SMS Marketing for Retailers: Why it Works, and How to Get Started


The PayBright Team

May 03, 2021

How many times do you check your phone each and every day? If the answer is more than 100, you can already see the business case for SMS marketing in driving sales from your target audience. For many retailers right now, optimizing their SMS game is becoming just as prominent a marketing segment as banner ads or email marketing – because more and more, it's driving results.

According to an article from, 87% of smartphone users check their device within an hour of going to sleep. What’s more, 69% of smartphone users check their device within the first five minutes of waking up in the morning. Those numbers are only expected to rise over time as mobile technology improves.

With people spending more time on their phones than ever before, then, now’s the time to capitalize on or add SMS marketing to your business mix.

Below, we walk you through some of the best tips towards incorporating an SMS marketing strategy.

(Side note: Similar to IT services for legal or financial entities, SMS marketing is something that you could feasibly outsource to a specialist. Before doing so, take time to learn more about this specific form of marketing before you hire an agency to represent you.)

SMS Marketing Tip: Get customer consent, and craft strong messages.

Simply put — and as you know — emails can stay unread for days. So many come in at a given time and missing them, or mistaking some for spam, isn’t out of the ordinary. Conversely, SMS or MMS text messages can be read almost immediately after they’re sent.

A cautionary note: one of the main drawbacks of SMS marketing is its perceived invasiveness, and the potential for SMS messages to come across as spam-like (especially if the end user has not given their consent to receive messages from you). As a result, it is very important that you only send SMS messages to customers who have legally consented, and to send them custom messages that are on-brand and professional. That ultimately builds trust, and a successful SMS program.

SMS Marketing: How to Get Started

Know your customer. Building a contact list is the first step in any successful marketing outreach strategy, a list full of qualified, segmented, perfectly-targeted subscribers. The best way to get subscribers is to get people to opt in on their own. To opt into an SMS marketing campaign, a subscriber must text a keyword to a short code. For instance, a jewellery company might do “RING1” for sales updates or campaigns on their latest rings. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to advertise your keyword through all of your media channels. Be sure to include opt-in instructions, and announce it everywhere possible. The more places you announce your SMS campaign, the longer list you’re likely to generate. Those contests or ads you have running on other platforms can also apply to SMS marketing campaigns.

Choose custom SMS messages. While the above is true, it’s also to create custom SMS messages for special customers. For instance, this can be especially helpful for event planners, artists, and restaurateurs who host private events. Or, depending on your plan, you can divide your contact list into groups based on interests. This is also a great tool for beauty-industry entrepreneurs selling multiple products to their audience.

For instance, let’s say you run a business called Bonnie’s Bracelets. You sell necklaces, rings, and other trendy accessories. Your message to subscribers could be, “Welcome to Bonnie’s Bracelets. For necklace discounts, text 1; for ring discounts, text 2.” If you’re tracking the performance of your SMS campaign, this is a great way to not only see how your best-sellers will perform through SMS, but it will also allow you to target specific content or sales to customers who have a vested interest in a specific product you offer.

Learn the art of exclusivity. At its core, SMS messages should have a scent of exclusivity to them, and should never look or feel like spam. The best way to avoid appearing spam-like is to be authentic and selective, to treat the end user like a VIP. Remember to offer concrete incentives and sophisticated content — more so than on any other marketing channel. Offering exclusivity will decrease unsubscribes and incentivize others to join.

Pay to play. It’s simple: everything you are asking your SMS audience to do should involve some kind of reciprocal incentive or reward. Hitting “Text1” should lead to a discount on a product or service that would be of interest to the end user, for instance. If your customers see the value of being an SMS subscriber after reaping the rewards, not only will they stick around, but they will also tell their friends to subscribe.

Read the room. With SMS messaging, timing is everything. Consider the time you personally spend on your phone, and target those times to send messages. Also, consider limiting your SMS messaging plan to one message per week, especially if you’re just starting out. Time-testing is key here, and once you've seen which times garner the most engagement, send at those times going forward (go with what works!). But when should you test? Start out by testing messages that go out on Mondays, at rush hour, or during the early morning or late at night. Evenings after dinner and lunch hours are always a good time but generally, middays, Thursdays and Fridays are a good day to start. And take advantage of holidays where you can.

There are many reasons why SMS marketing is an effective tool for enterprise brands or entrepreneurs — we’ve listed just five. Tracking your performance and optimizing your campaigns over a period of time will lead to long-term success. Focus on your redemption rates, KPIs, 24-hour opt out rates, click-through rates, and list growth, as these metrics can serve as great indicators of the success, or failure, of your SMS campaigns.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not an exhaustive review of this topic. The content is not financial or investment advice. No professional relationship of any kind is formed between you and PayBright. While we have obtained or compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. We recommend that you consult your personal finance professional before taking any action related to this information. PayBright is a provider of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. BNPL providers offer plans with a variety of terms and conditions, including interest rates, fees, and penalties, and have different standards for qualifying for loans. Laws and regulations governing BNPL providers vary by jurisdiction. We recommend that you compare and contrast plans, read the fine print, and conduct detailed research into any BNPL provider before using their services.

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The PayBright Team

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