What Is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing combines the oldest and simplest channels available to any marketer - SMS - with marketing platforms and software to send timely, personalized, and interactive messages and campaigns at scale while staying compliant with privacy legislation.

Just as a PPC campaign shows ads to people searching the web, a YouTube campaign shows ads to people watching videos, and a direct marketing campaign sends letters to individuals, an SMS marketing campaign sends ads by text message to people using mobile phones.

What Are SMS Campaigns Features?

  • SMS campaigns are sent to an individual (not a mass market broadcast audience like TV);

  • That person has consented to such communications, usually by double opt-in;

  • The message is often tailored to that person, based on what the marketer knows about them;

  • SMS campaigns usually contain a call to action that lets the recipient act on the message, such as clicking on a URL or redeeming a voucher; and

  • SMS campaigns can be tracked and monitored, so the recipient’s response can be noted and used for further customization and personalization.

While the messages in SMS marketing campaigns are short and text-only (in keeping with SMS’s original 160-character limit) they often include links to richer content such as mobile web pages, interactive content, or other channels such as WhatsApp. This is possible thanks to SMS marketing platforms that bring different channels together and let marketers send, analyze, and manage campaigns involving multiple audiences and thousands of people.


SMS takes advantage of proximity and immediacy. A mobile phone is usually within two meters of its owner at all times; messages are usually read and answered in minutes rather than hours; the mobile nature of a phone means messages can even be sent to customers in a specific geographical area, such as within a few miles of a store offering a sale. This makes SMS marketing ideal for short-term promotions, real-time updates and offers and add-on campaigns up-selling and cross-selling other products and services.

How Does SMS Marketing Work?

To use SMS marketing, marketers need the ability to send out large numbers of legally compliant text messages to a database of customers, with dashboard functionality that lets them see metrics such as successful deliveries, open rates, response rates, and so on.

An SMS Platform Enables Complete Campaigns

Such applications let them schedule SMS messages for delivery to different audience segments (such as during daylight hours if a campaign is global) and customize for different legislative environments, such as whether the receiving country requires double opt-in before messages can be sent. This is the difference between a simple SMS send and what’s needed for a complete campaign.

SMS Can Be Combined With Others

SMS marketing software also provides a way to link SMS messages to other channels. A custom URL isn’t limited to opening a mobile web page; it can also open another application (such as WhatsApp) or a chat window so a one-to-one conversation with the recipient can begin.

Accurate Data Lets the Marketer Improve Each Campaign

SMS marketing software lets marketers see statistics from each campaign as intuitive charts and graphs, showing how each campaign performed. Useful metrics include number of successful deliveries versus fails, number of opens, and what users did next, such as respond to a Short Code or click a link. These insights help marketers to plan future campaigns and improve ones in progress.

What Are the Benefits of SMS Marketing?

SMS is Universal

The key advantage of SMS marketing is universal deliverability. All mobile phones in use today, however old, can receive and respond to SMS messages, using well-established technology and protocols standardized across the world.

SMS Covers the Planet

This also means the audience is huge: many billions of mobile phone accounts are active worldwide, with people of all cultures and income levels having access to a phone. With the right platform, marketers can roll out a single campaign for multiple countries and languages, with messaging tailored for different segments.

SMS is Customizable

The mobile phone is a personal device, and the ads in SMS marketing campaigns can be personalized to take advantage – even spanning the gap between online and offline. Individual ads can contain personalized voucher codes that identify the user when redeemed elsewhere; the messages can address the user by name, boosting response rates and strengthening relationships; delivery times can be customized to the user’s known behavior, such as only sending after 6 pm.


SMS Is Instant

SMS marketing can use a variety of proven technologies to let users acknowledge, respond, and take action. Short codes supply an easy-to-remember number to send inquiries or answer questions; two-way SMS allows a conversation of multiple-choice or guided answers (from Y/N to “Score out of 10”); coupons and vouchers can be applied with a click. All these SMS services can be used as part of an SMS marketing campaign.

How to Use SMS Marketing Campaigns

SMS marketing campaigns work best for campaigns with a known audience, a clear offer, and a time factor such as a short-term promotion.

Double Opt-In

The first part of any SMS campaign is to remain legally compliant. Most countries require double opt-in. This means the user agrees to receive your SMS communications (for example, by sending an inquiry to a Short Code) and secondly confirms their choice by responding to your first message (“Agree Y/N?”)

Offers and Promotions

Short and easily-understood offers (“Get 10% off by ordering before 4 pm!”) are ideal for SMS marketing since individual responses can be tracked and followed up. With so many businesses using SMS for confirmations (bookings, appointments, and so on) it’s also easy to offer add-on promotions to customers already buying from you, such as a hotel chain offering a night free if you extend your booking by two nights.

Managed Conversations With CRM

A true SMS marketing platform should connect seamlessly to sources of data like your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) application, so your bots and agents can understand the customer in more depth (including what he/she has been doing on other channels.) This builds stronger bonds with the customer and lets an SMS message be used to prompt action on other channels (“Check your email Inbox for your special offer”.)

Combined Email and SMS Marketing

The easy integration of channels an SMS marketing platform provides allows true multichannel and omnichannel communication with the customer. Deliveries and bookings can be confirmed via SMS after emails are sent; identities of new sign-ups can be authenticated by text; responses to a web offer can be streamlined and encouraged with Short Codes and two-way SMS.

How to Get Started With SMS Marketing

The ideal way to add SMS marketing to your channels is a platform like CM.com’s Mobile Marketing Cloud, which lets you plan, create, schedule, send, and monitor SMS messages personalized for thousands of recipients with ease. It lets you use SMS as a channel in combination with email, WhatsApp, and others, with integrated campaign management across all.

CM.com’s Mobile Marketing Cloud offers many approaches for using SMS as part of your marketing mix, with easy ways to integrate SMS with other channels and existing applications like your CRM database.

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