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The Beginner’s Guide to SMS Marketing: The Benefits, Strategies & Tools

Here's everything you need to know about SMS marketing, how to set up abandoned cart campaigns, advanced targeting, SMS strategies, giveaways, and more.

Ben Kazinik
By Ben Kazinik
Natalie Stenge
Edited by Natalie Stenge

Updated December 7, 2023.

The Beginner’s Guide to SMS Marketing: The Benefits, Strategies & Tools main image

When was the last time you got a text and didn’t open it? Never right? We have this urge to open and read every text we receive. And that’s probably why SMS marketing has become one of the most effective marketing channels on the planet.

In this post, we break down what SMS marketing is, why you should use it, and the various tools and strategies you should leverage to grow SMS into a viable marketing channel.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS stands for short message service and it’s the format for written communication on mobile phones. SMS marketing is the use of text messages to promote a product or service. People receive SMS marketing messages daily and they are a great engagement opportunity for brands.

Studies show that 90% of SMS texts are read and responded to within 3 mins, 48% of consumers prefer text message communication and 90% prefer SMS over direct phone calls. Text messages also have a response rate of 45%, which is several times larger than it is for email marketing.


SMS marketing is powerful because you can use it to create automated notifications and targeted campaigns for specific segments of your audience. Ecommerce SMS campaigns are especially effective in bringing users back through the funnel and increasing sales.

Why should you use SMS marketing?

Let's take a deep dive into why text message marketing is such an effective channel. The benefits of SMS marketing include:

Higher engagement

Most people have short attention spans and text messages are the best way to engage with them. Studies show that 90% of SMS texts are read in the first 3 minutes and they have a 98% open rate (way higher than even the 50% that transactional emails get). Also, text messages combined with email marketing yield a 47.7% higher conversion rate.



SMS marketing is easily trackable because just like with emails, you could see who opened a message and when. You can even take that data and combine it with data from your email marketing campaigns to see the bigger picture.

It’s particularly useful if you’re setting up an omnichannel marketing campaign and using more than one channel to communicate with your customers.

Immediate delivery

SMS messages take an average of 3 seconds to deliver and the notifications pop up instantly as these text messages do not require Wi-Fi. These messages go straight to your customers’ phones and most people carry their phones on them.

More personalized

Text messaging is a more personal way to communicate. It feels more personal when your phone dings in your pocket. It improves customer interactions as opposed to email or social media.



Texting is everywhere. Every phone has a built-in text-messaging feature that doesn’t require registration or download. It makes it super easy to reach prospects and improve the experience of existing customers.

SMS marketing strategy

Now that you know what text message marketing is and why you should use it, let’s talk about strategies that can turn your audience into loyal customers. There are a lot of SMS strategies out there, and brands need to carefully pick the ones that would work for their audience.

Here are the top ones you should use:

Sending coupons

Studies show that around 90% of consumers used coupons in 2020 and over 50% prefer to get them on their mobile devices. Coupons are a great way to make your customers feel special and create a positive first impression in their customer journey.


Setting up cart abandonment flows

Mobile phones have an average cart abandonment rate of 81% so you definitely need to create a cart abandonment flow and send between 1 to 3 automated text messages to each customer.


Sending shipping and delivery notifications

Not everything is about promoting your product, transactional messages are equally important. Send shipping updates and delivery notifications to help customers track their purchases. These are super important customer touchpoints and it’s really easy to set them up and send them automatically through your email and SMS tool.

Running a giveaway

Another thing you can do with SMS is run a giveaway. Giveaways help increase customer engagement and boost loyalty. You could offer your products, services, or cash to winners of a campaign to promote your brand. You could also run a contest for the best user-generated photo or video of your product.


Using photos and videos

Make it personal. Use GIFs, memes, and cool videos to make your SMS campaign stand out. Don’t be too formal or aloof. You can even send out a picture of your team like SuperCoffee did here:

These are sometimes called MMS messages. A multimedia message (MMS) is a text message with an attached file such as a photo, video, or website link.

5 Examples of creative SMS campaigns

Here are five examples of creative SMS campaigns used by popular brands. Take some of these ideas and see how you could work them for your audience.

SMS teaser campaign by HBO

The teaser campaign is used to build excitement before a product launch. HBO tapped into SMS marketing by using a teaser campaign for the upcoming launch of Season Six of Game of Thrones. They wanted to engage their fans during the summer hiatus preceding the launch and lock in anticipation. They sent interactive content to SMS subscribers through text.

The campaign included a link to a temporary video of a sneak peek preview of the upcoming season. About 70,000 subscribers signed up within the first two months of launching the campaign.

Reward campaign by Starbucks

Starbucks has one of the most famous rewards and loyalty programs on the planet which generates over 53% of its total revenue. The company has over 25 million users and regularly uses SMS marketing for its loyalty and rewards campaigns.

They first send an SMS message to their subscribers informing them of a contest and offering a prize reward for signing up for summer alerts. Then, they follow up with a video about an in-store special offer.


Loyalty campaign by Orange

EE Mobile (previously known as Orange) used SMS messages for a campaign they called Orange Wednesdays, where they offered two-for-one tickets. Every Wednesday they would send out a text with a discount, and all customers had to do was text a code back to that number. The campaign was so successful it lasted for ten years and helped increase sales and build a loyal fan base for the company.

Freebies Campaign by Chipotle

Chipotle is a popular chain of restaurants that regularly uses SMS marketing to communicate with customers. During the NBA finals, they offered $1 million worth of free burritos. Fans only had to text a number and an SMS short code listed on Chipotle's Twitter page to redeem their free burrito. As you can imagine, this campaign was a huge hit and helped create a lot of awareness for one of America’s most popular Mexican food chains.

Treasure Truck Campaign by Amazon

Amazon launched its famous Treasure Truck in 2016, which is an SMS campaign that offered customers exclusive daily items and monthly deals. By subscribing via text customers gained access to these deals and could pick them up at different locations around the city.

The program was so successful that Amazon expanded it to 100 trucks in 25 major cities, and was able to gain millions of text subscribers.

The best SMS marketing software to use

Here are the best tools you should use to launch your SMS marketing campaign.



Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform for both email and SMS marketing that was founded in 2012. It has a whole variety of features including sign-up forms, eCommerce automation, and pre-built templates. It helps you build customized flows and use predictive analytics to improve the performance of your Klaviyo SMS marketing.

Pricing: starts at $35/month for 1250 monthly messages with 251-500 contacts.

Want to learn more about using Klaviyo successfully? Here’s a quick Klaviyo guide to get you started. Or maybe you want to learn how to use Klaviyo in Shopify?

Or maybe you’re searching for a Klaviyo partner or Klaviyo freelancer to help you kickstart your SMS marketing journey? We can help you -- let’s chat and we’ll match you with the best expert in a matter of days.

EZ texting


EZtexting is an SMS marketing platform that launched in 2006 and helps businesses to send bulk messages to their customers. Its features include MMS picture messaging, dedicated short codes, contact management, two-way texting, and text-to-landline features.

Pricing: starts at $24 per month for 200 contacts and includes a free trial.



Omnisend is an eCommerce email marketing automation platform. Its features include easy migration tools, multi-store accounts, and more than 80 integrations to other channels and apps. It’s a bit cheaper than Klaviyo and has some more advanced automation features.

Pricing: starts at $59 per month + free trial.



Attentive is another great choice for your conversational SMS campaigns. It provides all the tools for delivering timely messages to customers. Its features include integrations, audience management, compliance, and deliverability.

Pricing: custom.

Sparkcentral by Hootsuite


Spark central by Hootsuite is a unified dashboard with a ton of integrations to WhatsApp business, social media platforms, live chat, and SMS. The tool helps manage customer relationships across all of these platforms in one place and has a variety of features including publishing, engagement, advertising, monitoring, and advanced data analytics.

Pricing: custom, built for enterprise-level companies.


SMS marketing is the most effective channel of communication and this isn't changing anytime soon. It has the highest rate of engagement, is cost-effective, and has a high return on investment.

There are 3 key ingredients to a good SMS strategy:

  1. Use the right SMS tool for your needs
  2. Set up your SMS campaigns and automated flows
  3. A/B test and optimize

So what are you waiting for? Need some help getting started? Meet one of our top SMS experts.