9 Creative SMS Marketing Campaigns We Love

June 17, 2021
Written by
Reviewed by

A single API to reach your customers wherever they are....

SMS is an invaluable channel of communication that shouldn't be ignored in your marketing strategy. Because we live in a world dominated by cell phones and smartphones, recipients are just seconds away at any given time. Unlike other marketing channels, SMS is immediate and simple, delivering your message quickly to the people that need to receive it. That being said, it can be hard to stand out in a heavily text-based platform.

Whether you’re a text message marketing pro or just getting started, creative SMS marketing campaigns can make or break your overall marketing efforts. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite ways that brands have gotten our attention, why they were effective, and how you can emulate them in your own strategy.

Let’s get into all the ways you can creatively elevate your SMS marketing strategy and boost your engagement rates.

1) Have fun with sale notifications

Suds-free coupon code

Sales and limited-time discounts provide the perfect opportunity to run creative SMS campaigns that engage new and returning customers alike. Creative coupon codes could include anything from lighthearted jokes and puns to pop culture references, just so long as it's appropriate and fun!

Verb is a salon-quality hair-care brand that has creative SMS marketing messages down to a science. Originally, I signed up to receive text messages from Verb to get on a waitlist for a new product, but I've remained subscribed to keep up with the timely, fun messages.

As shown in the SMS text above, using a discount count code like “SUDSFREE” rather than “15OFF” to promote dry shampoos can be effective in promoting a sale. This code is more creative and is likely to stick in a recipient’s mind as they shop.

2) Don’t forget about holiday promos

Brooklinen Memorial Day sale reminder

The above Memorial Day sale notification from Brooklinen uses lighthearted, conversational language to grab the recipient’s attention. On any holiday weekend full of sales and discounts, it’s crucial to stand out. In this case, the casual tone combined with the sense of urgency created in the call to action makes a compelling case for a recipient to click through to the time-sensitive sale.

3) Use images to break up text

Text with images

Images can elevate your messaging campaigns by breaking up a channel that heavily relies on text. These images could include product photos, gifs, or marketing graphics but should be related to the content of your campaign.

The above examples depict great ways to seamlessly incorporate visual elements into a text campaign. Both use product photos or related images that add to the content of the message without overwhelming the recipient.

It’s important to note that messages sent with images are no longer SMS but MMS. For more information on how MMS and SMS differ, check out What are SMS and MMS and How Do They Differ?

4) Prioritize your returning customers

Brooklinen personalized coupon code

Though new customers are crucial, it’s important to remember and engage your returning customers with targeted campaigns. Nurture campaigns for returning customers are most effective when making customers feel valued. You can do this by personalizing messages with recipients’ names and previous purchases, which builds a familiar and friendly relationship between brands and customers.

The above nurture campaign from retailer Brooklinen shows several effective ways to build a relationship with a recipient. Using the customer’s name in the first message helps to create a sense of familiarity with the sender. The casual language in the copy of the SMS also promotes that same sense of friendliness, even in a marketing message.

The second message makes the customer feel valued by the brand, enticing them to convert by offering a store credit based on a previous order. This creative campaign keeps loyal customers engaged and rewards them for their purchase.

Personalizing your copy to customers’ preferences is crucial to a successful SMS marketing campaign. We created a comprehensive guide exploring all the ways you can use customer data to better engage with your target audience.

5) Utilize emojis

Discount for next order

The above campaign from a local pizza restaurant provides returning customers a discount code for certain menu items on their next order. Utilizing a gif, emojis, and fun copy, this campaign is more engaging to look at than a traditional text-based SMS.

This campaign also provides a reminder before the discount expires. The follow-up maintains the tone set by the initial message and still utilizes emojis to keep the message visually interesting.

That being said, don’t go overboard with emojis because too many can make a message look like spam.

6) Spice up subscription confirmations

SMS subscription confirmation

Subscription confirmation messages should first and foremost be informational, providing SMS subscribers with everything they need to know about signing up. In this case, keeping it simple can be the best plan.

The above message provides everything a recipient needs to know about their opt in for SMS updates, including the frequency and content of messages as well as how to unsubscribe from the list.

However, these messages could have been further elevated with the use of gifs or emojis to break up the text.

7) Send fun event reminders

Signal day 2 reminders

Let your creativity rule in the world of reminders. While you’ll still need to include the most important information about the event, feel free to have fun with the copy.

The above messages are event notifications from Twilio’s SIGNAL 2020. Twilio utilized some creative copy to deliver the most important information about keynote speakers and events. Then broke up the messages by using emojis related to the keynote or product discussed. This helps set the messages apart from other marketing SMS campaigns and keeps recipients engaged in what is otherwise a routine reminder.

Remember, you don’t have to sacrifice information for creativity—your messages can serve more than one purpose!

8) Show off your brand’s personality

Ikea click and collect series

Sales and event reminders are the tip of the iceberg in creative SMS content marketing. The above SMS example displays IKEA’s Click and Collect SMS series. IKEA keeps the series simple but engaging by maintaining a light, conversational tone throughout the copy. The final message even includes the Swedish phrase for goodbye, providing a memorable conclusion to the experience while staying true to the brand’s persona.

What really sets the IKEA series apart is its conversational, friendly tone and commitment to the brand’s voice. To replicate this in your own strategy, you’ll want to develop a series of ordered messages that provide clear information or instructions for recipients. Be sure to highlight your brand’s unique personality throughout the copy and keep it light.

9) Encourage interaction with your brand

Beautylish delivery confirmation with gif

The above message meets all the necessary criteria needed for an effective delivery confirmation alert—it includes the brand name, order confirmation number, and reports the delivery of the order. On top of that, it encourages recipients to participate by rating how excited they are that their package was delivered. If they choose to respond, recipients receive a gif back from the brand. This simple but fun interaction between marketer and customer is memorable and provides recipients with a choice about participation.

Replicate this by creating the opportunity for conversation with your recipients. Have fun with this! Whether you follow Beautylish’s lead by sending reaction gifs or create a set of text-based responses, this kind of two-way communication between brands and customers helps to boost that invaluable sense of familiarity between the groups.

Tips & tools before you send

When sending SMS messages, you’ll want to prioritize the most important information in every message, as you’ll have limited characters to use. If you need more space to tell your story, combine your SMS efforts with your email program to create a powerful multichannel campaign.

To get you started, we’ve compiled some resources that provide a crash course in all things SMS:

Let’s start sending SMS campaigns

No matter where you are in your SMS marketing journey, Twilio can help you get your messages to your recipients. Powering over 66 billion messages per year, Twilio’s SMS APIs are ready to help you get started. With code-based and no-code building options, everyone can send using Twilio. Sign up for free today.