Blog post

SMS Message: Global Reach and a Powerful Connector

By Mike McGuire | December 15, 2016 | 2 Comments


At a time when new technologies burst on the scene promising marketers ways to better engage with consumers in new and thrilling ways, it takes some discipline to stop. Then ask yourself: Does this new thing add give me a brand new tool? Or is the promised functionality something I can accomplish by re-examining my existing toolkit, and with a bit of consideration, add new life and functionality to my customer or prospect engagements?

Let’s start with one of the key things we try to do as marketers: make existing customers and prospects aware that we have things that we want to sell them.

With that idea in mind, let’s re-examine our old friend the SMS message. It started out as a simple way to alert people without having to take the time to make a voice call. Simple, short alerts, acknowledgements, statements of status or requests – “I’m running late” etc.  Then it became a way for companies to get the attention of mobile phone users to deliver a specific time-sensitive offer or communication – a discount coupon, for example, to drive foot traffic to store – knowing that their opt-in served as explicit permission. And, of course familiar to any traveler, to get updates on flight information.

Reliable, trusty old SMS.  But in the era of mobile apps, push notifications and in-app messaging, it’s often forgotten.  Marketers would do well to not let this tool get lost in the bottom of the toolkit because SMS messages can be links in the chain of events in a purchase process or a way to engage with a customer over time.

Consider the following:

  • SMS has reach going for it – it’s still the channel that can reach virtually every mobile phone on the planet
  • It doesn’t require the marketer to have a mobile app to engage directly and persistently with a user because . . .
  • . . . SMS messages can activate a variety of engagement options

It’s that last bullet that should really make marketers keep SMS top of mind.  While SMS technology is very mature, adjacent apps and technologies are giving new life to what a marketer can do with SMS.

Rich content – video, audio, images – are mainstays of content marketing and SMS’ cousin, multimedia messaging service (MMS) messages – could enable you to send a 15-second high-quality video demo of your latest product.  Want to drive enrollment in a loyalty program? Drive more prospects to detailed product information or to check inventory status? Drive registrations or opt-ins via a special contest? You can do that with SMS.  The key is remembering that the SMS message campaign as a trigger to get a customer or prospect’s attention and then seamlessly move them onto a ladder of interactions.

Check out some of these examples we pulled from the news. What you’ll see are examples of how marketers have taken what used to be considered a one-off tactic and have elevated it to be a strategic connector with customers and prospects.

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Comments are closed


  • Nice article. As a marketer, I totally agree with the need to exploit SMS better. One area for doing so is 2-way SMS Alerts. Many years after the technology was launched, I’ve seen very few brands leveraging its fullest potential.

  • I also agree with Mr McGuire on the advantages of SMS and it being the link in the chain of mobile list building and connections to the app and discount coupons. It can also be a great way to introduce new brands with video links about those new brands and their story to drive awareness and bring customers back to your store.