I’m a fan of text message marketing. But there are only a few brands that I subscribe to via SMS. And they better take caution with their marketing efforts. I had a bad experience this morning with a marketing text message I received, so thought I would offer some advice on the subject.

Open Rates

Text Messages have nearly a 100% open rate. Really, how many text messages have you NOT looked at? This is much better than email open rates today. Which is why this form of mobile marketing a solid option to anyone selling a product or service to consumers and why you should consider starting a program.


I will give out my email address to just about anyone who asks for it. And I expect to get overwhelmed with marketing messages that I will likely not open.

But most consumers are more cautious with giving out their mobile number. Only your most loyal customers will be open to giving you their cell number for marketing purposes. If you are asking for mobile numbers, you should also be listening to concerns about privacy and spam. Offer value to your customer and assure them that you will not sell their number or overwhelm their inbox.


My text message inbox is precious. It is my preferred method of communication. And I will accept occasional messages promoting a new product/service, a discount/sale, or other type of announcement. But if you send more than one message a week I will put a stop to it very quickly. In fact, once a week may even too much!

What is the best frequency? Well, it is going to depend on your service. Take a look at your most loyal customer. How often do they shop with you? Once a week? Once every 3-4 weeks? Or once every 3-4 months?

If you see your most loyal customer once every four weeks, then don’t send them a message every week. Start with once every 3 weeks. If someone only needs your service once every three months (like an oil change, perhaps), then why would you send a text message every week? It would be better to send one message every 2-3 months.

The best option may be to let your customer select the frequency of the marketing messages they receive. If you are asking for their phone number, ask them how often they would like to receive messages!

The Goal

Your purpose in text message marketing should be to increase customer loyalty and shorten the time frame between customer visits.

Increase customer loyalty by offering value and rewarding loyalty – because it is your loyal customers who are trusting you with their mobile number. It is your loyal customers who will talk about you and recommend you to others. So keep loyal customers and reward them for it!

Shorten the time frame between customer visits by strategically sending messages just shy of the normal customer cycle. You have to know your customers well and understand their shopping habits to achieve this. But if you know your customers are visiting you once every three weeks, then sending a message once every 2.5 weeks may help shorten that cycle.

Proceed with Caution

Above all else, proceed with caution. Review your text message campaign and make sure that you are offering value and respecting your customer’s privacy and concerns. Don’t abuse the privilege of being able to text your customers, because they will not permit it the same way they have with their email.

For me, this attempt of cross marketing via text message caused a problem. When the “take a test drive” message first appeared on my screen I got angry. I had not given 5 Star Ford permission to text me. And while I like 5 Star Ford, I didn’t like that I had received a marketing message from them without my consent. When I opened the text message I realized that it was actually a message from Chick Fil A, which I had opted in to one day last week just out of curiosity of how they were using text messages as a marketing program.

The lesson from this message is: cross marketing may not be wise – because your customers want value from you, not another business. If you are going to enter into a cross-marketing program, then write your message so that your value is presented first and the other businesses value is offered second.

For this message, if it would have appeared as “Receive a coupon for a FREE CFA Sandwich when you take a test drive at 5 Star Ford…” I probably would not have been as upset as I was thinking that 5 Star was texting me and would probably still be subscribed.