As the competition online continues to grow, customers are getting more and more demanding. Therefore, it’s also more difficult for businesses to keep them engaged and interested, not to mention convince new customers to trust their brand.

Being very straightforward and highly personal, SMS marketing is one of the most effective ways to grab your subscribers’ attention and promote your business. Text messages can be used in a variety of ways, but to reach the best results with SMS campaigns, you have to follow the best SMS practices.

In this post, we will go through several different SMS campaign ideas and SMS campaign examples from real brands that you and use to draw inspiration for your next SMS marketing campaign.

How do you escape all the “marketing noise” with text messages?

In 2007, research done by market research firm Yankelovich revealed that an average person is exposed to up to 5,000 ads per day. In 2007!

There are no official figures that we know of today, but the numbers are believed to have nearly doubled since then. Can a simple SMS message cut through all this noise?

Well… Yes. The main advantage of using SMS to achieve your marketing goals is the nature of the channel itself. Every phone on Earth can receive text messages, no internet required. Besides, nowadays people can barely resist checking their phones every so often.

However, that doesn’t mean that SMS marketing doesn’t require any effort. It does, no less than any other way of marketing. Yet choosing the right SMS campaign software, keeping up with the ongoing trends (use of images, videos, personalization, etc.), combining them with the benefits of a text as a channel, and varying between different uses can help you reach the results you desire.

SMS campaign ideas that you can adjust to your business

Welcome messages

Welcome messages are a nice way to greet new customers and start your collaboration on a positive note.

Sending a welcome message also works as a confirmation that the subscription was successful, gives you a chance to provide people with more information about your brand and connect in a way that showcases your unique voice.

It might sound like a small gesture, but if you do it right, that first message can already win over many of your customers’ hearts, like the Starbucks Frappuccino campaign did.

Starbucks Frappuccino SMS campaign example - Welcome message

Seasonal text marketing campaigns

Seasonal sales are probably one of the easiest ways to get people to make a purchase. Think of Christmas or Valentine’s Day, for instance. Presents are on everyone’s mind anyway, all you have to do is to show your subscribers where they can get them.

Your true fans might be expecting to hear from you already and take advantage of the offers you’ve prepared. For this, the fastest way to those sales is a well-crafted bulk SMS campaign.

Seasonal SMS marketing campaign examples

Win back customers campaigns

As per classic saying, it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. And once someone has already bought something from you or used your services, you’d want to keep them coming back. Because you’ve already spent your time and money on winning their business.

Various SMS campaign tools allow you to use automated messages for this by setting up a specific trigger (e.g., ordered 6 months ago) and offering an incentive (a discount, free shipping, a gift, etc.) that would encourage another purchase.

Cross-sell/Up-sell SMS campaigns

Cross-selling example (SMS marketing campaign)

If you want to boost repeat purchases and give a customer a chance to discover some of your other products/increase average order value (AOV), cross-selling and up-selling SMS campaigns can be a great way to do that.

Cross-selling is a tactic when you sell complementary products to a customer. For instance, offering a keyboard to someone who has just bought a computer from you.

Upselling is enhancing the product someone is already buying, like offering a Premium version of some software instead of Basic.  

Abandoned cart SMS campaigns

There are many reasons why shoppers abandon their carts, including unexpected shipping costs, complicated checkout, lack of payment options, etc.

Yet sometimes people just postpone their decision for later (and forget about it), and abandoned cart reminders can help you bring them back to complete that purchase.

Similarly to win back customers SMS, you can set up an automated text and choose how long you want to wait before reminding a customer about products they left in their cart. For instance, you can choose to wait 24 hours before sending a message with a special offer that will hopefully encourage a shopper to come back and help you make another sale.

SMS-only offers

SMS-exclusive offers - examples

When something is exclusive and only available to a specific group of people, it usually makes others want it more. This is human nature, a powerful psychological phenomenon that marketers should keep in mind when working on their SMS and marketing strategies overall.

Therefore, SMS-only offers serve two purposes:

  • Exclusive deals make your existing subscribers feel special. They can help you boost their satisfaction with your brand as well as increase conversion rates.
  • SMS-only deals are another good reason for people to subscribe to your marketing messages, thus helping you grow your SMS list.

Besides offering something valuable, make sure to let your subscribers know that they are part of this special group to encourage the response that you expect.

Product launch text message campaigns

If you aim at making your new product launch a success (and you obviously do), you can’t leave SMS out. This is the channel that can help you reach people who are already interested in shopping with you since they’ve subscribed to your marketing messages.

For the best results, set up a series of different texts before the launch date. For example, with the first message, two weeks in advance, you can let your subscribers know that something new and exciting is coming. It will build suspense.

Send the second message a few days before the launch to remind potential customers about the new product and give them more details. The last message should announce the launch, include a clear call to action and a link where the product can be purchased.

Birthday campaigns

Birthday SMS campaign example

Personalization is a highly valuable aspect of marketing communication, and a lot of customers prefer the messages they get from brands to be tailored to them as much as possible.

If you address your customers by their names, it’s already great. If you can also offer personalized deals – even better. And even though wishing them a happy birthday once per year might seem like nothing, it’s not only one of those things that’s just nice to have but also something that can boost your customer loyalty to your brand.

5 SMS campaign examples for inspiration

1. Starbucks Frappuccino SMS marketing campaign

Starbucks Happy Hour SMS marketing campaign

Starbucks has been making good use of various SMS marketing campaigns for a while already, and they're usually simple but truly impactful. You already got a sneak peek of what we're talking about in the first half of this post, but here’s more.

Several years ago, Starbucks launched a campaign called “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” during which it invited coffee-lovers to opt-in for up to 6 SMS and MMS messages per month. Different calls-to-action then appeared on social media (like “Text STRAW” on Facebook, “Text SIPYEAH” on Twitter, etc.), and fans were greeted with fun “space cats” as you’ve already seen in the example above.

There was also another idea based on how quickly people tend to look at text messages. Starbucks invited everyone to text HAPPY to their shortcode to receive daily reminders about Frappuccino Happy Hour, providing information about ongoing limited-time promotions and effectively growing their subscribers' list.

2. Amazon’s Treasure Truck

Amazon Treasure Truck campaign

The idea behind Amazon's Treasure Truck is to offer people a fun and exciting way to shop while also encouraging them to subscribe to the company's texts.

Treasure Truck first appeared in public in 2016 when it started driving through different cities, offering exclusive deals. It was all about the surprise which has turned shopping into kind of a game.

Amazon would track trending, somehow special, or highly-discounted products and create limited-time deals in exchange for opting-in. People could take advantage of the offer on the spot and pick up their orders immediately.

Amazon would then keep sending its subscribers a few deals a month with the link to a secret Treasure Truck page, allowing them to see a pick-up location for the next order or offering a delivery option right to their door.

3. Subway SMS campaign

Subway SMS campaign

Subway is another food brand that uses SMS messages to offer special deals to its subscribers.

5 years ago, Subway invited interested clients to opt-in for their weekly SMS marketing deals, and receive a free 6-inch subway sandwich with the purchase of a 30 oz drink in exchange. Once someone subscribes to Subway's offers, they receive a coupon that must be redeemed during the next 5 minutes.

At the time of writing, Subway is running a similar campaign where they offer to purchase the same 6-inch sandwich for only $2.99 after signing up for weekly coupons.

4. Red Cross Text To Donate campaign

Red Cross text to donate campaign

Not only food and other commercial brands take advantage of the convenience of SMS marketing. The Red Cross, for instance, uses it to collect donations to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

By simply texting REDCROSS to 90999, people can donate $10 to help people recover from hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Texting PREVENT will give $10 to the Red Cross and help to vaccinate children to reduce deaths from measles.

5. Disney’s Text To Wait campaign

Disney’s Oga’s Cantina text to wait campaign

When Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge finally opened in Disneyland and Disney World, everyone expected it to be a big hit. Oga’s Cantina, where curious fans could enjoy intergalactic treats, was an especially popular attraction, and to make the experience better for visitors, Disney decided to go with text messages.

Before thousands of people hit the lines, Disney decided to use texting to reduce waiting times and allow everyone to enjoy the space. Or to put it simply, it created a virtual line where anyone who wants to visit Oga’s Cantina could text their name and a number of people they're coming with to save them a spot.

Then, Disney would text back with an estimated waiting time. So no one gets to waste their time just standing there and waiting, and could go straight to the attraction as soon as they get the message with an update.

It’s now time to launch your next SMS marketing campaign

Those are just a few SMS campaign examples and ideas worth keeping in mind when planning your first (or next) SMS marketing campaign.

Regardless of the industry, the kind of business you're in, or the organization you belong to, SMS marketing can be used to meet various needs and serve different purposes. So go through the list once again, draw inspiration or simply make a few adjustments to the ideas given, and start building your SMS campaigns to achieve your goals.

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