The Ultimate SMS Marketing Guide

sms marketing guide

Table of Contents

SMS Marketing: A General Overview

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing is the most attention-grabbing, immediate, and convenient way for businesses to reach their customers in today’s marketplace. This guide will help you discover why texting is the most powerful communication channel for businesses, along with best practices sourced from industry experts.

But first: why is texting so much more effective than email or even mobile apps? Find a better way to REACH:

  • Revenue: Because of a sky-high read and response rates many organizations see an immediate impact on their bottom line from texting.
  • Efficiency: SMS Automation increases efficiency by expediting work processes, reducing chores, and eliminating human errors.
  • Automation: Advanced automation can boost the effectiveness of your staff because they will be freed up to focus on pressing issues instead of doing tedious tasks that can be automated.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Since email and paper advertisements are slow and untargeted, the speed and accuracy of texting will lead to more satisfied customers.
  • Happy Employees: Your employees will be happier because repetitive chores will be streamlined. Also HR communication is streamlined with messages about employee benefits, events, alerts, and policy changes.
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Why should you use SMS Marketing?

In the past 5 years, nearly ⅓ of consumers have signed up for marketing alerts from brands, and ⅔ of those who subscribed have taken advantage of an offer sent to them and made a purchase.

All of this means that the implementation of an SMS marketing strategy can bring significant ROI for many brands, increasing web and in-store traffic, helping generate sales, and building relationships with customers. Here are some amazing statistics:

SMS Marketing Statistics

sms marketing guide

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Features to Look For in SMS Software

In order to realize all the benefits of the above strategic benefits, you need more than basic features in SMS software.

Basic features you should look for:

  • Easy ways to add contacts, like importing contacts, online signup pages, and keyword signups.
  • The ability to schedule messages ahead of time.
  • Simple automation like automated responses and appointment reminders.
  • Support that actually answers your calls.

Advanced features you should look for:

  • Message Targeting — Indiscriminate message blasting is a surefire way to lose subscribers.
  • Advanced Automation — Intelligent workflows can carry out tasks, that otherwise would have been manual chores, and can boost productivity.
  • Customizability — Being able to customize workflows and personalize messages is vital to carrying out your business objectives instead of being stuck with preset processes set by software.
  • Multiple Channels — Texting is powerful, and it does even more when it is fully synchronized with email instead of sending independently managed emails.
  • A Focus on Compliance — Mass texting can lead to possible fines if regulations are not followed.

Types of Texting Campaigns


Broadcasts are messages you send to your entire (or a large portion of) customer base. They can be scheduled ahead of time so that all of your users get the message at the same time. Broadcasts are ideal for sending things like general messages about an upcoming event or sale.

Appointment Reminders

SMS appointment reminders are targeted messages for specific users or groups so that you can remind them of an appointment or event they are interested in. Depending on the texting software you use, you can also prompt your audience to confirm or cancel their appointments so you can get an accurate headcount.

User Polls

User polls are questions you send directly to your subscribers in order to get their views on a product or service. User polls can only be sent to existing subscribers.


Text-to-vote campaigns allow your audience to text in to vote for things to determine a winner. This is perfect for things like mobile marketing campaigns or for fun things like live polls at sporting events.


Text-to-win campaigns are when contacts text a mobile keyword into your dedicated short code in order to enter into a contest with a prize. Customers wouldn’t normally expect to receive ongoing updates after enrolling in a contest, so be sure to include a disclaimer if you plan to contact them again. Support for Text-to-win campaigns may depend upon texting code-type.


Since text messaging has a high read rate, mobile offers are some of the most effective SMS marketing campaigns. To drive sales to your stores or online, you need to send effective and targeted messages to entice customers to spend their money.

SMS Coupons

SMS coupons are just like paper coupons, but they can be redeemed through a phone. Text coupons are also simpler for customers to remember to bring than traditional printed coupons. In fact, SMS coupons are redeemed 10x more often than paper ones.

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SMS Marketing Case Studies

Now we want to cover how some real Trumpia customers have used SMS marketing to make a big splash with their audience.

Jamba Juice of Bakersfield

used SMS marketing to increase their store’s traffic by 10%.

“Trumpia’s SMS marketing provides us with the most direct, immediate and affordable way to connect with local residents and quickly build a loyal following. The return on investment we’ve enjoyed since we began using Trumpia’s platform has been tremendous.”

– Brett Thomas, Owner of Jamba Juice Bakersfield

University of Wisconsin HELP System

used SMS marketing to reach their students and increase applications across all 26 campuses.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way Trumpia helped us engage students throughout the application process. Being able to automatically send individualized reminders to students, instead of a generic mass one, has been a real plus for us. This has enabled us to help thousands of students get the registration and scholarship information they need on time.”

– Randy Parvin, Senior Student Services Coordinator, UW HELP

Mariners Church

use SMS marketing to keep more members in the loop about church functions and activities.

“With Trumpia’s text messaging software, you can reach who you need to reach instantly, no matter where they are.”

– Blair Farley, Director of Communications at Mariners Church


beat their record for attendance by 83% when they used text marketing to increase their admissions.

“With Trumpia’s text marketing solution, there is a way to track campaigns and see how traffic is being driven to the store, which is very important to us. We’ve been happy with the success so far and are looking forward to new ideas and promotional campaigns we can run with this software.”

– Greg Fefferman, Owner, Jump A Roos

Jack’s Surfboards

got a wave of customers to a special event that resulted in $6,000 in sales within just 5 hours.

“It’s especially powerful to be able to run last minute promotions, using the immediate delivery of mobile text, and still achieve phenomenal results.”

– Nicole Stratton, Marketing Coordinator

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How Different Industries Use SMS Marketing

In this section of our SMS marketing guide, we want to cover how different types of businesses and organizations have used text marketing to further their goals. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will help new businesses understand how SMS marketing can help them meet their goals. Support for SMS use cases may depend upon the number type that you use.

Retail – Get Customers In For Sales

Because 98% of texts get read, it is the most effective way to promote your upcoming sales and increase in-store traffic.

  • Build your subscriber database with mobile keywords that customers can text to receive deal alerts and coupons.
  • Make new product announcements to your customers.
  • Send more information about items to your customers to drive interest in your online or in-store offerings.

Churches – Grow Your Congregation

Texting allows for a more convenient way for new members to learn about and join your church.

  • When a new member texts your keyword, you can forward them a link to your church’s website to learn more or to sign up for your newsletter.
  • Set up a text-to-donate keyword to give congregants an easy way to contribute.
  • Invite new members to participate in ministries and send event reminders automatically.

Marketing – Boost Engagement & Revenue

With a 98% read rate vs email’s 22%, text messaging is the perfect tool to increase customer interest and maximize your ROI.

  • Run text-to-win promotions to build your subscriber database and increase your audience.
  • Increase in-store traffic and revenue with mobile coupons and promotions.
  • Sort customers into separate lists to send only relevant messages, which will get you better results.

Universities – Reach Prospective Students

Texting helps you better reach prospective students to better market your university to them and increase your attendance.

  • Sort prospective students by their majors and interests, so they only get relevant messages.
  • Send MMS pictures and videos of your campus to entice prospective students to visit.
  • Send automated reminders for approaching application and financial aid deadlines.

Car Dealerships – Sell More Cars

Getting the message out about new models or an upcoming sale can be a tall order. Luckily, texting allows you to better reach your customers through:

  • Send promotions about upcoming holiday sales or new models coming into stock.
  • Send text promotions when you are having a sale as well as MMS picture messages of your new cars to entice customers.
  • Send automated reminders to interested customers when a model they are interested in is on sale or available for a test drive.

Hotels – Boost Revenue Year Round

Mass texting is the ideal solution for hotels and the hospitality industry to have their messages seen and keep their reservations booked year-round.

  • Increase reservations and sales during the off-season by sending text promotions like discounts or spa packages.
  • Promote your mobile app by sending them a text link to download. With a nearly 6x higher click-through rate than email, you’ll see a strong boost in app downloads.
  • Sending offers based on the guest’s location or price range.

Political Campaigns – Rally Your Supporters

Maximize engagement and donations, as texts have a better response rate than phone or email outreach.

  • Increase signups for campaign alerts through mobile keywords and online forms.
  • Automatically send event reminders to make sure you have a great turnout for your rallies and events.
  • Text supporters a link to your giving page to help you crowdfund for your cause.

Recruiting – Increase the Number of Candidates

For the same reasons you prefer texting with your friends over calling them, SMS is the most effective communication channel for recruiting.

  • Market your business to recruits, and send new job openings to interested candidates.
  • Cut down on no-shows for job fairs and interviews with automated reminders.
  • Easily collect more candidates by having them simply text your keyword or fill out your OSP on your website.

Real Estate – Market Your Listings

Texting is a simple and cost-effective way to advertise your openings and quickly find interested buyers.

  • Advertise your text keyword at every property to capture more interested buyers and give them an easy way to learn more about your property.
  • Advertise more effectively by sending property listings that match what the potential buyer is looking for.
  • Send interested buyers updates or MMS pictures of your properties. You can also quickly answer their questions with landline texting.

Restaurants – Send Promotions to Customers

98% of text messages are read, making it the most effective way to reach your patrons.

  • Send text promotions and reservation reminders, making sure your tables stay full year-round.
  • Send mobile coupons to attract the 77% that are more likely to go to a restaurant during off-peak times if they received a discount.
  • Announce upcoming specials through texting or picture messaging. Send MMS pictures of your menu items to entice customers.

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The Trumpia SMS Marketing Advantage

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what SMS marketing is, we will cover what makes Trumpia uniquely positioned to help anyone carry out SMS marketing and get the highest ROI with the best results possible.


Set your campaigns on autopilot, saving valuable time and effort. Trumpia automatically carries out tasks for you, dynamically interacting with subscribers based on their behavior and profile. 

Examples of Advanced Automation

  • Trumpia’s Automated Workflows carry out messaging campaigns for you without the need to code or manage the system on a day-to-day basis. After you set it and forget it, our software will take care of the rest, saving you valuable time and completing complex tasks that would be impossible to do manually. Plus, our Automated Workflow builder Workbench has templates that you can customize in seconds. Or we can build them for you!
  • Trumpia’s intelligent automation can dynamically interact with your subscribers based on how they respond to your messages. This means it can automatically answer common questions or send customers to the correct information without tying up your employees on the phone.
  • Trumpia’s text keywords go beyond simply getting you a contact’s name because our Data Capture allows you to collect more information from your contacts by asking them questions and recording their answers so you can better target them.

Smart Targeting

Trumpia’s Smart Targeting automatically sorts contacts into separate distribution groups based on criteria you collect, from customer characteristics and specific interests to their behavior.

  • Unlike traditional SMS marketing services that can only send a mass of untargeted messages, Trumpia’s Smart Targeting gets you results by maintaining your customer satisfaction and making sure they don’t feel spammed.
  • Our Dynamic Targets keep your filtered distribution lists organized in real-time, automatically updating whenever a new subscriber is added, a contact unsubscribes or an existing profile gets updated.

H3 – Truly Customized Campaigns

Trumpia is truly customizable and you can tailor it to fit your operations, not the other way around. With the power of our drag-and-drop workflow builder, you can simply build your desired workflow with Workbench, no coding required. 

Our software will then carry out operations in a way that makes sense for your business, all automatically. If you don’t want to build it, we have prebuilt applets that can be edited using the same workflow builder. Just find the closest use case applet and start editing it. If you like, we can build it for you too.

Multi-channel Messaging

Trumpia isn’t just for SMS, we provide a sophisticated way to integrate email marketing with texting so that your campaigns are coordinated and reduce irrelevant messages. This orchestrated campaign between SMS and email is a powerful combination that neither email nor texting alone can achieve.

  • Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages enable you to send vivid pictures and videos, immediately grabbing your audience’s attention.
  • Our email comes with many of the same advanced capabilities that SMS does, like templates, targeting, message scheduling, and even automation.
  • Voice messaging is still very common. Our system lets you broadcast a recorded message to your subscribers.

If you use an email solution that is not fully integrated with your text campaign, either the SMS features are too basic or you may be annoying your subscribers by sending duplicate messages across different channels.

Lifecycle Engagement

Trumpia prides itself on something none of our competitors can match – Lifecycle Engagement. This means our platform is more than just a toolbox, it works for you to automatically engage your subscribers every time they interact with our system. We help you build meaningful customer journeys instead of isolated messaging campaigns.

  • From initial signup, through nurturing, conversion, and the feedback loop, our system can engage subscribers based on their historical behavior and collected profile data.
  • By providing tailored, targeted, and intelligent service, customers are more likely to become advocates for your business.

Unprecedented Support and Consulting

We are more than a solid software platform. What makes our solution a success for our customers is our:

  • 365-day support
  • 9-minute average response
  • Live phone support 
  • Campaign consultation
  • Compliance training
  • Dedicated account managers (Advanced Plans only)

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Tips for a Successful SMS Marketing Campaign: Do’s & Don’ts 

Getting Started with Your Campaigns

Major brands like Coca Cola, CostCo, Amazon, and Kroger have turned to SMS marketing because of the proven effectiveness to drive customer traffic to their business. Here are a few proven do’s and don’ts for text marketing:


☑ Have a Goal

Ask yourself what your business wants to achieve with SMS marketing. More in-store traffic? Increased online sales? Better brand awareness? Having an idea of what you want to accomplish makes it easier for you to build a winning SMS marketing campaign.

☑ Create an Incentive to Opt-in

Contacts won’t always opt themselves in even if they are a big fan of your company. That’s why you need to create a compelling reason to join your marketing lists. It can be as simple as sending them a coupon for 10% off or promising them monthly sales alerts to keep them interested and engaged with your brand.

☑ Make Sure Your Messages are Engaging

A message that simply says “We’re having a sale today” isn’t going to light a fire under a customer to take advantage of your great deals. You need to include a sense of urgency but also be inviting so that your customer wants to make the trip to your store or order online. You can even send customers attractive MMS messages with pictures of your products and coupons they can redeem.

☑ Have a Call to Action

Sending an attractive message is great, but if you don’t give a customer a reason to follow a link to your online store or motivate them to head to a brick and mortar store for a sale, then you won’t get amazing results. Luckily a call to action is easy! Take a look at this message: “Swing by our store by 9pm tonight for 30% off your purchase of any top-shelf beauty products.“ That is a great call to action because it sets a timeframe so that a customer is motivated to visit your store and has a strong incentive for the customer to follow through on.

☑ Track Your Results

A great marketing campaign isn’t going to be as effective without metrics to track your success. An SMS marketing software should be able to give you valuable metrics like click through rates, response rates, redemption rates for coupons, and more. When you see what’s working and what’s not, you can adjust your campaigns on the fly and boost your business even more.


☒ Send Unwanted Messages

Sending messages to customers without their consent is not only a bad strategy, it’s illegal! You have to receive a customer’s explicit consent in order to start texting them. But it can go beyond just that, if you send a customer that did opt in to your campaign an offer they aren’t interested in or too many messages in a short time frame, they will likely opt-out because they will see this as spam. Make every message count!

☒ Send Texts at the Wrong Time

Sending a message too early or too late in the day can alienate your customers and lead to both opt-outs or complaints to your customer service team. With an SMS marketing platform, you can schedule your messages to be sent at the best possible time, automatically. For example, if you want to send your holiday promotions to your customers, sending them during the morning might be more effective so customers can plan their shopping days and increase the likelihood they will make it into your stores.

Collecting Numbers

How to Get Opt-Ins

There are three ways to collect opt-ins. We’ve already covered mobile keywords and online signup pages, but another way to get opt-ins are with written disclosures. These allow you to send marketing messages to customers, but to do so you must have prior express written consent. You can get this by including the option for customers to opt themselves in to receive your marketing texts when they fill out forms or visit your website and fill out a form.

Do’s and Don’ts of Collecting Contacts

Do :

  • Provide proper disclosures on advertisements.
  • Get written consent or e-signatures from all subscribers before sending text messages.
  • Log all proof of consent in case it is requested.
  • Use double opt in for Online Signup Pages, which automatically sends a confirmation text to the new subscriber.

Don’t :

  • Buy lists because you do not have consent from those contacts.
  • Send promotional messages if they didn’t consent to promotional messages.
  • Follow all CTIA and Carrier guidelines for prohibited content. Prohibited content includes:
    • Hate Speech
    • Firearms
    • Illegal Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
    • Gambling
    • Death Threats
    • Adult Content
  • Mislead customers on the content or frequency of messages they will receive.
  • Assume that customers have given consent to receive messages. Mistakes can happen.
  • Send a message before you get consent to do so. This includes messages asking them to opt in.

Importing Contacts

So now that you’ve done the hard work of advertising your messaging program, creating proper disclosures, and collecting contacts, it’s time for the last step: importing contacts. Importing your existing opted-in contacts by hand could be a substantial investment in manpower. Luckily, many SMS platforms like Trumpia have an option to import your contacts into your database for you. It’s often as simple as formatting your contact list in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs and uploading it to your texting software. That’s it!

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Staying Compliant with Texting Laws


Before you send a message, you need to know a few things. There are various laws and regulations that are enforced regarding how you send messages, how you gain consent, and who you are allowed to message. Here’s what you need to know about the two most important pieces of legislation:


The TCPA, or Telephone Consumer Protection Act, is a federal law regulating promotions and messaging by phone. It includes the following major points:

  • You must have prior written consent before messaging.
  • Clear and conspicuous disclosures at the point of opt-in must alert subscribers of the messaging terms.
  • Solicitation messaging requires proof of consent. Evidence may include electronic opt-ins via mobile keyword and online signup pages. Written consent may be evidenced by paper signup forms explicitly describing SMS messaging content.
  • Non-solicitation messages (e.g., internal communications, emergency alerts) require at a minimum documented written or verbal consent.
  • Solicitation messages may be sent only from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., recipient’s time.
  • Messaging programs must allow opt-outs by any reasonable means, and senders may not restrict opt-out methods.
  • Every TCPA violation is subject to a fine of up to $1,500 per each message sent per recipient.

For more information, please refer to the following resources:


The CTIA, or the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, is an organization created by mobile carriers to regulate message content and frequency. The following types of content are strictly prohibited by the CTIA:

  • Adult content (e.g., nude dancing clubs, escort services)
  • Illegal or illicit drugs (e.g., marijuana)
  • Alcohol, tobacco, or firearms
  • Gambling
  • Violence, death-related messages, hatred, or profanity

For more information, please refer to the following resources:

Why Are These Regulations in Place?

Texting is the most powerful communication channel available, making it both highly effective and easy to abuse. Because of this, the government and wireless carriers have regulations in place, including the TCPA and CTIA. These regulations need to be taken very seriously, as fines or other legal proceedings can be brought about through improper use of this platform.

Common Misconceptions and Myths About SMS Marketing

Is it legal?

Yes it is. The government requires that anyone you message has to opt themselves in to receive these messages. This can be done in a variety of ways, including posting text keywords that customers text in to opt in, as well as online signup pages that allow contacts to opt in voluntarily. 

In addition, if you have the proper consent from contacts to receive SMS marketing messages, you can import their information into your marketing software.

Is it expensive?

No, in fact it is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels! Every text message you send to a customer costs fractions of a cent. When you compare SMS marketing to radio, paper, or TV ads, the return on your investment is extensive. 

Text messaging companies typically sell “credits” that translate to a certain number of text messages. Text credit costs can vary by country due to service fees, and MMS messages typically cost more because more data is sent.

Do people want to receive marketing texts?

Yes! In fact, 89% of consumers say they want to send and receive text messages to communicate with a business. Of course, you have to have the contact’s permission to send them these texts, but having your contacts opt-in to receive your messages is quick and easy.

Is text marketing common?

It’s not only common, it’s becoming one of the most popular ways to market to customers as certain industries realize the power and reach of text message marketing. Companies large and small now leverage SMS marketing to facilitate engagement and drive success.

Getting Started with SMS Marketing


Text Keyword

A text keyword is any word you select for your customers to text in order to subscribe for your alerts. When a customer texts in your keyword, a text messaging software will automatically capture their phone number and store it in your database. In an ad reading, “Text ‘DEALS’ to 99000 to join our texting campaign, ”DEALS” is the text keyword.

Online Signup Page

An online signup page, or OSP for short, allows you to opt subscribers into your mobile campaigns while simultaneously gathering more information about them like their name, interests, and more.

Short Code

SMS short codes are 5- to 6-digit numbers that are exclusively for text messaging. They are “short”, easier to remember, easy to text on the go, and allow for high throughput mass messaging.

Shared Short Code

These were discontinued by carriers in 2021, but they were short codes that were shared by multiple users. While this helped to lower their cost, it also opened them up to being shut down if one of the users sharing the code misuses it or is non-compliant with their messaging.

Dedicated Short Code

These short codes operate exactly the same as their shared variant, but are only used by a single organization. This opens them up to a wider potential variety of campaigns, including text-to-win and text-to-donate programs. You also get to choose any keyword, rather than worrying about whether or not someone else has already claimed it.

Long Code

Long Codes are the 10-digit phone numbers that we are all familiar with. Along with being more readily recognizable as a phone number than short codes, long codes offer the added benefit of being able to use the same number for both calls and texting. They are also sometimes referred to as 10DLC (10- digit long code).

Short (or Shortened) Link

A short link is a web link containing relatively few characters that redirects to a longer web link. These are helpful because they allow you to fit longer URLs into your text messages.

Landline Texting

Landline Texting enables your business’s existing landline or toll-free number to send and receive text messages. This way, people can get immediate interaction with your business without interrupting their busy day by being stuck on a long phone call or playing email tag.


Toll-free numbers are a great number option because they give you the power and flexibility of dedicated short codes, but at a fraction of the cost.


Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages enable you to send pictures and videos, making them great for grabbing your audience’s attention and keeping your marketing fun and engaging.

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