SMS marketing continues to gain popularity, and it's expected to increase by 52% by 2023. According to our 2020 Global Messaging Engagement Report, SMS is the 2nd-most-preferred communication channel among generations young and old throughout the world.
However, not all text message campaigns are created equally. Some lead to high conversion rates and customer engagement, while others cause frustration, unsubscribes, and damage to brand reputation.
Obviously, you'd prefer the former over the latter—but that's easier said than done. Let us lend you a hand.
This quick-and-easy SMS marketing case studies guide will walk you through best practices, customer case studies, key takeaways, and additional campaign opportunities.
Let's jump right in.
Text Message Marketing Best Practices
SMS marketing (also known as text message marketing) is an effective marketing tool, but only when used appropriately. We'll walk you through a few best practices to get you started on the right foot.
Get Permission With Opt-Ins
SMS marketing and email marketing are examples of permission-based marketing, which means users need to opt-in to your campaigns before you start sending them messages. This isn't just good etiquette, either—it's the law.
Diversify Your Channels
Not everyone is going to want promotional or reminder texts—some prefer to receive those messages via email. Meet your customers where they’re comfortable by using a variety of channels. That could be SMS, email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or even push notifications.
Use a Brand-Friendly Short Code
A short code is a special 5-to-6 digit number designed for high-throughput, two-way messaging. These numbers are easier to remember and type (because they're shorter), and they're optimized for marketing. Wireless carriers individually approve these short code numbers, meaning your message will send faster and get blocked less often. This is critical for time-sensitive offers, like flash sales and limited-time discounts.
Always Provide a Call to Action (CTA)
Every text message should have a clear, concise CTA. Tell your recipient exactly what to do with your messages: "click to buy," "text us back," "sign up before it's too late," "enroll in the program," etc.
In need of inspiration? Use these 12 templates and examples to help you write your SMS messages.
Engage in Real-Time Conversations
Unlike TV commercials, radio ads, and social media ads, text messaging should be a two-way conversation. Allow your customers to respond to your messages and then engage in a value-oriented manner. If you're sending massive campaigns, consider setting up automations to automatically send personalized follow-up texts so you don't leave your customer hanging while you get to their message.
Measure Your Results
Monitor your open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Data like this will help inform future campaigns so that you can optimize and prioritize the right messages. Twilio’s Messaging Insights provides real-time analytics to help you monitor your messaging before there’s an issue. If you see a problem, you can immediately implement a fix before too many customers are affected.
Ready to set up SMS for your business? Learn how in our article on getting started with SMS.
6 Best SMS Marketing Case Studies
1. Game of Thrones Averages 18.6 Million Viewers Per Episode
HBO wanted to give Game of Thrones (GOT) fans a more immersive experience than traditional TV commercials and Facebook posts could create. They tapped into the power of SMS to send personalized text messages through a campaign dubbed the Three-Eyed Raven.
The text-powered service sent reminders, clues, and links to subscribed fans that teased out upcoming episodes. The Three-Eyed Raven gained 70,000 subscribers within the first two months of launching, helping create record-high hype for every GOT episode of the season.
2. Longmont Climbing Gym Promotes Engagement With SMS Updates
Longmont Climbing Collective uses a point-based system to reward members who visit the club, refer friends, share the gym's posts on social media, and more. Members can redeem these points for free guest passes, shoe rentals, discounts on retail, and even an hour-long privilege of choosing the gym's Pandora radio station.
However, most members forget about these incentives without a friendly reminder. To keep it at the top of everyone's mind, the gym regularly sends out SMS updates when you earn enough points to unlock a new perk. It's a fun way to get the members engaged, and it also encourages the community to invite friends and support the retail shop.
3. Salesforce Instantly Collects 19,000 Survey Responses
When Salesforces throws a party, you know it's going to be big. In 2009, Dreamforce hosted more than 19,000 attendees at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center. Salesforce didn't want to crown the "Best Partner App" on their own—they wanted the audience to vote.
Salesforce worked with Twilio to create a quick, user-friendly app that attendees could text to vote for their favorite apps. Over 19,000 users voted via SMS, creating a fun, real-time engagement aspect to the event.
4. Hydroflask Uses MMS Marketing to Show You the Goods
Hydroflask's brand is well-known for vibrant-colored steel water bottles, but it's hard to convey the brand's true nature with text alone. That's why Hydroflask takes advantage of MMS marketing to include colorful images of its products. (Not sure what MMS is? Here’s a quick explainer.)
A few times a month, the brand sends marketing text messages to show off its brand-new bottles and themes. They successfully achieve the delicate balance between show and tell without overwhelming consumers with too many marketing messages.
5. Airbnb Streamlines Rental Experience for 60 Million Travelers Worldwide
Airbnb lets users from around the world book lodgings. However, once a guest has sent in a reservation request, the host has just 32 hours to accept or decline the booking. Often, hosts aren't always at their computer, and they needed a quick, reliable way to respond to requests.
Airbnb turned to SMS to take the conversation between hosts and guests from the desktop to the mobile device. If a host doesn't respond to a request, they'll receive an automated SMS message from Airbnb with all the details they need—and they can text their accept or reject response.
"We have hosts all over the globe, and they always have their phones with them," says Naomi Arnold, customer service, Airbnb. "By allowing them to accept requests via SMS, we have significantly improved the percentage of successful bookings while saving countless hours of manual calling."
6. Dell Uses SMS Alerts to Keep Customers in the Know
Dell is one of the largest PC and monitor vendors in the world, but it's not easy keeping up with all that demand. To keep up with order confirmations and customer alerts, they implemented text message marketing.
This text would update customers on orders, and they'd also inform customers of credit card holds. With instantaneous updates, customers were able to quickly return to the site to enter a different method of payment or contact their credit card company to resolve the issue. With 98% of SMS messages being read within 4-6 minutes of delivery (compared to 22% for email), Dell was able to keep customers always in the know.
Start SMS Marketing With Twilio
Ready to add text to your own marketing arsenal? Twilio Studio can help you easily turn SMS messages into powerful two-way conversations.
Looking for more inspiration? Explore more case studies from 150,000+ of your peers, from startups to global enterprises, and what they've built using Twilio.