SMS campaigns: how to get started (with examples)

Topic: Marketing, SMS, SMS Marketing
graphic of a people and phones to represent SMS alerts

Boost sales with SMS marketing campaigns that cut through the noise with an open rate of up to 98%…

With a mobile phone never far from a customer’s fingertips, SMS remains one of the most efficient and effective ways to make an impact. Some 5.44 billion people around the world use mobile phones, and five billion people use SMS to communicate – a figure that is only going to rise further in the coming years. 

SMS is a trusted marketing tool because it enables marketers to deliver highly-relevant and personalised messages on a mass scale. It’s powerful in its own right but SMS can also complement other communications channels used throughout the customer journey. 

Here, we break down what an SMS campaign is, the benefits and how you could create one.

What is an SMS campaign? 

SMS – which stands for short messaging service – is available to any mobile phone user, including those who don’t own a smartphone. 

It’s simply another term for text messaging. While SMS has faced competition from web-enabled messaging services in recent years, it is still a popular way for people to communicate with friends and family.

Businesses and other organisations also use SMS as a marketing tool, creating campaigns to engage with current and potential customers, helping to boost brand awareness and sales. Often, this includes timely special offers and discount codes, or SMS surveys to collect instant customer feedback.

To learn more about how SMS marketing works, read our in-depth guide: SMS Marketing: Tapping into the Power of SMS 

Why create SMS marketing campaigns? 

Quickfire and concise in nature, SMS helps marketers cut through the noise with personalised communications that don’t get stuck in spam filters and have an open rate of 98% – compared to around 20% in email marketing. Acting as another touchpoint in the customer journey, SMS can amplify your other marketing activities such as social media, online ads, and email. 

Along with high open rates, here are some reasons why SMS campaigns might be right for you:

Direct reach: Text messages are instant and reach your customers directly, and don’t get lost in a crowded inbox.

Personalised: You can easily personalise text messages to connect with your customers and enhance loyalty and satisfaction.  

Boost sales: Attractive special offers and discounts can feel exclusive and create a sense of urgency. These can be timed to boost revenue during quiet periods or to maximise seasonal campaigns.

Save costs: SMS is a budget-friendly marketing tool – and the more texts you send, the less each message costs. Moreover, since messages are succinct (a maximum of 612 characters), your team doesn’t have to spend hours on extensive copywriting and design which frees them up for other activities.

SMS campaign examples 

There are a number of ways you can use SMS campaigns throughout a customer journey, including:

Welcome message

Sending a friendly welcome SMS when customers open an account, registers or subscribes gets your relationship off to the right start, and is a way to encourage action such as visiting the website or downloading the app. 

welcome text message example on an iphone with a discount link

Special offers

Drive sales with time-sensitive special offers, such as Black Friday deals with a code to use when they make a purchase, and track them via your SMS platform so you can monitor and refine them, and improve marketing ROI. 

black friday special offer text message

Appointment or reservation reminders

Many of us lead busy lives – so a timely reminder via SMS provides a convenient service that people value. It also reduces the risk, and cost, of a no-show. 

Delivery updates 

Keeping customers up-to-date on the status of their delivery is another way to make customers’ lives easier, and keep them engaged until they receive their purchase.


SMS is also a great way to send out information ahead of, or during, an event. Consider a festival, for example. You might want to release details of the artists or vendors confirmed, and run competitions in the months beforehand to drive ticket sales and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Nearer to the time, you can provide details on entry, how to get there, and what to bring. After the event, SMS is a valuable way to get feedback and generate interest for the next event. 

event reminder sms example message

Customer feedback 

Customer feedback via surveys helps you to refine your marketing campaigns and products/services. Since open rates with SMS are so high, it is an effective way to run quick surveys – for example, a pulse survey triggered by a purchase or visit. 

Take a look at our SMS marketing campaigns round-up to see what yours could look like. 

SMS Surveys

How to create an SMS campaign 

If you’re looking to launch a successful SMS campaign, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Choose your SMS marketing provider 

To start your SMS campaign journey, you need a reliable and experienced SMS provider so you can confidently create, manage, send and track messages via a single platform. Also essential is choosing one that enables you to comply easily with relevant regulations such as GDPR.

At Esendex, we have over 20 years of experience in SMS campaigns and help our customers send over five billion messages a year. Using our platform, you can send one-off texts or bulk SMS to a defined audience, automate your SMS campaigns, and create branded and personalised SMS landing pages. We are also ISO 27001 accredited for information security to support GDPR compliance. To find out more, click here

  1. Build your campaign 

A good SMS platform makes it easy to build your campaign using predefined fields. The first step is to build a contacts list, segmented according to who you want to target. Your message should be clear and succinct, without jargon or abbreviations that might cause confusion. Then choose a time to schedule it so it has maximum impact – for example, a special offer with a compelling CTA could be sent to coincide with most people’s payday.

  1. Provide opt-out options

To comply with GDPR rules, you’ll need to make it easy for customers to opt out of your SMS campaign if they want to, especially if it’s a cold prospect. This option should be displayed on every message, not just the first one. GDPR aside, it will damage your brand’s reputation if you constantly bombard people with messages they don’t want to receive. A simple instruction to say ‘STOP’, ‘OPT-OUT’ or ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ gives subscribers the control they need and ensures your business remains compliant. 

  1. Hit send 

After double checking your text message, you can easily schedule it for the data and time you want via your platform. Esendex aims to process 90% of your texts within five seconds and 95% within 20 seconds, so you can reach your customers at speed. 

  1. Review your campaign  

Once your campaign is underway, you can start to measure performance and understand ROI in near real-time using metrics such as delivery rate, conversion rate and cost-per-conversion. Armed with this information, you can identify what worked well and areas for improvement to optimise your next campaign. For SMS surveys, Esendex offers an analytics and reports service, so you can get instant access to your results. 

To find out how Esendex can support your SMS campaigns, check out our SMS solutions for businesses.

Author Avatar
Laura Haynes

Hey I'm Laura, UK&I Marketing Manager at Esendex đź‘‹ I enjoy developing and implementing marketing strategies and campaign experiences that create brand awareness and drive revenue by winning, growing and retaining engaged customers.