A powerful one-to-one messaging tool designed for intimate, direct communication with epic engagement rates, SMS marketing is truly one of a kind.
SMS marketing first made its debut in the early 2000s and, after years of growth, has gained further importance due to the rise in digital transformation ushered in by the pandemic. It's now a go-to for brands looking to stay connected to customers in our digital-first landscape.
And, in certain global markets—APAC and much of Africa—where consumers rely more on their phones than computers, SMS is the standard digital communications medium over email.
What Is SMS Marketing?
SMS messages, short for short message service, AKA text messages. You've probably already sent or received a few today.
While it may be one of your favorite ways to keep in touch with friends and family, it's also a key channel for brands looking to connect with customers.
Since the introduction of SMS shortcodes in 2003, major brands like Nike and Pontiac pioneered the use of SMS campaigns to create excitement and awareness for newly launched products starting in 2005.
Today, SMS has a global reach, overtaking email in some markets.
As with other channels SMS marketing can be used to deliver a variety of customer engagement campaigns and customer outreach, including:
App download campaigns
What Do Marketers Need to Know About SMS?
This channel isn't for the faint of heart. It requires a significant investment and is highly regulated, with carriers and government agencies enforcing strict rules around user opt-ins and message sends. Plus, while SMS can have an incredible impact if delivered adhering to best-in-class practices, it can also lead to serious disengagement if brands fail to craft a thoughtful approach to the messages they send.
Because SMS is such a protected and personal channel, marketers need to have a solid strategy in place before getting started.
Why Is SMS Marketing So Effective?
For brands looking to share critical information, power transactional messages, offer mobile exclusives, or enable two-way communications, there’s nothing like SMS. No other channel can compete with the engagement SMS achieves:
Not only that, any phone in the world can accept and send SMS, unlike push notifications, which require users to have downloaded your brand's app, and email, which requires customers to have an email account. That makes SMS a particularly appealing outreach channel for brands looking to communicate with a global customer base.
Based on our own data here at Braze, we've found brands that send SMS campaigns can help increase:
Master Modern SMS Marketing
SMS is an incredibly powerful channel for marketers, but it's also a challenging one to use effectively. The good news is, you don't have to go it alone. Our experts have all the insights you need to launch and grow your SMS efforts successfully. Get our comprehensive SMS marketing guide and learn how to unlock the full value of SMS as a channel and use it to foster meaningful connections with your customers to deliver lasting results.
Brands that know how to get SMS marketing right can unlock a new way to keep customers engaged. Brands that don't could see a rise in negative KPIs like churn.
With the right customer data, customer engagement technology, and approach, SMS can deliver major results across engagement, retention, and, ultimately, monetization. Here are some Do's and DON'Ts for increasing your SMS effectiveness:
Collect customer interests, preferences, and behavior to enable customer segmentation
Send fewer, more impactful messages, crafted to the individual’s behavior, interests, and preferences
Know your SMS use cases—SMS should be both time-sensitive and important to the person receiving it
Utilize deep links to drive your recipients to the right section of your app
Incorporate SMS marketing into your broader cross-channel strategy
Treat SMS marketing as a stand-alone channel
Send batch-and-blast, one-size-fits-all campaigns to every SMS subscriber at once
SMS vs Email
SMS boasts higher open rates and a global reach, even for consumers without smartphones, email accounts, Internet access, or computers, but it's not great for detailed communications, general announcements, or anything that's not timely. It's also easy for brands to appear spammy.
Email offers more versatility, both in terms of the types of content brands can send and in terms of the length and formatting options available to marketers.
Both email and SMS reach users outside the boundaries of a web or app experience. To ensure that this outreach is impactful, not overwhelming, consider using frequency caps and exception events to manage send volumes.
It doesn't have to be an either-or situation. When brands pair SMS and email together, they can increase:
Examples of the Best SMS Marketing Campaigns from Top Brands
sweetgreen Adds 10K New SMS Subscribers With Braze-Powered Promo Code Campaign
For brands that engage with customers across channels, SMS is not a standalone channel. That's why it's essential that any SMS marketing strategy be part of a larger, comprehensive cross-channel effort. Brands that incorporate SMS alongside other efforts via email, mobile, and web see stronger engagement across the board.
Get our report and see for yourself how pairing channels like in-app messaging, SMS, and email can boost sessions, purchases, retention, and more.