How to Get Started with SMS Marketing: Understanding the Basics

by Artyom Matevosyan

Today’s fast-changing world of mobile devices periodically creates newer trends, which later open opportunities for marketers.

Eventually, all of those opportunities turn into modern marketing channels that are supposed to be more effective than the older ones. But are they?

SMS marketing (or text blast) has proved to be a proper promotional channel since its inception back in the early 2000s. Although feature-rich social media messengers may overshadow the old-school 160-character text messages, it is reported that text messages have around 98% open rates.

In other words, marketers can be sure that around 95% of their target audience members will see their promotional messages.

Takeaway: Trust SMS marketing and check below to see how you can start using it as a small business owner.

Identify Your Needs

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Yes, this may sound like a piece of useless advice from one of your old marketing textbooks, but it is worth considering.

As much as a marketing channel has potential, it all comes down to how and for what purpose you’ll implement it.

For example, if you want to inform your clients about your new branches, a text blast isn’t the best choice there. Instead, events and a couple of social media posts would be much more relevant to use.

To understand whether SMS marketing can meet your needs, here’s a quick tip for you:

Always remember that text message is one of the most personal channels of communications for people.Click To Tweet

Therefore, text marketing can help you to create a more productive and intimate relationship with clients. If this matches your needs, go ahead and start utilising it.

Some other reasons why SMS marketing is the best choice are:

  • Personalised Offers – According to Digital Marketing Magazine, around 75% of people would be happy to receive personal offers through SMS.
  • Short-Term Promotions – SMS personalisation potential combined with the urgency of short-term promotions compose a highly effective mix. They can trigger anyone to a buying action.
  • Coupons – Let’s admit it, we all love shopping with coupons. SMS is a modern and effective way to disseminate them.

Consider All the Options Before Picking an SMS Provider

choose sms marketing

There are tons of SMS providers in the world. Finding one is literally a matter of seconds.

However, to get the maximum result, you need to consider the options that each of those companies can provide.

BTW: You don’t necessarily have to cooperate with a local company. Most international providers offer decent plans for every country.

When researching the market, read the providers’ reviews and compare the pricing packages. One of the top secrets of the industry is that a more expensive package doesn’t mean better quality and vice versa.

If you know nothing about SMS marketing, most of the features are likely to make no sense to you. Don’t worry, you won’t even need half of the features they offer. The basics that can facilitate a highly-effective campaign are:

  • Scheduled Messages – this feature allows you to build a campaign beforehand and set a date for it to go live. If you’re too busy or have a short memory, scheduled messages feature is a must.
  • Excel Import – sometimes the provider’s platform may not be as comfortable for you to work. So, it is better to analyse data on an excel sheet, which is more familiar to you.
  • Personalisation Templates – this option is for sending personalised text messages to your clients. It includes built-in templates with the customer’s name, surname, or other personal information.
  • API Support – if your provider’s platform has an API integration feature, you can incorporate it with different software. This is especially useful for connecting the CRM system to the SMS marketing platform.

Only these four options are enough for you to get the most out of this productive channel. You’ll need more functions only if you decide to get deeper into it.

Prepare to Work on the Database

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For the first period, you can apply the provider to give you a phone number database. However, it is much better to avoid this practice since text messages without permission are likely to get spammed. Therefore, it is better to build a database yourself.

Before starting to collect phone numbers, you need to get familiar with two terms, keyword and autoreply.

The Keyword


A keyword is a short text that a user should send to a preset short number and subscribe to promotional text messages. It is the most common way to receive permission.

However, you can’t just set any combination of letters as a keyword. It needs to make sense and comply with each of the following points:

  • Be short and straightforward
  • Represent the company or its name
  • Be relevant to the business or the industry
  • Be easy to spell

For example, if you have a vacation rental business in Miami, a proper keyword to use would be “MIAMIHOME.” Simple as that.

Contact your provider for the short opt-in number, and they will set one for you. Likewise, they can assist you in organising the subscribed phone numbers in the database.

keyword strategy

The Autoreply

Once the contacts send the keyword to your short number, they receive a message confirming their subscription. That message is called an autoreply. Don’t panic, the provider can set one for you.

Besides the opt-in confirmation, you can use autoreplies for various other purposes.

For instance, a good practice to provide instant customer support is to set a keyword for frequently asked information. Your clients can send that keyword and receive an autoreply with the answer in it. Not only is this super fast, but also it gives a break to your customer support team.

Collect Phone Numbers

Collecting phone numbers is a continuous process that you need to start right after identifying your SMS provider.

Once again, as much as buying a ready phone number database may look appealing, try to leave it as a last resort.

Firstly, unsolicited messages are annoying and can harm your brand reputation. Secondly, in some countries, they are illegal and are subject to penalties.

how to get more leads for business

There are lots of smart ways to collect phone numbers with the recipients’ consent. Those ways are much fairer. They show your customers that you care about their privacy.

Here are some of the best methods to collect phone numbers for SMS marketing (All of them are legal and will cause no harm to your brand image):

  1. Promote the Keyword Everywhere

Any place that has a mention of your brand is suitable to promote an opt-in keyword. However, the best one so far is including the keyword in an email marketing message. With the right call-to-action phrases, it is the most effective method to promote.

  1. Include a Sign-Up Form in the Website

Although this won’t be the most effective way to get subscribers, it can still bring you some. Include a small pop-up or a separate page on your website to let people know they can opt in.

  1. Incentivise Customers to Opt In

Give your customers a reason to opt in. Whether it is through a special discount, a coupon, or a free sample, it is entirely up to you. The goal is to attract and motivate the person to subscribe.

  1. Ask to Subscribe After Purchase

When a customer has just bought your product, ask him to subscribe to your messages. One way or another, he may need your services at some point. Thus, your offers can interest him in the future.

  1. Organize SMS Contests

SMS contests are by far one of the smartest ways to collect phone numbers. Ask people to opt in for participating in your hosted contests. Again, motivate them with appealing prizes to get more engagement there.

A critical tip for mobile number database is that even if it seems to you that it has enough contacts, it doesn’t. You always need to look for new contacts and update the database. Recipients constantly unsubscribe or mute promotional text messages. Hence, if you don’t update it, you’ll be wasting your means.


facebook audiences ebook

Don’t doubt that text marketing will benefit your business in the next 10-15 years. Mobile phones will be around, and SMS will hardly be less practical then.

Only make sure to cooperate with a partner that can ensure a smooth experience with its platforms without any hassle.

Your provider should assist you with all the information you need.

Besides this, respect the privacy of your customers, and you’ll see the good sides of SMS marketing.

Discover more hot marketing strategies, in one of our most popular guides: 

Artyom Matevosyan is a content writer in the text marketing industry. Having his major in English & Communications, Artyom is passionate about writing. His writing is always backed up by thorough research above anything else—facts first, narratives second.

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