15 SMS marketing use cases

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In a recent survey, we learned that 63 percent of respondents said they would actually switch to a company that offered text messaging as a communication channel. So why is reaching customers via SMS marketing a surefire way to boost your overall marketing efforts? Text messaging lets you communicate with your customers in real time, reaching them exactly where they are. 

Plus, text messaging’s near-perfect open rate (98 percent) puts other channels to shame. (Email’s average open rate is only 20 percent by comparison.) Marketers would be remiss if they didn’t integrate some texting into their campaigns. But you may be wondering how to use SMS in your marketing campaigns. 

We’ve put together a list of the 15 of the most common SMS marketing use cases:

1. Content sharing:

Most marketers are familiar with the value of content marketing, but sending content via text is somewhat new. But just like email content marketing, this is one of those SMS marketing use cases that builds relationships and keeps customers engaged. Texting fun or valuable content (always highly targeted) can be a powerful tool to reach customers and keep your brand top of mind. 

Recently, beverage brand Ghia began using SMS to have back-and-forth conversations with customers. Ghia’s goal was to create “moments of delight” by sending Spotify playlists and other content to customers. The result? The brand saw an instant positive response. And in the end, loyal and engaged customers are more likely to think of your brand when they’re ready to shop.

2. Polling:

Polling via text is a strategy that pulls double duty. It’s a great way to gauge the temperature of your audience by asking for their opinion. (What do they think of the new proposed product design? Of all your brand’s flavors, which is their favorite?) It’s also the perfect way to engage your audience by making them feel like they’re part of your brand’s decisions.

3. Flash sales:

Knowing your texts will probably be read within three seconds makes time-sensitive sales possible — and even more when your customers have push notifications turned on. Flash sales are a great way to sprinkle a sense of urgency into your marketing campaigns with speed that no other channel can match. Texting means quicker open times and faster responses to your campaign, especially when SMS gives you a good chance of reaching your audience quickly.

4. Giveaways:

Giveaways, of course, are one of the most well-known SMS marketing use cases. This strategy is a useful tool to grow your SMS contact list and gather contact information from potential leads if nothing else. In return for their opt-in, you can offer your audience a chance to win a trip or package that fits with your brand.

5. Drip campaigns:

Drip campaigns are some of the marketers’ best tools to extract the most efficiency out of marketing technology. A text message drip campaign, just like other drip campaigns, runs as automated messages that are triggered by segmentation in your list and run behind the scenes while your marketing team focuses their daily efforts on strengthening relationships with customers. Use SMS drip campaigns to nurture leads through the funnel or welcome new subscribers or for any number of creative, engaging communications you can think of.

6. Lead nurture campaigns:

As an automated campaign, this is another of those SMS marketing use cases that runs in the background. A lead nurture campaign that operated via text is highly segmented and has a much higher chance of being seen by recipients. With SMS, nurturing your leads down the funnel is no longer a shot in the dark. Text messages have higher open rates than email by far and can therefore likely guarantee more consideration from your leads than an email campaign.

7. New product launch:

When you launch a new product or service, you want your customers to know now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Immediacy matters, especially if you’re looking to give your loyal SMS subscribers a shot to get the product before anyone else. Texts tend to be read in the first few minutes of receiving them, so if you want to offer any customers first dibs or let them know early about your product launch, there’s no better way than via text.

8. Direct texting:

One of the benefits of texting your customers is that it creates a relationship that encourages two-way conversations. They’re free to ask questions when they like. By creating a campaign via text that encourages them to text — maybe they text for make-up advice or to speak directly with a doctor — marketers can generate some powerful customer experiences.

9. Two-way messaging:

Two-way conversations are one of the hallmarks of SMS marketing. It’s the simple idea that your marketing team can converse with customers one-to-one and in real time that makes texting so revolutionary. Customers today want to be able to reach you when they have questions, and they want to know your brand is made up of people, not bots. Using texting to message back and forth, whether it’s for customer service or for purchasing advice, makes the experience feel personal and even more engaging than other channels can.

In an example of two-way messaging done right, Cann, creator of the first cannabis-infused social tonic, used a unique branded character to engage consumers through live chat. The team sent messages from a character called Ms. Lemon Lavender — named for two of the brand’s most popular tonic flavors — and delivered a fun experience that customers looked forward to. Thanks in part to this creative live chat strategy, Cann’s targeted messages and the team’s real-time responses, the company doubled its repurchase rates on its most popular platform.

10. Appointment reminders:

Sending automated reminders for upcoming appointments has taken off as one of the most popular SMS marketing use cases. This is in part due to customer demand. Seventy-six percent of consumers in a recent survey found it helpful to receive appointment reminders via text. Appointment reminders have not only become desired but expected, they’ve turned out to be powerful tools for marketers looking to strengthen the bond between the brand and the customer.

11. Delivery tracking:

Tracking packages that are being delivered may not seem like a marketing function, but when done well — with good branding and attention to detail — something as simple as tracking a package has the potential to grow the relationship with customers. SMS marketing is all about making the customer experience a better one, and keeping tabs on where a delivery is shows that you have enough transparency and forethought to care whether your customer receives what they’ve purchased.

 12. Promotions:

As far as SMS marketing use cases go, this is probably the most common. The age-old strategy to supercharge marketing efforts by sending a promotional code is still effective, and using SMS only elevates this marketing strategy. You can reach customers who have opted into your SMS marketing comms with exclusive codes, free gifts, hefty discounts and exclusive access. The exclusivity of this group is what makes it so powerful and so rewarding for your customers and leads on the receiving end.

13. Abandoned cart reminders:

The shopping cart reminder is an ecommerce strategy almost as old as the shopping cart itself.  When a customer shops but abandons the cart before purchasing, this little tool steps in to gently remind them to finish their purchase. But imagine sending a reminder to your customer that they’ve left something in their cart and being confident they will see the message almost immediately. Nine out of 10 people read the texts they receive within the first three seconds. Three seconds. It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when we thought email was the best way to send shopping cart reminders with numbers like that. 

14. Birthday messages:

Sending messages with special deals that are perfectly tailored to a specific customer based on their preferences is one of the best ways to delight customers. Sending a birthday wish or a special deal via text is a quick and convenient marketing strategy. And it makes perfect sense: Who doesn’t like a special treat on their birthday, especially if it includes a personalized offer? But your chances of eliciting a purchase are greater with text since nearly every single person is likely to open your text messages (and only one out of every five people is likely to open if you send it as an email). 

15. Text-based shopping:

Sometimes, it pays to get creative with your SMS marketing strategies. Allowing customers to purchase directly through SMS is one way to eliminate all that purchasing friction you can encounter online. 

Brook & Bull winery, for example, created "the easiest wine buying you've ever experienced.” How? By letting customers order wine through SMS. And it pays off: Half of Brook & Bull’s purchases come from texts even though their opt-in list is a tenth the size of their email list. Direct purchasing via text is a creative, powerful and effective way to offer exactly what customers are looking for: convenience.


Which of these SMS marketing use cases are you ready to try?

Take a look at some of the features that can help you engage in dialogue, work smarter and communicate better with customers. Or, jump right in with a free trial with Avochato.