Everything You Need To Know About SMS Marketing

February 03, 2021
By iQ Staff
Cartoon of people interacting with a giant smartphone.

Text messaging is an easy and convenient way to stay in touch with friends, family and coworkers on a daily basis. So, how can it be used for marketing? Texting in a marketing context, also known as SMS (Short Message Service) marketing, is a powerful tool for business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands.

SMS marketing has a large potential reach given the popularity of cellphones – it’s estimated that more than 98% of American adults own one, and five billion people globally have access to SMS. SMS marketing can be more affordable, reliable and user-friendly than email, traditional media and social media marketing, and the SMS marketing industry is projected to reach $12.6 billion in spending by 2025.

Taco Bell was early to the SMS trend when it launched a successful B2C SMS campaign in 2013 to communicate with its most loyal customers and offer exclusive coupons. Using traditional media to generate awareness, the campaign garnered 13,000 subscribers within the first five weeks, and Taco Bell sent out a total of 29,500 SMS coupons. The company retained 93% of those subscribers after the five-week campaign.


“Companies that adopt SMS marketing now will build a community that is more likely to achieve growth and long-term results.”


SMS marketing benefits include:

  • High open rates. SMS open rates – the percentage of recipients who open the message -- are as high as 98% compared to the 20% open rates of email.
  • A large, diverse audience. SMS provides increased access to rural, Hispanic, Black and other consumers who are often left behind in the digital divide since they often don’t have access to a computer or high-speed internet but are more likely to have cell phones.
  • Cost-effective. Simple texts are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional marketing channels. It can cost as little as $30 a month for 500 outbound texts.
  • Two-way communication. Text conversations build relationships that help grow consumer loyalty. Additionally, companies that use SMS to improve customer service can stem the loss of customers to competitors.
  • Honoring consumer preference. A growing number of consumers prefer simple messages and direct links to offers, and the ability to opt-in to receive marketing messages. New subscribers don’t have to fill out a form or download an app to sign up; they simply text in a keyword or number.
  • Testing. Marketers can experiment with different message elements—such as subject lines, message content, layout, offer and call to action—and land on the combination that generates the most responses.


Before you launch your SMS campaign, consider the following:

  • Frequency. Deliver relevant and timely messages to your customers via your campaign, just as you would in person. A good rule of thumb is four to five SMS messages per month and never more than one message per day.
  • Initial Costs. To gain initial SMS traction, marketers typically need to use other channels—such as social media, television, or print—to get the word out and provide a strong incentive to opt in. Make sure your team has the budget to successfully launch new SMS campaigns.
  • Compliance. Ensure that your marketing team is up to date on digital privacy compliance before designing or promoting a campaign. Remember, you must have explicit consent from customers before sending them text messages. It is not only an ethical consideration, but a legal one as well.


If your company is interested in using SMS marketing, think about your target audiences and whether your marketing efforts might lend themselves to a texting context. SMS may help you build a community of customers to ultimately achieve growth and long-term results.