SMS Campaigns 101: A Complete Guide to Success

Did you know that worldwide, people send 23 to 27 billion SMS (Short Message Service) texts daily? The United States accounts for about a quarter, sending over 6 billion SMS texts daily.

A massive chunk of those messages are from businesses running SMS campaigns. After all, SMS boasts a 98% open rate, making it one of the most effective marketing tools. Indeed, 45% of customers say they would choose a product or brand after getting an SMS text.

Those are all good enough reasons to consider SMS marketing for your business. With adequate planning and correct implementation, you can use it to boost sales.

To that end, we created this guide on launching an effective (and legal!) SMS text campaign. Read on to discover what you must do to get yours started ASAP.

Understand SMS Compliance Laws

SMS text marketing is legal, provided it abides by all government regulations. If you’re in the U.S., there are two primary SMS texting-related laws: the TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act. Failure to follow these can lead to hefty fines, even lawsuits.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The TCPA requires marketers to get written consent from customers they want to text. You can get this permission by asking clients to opt in via text or fill out an agreement form.

The TCPA also mandates marketers to send transparent marketing SMS texts. For instance, the messages must contain the business’s name. For sale messages, they must indicate the promo’s terms and conditions.

Another TCPA compliance requirement is to let customers opt out of the text service. Marketers can no longer send marketing messages to clients who’ve opted out. They can only do so again if the customers request re-inclusion.

Standard TCPA penalties can be up to $500 per violation per message. That goes up to $1,500 per willful violation per message.


The CAN-SPAM Act’s original goal was to curb solicited and unsolicited email spam. However, it also applies to texts sent via the internet to wireless devices. So if you use online SMS marketing platforms to message customers’ phones, this act applies to you.

The CAN-SPAM Act works with the TCPA but also focuses on the opt-out requirement. It requires marketers to stop communicating within ten days when customers unsubscribe.

Violations of this law can carry fines amounting to thousands of dollars. So, ensure you familiarize yourself with and follow all its requirements.

Build Your SMS Subscriber List

The simplest way is to use an SMS app designed to create and build subscriber lists. It collects the phone numbers of those who wish to subscribe to the service. It lets you prompt clients to join via your website, social media, check-out page, or newsletter.

You can also use an SMS subscriber list app in your physical, brick-and-mortar store. In this case, choose a program that lets you use keywords customers can text to the number you use in the app. You can then decorate your store with ads asking shoppers to text those keywords to opt in.

Some SMS subscriber list apps also allow you to generate QR codes and print them out. Customers only need to scan these codes with their mobile phones to opt in.

Another option is to have in-store customers fill out a short form by hand. This is a bit more tedious, but it gives them more control to choose the details they wish to share. For example, they can tick the boxes to receive texts and emails about deals on specific products.

Give Customers Reasons to Subscribe

Regardless of how fancy your SMS subscriber list app is, it’s no use if customers have no reason to opt in. That’s why you need to give them something so that they’d subscribe in return.

You can incentivize customers with discounts, freebies, or promises of “exclusive deals.” You can also encourage them to join by telling them about a soon-to-happen sale. Another tactic is to entice them with loyalty rewards and bonuses for referrals.

Personalize Your SMS Texts

Under the right situations, nearly 9 in 10 people are willing to share their online activity. These circumstances include getting personalized engagements or rewards in exchange.

The good news is that you can personalize SMS texts based on the data your customers have already given.

Suppose your opt-in process includes asking the following pieces of information:

  • Name
  • Birthday
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Interests

You can use those details to curate customized text templates. For example, you can say, “Hello [name of customer], welcome to [your business’s name]! Here’s a 10% welcome discount you can use now!”

To make things even more personalized, you can send them a birthday message with a greeting and a “gift.” For instance, you can say, “Happy birthday, [name of customer], from the whole team here at [your business’s name]! As a valued customer, we’d like to celebrate your special day by sending you [specify the gift you want to send them].”

If there are restrictions to your offer, don’t forget to include their T&Cs in the text.

Time Your Texts Right

Aside from keeping texts short and on-point, ensure you send them at appropriate times. Otherwise, you may seem intrusive, unprofessional, or even spammy.

Depending on the message’s content, you may send it in the morning or when people take a break from work.

Let’s say you run a coffee shop. In this case, you can text at 9 AM to tell recipients they can get a discount on their morning joes.

If you’re a food establishment, you can send a message at 11:45 AM to inform your subscribers about lunch deals. You can also send one about end-of-day sales a few minutes before typical office closing times.

Make SMS Campaigns Work for You

SMS campaigns that follow the law and incentivize customers are helpful marketing tools. They’re more direct, personal, and quicker than emails.

All that should be good enough reasons to consider launching an SMS campaign ASAP. As long as you implement it correctly, it can help boost brand recall, recognition, and loyalty. So, ensure you follow all the tips in this guide to stay on the good side of the law (and your customers).

For more business-related guides like this, browse our latest digital marketing articles!