Mass SMS Marketing Guide + Text Message Marketing Examples
Mass SMS Marketing Guide + Text Message Marketing Examples

Learn SMS Marketing Best Practices & What SMS Marketing Is + 14 SMS Marketing Examples 

According to a recent HubSpot analysis, "...more than 76% of businesses plan to invest in text message marketing in the next year."

But what does your business or organization need to get started with SMS marketing?

In this article, I cover:

  1. What SMS marketing is and how text marketing works
  2. Email and SMS marketing pros and cons
  3. Benefits of SMS marketing and why it works
  4. How to get started with SMS marketing software 
  5. SMS marketing best practices and SMS marketing laws
  6. 14 SMS marketing examples and text message campaign ideas
  7. Answers to frequently asked SMS marketing questions

By the end of this article, you'll have all the knowledge you need to run your first successful SMS marketing campaigns.

Read on for more.

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Email and SMS Marketing Pros and Cons

Compared to email marketing, text message marketing has some advantages. There’s debate over which is best, but each has its pros and cons.

Email is a tried and true conversational messaging technology. It’s actually the most widely adopted mass communication channel in the world next to SMS.

Both mass SMS and email marketing campaigns involve:

  • Segmenting contacts into lists
  • Scheduling messages
  • Automating messages into campaigns
  • Sending media in messages
  • Personalizing messages with merge tags

But email marketing can suffer from lower engagement rates compared to text campaigns.

The normal promotional email blast gets around a 2% link click-through rate. Text messages often get around a 35% click rate when you include a link.

Plus, many emails go unread and even get deleted without ever being opened.

So it’s no wonder that email also has low engagement rates. We’re talking about 20% open rates and only 6% average response rates. And that’s on a good day.

Compare that to text messaging. Text messages have up to a 98% open rate and around a 45% response rate. In fact, 74% of customers will even respond to a text from a business.

Customers are also much less likely to mark text message advertising as spam. When it comes to receiving emails, some audiences may never even have the chance to see your message because of spam filters.

SMS vs email marketing

SMS Marketing Email Marketing
Average Open Rate 98% 20%
Average Click-Through Rate 35% 2%
Average Response Rate 45% 6%
Average Spam Rate 3% 53%
Supported Content-Length 160 chars. (SMS) 1000+ (MMS) Unlimited
Supported Content Types Texts (SMS), Images, Gifs, Video (MMS) Text, media, images, gifs, video
Supports Automation?
Supports Integrations?
Requires Consent and Opt-in? Yes Yes
Requires Internet Access? No Yes
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Benefits of SMS Marketing and Why it Works

I’ve written more deeply on why text message marketing works, but the short answer is because:

  • Texts are direct and immediate
  • Texts are universally accessible
  • Texts have great open and engagement rates
  • Texting increases reach and awareness
  • Texting is a conversational way to boost engagement
  • Texting makes it easy to personalize marketing messages at scale
  • Texts can save time with automation
  • Texting is relatively cost-effective

But text message marketing campaigns and email marketing campaigns don't have to be an either-or arrangement.

Email will always have its place in your marketing mix. This is where I advocate for using both SMS marketing and email marketing together. 

Depending on your audience, you'll find that some messages are better suited for email, while others work best as texts.

Text messages are perfect for a quick, timely prompt because they have character limits. This character limit may vary based on your messaging provider, but texts are meant to be brief. They require you to get to the point faster than email.

Emails give you a chance to add more media and content and include more calls to action. 

Sure, you can text images and gifs using MMS. But you can’t style your text messages in the same way that you can with an email… yet. Enter RCS.

So consider combining an SMS marketing strategy with your email marketing strategy. Both have a place in comprehensive mobile marketing plans.


How to Get Started with SMS Marketing Software 

There are many SMS marketing services, including MessageDesk. But the trick is choosing the right platform based on your organization’s needs.

Below is a step-by-step guide for evaluating your options and getting started.

1. Choose an SMS marketing service

The first step to getting started with SMS text marketing is to sign up with a text marketing platform. 

There are several key features you’ll want to look for when evaluating solutions.

The first key feature is high-volume, carrier-verified, mass texting—also known as carrier-verified A2P 10DLC

You’ll need mass texting software that can get you near 100% delivery rates for large-scale SMS marketing campaigns. Without this, you can only send a limited number of texts, and delivery isn’t guaranteed.

Note: MessageDesk’s mass text message broadcasts do support high-volume, carrier-verified 10DLC messaging.

The second grouping of features you’ll want to look for is text message automation features.  These include:

  • Text message scheduling
  • Support for templates, tags, links, and media
  • Keyword-based autoresponder texts
  • Contact list management features and custom fields
  • CRM and email marketing integrations


2. Create a free account and trial the service

Get started with a free account once you select an SMS marketing platform. This gives you time to get answers to questions and test the platform's capabilities.


3. Text-enable your business phone or select a new text number

Next, you’ll need to get a new text number or text-enable your existing business landline.

Some platforms allow you to select various types of SMS phone numbers, including toll-free 800 numbers.

To text from an existing business phone number, you’ll need to submit a number hosting request.

Note: It will likely take from 1-7 days to successfully text-enable your business number once you submit your request.


4. Import and segment your contacts into groups and lists

Once you’ve got your SMS phone number configured, you’ll want to upload contact lists or sync with your CRM. MessageDesk makes this easy with built-in CSV upload, custom fields, and Zapier integrations. 

Keep in mind, TCPA compliance requires contacts to opt-in to receive promotional messages (more on this below). 

This is where SMS subscriber systems, like those built into MessageDesk can help. MessageDesk makes it easy to track who has and hasn’t consented to receive promotional messages.


5. Pre-save marketing messages with templates, tags, links, and media

Once you upload your contacts to your SMS marketing service, you can now compose your messages.

MessageDesk supports pre-saved text message templates. You can even insert personalization tags, URL links, photos, and other media into your text message templates.

Templates ultimately allow you to create more personalized texts. This allows you to optimize your SMS mobile marketing for deeper engagement with your audience.

It’s also possible to pre-save templates. You can use these for different types of text message marketing for events and other various campaigns like the ones I list below.


6. Schedule and automate mass SMS marketing broadcasts

Coupling text message scheduling with text message broadcasts is how you reach everyone and send bulk SMS.

It also helps ensure that your message gets in front of people when they're most likely to be receptive. This can be after they’ve made a purchase or when they first join your text subscriber list.

Need to send a message on a certain day at a specific time? You can schedule SMS messages to send at a later time. You can also schedule messages at specific intervals as part of automated text message campaigns.


7. Set up keyword-based autoresponder automation

Autoresponder texts are a keyword-based type of text message automation

An autoresponder sends an automatic text when someone texts your organization’s phone number with a keyword.

Here’s an example:

Hey {{ FirstName }}, Thanks for your business and support! Want 10% off your next order? Opt-in to our text list by texting back JOIN. We’ll also send you monthly deals with promo codes and more. Text STOP to opt-out at any time. Message and data rates may apply.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am


Recieved 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Thanks for joining our text list! Here’s 10% off your next order. Use code [Code] at checkout.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

8. Use Zapier to integrate your promotional SMS with third-party tools 

Zapier makes it easy to integrate texting services like MessageDesk with other third-party marketing software. You can sync contacts from ConstantContact, HubSpot, Shopify, or even Mailchimp. 

An example is if a Shopify e-commerce shopper abandons their cart. You could set up a MessageDesk and Zapier integration with Shopify. This could automatically send an abandoned cart message and prompt the shopper to complete checkout.

Bottom line: Zapier SMS zaps and other CRM text messaging integrations give you options when it comes to marketing outreach.


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SMS Marketing Best Practices and SMS Marketing Laws

I’ve covered what SMS marketing is and how it stacks up compared to email. I also outlined how to get started with SMS marketing software. 

Now it's time to cover SMS marketing tips.

Below is a list of text message marketing best practices, rules, and regulations to be mindful of.

1. Set goals around SMS marketing KPIs (key performance Indicators)

What's your goal for your marketing campaign? It's important to focus primarily on one objective per campaign. This helps you to align your content and calls to action. It also makes it easier to tailor your messaging and get message recipients to achieve the desired objective.

Some SMS marketing campaign goals might include:

Setting clear, specific goals tied to performance metrics also helps you optimize campaign performance over time.

Some SMS marketing campaign metrics to track include:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR) - Tracking the number of times a link gets clicked in a text
  2. Engagement Rate - Tracking the number of responses you get
  3. Return on Investment (ROI) - Tracking your revenue created per text message sent
  4. Un-subscribes - Tracking opt-outs from your text list

When you choose a text message marketing service, make sure it includes analytics for sent and received texts. Many SMS marketing platforms like MessageDesk provide you with metrics for every text message sent.

Below are some of the metrics you see when sending text messages using MessageDesk:


2. Segment your contact lists and personalize your messages

Segmenting your contacts into lists is a marketing best practice. The more segmented your list is, the more you can personalize marketing messages to that specific audience.

Personalization can be the difference between a high-performing campaign and a low-performing campaign. In general, leads and customers respond better to friendly, personalized messages that include their first names.
You’ll also want to consider automating different messages for different contact lists based on the customer’s lifecycle.

For example, brand-new text-list subscribers may receive a welcome message. Whereas long-term repeat customers may receive promotional offers and refer your friend discount codes.

MessageDesk’s team SMS inbox with custom views is a great way to segment your customers into SMS marketing lists. You can create groups based on any contact property or even form submissions and interactions.


3. Get consent and include opt-in and opt-out language

Text message advertising is subject to TCPA compliance (more on this in the FAQ section below). 

This means you need to get and keep a record of express consent to text someone. You also need to provide clear ways for people to opt out of future messaging.

As a best practice, I suggest including the following language with all of your promotional text messages: 

“Text STOP to opt-out of messaging. Message and data rates may apply.”

Here’s an example of opt-in language used on a website:

opt-in and opt-out consent

Carriers have also tightened regulations around text message marketing in the past several years. They now offer pathways through services like The Campaign Registry to get approval for high-volume A2P 10DLC text messaging

The bottom line is: for promotional text messages you need express consent from your contacts. In another article, I outline numerous ways you can stay compliant and still grow your text subscriber lists.

Regardless, SMS marketing services like MessageDesk help you get and stay compliant with SMS marketing laws.

MessageDesk automatically handles and records opt-in and opt-out for you per TCPA and carrier guidelines. The first time you text a new contact MessageDesk automatically displays opt-out instructions. When a contact opts out, they’re automatically put in a “do not text” list.


4. Consider audience expectations around text messages

There are best practices and text messaging etiquette to consider before you send your first message.

Be mindful of your audience when using text acronyms, abbreviations, and emojis. Younger audiences may appreciate and respond well, while older or more professional audiences won’t. 

It’s always best to consider your audience and the tone of your voice. When in doubt, simplify and go for clarity as opposed to being cheeky or clever.

Additionally, only send relevant texts to your customers when it makes sense. Tell your audience how often they should expect to receive texts from you. This helps to set expectations.


5. Add media and craft relevant and timely text messages

SMS marketing also includes MMS (Multimedia Message Service). MMS allows you to text images, media, and graphics. This is a great way to boost engagement and interest.

Like email, SMS marketing can be visual. This works especially well when you’re marketing a product.

Almost every business text messaging platform includes MMS messages, including MessageDesk. MessageDesk MMS media folders even make it easy to organize images, videos, or gifs and attach them to any text message.


6. Create compelling calls to action (CTAs)

Every text message should have a call to action that prompts recipients to take the next step. Without that prompt, you're not progressing the recipient down the funnel and through your sales cycle.

So craft clear CTAs like:

  • Connect with us
  • Schedule a consultation
  • Learn more
  • Watch how it works
  • Get your guide
  • Try for free

I also advise including a link in your texts. Embedding the URL in an SMS message removes a barrier between your audience. It makes it easy for recipients to take the next action directly on their mobile phones.

When including a link in your marketing message, I recommend using the entire URL link instead of using a link shortener. 

Phone carriers view shortened links as suspicious. As a result, they may flag your message as spam, affecting your text message delivery rates.


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14 SMS Marketing Examples and Text Message Campaign Ideas

Text message marketing gives you the advantage of immediate engagement. It’s great when you need to:

  • Send sale messages to customers.
  • Offer discount messages.
  • Advertise exclusive offers.
  • Recover abandoned carts.
  • Promote holiday sales.
  • Advertise loyalty programs. 
  • And more…

Below is a list of text message marketing examples and text marketing campaigns that I’ve put together.

You can also check out my list of 100+ text message templates for more of the best text message marketing examples.

1. Cart abandonment reminders

This is a highly effective strategy for recovering lost sales. An SMS reminder can nudge customers who’ve added items to their online shopping to complete their purchases.

Oops! Looks like you left a pair of blue jeans in your cart. Click here to finish shopping: [Link]. Enjoy a 10% discount on us with code 10OFF.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Hey {{ FirstName }} 👋, we noticed you left some great items in your cart 🛒. Don't let them get away! Complete your purchase now and enjoy a 10% discount on us with the code SAVE10. Hurry before they're gone! [Link] 🔗.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

2. Re-engagement campaigns

A personalized SMS can rekindle the interest of customers who haven’t interacted with your brand in a while. Offering a special discount or exclusive offer can be an effective strategy to re-engage them.

We've missed you! Here's a 15% off coupon for your next order: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Hey there, it's been a while! We've missed you at [Your Brand]. Here's an exclusive 15% discount on your next order to welcome you back: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

3. Exclusive deals

Exclusive sales or discounts can be an excellent incentive for customers to opt-in to your SMS marketing. Use it to alert subscribers about flash sales, seasonal sales, or member-exclusive discounts.

VIP Flash Sale! Enjoy an exclusive 50% off site-wide for the next 3 hours. Don't miss out: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

FLASH SALE⚡ for our valued members! Get 30% off on all items for the next three hours only⏳. Shop now at [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

4. Early access and limited-time offers

Offering your SMS subscribers early access to new products or collections can make them feel valued. This can build brand loyalty and generate buzz for your new launch. You can also use urgency as a motivator. Limited-time offers can encourage quick purchases and prevent shopping cart abandonment.

You're part of our exclusive group which gets early access to our new summer collection! Start shopping before everyone else: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Get early access to our new collection before it goes public! Shop now: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Get a free gift with any purchase, today only! Start shopping: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Today only! Receive a complimentary gift with any purchase over $50. Don't miss out, start shopping now: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

5. New product alerts

Keep your customers updated about new products, restocks, or limited edition releases. Personalized recommendations based on their shopping history can also drive engagement. 

Great news 🎉! Our bestselling sneakers 👟 are back in stock! Get yours before they sell out again at [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Exciting news, {{ FirstName }}🎉! Our brand-new [product] is now available! Be the first to try it out and level up your [relevant activity or task]. Don't wait, it's already selling fast! Check it out here: [Product URL].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

6. Order confirmations and updates

Customers appreciate real-time text alerts about their orders. Sending an SMS with order confirmation or shipping status not only enhances customer experience but also reduces your customer service inquiries.

Great news! Your order #12345 has been shipped and is on its way, {{ FirstName }}. Click here to track your package: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

{{ FirstName }}, your order #5555 has been confirmed ✅ and will be shipped within 24 hours 📦. You can track your order here: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

7. Customer loyalty programs

Update your customers about their loyalty points, offer exclusive rewards, or remind them to use their points before they expire. 

{{ FirstName }}, you've earned 500 reward points! Redeem your points for an exclusive gift on your next purchase: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Congratulations {{ FirstName }} 🎊! You've earned enough points for a $20 reward💵. Redeem now or continue collecting for bigger rewards: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

8. Personalized product recommendations

Make your customers feel special with personalized product recommendations based on their browsing or purchasing history. 

We see you seein’ us, {{ FirstName }} 👀. We thought you might love these new summer dresses, based on your recent purchases. Check them out: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Based on your recent purchases, we thought you might like our new range of summer dresses. Check them out at [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

9. Product usage tips

SMS marketing isn't just for sales; it can also deliver valuable content to your customers. Send them product care tips or usage ideas based on their recent purchases. 

Thank you for your purchase of our yoga mat, {{ FirstName }} 🧘‍♀️. Check out these exercises to get the most out of your new mat: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Hello {{ FirstName }} 👋! Thanks for purchasing our [Product]. To get the most out of it, check out these quick tips: [URL to Product Usage Tips]. Enjoy and let us know if you have any questions! 😊

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

10 Post-purchase surveys

Text surveys can be a convenient way for customers to provide feedback. Ask them to rate their shopping experience or product satisfaction. 

We hope you love your new shoes, {{ FirstName }}! Could you rate your shopping experience from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent)?

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Thank you for shopping with us,  {{ FirstName }} 🙏! We would love to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to rate us on a scale of 1 to 5 ⭐.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

11. Special occasion offers

Make your customers feel valued on special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or during holiday seasons with exclusive offers. 

Happy Birthday! Celebrate with 20% off your next order. Use code BDAY20 at checkout: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Happy Birthday {{ FirstName }}! As our special birthday gift to you, enjoy 20% off your next purchase. Use code BDAY20 at checkout: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

12. VIP events

Invite high-value customers to exclusive events such as pre-sale access, product launches, or online live events. 

Dear {{ FirstName }}, as one of our valued customers, we're excited to invite you to an exclusive preview of our new collection 👀. RSVP now: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

 {{ FirstName }}, you're invited to our exclusive VIP fashion show! Register here to secure your spot: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Thanks for buying our organic skincare set, {{ FirstName }}! Here are some tips for getting the best results: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

13. Invitation to join newsletter or social media

Texting can help you diversify your customer engagement. Consider inviting SMS subscribers to join your email newsletter or follow you on social media. This can lead to higher brand visibility and engagement. 

Love our products, {{ FirstName }}? Join our newsletter for styling tips, exclusive deals, and more. Plus, get 10% off your next order when you sign up: [Link].

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Hi {{ FirstName }} 👋! Love our products and want more updates? Join our newsletter for the latest news, exclusive deals, and more! Plus, get a 10% discount on your next order when you sign up: [Newsletter Signup URL]🔗. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook too: [Social Media URLs]. Stay connected with us! 😊

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

14. Cross-sell opportunities

Based on a customer's past purchases, you can suggest complementary products. This strategy can increase the average order value and enhance the customer's overall experience with your products. For instance, if a customer has purchased a camera, you might recommend a protective camera case or a tripod. 

Thank you for your recent purchase of our DSLR camera, {{ FirstName }} 📷! To enhance your photography experience, you might find our adjustable tripods useful. Check them out here: [URL] 🔗.

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Hello {{ FirstName }} 👋! We noticed you recently purchased our [product]. Many of our customers find that [related product] goes great with it. Check it out here: [URL] Happy shopping!🛍️

Delivered 01/06/23, 07:01 am

Frequently Asked SMS Marketing Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding SMS text message marketing. 

Have questions that aren’t covered here? You’re always free to connect with one of our Messaging Experts here at MessageDesk.

When is the best time to send SMS marketing?

The best time of day to send text marketing messages generally falls within standard business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). This helps ensure you're reaching people when they're awake and active. Early mornings and late nights should generally be avoided to prevent disrupting or annoying recipients.

The specific best time can vary based on the day of the week and your audience's routines, lifestyle, and time zones. For instance, business professionals might be more responsive mid-morning or mid-afternoon. 

Some studies also suggest higher engagement rates during post-work hours, between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and on the weekends.

How much does text message marketing cost?

The cost of text message marketing varies depending on several factors. These include the scale of your campaign, your SMS marketing service, and if your messages are domestic or international.

The best SMS marketing services typically charge a monthly platform fee, ranging from $20 to several hundred dollars. This fee gets you access to the software, key features, and customer support. But your cost will further depend on the complexity of the platform and the size of your contact list.

In addition to the platform fees, per-message costs are typical. These costs vary from less than a cent to several cents per message, depending on the message type, volume, and destination. Some services, like MessageDesk, offer volume discounts where per-message cost decreases as you send more messages.

Additional charges may apply for extras like local phone numbers, extra keywords, and carrier-verified campaign registration.

Is SMS marketing illegal?

SMS marketing isn't illegal, but it’s heavily regulated in many countries. The key principle is that you must obtain explicit consent from individuals before sending them promotional SMS messages. This is part of a broader legal framework known as permission-based marketing.

In the United States, SMS marketing is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The two laws to know are the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act.

The TCPA prohibits you from sending unsolicited text messages without express consent. The CAN-SPAM Act also lays out rules for commercial messages. It gives recipients the right to opt out and spells out tough penalties for violations.

In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has strict rules. These cover consent, data protection, and privacy which all apply to SMS marketing.

It's crucial that you understand and comply with all relevant regulations in the countries where your recipients are based.

Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and damage to your company's reputation. Always consult with legal counsel if you're unsure about the regulations in your area.

What are some common sms marketing KPIs?

  1. Delivery Rate: 

This KPI measures the percentage of successfully delivered messages to your recipients' mobile devices. A low delivery rate can indicate problems like incorrect or outdated phone numbers.

  1. Open Rate:

This KPI tracks the percentage of recipients who open your SMS messages. Given the immediacy of SMS, open rates are typically quite high.

  1. Click-Through Rate (CTR):

If your text messages include a link, this KPI measures the percentage of recipients who click on it. It's a key indicator of the effectiveness of your call to action.

  1. Conversion Rate:

This KPI measures the percentage of recipients who completed a desired action after receiving your message. This can include making a purchase or filling out a form.

  1. Opt-Out Rate:

This KPI tracks the percentage of recipients who choose to unsubscribe from your SMS marketing. A high opt-out rate can indicate that your messages aren't providing enough value or that you're sending them too frequently.

  1. Response Rate:

This KPI measures the percentage of recipients who reply to your SMS messages. It can be particularly important if your campaign includes interactive elements.

  1. ROI (Return on Investment):

This KPI measures the profitability of your SMS marketing campaign. You calculate it by comparing the revenue generated by the campaign to its total cost.

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Ready to launch your first SMS marketing campaign?

I’ve covered what SMS marketing is. Now you’ve got a fundamental grasp of SMS campaigns. 

What’s next?

If you’re ready, consider scheduling a demo and meeting with one of our messaging experts.

We’re here to help your small business or organization with SMS marketing ideas, resources, and tools.

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