Stand out: Text message marketing for small business

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Text message marketing for small business is a strategy worth considering, especially as consumer email inboxes are overflowing with email threads, offers, and spam.

My text inbox is way less crowded than my email inbox. So there’s an opportunity for businesses to reach me there, but there’s also a level of importance to be and stay relevant. Irrelevant text messages can hurt a brand’s perception even quicker than an email that was ignored in a sea of other unread messages.

Article sections

The advantages of texting in business
Ways to use texting in business
How to build your texting list
When to send texts
Mass texts in business vs. individual texts
Texting platforms for business

The advantages of text message marketing for small business

James Pelton, CEO of Mobile Text Alerts, was on the Business Storytelling Show to share the advantages of text messages. James started his company to help churches send messages to the congregation more quicker. He mentioned that it’s an easy way to reach a more significant number of people faster.

Open rates on text messages are way higher than emails, said James. Another advantage is that a lot of companies don’t use text yet. So it can help you stand out.

That’s also what Angela Proffitt noticed. Email open rates were okay, but click-throughs kept going down. So they asked their audience: “How do you feel about getting texts instead of emails?” The response was overwhelmingly positive so now Angela’s team sends mostly text communications.

“You got to create value and listen to the audience,” she said.

Ways to use texting in business

There are different ways to use texting in business. Let’s take a look at some. No matter what type, though it’s good to make the messages timely, relevant, and often they should be relatively short.

Like an email list

For some businesses, it works well to use an email newsletter strategy with their texts. That means you might send weekly information about topics interesting to your target audience. For example, you might include a call to action or ask a question that people can respond to.

If you do allow responses, make sure somebody is available to monitor and respond.

That’s another strategy and implementation to consider: What’s the protocol if people reply to your messages with a question? Is somebody paying attention, or do you have a chatbot-type system turned on to continue to offer a good customer communications experience?

I once responded to my texts with the Washington Commanders asking where a parking lot was at FedEx Field. They responded on a Sunday morning. It was quite a delight to get a helpful response.


Text messages on podcasts

Texting also can have a place in podcasting. Hosts can say: “Text <something> to <phone number> to get <something you want>.”

James explained it’s much easier for hosts to say the short number versus saying a longer URL. On the flip side, it can be easier for listeners to text than to type in the URL. He said that one podcast client was reporting a 4x increase in conversions when moving from a traditional landing page to a text push.

Read next: The content creator’s guide to podcast ads


Here, brands will send you an offer for an almost immediate purchase.

  • This deal is going live on our website now
  • Lunch is 20 percent off today if you order the lobster – or whatever
  • Be the first to check out our new product.

These can work when the timing and offer are right.

Read next: 50 percent off! How to run a successful coupon campaign online

Media companies: Alerts

Publishers can use texting for breaking news alerts and other important updates. For example, local media can send out a text when there’s a bad accident on a nearby highway.

Political campaigns

During campaign season, I certainly get a ton of political texts.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they have better success with the text messages versus phone calls but again it can get overwhelming and the more overwhelming text messages get the more they’re just like emails.

How to build your texting list

Some of the same strategies to build an email list apply, including:

  • Make the signup easy
  • Have the signup form in high-traffic areas on your website

For example, Angela has a popup on her website:

texting in business popup

List the number to opt-in on your social media profiles.

texting in business on social media promo

When to send text marketing messages?

James explained that text alerts work well for something that is happening now and that prospects and customers want now. For example, you could test texting out that a new podcast is available, but maybe that’s just too similar to the model from publishing above.

“One principle to keep in mind is – always offer value,” James said on the podcast.

Some of the best campaigns have come from restaurants that send out lunch offers the right amount of time before lunchtime.

Value and timing are essential because customers will subscribe and engage with the texts and, ultimately, the company.

Timely personalized interactions also work well.

When I was flying Iberia from Madrid to Düsseldorf and about an hour before boarding they sent me a text letting me know which gate we would be leaving from. Very helpful.

How often should you text customers?

Twice a week might be okay for non-personalized outreaches, James said. However, some companies do it more, and that’s okay when they truly offer value to the audience.

Make sure to test and look at the numbers.

Angela’s team sends mass texts to her group. Sometimes they are statements, and sometimes they are questions, allowing people to reply. She says it helps to batch the production and schedule a ways ahead, but don’t go too far. As the COVID pandemic has taught us, when things happen in the world our schedule outreach needs to be paused anyway.

Read next: Why a content creation strategy must include getting on a blogging schedule

Sending individual messages

There’s a place for individual in-the-moment communication via text.

When I wanted to change my New York Times subscription, we just texted back and forth, it was a pleasant experience, and I didn’t have to wait on hold on the phone.

When I was asking about Washington Commanders season tickets they also texted me and we chatted about seats, costs, and availability there.

One happened as I was staying a night at the Westin in downtown Cleveland while speaking at Content Marketing World. As I was settling into my room they texted me and asked if everything was to my liking.

It was, and I appreciated that timely and in-the-moment correspondence.

I also had a chance to make additional requests they responded to my reply. Excellent customer service and much better than them calling me and asking me the same thing. I’m a much bigger fan of text messages than unscheduled phone calls.

Another good experience happened with the Sheraton in Niagara Falls.


As we arrived at the Toronto airport, I received a text message from the hotel that also shared a parking map.

I also liked how they mentioned the spa-even though I hardly ever go to a spa at a hotel. But on our second day in Niagara Falls, it was raining most of the day, and the text message at least got us talking about considering going to the spa.

Texting platforms for business

Some platforms are available to use for your texting in business strategy. Before you pick one, consider:

  • How easy or hard is it to implement?
  • What’s the cost?
  • Does it work with the rest of my tech stack?
  • How easy is it to send messages?
  • Can users reply?
  • Does it integrate with my current CRM?

Read next: Should we bundle software to be more efficient?

Here are a couple of vendors to consider for your text message marketing for small businesses:

Things to consider

With everything, it’s important to remember that the market will change. More companies are likely going to start texting consumers. Spammers might try to take over as well. I know I’ve gotten way more spam texts recently than in years past. So make sure consumers understand the text is from you and make sure they don’t look spammy (i.e. no crazy links).

Read next: How to add text to Instagram Reels – correctly!


Texting can be a differentiator – especially if your competitors aren’t using the strategy (yet). But the implementation, time, and cost to grow and build a list and related tasks must be considered.

I certainly look at texts I receive, but I’m also quicker to unsubscribe when they are not relevant, in my opinion.

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