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SMS marketing: What it is and how to get started


Of the 7.5 billion people in the world, 5 billion own a mobile device. So it stands to reason that many companies have shifted their focus to mobile marketing in recent years. 

There are now two versions of any online asset that exists: desktop and mobile. And that’s all well and good if you have the time and resources to optimize everything. 

But, there’s a simpler (and massively underused) way to reach potential customers with mobile marketing – by SMS. 

What is SMS marketing? 

SMS (or “short message service”) marketing is a way to leverage opt-in text messaging as a way to promote and advertise to your existing and prospective customers. 

By sending them a text message directly to their mobiles, you’re establishing a more personal connection with your target audience, which inevitably heightens brand loyalty and engagement. 

There are a number of different ways you can use SMS marketing to communicate with your audience. For example, you could use them to send: 

  • Coupon codes
  • Offers and discounts
  • Competitions 
  • Survey links
  • Notifications
  • App download links 
  • Loyalty programs 

Why you should be using SMS marketing 

Email still reigns supreme when it comes to direct communication with customers. But, with ever-so-slightly dipping open and click-through rates, it’s probably time you considered using another channel. 

And let’s not stop there. If you look at the average statistics for these metrics across advertising platforms like Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, what I’m about to tell you is going to be a real shock (you might want to sit down for this one). 

SMS marketing boasts an average open rate of 92% and a staggering response rate of 45%. Which makes sense when you think about how much time people spend looking at their phone on average per day. 

So why aren’t all brands doing SMS marketing? 

Your guess is as good as mine. 

How you can use SMS marketing 

As we touched on earlier, there are a number of uses for SMS marketing. These can range from a competition you’re running to a personalized notification about a customer’s account or perhaps a delivery alert. 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at these uses along with some examples: 


Promotions can come in many forms: discounts, coupon codes, seasonal offers – the list goes on.

Given that SMS marketing is a great way to establish trust and loyalty with your customers, it’s a great opportunity to offer them these exclusive perks.  

And what’s more, the exclusivity of these perks makes them feel included in your close community, which is a win/win for both parties.

A top tip for sending promotions is to include date parameters in your messages to make them time-sensitive, which in turn creates a sense of urgency and encourages your customers to purchase. 

Check out how 3 Mobile make the most of this tactic: 


Text-to-win competitions are an incredibly popular way to use SMS marketing. Effectively, all you have to do is pose a question and ask your subscribers to reply with the answer in order to be entered into a draw to win a prize. 

Giving people an incentive will obviously boost your response rate and overall engagement, but it’s also a great way to grow a qualified subscriber list. 

Survey Links

Looking for some customer feedback on your product, or maybe you want to ask them what they’d like to see on your roadmap? I’ve got one word for you – survey. 

Surveys are a great way to collect valuable data from the people who mean the most to your business. Even better still, they’re quick and easy to create, and even easier to share. 

Simply take the survey link (which will probably look very long, ugly and generally not suitable for a text message) and use a branded URL shortener to make it look more like this: 


Nice, right? 

Then, the only thing left to do is pop the link into your message and hit send. Easy peasy! 

A lot of people still opt to send surveys to their customers via email, but as we’ve already seen, engagement rates for SMS speak for themselves – so it’s a bit of a no-brainer. 


If you do in-store collection (or click-and-collect), SMS marketing is a quick and easy way to let your customers know that their product has arrived in the store, as well as provide them with any pick-up information they need to know. 

Another great use for SMS notifications would be providing shipping updates to your customers. This keeps the journey from store to door hyper-personalized and ultimately, the transparency instills trust between your customers and your business. 

App Download Links

So, you’ve made a mobile app. Fantastic. 

Now you need to promote it. 

Let’s stop and think for a second… who are you trying to target? 

Mobile users, of course. 

So, how do you reach them? 

Well, on their mobiles. 

Enter, SMS marketing. 

In the past, linking to an app download page wouldn’t have been the easiest of tasks. 

You’d have had to consult with your developers to get a custom link created in order to send people to anywhere other than a web page. In short, the reason for this is because a deep link acts as a bridge between web-based and mobile applications, so they don’t function like a regular link. 

Luckily, with Rebrandly’s deep linking feature, you can easily create these links to send users directly to their respective app store where they’ll be prompted to download your app. 

All you need to do is configure a new app in your dashboard (which is far easier than it sounds) and you’re good to go. 

Simply copy your app’s install link from the app store and paste it into Rebrandly’s app configuration box. 

Once you’ve done that, the rest of the information will automatically populate, so it really is that simple. 

You can then use this deep link in text messages to your customers asking them to download your app, making the user journey super simple. 

Loyalty Programs 

Customer retention is a problem many brands both fear and face every day. With rife competition in every industry, it’s important to reward your customers for being just that – your customers. 

Loyalty programs are a great way to let them know that you value their business, as well as keeping them feeling connected to you. 

Some businesses employ loyalty programs with point systems based on purchases, others reward people for the amount of time they’ve been a customer. There are a whole host of creative ways you can engage with your customer base in this way. 

Sending out rewards, updates on the amount of points someone has in their account or notifications that they’ve unlocked a special free gift (they’re my favorites) are personal touchpoints, so it stands to reason that the medium you use to communicate them should match. 

I don’t know about you, but the amount of promotional emails I receive on a daily basis makes me feel like I’m an influencer (only nothing’s free). Unfortunately, this means that a lot of emails get lost in the noise. 

With text messages, that’s far less likely to happen. 

Wrapping up

There are so many channels available to marketers nowadays that it can seem difficult to know which one is best for your business. 

But, when it comes to SMS marketing, the results speak for themselves. 

At the root of it all, people are (and will probably always be) glued to their phones. Which means that mobile marketing isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. 

Do you use SMS marketing? We’d love to see your examples in the comments! 

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • SMS marketing
  • How to get started with SMS marketing
  • SMS marketing examples

Originally Posted: 12th of August 2019
Last Updated: 22nd of December 2020

Beth is a Marketing Manager at Rebrandly, the URL shortener and link management solution. When she’s not dreaming about generating leads you’ll find her wandering the streets of Dublin with her golden retriever (getting rained on, most likely), or curled up by the fire with a book and a cup of tea.