SMS Promotions: The Ultimate Guide

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Promotions provide opportunities to leverage specific aspects of your business and grab your audience’s attention, but they only work if people see them.

That’s why SMS promotions provide a huge opportunity for businesses, because 99% of texts are read and have a 250% higher conversion rate than emails.

You already know your audience texts, and you know they’ll engage with text messages. SMS is the number one consumer preferred form of communication, and it's where you need to go to connect with your audience.

What you need is a process for setting up and maintaining a successful SMS promotion strategy—which is exactly what I’m going to help you with today!

By the end of this guide you’ll know:

  • The benefits of SMS promotions
  • The characteristics of a successful promotion
  • How to reach the most people with SMS promotions
  • And how Text Request can provide you with the perfect platform to manage your SMS promotions

Let’s jump in!

Why use SMS for promotions?

89% of consumers would rather get an SMS update from a company than any other form of media.

Emails and voicemails get lost (only 5% of calls are answered, and 15% of emails are opened), but texts are practically impossible to miss thanks to notifications showing up on lock screens!

Plus, consumers have to opt-in for text messages, so you know the customers you’re reaching are ones who are actually interested in what you have to offer. Opt out rates for email subscriber lists are 20%+ per year, while lifetime opt out rates for texts are less than 5%.

Repeat customers have a 60% to 70% chance of converting. You just need to get their attention, and SMS promos are the perfect way to do that!

What makes a good SMS promotion?

Text messaging is the most engaging channel for promotions, with a 99% open rate and 40% click-through rate. But if you don’t have a well crafted message to go along with it, you hurt your chances of getting customers to take action.

You've got to add value whenever you reach out!

Here are three elements your promotions should always include.

1. Have a strong reason for reaching out.

What are you offering and why is it important? Your goal is to make it so your audience can identify these two things immediately.

That’s why your message needs to include a clear presentation of your offer and what the customer will receive when they use it. You can even include an image with your promo (we’ll talk more about how Text Request can help with this later), so your audience can visualize the value you’re bringing them.

But make sure there is in fact value. Otherwise there’s no reason to send your promo.

2. Create a compelling message.

The copy, or writing, in your message needs to be clear and concise. Your promo is coming in the form of a text message, and one of the biggest appeals of a text is that it’s short and sweet.

To keep your audience’s attention:

  • Omit fluff or padding (anything that makes the message longer than it has to be)
  • Use a maximum of one to two short sentences
  • Avoid big, industry specific words your audience won’t understand

Here’s an example of a concise promo message template:

Hi [Customer Name]! Thanks for shopping with [Company Name]. Here’s a digital coupon for 10% off your next online purchase! Click here to claim it: [Link]

3. Include a call to action.

A call to action (CTA) gives your audience a next step they can take. In the case of an SMS promotion the next step could be “click this link” or “show this text at your next checkout.”

Including a CTA like this tells viewers how they can use your offer, instead of leaving them to figure it out on their own. Show them exactly what they need to do next, and they’ll most likely do it.

How do you ensure your SMS promotion reaches the most people?

1. Build your contact list.

The more customers you have on an SMS list, the higher your chances of bringing them back for repeat purchases and increasing revenue.

But you can’t expect people to willingly opt-in for your texts without giving them a compelling reason (and you can’t add them on your own for compliance reasons). Instead you need to generate interest and give them a reason to join.

The fastest way to do this is to reach out to your current email contacts, advertise on your website, and catch customers at your brick-and-mortar checkout to invite them to sign up for text updates.

You can provide rewards or VIP treatment for those who sign up, including:

  • Coupons
  • Exclusive updates
  • Behind the scenes content

61% of consumers will subscribe to an SMS list if they’re offered rewards like these.

Related: How to Build a Powerful SMS Subscriber List

PC: U.S. Short Code Directory

2. Pick a message schedule.

Sending messages as you have time won’t be enough to deliver the results you want to see. Instead, you need a schedule planned in advance that suits your industry’s needs.

For example, if you’re a retailer, you might send one promotion a week. A home services company might run one a month, and a professional services business might do one a quarter.

It usually takes consumers seeing something seven times before they act on it. So consider when you need consumers to take action and plan your schedule accordingly.

3. Combine SMS with your other channels.

The most effective promotions target customers through multiple channels. And while text is the most engaging channel for promotions, you can drastically increase your chances of getting even more customers to convert when you follow up your SMS promo with:

1. An email

2. A retargeting ad on social media

3. Google search ad

Targeting options like Lookalike and similar audiences can help you retarget customers on social media and across the web.

Just make sure you provide a consistent experience across each of your channels by keeping your voice, branding, and promotional images with logos consistent. Consistency is key to leaving a good impression on your audience, building trust, and getting them to take action.

4. Avoid spammy messages.

Spam filters can keep your messages from getting through to customers, but they’re easy to avoid as long as your texts don’t include anything like:

  • All Caps
  • Ending in a URL
  • Non-shortened URL
  • Dollar Signs
  • Email address

Keeping these distracting elements out of your messages will also make your texts more appealing to the eyes so your audience engages with what you have to say.

5. Double check that your messages were delivered.

Having a texting platform that shows your campaign’s delivery rates will give you more peace of mind than just sending promotions from your personal phone and hoping for the best.

Plus, as you grow your contact list and send more messages to more numbers, you’ll need a way to keep track of each campaign’s individual number of:

  • Messages sent vs. delivered
  • Responses
  • Opt-outs
  • Errors

Having access to these stats will help you remove broken numbers and, most importantly, stay compliant when customers want to opt-out.

Text Request documents all these numbers, automatically removes opt-outs from your contact list, and offers tools to make managing your promo campaigns easier (which we’ll talk about next).

How can Text Request help you manage SMS promotions?

1. Encourage contacts to opt-in with keywords.

You want to make it easy for consumers to opt-in for promotions, and keywords can help you do just that!

A keyword is a word people can text to opt-in for information and updates related to that topic. For example, a nursery could advertise the keyword “GROW” to customers who want to better care for their plants and receive updates on seasonal sales.

Keywords are easy to advertise, generate interest (because customer prefer to text over email or phone), and can placed everywhere including:

  • Website banners
  • Digital and physical ads
  • Social media posts
  • Brick-n-mortar checkouts
  • Emails

You just need a message that will automatically send when someone texts in your chosen keyword, like:

Thanks for texting [Keyword] to [Company]! We’ll send you weekly updates on our newest items and sales every second day of the month.

PC: CleverTap

2. Organize your campaigns by contact groups.

72% of people expect businesses to create selling experiences based on their previous interactions with the brand. This is known as personalization, and 91% of consumers say it’s more likely to get them to make a purchase.

Text Request’s group feature makes it easy to organize and send personalized promotions to your customers. You can categorize your contacts by the types of products or services they typically purchase so the promotions can match them.

For example, a beauty salon could categorize their contacts by “pedicures” vs. “hair coloring,” so you can send promotions specifically for those two different kinds of customers.

These groups could also be based on keywords customers text, or their locations. It just depends on how you want to organize your promotions to give your contacts a personalized experience.

3. Use Text Merge to make promotions feel personal.

What if there was a way you could add individual customers’ names and last service dates when you send out promotions persuading them to reschedule?

Text Request lets you do just that with our Text Merge feature. You just drop in your spreadsheet of contact names and last purchase date into a message so they’re automatically inserted, like:

Hi [Name], we miss you at [Company Name]! Your last appointment was [Time/Date], and you’re due for another. Schedule here [link], and we’ll give you 5% off your next [Service]!

Including a customer’s name in a text promo is one more way to capture their attention, and 75% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from businesses that recognize them by their name.

4. Show off products and new releases with MMS.

Consumers pay more attention to messages when they include a visual. Customers are also more likely to remember and act on SMS promotions with images, because people retain 80% of what they see in comparison to the 20% they read.

Text Request offers MMS, or picture messaging, so you can show customers exactly what you’re offering them.

The images you include could be of the product itself or a graphic that breaks down all the highlights of an offer you’re providing.

5. Include links to your online store.

The ultimate goal of any promotion is to get customers back into your online store, which you can do in a matter of seconds when you include a link.

Text Request lets you copy and paste links directly into your texts. All you have to do is hit send, and SMS’s ridiculously high click-through rate does the rest of the work.

Remember 99% of texts are read, so for every 200 promotional texts you send with a link to your store, a click-through-rate of 40% to 45% means that 80 to 90 people will click it!

6. Schedule campaigns in advance.

Sending messages isn’t enough to actively build your list of contacts. You also need to take time to encourage new customers to join your subscriber list, but that can be difficult when you’re also caught up in regularly creating and sending promos.

That’s why Text Request lets you schedule messages in advance, so you can get a round of promos prepped all in one go and be able to return to building your list of contacts.

You can even create premade templates to respond to common customer questions and include atoresponses that direct people to other resources if you’re not immediately available.

What’s the first step to starting your SMS promotional campaign?

It costs at least 5x more to bring in a new customer than it does to keep or resell an existing one, but a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% increase in revenue!

SMS promotions are proven to increase customer engagement and can help you exponentially grow your amount of return shoppers. But you need to incorporate SMS into an already functioning promotions strategy first.

Our Customer Promotions Cheat Sheet can help you flesh out a multi-channel promotions strategy that delivers the right messages to the right people so you increase your revenue!