As known, good old text message is not our favourite channel of communication anymore because it has been pushed off the throne by WhatsApp and Co. for daily use. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should underestimate it as a marketing tool. SMS have only been replaced in the matter of private communication traffic. In 2017, there were still sent 12.7 billion short messages in Germany alone (Bitkom). The opening rate is at 95 percent within the first 3 minutes of receipt. This is a very good quote and speaks highly for the marketing channel SMS.


Every smartphone user receives text messages and so does every older cell phone that is still in use. This means you can really reach everybody and do so with a very direct channel and no detours. We give you five reasons why you shouldn’t neglect marketing via SMS at all:

1. An all-round-strategy

SMS give you the opportunity of an all-round cover-up of the customer journey. There is more to those short Messages than meets they eye:

  • At first it is necessary to get an opt-in for SMS communication. The main points here resemble the ones in e-mail marketing. Nonetheless, the hurdles are a bit up because to most people their mobile number is more sensitive data than their e-mail address. On top some users don’t even know their own number so they have to look it up first. Well, who calls themselves that often? Most applicable are things like social media campaigns in which you motivate your followers to give their mobile numbers for a sale or a discount campaign. This way you change your social media followers into SMS contacts with very low effort.
  • It is almost as easy to automize SMS marketing as it is with e-mail marketing. Modern marketing automation enables us to attach text messages to various triggers. This means that the sending is initiated by a certain customer behaviour (such as a purchase or the filling of a web document) or on a certain point in time (such as the customers birthday). An integration with e-mail marketing and other dialog marketing channels is also possible. A customer who doesn’t open an e-mail within a certain period of time (for example 2 days) can also be sent an e-mail instead.
  • You can accompany customers along the whole customer journey with SMS marketing. There’s a lot of use cases to take into consideration:
    – When you have an upcoming event or an action that’s limited in time you can use text messages as reminders to generate the highest possible participation rate.
    – Discounts on short notice or coupons for special products and services are being noticed immediately thanks to the almost perfect opening rate of SMS.
    – You can send surveys about customer satisfaction with a direct return path by phone. The Customer can give his feedback quickly and easily and even pose remaining questions directly.
    – Many banks use SMS as a tool to make banking easier and more secure. When a customer makes a transfer with online-banking that is the trigger for a message with a mobile tan number. When a customer buys something online and hits the “purchase” button, this can be the trigger for an ordering confirmation message. In general, transaction communication can be dealt with over the SMS channel.
    – You can reactivate inactive customers by reminder messages about former purchases and matching offers can be presented.
    – Mail order companies can provide order tracking via SMS and make it possible for customers to track their order and plan the arrival according to their daily life.

2. Different people – different needs

Segmentation or even specific personalization is important for SMS marketing, too. You can use the same criteria as with e-mail marketing. The following illustrastes the method on the example of a car manufacturer:
  • Geolocation helps to identify site-specific differences and adjust them. When an automobile manufacturer analyses geo data, he can adjust his offers to the needs of his customers in different areas. In areas that are more pristine, with much forest there will rather be a need for SUVs than for sports cars. In populous areas in and around cities, people might rather need compact cars, because of the lack of parking spaces, and in suburbs with many families they need their family cars with more seats and enough space.
  • Out of the lot of demographic data you can especially use the age to adjust your offers to. Is there a specific model that appeals young people or has even been designed for this target group? The data you generate helps you to identify that group from your customers and leads so you can promote your product especially to them. The same is possible with all other cases, like cars for older people who need comfort when they get in the car etc.
  • The success of your SMS marketing also depends on your use of gender specific content. Independent, working women are a target group that came into focus for the automobile industry. A study of the ‘Kompetenzzentrum Frau und Auto’ of the Hochschule Mittelrhein states that women are more about function when buying a car. They want space in the trunk and parking assistance. Men on the other hand want technical features such as a good soundsystem, a hands-free-module and air-conditioning. You can use this kind of information to make your message campaign appealing for your target customer.
  • Last but not least, the former purchase behaviour of customers can help to specialize campaigns in regard of budget, purchasing habits, and frequency. Someone who bought a high class car is more likely to attach value to luxury and status. So you can send follow up offers that are interesting for customers with a higher budget and that suggest a certain status.

3. It’s not WHAT you say – it’s HOW you say it

Text messages have more potential than it might seems. You want to sell a building loan contract or send a discount coupon for the latest fashion trend to you customers? You should match the tone of your message to the occasion:
  • Calling your customer by his first name signalizes a certain kind of personal relationship and familiarity. But if you deal with a business customer with whom you have a more formal relationship you should use the proper formal address, of course.
  • You can use your brand name as sender tag rather than just a number, so a customer will not be scared off by an unknown number texting him but he will instantly notice who sent the message.
  • Clarity is key. Get straight to the point but still put in all the important details, that’s the art of good message marketing. When you inform about a sale or discount action you should include the exact products and service it refers to. Product range, period of time, and how to use the discount are necessary details. Further information should be placed on a landing page that you link in the text message over a call-to-action. You can tease in your message but you want the customer to click the link and not get overwhelmed by details.
  • When promoting such discount actions you should also use power words like “sale”, “exclusive”, or “discount”. They can boost the success of your campaign even with limited space like in SMS.
  • Capital letters can be used to highlight certain parts of the message. But don’t overuse them because capital words also stand for screaming in digital communication and you don’t want your customers to feel like they are being screamed at.

4. Timing is everything

It can be a great advantage to know the right time for sending a text message. SMS that are sent in an unpleasant moment and are not opened right away can easily be forgotten because of the variety of channels people check on their smartphones on a daily basis. In a best case scenario, the recipient looks at his phone and opens your message immediately after he gets it. Here are a few tips how you can achieve that:
  • Mondays are generally a low day for message marketing. Most people want to start their week in peace and Mondays can be quite exhausting after the calm of the weekend and getting spammed by marketing massages and e-mails is not appreciated. This is shown by very low reaction rates compared to other days. Of course there can always be exceptions for some businesses.
  • A good moment for sending out messages can be between 8 in the morning and 8 at night on a work day. However, you better avoid rush hour because on their way to work and back home people often have a million things on their minds.
  • To find the right sending time you can use automated testing methods. In e-mail marketing we measure the opening times of a customer and adjust the sending time. In text message marketing this is not possible but we can measure the time someone clicks the call-to-action link in the message. So with text message we can optimize the sending time for people who click links and only for messages that contain links.

5. Success comes over time

Text messages are not just a short time solution for single campaigns. They have great potential to bind customers and form long term relationships with them. It’s possible that customers have to adjust to this way of communication first but once that is the case, every new message is a manifestation of that customer relationship. If you do it right, of course. A Ford case study shows how to do that. The automobile manufacturer combined old and new and gathered attention for his SMS campaign through print ads. The call-to-action asked readers to send a message with Ford to a given number to receive a message with a link that provided further information about buying a new Ford model. In the following message they asked the readers to text back their favourite model their full name and their postal code. If you followed that request, the data was given to a local Ford dealer who took on the follow up actions. If you only gave part of the requested data, you received three polite reminder messages within 30 days that asked you to complete the process.
A tactic like this is risky because you can easily come across as obtrusive. In the case of Ford though, it seems to have been successful because the campaign obtained a conversion rate of 15,4 percent.


You can see it is no fairy tale that SMS marketing is still a good opportunity to improve your marketing strategy and be more broadly positioned.  Text message may not be the primary channel for dialog marketing. Nevertheless, it is highly effective for marketing communication and provides some advantages you wouldn’t see at first sight.