Mobile phone ownership is pervasive. Based on survey data from Pew Research, 96% of Americans own a cellphone. And when it comes to communication, texting dominates the competition.

Teenagers and adults would rather text than talk in person, according to research from text messaging service Text Request. On smartphones, text is the most-used feature. Furthermore, people text more than they use the internet.

Those types of facts offer a glimpse at the power of text message marketing for small business. It’s even a more compelling opportunity when you examine how effective text message marketing can be compared to other marketing methods.

Benefits of Text Message Marketing

The way that consumers interact with text messages presents perhaps the most attractive benefit of text message marketing for small business. Texts are viewed much quicker than emails. The same isn’t true for other marketing methods like social media and search-based ads. People don’t have to find a social media post or notice a Google ad. Meanwhile, they simply receive a text message.

Comparing open rates for email and texts is a good starting point to compare two foundational marketing methods. Traditionally, email open rates have hovered around 20 to 30%, according to Mickael Bentz, product manager at Adobe Campaign. However, texts have, quite remarkably, an open rate of 98%.

Text messages also have an advantage over email when it comes to response rate and time. Texting has a six- to eight-time higher response rate than email, reported new publication Retail Dive. In terms of time, the average response rate for text message marketing campaigns is 90 seconds, according to GSMA, a trade body representing the mobile communications industry. Many sources estimate the average response time for email campaigns at about 90 minutes.

In the words of popular online marketer Neil Patel, “texting has by far the best engagement rate of any marketing medium.” Meanwhile, email suffers from “dismal open rates . . . [and] the average CTR [click-through rate] for PPC [pay-per-click] ads is even worse at 2%.” He added that other benefits of text message marketing include trackable platforms (to see who opened messages, clicked on links and ignored messages) and interactive content (instant feedback from recipients).

If those benefits of text message marketing aren’t enough for some small businesses to adopt it, another advantage is evident with opportunity. In a survey from text message marketing company EZ Texting, 54% of consumers want to receive promotions via text message, but only 11% of businesses send advertisements in that manner. Furthermore, only 13% of businesses surveyed text with their customers at all.

Text Message Marketing Examples

Using text messages for marketing can be incredibly simple, yet personalized to customers’ needs. One way that can occur is through marketing notifications, such as sales and call-to-action messages.

  • Sale: “Hi Bob, we have a great sale on at the moment, 50% off! Get down to our store or visit us here whilst stocks last” – sample message provided by SMS provider Text Marketer.
  • Call to Action: “Jules & Roc 20% off EVERYTHING flash sale 4 days only! End Sun 27th May. Shop in store or Open late 9pm Thursday. To opt out SMS stop” – sample message provided by SMS and email marketing software firm Vision 6.

Marketing with text messages may seem rather straightforward, but what about actually getting customers to sign up for updates? Taco Bell managed to attract more than 13,000 customers to their text message subscriber list with a free drink, according to text message marketing software company Tatango. The fast food retailer used traditional media like radio, television and print to get the word out. When customers signed up, the initial text message offer for the free drink had a three- to five-day expiration date, encouraging people to act right away.

Taco Bell SMS ad campaign


Other companies have taken an integrated approach to text message marketing. Pizza Hut posted a graphic to their Facebook timeline that offered a free order of cheese sticks on customers’ next online order in exchange for signing up to receive text message deals. According to Tatango, the company’s Facebook following included more than 10 million fans at the time of the post.

Pizza Hut SMS marketing ad

Marketing with Text Messages

Text messages can be a powerful marketing medium. In fact, a lot of marketers believe text messages to be the most powerful way for businesses to communicate with and advertise to customers. Yet, text message marketing remains widely underutilized compared to mediums like email, social media and PPC ads.

It’s not an either/or proposition, though. In fact, text messages marketing can support and integrate with other channels, as marketing publication Smart Insights pointed out. Text messaging can enhance other mediums. The publication noted that a follow-up text after an email asking if customers read the email can boost email open rates by 20 to 30%.

It can be tricky to know when to use text messages and when to use another marketing medium like email or social media. How should a business integrate all mediums into a single campaign? When should promotions overlap and when should certain messages, like alerts and requests for feedback, stay on one medium compared to another? An online business administration degree can help you learn the marketing principles and overall business acumen needed to make those decisions. And it’s relevant whether you own your own small business or want to help small businesses reach their customers more effectively as a marketing professional.

St. Ambrose University’s program will provides you with the business, leadership, and communication skills you need. You’ll be able to pursue a wide range of careers in marketing, finance, human resources, management and other business areas. The program is delivered 100% online it’s accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). St. Ambrose offers a generous transfer policy and is military-friendly.