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6 ways to use text message marketing for small businesses

Text message marketing for small business

Key takeaways

  • Text message marketing has significantly higher open rates and response rates than email marketing
  • Text messaging is a great channel for sales promotions, event invites, and more
  • A business text messaging service can help you maximize your return on investment (ROI) by automating texts and gathering real-time data

Text messaging is the top reason why active U.S. internet users jump on their mobile phones. About 50% of users respond to texts at least four times per day—and many respond more than 10 times daily. When a text appears, smartphone users pay attention—resulting in a valuable marketing opportunity for you and your business. 

Text message marketing is a powerful way to get your small business in front of customers—literally in the palm of their hands. Learn how to harness this marketing channel to reach your target audience, gather real-time data, and boost your open rates.

What is text message marketing?

Text message marketing involves sending SMS messages, or texts, to promote your business. This marketing strategy presents many possibilities: You can develop close customer relationships with two-way conversations, or you can send mass texts that still feel more personal than a social media post.

How does text message marketing work? First, businesses must get subscribers. This can be done with an opt-in text or a completed opt-in form. Just remember that SMS marketers are legally required to receive clear, written consent before sending promotions. Your contact list should also be able to unsubscribe at any time.

To simplify text message marketing for small business, many brands invest in business texting services, such as EZ Texting or SimpleTexting. These SMS services not only simplify the opt-in and out-out processes, but they also automate text campaigns, organize your contact list, and gather data about your SMS marketing performance.

Benefits of text message marketing for small businesses

Many marketers focus on online marketing channels, such as email and social media. But by also promoting your brand through small business text messaging campaigns, you can reach customers in a unique way on a high traffic channel. Here are the main benefits of text message marketing.

Higher customer engagement

Text message marketing receives an impressive average open rate of 98%, while the open rate for email marketing averages just over 21%. Texts are short and sweet, making that message more likely to be read.

On top of that, customers are actively engaged while reading their texts. Text message response rates can reach 45%, compared to only 6% for email. If you include a relevant link with some captivating call-to-action copy, your subscribers will be more likely to interact with your business—meaning more leads for you.

Higher return on investment (ROI)

Compared to most advertising channels, SMS is highly cost-effective. You can pay as little as 1 to 5 cents per text; meanwhile, search engine ad pricing averages $1 or more for a click. Plus, you’ll be sending texts to people with high intent to buy—subscribers who have opted in and already know your brand or want to learn about your promotions.

Text message marketing can also reduce your small business’ operational costs. With automation, you can spend less time on marketing and more time looking for ways to improve your business.

Higher customer satisfaction

When it comes to communicating with SMS messaging, 65% of consumers feel more positively about businesses that text compared to those that don’t. Texting is a more personal yet casual method of communication, meaning clients who opt in are more likely to engage. Just be sure not to send texts more than twice per week—otherwise, you risk losing your subscribers. SMS can also lead to real-time conversations, which helps you further develop your client relationships.


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How to set up text message marketing for small business 

Before you get started with text message marketing, take a moment to consider whether or not it’s right for your business. For example, if your target audience is largely made up of baby boomers, be aware that older generations prefer talking over texting. If you’re in the medical field, consider if you can still benefit from text while staying HIPAA compliant.

If you decide that SMS marketing is right for your business, prepare for your first campaign by following these four steps:

  1. Choose a text message marketing service that offers the features you need. For example, EZ Texting and SimpleTexting both offer two-way texting and mass texting. Pay attention to text message limits, contact limits, and pricing.
  2. Build your contacts list. Make sure your customers know they can keep in touch with you by text message. Add an opt-in form to your website, promote it on social media, and share it by email. Try promoting an enticing offer for new subscribers: run a contest, give a discount, or share exclusive VIP access.
  3. Craft an effective text that’s short and sweet. Keep your text messages engaging by writing just enough to get your message across and make it actionable. Generally speaking, keep your text length to about 160 characters or less.
  4. Schedule or send your first text. Every text message marketing service uses a different process, though it usually includes selecting your recipients, typing out your message, and hitting send or scheduling your text. Before launching your first campaign, familiarize yourself with the process by trying it out, perhaps with a test send to yourself or friends.

6 ways to use text message marketing for your small business

Woman texting on her phone

SMS marketing campaigns are very versatile. Despite the limited space, a single text message can be a powerful vehicle for a variety of marketing messages. To help you take advantage of text campaigns for your small business, draw inspiration from these examples.

1. Sales promotions

One of the most common uses for text message marketing is sending discount codes and sales promotions to your subscribers. Since 90% of people read texts within three minutes, SMS is a great channel for time-sensitive messages. Whether you’re hosting a flash sale, taking pre-orders on a new product line, or offering free shipping, text messages can convince customers to buy fast.

2. Event invites

Text messaging can be an effective channel for inviting subscribers to giveaways, contests, and in-store or virtual events. The conversational nature of this marketing channel makes your event invites feel more personal and less like a mass texting campaign.

3. Brand building

Mobile marketing doesn’t have to be all about the sale. Small business owners can also use SMS to entertain or engage with their customers directly, improving their overall brand experience.

For example, WeRateDogs offers an innovative use of text message marketing, allowing followers to opt into daily dog pictures via text, creating a well-rounded brand experience.

4. Company updates

Have some company news that may impact your customers? Amplify it via text. For example, if you have a brand-new mobile app experience, you can use SMS to encourage users to check it out. If you’re changing your service offerings, you can send a brief text with a link to a landing page.

5. Customer support

Customers want to be able to troubleshoot through their devices—another potential use of text. You can give your customers a more convenient way to reach you and open up a new customer support channel using your SMS marketing platform. This way, when they’re unable to jump on a phone call, you can still boost client satisfaction.

6. Reminders and confirmations

Particularly in medical and service industries, using SMS for appointment reminders, billing reminders, purchase confirmations, welcome messages, and more can increase customer satisfaction. Consumers are 35 times more likely to see brands’ texts vs. emails, meaning these important notifications are more likely to be seen.

Reminders are also simple to send: Many text message marketing services allow you to set up these transactional texts as auto-replies.

Beyond helping you keep your clients happy, this use of text can also decrease no-shows for saved appointment slots, reduce the number of clients requesting confirmations, and minimize last-minute cancellations.

Engage customers with SMS

Using text message marketing for your small business can help you engage with current and potential customers, all while boosting your revenue. From timely and transactional texts to entertaining brand-building texts, this marketing channel offers a variety of uses that you can tailor for your industry and target market. What’s more, this channel can inspire two-way communication, so you can build strong relationships with your customers. 

For more ideas to make the most of your marketing, check out these referral program ideas.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.