The marketers guide to getting started with SMS marketing

Katie Morley

Aug 2, 2023

The marketers guide to getting started with SMS marketing Featured Image
Katie Morley

Aug 2, 2023

Hands up if you’ve avoided looking at your screen time because you know just how long you’ve spent on your phone this week.

Most of us are guilty of it. For many, our phones are a lifeline – and while that does present problems for those who can’t resist scrolling on social media until the early hours, it’s a huge advantage for marketers looking to reach customers on their favorite devices.

And brands around the world are tapping into this: Nike launched a huge Times Square billboard campaign, Orange Wednesdays offered text-in two-for-one film tickets, and Papa John’s Pizza campaign are some great examples of how SMS marketing helped brands win big with little effort.

There’s little doubt SMS marketing is a powerful tool for engaging with audiences in a direct and immediate way.  So we’re here to get you started. 

In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of SMS marketing, exploring what it actually is, its best practices, the benefits it offers to businesses, and, of course, how to get started. We’ll also make sure you’re aware of all the compliance and regulations that you need to optimize SMS campaigns for maximum impact.

(Try not to get distracted by your phone as we walk through this).

Table of Contents
  1. What is SMS Marketing?

  2. Types of SMS

  3. Benefits of SMS Marketing

  4. SMS Marketing Best Practices

  5. How to Start SMS Marketing with Insider

  6. Must-know SMS compliance and regulations

  7. Reach your customers within seconds with SMS marketing

  8. FAQs about SMS Marketing

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing refers to the practice of using short message service (SMS) or text messaging to engage with customers and deliver promotional or informative content. Unlike other marketing channels, SMS marketing boasts open rates of up to 98%making it one of the most powerful tools for reaching and engaging with customers. 

From two-way messaging to bulk promotional blasts, by leveraging the convenience of SMS, businesses can capture attention, deliver compelling messages, and drive desired actions from their target audience.

Types of SMS

There are a few different kinds of messages that you can send to your customers using SMS. Here are the most common types for brands to send to their customers.

1. Bulk SMS

As the name suggests, bulk SMS involves sending messages to a broad audience in one go. This is a cost-effective way of message delivery that is also quick and safe. Bulk messages are apt for communicating generic new marketing campaigns, promotional offers, and information about events that don’t need to be location-specific.

2. Segmented promotions

Target groups of audiences that match specific criteria and send messages related to that segment. For example, a fashion brand can target all the website visitors who have viewed shoes, and send a message about a limited-time sale on sneakers. 

3. Automated messages

While you can schedule all types of SMS, automated messages refer to triggers set that will kick off your campaign. Some of the most common examples of automated/triggered messages include welcome messages, cart abandonment messages, and price & stock alerts. An advantage of sending automated messages to your customers is that they are real-time, and with engaging copy, are mostly likely to inspire action.

4. Campaign automated messages

We are all about cross-channel journeys here at Insider. Why use one platform to reach your customers when you can use 12+?  Campaign automated messages use the same trigger technology as general automated messages, but they’re part of a wider campaign across multiple platforms. 

Benefits of SMS Marketing

With the best open rates of any marketing channel, it’s unsurprising that SMS marketing offers numerous benefits for businesses.

Let’s explore some of the key advantages of incorporating SMS marketing into your overall marketing strategy.

1. High open and response rates

We’ve already mentioned SMS’ 98% open rates – but did you know email open rates typically range between 20-30%? While we believe in cross-channel journeys across both platforms,  SMS provides immediacy. Businesses can ensure that their time-sensitive promotions and important announcements reach customers promptly, increasing the likelihood of engagement and response.

2. Enhanced customer engagement and loyalty

By using an SMS marketing platform to tailor messages to each individual recipient, businesses can create a sense of exclusivity and personal connection. Customers appreciate the direct and personalized nature of SMS, leading to higher engagement levels and increased loyalty. Furthermore, brands can use personalization to turn SMS into an effective channel for delivering customer-specific offers, discounts, and rewards, incentivizing engagement, and repeat purchases.

3. Increased conversion rates and ROI

By leveraging SMS to deliver targeted and compelling messages, businesses can motivate customers to take desired actions. SMS serves as a powerful tool for driving traffic to websites, landing pages, and physical stores. Whether it’s promoting limited-time offers, announcing flash sales, or sending personalized recommendations, SMS can have a significant impact on boosting conversion rates and ultimately increasing revenue.

SMS Marketing Best Practices

There’s a lot of info out there on how to build the best SMS marketing campaign – but we believe it comes down to timing, balance, and relevancy. In fact, that’s how we believe all marketing campaigns should work, and SMS is no different. 

1. Timing and frequency

The timing of your SMS messages will significantly impact their effectiveness. It’s essential to understand your target audience and consider their daily routines, time zones, and preferences. 

Some general guidelines to keep in mind are:

Weekdays: Sending messages during weekdays, particularly mid-morning (10 am to 12 pm) or late afternoon (4 pm to 6 pm), can yield higher engagement rates when people are less occupied with work or personal commitments.

Avoiding Late Nights and Early Mornings: Respect recipients’ privacy by refraining from sending messages too late at night or early in the morning, considering their sleep patterns.

Frequency is just as important as timing to avoid overwhelming subscribers. To avoid high unsubscribe rates, you could:

  • Allow subscribers to choose their preferred message frequency during the opt-in process.
  • Provide value beyond promotions by including informative content, tips, or exclusive offers to maintain engagement.
  • Actively track subscriber feedback, response rates, and unsubscribe rates to gauge the effectiveness of your frequency. Adjust as needed to ensure a balance.

2. Personalization and Segmentation

By tailoring messages to individual recipients and segmenting your audience, you can significantly enhance engagement and drive better results.

Personalization goes beyond simply addressing a recipient by name. It involves crafting SMS messages that resonate with the recipient’s interests, preferences, and past interactions with your brand. By leveraging customer data and insights, you can create highly relevant and targeted messages that capture attention and foster a deeper connection with your audience. 

Personalized SMS content can include customized offers, product recommendations based on previous purchases, or exclusive promotions through specific customer behaviors or preferences. Such an intimate level of personalization demonstrates that you understand your customers and add value to their experience, resulting in increased engagement and higher conversion rates.


“Insider has helped us employ innovative and highly successful personalization strategies on SMS. We’ve been able to create campaigns on our platforms to drive up conversions, share order related information, boost loyalty and also get customer feedback. Their customer support has been nothing but a delight to assist us in every step of the way. They’ve made the complete experience amazing!”

3. Call-to-Action (CTA) Optimization

Your messages need to have a purpose, and a compelling CTA is essential for driving conversions and encouraging recipients to take the desired action.

As with any marketing campaign,  use action-oriented language that prompts immediate action and highlights the value recipients will gain.

A/B testing can again help optimize CTAs by experimenting with different phrasing, placement, and design. You should also use your marketing platform to track conversion rates, analyze click-through rates (CTR), and monitor the conversion funnel to identify barriers and optimize the customer journey.

Equipped with everything you need to know? Let’s get you started with SMS marketing.

How to Start SMS Marketing with Insider

The number one step to start SMS marketing is selecting a reliable and feature-rich SMS marketing platform, such as Insider. Insider provides a comprehensive set of tools and features to help businesses effectively execute their SMS marketing campaigns and connect their campaigns to build cross-channel customer journeys.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get started with Insider’s SMS marketing: 

  1. Have a chat with the team and get set up

Our growth experts will help you get started with a live demo while answering any of your questions. Insider is more than just an SMS marketing platform, so we can connect to any other campaigns or channels that you currently have running.

  1. Build your subscriber list

To engage in SMS marketing, you need a subscriber list of opted-in contacts. Insider offers various methods to help brands build out their subscriber list:

  • Opt-in forms: Create appealing opt-in forms and place them strategically on your website or landing pages. Use Insider templates to customize the design and behavior of these forms to capture visitors’ attention effectively. 

Find out how Lego offered a website promo to grow its subscriber rate by 361% with Insider.

  • Keyword opt-ins: Use website banners to encourage customers to text a specific keyword to a designated phone number to subscribe to your SMS updates. Insider automatically captures and adds the contacts to your subscriber list.
  • Import existing contacts: Of course, if you already have a database of opted-in contacts, you can import them into UseInsider to start sending SMS messages right away.

Craft your SMS campaigns

With Insider, you can easily create engaging SMS campaigns that resonate with your audience.

  1. Define your campaign objectives: Determine the purpose of your SMS campaign, whether it’s to promote a product, send exclusive offers, or provide essential updates.
  1. Segment your audience: Leverage the segmentation capabilities of Insider to divide your subscriber list based on demographics, preferences, or past interactions. Sending targeted messages to specific segments enhances engagement and conversion rates.
  1. Personalize your messages: Use Insider’s CDP Explorer to learn more about your customers and incorporate dynamic variables in your SMS content, such as behaviors and purchase history. Personalization helps create a more relevant experience for your customers.
  1. Implement automation: Nobody wants the job of hitting ‘send’ at exactly the right moment. Automation enables you to create automated workflows across channels that are triggered by specific events or user behavior. For example, you can set up an automated SMS campaign to welcome new subscribers or send price drop notifications.

Measure and optimize your campaigns

It’s unlikely you’ll hit the mark the first time. Insider equips you with comprehensive analytics and reporting features to measure the effectiveness of your SMS campaigns. Monitor metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to gain insights into what resonates with your audience and refine your future campaigns to improve your results.

Must-know SMS compliance and regulations 

Before you rush off to set up your new SMS marketing campaign, there are a couple of regulations you need to be aware of.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with specific requirements and obligations outlined by regulations such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in the United States and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. 

You also cannot send SMS campaigns without consent. Implementing proper consent management processes is key–this will involve obtaining explicit consent from subscribers, clearly explaining the purpose of SMS communication, and providing a straightforward opt-out mechanism. 

Safeguarding subscriber data and ensuring data protection and security are also critical aspects of compliance in SMS marketing. By following these legal obligations, you establish a foundation of trust with your subscribers and mitigate non-compliance risks.

Reach your customers within seconds with SMS marketing

We’re so attached to our mobile phones that it’s no surprise SMS marketing has emerged as such a powerful marketing platform. By following the guidelines and adding personalization to the mix, you can confidently embark on your SMS marketing journey. 

Find out why Insider is the leader in cross-channel journeys and elevate your marketing strategy to hit customers across 12+ platforms. Book a demo with us today! We’d be delighted to show you why we’re been positioned as the best in the market at building personalized customer experiences.


“Insider’s versatile templates have been instrumental in capturing opt-in consent for communication channels such as SMS at crucial touch points along the buyer journey. This allowed us to interact with our customers in a compliant and seamless fashion. As a result, our subscriber base has experienced significant growth of 20%.”

Content Manager | Read more happy G2 reviews

FAQs about SMS Marketing

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing refers to the practice of sending promotional or informative messages to a group of recipients via text messaging.

How to do SMS marketing?

To engage in SMS marketing, you need to build a subscriber list, choose an SMS marketing platform, craft compelling campaigns, and follow best practices for timing, compliance, personalization, and optimization.

Why SMS marketing?

SMS marketing offers high open and response rates, enables direct and personalized communication with customers, and provides a powerful channel for driving conversions and building customer loyalty.

How effective is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing has proven to be highly effective, with a 98% open rate, it has significantly higher engagement rates compared to other marketing channels, making it a valuable tool for businesses.

Katie is an award-winning content marketer with over eight years of experience in content strategy, development, and copywriting. As Global Content Director at Insider, she currently oversees content strategy across 26 regions. Fun fact: Katie read 64 books last year (for which she owes a long commute and two week-long holidays where she spent approximately six hours a day with her nose in a book).