Anatomy of a Successful SMS Marketing Campaign

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Despite all the advances in social media and mobile phone apps in the past decade, text messaging remains one of the most powerful ways to communicate with customers at an individual level.

Think about it: a text lands in someone’s SMS inbox on their phone, and they open it and read it. Voila! You have a direct sales channel.

According to recent studies, on average, the world sees over 8.3 trillion text messages sent over the course of a year. If you do the math on that, it breaks down to 16 billion text messages per minute at any given time around the world. Additionally, text messages are far more successful at reaching customers with your content than email.

An SMS marketing campaign has a ton of potential as a channel for generating leads. However, the actual structuring and planning of a successful SMS marketing campaign can be a complex endeavor.

To help beginners navigate the many pitfalls and gaffs of far too many SMS campaigns, Mobile Text Alerts this infographic (see below) with tips on making your text message marketing campaign a stand-out winner.

In short, all you have to do is…

Analyze Your Audience

The importance of market research prior to launching a new SMS campaign cannot be overstated.

To keep your campaign in compliance with federal regulations, all people with phone numbers on your contact list must sign up voluntarily and agree to receive your text messages. When on-boarding new subscribers, it is also a very good idea to garner as much additional information as possible. Think demographics and location of your subscribers. Armed with this information, you can refine and target your message to reach the greatest number of people in your audience. Relevance is key to successfully marketing via text.

Always Continue to Build Your List

Once you have done your due diligence on your target audience, start assembling your contact list of the subscribers with the greatest potential. Pick a core segment of your audience that you plan to pursue first. For example, you may find that your core segment is men under the age of 30 for the product or service you promote. You need to keep your message consistent and to the point for that core segment, even as you add new subscribers or incentivize your subscriber base to refer friends and family. A single, clear message is what brings in new subscribers and retains the old ones. Keep that in mind as you build your list and compose those first messages.

Set a Clear Goal

What concrete objective are you planning to accomplish with this SMS campaign?

Setting out to market without a clear objective in mind is like trying to launch a sailboat without a rudder or sails. Decide from the beginning as to the goals of your marketing campaign. Then, set a new objective after you achieve the first one. Do you want to increase customer engagement? Put a number on it and set a deadline for achieving that number. Do you seek an increase in sales? Set a dollar amount and set a timeframe in which to bring in those sales. Without a goal, it is impossible to measure your success.

Make Attractive Messages

Information overload is a reality in the smartphone age. Nobody wants their inbox spammed with multi-message ads. Obviously, you will need to limit all texts to 160 characters or less. How do you make the most of that limited space and still keep your campaign and offers persuasive and on message? Twitter is a great resource for understanding how to say more with less without devolving into over-abbreviation. also does a terrific job with its SMS campaigns and Twitter feed. Find someone to emulate until you find your own voice.

Select the Right Keywords

Carefully consider what keywords to use for customers to put in their responses to your ad campaign. You must configure this in advance via your SMS system before you start your campaign. Keywords should be short and to the point as well as consistent with your overall message.

Always Make a Call to Action

Every message should communicate clearly what you want potential customers to do with the information you just provided to them. Focus on triggering actions from the receiver by providing a link to registration for a promotion or to receive a discount code.

Exclusives Are Key

Providing added value via SMS is one of the most effective ways to get a customer to click through on a link or respond to a text. When you offer exclusives through SMS only, subscribers are far more likely to stay subscribed to your messages. That’s because you are giving them values and discounts they can’t receive through any other marketing channel.

Exclusives make your customers feel like VIP insiders that have knowledge and access that the rest of your customer base does not. This can be a powerful motivator to shop and buy only with you since you have put them on the inside track.

Make It Personal

It is a fact that you will never be the only SMS campaign that is vying for your potential customer’s attention in their inbox. You have to make every message worth the read, and thus personalization of every message is crucial to adding value to each message a customer receives. Accomplish this by adding the customer’s name to the message or including your own name.

Create subcategories of users who have been subscribed for an extended time period. Offer these extra-special VIPs further exclusives and create additional personal levels of connection based on your mutually established relationship.

Make Your Messages Interactive

One of the greatest benefits to SMS campaigns is that they do not need to be a one-way street of communication. SMS enables any sender to engage an audience with two-way communication in real time. The conversational approach to SMS campaigns can be especially beneficial in developing personal connections with customers. This creates a public image of approachability and openness.

Questions and Surveys Get Results

It is very simple to send surveys and questions to customers to collect feedback via email. However, text messages definitely have a better track record in terms of overall performance and likelihood that a business will actually get a response…Try using SMS to get customer feedback in the future rather than a paper or email questionnaire.

When and How Often?

When and how often to send messages can be a major pitfall for a lot of SMS campaigns when they first start. If you send messages at the wrong time of day or too often, your messages go unread or ignored. People may stop paying attention to your texts, or they may simply unsubscribe altogether. A little target market research will often reveal the best time of day to fire off your messages in order to help your message hit its mark.

Typically, sending SMS messages around the time most people are taking their lunch break is a good idea.


Ultimately, the success or failure of your SMS campaign depends entirely on the amount of planning, preparation and research you are willing to put into it. The more selective you are about building your list and marketing directly to your core segment, the greater the likelihood that your potential customers will respond positively to your messages. Keep in mind that timing, as with just about all marketing, is crucial. Make sure that you aren’t sending messages too often or at inopportune times of day, such as when most people are making their daily commute.
Look at each message as a new opportunity to establish a relationship with a customer that may last for years. Craft each message to be personalized, and don’t forget to offer exclusives to make your subscriber base feel special.

In the end, following these simple tips are certainly enough to get your started

The future of your campaign depends entirely on your wit, wisdom and ability to be persuasive in 160 characters or less. Let your subscribers see your business as a friend and partner that is looking to make their life better, add value to their purchases of goods and services, and potentially save them some money along the way.

Above all, remember that these messages are the only point of contact many customers will ever have with your organization or marketing agency.

Make sure that every message leaves a good impression.


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