A concise guide to SMS marketing best practices

Editorial Team

6 min read
Woman checking text messages on city street

While many enterprise companies are capturing the benefits of SMS marketing, small businesses are just starting to realize the potential of this powerful communication channel.

According to a recent marketing mix report from Klayvio, more than 50% of businesses that make $20M+ in annual revenue use SMS marketing. It’s an untapped resource for small businesses in particular: text message marketing is one of the most affordable ways to reach out to customers. 

And, SMS marketing works: 30% of customers will make a purchase in response to text messages, reports Constant Contact. If you’re considering adding SMS marketing to your business practice, here are some things to consider and ways to get started. 

What is SMS marketing?

Text message marketing, also known as SMS marketing, is exactly what the name implies: the practice of sending marketing messages via text message. SMS, which stands for “Short Message Service,” limits your text message to 160 characters. Text message marketing relies on concise, direct communication with a clear call to action. And, the strategy behind marketing text messages will vary compared to how you use other forms of outreach, such as email and social media marketing. 

In practice, marketing text messages are pretty straightforward given the character count limitation. There aren’t many bells and whistles you can add to an SMS message. These simple, direct messages should motivate customers to engage with your brand online or in-person. 

Text message marketing does get more complicated when it comes down to the marketing strategy and execution. There are unique tools and techniques that can help you integrate SMS marketing into your overall business strategy. But first, you need permission from your customer list in order to send SMS for marketing. 

How to do SMS marketing

Before you can send marketing text messages, you need to get permission from your list of contacts. There are rules and regulations in place from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), and others. These rules are designed to protect consumers from SMS spam and scams. This guide offers a comprehensive overview of the standards you should follow to be compliant with consumer protection laws, but it may be advantageous to consult legal or compliance experts with any questions or concerns.

The main thing to know is that your business must get express written consent from all new and existing contacts before you use SMS for marketing. This consent must be clear and easy to understand. 

In addition, the first SMS you send must include the following information

  • Who you are
  • How frequently you intend to communicate to your subscribers
  • How subscribers can opt out
  • A notice that message and data rates may apply

Once you have consent, you can begin crafting an SMS marketing strategy. 

Tips for an SMS marketing strategy

SMS marketing campaigns won’t replace your other outreach. Instead, SMS text marketing should complement your existing marketing channels—especially email

“Don’t treat your SMS like your email program,” said Morgan Mulloy, associate director of email marketing at Avex Designs. “Email is more of an ‘interact at your leisure’ channel, whereas SMS is intrusive. It’s literally at the palm of your customer’s hand. SMS is not the ‘blast every day’ channel. It’s the ‘quality over quantity’ channel.” 

SMS marketing can start to feel invasive if you send texts too frequently. Instead, limit the number of texts you send to once per week or less. And, pay attention to timing: Customers are going to be annoyed if you send them a text message in the middle of the night. 

There are a few situations where sending an SMS message is perfect. Service businesses, for instance, can use SMS marketing to remind customers of upcoming appointments or to ask for feedback following an appointment. Retail businesses can send messages with sale announcements and holiday promotions. Other use cases include abandoned cart reminders, new product announcements, and loyalty program/VIP engagement. 

How to set up SMS marketing campaigns 

There are dozens of tools that can help you set up and manage your text message marketing. It’s also very simple to do through your Clover POS system with the Promos app designed to send SMS for marketing. And, if you need even more marketing muscle, Customer Engagement Plus can help.

What’s more, the Clover App Market offers lots of SMS marketing tools, including:

Each of these apps can integrate with your Clover service, restaurant, or retail POS system to create customer segments, schedule and send messages to your customers, and engage customers via SMS promos. And, Clover’s sales reporting function can tie it all together, providing analytics indicating how well your SMS promos are working. 

SMS marketing best practices

No matter how you choose to integrate SMS marketing, there are a few tips to keep in mind as you craft your next campaign. 

1. Personalize your messages

Although software will enable you to send messages en masse, SMS marketing is still highly personal. Since text messages are sent directly from your brand to the customer, be sure to personalize each message with the customer’s name, a note about their recent purchase, or any other unique customer information you have from your loyalty program

This level of intimacy also provides an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with your customers. Ask them questions about their personal experience with your brand or collect feedback that can help you improve your service.

2. Create a sense of urgency

Today, most people are practically glued to their phones, so there’s a high likelihood that a recipient will open your text message as soon as you send it. This dynamic creates the perfect opportunity to send limited time offers and time-sensitive updates. Think VIP early access promos, limited-time-only sales, or holiday specific offers

3. Test your texts

Because text messages are short and sweet, every element of the message matters. Use A/B testing to experiment with the timing, type of message, and number of messages you send in a particular campaign. This feedback can help you optimize other parts of your marketing and ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. 

SMS text message marketing can boost your promos and help you increase customer engagement. And, Clover makes it easy to run a promo that keeps customers happy—without breaking your bank account. 

To learn more about using Clover to help engage with customers, contact a Clover Business Consultant today. 

This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.

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