12 SMS Marketing Best Practices

With open rates as high as 98% and response rates as high as 45%, SMS marketing is a digital marketing tactic that should not be overlooked. A well-crafted SMS message is an opportunity to stand out in your space. The pivotal question then becomes—how do you carry out smart and impactful SMS marketing?

If you’re aiming to maximize the impact of your SMS campaigns, the Subtext team has curated 12 tried-and-true SMS marketing best practices. The goal is to inject your marketing strategy with the right intention and authenticity to nurture long-term connections.

1. Obtaining Consent

Obtaining Consent

Did users provide consent to receive your messages? It’s a critical question that comes down to privacy laws and three principles:

  • Clear and visible notice: Users should receive a clear and visible message asking if they’d like to opt into SMS messages. If they opt-in, this means your target audience wants to hear from you. If they opt-out, it means they do not. While rejection isn’t ideal, it’s important to keep communication lines open and transparent.
  • Consumer opt-in content: Once users opt into your SMS messages, you should send them an opt-in confirmation message that includes the name of your company or product, the expected frequency of messages, and opt-out instructions.
  • Consumer opt-out content: Even if consumers convert into SMS subscribers, ensure they have the option to opt-out at any time. Under the CAN-SPAM Act, businesses are required to provide a clear opt-out mechanism. When a user opts out of receiving messages, send a final message confirming they’ve successfully opted out.

Obtaining users’ consent to receive your messages not only helps you stay compliant but also makes users less likely to confuse your messages for spam. On top of requiring opt-ins, Subtext uses 10DLC numbers, which reduce the chances of your messages being flagged as spam.

2. Leveraging Audience Segmentation

Leveraging Audience Segmentation

According to 78% of consumers, personalized content increases their likelihood of purchasing.

By leveraging audience segmentation, you can curate the messages you send based on subscribers’ preferred topics, demographics, or purchase history. This ensures every user receives tailored content that resonates with their interests.

The result? A more fun, engaging, and impactful conversation that ultimately improves your bottom line.

Learn how personalized SMS has delivered success for affiliate strategies.

3. Crafting Concise & Relevant Messages

The best SMS channels offer consistent value by leaning on two elements of effective messaging:

  • Relevancy: Relevant information creates impact. Examples include flash sale announcements or time-sensitive updates. These updates should be intended for recipients who can genuinely benefit from what your message offers (this is where segmentation comes in handy!).
  • Concision: Communicating via text requires carefully selected wording to communicate your objective quickly and clearly. After writing your message, take a step back—are there superfluous words or phrases you can omit? Does it look overly cluttered on the mobile screen? Concision is key.

4. Timing & Frequency Optimization

Timing & Frequency Optimization

Crafting compelling messages is one thing. Determining when and how often to send those messages involves additional considerations.

  • Time: No one likes to be bothered. Respect your SMS subscribers by carefully considering the timing of your messages. As a general rule, avoid texts early in the morning or late at night. Be sure to also take your subscribers’ time zones into account. However, timing can depend on the type of business you operate. For example, if you’re a coffee shop, sending messages first thing in the morning might encourage recipients to take advantage of your offers.
  • Frequency: Most SMS recipients want to hear from business a few times a week:
    • More than 42% favor SMS marketing texts 4–6 times a month
    • 40% are content with 2–3 messages a week
    • More than 18% say they would be fine receiving messages daily

Rest assured, solidifying timing and frequency will take some trial and error. The important thing is to track performance KPIs within your SMS platform. Making data-driven decisions will help you achieve the right timing and frequency for your messaging.

5. Sender Identification & Brand Recognition

Your SMS sender Identification—the name or phone number displayed on the recipient’s end—must be distinctive and compliant.

Here’s what that means:

  • Distinctive: The recipient should be able to tell who sent the message easily. This can have an impact on whether or not subscribers open your messages. With your welcome message, we suggest sending a contact card with a photo, first and last name, description, and URLs. Ask subscribers to save the contact card so they can identify when you text them. In addition, we suggest including your identity often in your text messages. For example, say “Hey, this is Sarah from Subtext here to update you on…”.
  • Compliant: The sender ID you select should be compliant with relevant legislation (e.g., data protection, CAN-SPAM Act).

With clear identification of your brand in your messaging, a consistent sender ID can help build familiarity and brand recognition in your subscribers.

6. Call to Action (CTA)

Call to Action (CTA)

Research shows CTAs get reactions from 33% of SMS message recipients, 47% of whom go on to make a purchase.

This means you should encourage users to take a specific action. Examples include asking your audience a question, including a link to your website  or replying with a keyword to enter a contest, claim an offer, or respond to a poll.

7. Value and Incentives

Good marketing continues the conversation. There is no “conclusion.” Providing value and incentives helps make your relationships last, fostering an exclusive community that generates greater impact for your business.

Examples include providing SMS recipients with:

  • Behind-the-scenes information or updates your business doesn’t share on other platforms
  • Loyalty points toward conversions each time a user engages with your messages
  • Opportunities to provide input on your next products or services

8. Mobile Optimization

Best practices for SMS marketing include recognizing SMS as a mobile-first channel. While this might seem obvious, it requires considering mobile optimization techniques like:

  • Leaning on responsive design to ensure the layout and formatting of your content are adjusted based on the recipient’s device
  • Double-checking that the links in your SMS message lead to mobile-optimized landing pages

Simply put, how your content looks on an individual's mobile device can make or break their experience.

9. Monitoring and Analysis

Monitoring and Analysis

We can’t stress this enough—use data to refine your strategies and generate revenue. Continuous monitoring of key metrics like open rates and conversion rates is key to achieving that.

Subtext’s SMS platform provides monthly reports on critical KPIs and a live analytics dashboard where you can check how your text channel is performing daily.

10. Data Security

Protecting subscribers’ data is essential to maintaining their trust and remaining compliant.

Using an SMS web security SSL certificate allows for more secure communications with your customers by establishing an encrypted connection between an SMS server and a web browser. You can rest assured your messages remain intact and unaltered, and your customer data is protected.

11. Subscriber Feedback

Subscriber Feedback

Consumer data is pivotal to making informed decisions—so why not take the time to get quick, direct feedback? Send a brief poll allowing subscribers to rate their satisfaction with your SMS messages. Ask them why. Then, show you’re listening by making suitable adjustments.

Identify any patterns across the collected data. From there, you can take action to further enhance two-way feedback, elevating your SMS strategy to success.

12. Promotion

Visibility of your SMS channel is required for subscriber growth. Best practice is to promote 2-3 times a week as it takes the average consumer 7-8 times to see a promotion before converting. Promote on your social channels, through newsletters, add QR sign-up codes to signs at events, or include SMS in a digital subscription. We’ve outlined a variety of ways to convert your audience to SMS subscribers to ensure you're growing your channel effectively and healthily.

Connect Smarter & Faster with Subtext

With the growing popularity of SMS channels, following SMS marketing best practices and leveraging quality tools can help you accomplish the goals that matter to your business—and your subscribers.

Subtext helps businesses develop compliant, engaging, and impactful two-way SMS channels. Learn more about our services and book a demo today.

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