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How to Send an SMS Campaign In 3 Steps

Written and researched by experts at AvadaLearn more about our methodology

By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

Drive 20-40% of your revenue with Avada
avada email marketing

SMS marketing is experiencing a renaissance. Over 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt, according to VoiceSage). At least for Black Friday 2019, the engagement rate is 3-7 times higher than that of emails, and SMS campaigns generate nearly six times the order rate. None of the other marketing channels can boast such outcomes.

SMS has been used as a marketing channel for several decades. And, while some retailers have been sending promotional SMS campaigns for quite some time, they have never been as versatile as they are now. With an SMS marketing tool, they can send automated messages to customers, wherever they are, without an internet connection.

So, in this article, let’s take a look at the peculiarities of SMS marketing and how you can incorporate Short Message Service into your business strategy. Here is how to send an SMS campaign in some easy steps using AVADA Email Marketing.

What is an SMS campaign?

An SMS Campaign is a type of business marketing that allows you to communicate with your customers via text message. SMS campaigns and email campaigns

share many similarities. An SMS campaign, on the other hand, is even more personal than an email campaign because people use text messages to communicate with their friends and family. Despite the fact that SMS campaigns are limited in terms of visuals and character count (up to 160), this marketing channel has proven to be faster and more effective thus far.

SMS marketing, like email marketing, allows you to send different messages to your target audience. Text messages that confirm transactions, notify about shipping, and remind about abandoned carts are all automated.

SMS campaigns are also initiated by you based on triggers. You create a campaign, select an audience/segment of recipients, and send it to the list you just chose. Both types of text messages are extremely effective. Only this time, we’re delving deeper into creating SMS campaigns sent to multiple recipients at the same time.

How to send an SMS campaign with AVADA Email Marketing

You cannot send an SMS campaign using only your mobile phone. First and foremost, you must locate an SMS marketing provider. AVADA Email Marketing is one of the best candidates for this, owing to its automation features and ease of use.

The process of creating an SMS campaign may differ slightly between platforms. However, because an SMS lacks design assets, it is relatively simple to create one using any dedicated tool. All you need is a few lines of actionable copy and a list of your subscribers’ phone numbers.

Now, let’s see how you can send an SMS campaign using AVADA Email Marketing.

Step 1: Before you started

Before you started

Prior to sending any SMS campaign, you should make sure that your SMS settings are correct. If you haven’t done so, go to the dashboard and click on the Setting button => SMS in the right hand tab. Once clicking on, you should be able to see the SMS settings page like the image above.

Before you started

In these settings, you can set up the sender numbers - which are the numbers that will send SMSs to your customers. You can set one number as the default, and you can also buy a new number. When clicking on the “Buy a number” button, you will see a list of phone numbers that you can purchase with the price.

A long code phone number is a standard type of phone number that is used to send and receive SMS messages. You can also browse to buy toll-free numbers - which is charged for all incoming calls rather than the originating telephone subscriber. A call to a international toll-free number from a landline is free for the calling party.

Before you started

Below, you can adjust the setting on auto reply messages. This is where you set the messages to respond to customer action, or more specifically, the texts they send back to your number. When a phone number sends you the keywords set in this setting, your number will also send automatic reply text messages.

For example, if your customers reply with UNSUBSCRIBE, you know that they want to stop receiving text messages from your company. Then, you can politely respond to them with:

You have successfully been unsubscribed. You will not receive any more messages from this number. Reply START to resubscribe.

This message confirms the unsubscription from the customer’s number and also shows them how they can resubscribe with another text message. Or, if a customer sends you the text of “SUBSCRIBE”, you know that they agree to subscribe to your text messages. Then, you can send them this:

”{{shop_name}}: Thanks for subscribing to our store. You can text UNSUBSCRIBE to opt out at any time.”

The {{shop_name}} tag will update automatically based on your online store’s name.

With that out of the way, let’s start creating a real SMS campaign. With AVADA Email Marketing, you will be able to create an SMS campaign that acts like a newsletter, or build automated message flows that can combine with email marketing. Let’s start with creating an SMS campaign to deliver some good news to customers.

Step 2: Create a professional SMS campaign

Create a professional SMS campaign
Create a professional SMS campaign

Head to the Campaigns button and click New Campaign in the upper right. As you can see, you can choose to create an email campaign or an SMS campaign. Select SMS Campaign then click Next to continue.

Create a professional SMS campaign

At this Template page, you can select the template for your SMS campaign. There are three SMS templates available at the moment, which are:

  • New Products SMS: Alert customers about new products coming in and let recipients know that they should act fast for exclusive offers.

  • Preorder SMS: Alert customers about a new collection of your store and let customers click through to the preorder landing page.

  • Sale SMS: Alert customers about the sale season and let them know which code to use for a discount.

To give you an example, let’s try with the Sale SMS message. Select it then click Next to continue to the editing phase of the SMS content.

Create a professional SMS campaign

At this Content page, you can edit the content that your SMS template has. Right at the top, you can select the sender number and choose to display the brand prefix or not. The brand prefix is your brand’s name at the top of the text message, which will help your recipients recognize your brand and open the message. The brand prefix is on by default, but you can still turn it off by clicking on the check mark box.

Next, you can edit the text of your SMS message campaign. Always keep in mind that SMS content should add value to the recipient’s life. Furthermore, if you are not using MMS, you must complete this in 160 characters or less, so the message should be as direct and concise as possible.

Create a professional SMS campaign

To attribute revenue to SMS, you must include a link and use the AVADA available variables. The app will be unable to attribute any placed order metric to the campaign if this is not done. There are many variables to select from, which will automatically insert the details or links that you wish to include.

Available variables include your shop’s name, address, websites, links for unsubscribe or access abandoned cart, as well as customer information like email address, name, first name, last name, and other information on the order like shipping or total cart value.

Based on the purpose of your SMS campaign, you can edit the SMS text to match your goal and convince recipients to take the desired actions.

If you want to enhance your message, you can add an image or GIF through the Upload MMS button. Your image and GIF should be under 600 KB. When the message converts into an MMS, you also can write more characters (1600). Note that AVADA only supports MMS on US short code phone numbers and US/CA long code phone numbers.

Below, you can edit the unsubscribe text to send to recipients when they opt out of the list. You can also turn on and off the auto shorten links option. Shorten links help you track clicks, converted orders and also make your message shorter. When turned on, AVADA Email Marketing will automatically shorten your links inside the message.

Create a professional SMS campaign

A cool feature of the SMS editor inside AVADA Email Marketing is the Message Analysis - which will show the issues, improvements, and good results of your text messages. Based on this analysis, you can make necessary changes to the SMS campaign. Think of this as a SEO checker for your short messages and maximize the performance.

The preview pane on the right side of the screen will update your message’s content in real-time, so any adjustments will be displayed immediately. This is really convenient for users to know how they are adjusting their messages.

Also, at this step, you can send a test text message or save the SMS as a template for future campaigns.

If you are done editing your messages, hit Next to get to the next step of creating an SMS campaign.

Create a professional SMS campaign

At the final step to get your SMS campaign ready, there are a few things you need to do.

First, you need to insert the general information of your SMS campaign. Some basic information will help you manage your campaigns more effectively in the future. All you need to do is write in the name and description of the campaign, or add tags to search it more easily.

Secondly, you need to decide who to send your SMSs to. By default, your SMS campaign will be sent to all of your subscribers on the phone list. You can specify which segments of subscribers to send the campaign to, too. Just click on the Add segment and you will be able to select the group of customers that should receive your SMS messages.

Thirdly, you need to choose the sending time of your SMS campaign. You can send the campaign right away or schedule it later on your preferable time. If you choose to schedule it later, you can choose the timezone and specific date and time.

That is all, now click Finish and your SMS campaign will be on the way. Simple, isn’t it? This type of newsletter SMS campaign is perfect when you want to bulk send your messages and announce new sales or new arrivals.

But, that is not all AVADA Email Marketing can do. It can also send automated SMSs to customers, which I will show you in the next section.

Step 3: Create an automated SMS campaign

Create an automated SMS campaign
Create an automated SMS campaign

Back to the dashboard! Let’s click on Automation => New workflow to create an automated SMS campaign. It is actually called workflow automation because with AVADA Email Marketing, you can automate both SMSs and emails inside one workflow, maximizing the reach power of your message.

Create an automated SMS campaign

In the first step, you need to select an event for your automated SMS workflow. You can select the event type and channel on the left panel to filter out the type of automation you need. Or you can click on the Blank box at the top to customize your own SMS workflow.

With AVADA Email Marketing, you have three options for automated SMS workflows, which are:

  • Welcome Email and SMS: Welcome your new subscribers with a series of email and SMS messages. Offer them a coupon on both messages to encourage the first purchase.

  • Abandoned cart SMS: Recover lost sales effectively with an automated abandoned cart SMS workflow. Offer a coupon and a link back to the cart to encourage purchase faster.

  • Order confirm SMS: Confirm the successful purchase of a customer with an SMS. Offer the customer a coupon for the next purchase.

As an example, I will try creating an automation workflow for the order confirmation SMS.

Create an automated SMS campaign

Here is the usual workflow editor inside AVADA Email Marketing. If you use the app, you will come across this screen a lot, whether for creating a draft for your campaign or setting up a new automation. The editor will look the same for SMS or email workflow, so you can easily combine the two channels.

On the left side of the screen, you will find the workflow elements, including email, SMS, time control, flow control, and action. In case you don’t know, you can split the workflow to automate reply messages based on the action of the recipients.

To learn more about this feature of AVADA Email Marketing, read How to create a complete email automation workflow.

For this article, let’s just stick to the template of the SMS automation workflow we have for the order confirmation SMS. As you can see, the wait time is set for 15 minutes, which means the SMS will be sent to the customers 15 minutes after they successfully completed the purchase process on your website.

Of course, you can edit this wait time, but 15 minutes is a long enough time for the order confirmation. You can even set it sooner in my opinion.

To edit the SMS workflow elements, just click on any element and you will see the edit options on the right side of the screen. When I click on the order confirmation SMS, for example, I can see the edit SMS tab to quickly edit some information.

Create an automated SMS campaign

On the right side of the screen, now, I can edit the SMS name and see reports on its performance. When hovering over the SMS text, I can see a blue Edit button to customize the message more thoroughly. We’ve already seen the SMS editor in the previous section, so I won’t show it again.

Now, let’s click Next to continue to the last step of creating an automated SMS campaign.

Create an automated SMS campaign

In this last step, you will need to enter some information before making the SMS campaign go live. You need to write in the name and description of the SMS campaign, as well as adding some tags for better management. After finishing writing, you should see the Launch button on the upper right corner of the screen light up, signaling that you are good to go.

Click on Launch and your automated SMS campaign will go live, sending SMSs to your customers on autopilot.

How to track an SMS campaign?

SMS campaign results tracking will look a little bit different from email campaigns because of the technological limitations. In an SMS campaign report, you won’t be able to see the open rate. Instead, AVADA Email Marketing can track the number of SMSs sent, engagement rate (Click rate) and sales – how many sales you have made, and the cumulative amount of revue that the SMS campaign has earned.

When going live, you can see the report on an SMS campaign on the automation tab or click inside each campaign to have a more detailed report with more data.

Some more SMS campaign templates

SMS campaigns cannot have a specific layout because the short message service only supports text format. The only template you should use for SMS campaigns is for copywriting.

AVADA Email Marketing already has some templates in place, but you can tweak the message to match your brand more. Here are some excellent text messages that I have collected. They adhere to best practices, so I thought I’d share them. You can use them as an inspiration for your own personal campaigns.

  • [Brand name]: Our best deal has just gotten better. When you purchase a Special Bundle, you will save an additional 20% on top of the usual 25%. Seriously. To get started right away, click the link below. [the hyperlink]

  • Hi! It’s the [brand name]. Your coupon code for a 10% discount is: [code]. Purchase now: [link] If you have any questions, please text us at [phone number]!

  • TWO HOURS LEFT to save 40% on your entire order at [brand name]! At checkout, enter the code: [code]! The sale ends TONIGHT, December 1st, at 11:59 p.m. EST! [the hyperlink]

  • [Name of the brand]: Here are some wonderful gifts for you to give or keep! Everything for sale is in stock and ready to ship. [the hyperlink] Unsubscribe [the hyperlink]

  • DEALS ON [Brand Name]! Today is BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE day at the pool! The code: [code name] will expire at midnight tonight. [Brand name] will be releasing a new deal every Friday in December, so keep an eye out! [the link] is a place to shop. Unsubscribe here: [the link].

Final words

SMS marketing has been used for a while. But, now, with automation, this channel has become a fantastic customer marketing tool that can bring a great result to any eCommerce business. I suggest you start collecting phone numbers and sending some short messages today, because your competitors certainly won’t miss out on this opportunity.

If you want to give AVADA Email Marketing a try and send your SMS campaign, contact us to have more information. Or just sign up and experience the app for yourself, it is free to start!

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.