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Text message marketing for a small business [apps + how to start]

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Many small business owners believe text message marketing is expensive and complicated.

But the truth is that SMS marketing is accessible and cost effective, even for businesses on a budget.

With the right text marketing app, small businesses can easily set up effective SMS campaigns to boost sales and grow their customer base.

The key is choosing a platform that makes it simple and affordable to engage customers via text messaging.

You can use text messages to promote your products, offer discounts, send reminders, collect feedback, and more. And you don’t need any technical skills or expensive equipment to do it.

In this article, you’ll unveil the surprising simplicity of harnessing the power of text message marketing for small businesses.

Read on for the benefits of SMS for small businesses, handy SMS marketing tips, and the best texting apps to get you started.

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Ready to take your small business to the next level? Get access to Omnisend’s powerful Email + SMS marketing platform

Why use text message marketing for small businesses?

There are many compelling reasons to try text message marketing for your small business. 

The benefits range from increased sales and revenue to improved customer engagement and loyalty. In fact, the success stories of those using SMS marketing for small businesses speak for themselves. 

Learn key stats and tips

SMS is easier to use and more cost-effective than ever. Discover the real impact behind SMS marketing and why you should incorporate this valuable channel.

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Let’s take a look at how texting for small business owners can deliver results, including real-life examples.  

Reach more customers

A major benefit of text message marketing for small businesses is that it allows you to reach more customers.

By including a phone number field in your popups and forms, you can grow your customer base beyond just email.

Consider this signup form by the denim brand Naked & Famous. It uses a JOIN US page with both email and SMS fields to connect with its audience.

signup form by Naked & Famous

naked&famous jeans
Naked & Famous relies on Omnisend’s automations and one-on-one support to drive sales. 

Interested in knowing how the brand drives 24% conversion rates for automated emails?

👉 Check out their success story.

Maximize customer engagement with marketing campaigns

Text marketing for small businesses can elevate customer engagement. 

SMS is typically instant, which ensures your marketing campaigns reach your audience promptly. SMS also has a high open rate and a faster response time. 

That’s why clothing retailer B-Wear uses SMS to promote its flash sales and free shipping. 

“We may have a ‘free shipping today only’ email that goes out. Some customers won’t get that email until the following day, when the sale is already over. We’re able to use SMS as an alternative to reach those customers.”
Jason Slattery, Marketing Manager, B-Wear
Jason Slattery, Marketing Manager, B-Wear

Read how B-Wear reached more customers with SMS.
👉 Here’s their case study

Increase your sales

Text message marketing for small businesses has an undeniable impact on sales.

But how?

You can send personalized offers, reminders, and updates. These encourage repeat purchases and referrals. 

You can also track the effectiveness of your campaigns and optimize them accordingly. Whichever the case, the potential to boost revenue is substantial.

As Rob from Divatress shares, even minimal SMS automation can deliver great results.

“Even if you do the bare minimum with setting up automation, it’s a super-easy win,” he says when encouraging fellow merchants to give SMS a try. “But really, there’s no reason not to bring SMS to work alongside email campaigns.”
Rob Lin, Owner and Founder of Divatress
Rob Lin, Owner and Founder of Divatress

Learn how SMS drove $123,000 in sales for Divatress, in the first year.

👉 Check out their success story.

Send relevant market messages 

Using text messaging for your small business can help you push particularly relevant messages.

Deliver the right message at the right time, and you’ll increase customer engagement and sales.

But how do you do it?

Tailor your messages based on where each subscriber is in the buying process. Then, send them targeted and timely messages.

Omnisend’s Lifecycle Stages feature can help, as Island Olive Oil Company discovered.

“We’re competing with these larger businesses and this allows us to have that reach. At the right time.”
Angèl Foster, Co-Owner of Island Olive Oil Company
Angèl Foster, Co-Owner of Island Olive Oil Company

Island Olive Oil Company uses Omnisend’s automation and lifecycle stages to target segmented customers. 

Want to know why that’s been a game-changer? 
👉 Read their case study

Need any more convincing as to how text message marketing can be of great value for your small business? Watch this video as Greg Zakowicz, Omnisend’s Sr. ecommerce expert, lays out the benefits for you. 

How to start using text messages for small businesses

Here are some of the most important things you need to launch a text marketing campaign for your small business:

  • Choose an SMS app
  • Create the first campaigns
  • Start collecting phone numbers
  • Welcome new subscribers
  • Nurture with relevant campaigns
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1. Choose an SMS app

The first step to SMS marketing is selecting a platform that makes it easy to manage campaigns. Here are a few top options:

  • Omnisend. Offers a forever-free plan, intuitive automation, and stellar support. It’s purpose-built for small businesses.
  • Klaviyo. Provides integrated email and SMS marketing with advanced segmentation.
  • ActiveCampaign. Delivers an all-in-one marketing automation platform including SMS.

While there are various SMS marketing apps available, our top recommendation is Omnisend.

Yes, it’s our own platform. It’s absolutely free to use, extremely user-friendly, and designed with small business owners in mind. Our more than 4.7K 5-star reviews from Shopify merchants are proof enough. Check out this rave review for yourself:

2. Create the first SMS marketing campaigns

Once your SMS app is set up, it’s time to plan your initial text message campaigns to engage subscribers.

Here are a few must-have text message campaigns in your arsenal:

  • Welcome message: Greet new subscribers with a warm welcome. Thank them, introduce your brand, and offer a discount or freebie.
  • Promotional messages: Share exclusive promotions, sales, or limited-time offers. Entice customers to make a purchase.
  • Abandoned cart reminders: Remind customers about items left in their cart. Encourage them to complete their purchase.
  • Product announcements: Keep your audience informed about new arrivals, product launches, or updates.
  • Loyalty messages: Reward your loyal customers, celebrate their milestones, or ask for feedback. 

If you’re still unsure about exactly how to go about creating these SMS campaigns, grab some of our best text message templates to get started. 

Then, map out a few compelling SMS campaigns so you have content ready when customers opt-in. This screenshot shows an example of a welcome campaign built inside Omnisend.

welcome campaign built inside Omnisend

3. Start collecting phone numbers

The simplest way to kickstart your SMS marketing journey is by collecting phone numbers.

You can create opt-in forms on your website, either from scratch or alternatively by using a template.

Templates save you time. They also help you craft effective messages that capture your audience’s attention. Omnisend has an extensive library of email and SMS capture templates.

Omnisend sign up forms template library

Let’s check out B-Wear’s well-executed opt-in form:

opt-in form by B Wear

Here’s what makes this form effective:

  • Attention-grabbing headline: Offers an incentive (an extra 15% off) to sign up.
  • Clear call-to-action (CTA): Has a clear and action-oriented CTA like “Sign Me Up!”
  • Checkbox: Asks for consent to receive marketing messages.
  • Minimalist design: The form is clean and clutter-free, with a sleek appearance.

This form is simple, attractive, and compliant with the best practices of text message marketing for small businesses.

Create something similar, and watch how effortlessly it helps you capture phone numbers.

Seeking more inspiration? Check out these 30 Killer Exit Intent Popup Examples You Can Steal (& Best Practices) 

4. Welcome new subscribers

A warm welcome can set the tone for your entire SMS marketing journey and even lead to immediate orders.

This introductory SMS goes out when someone joins your list via one of your opt-in forms. You want to make a great first impression by setting up an automated welcome message.

It should be friendly, personalized, and relevant. An effective welcome text shows subscribers you value their interest. Some tips for a welcome SMS for small businesses include:

  • Thank subscribers for joining your list
  • Use the subscriber’s name for personalization
  • Include a coupon to incentivize their first purchase
  • Explain the benefits of being a subscriber
  • Provide a clear call to action
  • Include an opt-out option

Remember, the welcome message is your handshake in the digital world. Make it friendly, engaging, and enticing to pave the way for a fruitful customer relationship.

5. Nurture subscribers with relevant campaigns

Once you’ve welcomed new subscribers, nurture them with engaging and relevant campaigns.

Here’s where text message marketing for small businesses excels. 

It allows you to easily segment your audience. You can send appropriate, personalized messages based on various criteria. These include subscriber interests, preferences, and behavior.

Some text message campaigns you could use to engage customers and boost loyalty are:

  • Welcome messages
  • Abandoned cart reminders
  • Event reminders and updates
  • Promotions for sales or special offers
  • Content like style tips, how-tos, or new arrivals
  • Personalized recommendations
  • Exclusive VIP offers
  • Behind-the-scenes content or fun gifs
  • Polls and surveys to collect feedback
  • Links to blog posts or social media
  • Holiday messages and greetings
  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Re-engagement messages

Tailor your SMS campaigns to your business. Aim for a mix of promotions, value, and relationship-building messages.

How to make the most of texting for your small business

Any way you approach it, SMS marketing should improve engagement and ultimately boost your sales. But, there are things you can do to make the most of this medium.

Know the best time to reach your subscribers

Schedule your messages to send between 10 AM and 2 PM or 7 PM and 9 PM, since these are the times the average 9-5 worker is better able to attend to text marketing messages. At the very least, you should make sure you’re not texting them in the middle of the night. But make sure to monitor campaign performance, because every audience is different—so use this as a starting point and adjust as necessary.

Reach out according to the customer journey

Time your business texts according to where the recipient is on the customer journey. Make each message relevant to their exact position in the sales process. Often, a relevant and well-timed SMS is all it takes to boost sales.

SMS with 10% off offer

Here are some examples of relevant, timely SMS campaigns based on the customer journey:

  • Welcome offer for new subscribers to incentivize their first purchase
  • Abandoned cart reminder to re-engage customers who didn’t complete a purchase
  • Satisfaction survey for recent customers to get feedback on their experience
  • New product alerts and VIP access preview for loyal, high-value customers
  • Replenishment reminder for repeat purchasers when it’s time to reorder
  • Birthday or loyalty coupon for existing customers to build engagement
  • Comeback offer for passive customers to reactivate their purchasing

Sending promotional messages at the right time in each subscriber’s journey is key for boosting conversions.

Consider your business cycle

Text marketing is perfect for driving immediate sales. So, think of ways it can work in harmony with your business cycle. Take advantage of SMS tactics like time-sensitive offers to stimulate sales during lulls. Often, texting about an exclusive and temporary sale event can re-engage even customers that have been inactive for a while.

Get insights on planning and executing effective flash sale campaigns that drive conversions. 

👉 Flash sale: Guide you need to sell out every time [+examples] 

Incorporate an Omnichannel Campaign

While text marketing for small businesses is undeniably powerful on its own, it works best when it’s part of an overarching campaign that utilizes a variety of channels, including email and social media. Give text messaging its own role, and it’ll surely contribute to improved revenues as well as better relationships with your customers.

omnichannel campaign workflow

Set up scheduled texts and automated workflows

For ecommerce businesses, scheduled texts work best to encourage repeat buys (e.g., monthly appointment confirmations or reminders, annual equipment servicing, etc.).

At the same time, texting through automated workflows can help reach specially targeted customers with the relevant messages at precisely the right time, without any extra effort from you. That makes them more likely to purchase or perform a desired action.

automated workflow

Summary

Text message marketing for small businesses is a powerful and cost-effective way to reach your customers and prospects. 

It allows you to communicate with them in real-time, send personalized messages, and track the results of your campaigns. 

In this article, we showed you how to get started with text message marketing for your small business. You can unlock the power of personalized marketing by choosing the right app and building your contact list. Also, crafting engaging messages can help nurture your contacts on their lifecycle journey. 

Follow these steps to ensure you provide value through mobile messaging. You’ll realize increased sales and customer loyalty. 

Ready to get started with SMS marketing? Omnisend can help you grow your business with our innovative solutions
Bernard Meyer
Article by
Bernard Meyer

Bernard is the Sr. Director of Communications & Creative at Omnisend, with a passion for good research, helping ecommerce businesses with their marketing automation needs, and beating absolutely everyone in Mario Kart 64.