What is SMS Marketing? Should You Use SMS Marketing? How to Leverage SMS Marketing Rules to SMS Marketing 10 SMS Marketing Best Practices 10 SMS Marketing Mistakes

20 SMS Marketing Do’s and Don’ts for Your Text Messaging Strategy

SMS marketing can help you engage and convert customers at a significantly higher rate than email or phone calls—when you do it right.

We’ll show you how to best grab customers’ attention and inspire action with these essential SMS marketing do’s and don’ts.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is sending text messages with the goal to drive consumers to take a desired action. You’re essentially getting customers to engage with you through text messaging, so you can build loyalty and increase sales.

We’ll cover plenty of real-world examples below as you read on.

Should your business use SMS marketing?

Yes, your business should use SMS marketing. Customers want to read texts from your business, they want to know what’s going on, and they want offers. Fewer than 5% of people ever unsubscribe from SMS lists, while 20% or more of people on email lists unsubscribe each year. That’s because the subscribers who give you their phone number do so because they actually want your messages.

Not sure what kind of marketing texts your business could send? We’ll give you a few ideas next.

Opportunities to Leverage SMS Marketing

You need folks to send your marketing texts to, which is why creating and maintaining an SMS subscriber list is a key component to leveraging your SMS marketing. SMS subscribers are a group of contacts who’ve opted into your SMS marketing texts. You can text these subscribers things like:

  • Your SMS newsletter (similar to an email newsletter, but through text)

  • Promotions and discounts

  • Upsell opportunities

  • Events

  • VIP perks

  • Fundraising opportunities

  • And more

Increasing engagement drives revenue, and your SMS subscriber list can do just that. We have an entire guide dedicated to how to best build and maintain your SMS subscriber list, in addition to the SMS marketing do’s and don’ts we’ll cover below.

Are there any rules to SMS marketing?

You can only send SMS marketing texts to people who have opted in for them. People opt in to your text messages by:

  • Texting you first

  • Establishing a business relationship with you (making a purchase or requesting a service)

  • Giving you their phone number via web or physical form

  • Expressing verbal or written consent for you to text them

Texting people who have not opted in for your messages is against 10DLC regulations and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance. In other words, you’re going to have your messaging restricted if you message people without their consent. And that’s not helpful for anyone.

While messaging opt-ins is the biggest rule, we’ll cover a few more best practices throughout the rest of this guide that will ultimately delight your subscribers and keep your opt-in list healthy. A healthy opt-in list means higher text message delivery rates from carriers, ensuring you stay compliant and create more quality customer engagement.


10 SMS Marketing Best Practices to Follow

1. Talk like an actual human being.

Customers prefer to text your business because they feel like they’re reaching a real person. That means you should mimic the way you would normally text a friend, so they don’t feel like they’ve reached a chatbot or are drowning in a long, robotic messaging.

Your sentences don’t have to be complete, and you can leave out unnecessary words. Short, sweet, and personable is what customers want from your business texts.

2. Incorporate emojis and images where they naturally fit.

In line with making your messaging feel human, you shouldn’t be afraid to drop in the occasional emoji or image. These visual elements are best used to make what you’re trying to say more clear. 

Images and PDFs are great for showing off products or educational content, while emojis can help sum up the main goal of your text—like 📣 for announcements, 🎉 for celebrations and milestones, or 🔧 for a new solution or tool. 

SMS subscribers will be delighted when you sprinkle in these visual components where they naturally fit in.

Emoji Text Messaging with Text Request

3. Schedule your SMS marketing campaigns in advance.

Strategize a SMS marketing plan and get a calendar to document your scheduled texts. That’s the easiest way to see if you’re spacing your text messages out in a way that feels balanced for customers. 

You wouldn’t send a mass email to all your marketing contacts on a whim without a game plan—or at least we hope you wouldn’t. Put the same level of thought into your SMS marketing campaigns. One text a week is more than enough to keep engagement up, while not pestering your customers.

4. Send contacts what you said you would.

That means if you promised a weekly SMS newsletter, you send a weekly SMS newsletter. Texting only product promotions instead will alienate your SMS contact list.

Text subscribers what they opted in to receive, and they’ll stick around. 

5. Include call-to-actions at the end of your texts.

The best SMS marketing texts will include a call-to-action (CTA) asking customers to take a specific next step. You want to point customers to do something, like:

  • “Check out this link.”

  • “Use this discount.”

  • “View this image/PFD.”

  • “Visit our website.”

  • “Give us your feedback.”

Without a CTA, you’re sharing information without telling customers what to do with it. You’re going to see more returns when you’re direct about what you want customers to do next.

Pointing customers toward a link is a wonderful CTA, and Text Request makes it easy to automatically shorten and track your link's clicks across mass texts.

shorten links and track click rates with Text Request

6. Consider the timing of your text messages. 

Are your customers in different time zones? Are they more active in the morning or the afternoons? Is there a holiday or major event that would keep them from engaging with your texts?

These are all questions you should consider before you send a message. When in doubt, schedule your texts during normal business hours.


7. Coordinate your texts around your email marketing and social media. 

These communication channels are not in competition with each other, and you should leverage all three to get the most out of your marketing. 

Scheduling texts in conjunction with your email and social media posts is a solid way to make sure your messages are seen and stick in your customers’ minds. The more times someone sees a message, the more likely they are to take action.

8. Offer quality incentives for engaging.

What are customers getting out of your text messages? If it’s not something worth coming back for, you risk losing their interest—and possibly even their subscription. 

Quality incentives include:

  • Significant discounts

  • Industry-leading content

  • Early-access content

  • Behind-the-scenes updates

  • VIP programs

  • Exclusive offers

  • Exclusive access to executives

You’ll get as much out of your SMS marketing as you put into it. That includes the rewards you share with subscribers.

9. Create automations to streamline your SMS marketing efforts. 

The more efficient your text workflows are, the more engagement you’re going to get from customers. Text Request has multiple integrations that automatically trigger text messages, including: 

Constant Contact: Automatically sync contact lists for easy SMS promotions

HubSpot: Create text workflows for when subscribers take certain actions 

MailChimp: Automatically sync contact lists for easy SMS promotions

SharpSpring: Trigger welcome texts when subscribers opt in for texts

Square: Automatically sync contact lists for easy SMS promotions

Zapier: Connect text messaging to your other engagement tools and create custom automations

This makes your SMS marketing as streamlined as possible, so you can get more done while increasing profits. 


10. Use a business text messaging platform.

Texting a ton of contacts at once and managing all their responses won’t be possible from your personal phone. You need a platform with mass texting, so you can send one message to multiple contacts, but no one can see who else got it—like BCC email.

You can send mass texts with Text Request, plus get access to other helpful features to maximize your SMS marketing efforts.

10 SMS Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

1. Sounding like a robot or long-winded email.

Your SMS subscribers don't want another stuffy corporate communication—it’s why they’re texting you in the first place. Long, robotic sounding text messages are going to disengage them. 

Good: “We have a guide at [link] to help with all your questions related to [feature].”

Bad: “Our new [feature] is available in the bottom right-hand corner of your menu. You can click the button in the corner of that menu option to start setting up and entering the credentials required. These include the account you want to manage the feature, the settings you want to include, and the times you want [feature] to be active. Each of these items will be marked with a blue arrow that will change to green once you’re finished. Using these features is favorable for your business goals.”

A solid rule of thumb is to keep your texts under 160 characters. Anything longer ramps up your usage and will cause contacts to lose interest. 

2.  Having these common spam triggers in your messages.

Carriers look for things that would be harmful or unwanted by their customers. These eight things commonly trigger their spam filters:

  • Free or unbranded shortened links

  • Links placed at the end of the message

  • Naked links


  • Special characters

  • Multiple identical messages 

  • Long messages

  • Robotic, misspelled, or grammatically incorrect sentences

These spam triggers also just annoy SMS subscribers in general, so you should avoid sending them anyways. Our spam scanner automatically identifies and alerts you if any of these triggers are in your mass texts before you hit send.


3. Text contacts who unsubscribe from your messages.

Doing so will result in customers blocking you. And if you get blocked too many times, carriers will blacklist, or ban, your number, so you can’t text from it anymore. It’s also just not a great look and will hurt your reputation.

4. Send texts without a goal.

You’ll have the most success with SMS marketing when you set tangible goals and metrics to track. These could include conversion rates, new sales, average sale per customer, or connect rate (how many responses you get compared to other channels).

The point is to have a point, so you can work toward something and show the rest of your team what you’ve achieved later. 

5 Key SMS Metrics to Track for Proving Return on Investment (ROI)

5. Send texts in the middle of the night. 

You should only send a text outside of work hours if it’s related to something that needs to be handled after hours, like an emergency or event. Or if your target customers are more likely to chat after hours, as is often the case for real estate and recruiting, for example. 

6. Stop using your other communication channels. 

Text messaging is a powerful tool, but it’s not a cure-all solution for your marketing efforts. Don’t expect it to become a total replacement for your other communication channels. You’ll have more success when you prioritize cross-pollinating your contact lists, especially from your email. 

Text Request has integrations with Mailchimp and Constant Contact that allow you to collect phone numbers from the customers who’ve listed them.

7. Advertise special offers you can’t follow through on.

There’s no quicker way to lose trust and subscribers. Don’t fall through on promises. If you tell customers they’ll get free swag for joining your SMS subscriber list, make sure they get that free swag.

8. Try to be hip. 

Don’t go overboard with abbreviations and lingo. If you have a wide audience that spans multiple age groups, you risk alienating anyone with generation specific terms. 

Good: “Get 15% off your next purchase by using the code: Cheers”

Bad: “WHAT’S GOOD BOI? Guess what deal we have for you this time? Give a big HELLUR the next time step inside our store to get a sweet 15% discount.”

Keep it casual, but not forced. And above all, be true to yourself and your brand.

9. Ignore customers who respond.

Actively encouraging and managing responses from customers' needs to be a part of your goals. Otherwise what’s the point of engaging with folks in the first place?

Not responding to texts breaks down the customer experience. It also costs you money when a subscriber was considering buying something, but backs out because they didn’t hear anything from you.

10. Send SMS marketing texts on your personal phone. 

You need an organized platform to identify when contacts have been responded to, what groups they belong to, and to schedule messages in advance. It’s also best practice to time stamp and record all texts, so you have a record of who said what when to refer back to—on the off chance an SMS subscriber accuses you of doing something you didn’t.

All of this just isn’t possible on your personal phone, so you’ll end up creating more work, stress, and issues for yourself in the long run. 


Send Your SMS Marketing Text Messages with Text Request

Not only will you get an army of mobile marketing power at your fingertips—you’ll also get access to our five-star customer success team and library of resources to help you create the best SMS marketing campaigns possible. 

Sending a campaign is as easy as uploading a list of your contacts into a mass text, composing your message, formatting any desired merge fields, and hitting send! 

Schedule a demo to see the platform in action.

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