Resources & Blog

How to get started with SMS marketing

Resources & Blog

How to get started with SMS marketing


We're excited that you're thinking of trying SMS marketing for the first time. If you're not sure how it quite works or how to get started then don't worry, we've got you covered. You'll be reaping the benefits in no time. Our eight-step guide covers everything in detail and we're sure that you'll be ready to get started right away.

1 - Collect data

Before creating your first bulk SMS campaign, you'll need to grow your contact list. Increasing your list size will dramatically improve the likelihood that your campaigns are successful while also helping you to develop a better understanding of whether texting is the right channel for your business. Thankfully, collecting data is much easier than you might have thought. Here are some of the most effective ways to collect customer telephone numbers:

  • Website data capture - an ideal place to start is on your website as you can collect data in numerous ways. You can encourage customers to provide data by including a pop-up on your homepage, having a “stay informed” page or during the checkout process. Be sure to include an opt-in checkbox and consider including an incentive such as 10% off.
  • Use your email list - take advantage of your existing email list by sending out a campaign that promotes the benefits of signing up to your SMS contact list. You’ll then be able to use both channels together to increase conversions.
  • Competitions - running a competition on your website and social channels can help to increase your list. It’s key that you provide entrants with the choice of receiving future correspondence and that you have a prize is exciting to increase participation.
  • In-store data capture - you can increase your contact list by getting your checkout staff to ask customers if they want to provide their number and opt-in. Again, you could provide an incentive to customers that sign up as well as the employee that collects the most numbers.
  • Traditional advertising - direct mail, billboards and audio adverts can also be used to increase your SMS contact list. By having a five-digit short code, your customers can text you with a specific word that will automatically opt them in to receive future messages.

It's also worth noting that as well as telephone numbers, you can also request additional data from your customers. The more data that you collect, the more personalised you can make your SMS campaigns. Our dashboard allows you to upload seven columns of data (keep your numbers in the first column). Some variables to consider include names, birthday, postal address, email address, order numbers, purchase preferences and loyalty number. You can find more information on uploading your contact list here.

2 - Consider your CTA

The next step to consider when planning your bulk SMS campaign is the call-to-action (CTA) that you are going to include in your message. Including a CTA is important because your message needs to provide value to your customers. If it doesn't, then it won't take long for them to unsubscribe. Here are some of the different CTA's that you can include:

  • Discounts – send regular offers to your customers such as “two for one”, “buy one get one free” or “25%”. Be sure to use a unique code for each campaign so that you can monitor the performance of each one.
  • New product launches - announcing new products via SMS provides your customers with a feeling of exclusivity and value.
  • Upcoming event - remind your customers of any upcoming events, with instructions on how to attend and where to purchase tickets (if required).
  • Order confirmations - let your customers know that their order has been made successfully and that it will be on its way to them shortly.
  • Delivery notification - provide your customers with an update on when they can expect their order to be delivered to their chosen address.
  • Appointment Reminders - send a reminder to your customers a few days before an upcoming appointment. You can then monitor how this impacts your no-show rates.

3 - Write your message

It's now time to write your message. The key thing to remember before you start is that one credit is equal to 160 characters, so you'll need to get straight to the point. However, you can use multiple credits should you need to include additional information in your message. We'd also suggest making sure that your CTA is both worthwhile and easy to understand. If your customers are unable to identify the reason for your text, then the chances of them opting out of future correspondence will increase. Finally, using a spellchecking tool to check your grammar and avoid using slang unless it is on-brand. Here are some features that you may want to consider including in your message:

  • Include a short link - if you want to direct your audience to a webpage then you can do this by including a short link, which reduces the number of URL characters and looks much tidier. You can also track short link performance and find out who clicked on your links as well as the date, time and device.
  • Add a landing page - this allows you to conduct surveys, run competitions and more. Designing a page is easy and can be done within our dashboard. Then, all you need to do is include the link to your landing page within your message.
  • Attach documents - this allows you to include a link in your message that will open a document (pdf and others accepted) on their device. It’s a great tool when you want to provide additional information and also gives you access to colour. Some example uses include leaflets, voucher codes, menus or product brochures.
  • Include an opt-out link - this provides your audience with an easy way of removing themselves from future correspondence. Not only does this improve customer experience but also makes your campaigns more cost-effective as they are only sent to people with a genuine interest.

4 - Test your campaign

Once you are happy with your message, the next thing you'll need to do is test your campaign. This is a crucial but often overlooked part of the planning process. Sending a test to yourself allows you to check the layout of your message which is important if you have included symbols or capital letters. You can also check how the message flows when it is read from a mobile device. If possible, send your test to both an Apple and Android device.

Depending on the size of your list, you may also want to send your campaign to a small segment first. This will allow you to predict the likelihood that your campaign is a success at a larger scale, and you can also make minor changes if required. Then, when you're ready to go, you can send your message to your audience in full.

5 - Send your message

Now that the hard work is done, it's time to send your message. Before you hit send, take some time to think about what day and time would be the most effective. For example, takeaway restaurants would generate a large number of orders from a campaign that is sent out at 5pm on a Friday. Whereas, a retail shop would get more success from sending a campaign at 10am on a Saturday. If you aren't sure when your busiest times are, then a great tip is to split your contact list in half and send the same message at two different times. You can find the ideal sending times for various industries in our blog post here.

Secondly, be cautious of time zones if you have an international list. A message that is sent at 11am in the UK would arrive in the inbox of your customers in New York at 6am, which could be very irritating for some. Some countries also have unique regulations that can restrict the content of your messages and the time that you are allowed to send them. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Team Reach if you have any questions that you'd like to ask before you send a campaign and we're always happy to look over anything before it is sent out.

6 - Incorporate other channels

A great way to improve your chances of having a successful SMS marketing campaign is by incorporating texting with other channels. There is no doubt that the likelihood of your customers seeing your message will increase if you have posted it across multiple marketing channels. For example, if you are sending out a promotional offer then you can also post it across all of your major social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat) as well as using email marketing. Make sure to use a different voucher code for each channel so that you know where each conversion has come from.

7 - Send a follow-up

An important part of SMS marketing is that you send a follow-up message to customers. Don't be put off if your campaign does not convert as well as you expected on the first attempt, as your customers may come back later. They may be waiting until payday. They may have unexpected expenses. Or, they may not have even seen it. It's no secret that our phones get bombarded with notification on just about every single day of the year.

Depending on your business, your follow-up could be the following day, week or even month. If a customer hasn't purchased after one or two follow up campaigns, then it's likely that you'll have to try a different offer next time. However, if it works, then don't fix what isn't broken and offer them a similar discount at a suitable time in the future.

8 - Monitor Your Success

The final step to take when sending an SMS marketing campaign is to monitor success, which is beneficial for two reasons. Firstly, it helps you determine what works and what doesn't. This will help you when planning future campaigns and allow you to make improvements in areas such as wording, time and day sent and offers included. Secondly, you'll be able to determine monetary success by working out how much revenue each campaign has generated. This will help to justify how valuable SMS marketing is for your business when compared with other marketing channels.

Cutomer Account manager
Cutomer Account manager
by Adam Jack | Customer Account Manager

Hi, I'm Adam, Customer Account Manager at Reach Interactive, with a background in digital and international marketing. I love everything to do with digital technology and improving communication between brands and their customers.


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