12 Steps to Building a Profitable SMS Marketing Program

sms marketing program


While every retailer agrees that a successful SMS marketing program is about increasing consumer engagement and revenue, very few align on a common path towards achieving those goals.

As you begin to prepare your own SMS marketing program, with a short code and SMS service provider already in place, here are some proven best practices for success.


#1 Brand Your SMS Marketing Program

Incredibly, there are retailers who wade into the waters of SMS marketing promotions without taking the necessary branding steps.

At a minimum, you should establish an official program name and use it consistently in all promotions. Make sure to cross-promote the program across all available marketing channels – not just web, but print and broadcast (if applicable) also.

#2 Start with Email

Utilize your existing house email marketing list to build your mobile marketing list. Research has shown that 10-25% of customers on a given email list will immediately sign up to receive SMS promotions. Customers who elect to receive communication in multiple channels are a retailer’s most engaged customers.

#3 Educate In-Store Staff

When possible, train retail associates on how they can further build your mobile marketing list or promote an SMS marketing program.

With direct access to your customers, they are the front line and can speak directly to the value of your SMS campaigns including opting into your mobile marketing list. Something as simple as asking customers during check-out if they want to sign up to receive text alerts and offers can dramatically increase opt-ins.

#4 Optimize Your Locations

Your retail locations offer numerous opportunities for promoting your SMS marketing program and building your mobile marketing list. In addition to the store staff, be sure to leverage shelf tags, end caps, and the check-out counter.

#5 Use Digital Marketing to Build Your SMS Marketing List

Link your SMS marketing promotions to your overall digital strategy. Prominently promote the SMS marketing program on your home page, making sure to provide a link to the enrollment page.

Since signing up for an SMS marketing program involves more than simply entering an email address, your customers will need to click through to expressly opt into your text message program. Don’t forget to feature the benefits of mobile list enrollment and include email sign-up as well.

#6 Leverage All Relevant Social Media Channels

Remember our observation that customers who elect to receive communication across multiple channels are a retailer’s most engaged customers? That means including regular posts about your SMS marketing program and the benefits of opting into your mobile marketing list to your Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest board, etc.

#7 Reward Your Customers

Once customers have signed up to your mobile subscription list, reward them with a mobile coupon, good towards an in-store or online purchase. A generous welcome offer – such as a discount not available through other channels – is a great way to thank them for providing valuable contact information.

#8 Create a Sense of Urgency

Offer a mobile coupon valid for a finite period of time – for example, three days from issue – and incorporate creative copy that encourages customers to take action NOW! With 20%-40% of recipients clicking through to view an offer within 3 minutes after receipt, coupons can produce redemption rates as high as 50% depending on the type of promotion.

You can still offer a coupon with a longer redemption period, but continue to convey a sense of urgency by sending reminder messages two to three days before the promotion ends.

#9 Be Unique

SMS is a great platform for creating a community with your customers and fostering a sense of inclusion by delivering content that’s fresh, rather than information repurposed from other channels.

Communicate relevant information such as retail location openings, local events, or sales promotions that are available only to your mobile marketing list.

#10 Be Consistent

You can experience recurring lift by scheduling your SMS marketing promotions on a regular basis. One retailer with a relatively modest marketing list of 200,000 subscribers generates between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000 in monthly incremental revenue by delivering coupons to its SMS marketing list on a weekly basis.

#11 Personalize

Personalizing an SMS promotion is a lot easier said than done. But as most retailers (and customers will agree), something as simple as adding a first name to a text message dramatically increases opt-in and redemptions rates. Other forms of personalization include notifying customers of a previously purchased item currently on sale or service alerts, such as informing customers when an item is ready for pick-up.

#12 Learn, Fine-Tune and Improve

SMS and mobile coupon marketing promotions allow retailers to empirically understand the entire purchase funnel. Learn when a mobile offer was delivered, when it was viewed, when it was redeemed – then use this information to fine-tune and improve future SMS program performance.

By following these steps, you can significantly grow your SMS marketing program, increase mobile coupon redemption, and realize greater return on your mobile marketing investments.