Best Practices For Running Effective SMS Campaigns


Do you feel that your company should be getting more out of your mobile marketing campaigns?

When using such a personal channel like SMS to communicate with your customers, it’s not enough to only trust one’s guts. There are some rules that should be followed in order to have a good base from where one can start building a successful (and close) relationship with the customers, avoiding complaints and unsubscribes.

In this post we present a list of best practices that you can follow with your marketing team in order to increase the effectiveness of your mobile campaigns.

Clear Call-To-Action

Writing a clear call-to-action is key to get new customers and subscribers to your services, and sometimes this task is a bit underestimated and fail to get people’s attention. It’s really important to have a CLEAR text that expresses what your customers should do. For example this text might be confusing for some people:

Send “COUPON” to 12345

Did you notice the use of the double quotes around the keyword? This could make some people text the word including the quotes, without triggering the campaign.

It’s also recommended to create the need and encourage the clients to send a message to your company:

Text DEALS to 12345 NOW, to get the BEST Car Deals Ever!

Send Exclusive Offers for a Limited Time

Offers that have a time limit will likely create an urge to redeem them and seize the opportunity to save a few bucks. For example an exclusive offer available to anyone presenting a specific SMS message during the next two days.

Reward Loyal Customers

Try to do different offers for customers based on their loyalty. Start with a small discount offer to get some opt-ins, and then grow that a bit bigger with every purchase each customer does. Over time you should notice that the average value per order tends to grow.

Don’t Interrupt in Vain: Delivery Quality Content

Be reasonable. Whenever you are sending an SMS to your customers, you will be getting their attention immediately.

98% of SMS are read within the first 3 minutes, you will be interrupting your clients to get their attention, so make sure you deliver good content that is useful for them.

Be Brief: Less is More

An SMS can be up to 160 characters long, so it is really important that you can deliver your message effectively and without confusion in this many number of characters.

Keep Calm And Stay In Touch

Before starting an SMS program, make sure you know what you are aiming at. What will it be used for? How many messages your subscribers will receive?

Sending too many messages, or not sending any messages at all might harm you in the same way. It is known that if you don’t keep up with your commitments and only send a message from time to time (or too many at once), you will get a high number of opt-outs.

Sending one message every week seems to work best to stay in touch with your clients without annoying them, while at the same time showing that you are making a reasonable use of their time when sending an offer or coupon.

Choose The Right Channels For Your Message

Make sure your are promoting your SMS services through the right channels, whether they are TV or Radio Ads, Facebook or Google AdWords. Take into account that this might vary per product or service, and per customer segment, so pick them carefully.

Also, each channel might require different skills and best practices, in order to take full advantage of them (text lengths, graphical items, fonts, media disposition, etc). Make sure you work close to your team (or teams) to fully exploit each channel advantage.

Respect The Law

Each country might have different regulations for running SMS campaigns, either to protect people’s privacy or control the traffic for these purposes and avoid being blocked. In the US, you should at least comply with the following items:

  • Your subscribers must have first signed a “prior written consent to receive text messages” from you, and completing a commercial transaction does not fit this requirement. This can be accomplished by the customer texting a keyword to a short code, or perhaps by filling in a web form with their phone number. In any case, it must be obvious that they are signing in for this particular service and agreeing to receive text messages.
  • Always respond to the keywords HELP and STOP.
  • When replying to a HELP message, include a telephone number so the user can call customer support, and also a link to the privacy statement and terms of use.
  • Before a client opts-in, the following information should be clearly visible and available:
    • Privacy statement.
    • Use terms.
    • Name of your service and brand.
    • Frequency of messages sent.
    • Instructions for opting out.
  • When opting-in, include the message “Message and data rates may apply”.
  • CLEARLY indicate if there are any special carrier charges and what are they.

We also strongly advise to check with an attorney  and your SMS provider, just to be on the safe side. The privacy statement and terms of use can be a link to a website where the full text can be displayed.


This is something that is always recommended, no matter the kind of activity in question. Before you can take any decisions, it’s important to have the right information at hand to do the best educated guess possible.

Gather data from your CRM and data analysis team, then plan, execute, measure the results and plan again. With each change you make to your campaigns, you should be taking to account:

  • Subscriber Growth Rate: Day by day, or week to week, how many people are opting in?
  • Channel Effectiveness: How many new customers are the different channels (Facebook Ads, AdWords, TV, etc) bringing in?
  • Churn Rate: How many customers are opting out of your services (ideally no more than 2%)?
  • Keyword/Message Engagement: What keywords are best? What kind of messages work best? Are some offers more interesting than others for different customers?
  • Campaign Cost/Redemption Rate: How many people are actually redeeming your coupons, and much does it cost to communicate with your clients?

— The PortaText Team.