SMS Marketing: Definition And Best Practices To Increase Conversions

sms marketing

Table of Contents

SMS marketing is trending.

Think about how many people use their phones to not just check on updates but to:

  • Place orders
  • Check shipment updates
  • Check their emails for order confirmations

And do almost everything on their phone nowadays while having them within reach the whole day.

Isn’t that crazy?

But what that means for you as a marketer is that there is a huge opportunity for your brand to take advantage of this platform to get your message across via SMS helping you build brand equity and conversions.

Now, there is a right and wrong way to go about it. You can’t just go up and start blasting them and expect them to convert (that would make people unsubscribe immediately…)

But there are ways to send these texts correctly for these customers to not only make it seem less intrusive in their lives, but even welcome it (wouldn’t that be a win-win for you?)

That’s why in this guide on SMS marketing we are going to go over what it is and the best practices to help increase conversions for your business.

So let’s get started.

What Is SMS Marketing?

what is sms marketing

The formal definition of SMS marketing is that it is a type of marketing to send your message via text messages to your customers’ phones to help build brand awareness and ultimately increase conversions.

In other words, you send text messages to customers to not forget you and help you increase sales.

Now it’s similar but a different game to email marketing.

With email marketing, you can send an email where they will check their inbox and see your email. Text messages on the other hand is something that is even more personal making it seem more intrusive if the message isn’t important or relevant.

However, that shouldn’t scare you since SMS marketing is huge because everyone has their phones on them with a 98% open rate where you can use your phones to do everything you really need from checking email, browsing stores, or even playing games.

That’s like every email marketer’s dream in 2021 but alas, you can easily do it with text messages.

So let’s teach you how to do that so that it doesn’t feel intrusive to your customers while making it relevant for your business.

The Best Practices of SMS Marketing

Make Sure Your Contacts Opt In

One thing you want to make sure of with SMS marketing is to make sure that they opted in.

This is because compared to email, text messages are something that is very personal and you wouldn’t want a business just spamming you.

Plus, it’s illegal to send cold text messages to clients who haven’t opted in with you.

And in the end, it’s just not in your best interest. The people who are interested in your business will tell you if they are interested in opting in.

That’s why the best way to make sure they opt-in is usually in places like the checkout or before they place an order if they want updates on their shipment order via the checkbox.

Because people typically do like it when they know when their shipment is arriving (like your Amazon package) to your place.

Be Mindful Of The Timing You Send Your Text

mindful of your texts

One thing you want to keep into consideration is when you send your text message. This is because you want to make sure it’s the most optimal time.

Typically, the best times to text are around 9am – 12 pm but you really have to see what works best for your audience.

Unlike email, where people can check their email whenever the time of day, notifications are usually off.

That’s usually not the case with text messages. If a business woke me up in the middle of the night because I heard a “ding” with my text message, I would harbor so much hatred and grumpiness because it woke me up from my beauty sleep…

But that’s just me.

Sure, it would be my fault for forgetting to put it on Night mode, but someone waking me up in the middle of the night would make me angry… And then I have to go back to sleep… And now I have to go to work tomorrow feeling extra tired… And I’m sure it would be the same with you.

That’s why you want to be extra careful when sending texts.

Remember, texts are something that is very personal to us…

Although I use SMS marketing and it’s effective, it doesn’t mean that I like receiving it.

That’s why you want to send them only when it’s necessary and once or twice a week at most.

Typically, around lunchtime would be a good time for you to send it, but it’s also good to split tests to see if the mornings or early evenings work better for your business.

Include Instructions To Opt Out

One thing you want to make sure of is to include instructions to opt-out of your text messages.

You want to make sure that your customer has the ability to opt-out because SMS marketing can be annoying and intrusive for some people.

One thing worse than receiving text messages from businesses you care about is not knowing how to stop it.

There were some spam texts where no matter how much I texted “STOP” it would keep sending me and I truly hated that…

Both from a customer’s perspective and the business side.

Which most likely means your customer also hates that.

Plus, you don’t want your number to get reported as spam, making it seem like a dangerous message for your business cause:

  1. It just doesn’t look good
  2. It hurts your deliverability
  3. It will increase the unsubscribe rate.

So make sure it’s clearly stated somewhere within your text messages how to opt out.

Keep It Short

One thing you want to keep in mind with SMS marketing is that you want to keep things short and sweet.

I have received long text messages from both people and businesses and there are a lot of problems to that like:

  1. It doesn’t make it look inviting to read
  2. Spend more time on a text message, which you typically read within like 10 seconds
  3. It doesn’t really make you want to buy, since it looks so daunting

If you think you have to make email intros short, then you want to make SMS even shorter.

That’s why you want to aim for 1-3 sentences. Those are great.

You want to be concise with what exactly you want to do and blend in with how a text message would look like.

And 1-3 sentences is more than enough to get your message across.

Have a coupon? Say you have a coupon exclusive for opting in for a text message.

Are they tracking their shipment? You can give them a sentence on where the tracking link is and that it’s on the way.

There’s ways to say your message in as few characters as possible.

Make It Fun

highest engagement

One thing with text messages is that you want to make it personalized and add value to the person.

One way to make it personalized is by adding an image that the person would find valuable.

For example, here’s how to do it depending on your niche.

  • If your audience loves science memes, then once in a while throw them science memes.
  • If your audience loves pictures of cats, then on Thanksgiving throw them a funny picture of a cat and tell them to have a happy thanksgiving.
  • If it’s their birthday, throw a cool GIF on celebrating their birthday with a coupon code.

The point here is to add a human touch by making your audience entertained.

This does one of two things:

  • You’re not like every other business with the boring text messages
  • You remind them that your business still exists

When you make it fun, you make yourself stand out, which people will either love or hate.

And that’s where you build your loyal audience.

Make it look like a “real” text message

Now I’m not saying you should say things like:

  • “Bruh, where u at???”
  • “U won’t believe this $hit lolol”
  • “omgggg, u wanna chek this sale ;)”

Don’t do this unless that’s the language that your customers use which will help increase your conversions.

But for most businesses, it just seems unprofessional that will get you blocked pretty fast.

This is because you know when you see a business text vs. a personal text.

Business text:

  • “ATTN: Your Data Usage Is Reaching Its Limit.”
  • “Reply Y to send all TXT messages. Details @…”
  • “Hi. Need More Coffee? COUPON CODE: KOFFEE. Type W for more information. Type “STOP” To Unsubscribe.

If you saw those, you could tell immediately they are a business text.

This is fine if it’s a shipment and your tracking delivery or you subscribed to your favorite business just to get notifications.

But here’s where it’s more personalized:

  • Hey, your coffee is ready at Starbucks!
  • Happy Birthday! To celebrate this awesome day, here’s a coupon code that lasts for 24 hours KOOLBIRTHDAY.
  • Hey it’s Tony from KoolKompany and letting you know the webinar starts in 15 minutes. Click this link here to join us live!

Sure, it’s not like the typical message your friends would send, but it gives them a more human touch compared to those business texts.

Just make sure to sound like a human and a friend when sending your text messages and they will be received much more warmly.

Advantage Of SMS Marketing

Texting has the best engagement over any platform

feedback from your customers

One of the biggest benefits of SMS Marketing is that it has the best engagement over any platform. It used to be email, but now it’s text messages because everyone has their phones on them.

Plus, even people want to receive text messages for special offers (a marketer’s dream…)

64% of people think businesses should contact them more often and 75% of them want to receive special offers.

So here’s the equation:

Highest engagement rate + people want special offers via text = more sales and engagement from text messages.

If people see your message and they want to see your message, then it’s obvious we should text messages for your business.

I’d say the closest second would probably be Facebook messenger at around a 70-80% open rate…

This is also significantly better than the email average open rate of between 15-25% and a CTR of around 2%.

So yeah, if you want people to see your message since their notifications are usually on, the text message has a massive advantage over every platform.

Send It Out Instantly

Another major advantage of text messages is you can send it out immediately.

Things like:

  • Social media messaging
  • Emails
  • Phone calls

Are pretty instant, but the difference between this is that you can send it out instantly and have most people open up that text within 5 minutes.

This is because most people don’t turn off their notifications for text messages, making people check their phone more often than email… making it more likely to see that text message.

Think about it this way. Even if people check their emails obsessively, I bet a good amount of people’s checks it via their phone.

This means those people who check it from their phone will see it first before they check their email.

You can send out texts instantly to your customers and use them to measure how they respond to SMS messages.

Create Appointment Reminders

appointment reminders

One thing that I really like with text messages is setting appointment reminders.

Haven’t you had those times where you just forgot you had a dentist appointment and then suddenly remember it 2 hours after your appointment? (It’s happened to me countless times already…)

You can create appointment reminders for:

  • When you have an upcoming webinar you signed up for or…
  • An appointment for a local business (Dentist, housing, etc.)

And you can set it for whenever you like. What I usually like is I would like to send one an hour before the event gives them a buffer.

But what’s even smarter is to let the customers choose when the best time for them is and automate it.

Give them options between 1 week, 1 day, and 1 hour and let them choose.

I like having appointments go off at 1 hour but I would hate it to get 1 week before but other people might like that.

So choose the best times to set for your appointment reminders.

Promote A Sale Fast

You can use text messages to help promote a sale as well.

The prominent part is that you can use it in conjunction with your social media and email marketing campaign as well.

This is great for events like:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Thanksgiving
  • Veteran’s Day

Or any special day you feel like throwing a sale.

What you can do with text messages is you can give them exclusive discounts via text messages if you want more people to sign up for that event.

Send Updates On Orders

You can also send updates and reminders, which is what many people primarily use SMS marketing for.

You can use it for:

  • When someone receives an order
  • When an order is on their way
  • Or when an order has shipped

Anything that would help them with the process if you are sending them a service.

Use It An Automated Flows

One of the great things you can do with SMS marketing is you can use it in conjunction with an automated flow.

One of the best ways to use SMS messaging is in automated flows because you can set up an unlimited amount of SMS messages that will go out based on certain conditions or events!

If someone’s order has shipped, you can create an automation via your SMS software to let them notify them.

If someone abandoned their email cart, you can send them an SMS text letting them know their cart is still available.

If someone signed up for a webinar, you can send them a notification 30 minutes later that the webinar is live.

It’s through the automations that connect your marketing effort where text messaging can be a game changer.

Here are some more examples of how to use it for an automated flow:

  • When an order has shipped, arrived, or on the way
  • Follow up on an email about an ongoing sale
  • Upsells on things customers have already bought

The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Think of how you can use the automation to save yourself some time while increasing your conversions.

You can use SMS Marketing in automated flows to help your SMS marketing campaigns.

SMS Marketing Conversion Techniques

Now let’s dive into the different ways to optimize your text messages so that they have the highest probability of getting the customer to convert.

Always Include A Call To Action (CTA) In Your Text Messages

have a cta

You want to make sure you include a CTA in your SMS messages.

It’s the standard you want because you should have a reason for sending them this text message because of:

  • Going onto your site to complete a purchase
  • notifying them about a sale going on
  • Signing up for a webinar

There should be a reason you’re sending out that text message.

If there’s no reason, then you’re just sending out just because, which adds no value to your customers and will make people unsubscribe faster than a horse chasing a carrot.


You always want to make sure you have some sort of action you want your visitors to take.

The second problem is having too many CTAs in your text message.

You don’t want to be like… “Hey, we have a sale here, so check it out here. Click here to send us a review. What’s that? Do you want a coupon code? You can get it right here…”

That’s over-exaggerated, but it comes across the point of having only one CTA for your message.

This is because:

  1. When you have too many CTA it causes confusion and analysis paralysis, making them less likely to choose anything
  2. It makes your text messages look bloated.

So make sure you use one CTA with a specific intent behind it.

Use It For Exclusive Giveaways And Coupons

One of the best ways to create engagement with your customer is to use SMS for your exclusive giveaways, sweepstakes, and coupons.

When you do this, it gives them a reason on why they should sign up.

It’s already hard enough to get someone to give them your email, so you have to have a great reason to give them your phone number.

That’s why one of the biggest things you can do is give them incentives, whether it’s:

  • News on upcoming sales
  • Exclusive coupons for mobile users
  • Sweepstakes they can only join via phone

When you use it for reasons where they need your phone number and it gives them value, they will have much more incentive to give them your phone number.

Get some feedback from your customers

The nice thing about text messages is that you can ask for feedback and get some back from your customers.

Plus, unlike email or web, where it may be hard to do so, it’s a lot easier via text message where people can say a sentence or two about your service.

Use it as a gauge to see where you are currently at with your customers.

It can also send them to review on Yelp, Google, or any place you want to build reviews on.

Making sure your customers feel heard while getting great reviews for your business is a win-win situation for everyone.

Sweepstakes Contest

One thing people love getting is free stuff.

And what’s even better is free stuff they want.

You can do this by letting mobile-only subscribers join a sweepstakes contest where they will be much more likely to join because it gives them exclusivity.

It also gives them a chance to win something, whether it’s:

  • A free meal at your restaurant
  • An amazon gift card
  • A trip to Hawaii (wouldn’t that be amazing…)

Using sweepstakes as part of your marketing efforts can be something that is truly worthwhile for you and will help increase engagement for your business.

Adds Personalization

One thing you want to do is make sure that you personalize your sums messages so that it doesn’t appear spammy or boring.

You want to make sure that your SMS messages are personalized, so it doesn’t appear spam or boring. You can make SMS fun by making it feel like it’s for the user.

And when it’s for the user, it gives them a chance to enjoy getting text messages from you despite coming from a business.

If you’re an ice cream shop, I might send them some ice cream snowmen out of the blue to put a smile on my customers.

It’s getting creative and adding value to your lives where you will win in the SMS game.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SMS Marketing Good For?

SMS marketing is great for getting your message across via another channel. With it currently being one of the highest open rates across every channel, you have the chance for your customer to see your message and reinforce your brand.

Is SMS Marketing Illegal?

SMS Marketing is not illegal if people have explicitly opted-in. However, it is illegal to cold text people.

How can SMS Be used in marketing?

You can use SMS alongside email automation, appointment reminders, or to send exclusive discounts.

How does SMS Marketing Work?

SMS marketing works by sending a message directly to your customers via a text message where they can view your message and click on a link to your specified location.


Hope you learned about how to use SMS marketing for your own business.

Learning how to use it properly can yield significant results for your business because it’s another gateway to send your message to your customers.

Let me know if you have questions on SMS in the comments below…