SMS Marketing for Business


How does it Work

Short Codes – Short codes are five or six digit phone numbers that can send and receive text messages. Short codes are fully known as Common Short Codes? What’s common about them? In the early days of text messaging (the early 2000s) some wireless customers were only able to send text messages to other customers who shared the same cellular carrier (AT&T, Verizon, etc.). Those days are long gone, but what you need to know about a common short code is that it works on all major wireless carriers (and dozens of smaller ones too). Example Text Joes to 313131

Dedicated Phone Numbers-In Canada and the United States, SMB or small and medium size businesses have the choice of using a dedicated phone number from companies using a cloud computing platform such as In all fairness they are cheaper to use than short codes. If a company wants to use short codes they have to buy in batches and they are somewhat more expensive than regular phone numbers. For example- You can also use a phone number such as text Joes to 555-555-5555


Keywords – Keywords are what consumer’s text to a short code or phone number to join your SMS Marketing list. A keyword is a single word, usually ranging from a couple of letters to a dozen. Keywords can be longer depending on the SMS Marketing service provider your business uses, but you want to keep things concise for your customers.

Example Text Dave to 313131 or text Dave to 555-555-5555


IV.Types of SMS Text Message Campaigns

Pull Campaign-is an SMS text message campaign where you are either sending an appointment reminder or offering a mobile coupon in a last minute text message blast for example a free cup of soup with any entrée.


Push Campaign-Allows businesses to add SMS Text messaging campaigns to their existing print, radio or TV ads. Businesses can also add it to their website and social media campaigns through and

Most famous campaign is the Keyword call-to-action. By texting Dave to 555-555-5555 you ask new customers to opt in to your SMS marketing list



V.US Mobile Marketing Trends

Data is from June 2012

  • There are 271 million mobile subscribers in the US
  • There are 50+ million smartphones in the US
  • Approximately 25% of Americans use mobile devices to access the internet.
  • Approximately 73% of mobile users are on the internet to shop as opposed to an app.
  • By 2013, mobile phones will overtake pc as most common web access device in the world.
  • There are 6.8 billion people on Earth and 5.2 billion owns a cell phone. Approximately 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.
  • About 90% of text messages are opened in 90 seconds as opposed 30% for e-mail.

(Source: 50 Mobile Marketing Facts by Jeanne Hopkins, CMO of Smart Bear Software & Jamie Turner, Founder and Chief Content Officer at the 60 Second Marketer)


  1. Mobile Marketing Trends in Canada

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) reports that text messaging in Canada is growing.

Canadians send just under 24 billion text messages in the second quarter of 2012. That’s nearly eight billion texts per month or almost 270 million texts per day.

78 billion text messages were sent in Canada in 2011, according to the CWTA. That’s up from 56.4 billion in 2010. And 2012 is poised to see at least 90 billion, if not 100 billion, text messages sent.

Smartphone usage has increased significantly from 33% of Canadian cell phone users in March 2011 to 48% by March 2012

Approximately a third of mobile phone users (32%) expressed interest in receiving information or coupons to base on where they were at the time. The “mobile wallet” with special membership cards (38%), transit passes (33%) loyalty point cards (32%), gift cards (30%),coup(30%) is something they would not mind being transferred to their smartphones.


VII.What is a Good SMS Marketing Plan

Two ways of spoiling an SMS text message campaign.

First, texting infrequently so you never reach front-of-mind awareness. Second, texting too often can annoy your subscribers.

What should you do?

Create a Schedule-Find the right rate for your business, set up a schedule in your planning calendar for SMS broadcast.

Write in Blocks– Don’t do last minute blasts. It’s best to schedule a message time once every few weeks to generate content in a block to your mobile phone subscribers.

Organize Contact Details-Names, phone numbers and addresses, will help you customize and personalize your SMS message

Plan for Responses– Have a call to action and response plan.

Track Results-Track your data carefully to measure results.


VIII.SMS Campaign Statistics

Here are the six statistical measures you need to know to track the progress of your campaigns.

Opt-In Population-This is the total number of people on your broadcast list.

New Subscribers-This is a more focused version of watching your opt-in population, specifically on how many new subscribers you acquire each cycle.

Quit Rate/Opt-Outs-You’re going to have opt-outs – people who ask to be removed from your list. That it happens isn’t important, but why it happens can tell you a lot.

Response Rate-How many recipients of your SMS broadcast do what you ask them to? This measures of how effective your message was.

Conversion/Sales Rate-Not every response results in a sale – but every broadcast should turn into at least one customer

Return on Investment (ROI)-This is the bottom line. Track how many sales your SMS campaign generated, and the total value of those sales.

VIIII.How do you find Inspiration for Your SMS Marketing Campaigns?


The Calendar

There are so many special days of the year that you can advertise through SMS Marketing. For example the public holiday season usually starts off in Canada around mid to late April around Easter, then Victoria Day in Late May, Canada Day on July 1 etc. You can add a multitude of commemorative days, weeks and months. For example you can have special restaurant events for St Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Earth Day and Father’s Day. You can celebrate special weekly events such as the Jazz festival, Toronto International film Festival which is a 10-20 day event. Lastly there are monthly events such as the ending of a local, provincial or national political campaign where a particular sandwich or drink is popular with patrons of political views.

The News

If you read the local newspaper there are many sources of ideas for events and facts that can be turned into a marketing message. A new business can promote a coupon that encourages people to bring a friend and get the second meal reduced by 50% or select entrée’s free. A local celebrity could inspire your business to promote a sandwich of meal in their name.

Your Customers

One of the most important sources of inspiration for an SMS Marketing campaign is your customers. Your customers respond to the promotions, specials and discounts you develop from your business marketing plan. If they like your marketing plan they will visit your business and buy from you. If not you may need to ask them if there is something that should be done to improve your promotions, specials and discounts that will appeal to them.


Your Employees

Another source of information for a great SMS marketing campaign which is sometimes, but most often ignored is your employees. They are the front line staffs in your business that deal with compliments and complaints from customers about service. They might have been noticing or watching the deployment of the company’s SMS Marketing campaign and have some ideas to sharpen the message or improve it. All you need to do is to ask them.


You’re Competition

In business, your competition is never far away and is always eager to find out what innovative ideas you are using to improve your operation. However, if they ignore missed a marketing concept that you can use the best approach is to change it to establish it.

Content Board for Text Message Ideas   

In order for your text messaging system to work, you have to create fresh content all the time. If you become bored with your SMS message, your customers will know — and you’ll know when you feel it at the cash register.

Enter the content board as a solution to this problem. This is a space where you write down, track and expand on your ideas in a framework that helps you access ideas when you need them. There are 4 steps to the process.


Step 1: Brainstorm

This process begins by using a white board or blank page on your computer to write down as many ideas for your SMS Marketing campaigns as possible. The goal is to look at any conceivable campaign messages even if they feel stupid. You and your staff can freely generate ideas to create a comprehensive list for Step 2.


Step 2: Expanding

In this part of the process you and the staff can now start to eliminate ideas that do not work for an SMS Marketing campaign. It is good to keep the ideas that were not eliminated, but for the present time could not be used. The remaining ideas can be specializations of a general concept, “piggybacked” ideas from related concepts or combinations of another idea. For example, “Holiday Messages” could generate ” Special Coupons”, “Event Announcements” and “Christmas Card” ideas

Step 3: Refining


In this step of the process you now have a number of ideas for at least a dozen or more SMS ideas. You can choose a handful to last at least a month (4-8) and create an SMS Marketing campaign.

If you are having a hard time doing this there is no need to worry. Since you already have list of ideas it won’t be long until one will pop up in your mind and energize you to develop a workable plan. The advantage of this system is that you can access the list of ideas immediately,

Step 4: Broadcasting 

The final step is to have an SMS Marketing campaign “ready to go” for the days in the week. The aim is to have a campaign that will attract the attention of the mobile phone customers that are in a membership club. Next, you want to get new customers by promoting discounts, specials and offers.

Do not wait till “go time” to scramble for your SMS Marketing campaign. You have to go to the weekly list and select the one that is ready to be sent to your customers. It is also important to remember that



XI .Seven Tips for Effective SMS Marketing Campaigns


Be clear and Get Permission

When you start an SMS text message program, it’s important to note that  there are legal requirements to inform customers if they wish to accept marketing information  from your company (whether via prior opt-in, Keyword opt-in or web opt-in)and if they wish to opt out . Another issue is that customers MUST be informed that they may be charged a standard text messaging rate. Almost 90% of customers have a bulk SMS plan where they pay a monthly fee for 1,000 texts. Some people do not have such a plan and are charged by the text. In some places such as in Canada, the marketer may cover the cost of the SMS text message. Customers who join your text message marketing system need to know when there will be future alerts on specials, deals and promotions. The use of simple 3-6 keywords is critical in helping prospective customer to sign up easily to your messaging list.

  1. Build a Relationship with your Customers

The creation of a list of customers as part of a membership program allows your business to communicate directly to them in terms of promotion, sales and new products. There is no limit to what you can do in terms of marketing to your customer such as a mobile or digital coupon as a reward for coming to your business.


  1. Get Local

A new trend in SMS text messaging software design is allowing retail establishments to geo-target their customer by name. Sending out personalized messages for promotions, sales and new products to customers makes them know you, like you and trust your business in terms of preference over another.

  1. Keep it Simple

When you send out a text messages it is proper custom to use easy to understand English with well-known short cuts to avoid confusion. For Example:

YES: Text 123456 or 416-555-555 to try our newest ice cream cup for FREE!

NO: Time is limited! Act now!



  1. Link the SMS Campaign with Social Media

SMS text messaging service is slowly, but gaining quickly over time as one of the most versatile marketing systems ever developed in the last 6 years. You can integrate your designated phone number or short code with,, other social media,

  1. Link the SMS Campaign with Your Other Advertising

If your company is currently engaged in a local, regional or national campaign you can quickly merge the SMS text messaging system to your existing print advertising(customer bills, posters, banners, paper or digital coupons), newspapers, flyers plus radio and TV ads.


  1. Make the Message Timely

The SMS text messaging system if used properly can be a very effective marketing system. For example, if you own a restaurant and are trying to get customers to dine in at noon, its best to offer a free entrée or drink if you bring a second person sometime around 10am or 2 hours before lunch.

If you send out a message for a dinner special either 1 hour or 30 minutes before 6pm you are not giving the patrons enough time to decide which place to go or what specials to consider. It would be best to send an SMS text blast message around 4pm.

The general rule for sending messages is once or twice a week. The first message should offer specials, promotions and coupons. The second SMS text message should be a call to action with a FREE offer. It generates anticipation and excitement in the customer because he/she is expecting a marketing message from the business. You should consider placing time limits on the offer so you can roll out a different and more exciting campaign every week to maintain customer interest and prevent boredom.

  1. Reach Out and Reply

Talk with your customers and provide advice and tips. In return, you gain valuable

feedback and increase their loyalty to your company. An SMS marketing campaign can be easily tailored to fit your company’s needs as well as the needs of your customers, and can be an easy tool to stay connected in our mobile world.






XII .Six SMS Coupon Formats to Attract Subscribers


Print coupons have been part of marketing for more than a century, benefiting national brands and local small businesses.


SMS coupons generate an immediate response when you create a call to action paired with a time limit — the trouble is coming up with unique coupons week after week. One way to do it is by rotating several different coupon formats, sending them out in a pattern that produces new coupons.


  1. BOGO-Buy one Get One Free.


  1. Progressive Discount-Offering 5% off for purchases over $30, but 10% off for purchases over $50 encourages your customers to buy more.


  1. Hidden Upsell-In restaurants, this often takes the form of a free beverage with purchase of a side order. The customer gets a deal, but your profits from the side exceed your cost for the freebie.


  1. Website Coupon Codes

If you do a lot of Internet business, or want to start doing a lot, you can broadcast coupon codes for customers to enter when buying through your web portal.


  1. Daily Deal-Groupon and similar sites have turned this kind of deal into its own niche industry. You can use the same trend by offering a short-term deal your customers can’t refuse.
  2. Customer Choice

People like feeling involved and listened to. If you’re having trouble deciding what kind of offer to make, hold a poll among your SMS subscribers.


5 Places to Advertise Your SMS Marketing Keywords


At this point you spent a great deal of time developing a soild SMS Marketing plan. Your team used the content board to brainstorm a number of great campaigns that will get customers in the door time and time again. Unfortunately, now you have competitors. What do you do now?


You need to market your keywords, short-code or phone number in a way that stands out from the competition.


  1. Apparel-There’s a reason bands and sports teams distribute so many T-shirts, and it’s not just the sale price. People pay attention to their messages.


  1. Paperwork-If your SMS message isn’t already on your business cards and letterhead, you’re behind the curve — but paperwork opportunities shouldn’t stop there. Invoices and receipts with your keyword and short code put the message in front of your best prospects:


  1. Equipment-If you run a delivery or in-home service, your SMS should be on every vehicle in your fleet. If you rent out equipment, or your people use gear in the field, a sticker with your SMS should be prominent on each item.


  1. Disposables-You can print keywords on take-out containers, cup sleeves by the thousands as well as napkins, place mats, shoe protectors, and plastic gloves.


  1. Set Pieces-Can take the form of (colour) printed cardboard tops with the keyword, short-code and phone number.

Source: Mc Donalds Restaurants of Canada SMS Text Messaging Project, Page Marketing June 2013

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