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How to Run an Effective, Data-Driven SMS Marketing Program

Author: Saumil Mehta, General Manager of Customers

Text message marketing, also known as SMS marketing, continues to be a proven powerful tool that enables businesses to immediately and effectively connect with customers. For example, Square found in its Omnichannel Commerce Report that marketing members that open a coupon spend almost 60% more than those not enrolled in the marketing program.

But while some businesses understand why to use SMS marketing, many might be trying to grasp how to get their marketing program started and set up for success. Below are some tips on how you can run an effective SMS marketing program that benefits you and your customers.

Define Your Goals

Before diving into sending marketing messages, businesses need to sit down and outline clear goals of what they’re trying to achieve. For some it might be building brand identity, while for others it could be building a customer base for increased sales, among other reasons.

Businesses can start by using S.M.A.R.T goals that outline the following: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This strategy can help you achieve your goals by ultimately understanding the what, how, and when so businesses can have defined objectives and hold themselves accountable. For example, a goal for Specific could be to increase customer engagement, while a goal for Achievable can be to put signage at the POS offering an incentive of 10% off their next order after signing up for your SMS marketing program.

Set Clear Opt-in Guidance

Like email marketing, SMS is a permission-based channel and requires consumers to opt-in to receive messages. Customers can enroll in SMS marketing programs at checkout or by texting a business’ unique phone number, shared through social media, email, or at a physical location.

Whatever way opt-in is collected, it needs to be obvious to the customer that they have consented to receiving these messages to avoid confusion and potential opt-outs.

Send the Right Messages at the Right Time

It’s important to send SMS messages that are thoughtful and concise (keeping in mind the 160-character limit) to ensure customers feel like they’re being respected, and not spammed, by your messages. Businesses also need to avoid abbreviations and all caps, while ensuring messages have an explicit purpose like sharing information on a sale, event, or other occasion.

Just as you don’t like receiving messages early in the morning or late at night, your customers are the same. Try and share marketing messages between late morning and early evening, and then check your campaign results and adjust accordingly!

Create a Clear, Effective CTA

You should use a call-to-action (CTA) to increase engagement so that consumers are more likely to act on your campaigns. For example, businesses can encourage customers to “Buy Now” by sharing a link to a routinely purchased product, “Click Here” for a gift card encouraging customers to come in and shop, or RSVP for an upcoming event.

Make everything timely by setting a specific date when a sale ends, expiration on a coupon, and details of an upcoming event to further entice customers to engage with your business.

Know Your Customers

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software manages your sales, marketing, customer support, and contacts in a single system with the goal of improving customer relationships. CRM will also analyze purchase history and location-based demographics if you’re a multi-location business.

When sending SMS marketing messages, you can utilize lists of new customers, lapsed customers, and regular customers so you can create smart campaigns for every audience. This might be incentivizing new customers with a coupon to make their first purchase or targeting regular customers with updates that popular items are restocked.

Measure What Works and use Data to Make Smart Decisions

With an integrated POS system, marketing messages are linked to your sales history so you can track the revenue and visits generated from each campaign, and never have to guess if your time and money were well spent. This includes attributed sales per campaign, open rates, and cost per message.

Businesses can use these insights to determine which messages are working and which aren’t, enabling you to refine and improve your next campaign for increased ROI and performance.

To get started with Square’s Text Message Marketing, visit

Image: Square

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