sms marketing 101

SMS Marketing 101: The Complete Guide to SMS Marketing

If you’re looking for more information on SMS marketing, look no further! This is our beginners guide to give you everything you need to have a solid SMS marketing understanding.

What is SMS Marketing?

Short message service (SMS) marketing is when a business reaches out to its ideal customers to send updates, promotions and other information through text message. Other common names are text message marketing, text marketing or mobile marketing.

How does SMS Marketing work?

The first step before starting your SMS marketing journey is to have an sms software. You can sign up for our sms marketing software and receive 14 days for FREE- no credit card required!

SMS marketing is NOT the same as you texting your customers individually from your personal phone! That method does not scale easily and requires you to do much more work than is necessary.

SMS marketing is broken down into two parts:

  1. Getting subscribers: this is done through a text message opt in.
  2. Sending messages to those subscribers: this is where the ease of use of a texting software comes in.

1.) Text Message Opt In

The text message opt in is when a customer formally subscribes to a business’s texting program.

SMS marketing is permission-based, which means that customers must give consent to the person/business before they can send out their bulk text messages. This is where the opt in comes in. The opt in is how the person gives consent to be marketed to. When a person opts in, they will also be added to that business’s text message contact list so they can be marketed to in the future.

Three Common Opt In Methods

Keyword Opt In

In sms marketing, a keyword is a dedicated word that a person will text to that respected business’s phone number in order to opt into their texting program.

For example, you can text the word “Text2VIP” to 1-844-488-4884 and you will be opted into the Text2VIP text list. Seriously, try it out!

QR Code Opt In

The QR code opt in goes hand in hand with the keyword opt in, only much less friction is involved. If you have a local business, you can put a flyer with the keyword and QR Code opt in around the checkout counter to encourage subscribers. With the QR code, the customer would simply hold their smartphone camera over the code, tap the bubble with the phone number and hit “send”! The code will automatically upload the phone number and the keyword into a new message for the customer. It saves a customer from having to open a new message, type the correct number and spell the keyword correctly.

sms opt in example

Above is an idea of a flyer that you can put out around your store or post online to encourage sign ups. If you are looking at this on desktop, you can scan the QR code with your smartphone to see it in action! Otherwise, text “Text2VIP” to 1-844-488-4884 to see it work that way!

Online Form Opt In

online opt in form

An online form opt in is fairly straight forward. I’m sure you have seen an email collection form? Well this is just like that only it will collect phone numbers instead of emails. An online opt in form will need to have a disclaimer that informs the customer that they will receive text messages from the business.

2.) Sending Out the Message

Once a business starts collecting subscribers, the next step is to send them out messages. This is where it gets interesting. There are a variety of messages and types of messages that a business can send to its subscribers.

A majority of businesses will send out sms messages. These are 160 character or less messages that contain only text characters. These can include links to websites or pages, but cannot contain images.

If you wish to send out a message longer than 160 credits or one that contains an image, those will be sent as a multimedia messaging service (MMS) message. It costs 4x more to send an MMS message than an SMS message.

Why use SMS marketing?

With businesses from doctors offices to utility companies sending notifications through text, people have become much more open to receiving messages from some of their favorite businesses as well.

Open Rates

With a 98% open rate, text messages create the perfect channel to reach your ideal prospects and know that they will open your message. For comparison, email has a 20-30% open rate.

90% of those messages are opened within three to five minutes upon receiving them!

Think about that for a second. People open their texts almost immediately upon receiving them. Are you one of those people? I know myself and many in my circle do.

Two-Way Communication

SMS marketing also offers two-way communication, which means that if one of your subscribers responds to your messages with a question, you are able to answer them directly! With a texting software like Text2VIP, you are able to access all of your incoming messages in one, central dashboard for ease of use. This adds that extra layer of personal touch to your marketing efforts.

Increased Customer Lifetime Value

By staying in touch with your ideal customers so intimately, you have the ability to generate more money over time from them. It is much easier to increase customer retention than it is to acquire new customers. In this sense, you can grow your company just from staying in touch with your past customers!

With these statistical drivers, more and more businesses are adopting texting into their marketing strategies. In fact, research shows that the amount of businesses using text marketing will double over the next 5 years. In other words, there is a great chance one of your competitors already is or soon will be implementing an sms marketing program. It will pay off handsomely to be the first player amongst your competitors to begin using it.

SMS Marketing Examples

Welcome Message

If you give customers a reason to subscribe to your text list, they will be much more likely to join. Offer a discount of some sort so that they almost can’t say “no” to joining. You can test between giving a percentage or a dollar amount discount.

sms welcome message

Upcoming Events

Keep your subscribers in the loop for what evens are coming up at your business. This also gives your business a reason to engage with the community. This is especially powerful for physical locations, but can be great for online businesses that drive people to live videos on Facebook for example.

sms events message

Holiday Promotions

There is no better time to have a promotion than around the holidays. Treat your subscribers by letting them know of your limited time, huge savings events!

sms holiday message

Who Should Use SMS marketing?

Now that you have a good understanding of what sms marketing is and how it works, let’s dive down into a few businesses that see great results using sms marketing.


Remember that statistic I mentioned earlier about 90% of consumers reading their texts within 3-5 minutes upon receiving them? As a restaurant, you can send out a text blast at times when people are hungriest and looking for food. At 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM, you can send out a message to your subscribers mentioning the specials that day, an event happening that evening or even a flash promotion on something. You can confidently send that message and know they will read it almost immediately. You have now reached your ideal customers when they are hungriest and gave them a reason to come to your restaurant and know they will read your message. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Retail Stores

If you have a retail business such as a local clothing boutique, it is essential to build a community from your customers and stay in touch with them. More and more data is pointing to texting being the ideal medium to stay in touch. You can send out messages regarding any events happening at the store on the upcoming weekend, special deals just for them or even point them to your Facebook page when you go Live!

Online Stores

Online businesses really thrive because their target markets can cover large areas such as the entire US or even the world. When you have such a large reach, it is essential to stay in touch with your community and keep them engaged. Adding sms marketing into your mix is a solution that many online businesses are seeing pay off handsomely. It will create a sense of personal touch to your business vs just being a page on the internet that sells them things. There is no communication medium as intimate as texting.

You can see a whole other list of industries that thrive with sms marketing here.

Who Should NOT Use SMS Marketing?

This strategy is not ideal for businesses that typically have a large, one-time sale to customers. An example of this can be a countertop and cabinet company. Most people will only buy countertops and cabinets only one time and be done, so there is no sense in trying to sell them countertops over and over. Another example can be a piano sales company. Again, most people will only buy a piano one time.

SMS Marketing Tips

Change It Up

Don’t just send your subscribers offers and promotions all of the time. They will get tired of seeing them and feel like your company is always going to run a sale. This will take away that urgency to purchase when you really need to draw in some sales from an upcoming promotion. Send information about employees or some of your best customers. Start trying to build a community that you would be happy to be part of!


You will want to monitor how your subscribers react to the frequency of the messages you are sending out. If you are sending out a text every day and see that you have a large amount of unsubscribes, you may want to slow down and try sending 2-4 out a week and monitor from there.

Have Fun

Create fun polls to keep your subscribers engaged. Give them a cool prize for taking part in the polls. You can learn a lot about your subscribers in doing so!

Send them good morning texts just for the fun of it. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a good morning text??


SMS marketing is an easy, cost effective form of staying in touch with your ideal customers. It may not be for every business, but we have found that a majority of businesses can thrive when using it. It may be slow out of the gate to get subscribers, but down the road you will not regret having started. Many of the companies using our service only regret not starting sooner!

If you enjoyed our crash course on sms marketing, you can find other valuable content at our blog.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter where we dive down into shorter form, but still useful information regarding sms marketing, customer retention, business growth and so much more!

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