Text Message Marketing

Text Message Marketing is the preferred way to communicate with prospects and customers. SMS text message marketing is a permission based form of marketing, meaning that before sending a marketing message to someone’s cellphone a company, that person must have initiated the relationship by opting in to receiving messages from that particular company. The company must also allow someone to opt out of receiving further messages by replying via SMS text message with the words STOP or END, thus taking that persons cellphone number off of that company’s text message list.

The chances are that your customers are cell phones users. The overwhelmingly majority of people now use them. If they have cell phones then they probably use text messaging, or at the very least are familiar with the concept behind it.

Text Message Marketing allows you to tap into the wide spread popularity of text messaging. Since people tend to keep cell phones with them at all times, you will have unprecedented access to your customers.

The general concept is the same for most Text Message Marketing campaigns. You get people to opt-in to your “text-list”. They do this by texting a code to a phone number that you will set up through a Text Message Marketing company. You can then send text messages to the people in this list. You can use this for offers, deals, coupons or just to stay fresh in the minds of your potential customers.

Gaining Popularity

Text messaging is already a popular activity with people, but it is steadily gaining popularity. Many people thought new smartphone technology would stifle the growth of text messaging. But even though smartphones make it easier than ever to use email, social networking sites and instant messengers, text messaging is still gaining in popularity.

The ITU (October 2010) estimates that 6.1 trillion messages were sent worldwide in 2010, that is triple the number sent in 2007”

Despite the popularity of mobile email and IM, text messaging is predicted to exceed 10 trillion in 2013.”

When you decide to invest in a text message marketing campaign, you know that you wont be committing to a lame duck technology. Your “bang-for-your-buck” will in all likelihood grow over the coming years, due to the predicted increase in text message use overall.

Permission Based

Text message marketing is a type of marketing that is called permission based. This is similar to businesses online asking for your email address in exchange for some sort of offer. Text message marketing is based on the same concept. Everyone on your text list is there because they have consciously made a decision to opt in to your list.

These people will be much more open to your offers and messages because they have actually requested that type of information. You are basically building a list of people you can text message who are already warm leads. You won’t be interrupting and annoying these people either because they have given you permission to market to them. If they ever tire of your offers, they can simply text “End” or “Stop” to remove themselves from your text list.

There is no wasted cost because you will only be sending text offers to people who have already proven to be interested in your offers. Imagine how much money you would save if you could ensure only interested leads got your direct mail campaigns, or saw your flyers.

Keep Your Offer/Service Fresh in Customers Mind

Text message marketing is a great way for you to keep your offer or service fresh in the minds of the consumer. People often have their cell phones on them, and they check them quite often. It never hurts to remind people you exist. For example if you are a restaurant and you send out a text that reaches 100s of people, even if only a couple of them are hungry you could drive sales instantly, and get a nice healthy return on your investment.

Cellphone Use/Availability

Cellphone use is now so mainstream, that almost every person has one. The technology is so widespread, that most people are shocked when they hear you don’t have a cellphone. In fact, the numbers are quite staggering:

There are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers (that’s 77 percent of the world population)”

The numbers for North America are an even higher percentage. In fact mobile users in the US, take cellphone use to almost obsession like levels:

More than four in 10 Americans say they “can’t live” without their mobile phone.”

Nearly half of Americans say they sleep with their mobile phone nearby.”

It is clear that mobile use is pretty much the norm worldwide, and almost certainly the norm in North America. You might be wondering how many of those people actually use text messaging though. You might only make calls on your cellphone, and maybe you expect most people are the same. Not true.

72% of all mobile phone users regularly send and receive text messages. According to the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association), in 2009, Americans sent more text messages than actual phone calls.

It is clear to see that cell phone use and text messaging use are a part of the majority of people’s lives now. If you aren’t marketing on the devices everyone is using, then I bet you have competitors doing it.


Text message marketing is actually a relatively inexpensive marketing choice. You are looking at paying cents per message – compare that to direct mailing or flyer distribution costs.

We mentioned the concept of permission based marketing before, and that helps lower costs as well. Unlike spray-and-pray methods like mailers and flyer distribution, you know you are only sending your marketing to people who have already told you they are interested.

Time to Market Insanely Quick

Few marketing tasks can rival the speed at which you can get a text message out. Once you are set up with a text message marketing company then you only have to formulate your offer, and send it off. it is really simple as that.

If you want to create a flyer, you have to conceptualize it, create it, print it and then distribute it. Now compare the time it would take to do that, with the time it would take you to type in a 150 character offer and click send.


Text message marketing is a very effective form of advertising. While people are constantly devising ways to avoid traditional advertising (i.e. PVRs and Satellite Radio), they are still prone to open their incoming text messages as soon as possible.

ABI Research (May 2009) estimates that with a 98% open rate for text messages, there couldn’t be a more efficient use of your marketing dollars.”

Text messages are quick, only taking a few seconds to hit thousands of phones at the same time. Once it’s arrived, the average time to open is 4 minutes.”

Just by their very nature, text messages are much more effective marketing tools than traditional methods. You are targeting interested customers, using a medium that they are constantly using and checking anyways. It truly is the “perfect storm”.

Direct and Straight Forward

One benefit to text message marketing is how straight forward and direct it is. You only have about 160 characters to get your message across. You don’t have to waste too much time developing creative campaigns, or fancy sales copy.

You already have the people on your list, so you simply have to text out a simple and direct offer. Send out today’s special, no need to waste time creating the perfect ads.

You aren’t limited to being straight forward, you can certainly still be creative with your messages, but either way you can still get great results. For some business owners, time is of the essence. If they can get results by being straight forward and direct, then they will jump at the chance.

Easy To Measure Results

If you choose a reputable company to run your text message marketing campaigns, you will be able to track your results easily. You can find out how many people got your message, how many people opened it and other related stats.

You will also be able to track how many people have opted out of your list at anytime. This will let you figure out which messages might be negatively effecting your text list.

When you are dealing with flyer distribution, radio ads, newspaper ads or direct mailing none of this information is readily available. Text message marketing companies will have different metrics available to you (based on company) but all of them will track basic information for you. This basic information will be much more than you are used to from traditional advertising.

It’s Hip – Tech Savvy

Text message marketing is still a fairly new and hip style of marketing. If you run a text message marketing campaign, people will associate your business as being with the times, and current.

This isn’t the goal of EVERY business, but if you have a youthful clientele or you want to attract a more youthful crowd this is a great selling feature. If you have a business and you worry about an old fashioned image, running a text message marketing campaign can instantly help modernize your business.

If you have a youthful or tech savvy customer base, a text message marketing campaign will only strengthen your image.

With all of these reasons, you must at least be interested. The wide variety of benefits that text message marketing provides proves it is worth consideration.

Who Can Use It?

It might surprise you to know that text message marketing is very flexible. You don’t even have to be a business owner to use these services. While a local business probably has the most benefit, many other people can use these services as well.

  1. Businesses – This is what we have been talking about all along. Any business can benefit from a text message marketing plan. If you have a local business, you should consider investing in a text message marketing plan to keep your customers abreast of any breaking news or offers.
  2. Schools and Organizations – Everyone wants to go green right? Well eliminate environmentally damaging memos and notices. Almost anyone in your organization or school will have a cellphone. Get people to opt in for text updates. This will save the environment, plus your time and money!
  3. Singers/Comedians – If you are performing group or a comedian you can get your audience to opt in to your text list. Now you have an interested list that you can announce upcoming concerts, appearances and releases.
  4. Public Speakers – Many people earn their living through public speaking engagements. A text message marketing plan for these people is a great idea. If you are out speaking all of the time anyways, you might as well use each event to build your text list. Now, if you miss out on the upsell at the back of the room, you can still stay in your lists mind.
  5. Personal Networking – Sick of business cards? Set up your own personal text message marketing plan and you can simply tell people to text your name to a certain number and they will receive your info and be added to your list of contacts.
  6. Weekly Events – It doesn’t have to be weekly of course, but any recurring event can also use text message marketing. I have set up a local farmers market with a plan and they couldn’t be happier. Now they can send time sensitive messages instantly. They announce bands coming on the stage, events about to happen and other updates. Any recurring event will love to have this warm list of leads that you can entice to keep coming back.


Text Message Marketing Campaign Examples


Here we will take a look at some examples of the kinds of campaigns you can run with text message marketing. This is a great way to help you envision how it could work with your own business.

Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin Donuts wanted to introduce it’s new Latte. They got people to opt in to their text list for a coupon that would let them get a Latte for 99 cents. In-store traffic increased by 21% as a result of the campaign, and 17% of people asked said they had forwarded or shown a friend the message.

Best Buy

It makes sense that one of the biggest consumer electronics retailers in the world has a text message marketing campaign. Best Buy set up a number of different campaigns to target different buyers. For example they have a “Deal of Day” group that they text a special deal to everyday. They also had a “Movie Club” that people could opt in to and they would receive deals on movies, and announcements of new releases. This way the text messages were laser targeted to certain customers who had related interests. While not solely responsible, this campaign launch did coincide with a 13% increase in revenues last December.


 McDonalds is a company that is always investing in new marketing ideas. McDonalds in Italy used text message marketing to run an instant prize campaign. People could text a number on their cups (which opted them into the marketing list) and they would get an instant prize. The prizes ranged from cheap web content, to more substantial prizes like mobile phones. The campaign finished with a 25% INSTANT response rate, and was their most successful mobile marketing foray yet.

Gas Stations

Many gas stations are now using text message marketing to great effect. One of the more popular methods is to offer something free for people to opt in. The last campaign I saw, offered people free windshield washer fluid with the purchase of gas. To get the deal you had to text a certain word to a number, and you were added to the list. You got your free washer fluid, and you also got updates when gas was about to rise. The gas station would notice a spike in that night’s gas sales when they broadcasted a text.

Kraft Foods

Kraft foods was debuting a new product, it was a new instant coffee product and they turned to text message marketing to debut it. Using their print ads, in store advertising etc… they prompted people to text a number and receive a coupon for a free sample. Over 400 000 people requested a sample, and 80 000 of those opted in for future messages from Kraft.

Red Cross

This is a campaign that you might be familiar with actually. Remember the Haiti earthquake tragedy? You might have seen calls for people to “Text ‘Haiti’ to 90999… “. This is a type of text message marketing campaign and it helped the Red Cross earn over $32 million. While this is different than a traditional text marketing campaign, it still shows the scope and effectiveness that these campaigns provide.

Best Practices

This guide won’t go through the entire set up of your campaign. There are too many variables to consider. It will all depend on your text message marketing vendor, the goals for your business and what kind of campaign you want to run. Once you are committed to a text message marketing campaign, you should be able to either sit down with a live rep and plan out your entire campaign, or set one up using the support of the company you chose.

However, there are some best practices that anyone interested in text message marketing should consider:

  • Clearly indicate that your offer comes with a subscription to a list. You don’t want unwilling customers on your list.
  • Do not buy or use text lists you didn’t build yourself.
  • Make sure you have an opt-in. This will save money because you won’t have to send texts to people who don’t want them.
  • Make sure your opt-in offer is meaningful. You are asking for someone to give you their phone number, so it has to be worthwhile.
  • Keep your offers and messages simple and to the point.
  • Don’t send too many messages.
  • A text message may be short, but punctuation and proper spelling/grammar still count.


  • Track all of your messages to find what offers work best for you.


  • Make sure all of your promotional material also clearly states how people can opt-out or unsubscribe from your list.


  • Market your text message campaign in store and on your websites. Basically any promotional materials you have should include a call to action to join your list.


  • A high quality professional, in store display announcing the text campaign will significantly increase your opt-ins


  • Treat your customers like you would want to be treated. Common courtesy will go a long way.



If you keep these text message marketing best practices in mind, you will surely get your campaign off to a great start. The most important one to remember is treat your customers with respect. The long term gain in loyalty and respect is will be more than worth it.




Now that you have read this information, you must at least be interested in what text message marketing could mean to your business.


This new technology, can engage customers, create repeat business and all at a cost much lower than other traditional marketing efforts.


The best step you can take is to get your business tapping into this technology as soon as possible. There is certainly a level of prestige when your business is early to adopt emerging technologies. It will also ensure you get a head start on your competitors. In 2 years when everyone is doing this, you will be far ahead of the game having already mastered the art of the text message campaign.


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