Mobile Marketing Guide: Effective SMS Campaigns that Engage and Convert

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Executive Summary

Forrester reported that mobile commerce conducted through smartphones will reach $117 billion in the U.S. alone this year, making up 23% of online sales and 3% of total retail sales. And m-Commerce is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16% through 2022.

It’s crucial your marketing team develops mobile strategies, including the tactics below, to provide your audience with a personalized online experience that drives conversions and purchases.

Digital Cohesion - Through digital cohesion, your marketing team can guarantee your brand, message, and goals are represented consistently across platforms and channels. A Harvard Business Review study found that 73% of consumers use multiple channels during their shopping journey and Digital Cohesion ensures a consistent message across every touchpoint.

SMS and MMS Capabilities - Mobile messaging attracts more customers and boosts engagement while producing higher response rates than traditional channels and mobile ads

Mobile Push Notifications – Push notifications have made significant progress and become increasingly relevant to end users in the past few years thanks to more sophisticated segmentation via things like location-based targeting and dynamic messaging. When used effectively, Push notifications can result in 53% app user opt-in rates, 9% open rates, and 2% conversion rates.

Micro-Moments - A micro-moment is the act of reflexively turning to a mobile device to learn, do, discover, watch or buy something. Using these micro-moments can help you anticipate the needs of your target audience. Developing actionable content that addresses these in-the-moment needs will personalize and improve customer experiences.

Mobile messaging and email marketing are powerful when used together appropriately; but both channels have their own guidelines and best practices for messaging, context, cadence and regulations that must be followed.

This guide provides insights into how you can get started with mobile messaging, types of campaigns you can send and some best practices to follow. It’s important to note that mobile regulations are constantly changing, so be sure to work with a company like Listrak that can help keep your campaigns up-to-date

Mobile Terminology

SMS - Content made up of text or links only that is sent to or from a mobile device.

MO – MOBILE ORIGINATED - Device that originated the message.

MT – MOBILE TERMINATED - Device that terminated the message.

MMS - Content made up of images, audio or videos sent to or from a mobile device.

PUSH - Text, images, audio or video delivered directly to a consumer’s mobile device through the app’s native messaging functionality.

SHORT CODE - A string of numbers (usually 5 digits) that a customer uses to text you.

KEYWORD - The words customers text you to trigger an action (subscribe, help, stop, etc)

Driving Results

Client Success | Rainbow Shops

SMS Facts

When To Send

Best Practices

  1. Be mindful of time zones
  2. Don’t send when customers are sleeping or commuting
  3. Avoid sending on holidays
  4. Ideal time to send 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. local time

What To Send

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Email • Marketing Automation • CRM • Predictive Analytics • SMS

Types Of Mobile Campaigns

BROADCAST - A single text message sent to a segment of or your entire customer at the same time. It can be scheduled to go out on a specific date and time, but the schedule is the same for everyone.

ONE-TO-ONE - A text message sent to a single customer triggered by his or her action, such as a subscription notification, help message or unsubscribe confirmation. Subscribers must receive SMS responses from your organization when they send a text to your short code, even if the keyword they send is incorrect.

RECURRING - Text messages that are sent automatically on a periodic basis, such as weekly or bi-monthly.

SWEEPSTAKES - Also called Text-To-Win, a sweepstakes can quickly build your list. There are strict guidelines and regulations you must follow, so be sure to work with a solutions provider like Listrak who can ensure you remain compliant.

ALERT - Text alerts can be anything from a flash sale to a product update. They can be sent anytime as long as you remain within your total allotment of monthly messages.

LOYALTY / REWARDS   - Focus on engaging repeat customers by offering loyalty points, rewards or other incentives.

TEXT-TO-JOIN - Quickly build your email lists through a Text-To-Join campaign, which offers your mobile subscribers the opportunity to subscribe to your email list simply by replying to the text message.

TRANSACTIONAL - Sending order, shipping or delivery confirmation via SMS puts the important transactional details directly into the hands of the consumers.

EVENT TRIGGERED MESSAGES - Wish your customers a happy birthday. Send them an appointment reminder.Let them know when their return has been processed. These messages can be highly-personalized.

Growing Your Mobile Lists - In-Store

Mobile messages can help bridge the gap between offline and online engagement, so promote your mobile marketing program often. Signage at the point of sale, fitting rooms, window clings, end caps and other high-traffic, strategic areas will maximize signups. But there is more you can do, such as asking customers to subscribe from your interactive kiosk and on your printed or e-Receipts.

Mobile messages can help bridge the gap between offline and online engagement, so promote your mobile marketing program often.

Growing Your Mobile Lists - On-Site

Promote your short code and keyword on your site as you would your email sign-up.Adding it to your popup, header, footer and other strategic areas of your site will help ensure visitors see the information. However, do not just ask for the mobile number on your popup, checkout page or other form as regulations prohibit you from automatically adding those numbers to your mobile program.

Growing Your Mobile Lists - Email

Email and mobile messaging programs go hand-in-hand. Using a Text-To-Join strategy in your mobile campaigns will grow your email list, as you saw in the Rainbow example earlier in this guide. But you can also use your emails to promote your mobile programs. One of the messages in your Welcome Series should be dedicated to the SMS campaign, but you can also promote it in the footer of ongoing messages.


  1. KEEP IT SHORT - SMS messages are confined to 160-characters, including the mandatory legalese.
  2. BE DIRECT - Tell the subscriber what you want them to do and how todo it. Use active language.
  3. CREATE URGENCY - Content and offers should be available for use immediately and should include a short expiration date.
  4. BE THOUGHTFUL - Avoid using all caps and do not go overboard with the abbreviations.Follow your corporate brand standards for tone and voice.
  5. BE CONSISTENT - Your emails and mobile messages should work together, they shouldn’t compete. Don’t send different offers in the two channels the same day.
  6. DEFINE A FREQUENCY - Your first message should tell subscribers how often they’ll receive messages, which is typically between 2-8 per month for businesses.
  7. PROMOTE YOUR PROGRAM - Remember, it’s illegal to send mobile campaigns to customers who didn’t explicitly opt-in. Subscribers must take the first step of sending your keyword to your short code. Promote your program prominently.
  8. USE A DEDICATED CODE - AT&T banned shared short code sin Oct. 201810. There are many reasons to use a dedicated short or long code, including the fact the program could be fined or closed if another sender doesn’t follow all of the regulations.


Mobile campaigns are highly regulated and each carrier can have its own rules. If you don’t remain compliant, you will be fined and your program can be shut down. Regulations are constantly changing and being updated so it is important to work with a solutions provider that will help you stay up-to-date. Below are just some of the common regulations you must follow. Visit the CTIA – The Wireless Association, or CWTA if you’re in Canada, for more details.

OPT-IN - Recipients need to consent to receiving marketing communication before you start sending marketing messages to them. The opt-in must come from:a phone number entered online, a button click on a mobile webpage, a MO message containing a keyword, a signup at the point of sale, or over the phone using interactive VR technology.

OPT-OUT - Programs must always respond to and respect opt-out requests. The keyword STOP must be used to allow the subscriber to opt-out of a program at any time. Additional keywords that must be respected are END and CANCEL. Recurring programs must remind the subscriber of this option at least once a month.

UNSOLICITED MESSAGES - Messages delivered without prior express consent from the user or account holder or messages sent after a user has opted out are prohibited.

CTA - Display clear calls-to-action. All programs must display a clear call-to-action. Customers must be made aware of what exactly they are signing up to receive.

CUSTOMER CARE - Programs must always respond to customer care requests. At a minimum, the HELP keyword must return the program name and further information about how to contact service providers. Short code programs should promote customer care contact instructions at program opt-in and at regular intervals in content or service messages, at least once per month.

CONTEXT - No component of program advertising or messaging may be deceptive about the underlying program’s functionality, features, or content. All disclosures present in pre-purchase calls-to-action, advertisements, terms and conditions, and messages must remain clear and consistent throughout the user experience.

CONTENT - All content must promote a positive user experience. Programs may not promote unapproved or illicit content, including the following: violence, adult or otherwise inappropriate content, profanity or hate speech, and endorsement of illegal or illicit drugs.


Engaging your audience in mobile messages will build customer loyalty and drive sales when added to your cross-channel digital marketing strategy. However, it’s important that you present a consistent experience as consumers move between channels and devices. Choosing a provider that can integrate the program with email and other digital marketing data and campaigns is the only way to ensure success.