How To Article

SMS Broadcast: A How-To Guide (Feb 2021)

Chris Lai
Content Writer, Respond.io
December 4, 2020

With a 98% open rate, SMS is one of the best marketing tools for businesses. If you are new to SMS marketing, text messaging laws can be tricky to understand. In this article, we’ll discuss what to look out for when sending an SMS broadcast, as well as how to send an SMS broadcast with SMS marketing software.

Wondering how to set up SMS for your business? Learn how to choose an SMS Partner and how to get an SMS account here.

Why SMS Marketing Is Hard

What Is SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is a promotional strategy where businesses send an SMS broadcast to their customers. This includes but not limited to coupons, sales alerts and product launch announcements.

Although the idea of SMS marketing may seem straightforward, implementing it is not. SMS messages have a 160-character limit, which makes it difficult to fit all the information and links in one single message.

This is a picture that shows the challenges of SMS marketing. Although the idea of SMS marketing may seem straightforward, sending bulk SMS is not. SMS messages have a 160-character limit, which makes it difficult to fit all the information and links in one single message.
Challenges of SMS Marketing

But the real challenge of SMS marketing is figuring out the text messaging laws - SMS broadcast service is regulated by governments and carriers, which have not been very transparent with what’s allowed and what’s not for bulk SMS.

Despite these challenges, SMS is one of the most popular marketing channels that many companies are using. Below are the reasons why SMS marketing is worth it.

Why SMS Marketing Is Worth It

There are many reasons why your company should implement SMS marketing. SMS is the most popular form of communication, and it has amazing read and click-through rates.

SMS is ubiquitous - anyone in the world with a mobile phone can receive an SMS. Instant messaging apps may not be installed on every phone, but SMS is. Today, there are over 5 billion SMS users worldwide.

This is an image showing the reasons why SMS marketing is worth it. There are many reasons why your company should implement bulk SMS marketing. SMS is the most popular form of communication, and it has amazing read and click-through rates.
Why SMS Marketing Is Worth It

Unlike marketing emails that often end up in the junk folder, people actually read SMS messages. SMS has an unbeatable open rate of 98% - where 90% are read within 3 seconds! This makes SMS ideal for sending time-sensitive offers.

Plus, SMS has an astonishing click-through rate of 40%. To put things into perspective, emails have a 2% click-through rate. If you are still not convinced that SMS is the best communication tool for your business, here's an SMS marketing success story.

A Text Message Marketing Success Story: Carl's Jr SMS Marketing Campaign

In 2013, Carl’s Jr launched one of the most successful SMS marketing campaigns we’ve ever seen. The fast-food chain sent out an SMS broadcast to its customers, offering a $6 burger-and-fries combo at $2.99 for a limited time.

Carl's Jr SMS marketing recipe may be simple, but the results are impressive. Almost 20% of SMS recipients redeemed their offer. And the company earned $14 for every $1 spent on the SMS campaign!

Want to create your own SMS marketing success story? Learn everything about SMS here, and be sure to go through the checklist below before sending an SMS broadcast.

Checklist for Sending an SMS Broadcast

There are 3 main compliance considerations when sending an SMS broadcast. You need to get your customers to opt-in, ensure they did not opt-out and choose the right SMS number.

Have Your Customers Opted-In to Receive SMS Broadcast

Opt-in means giving explicit consent to receive an SMS broadcast. Sending unwanted SMS is likely to irritate customers and potentially damage your brand. In many countries, opt-in is legally required before sending an SMS broadcast.

The most common opt-in method is handset opt-in. Alternatively, opt-in can be collected through forms, automated phone systems (IVR), or at a point-of-sale (POS). Remember, having your customers’ numbers does not mean they have opted-in.

This is an image showing the opt-in methods for SMS marketing. The most common opt-in method is handset opt-in. Alternatively, opt-in can be collected through forms, automated phone systems (IVR), or at a point-of-sale (POS). Remember, having your customers’ numbers does not mean they have opted-in to receive bulk SMS. Check out our blog post to find out how to send bulk sms free from pc to mobile with SMS marketing software.
SMS Opt-In Methods

Handset opt-in is done via SMS chat by sending a keyword to a number. To remain compliant, you may set up double opt-in to confirm customers’ consent. This can be as simple as replying with a YES.

Apart from that, businesses may obtain opt-ins through web or paper forms. You should always keep a copy of the form for your records. Customers may also opt-in through IVR by pressing a digit during the call, or at a POS after a purchase is made.

While obtaining a clear opt-in from customers is key to a successful text marketing campaign, it is equally important to handle opt-out correctly.

Did Your Contacts Opt-Out of SMS Broadcast List

Opt-out means revoking the consent to receive an SMS message. Many countries have laws that govern SMS opt-out. Failure to honour opt-out will not only affect your customer’s experience but could also put your business at risk of legal action.

Opt-out is commonly done by replying STOP to an SMS message. However, customers may also opt-out via other means of communication.

This is a picture that shows SMS marketing opt-out methods. Opt-out is commonly done by replying STOP to an SMS message. However, customers may also opt-out via other means of communication. Read our blog to find out how to send bulk SMS with SMS marketing software
SMS Opt-Out Methods

You need to opt a customer out of the SMS broadcast list when they send keywords like STOP, END, or CANCEL. Some SMS Providers will have a way to automatically opt a customer out of the list when they send these keywords.

Less commonly, opt-out may happen via web forms, emails, phone calls, or social media channels. You should always honour opt-outs regardless of how they are done.

You’ve got your customers’ opt-in and double-checked that they have not opted out - what’s left to do? It’s time to check if you’ve got the right number for SMS marketing.

Do You Have the Right Number for SMS Broadcast

Different countries have different rules on what number to use for SMS marketing. Generally, Short Codes are the best type of number to send an SMS broadcast while long codes cannot be used to send SMS broadcasts.

Short Codes are 5 to 6 digit SMS numbers. They are less subject to filtering by carriers and have higher deliverability than other numbers. Therefore they are ideal for sending bulk SMS.

This is a picture illustrating what types of SMS numbers are suitable for sending bulk SMS. Different countries have different rules on what number to use for SMS marketing. Generally, Short Codes are the best type of number to send an SMS broadcast while long codes cannot be used to send SMS broadcasts. Learn more about business SMS messaging on our blog post.
Only Short Codes Can Be Used For SMS Marketing

On the other hand, SMS sent from Long Codes is heavily filtered. Delivery may fail when carriers detect SMS broadcast being sent from a Long Code. As the way filtering works is ambiguous, it’s unknown how many SMS you can send before hitting the filter.

You can get an SMS number from SMS Providers like Twilio, Vonage (formerly Nexmo) & MessageBird. However, SMS Providers don't provide a messaging console to send bulk SMS. Doing so requires a text message marketing software like respond.io.

SMS Marketing Software: Using SMS Integration to Send an SMS Broadcast

An SMS marketing software like respond.io allows you to import an existing customer list with phone numbers and send targeted SMS broadcasts. To get started with SMS broadcast software, sign up for a free respond.io account.

How to Connect Twilio, Vonage or MessageBird Account to SMS Marketing Software

If you don’t have an SMS account, you can get one on Twilio, Vonage or MessageBird. Many SMS providers offer free trials or free credits to help you decide which one works best for your company. We recommend reading this guide on choosing an SMS Provider.

If you already have a Twilio, Vonage or Messagebird SMS account, you can connect to respond.io using your API key or token. Check out our documentation for the step-by-step guide to connect Twilio SMS, Vonage SMS and MessageBird SMS to the platform.

How to Import Contact List into SMS Marketing Software

Once connected your Twilio, Vonage or Messagebird account to respond.io, you can import SMS Contacts in bulk. Simply navigate to Contacts > Add Contacts, select a Channel and click Multiple Contacts.

This is an image showing how to import multiple SMS contacts to SMS marketing software. Once connected your Twilio, Vonage or Messagebird account to respond.io, you can import SMS Contacts in bulk. Simply navigate to Contacts > Add Contacts, select a Channel and click Multiple Contacts. Check out our blog post on how to send bulk sms free from internet to mobile using a text messaging freeware.
Importing SMS Contacts to Respond.io

Then, download the sample CSV file and fill in your Contacts’ data. Remember, first names & phone numbers are mandatory in the CSV file. If you don’t have the first name, input a placeholder instead. Finally, upload the CSV file & click Import.

This is a picture showing how to bulk import SMS contacts to an SMS marketing software. Download the sample CSV file and fill in your Contacts’ data. Remember, first names & phone numbers are mandatory in the CSV file. If you don’t have the first name, input a placeholder instead. Finally, upload the CSV file & click Import. Learn how to send bulk sms and the best practices for broadcast SMS on our blog
Importing SMS Contacts in Bulk with a CSV File

If your contacts have tags in the CSV file, it’ll be reflected on respond.io after importing. Tags allow you to specify the target audience of an SMS broadcast.

Before sending an SMS broadcast, you’ll need to send Contacts the first message to connect an SMS channel. To connect a Contact to an SMS channel, you need to either send them the first individual message or receive the first message from them.

SMS is one of those channels that allow businesses to send the first message. To start a 1:1 conversation with your Contact, simply head to the Messages module.

This is a picture showing how to send the first SMS message to your Contact. SMS is one of those channels that allow businesses to send the first message. To start a 1:1 conversation with your Contact, simply head to the Messages module.
Sending the First SMS Message

Once you’ve sent your Contact the first SMS message, you’re ready to send an SMS broadcast. Read on to find out how to send bulk SMS with respond.io.

Send an SMS Broadcast with an SMS Marketing Software

1. Navigate to Broadcast > Add New Broadcast, then select the Broadcast Channel and fill in the required fields.

This is an image showing how to send SMS broadcast with SMS marketing software. First, Navigate to Broadcast > Add New Broadcast, then select the Broadcast Channel and fill in the required fields.
Composing an SMS Broadcast and Choosing the Target Audience

From here you can choose your target audience by choosing a tag. It’s possible to select multiple tags. Once done, you can send a test broadcast to check if it works.

2. Go to Test Broadcast, search for an existing contact and then click Send Test Broadcast.

This is a picture showing the Test Broadcast feature. Test broadcasts are useful for double-checking the content before sending it to thousands of recipients. Check out our blog to learn all about SMS marketing and how mass texting service can boost your business
Sending a Test SMS Broadcast

Test broadcasts are useful for double-checking the content before sending it to thousands of recipients.

4. Schedule an SMS Broadcast or send it immediately.

This is an image showing the Schedule SMS Broadcast feature on respond.io. If there are events lined up in your calendar, you can schedule the SMS broadcast in advance. Set the date and time to send your SMS broadcast and make sure to select the correct time zone. Learn more about mass text messaging and SMS marketing on our blog.
Scheduling an SMS Broadcast

If there are events lined up in your calendar, you can schedule the SMS broadcast in advance. Set the date and time to send your SMS broadcast and make sure to select the correct time zone.

The Schedule Broadcast feature will come in handy for businesses with international clients. You wouldn’t want to send an SMS broadcast to customers at the wee hours of the night! Learn more about SMS marketing best practices here.

SMS Broadcast: Infographic

This is a picture of infographic about SMS marketing. Here, we’ll list out the things to look out for when sending an SMS broadcast. Before sending bulk SMS, you should obtain your customer’s SMS opt-in, double check if your customers have not opted- out, and make sure you are using the correct type of SMS number. SMS Providers don't provide a messaging console to send bulk SMS. Doing so requires a text message marketing software like respond.io. In this infographic, we provide a step-by-step guide to sending SMS broadcast with SMS marketing software.

Further Reading

Now you know how to send an SMS broadcast with SMS marketing software. If you’re interested in more how-to content about using business messaging apps, we recommend the following articles:

Tags
Copied to Clipboard!

Ready to get started?

Thank you! You are being redirected to sign-up form.
Oops! Something went wrong, refresh your browser and try again.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Sign Up Free