Error!

9 SMS marketing ideas

Promotional text messages that work
Surprised man

One thing I love about marketing - you get to try new things every day.

One thing I hate about marketing - I'm not really a marketer.

I do, however, work with SMS marketing every day and (as a collateral damage) come up with promotional SMS ideas every now and then.

These 9 SMS ads made me rich and famous are the ones my customers found to be the most efficient. Enjoy!

Disclosure 1. The images in the ads are not the ones we were actually using. Those were brand-specific, so for the purposes of this article I replaced them with pictures from Pexels (amazing guys, by the way)

Disclosure 2. In Canada every Commercial Electronic Message must include contact information and 2 unsubscribe mechanisms (if you're curious, here's why and here's how). I removed them intentionally to make the article look prettier.


Your car will never:
                        leave you, call you stupid, reject you, betray you, smite you

Canadian winter always starts unexpectedly. Every year in the middle of December - BAM! - who would ever expect snow? We ran this ad in an auto shop, sometime in the end of October. Results:

Subscribers: 153
Cost: 153 * $0.08 = $12.24
Showed up: 48
Average bill: $60
Revenue attracted: $2900


Skinny people are easier to kidnap.
                    Stay safe, have a piece of cake.

You probably heard that "SMS has an open rate of 98%". Not that it's not true, but high open rate also means high unsubscribe rate. "You made me look at your ad, it better be worth it". When you are drawing customer's attention aggressively, you have to justify it. For example, with a time-sensitive offer.

Subscribers: 42
Cost: 42 * $0.08 = $3.36
Showed up: 15
Average bill: $30
Revenue attracted: $450


Coffee is a warm and delicious alternative to hating everybody

Here is another example of justifying a commercial SMS - to make people smile when they need it. We sent this one around 11am, just before lunch, when the majority of people hate everything that moves.

Subscribers: 39
Cost: 39 * $0.08 = $3.18
Showed up: 22
Average bill: $10
Revenue attracted: $250


It's ok to eat a whole pizza by yourself

You don't need to remind people to eat out on Fridays. The key is to convince them to eat at your pizzeria, not someone else's. We sent this SMS out around 4pm - when people are about to take off from work and when they feel like they shouldn't be hungry yet, but they are.

Subscribers: 56
Cost: 56 * $0.08 = $4.48
Showed up: 32
Average bill: $35
Revenue attracted: $1200


Congratulations! You made it out of bed!

The most difficult day for most people is not Monday. It is Wednesday. You are already tired, and there is 2 more days until the weekend. This coffee shop was "a new kid in town". We sent this message on Wednesday morning. A risky move, I agree. But it worked.

Subscribers: 29
Cost: 29 * $0.08 = $2.32
Showed up: 20
Average bill: $15
Revenue attracted: $300


You are always better off with friends!

The intent of this SMS was to create a "sharable"/"likeable" content. Except I was stupid, and forgot to include a call to action, i.e. we had no way of measuring the outcome. I guess, it did get shared a few times, because 26 groups of 3 showed up in response to 32 messages and, I find 80% success rate hard to believe.

Subscribers: 32
Cost: 32 * $0.08 = $2.56
Showed up: 26
Average bill: $150
Revenue attracted: $3900


We serve Instagram-worthy food

This time I was smarter, except I wasn't. I forgot that outreach also needs to be measured. We could see the some "shares", but we had no way to measure the actual number of people who showed up because of the ad.

Subscribers: 22
Cost: 32 * $0.08 = $1.76
Showed up: 3 (those were people who said "I shared your ad 3 times, I want 20% discount")
Average bill: $55
Revenue attracted: $170 (known $170, god know how much actually)


Dinosaurs never had our pizza and now they're extinct

Lunch time was a bit lazy at this pizzeria, so we sent this one out around 11am. Results:

Subscribers: 56
Cost: 56 * $0.08 = $4.48
Showed up: 23
Average bill: $15
Revenue attracted: $350


Cake is not the answer. It just makes you forget the question.

After we sent this out, I realized that "tonight" is kind of a vague concept. What time exactly does "tonight" start? Well, that day "tonight" started at 1pm, you can't say "no" to a customer who responded to your ad.

Subscribers: 109
Cost: 109 * $0.08 = $8.72
Showed up: 23
Average bill: $70
Revenue attracted: $1610

By Jane Vern