How to Increase Sales With SMS Text Messaging

With more than 320 million wireless subscribers in the United States, you're missing a lot of customers if you aren't using SMS text message marketing. Here's a primer on how to build a list, send and respond to SMS texts, and write messages that will get customers' attention.

By Nathan Segal
Thu, January 31, 2013

CIO — If you're like any small business owner, you'll examine any and all ways to boost sales. One way is to use autoresponders to email potential and existing customers. Another effective method is the use of short message service (SMS) texts, which let you send targeted messages to cell phone users.

If you've been reluctant to apply SMS marketing to your business, consider the following:

  • As of June 2012, there are roughly 322 million wireless subscribers in the United States, according to CTIA. That equals 101 percent of the total U.S. population.
  • Text messages are read within minutes of their arrival, compared to as much as 48 hours for email, according to The Mobile Marketer.
  • Thirty percent of consumers respond to branded text messages, mobile marketing firm Hipcricket says.
  • Mobile coupon redemption rates are 10 times higher than paper coupons distributed in newspapers or through the mail.

Know SMS Text Messaging Basics Before You Get Started

Before you begin to create text messaging campaigns, there are a few things you need to know.

First and foremost, not unlike Twitter, your messages are limited to 160 characters. (If you want to send SMS texts to Canadian cell phone numbers, you can only use 136 characters.)

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Also, depending on the type of message you are sending, you should include one of four essential elements. (Examples appear in quotes.)

  • Opt-out instructions—"Reply STOP to end"
  • An option for customer assistance—"Need help? Reply HELP"
  • An indication that there are costs involved—"Standard msg&data rates may apply"
  • A note about how often users should expect text messages—"We only send 4 msgs/month"

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To learn about regulations governing SMS text messages, check out the Mobile Marketing Association Best Practices guide (PDF). This document also includes many types of sample messages for both free and premium services.

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