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How to Start an SMS Marketing Program
SMS Marketing 101

How to Start an SMS Marketing Program

SMS is an incredible marketing tool for any eCommerce brand. With U.S. mobile commerce expected to reach $1 trillion by 2027, and 80% of consumers reporting a sub-optimal experience shopping on their mobile devices, it's more critical than ever to start using SMS. 

November 4, 2022

SMS is any eCommerce marketer's dream tool. We are talking a 98% open rate, brands achieving 30%+ click-through rates, and 30 times average return on ad spend. SMS can achieve these results because it is a more intimate channel. Your messages are alongside text from loved ones and friends, which ensures your brand’s message will cut through a crowded landscape and get into the literal hands of your customers. 

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS stands for “short message service”, which is more commonly known as texting. SMS marketing involves a brand sending text messages to its consumers, often in the form of sales, promotions, and product offerings.

Unlike other channels like paid social media marketing, SMS marketing requires all subscribers to opt-in to SMS messages before they will receive texts. Nothing is unsolicited, meaning the SMS channel is delivering content to consumers that explicitly asked for it. That’s a big reason why SMS is so valuable, especially for consumer brands.

SMS allows brands to build long-term, valuable customer relationships that increase loyalty and customer lifetime value. 

SMS Marketing Roles and Responsibilities

A great place to start when building up your SMS marketing program is understanding the roles and responsibilities of your SMS marketing team. 

SMS Marketing Roles

SMS marketing requires a bit of everything: creative design, copywriting, AB testing, reporting, analysis, and more. 

  • Digital Marketing Specialists: These crewmates are often a broad marketing generalist that has SMS as one of many responsibilities. They can have a creative design background for modals and MMS giphy designs, or be copywriters with witty wordplay. These pros typically have at least three years of experience before rising to this role.
  • SMS Marketing Specialist: An SMS Marketing Specialist is typically focused on execution - setting up campaigns, and optimizing for conversions and engagement. This title, which also comes with about three years of experience, is usually reserved for larger organizations with more specialized roles. At a smaller brand, a Digital Marketing Specialist would handle SMS as one of many responsibilities.
  • Marketing Automation/ eCommerce Marketing Manager: A more seasoned sailor (think: 5-10 years of experience), the manager is a strategist for acquisition and conversions. They’re a focused extension of automated programs and cross-channel campaigns.

Setting SMS Marketing Goals

While you may be ready to leap into SMS marketing, it’s essential to set up the right processes to make sure your time and effort are effectively spent. By defining the goals and intent of your SMS program, you’ll be able to easily make changes for the best ROI and maintain sustainable growth. 

You can start by asking some simple questions, such as: 

  • What consumer profile(s) will you aim to attract? 
  • What types of products or offers will you use to entice loyal customers? 
  • How will you tie your social, email, and other channel strategies to your SMS plans?

Keep in mind that you don’t need to circumnavigate the globe on your first SMS voyage. It’s best to start with realistic goals for opt-ins and campaigns and build your SMS program strategically.

Standard Marketing Metrics

Conversions: The number of people who completed an action on your SMS campaign, like making a purchase or booking a reservation.

Conversion Rate: The number of conversions divided by how many people received the SMS campaign. SMS has an open rate of 98% and a conversion rate of 45%.

Customer Lifetime Value: Metric to track your customer experience and how your customers contribute to your company as a whole. This is the total amount spent by customers throughout their relationship with your brand. For example, Starbucks’ Customer Lifetime Value has been calculated at $14,099. 

List Growth Rate: Measure of how fast your subscriber list is growing. This takes data, so typically look at it in increments of weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

Opt-Out Rate: The percentage of subscribers who opt-out of receiving text messages or emails from your business. Your opt-out percentage is a direct measure of the value subscribers are receiving. Good opt-out rates remain below 5%.

The average opt-out rate for retail SMS marketing is 3.7%. The average opt-out rate for retailers is even lower, at only 1.8%.

Response Rate: Measures the number of people that take action after getting your SMS campaign. 

SMS Compliance Must-Haves

Compliance goes beyond “following the rules.” We know it’s not the sexiest topic, but at Voyage, we view compliance as an opportunity to build quality, long-term customer relationships through trust.

SMS marketing is an intimate channel. Rules and regulations help SMS marketers navigate this channel with delicacy and effectiveness.

SMS marketers must keep abreast with rules from trade organizations like the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), federal legislation such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and government entities like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

We’ve got you covered with a robust compliance check-up, but remember these four major buoys that will help you keep course:

  1. Obtain express written consent for SMS opt-ins
  2. Be transparent and explain what customers are opting into
  3. Provide accessible opt-out options
  4. Comply with send window restrictions

Find the Right SMS Platform 

The right SMS platform can make starting an SMS program simple and painless. Utilizing features like custom Modals, list segmentation, and automated messages will make setting up successful SMS campaigns easy. 

Overall, the top ten must-have SMS platform capabilities include: 

  1. eCommerce and Marketing Tech Stack Integrations
  2. Platform Setup Ease
  3. SMS Compliance Guidance
  4. Robust List Growth Tools
  5. Segmentation Capabilities for Personalization
  6. Drive Conversions with Diverse Campaigns
  7. Creative Media Capabilities including SMS, MMS
  8. SMS Triggers & Automated Workflows
  9. Conversational Messaging
  10. Reporting and Analytics
💡 You can take a look at the full in-depth list here. 

At Voyage, we offer a full suite of services alongside a powerful SMS platform to ensure maximized channel optimization. With our consulting services from our DTC eCommerce experts, your marketing team can drive revenue and cultivate customer delight for your brand through smarter, optimized SMS.

Definitive SMS Marketing Guide 

SMS is an incredible marketing tool for any eCommerce brand. With U.S. mobile commerce expected to reach $1 trillion by 2027, and 80% of consumers reporting a sub-optimal experience shopping on their mobile devices, it's more critical than ever to start using SMS. 

If you are just starting up your SMS program, we have the perfect resource for you–The Definitive SMS Marketing Guide. In this guide, we cover everything about SMS, from the optimal candidate for managing your program, to setting up a successful acquisition channel, all the way through benchmarks, best practices, and stellar campaign examples.

To learn more about SMS best practices and more, download the Definitive SMS Marketing Guide today! 

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