SMS (short message service) is the technical term for a standard text message with no media attachments. SMS marketing can be a great way to reach your customers where they are—on their phones.

But it's essential to do it right to make your investment worth your while. So as you develop your SMS marketing strategy, consider these guidelines to get the most out of every text message marketing campaign.

1. Get a 10-Digit Long Code (10DLC)

You may have seen brands that use short codes to send marketing messages to subscribers. Short codes are 5-6 digit phone numbers that brands use to send mass SMS and MMS messages to their customers. But they weren’t designed for two-way conversation and they can be expensive.

Instead, we recommend brands use 10DLC. 10DLC is a standard local telephone number that’s quickly becoming the standard for application-to-person(A2P) business messaging — in other words, it’s the best way for you to text with your customers.

10DLC helps wireless carriers distinguish legitimate numbers from spam meaning more reliable deliverability for your SMS marketing messages. They cost less than both short codes and 1-800 numbers.10DLC numbers also support two-way communications and can support voice, too, for a more seamless customer experience.

2. Get permission before sending SMS marketing messages

Before you text your audience, it's essential to get their permission first. It's illegal not to.

Plus, by asking your audience to opt-in, you know you're starting a texting relationship with people who actually want to hear from you -- which means better engagement!

3. Make your texts worth subscribing to

Your SMS marketing messages need to offer value if you want people to subscribe. This can be in the form of exclusive deals or early access to sales and product launches.

But don't just stick with promotional content. Build relationships with SMS subscribers by sharing fun content, asking for feedback, or sharing helpful tips and advice with your audience.

For example, if you sell home cleaning supplies, you can offer lesser-known tricks to clean bathroom scum. Or, if you sell coffee, you can send tasty new drink recipes for subscribers to try.

Whatever you offer, make sure it's both relevant to your brand and something that your target audience will find useful. And when your audience subscribes, let them know what to expect. These are, after all, the perks of subscribing to SMS messages from your brand.

4. Keep your messages short, but limit textspeak

Keep your messages short to avoid overwhelming your subscribers, but limit the use of textspeak. Textspeak is the abbreviated and slang version of words that some people use when texting -- "Smthng lyk ths lol."

Textspeak can often be challenging to understand, making your subscribers more likely to opt-out.

Textspeak is totally fine in limited quantities and if it's on brand for your ecommerce store. Stick to common text abbreviations (like TTYL or LOL) and avoid niche abbreviations that subscribers might not understand.

5. Personalize your messages

Personalization is key to better engagement and stronger relationships with your customers when it comes to SMS marketing.

You’ll want to limit sending generic mass-marketing messages to your whole subscriber list. Your subscribers are likelier to engage with a message that caters to them and their interests.

Your message should include the subscriber's name when appropriate and is a simple way to add a personal touch. But it won't be enough to make an impact.

Your SMS marketing messages need to offer value if you want people to subscribe.

Segment your subscribers into different categories based on things like age, gender, interests, and location. Then send SMS messages relevant to that group.

For example, say you sell sporting goods. Celebrate a Golden State Warriors win with your San Francisco Bay Area customers by offering a discount code to shop your Warriors collection.

Furthermore, use a customer's behavior to send relevant SMS campaigns and automated flows. Consider what products a customer has purchased, when their last purchase was, and their recent browsing history. Then send more relevant texts promoting products they're likely interested in and encourage them down the purchase path.

6. Be responsive

When you text customers, they might text back! Texting feels personal, and your subscribers will expect a response. Timely responses are essential to providing a good customer experience and maintaining a healthy list of subscribers.

In general, you should aim to respond to messages within 24 hours. However, if you send time-sensitive messages, such as order updates, you may need to be prepared to answer even sooner.

Connect your SMS marketing software to your help desk so customer support reps can respond quickly to messages.

7. Text during waking hours

With SMS marketing, you need to be considerate of your audience and only send texts during waking hours. Unlike other marketing channels, most people have text notifications on. So you could disturb someone while they're sleeping if you text at the wrong hour.

Besides being rude, it is against some U.S. state laws to text customers outside waking hours. For example, Florida prohibits texting customers between 8 pm and 8 am in the recipient's time zone.

So schedule your SMS campaigns with this in mind.

8. A/B test every aspect of your SMS messages

As with any marketing channel, it's important to A/B test your SMS messages. Then, you can determine what works best for your audience and your business. In particular, it's worth spending the time to optimize your automated flows because they'll be the base of a successful SMS program.

When it comes to optimizing SMS marketing campaigns, there are a few key things you can test:

  • Offer: What type of discount or incentive is most effective?

  • Copy: What wording will get people to act?

  • Timing: When does your audience engage with your messages?

  • Frequency: How often should you send messages without bombarding your subscribers?

Testing these aspects will help you fine-tune your text marketing efforts. And it will ensure you're getting the most out of this powerful marketing channel.

9. Use MMS messages instead when imagery will help get your point across

SMS messages are great for plain-text messages like order updates and time-sensitive texts like flash sales. But it's worth considering MMS messages to grab your audience's attention on occasion.

MMS (multimedia messaging service) texts allow you to include media files like photos, videos, GIFs, links, and more in your texts. They cost more than SMS messages, but the added media can make them more engaging.

Use MMS when your audience would benefit from added content like a picture of your latest product. Or you can use MMS to send fun GIFs to add a splash of brand personality to your texts.

Don't use MMS too often, though. Subscribers could start to feel numb from too much in-your-face content.

Grow your program with an SMS platform designed for ecommerce

With the right SMS platform, you can make your text message marketing program a consistent source of revenue for your ecommerce store.

Emotive is specially designed to help ecommerce brands scale. Automate messages based on customer behavior, like abandoned carts or recent orders. Segment your contacts to send more targeted messages. Automate two-way conversations to convert customers right in text conversations. And track your results with detailed reports and analytics.

Sign up for a demo to discover how Emotive can help your brand drive more revenue and customer loyalty.