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What is SMS marketing: Guide (+ examples), benefits, tips and alternatives

A complete guide to SMS Marketing

Guess how much time your customers spend on their smartphones every day? According to Harmony Healthcare IT, the average American looks at their phone for 4 hours and 37 minutes per day. With such great frequency, emails can sit unread for days, phone calls can go unanswered, but text messages are almost impossible to ignore.

In this complete guide, we will demystify SMS marketing, explore its benefits, and provide you with innovative strategies and examples to boost your campaigns and put your company ahead of competition.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing, or SMS message marketing, stands for short message service marketing on phones and other mobile devices. It's a form of inbound marketing, because you can get in touch with people who are already part of your contact base and already know about or are interested in your business.

Besides that, SMS text marketing is also useful for brand building and increasing customer retention.

Understanding the different types of SMS campaigns

SMS marketing encompasses a variety of campaigns, each with its own objective and target audience. The most common types are:

  1. Promotion campaigns: try using SMS marketing tools for your short-term promotion events. Create a sense of urgency by putting an expiry date on the deal. Consider using ringless voicemail drop software to integrate text blast messages, ringless voicemail, and email into your campaign. If you use SleekFlow, you can integrate with Calendly to even send personalized birthday offers. Talk to us and find out how!

  2. Transactional campaigns: includes order confirmations, shipping notifications and appointment reminders. From e-commerces to beauty salons, clinics, or even restaurants, using this kind of campaign helps the customers to know the status of their orders, show up on time or hint them to reschedule the appointment in case of changes. A friendly reminder is not just useful to customers, it builds trust.

  3. Loyalty campaigns: they aim to reward customers for their repeat purchases or years of membership. You can, for example, use SleekFlow to generate a segmented list of customers who have spent 1000 USD in the last 3 months and send them an exclusive discount coupon.

  4. Feedback campaigns: to solicit opinions and reviews from customers that won't open and respond to email surveys, but may not mind answering questions on SMS as it only takes them a few seconds.

  5. Educational campaigns: to provide valuable information or tips related to the products or services offered by your company. 

Benefits of SMS marketing for businesses

SMS marketing offers numerous benefits for businesses. Firstly, it allows for direct and instant communication with your customers. With nearly everyone having a mobile phone (according to the United Nations, more people have smartphones than toilets on a global scale), SMS messages are more likely to reach your audience compared to other marketing channels. It's also cost-effective and has a higher response rate compared to email marketing. Your business has to use SMS to drive conversions!

There are a few surprising facts to share, all according to Sender:  

  • 78%* of consumers prioritize text messaging over other phone activities like social media (66%) and emails (50%)​​.

  • 90% of people open an SMS within 3 minutes, and the open rate is as high as 98%, compared with email marketing at an open rate of only 20%.

  • 86% of business owners and marketing managers used SMS marketing in 2023, a 56% increase from 2022​​.

These all point to one conclusion: both customers and marketers are happy with SMS marketing. In terms of conversion and engagement, SMS simply outwins emails. SMS marketing price can also be tempting to either small businesses or large enterprises. 

Dos and Don'ts when using your SMS marketing tools

Best practices for SMS marketing

No matter which marketing channel you choose, the content itself is of paramount importance. Most SMS marketing messages consist of 3-4 lines or not more than 160 characters, how to grasp the attention of customers within such word limits? Here are a few tips on how to write an SMS message for marketing purposes.

1. Let them know who you are

You might have experienced receiving SMS messages about an offer, but having no idea who sent them, the only clue you get is a set of unfamiliar numbers! This happens to many people as we don’t usually save business numbers. Always remember to mention the name of your brand upfront or somewhere in the message.

2. Keep your messages short

Drop the subject line. If you are sending an offer, lead the message with your offer.  If it is a limited-time promotion, tell them the expiry date to create a sense of urgency. Words on SMS messages are meant for quick reading and easy digestion, if you have more to say, email is a better option. 

3. Keep questions and answers simple

As mentioned earlier, SMS surveys are a good way to collect customers’ feedback but make sure you get the right format. Set an easy format like text Y for YES and N for NO. If it is an evaluation, ask people to score 1 – 9 instead of typing comments.

4. Include a call to action (CTA)

Tell the customers directly what you want them to do, be it “confirm your booking now” or “redeem your offer”,  a strong call to action is crucial to move down the sales funnel. After all, you want to convert.

5. Personalize your messages

Address your recipients by their name, and segment your audience to send targeted offers.

When is the best time to send SMS marketing campaigns?

Marketing is about giving the right message at the right timing (that’s why a birthday offer is a good thing to mention). The best-crafted message can be a disaster if it's sent at the wrong time. In SMS messaging, the question of WHEN is as crucial as what to write and how to write.

The middle of the week is a peak for businesses

According to Mobile Marketer, midweek days like Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the most popular days to send SMS messages, while messages sent on Monday usually get the lowest response rate as people are usually getting too much content over the weekend.

But, of course, analyze data to determine when your target audience is most likely to engage with SMS content. By scheduling your messages strategically, you can increase open rates and conversion rates.

What about the magic hours?

When it comes to the best hours, choose the time when people are more likely to be on their phones, like late mornings and mid-afternoons. Avoid “private hours” like dinner time or late evening. Sending promotion messages at these times may result in negative reactions.

Examples of successful SMS message marketing campaigns

To inspire your SMS marketing campaigns, let's explore success stories from Shopify, Crocs, MATE the Label and Eau Thermale Avène!

Shopify's Shop Pay

Shopify-s Shop Pay

SMS marketing has become a game-changer in e-commerce, especially with features like Shopify's Shop Pay. By allowing users to receive an access code through SMS, Shop Pay enables customers to quickly autofill their details on Shopify sites. This reduces checkout time and makes shopping easier.

Shopify has seen great results from using SMS at checkout. With Shop Pay, checkout speeds have increased fourfold, and the conversion rates are higher than with traditional checkouts. This strategy has made shopping more efficient for customers and has boosted sales, showcasing the benefits of SMS marketing in e-commerce.



Crocs creatively utilized their SMS channel to excite customers about a virtual Easter Egg hunt. By replying with "EGGHUNT," subscribers could participate in the event and search for discount codes on Crocs' website, offering savings from 20% to $150. Crocs encouraged participants to add items to their carts in advance, ensuring they were set to purchase as soon as the "Ready, set, go!" text arrived.

This SMS campaign effectively engaged customers by combining fun with the chance to save big. It encouraged shopping activity and anticipation, making the event both enjoyable and beneficial for customers and Crocs alike.

MATE the Label

MATE the Label

MATE the Label devised a smart strategy to clear out inventory before relocating their warehouse: they hosted a major sale. Announced at the end of December and extended into January, the sustainable clothing brand encouraged shopping by offering bigger discounts for last-minute buyers. Throughout the sale, they sent reminders to those who hadn’t yet made a purchase, ensuring customers didn’t miss out on great deals.

This approach is effective beyond just moving locations. If you’re dealing with excess stock, consider a warehouse sale. It’s a good way to engage your audience, encouraging them to help clear space for new products. Emphasize the urgency by reminding them that some items may not return, making it crucial to act quickly to grab favorites at low prices.

Eau Thermale Avène

Eau Thermale Avène use case cover photo

Avene has developed a comprehensive membership workflow designed to streamline various customer interactions. The best part? It's all done with SleekFlow. This system not only facilitates member registration but also allows users to effortlessly check their points balance and redeem gifts. The seamless integration of these services ensures that members can enjoy a hassle-free experience, fostering greater engagement and loyalty.

Additionally, Avene has established a web portal that offers an array of services, enhancing the customer experience by providing more value. To ensure secure access to the portal, users are required to authenticate their login via a one-time password (OTP) generated through SMS. This security measure, powered by the Sleekflow platform, adds an extra layer of protection for users, ensuring their data and transactions are kept safe.

SleekFlow SMS marketing platform example

Upscale your SMS marketing service with SleekFlow!

SleekFlow software solution for customer service, sales coordination, and marketing automation provides one of the best SMS marketing services. We can combine all your social messaging including SMS so that you can do your campaigns/tracking on one easy-to-read and friendly-to-use platform. If you are already communicating with your customers through WhatsApp, Live Chat, or other means separately. 

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