Home Advertising How SMS Marketing Can Boost Sales Better Than Email

How SMS Marketing Can Boost Sales Better Than Email

  • Short-message service, or SMS, can help businesses stay in direct contact with customers.
  • Customers must opt in to receive texts, so conversion rates tend to be higher than with email.
  • SMS programs can be an added expense, but one founder said it saved his business from failure.
  • This article is part of “Marketing for Small Business,” a series exploring the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs to earn new customers and grow their business.

When it launched 10 years ago, GreenPal, an app connecting people to local lawn-care services, initially relied on emails to customers about booking yard work or paying their bills. It got few responses, yet its customer-service team was inundated with calls.  

“We’d say, ‘We sent you five emails,’ and they’d say, ‘Well, I don’t check my email,'” Bryan Clayton, the company’s cofounder and CEO, told Insider.

After a year in business, the Nashville, Tennessee, company decided it had to find a new way to communicate with customers, so it turned to short-message service, SMS, also known as text messaging.

Data indicates that people check their phones every 10 to 12 minutes and spend most of that time reading and responding to text messages. Businesses have caught on — in a survey from SimpleTexting, nearly nine in 10 companies polled said they had communicated with their customers via text in the past year.

Since 2014, SMS marketing has helped GreenPal stay in direct contact with its 300,000 customers nationwide, increasing sales and engagement, Clayton said. Customers can request lawn-care quotes, confirm appointments, and receive reminders via text, and landscaping companies are notified when they’ve been hired.

“Without SMS, I don’t know that we’d be in business because we just couldn’t figure out another way to keep people in the loop,” he said. 

Here’s why SMS marketing can be a successful way to reach your customers. 

Directly communicate about appointments and discounts

Texting is generally people’s preferred method of communication, and texts are usually opened within just a few minutes, Barbara Casey, the CEO of Mobile High 5, an SMS-marketing agency, told Insider. 

Customers tend to be especially responsive to text messages from businesses because they’re required by law to opt in to receive them.

Texting lets small businesses connect with customers one-on-one at any time about a given subject, Casey said. For instance, salons send appointment reminders, retailers offer coupon codes, and restaurants can alert customers about the status of their takeout orders.

Reengage customers and boost sales 

SMS has helped GreenPal reactivate cold accounts and reconnect with people who signed up but never hired lawn services. It often sends texts to those prospective customers with a discount if they book services, Clayton said.

“We hear all the time, ‘I tried y’all out last year, and I totally forgot about you. Then, I got your text message,'” he said. 

GreenPal’s SMS interface also enables existing customers to easily change their service, such as increasing the frequency of lawn mowing or adding pruning or gutter cleaning, Clayton said. Adding these features led to a boost in sales, he added.

By enabling customers to communicate with the company via text, GreenPal also reduced the number of customer-service calls it received.

“The whole trick with texting is you want to surprise and delight people,” Casey said.

That means sending relevant messages that customers want, not bombarding them. 

Depending on the business and its goals, Casey recommended sending anywhere from a couple of texts a month to one a week. 

Follow the rules 

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act requires that businesses get consent from customers before they can send marketing-related text messages. Businesses also have to provide an easy way for customers to opt out.

The law stipulates what text messages a business can send and when. For example, texts can be sent only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the recipient’s time zone. Businesses that don’t comply can face fines of $500 to $1,500 per noncompliant text, Casey said.

Understanding these rules is the biggest hurdle small businesses face in getting started in SMS marketing, she added. Often, businesses need to hire a company to build a custom program or use application-programming-interface services that offer SMS marketing, such as Mailchimp or Twilio.

“It’s not possible to do it yourself,” Clayton said, adding that GreenPal initially tried but ended up using Plivo for its SMS program.

While it’s an added expense, he said, text-message communication became the “lifeblood” of his company.