5 Rules for Effective Text Marketing

Sam Schrup
June 24, 2021
January 11, 2024
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Are you considering trying out text marketing, or trying to improve your current results?

You’re in the right place. Text marketing represents a great opportunity to reach people almost immediately and via a channel they tend to always have close by – their mobile phone.

Just like any marketing initiative, the success of your campaign depends on how effectively you implement it, and for that, there are a few “rules” to help you get results:

Does text marketing get results?

In a word, yes! We love text marketing because we’ve seen the results first-hand to prove that it is an effective channel. For example, while results tend to depend upon the product being promoted, we’re seeing sales conversion rates for “text to buy” campaigns of between 3% and 11%. The average is around 6.5%

Compared to email, text marketing tends to get better conversion rates, although we don’t discount email as a great channel for getting your message out, too. Text tends to lead to more immediate results, especially when you’ve put some planning behind your campaigns…

Man Causally looking at phone

#1. Focus on growing your subscriber list first

From the data we’ve seen, an early strategy for successful text marketing campaigns is to focus on growing your subscriber list for the first month or two. That means merchants shouldn’t be sending offers until they have at least 200 subscribers, otherwise sales numbers probably won’t be worth the effort.

Promote your text marketing program and try to grow your list as much as possible, as that’s where we start to see better results. You can always send one or more email campaigns to your current email list as a way to jumpstart your text subscribers. Consider having a good incentive tied to joining the text list – could it be a welcome discount or a coupon for a product? (AudienceTap offers multiple ways for customers to easily join a merchant’s text list, including embedded forms and keyword signups)

If you have a physical location, one of the easiest ways to get customers to sign up to your text list is by using a keyword signup at the checkout counter. They send one single text message (e.g. “Text JOIN to 12345”) and that’s it!

Another point we would make here is, it’s okay to have a smaller list! You want to have people on your list who look forward to receiving your messages and will respond to them. It can be expensive to have a larger list, but little engagement.

#2. Find the right rhythm for sending messages

You’ve got to know how often to send a text message. Send it too infrequently and you run the risk that people forget who you are and ignore your messages, or worse, report them as spam. If you send them too often, people will get annoyed and may unsubscribe.

So what is the right pace? It really comes down to the initial expectations that you’ve set for your customers upon signing up for text messaging. You should try to follow those expectations as closely as possible.

Some texting programs are centered on deals or discounts. They may promise a daily deal, or even a weekly deal sent via text. Other text programs are less defined (which is okay!), but if that’s you, we’d recommend finding a cadence that gets results. This may take some trial and error to figure out.

At a minimum, we recommend sending out a text message at least once per week.

#3. Messages don’t always have to be about sales

Selling products doesn’t have to be your only goal for text marketing. Sure, customers often like to receive discounts or offers, but mixing it up a bit and having other goals (such as generating awareness or engagement) can help to hold their interest.

You could also try sprinkling in educational or other valuable content to spark engagement. For example, a cosmetics brand might send a text linking to information about a daily skincare routine. Bonus points if they’ve segmented their list by interest or skin type and send only a skincare routine that is a good match for the subscriber. These types of texts have the added benefit of driving customers to your website, a smart move for SEO.


#4. Hone your message content

What should your messages contain? It depends upon the type of campaign you are sending. For example, product campaigns like “reply to buy” should include everything the customer needs to know about the product, including price, shipping cost (if any) and whether they will pay sales tax. Customers are very unlikely to reply “yes” to buying if they can’t see exactly what they’re agreeing to in payment.

If the product is being offered at a discount, this should definitely be highlighted. Psychology is at work whenever discounts are involved. For example, when people see a message like “was $150, Sale price: $99”, they size up how much of a “deal” they think they’re getting. Customers often don’t want to “miss out” on a deal!

You also should include good product descriptions and images – if people have questions, they’re not going to reply to buy. AudienceTap has a new integration with Shopify that can help with this. All product information – including descriptions – can be copied directly from products in your Shopify catalogue.

What about marketing campaigns that aren’t tied to a product? The message can be used to convey any type of information to subscribers. Generate excitement about upcoming events or storewide sales, make announcements, send educational content and links to product categories on your website. To make those messages more effective, hone your copy so people are enticed to click through. So you might provide a bit less specific information than a “reply to buy” message, but enough that the customer wants to find out more. The best copy tends to take a “less is more” approach and gives enough to stir interest, but doesn’t get too lengthy.

#5. Remember different marketing preferences

Here’s our fifth “rule” – remember that different people have different marketing preferences! That means just because you personally don’t like to receive texts, doesn’t mean that others feel the same way.

There can be a tendency among some marketers or business owners to assume that people won’t want to receive texts, which then often means that they don’t put the most effort into developing their text marketing program as they could. Don’t assume! Multiple studies have found consumers who state a preference for receiving marketing messages via text.

If you’re going to offer text marketing, offer it wholeheartedly and by focusing on the benefits to the customer. You’re not “being a pain” if the customer has opted for it!

Final thoughts

These were just a handful of rules for effective text marketing based on what we’ve observed over time and multiple campaigns. Importantly, spend time testing, revising and figuring out what works best for your business and your own customers.

Text is a channel with a lot of untapped potential. Try out text marketing with AudienceTap by scheduling your product tour.

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