaigns need to be compliant.

The main document that regulates SMS marketing is the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act). Its editions from 2013 and 2016 have introduced changes to the customer protection that had an impact on all organizations using SMS.

According to them, consent to receiving promotional text messages can’t be a condition of any purchase. To agree on receiving text messages or not should be of customer’s free choice and this has to be clearly displayed.

Don’t forget to add an Unsubscribe link to ensure customers can unsubscribe if they don’t want to receive your text messages anymore, with the added bonus of you not getting reported as a spammer.

5. How To Track SMS Campaign?

SMS campaign results’ tracking looks a little bit different from email campaigns due to technological limitations. In SMS campaign reporting we can’t see open rate.

Instead, tools can track the number of SMSes sent, SMS’ engagement rate (or click rate) and sales. This includes how many sales have been made, and the cumulative amount of money that they’ve earned.

At Omnisend, an SMS campaign report looks like this:

SMS reports (tracking) using Omnisend platform

6. Wrap Up

There is a great quote by Stephen King for summing up. “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” It fits text messages well.

For more than three decades SMS messages have been used for marketing, but only in recent times they have become a customer’s marketing channel of choice.

We suggest you review your signup forms, add an additional field, and start collecting phone numbers today. This old-new channel should not be something that you miss out on.

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Karolina Petraškienė

Karolina is a writer, content marketer, and email enthusiast at Omnisend. When she's not curating articles, you can find her in the woods challenging herself in hiking boots or off-roading her bike.