Text marketing (SMS marketing) is a fast, effective and conversational way to develop leads and build client relationships, making it an indispensable tool in any business’s marketing plan. SMS marketing utilizes automated text messages to inform clients of special sales, new products and upcoming promotions. Texts can also be used to send event reminders to clients, urge them to complete transactions, thank them for their patronage, or check in with clients you haven’t heard from or seen them in a while.

SMS marketing effectively “shortens the gap” and makes it easier for a small business to stay competitive, offering an effective means of expanding reach on a small budget. The benefits of adding sms marketing to your overall plan are numerous.


Use Text Marketing to Grow Your Business

Why Your Small Business Needs SMS Marketing

There are four cornerstone reasons that text marketing helps you reach more customers faster:

With these statistics in mind, it’s impossible to deny the benefits of text marketing. Text marketing helps level the playing field between what a small business with a limited marketing budget can accomplish versus an established business with a big marketing budget. But many small business owners aren’t quite sure how to get started, or how to tailor their marketing messages for text. Below, we’ve outlined the top ten best practices for text marketing that’ll help your business start texting like a pro!

1. Opt-In (and Opt-Out)

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulates how marketers contact people, and for many small business owners, navigating the TCPA was an obstacle to text marketing. To comply, all that’s required of a business is to obtain explicit consent from subscribers to send text marketing messages, as well as to provide clear-cut disclaimers. Simple automated messages, such as “Message and data rates may apply,” “Text YES to opt-in,” or “Txt STOP to cancel at any time,” sent out to new subscribers or at the launch of your text marketing program, are critical to staying compliant with the TCPA.

Phone screen opt in text welcome to Acme Studios VIP text program.

2. Set Expectations

Having a clear idea of what customers are opting into can make the decision easier—especially if you clearly state that you won’t be spamming them! The easiest way to do this is to include expectations with your opt-in message, outlining the name of your sms text program, what it offers, and how many messages per month you’ll be sending.


3. Deliver Value & Exclusive Benefits

Because your subscribers are required to take a few extra steps to opt into your text marketing program, it helps to provide them with some incentives in the form of exclusive perks and ongoing value. After all, without a valuable benefit, subscribers may eventually opt out. SMS marketing is an easy way to make subscribers feel like a VIP. It doesn’t always have to be a discount or a freebie, but make sure every communication offers special content. Promo codes, discounts, or text-exclusive perks are all great ways to keep customers opted-in.

4. Message Frequency Matters

No one loves their phone blowing up with spam or junk messages, so make sure you plan out sms marketing communications wisely. The industry guideline is 2-6 text blasts per month, with the ideal frequency being about one text promo per week. Marketing research indicates that more than 6 text marketing messages per month begins to annoy subscribers, who then begin to opt out of text marketing programs.

5. Respect Business Hours

Schedule and send text marketing messages only during conventional business hours and remember to make sure you are aware of any time zone differences which may impact the delivery of your sms campaign. Not only is it discourteous to text subscribers outside of expected hours, but from a purely business standpoint, it’s counterproductive. The goal of sms marketing is to inspire immediate action, and it’s unlikely that your customers will take any action (except to unsubscribe) if you text them in the middle of the night.

6. Use Regular Language

Because text marketing works within a limited framework (160-300 characters including spaces), where possible, resist the temptation to use SMS shorthand. Text shorthand (“Gr8 Deals!”) can give your brand an unprofessional look. While some text abbreviations are widely understood, using shorthand risks alienating customers—or worse, customers not acting on your message because they don’t understand it. Likewise, avoid business jargon words and stick to regular language in your messaging.


7. Keep It Short & Sweet

Industry standards suggest 160-300 characters (including spaces) for text marketing communications. This is not only the ideal length to keep your customers engaged, but also to keep your costs low. Longer text messages can get broken up into two texts rather than a single message, effectively doubling your costs. Keep your messages short, simple, and direct.


8. Include Your Business Name

Customers can’t act on your call to action if they aren’t sure who’s sending it to them! Make sure that either your business name displays as the sender of your sms communications or remember to include your business name in the content of the text.

9. Multiple Promotions on Different Platforms Attract More New Subscribers

Because sms marketing requires subscribers to opt in, get creative in how you attract new subscribers. You can easily generate more opt-ins with an approach that integrates with your email marketing, as integrated campaigns statistically perform better. To promote your sms marketing program cross-platform, try adding a mobile number field and “opt-in” button to your Facebook, website, and email sign-ups. You can also have an in-person text opt-in for your storefront and events.

10. Do Your Texts Pass the S.M.A.R.T Test?

Before you send out any sms marketing communication, put your message to the SMART test.

Is your text….

  • Specific?
  • Measurable?
  • Actionable?
  • Relevant?
  • Timely?

Examples of messages that pass the SMART test include: discounts, important announcements, event updates, text-exclusive savings and promotions, promo codes, and time-sensitive or specialized instructions.

For example, here’s how a discount offered via text message marketing passes the SMART test:

  • It offers a specific discount.

  • It’s measurable, because you can use Vagaro reporting tools to track its success.

  • It’s actionable, because you include a way for customers to take advantage of the discount.

  • It’s relevant, because you can filter the customers who receive the discount offer.

  • It’s timely, because you specify how long the discount is valid.

Vagaro logo Once you’ve got a handle on your text marketing best practices, you’re ready to start texting like a pro! Vagaro’s got text marketing plans to fit any size business, with room to scale up as your subscriber list grows…and grows…and grows!

Header Image: Mia Montemayor via Vagaro