Mobile SMS/Text Message Marketing 101

Text Messaging: The Undisputed Mobile Marketing Champ

SMS or text messaging has been the most viable, long-standing mobile marketing tactic to date. And, it is still going strong. Here’s why:

  • Text messaging caters to nearly all phones including the 49.7% of users that still have features phones. Nearly all of those users use it: 81% of today’s mobile phone users, have sent or received messages in the past 30 days. (Nielson)
  • It is competitive when compared to other tactics. For example, noted mobile thought leader, Toni Ahonen states that “Text messaging is three times larger than email marketing.”
  • It’s efficiently priced. Some text messaging engines like EZ Texting are as low as $0.025/message or $29/month.
  • Text messaging as a mobile marketing tactic, is easy to use and deploy campaigns. Its limitation of 160 characters actually works in its favor.
  • SMS marketing is permission-based. Customers have to opt-in to receive these types of communications from you making them even more effective. And, speaking of effectiveness: ~98% open text messages with 83% within the first three minutes of receiving it. And, response rates reach as high as 45%.
  • Lastly, mobile carriers (i.e. Sprint, AT&T, Verizon) love text messaging and support it as “Messaging still dominates non-voice revenues worldwide.” (according to Portio Research)

So, why aren’t you using text messaging as a part of your integrated marketing mix?

Let me guess… You don’t have the time? Mobile marketing is on your to-do list and you haven’t gotten around to it? Your other communications and marketing efforts are working just fine? Your audience doesn’t use mobile phones for anything other than calling? Or, you’re waiting for this mobile marketing fad to pass much like social media marketing will, eventually, right?

Whatever your excuse, your customers are mobile so reaching them where and when they are 24/7 has never been more exciting or opportune. The more you wait to take advantage of it, the more you risk your competitors getting a leg up on you and gobbling up that market share. And, you stand so much more to gain from your other marketing efforts by enhancing it with mobile response mechanisms such as SMS/Text Messaging. More stats on that (According to small business survey from April, 2012):

  • 69% of small businesses consider mobile marketing crucial to their growth in the next five years
  • 84% of U.S. small businesses are using Mobile Marketing.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, you might be interested to know that the motivation of your competitors to embrace (in order of priority) mobile goes as follows:

  1. To provide better service to existing customers (38%),
  2. To attract more local customers (36%), and
  3. To gain a competitive advantage (34%).

So #1 is to provide better service to existing customers! It’s clear those that use it, get it!

How to Get Started

So, now that you know your competitors are interested and/or doing mobile marketing and you realize the Text Messaging is a good place to start for the obvious benefits to reach and influence the largest quantity of existing and prospect customers, following are a few tips and useful tidbits of information to help get you started:

Basic Terminology: The first thing to do is understand some basic terms with SMS/Text Messaging. Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Short Code – 5/6 digit phone numbers that can send and receive text messages
  • Keyword – What consumers text to a short code to join your SMS Marketing list
  • Opt-In – Text the Keyword To Short Code
  • Opt-Out – Reply STOP

Remember, similar to email marketing (or how email marketing is “supposed to work,” customers have to opt-in to receiving messages from you or your company. They do this, usually by texting a keyword to a short code that is displayed via marketing with a call to action. (i.e. “Text RUSH to 247365”). Customers are always given the opportunity to “Opt-Out” by replying “STOP” and most text messaging engines, like email engines, manage the database for you.

Commit to Building a Mobile Database of Customers: Given the high response levels of text messaging, the more customers you have opted in to your database and wanting to receive your communications, the better chances you have of driving results. Therefore, it makes sense to commit to building as large a qualified mobile database as possible including existing customers (appending your existing email and/or snail mail database) and promoting opt-ins via all of your marketing collateral to new customers. A large, qualified mobile database can help turn business on between specific time periods of downtime (i.e. luncheon special between 1-3 on your slowest day). Your database of mobile customers can also easily help it grow organically if an offer goes viral.

Learn/Know as Much as You Can about Your Customer’s Mobile Text Usage and Where the Opportunities Might Exist: Consult resources like Mobile Marketer magazine,, eMarketer, Nielson, etc. to get the best understanding of your customers’ mobile usage and response behavior. For example, did you know that Younger groups text the most text messages but older segments represent the greatest growth opportunities. In quarter 3 of 2011, teens 13-17 sent and received the most text messages (an average of 3,417 each month) but the number of messages sent by those 55+ has more than doubled compared to 2009? (according Nielson’s mobile marketing report, Q3, 2011)

Use a Text Messaging Engine: Similar to email marketing engines like Constant Contact or Vertical Response, SMS Text Messaging engines are available. EZ Texting is one service I have written about before and is an easy-to-use software-as-a-service engine that allows you to broadcast campaigns, choose your own keywords, manage lists and track results. It’s also pretty affordable and takes very little time to start using and fully understand.

Test Various Campaigns: Not all text campaigns work as expected and it is often suggested that you try different calls to action and/or incentives to lock in to the desired response from the desired audience. 160 characters is not a lot yet brevity can be used to your advantage. Get to the point. Make it engaging and solicit immediate response. And, Ba-bam! You will see success.

Integrate with Other Marketing: Be sure to include your call to action on other integrated marketing like print ads, collateral pieces, billboards, your business cards, etc. The intent is to build a mobile database. You can use different keywords to segment your lists and test where your response is actually coming from which in essence is measuring the effectiveness of that marketing.

Track Your Results: Like any marketing, be sure you watch your results like a hawk and carefully measure your investment to return on that marketing investment. Consider your mobile database as an integral part of your customer P & L. Set up goals and certain benchmarks and always be evaluating your efforts.


Bottom line: Mobile continues to explode and evolve. By taking advantage of the various proven tools that reach the largest quantity of new and existing customers—with the right message—the better chances you have of creating new and more profitable customer relationships. Don’t wait any longer. Get engaged!

Happy marketing!

About the Author

Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom  (abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom)  , visit, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.


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