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Mobile MarketingNovember 29, 2016Written by Dean Withey

16 Reasons SMS Marketing Works for Small Businesses

sms marketing small busi

Lots of companies are wary of SMS marketing for small business. Having worked with mobile messaging for a long time, I am amazed when I hear the reasoning behind it.

"Oh, it is too expensive" (there doesn't have to be any cost),

"Oh, it is too complicated" (it is one of the easiest channels to 'do'), or,

"Oh, I am not sure it will create an ROI" (the ROI can be enormous).

These objections may have been true 5+ years ago (except arguably ROI) but with telecoms and software improvements, along with a more accepting consumer sentiment, SMS marketing for small business is probably one of the hottest marketing trends right now.

Here is a helpful, easily digestible, breakdown of 16 reasons why.

Why SMS marketing works for small businesses

  1. It just works
  2. You can drive people straight to the phone or website
  3. It is super quick to get started
  4. You do have the resources
  5. It can create a significant ROI
  6. It is not complicated
  7. You can deliver exclusivity
  8. It is immediate
  9. You can engage in two-way communication
  10. You can integrate it with other (current) channels
  11. You can get closer to your customers
  12. You can engage your customers
  13. You can compete with the big boys
  14. You can send the message precisely on time
  15. It's not as expensive as you think
  16. You can do all this for free.

How small businesses take advantage of SMS marketing

1 - It just works

I get a Domino's Pizza text every Friday night.

dominos sms marketing example

Guess what I eat most Friday nights?

I get a message from my car garage telling me my service is due.

Guess whom I call the next day?

My CDN (getting a bit geeky here) notices strange traffic to one of our websites and sends me a text.

Guess who drops everything and checks what is going on?

You have probably received messages similar to these, and I am fairly confident your actions would be similar to mine. Huge companies use SMS to engage and communicate with their customers and fans actively.

Lower pricing and better technology allow all the little guys to get a piece of the action too.

2 - You can drive people straight to the phone or website

Your messages have one clear objective (it's one of the 5 and a half things you need to know about SMS!). To encourage people to do something. It is not an email where there are 103,172 things to click, images to look at and words to read.

It is a single sentence that goes something like:

"Hey you, you asked me to tell you when to do something. It is now time to do it. Do this now."

Well, hopefully, you will write it much more eloquently, but you get the idea.

With SMS you give people one thing to do. Usually either to call you or to click on a link. Effective.

3 - It is super quick to get started

I know I know. Small business, tight resources and everyone working their butts off.

One day you are doing marketing, next day dealing with customers and when you go home you are fiddling with spreadsheets. I know, it is tough (I am sat on the couch writing this after a long day at the office).

Adding mobile marketing is just another 'thing' someone has to setup, manage, be responsible for and deliver an ROI.

What if I told you that you that you can get setup within an hour?

Here's a promise.

Contact me and I promise I will have you setup with an SMS number, have an autoresponder and full campaign created and running within one hour.

4 - You do have the resources

My promise might sound great, but you will need someone to be responsible for mobile messaging. Otherwise, it will just become another one of those things you tried that fizzled out.

Here are all the resources you will need to commit.

Setup time: 1 hour.

Learning how to use software: 1-2 hours over a couple of weeks.

Monitoring conversations: 1-2 hours per week.

Creating promotional content to collect subscribers: Outsourced or 4-5 hours in-house.

The cost of the software: Depends on requirements.

Cost to send messages: About £40 for 1,000 someone's (gets cheaper the more you send).

The cost for an SMS number: About £25 to own forever.

All in?

1 hour to start, 6-8 hours to learn and create content over two weeks and about £65 to message your first 1,000 customers.

The average read rate of an SMS? 98%.

The average time it takes a subscriber to read a message? 3 minutes.


A few hours and £65 to get 980 customers reading your message within 3 minutes.

5 - It can create a significant ROI

What is more expensive? Spending money on software you never use (zero ROI), or software that does not produce any real results (low ROI). Alternatively, using software that costs you £65 - £300 per month that does provide a reportable ROI?

Here's a sample SMS ROI:

Software cost: £100

Number of subscribers: 1,000

Campaigns per month: 4

Average read rate: 94% (lowered it to make it worst case)

Estimate response rate: 35% (again, we lowered)

Average product value you sell: £25


Number of SMS read: 3,760

Number of responses: 1,316

Estimated revenue: £32,900

Costs: £100 (software) + £160 (message) = £260

Estimated profit: £32,640

Return on Investment: 12,453%

6 - It is not complicated

Refer to point 3 above, and let us have a quick look at what is involved with a couple of other marketing channels.

Think about email concerns:

Writing, design, subscribers, images, cost, copyrights, unsubscribes, fake email addresses, low click rates, spam filters, timing and brand.

Think about social media concerns:

Writing, design, fans, voice, tone, low click rate, timing, information overload, connections and brand.

Think about print advertising concerns:

Writing, design, cost, voice, tone, hard to report on, brand and placement.

Think about SMS marketing concerns:

Writing, cost, voice, tone, brand, subscribers and timing.

SMS is efficient at driving leads, traffic and sales and is less complicated than other channels.

7 - You can deliver exclusivity

SMS subscribers have given you access to their private world, their mobile phone, and their direct telephone number.

You owe it to them to make them feel privileged and exclusive. As a small business, you are best placed to do this as you are flexible, have the better understanding of your customer and the ability to perfect the finite.

Guess what happens when people feel privileged and receive an exclusive service? They engage with you and buy from you.

Mobile marketing gives you the chance to go above and beyond any experience, they have had with similar companies.

8 - It is immediate

You have an event tomorrow, Friday night, and pre-booked attendance is looking a little low. You need more people to come along, and you need to get the word out quickly.

On Friday morning you send an SMS to people in the local area who are in your events list. They see the message pop up on their phone right away (remember that 98% read within 3 minutes stat), hey presto - more people are coming to your event.

You have probably told the same person about that event many times over the last couple of weeks. Email, social media and other channels just don't have the immediacy and call to action of mobile messaging.

Your message captured the last-minute decision makers, reminded them and spurred them to action.

9 - You can engage in two-way communication

Talking to people on their mobile phone lends itself to more than just broadcasting content.

When you have someone's attention, make the most of it and engage in a conversation.

Rather than "event tonight at 7 pm. Hope you can make it", it can be "Hi Dean, are you coming along to Coffee and Networking tonight?".

The right software allows you to engage personally but at scale. We call it conversational marketing.

Think of the experience you will give your customers and fans. You are talking to them and asking them direct questions.

10 - You can integrate it with other (current) channels

To best leverage mobile marketing you need to integrate it across channels.

Mobile marketing (done correctly) is always opt-in. You need to rely on your other channels to get people into your mobile messaging lists. If you never tell your customers and fans how to opt-in, you will never maximise the potential of mobile.

Promote the exclusivity of your mobile marketing through social media, email newsletters, face-to-face, TV, radio, direct mail, signs in your shop. Everywhere you can, you should explain to people how they can get exclusive promotions, announcements and whatever else via mobile messaging.

As a small business you are in the best position to do this, and reap the reward.

You are more agile, have greater control over your brand collateral and can create great motivation for customers to switch to your mobile list.

When they are on that list, you will get the best results, engagement and ROI as you can create more bespoke, personalised content because you probably know your customers better than larger businesses.

11 - You can get closer to your customers

Talking of customers, mobile messaging as a small business allows you to learn and understand their needs and frustrations quicker and easier.

Small businesses play on their ability to promote better customer service than larger competitors. Mobile messaging and chatbots power personal and customised experiences.

Most of your customers will have their phone on them at all times. If they ever get stuck or lost using your product, your company is just a quick message away. To enhance this, you are best placed to capitalise on the personal nature of mobile messaging. Your response and subsequent conversation are what will set you apart from that larger rival.

12 - You can engage your customers

The low cost of mobile messaging means you can send regular messages to your customers and engage in frequent (but not obtrusive) conversation.

As you saw in point 9 above, rather than telling someone about an event, why not ask if they are coming?

They might have questions about what to wear, who the speakers are or if they should bring anything. These issues might have stopped them from coming, but as you asked...

13 - You can compete with the big boys

Mobile messaging is not about fancy animations, expensive designs and full-blown video. You do not need to pay a creative genius to create all the collateral.

All you need is words.

Sure, some people are better at writing words than others, but versus big rivals, the playing field has been levelled.

The messages you send will look the same as those sent by multi-bajillion dollar companies.

You shine by adding value and a personalised experience. Something the big boys find it very hard to do.

14 - You can send the message precisely on time

As I mentioned above, bloomin' Domino's Pizza and their 5:30 pm text on Fridays. It gets me too often. I would love to know their ROI.

You have every chance to achieve the same results. With mobile messaging, timing is everything. 98% of recipients open their message instantly, but, as the message lacks the memory-making design and creativity, they tend to be forgotten quickly.

It is your job to catch them exactly when they are looking for you.

Sell a b2b product? Send on a Friday afternoon when people are looking for excuses not to work.

Sell microwave meals? What about 6 pm when it is likely people might be leaving work late.

Sell vanity based beauty treatments? How about nails and blow dry deal on Friday morning

The detailed knowledge you have with your customers allows you to target and send precisely when they are looking for your product.

15 - It's not as expensive as you think.

SMS is a channel notorious for its cost. When compared to email or mobile messaging (see below), sure, the cost of running an SNS campaign with your customers can be high.

However, it is not as high as you think. In most countries, the cost of an SMS is actually very low. Before completely denying yourself of this channel due to potential cost, get in touch with your provider. As we've seen before, SMS can bring enormous ROI -- you don't want to miss out!

16 - The grand finale. You can do all this for free.

Well done if you got this far and survived my shoddy writing. As a reward, you get the super-secret information left at the end of long blog posts.

In this case, it is the knowledge that you can do everything I just wrote about at zero cost per message. After all, we are now in 2017 and not the '90s.

Messaging applications like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Viver and the like are now more popular than social media. The top three messaging apps each boast more than 1 billion monthly users.

Messaging apps are free for both businesses and consumers to send messages (except Viber, but meh.)

Everything I have talked about above still applies, but now you can communicate with everyone, as often as you like, for free. See how the chatbots we build do it.

The icing on the cake? Goodbye boring old plain-text. Hello rich media. Images, audio, video and clickable buttons are now ours to play with.

Ready to give it a try? Get in touch with us and we'll discuss your chatbot build!

I look forward to seeing what you create (and you telling me all about your ridiculous ROI).