Lesson 1: Everything you need to get started

Launch and build your SMS strategy

List growth tools

A healthy subscriber base is key to the success of your text messaging program. From converting website traffic into subscriber growth to optimizing how people join your SMS subscriber list (whether online or offline), your text message marketing partner should offer a robust suite of list growth tools and take the manual work out of opting in subscribers. Without this, you risk significantly limiting your SMS list growth rate.

At a minimum, make sure your SMS marketing platform offers the following list growth strategies. Bonus points if they also allow you to grow your list across social media, dedicated landing pages, and more.

  • Convert on-site visitors: Engage your website visitors with a sign-up unit that’s displayed across your mobile and desktop websites, and encourage them to opt-in to get text message marketing updates from your brand.
  • Scale email and SMS subscribers simultaneously: You’re likely already collecting email sign-ups on your website, so working with a partner that can easily add SMS to your existing flow is crucial for growing both lists. When evaluating SMS vendors, make sure they allow you to build your email subscriber list, too—and determine if their functionality is manual or automated.
  • Drive offline sign-ups with Text-to-Join: In addition to driving subscriber sign-ups across your digital channels—including email, social media, and your website—don’t forget about using Text-to-Join options for in-store signage, checkout kiosks, packaging, physical mailers, outdoor advertising, business cards, receipts, event collateral, and more.

You should also make sure you have the flexibility to control what your sign-up units look like and where/when to show them.

  • Design high-performing sign-up units that match the look and feel of your website. Our platform’s design editor lets you edit and customize your sign-up units. And the Attentive team can advise on strategies for optimizing your design for your brand’s unique needs.
  • Optimize your onsite experience by controlling when and where you display your sign-up units. Our display rules include a Pop-Up Timer, Scroll Delay, and Exit Intent.
  • If you’re driving sign-ups with an incentive, include the coupon code or a link with the offer automatically applied. If you’re not offering a perk, link back to your best sellers or a piece of editorial content so subscribers can keep learning more about your brand. Use our auto-apply URLs, which send the subscriber to your site with the discount code already applied so that they don't need to copy and paste a code at checkout.
  • Write engaging copy for your sign-up unit and welcome message—which is automatically sent after a subscriber opts in to your text messaging program. Since SMS is a personal channel, speak to customers like people—using “you” and “we”—and infuse your brand voice into your message. And don’t forget to end with a strong CTA to immediately drive traffic to your website.

Campaign Messaging

Your SMS marketing platform should allow you to send revenue-generating one-time campaigns that showcase your product, promotions, and more. You should also be able to segment your campaign messages, so your text messages can be easily targeted for any marketing initiative—whether that’s retention, awareness, or acquisition.

We also recommend checking for testing and optimization capabilities within your text message campaigns. You should be able to A/B test individual messages to find the copy, images, and timing that resonate most with your audience. You should also be able to see performance in real-time and use historical A/B test results to improve future messages.

Sending a campaign message 2-5 days after launching your sign-up units engages your earliest subscribers and establishes what they can expect from your channel.

Text messaging is another opportunity to engage, educate, and offer value to your shoppers. SMS doesn’t just increase incremental revenue—it’s a powerful channel for building brand loyalty, too.

Depending on your channel goals, you can send a promotional or non-promotional message to drive action. There’s a large variety of high-performing SMS campaigns you can send, including:

  • VIP content and perks
  • New product launches
  • Sale and limited-time offer announcements
  • Invites to loyalty programs

Media options including SMS, MMS, and video

While carriers don’t yet allow MMS in some countries, “text” messaging is a bit of a misnomer now because multimedia options for the channel have come a long way. Our recent SMS Marketing Consumer Trends Report found that 51.1% of consumers would be more likely to make a purchase if they received a text that included a GIF, image, or video. Only 15.9% indicated they prefer plain text messages with no media.

While all platforms should have basic SMS capabilities, you’ll also want to verify you can send text messages that include images, GIFs, or videos in countries where carriers support it.

Your provider should also have A/B testing capabilities that let you understand how your subscribers are engaging with different types of messages—and whether they prefer SMS or MMS—to ensure you’re sending them the content they want. Your provider’s platform should allow you to easily understand which message variation was the most effective, and why.

Triggered messaging and segmentation

Triggered messages—which are sent in response to certain customer actions—are a powerful way to engage subscribers at scale. And after welcome messages, we’ve found that abandoned cart reminders—messages sent to subscribers who’ve left their online shopping cart—are brands’ highest-converting type of triggered message.

Send subscribers a triggered message 30 to 60 minutes after they’ve left something in their online cart inviting them to complete their purchase. You can compliment their taste or create a sense of urgency by encouraging them to shop before their items are gone. Personalize your reminder with the name and image of the item to remind them of what they’ve left behind. End with a link back to their cart so they can finish checking out.

Creating the right subscriber segments for these triggered messages—and any SMS campaign—is crucial. Segmentation allows you to increase your ROI and minimize opt-outs by targeting specific groups of subscribers with messages tailored to their preferences and behaviors.

You can tailor your SMS campaigns based on:

  • How often a subscriber segment wants to hear from you
  • Whether a subscriber has clicked or purchased within a given period
  • What types of messages a subscriber is interested in (such as limited-time offers and behind-the-scenes looks)
  • A subscriber’s browse and purchase history
  • A subscriber’s VIP and loyalty status

After you’ve built segments for your most loyal subscribers, you’re ready to send personalized campaigns to capitalize on their engagement. For example, if you’re launching a new product, consider sending subscribers who have purchased a complementary item a text inviting them to shop your new product before anyone else.