Learning center
April 4, 2022

SMS Messages − Pros and Cons of the Communication Channel and Campaign Examples

An SMS is a short text message sent via cell phones. You don’t need Internet access to receive an SMS, if the recipient doesn’t have network coverage, they’ll receive the message as soon as their signal is restored. The SMS contains the sender’s name and a text in which you can insert a link.

We all know what a text message looks like, but here's a reminder:

Visual of an SMS
Visual of an SMS

Pros of SMS Mailings

High open rate

The open rate of SMS messages is 80%, making it one of the highest rates among all channels. There are two reasons behind this. SMS are directly sent to phones unlike email services or separate messengers. Customers receive fewer SMS than messages in other channels.

SMS messages are more likely to be read by customers than messages sent via email, web push notifications, and communications from other channels.

Quick Response

According to our data, 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes. This is due to the fact that SMS messages immediately appear on smartphone screens. There is no need for customers to open their email apps to find the message. The message can be read by simply picking up the phone.

3minutes
the average time within which 90% of SMS messages are read

Reliability

Emails can end up in spam, and mobile push notifications may not be received due to network problems. Unlike other channels, SMS doesn’t require an internet connection. Mobile network coverage is all the customer needs to receive the message. This makes SMS a reliable message transmission channel. For example, it works perfectly when it comes to one-time passwords or informing about emergencies.

Cons of SMS Mailings

Cost

SMS is one of the most expensive channels (1 message costs $0.026 on average). Mailings to 100,000 customers can cost up to $3,240. This makes mass SMS mailings an expensive tool, which may not be viable for everyone in the market.

Consent to receive SMS

The recipient’s consent is mandatory prior to sending any mailings. This can be done both electronically and in paper form via signing in-store questionnaires or ticking a box on a website.

Limited number of characters

One SMS message is limited to 160 characters. A longer SMS will be charged by the operator as separate messages.

The maximum message size in the GSM standard is 140 bytes. Using 7-bit encoding (Latin alphabet and numbers) allows for messages up to 160 characters long to be sent. If you were to use 8-bit encoding (German, French), this would allow for messages only up to 140 characters long to be sent.

By the way:

  • An SMS consisting of several parts will be smaller than that of a single SMS, at just 153 characters.
  • The reason for this is that the information that “glues” together such a message makes it look like a single SMS and in doing so takes the place of certain characters.

No pictures, buttons, or formatting options

An SMS contains only text and the sender’s name. Links can be inserted into such a message, but they need to be shortened to save money. As a result, the opportunity to attract the attention of customers is very limited compared to other channels. For example, a Viber message can contain 1,000 characters, a picture, and a button.

Hard to track opens and clicks

By default, you can't track openings and clicks in SMS messages. This complicates things when evaluating the effectiveness of the channel. We can get around this limitation by using link shortening services. Another option is to add a promo code to the text, and then seeing how many times it was used.

These methods come at a certain price. Firstly, each of them reduces the number of characters remaining in the SMS, and secondly, you have to rely on third-party tools.

Examples of SMS campaigns

Promotions and discounts

Promotions and discounts

Promotional SMS messages inform customers about discounts, promos, and personal offers. Their goal is to convince you to make a new purchase.

User engagement and re-engagement

User engagement and re-engagement

Such SMS messages can be used as reminders of recent events such as “abandoned carts” or “back in stock” alerts from a wish list. These are advanced SMS campaigns, which we’ll tell you about later. The goal is to convince the customer to complete their order.

Getting feedback

Getting feedback

Surveys are conducted to discover what customers think about the quality of the product and the convenience of the service in general. Their goal is to get customer feedback.

Transactional messages

Transactional messages

These messages may contain login codes, one-time passwords, or product delivery status messages. Their goal is to provide technical information about transactions.

Informational SMS

Informational SMS

These messages don’t advertise anything and don’t require responses, but contain important information for the recipient. For example, this may be information about working hours during bank holidays or closures of nearby stores.

Advanced SMS Campaigns

Features of advanced campaigns:

  • Segmenting customers instead of sending messages to the entire database.
  • Automatic sending when triggered.
  • The message is dynamic and personalized for each customer.

Waiting/wish lists

SMS waiting list

Abandoned cart message

Abandoned cart message

For example, the campaigns can be constructed in the following way: if the customer doesn’t have an email and a contact for the web push notification or they haven’t opened any of the previous messages in these channels, we send them an SMS with the last product added to their cart.

SMS Mailing Features in Mindbox

Integration with SMS providers

Integration with SMS providers

All settings are available in the interface. You can switch to Mindbox with your current SMS provider. We support all of the most popular providers. Simply indicate the necessary settings to connect to your provider and everything will start working like clockwork.

Regional restrictions. If you work in several countries, you can add a separate SMS provider for each country. If you need to send an SMS to Kazakhstan, it will not be sent through an expensive Russian provider. This saves you from being overcharged for roaming.

Sending Settings

Sending Settings

URL shortener and order attribution. Mindbox has a built-in link shortener for SMS mailings. This means you can measure the number of clicks on the mailing and estimate how many customers made an order following it.

Preview and hints. We’ll tell you how many parts the SMS provider will break it into if you have a large message.

Trigger SMS messages. In addition to mass mailings, Mindbox has trigger SMS messages, which are sent after a particular event: customer registration, adding a product to the cart, lowering the price of a product, placing an order, and so on. You can also configure trigger pushes according to conditions, such as reactivation of customers who have not made a purchase for a long time.

Sending Settings

Manage sending speed. Setting the speed of sending mass mailings allows SMS to be sent to a limited number of customers per hour. For example, in order not to overload the call center or the app.

Sending according to the recipient’s time. When sending a newsletter in the morning, you can specify that the SMS should reach the recipient at 7:00 p.m. local time. The recipient’s time zone is determined automatically.

Setting the SMS lifetime.If the promotion is valid until Sunday, no SMS will be sent to customers on Monday.

A/B testing.Send several options of the same mailing and measure their effectiveness. The algorithm will automatically determine the best option and use it. You can test the sender’s name, text, and the number of SMS messages.

Personalization and a unified customer profile

Personalization and a unified customer profile

Personalization. Insert the customer’s name, order, or product data in the shopping cart in the SMS: name, price, and discount amount.

Segmentation. Highlight customer segments and send SMS messages according to interests: e.g. “Recently registered”, “Regular customers”, “Fans of sales”, “Churn”.

Automatic integration of customer data. Mindbox is a CDP (Customer Data Platform). Customer data is automatically integrated into a unified customer profile so that your mailings won’t be sent to the same customer twice.

Conclusion

SMS is one of the most expensive and difficult channels for communication and includes drawbacks such as short texts, no buttons or pictures. In addition, legal consent is required to communicate with customers via SMS.

On the flip side, this SMS messages have the highest open rates and reading rates among customers. As with any other channel, you will need to experiment with it a little to see what works best for your customer base. Delicate segmentation and optimizing sending time via triggers will go a long way in overriding its drawbacks.