Nailing SMS Marketing

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We’ve all received text messages from brands promoting their new products or from our doctor reminding us of an upcoming appointment. SMS marketing has been around for a long time, but it hasn’t always been used effectively. So how do you use SMS marketing effectively? We asked social media strategist, Azad Yakatally. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Azad Yakatally
Topic: Nailing SMS marketing
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing refers to the Short Messaging Service that we all know and (sometimes) get annoyed by. It includes regular text messages of 160 characters and photo/video messages (Media Messaging Service – MMS).

Q2: What’s the difference between SMS marketing and other digital marketing activities?

What’s so unique about SMS, though, is that it’s a great way to personalize your marketing communication. What’s more, it’s a two-way communication medium that allows you to drive traffic and give your audience a sense of being personally cared for.

As Christine put it, SMS is also extremely direct. It’s only too common nowadays to receive emails from brands you didn’t really sign up for. However, with SMS, there seems to be an extra filter—at least for now. Often, the brands that are messaging you are the ones that you really wanted to hear from.

Q3: What type of brands can benefit the most from SMS marketing?

Pretty much everyone. What’s important to remember, however, is that SMS shouldn’t be treated as a broadcasting medium. Use it as a way to communicate with your audience. Whether it’s sending them reminders or updates about a package they’ve ordered, use SMS to drive meaningful customer engagement and support.

Our friends from GiveWP gave us a particular use case for nonprofit organizations. During fundraising campaigns, SMS can become a great way to share your progress with supporters and engage with them one-on-one.

David pointed out how online clothing brands tend to use SMS marketing to remind customers of products they’ve looked at or added to their carts. This is a good tactic to re-engage an audience that’s gone cold.

Q4: What type of messaging should brands send?

You’ll likely have received campaign messages: Things like Cyber Monday discounts or ‘Your order is being delivered today’. These are usually automated mass-messages that are triggered at a specific time period or based on your action.

While these are all good use cases for SMS marketing, as our guest pointed out, you can also use SMS to send transactional messages and have a proper conversation with your audience. Check out Attentive, an SMS marketing tool our guest suggested, to try it out for your brand.

Jim suggested that brands that intend to use SMS marketing should allow their audience to choose what they want to receive—like many email newsletters do. He also told us about, an SMS marketing platform that allows you to send messages to people based on their interests. Check it out.

Q5: How can brands incorporate SMS in their social media marketing strategy?

It’s quite similar to building your email list. If you have a loyal following on social media, try and get them to sign up for your SMS list. Do this by engaging with your audience, understanding what they want from you, and providing genuinely valuable information.

Grant gave us an excellent use case as well: He has set up an auto responder to everyone who signs up on a landing page. Then, when they reply to the message, a chatbot ‘converses’ with them to identify their needs and schedule an appointment. Once an appointment is scheduled, the lead is then passed onto the sales team. What’s great about this flow is that people may land on the website from social media content, and as soon as they fill up a form, there’s someone (or something, in this case), to follow up with them. If done well, this makes for an excellent experience for the customer.

Q6: How can you get started with an SMS marketing campaign?

Start by trying to grow your SMS subscriber list. A good and a common way to do this is to offer a bit of a discount or incentive to your website visitors if they sign up for your SMS list.

As Pavel said, get some of the basics sorted out. Have a clear plan for how and what you want to communicate with your audience. Then find a provider that you can trust with your audience’s personal information with.

Q7: How do you measure the success of an SMS campaign?

Success looks different for each brand. Generally, though, you can assess how successful your campaigns are based on open rates that directly lead to purchases or conversions.

As Mlee reminded us, though, have a clear goal and look at the metric most closely associated with your goals. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on unsubscribes, too.

Q8: How do you find the ideal person/team to run an SMS campaign?

If you have a social media or community manager, they’ll likely be best placed to run your SMS campaigns as well. They know how to engage with a digital audience and how to frame a message to get the optimum results. If you don’t have a dedicated person for this, you can always hire a digital marketing agency to give you some advice and even run your campaigns.

That said, as our friends from Social Media Pulse pointed out, make sure that whoever’s running your SMS campaigns knows the difference between other social channels and SMS. Ideally, you want them to craft a separate strategy, complete with goals, content, and methods.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Azad, have a look at this Twitter thread. If you like this summary, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us next Thursday at 1 pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. We also have an after-chat on Twitter Spaces at 5 pm ET. See you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff to pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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