15 SMS Marketing Ideas to Generate More Sales
SMS marketing is a great way to engage with customers—especially when 95% of adults in the US own a mobile phone.
Not convinced? Consider these SMS statistics:
- 82% of people keep notifications turned on for SMS messages
- 95% of texts from businesses are read within 3 minutes of being sent
- The average response time for a text message is 6,000% (60X) faster than email
- The average SMS campaign conversion rate is 45%
But once you’ve got the phone number of your target customer and they’ve opted-in to hear from you, what do you send to them?
You don’t want to dive into their notifications just for the sake of it. You need to constantly deliver value, and give them a reason to engage with you.
That’s why I’m sharing 15 SMS marketing ideas to generate more sales with you. But there’s something you need to know first:
All texts are not created equal.
What’s the difference?
Are short code numbers or long code numbers better for SMS marketing?
There are two types of text numbers you could use for SMS marketing: Short code or long code.
Long code numbers are now commonly referred to as 10DLC, for 10 digit long code. They were traditionally used for just lower volumes, but are now being used for higher and higher ones because they’re less likely to be marked as spam.
Plus, you can include multimedia (such as images) in text messages from long code numbers, which will help you drive engagement.
Short code numbers, on the other hand, have fewer digits—like 555-55. They’re fast, automated SMS messages, which makes them great for sending large volumes of texts (up to 100 per second), but they're terrible if you want to engage with your audience through questions or conversations. Short code numbers are also entirely automated, so customers can’t reply directly to your SMS.
Recent changes are making it so that you can no longer share a short code number. You also have to buy the whole number, not just specific keywords. This can make it too costly to use, especially if you're a small business on a budget.
You’ll also (probably) have to share that short code number with another company, so managing automated keywords and workflows can become tricky.
The right one for you may vary based on your situation, but long code is typically going be the way to go in a lot of cases.
How can you get customer to opt-in to your SMS subscriber list?
You want to start gathering a group of customers who keep coming back—and there’s no better channel to do that than through an SMS subscriber list.
Having a customer SMS subscriber list gives you a way costumers can opt-in to see your SMS marketing campaigns.
You can invite customers to join by doing things like:
- Catching customers at your brick-and-mortar register
- Adding a signup option to your online checkout
- Advertising your subscription on your website
It's easiest when you display a keyword customers can text to opt-in. For example, if you chose the word "PROMO" as a keyword, a customer could text that word to your number to opt-in for updates on your promotions.
Once you have an SMS subscriber list you can start sending them promotions and updates similar to the ones we'll discuss below.
15 SMS Marketing Strategies
1. Give customers exclusive SMS-only offers.
Do you get frustrated when you see incredible deals—only to find they’re limited to new customers? You’re not alone.
So offer exclusive discounts and promotions to past and current customers through text. For example:
- “Get 10% off when you show this text”
- “Use the code ‘SMS’ at checkout for a free upgrade”
- “SMS exclusive: Save $10 when you shop this weekend via this link! bitly.com/exclusive”
92% of shoppers use a discount code at some point during the year, so these SMS exclusives give people a reason to stay on your subscriber list (and to purchase again).
These need to be offers customers can’t find anywhere else (like by signing up to your email list or by simply visiting your website).
2. Run promos for competitions.
We all want a chance to win something, which is why you can get your SMS audience engaged by running competitions through your text messaging strategy.
Even messages as simple as these can help you skyrocket engagement rates:
- “Reply WIN to be entered into a chance to win a year’s supply of XYZ”
- “Want to win a free product? Text ENTER to 582-045-3850 to enter our competition. - CompanyYouLove”
Or you could take it a step further and partner with another company to run a joint SMS competition. For example: If you’re an accounting firm, partner with a receipt management company, and run competitions with one text that says:
“Reply with WIN to get one years’ free consultancy, PLUS lifetime access to [Business] software!”
These joint competitions are a win-win for everyone involved. Not only can you borrow each others’ audiences (especially if you send the same text to both lists), but you’ll improve overall engagement rates when customers enter to win.
3. Notify audiences about upcoming sales.
If you’re planning a flash sale, tell your SMS audience before it happens. That way, they can make sure they’re around to purchase during the sale period.
- “Flash sale starts Monday at 2pm CST. Don’t miss out!”
- “QUICK! 50% off sale starts at 5pm tonight, ends at midnight PST. Use this link for your special discount: oursite.com/special”
Want to take it a step further? Attach an image or flyer in these messages to give your audience a glimpse of the items included in the sale.
You can also offer to remind your audience closer to the sale. For example:
“Our 50% off sitewide sale starts Monday at 3pm. Click here to be reminded! yoursite.com/link”
4. Learn more about your loyal customers with surveys.
You always want to learn more about your customers. Their information helps you build accurate buyer personas, find more people similar to them, and improve your product or service.
You can use text surveys to do that—especially when asking questions like:
- “How would you rate us out of 10?”
- “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” (Calculate your NPS with the responses)
- “What could we improve on?”
- “Are you likely to buy from us again?”
Notice how those questions are short and to the point?
Don’t fall into the trap of overwhelming your list with tens of questions. The smaller the task you ask customers to do, the more likely they’ll be to do it.
5. Send personalized messages to specific shoppers.
Chances are you’re sending product reminders to your customers via email or re-targeted advertising.
Why not do the same through text?
These SMS product reminders might be more effective because most people have their phone on them at all times—and more importantly, they check texts more than email.
Take a look at the products people have added to their online cart. (Or, if you’re selling services and have already spoken to the customer, head back to your CRM and find the services they expressed an interest in.)
These messages can normally be automated or triggered based on customer behavior. E.g.:
- “Do you still need help with [pain point]? Solve it today by hiring one of our experts.”
- “Still interested in our [product]? Only 6 left. Get yours now: [link]”
6. Share exciting company news.
Hired a new team member? Hit a major milestone? Been acquired?
No matter how big or small your company news is, send a text message to keep your audience in the loop—but only if you genuinely think your customers will be interested.
Let’s say you’ve just been acquired, for example. A simple text message like this could do the trick:
“Big news - we’ve been acquired by [COMPANY]! That means we’ve got $X more in the bank and 70 more staff members. Find out more: [LINK TO PRESS RELEASE]
Keeping your customers in the loop has its benefits. In fact, we recommend using text messaging either in place of or as a complement to your email newsletter.
You’ll be able to build relationships with both current and prospective customers, and prove that you’re a reputable business, always striving to do more. This also increases engagement, which leads to more sales down the road.
7. Jump onto national holidays.
Another great SMS marketing idea is to look at upcoming holidays, and see if you can tie them in with your text messages - even if it’s just a quick message to say:
- “Happy Easter”
- “Happy Valentines, we hope you have a great day”
- “Merry Christmas to all of our customers. We wish you a great New Year!”
These little reminders can show you go above and beyond for customers, without making them feel like you’re constantly pushing them to a sale. They build your relationships, which build your brand.
So what holidays create the best opportunities?
You should take a look at traditional holidays in your country like Valentine’s Day or Easter. But the truth is: Hundreds of brands jump onto the same holidays for their marketing messages. You’ve got to stand out.
Do that by finding more unique holidays that fit in with your business—like National Beer Day if you’re a distillery, or Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day if you’re a clothing brand.
It’s a fun, easy way to stand out from your competition, make your SMS messages more personable, and drive sales (especially if you offer promotions for those holidays).
8. Encourage social media engagement.
Who said text messages have to stick within the “messages” app on your audience’s phones?
You could encourage SMS audiences to engage with you on other social media platforms by sending a simple text like:
- “Reply SMS to enter our competition, and like our Facebook Page for 3 extra entries!”
- “On the fence about our services? Read this Twitter review of Casey, who hired five specialists in 2 weeks using our recruitment services.”
- “Exclusive offer available to LinkedIn followers! Get your code here: [LINK]”
It’s always wise to give your audience an incentive to do the job you’re asking of them, even if the task is as simple as accessing free information.
If social media is part of your overall marketing strategy, this is a great way to improve engagement, because driving people from SMS to follow you on social media helps with your overall awareness on that platform.
Facebook, for example, rewards posts that get lots of engagement with higher spots in the News Feed. The same concept applies to LinkedIn and Instagram.
9. Share relevant messages with free tips.
You don’t always have to be selling. Actually, your marketing will be better if you aren’t.
Follow the inbound marketing methodology, and let people decide when they purchase, but stay on their radar as you nurture them through your sales funnels by sending free tips via text message.
You could treat SMS messages as your way to deliver gated content. Ditch the “enter your email for a free eBook” approach and ask for your customer’s phone number. In return, they’ll get free advice and tips sent directly to their phone.
For example, a pest control company might send:
“Did you know that keeping bins closed outside could prevent unwanted flies and pests?”
Or, if you’re a marketing agency, you could send:
“Free Facebook Ads tip: Check your ad frequency metric every 3 days to make sure you’re not oversaturating your audience. Learn more at www.marketingsite.com/facebookads”
Either way, make sure the content you’re sending is both:
- Uber-relevant to your audience
- Something they probably don’t already know
The aim of these text messages should be to educate your audience, and prove to them that you’re an expert in your industry. They’ll need to know that before they purchase.
10. Promote your website content.
Publishing content on your website is only half the battle. Then you have to work hard to distribute it.
The “publish and pray” method doesn’t work anymore. Over 4 million blog posts are published daily, so you’ll need to put some effort into promoting your content if your strategy is to be worth your while.
SMS is a great way to do that. Simply direct people back to your website via text with free, no-obligation content, such as:
- “We just published our top 5 tips for hiring new staff: LINK”.
- “NEW: What to do when you spot a bees nest in your home: LINK”
It’s also important to note that this content promotion doesn’t have to be linked to blog posts. You could send links to YouTube videos, guest posts on third-party websites, or iTunes podcast episodes—whatever type of content you’re publishing.
11. Use interactive content to engage SMS audiences.
Did you know that interactive content generates 2x more conversions than passive content?
Take advantage of interactive content in your SMS marketing campaigns by asking your audience to respond to messages with answers through quizzes or polls.
- “Reply with your favorite emoji”
- “Which product would you like to see us release next—A, B, or C?”
This SMS marketing idea is similar to the text message surveys we discussed earlier, but the idea is that these snippets of interactive content focus on your audience, not on you.
You’re asking them to engage in a fun and playful way—not constantly asking for serious feedback (which they might not always want to provide).
12. Send real-time order confirmations.
Order confirmations are typically sent by email, but inboxes can be crowded places for most people. The average person gets 88 emails per day, which is part of the reason why text message verifications are 250% more effective than email.
Plus, customers can easily keep track of their order—especially when you send texts at each stage (shipped, with the courier, delivered.)
Here’s an example of how you could do that:
- “Thanks for ordering! Your order #19439 is being prepared. Track shipment here: LINK”
- “Your product is with the courier and expected to be delivered between 4pm and 6pm.”
- “We’ve delivered your order! Reply to this text if there’s anything else we can help with.”
13. Upsell other relevant products or services.
Once someone has made a purchase, send personalized recommendations for future products based on what they’ve already bought. You can do this by taking a look at your customer list, the item each customer has purchased, and other potential products that they might be interested in based on their first purchase.
For example, if someone’s bought a PC from you, text them to say:
“Getting annoyed with your dirty screen? Get our screen cleaner from $4 with free shipping: [LINK]”
This is a great way to generate more revenue from a single customer—especially when the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% (compared to just 5-20% for new prospects.)
14. Remind customers about upcoming appointments.
If you’re a service company or make appointments, you understand that no-shows have a huge impact on your business—especially if you’re:
- A hairdresser
- A service provider that goes to people’s homes (e.g. a pest control company)
- A restaurant
Whether you’re waiting around for customers to show-up or turning down other customers because another appointment is already booked, you can reduce the chances of no-shows by sending appointment reminders via SMS.
A text message like, “We can’t wait to see you at 2pm tomorrow! Let us know if you need to reschedule,” reminds your customer about the appointment in case they’ve forgotten.
And, if they can’t make it, you have an easy way to get them to reschedule instead of just losing the appointment altogether.
15. Encourage customers to leave online reviews.
Getting a steady stream of positive reviews can be tricky. However, you could ask the customers who have already purchased from you to respond to your text messages with a short review by sending something like:
- “What did you think of our service?”
- “Did we impress you?”
- “Is there anything you were positively surprised about when purchasing from us?”
(Again, you might need to offer incentives to get customers to leave a review.)
How can you start your text message marketing strategy?
Are you ready to launch a text messaging campaign that engages, nurtures, and converts your ideal customers?
Say goodbye to scratching your head, thinking of things to send. With these SMS marketing ideas, you’ll have months’ worth of content to engage your customers throughout the sales funnel and beyond! Now you just need a way to send texts.
Text Request provides a robust platform for you and your team to text with customers. See how it works firsthand by grabbing a quick demo here.