Tips for Successful Mobile Text Message Marketing

With more than 82 million smartphone users in the U.S. it’s easy to see why mobile marketing is appealing to ecommerce business owners. We tell you how to get started with SMS (text messaging) marketing.

According to Global Mobile Statistics 2011, a mobile research report from mobiThinking, there are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers: that's 77 percent of the world population, and ComScore pegs the number of U.S. smartphone owners at 82.2 million people.

Given the surge in adoption of mobile phone usage by consumers, it’s easy to see why small business and ecommerce website owners want to boost their marketing efforts with mobile marketing (SMS marketing) techniques.

When is Mobile the Best Marketing Choice?

All types of marketing strategies are not suited to all types of businesses, but text marketing is a good way to communicate with customers about your promotions, contests and other campaigns that are likely to interest younger mobile-enabled consumers.

Jeff Judge, co-founder and CEO of Signal, a company that provides mobile, social and email marketing in a single platform, said it is important to remember that unlike traditional email marketing, mobile marketing isn’t designed for more general and lengthy “what’s new” type newsletters and longer promotions. 

“People pay for text messages so your marketing message must provide an immediate now or today value for customers, “said Judge.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing to use SMS marketing is to remember that mobile -- like social networking -- is not a marketing channel you can use once and then drop it.

“Don’t treat text marketing as a test where you jump in and try it and then drop off,” said Judge. “If you don’t communicate with your mobile customers for a period of ninety-days to six months they will be surprised to get a message from you.  Just like Twitter, you need to focus on value to keep retention going.”

Mobile Marketing Best Practices: Use Double Opt-In for SMS Marketing

While it may not be any more difficult to build a text marketing list than an email list, you should start with a strong call-to-action to encourage immediate sign-up and also advertise your SMS program to build and grow your list. 

Judge said it is best to put your mobile program details on the main page of your website, in emails and also to make it option in Web-based member profile forms. The easier you make it for customers to opt-in to mobile, the more subscribers you’ll get.

One reason businesses have difficulty growing a mobile marketing list is because their SMS program may not be consistent with the business.

“It might be that mobile isn’t suited to your demographic. Perhaps your demographic wants to use an app and not text,” said Judge. “To be successful you need to understand your customer base and understand the composure. “

Mobile carriers have a strict set of guidelines that regulate the SMS marketing industry.  With SMS, opt-in customers send a text message, typically a keyword, to a short code. For example the call-to-action is something like: “text commerce to 12345.”

“This is a single opt-in experience, but best practice is to send that customer a message when the mobile phone number is added to confirm he or she wants to receive mobile communications from you. A double opt-in ensures compliance with guidelines and confirms that this person really is interested in participating in your program,” said Judge.

He also said that if you’re not following those basic principles of SMS marketing, then you might see high growth but you’ll also see a high percentage of “mistakes” that quickly leave the program.

9 Tips to Get You Started with Mobile Marketing

Jeff Judge offered the following tips to take some of the guesswork out of SMS marketing for small business and ecommerce site owners looking to get started with text messaging customers.

  • Keep it simple and determine what you are trying to drive with this mobile message.
  • Consider mobile in combination with other channels and post across mobile, Facebook, Twitter, email and any online communications channel you use.
  • Remember that customers pay for text messaging, so don’t send a lot of messages. One or two per month is plenty.
  • Use a single marketing platform to obtain reporting across all your marketing channels (e.g. email, social and mobile).
  • Make sure your mobile message contains an immediate value (e.g. a promo or contest entry “now”).
  • Use a strong call to action (CTA) in mobile marketing messages that is consistent with your customer demographic.
  • Make your mobile SMS easy for customers to opt-in (e./g. scan a QR code or text a simple code to a number).
  • Enforce a double opt-in for mobile subscribers. After the consumer has opted-in send a confirmation message.
  • Advertise your mobile subscription everywhere you do business -- your website, email newsletter, store kiosk -- anywhere you do business.
  • Learn about customers (e.g. let customer manage profiles on the web) so you can segment your mobile marketing list for specific communications.

More Mobile and Marketing Small Business Ecommerce Tips

Looking to get a better handle on integrating mobile into your small business ecommerce marketing plan? Try these mobile marketing and mobile commerce tips and guides for small business ecommerce sites:

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to She is also managing editor of You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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