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SMS campaigns 101: Things to know before starting (with examples)

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DTC brands and ecommerce retailers invest in SMS marketing campaigns 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.

Although SMS as a marketing channel isn’t new, it’s a lot more versatile now than ever before.

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

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1. What is an SMS campaign?

An SMS campaign enables you to interact with your customers via text. They have a lot in common with email campaigns, but text marketing campaigns are 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 proven to be more effective.

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

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Like emails, successful SMS campaigns can be automated. You create a campaign, pick an audience/segment of recipients and send it out to the list you just selected.

2. How to do an SMS campaign

You can’t send your SMS campaign simply by using your mobile phone. Instead, you have to find an SMS marketing provider—our list of SMS marketing tools can help with that. Omnisend offers automated SMS campaigns that integrate with your emails, and also includes sales-per-campaign reporting.

It’s straightforward to create SMS marketing campaigns, as they’re only text and don’t have any design assets. Here’s what creating an SMS campaign with Omnisend looks like:

sms campaigns editor omnisend

You could use SMS campaigns solely to deliver critical and time-sensitive messages at every step of the customer journey. However, 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 your text campaign sends an SMS to subscribers who didn’t open your email —which you can do step by step with Omnisend.

email and sms combined for campaigns

SMS marketing is more expensive than email. Because of this, it’s worth trying to reach out to your customers via emails initially, then following up with SMS if subscribers didn’t engage with the email. Alternatively, an SMS campaign can be used if you want to send a time-sensitive message, as they’re usually opened quicker than an email if sent at the right time.

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 SMS campaigns can be only text, the only template you might use is how you write.

Here are five great text messages that you can take inspiration from:

  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]
Drive more sales with SMS campaigns using Omnisend’s features for free! Explore SMS features

4. SMS opt-in and consent

Before launching your first SMS campaign, make sure your customers gave permission for you to send SMS messages.

Just as with email permissions, the law requires that 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. Using Text to Join, where people text a keyword to your number. Simply promote that number elsewhere to encourage people to text it and sign up.

Text to join is a particularly convenient method, not least because it isn’t dependent on people already being on your site. Instead, they can find it anywhere you share it, such as emails, social media, or through partnerships with other companies. Omnisend users get their own Text to Join number completely free.

Watch this quick 3-minute video to see how you can build your list with SMS:

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 the 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. Most notably, we can’t see open rates with SMS campaign reporting.

Instead, tools can track the number of sent SMS, 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 campaign report

6. Wrap up

SMS has come into its own as a marketing channel in recent years. Not only is it effective in its own right, but it also integrates perfectly with existing email campaigns. In fact, marketers who use three or more channels in their campaigns have a 494% higher order rate than single-channel campaigns!

It’s never been easier to get started with SMS campaigns. Join Omnisend for free and get immediate access to email and SMS workflows, complete with pre-built templates so you can hit the ground running.

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Richard White
Article by
Richard White

Richard is a Content Marketing Manager at Omnisend. An avid writer, he's said to have been born holding a pencil. Fascinated by all things handmade, if he's not reading or writing he can often be found practicing leathercraft.

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