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Mistakes To Avoid In SMS Marketing

Short message service (SMS) marketing continues to grow and expand. This is because there are several unreplaceable benefits when it comes to mobile marketing. It allows businesses and people to get a quick information across the two sides while keeping the communication short and sweet. By using text message best practices, businesses can improve the response they get from their customers. However, there are some marketing mistakes to avoid when working in this field.

Here are five common mistakes in SMS marketing and the ways to avoid making them.

#1: The Same Messages From SMS and Email

Some businesses think that they can copy and paste the same information between SMS and email. But in fact this can be a major mistake. It will negatively affect your marketing in multiple ways.

Here’s a thing about SMS and email marketing. The majority of people are almost constantly on their phones. When a text message comes, they see it. The same cannot be said about checking their email. Although it’s true that Gmail, Yahoo or other email platforms have apps, nobody checks them as often as their social media for instance. And most don’t have the notifications on either. So unlike text messages, they don’t see emails in real time. Business owners will agree that seeing an email from the campaign a month age cannot be counted as successful marketing.

Now onto why copy pasting the exact same text in your SMS and email is a mistake.

First, the obvious. Your customers feel annoyed receiving the exact same message across multiple different platforms. It just creates the feeling of interacting with a bot. Which, by the way, is a tactic growing businesses should be using. Nothing wrong with chatbots and digital tools being implemented in your SMS or email marketing. No matter how big a business is, they can never hire enough people to individually type up each text or an email. Plus, bots reduce spelling mistakes.

So trick is, you should use bots, but the customers should feel like you’re personally talking to them. The text to put as a template for your text message or an email should be written by you. The exact same text across all platforms loses aesthetic appeal. Especially if you don’t format it for each channel. Formatting is the key. SMS is not an email and the other way around.

To avoid annoying your customers, make sure to adjust your messages based on the channel you’re using. For example, you can make your emails longer and more informative. Add a banner or a logo, or use any visual media where needed. You should use SMS for short messages and keep it straightforward. Furthermore, you can focus on using SMS for small updates and reminders and not send out emails at all. This will help you avoid repetition. This way you will appear more professional and genuine.

#2: Spammy Messages

People use SMS because it allows them to receive quick and short messages. When you create long messages for people or send them too often, this can come across as a spam. If people feel like you’re spamming their phone with texts, they will unsubscribe from you.

Unsubscribing here means blacklisting the number or blocking it. They will still receive your message but it will not pop up and will only show as a hidden content from a blocked number. So unless they deliberately open your SMS to read it, there’s no difference from not sending the SMS at all. And truth be told, there’s a little chance they will open a message from a blocked number. What’s more, it will negatively affect their potential engagement with your business.

You can avoid spammy messages by keeping these three points in mind:

  • Send relevant information that customers will care to check.
  • Don’t send too many messages, usually no more than two or three times a week.
  • Keep your character count low enough to fit it in a single text message.

If necessary you can just send the link that will direct them to your website or a social media platform where they can see the information in more details. However, take into consideration that without an useful or attractive text, sending out only a link will negatively affect your SMS marketing. Those kind of SMS are automatically perceived as a spam or a virus and people tend to avoid opening them. In fact, many delete them immediately. And there’s a high chance your number might get blocked too.

Most text messages have a 160-character limit, so make sure to stay within that range. As you find the right number of characters and messages to send per week, your unsubscription rate will drop. Notify your customers about exciting upcoming events including charities, congratulate them on their birthdays, special occasions and on national holidays. Show solidarity during difficult times through reinforcing a certain relevant message.

#3: Missing a Clear Call-to-Action

person holding black android smartphone
Photo by Bekky Bekks

You need to include a call-to-action (CTA) when you send messages to your customers. But a simple inclusion is not enough. You also need to make the CTA clear. Avoid any vague or unclear language so that customers know exactly what you want them to do. And when necessary the formatting of your SMS should direct them to complete the action. For instance, a clear message and a link below it indicates they should click on it to advance further.

Here’s an example of a good CTA used in SMS marketing:

Wrong: Visit our website and take advantage of our 20% discount.

Right: Visit our online store at (insert link here) to get a 20% discount on our shoes. You can also use code SHOES OFF on our website.

The first one feels too vague: they know that you want them to visit your website, but what is the site? How do they know it’s the right one? What do they get a discount on? As long as you keep it clear and tell them exactly what to do, people will understand what you want. Avoid any miscommunication so that you can get more customers to follow through with CTAs.

There’s also a chance that nobody will specifically type up your domain name in Google just to see what’s the buzz. Think about how many similar text messages they get every day. You need to bite them with an attractive part of your offer. Keep things informative. It’s quite simple: There’s a sale on an item; provide the link that directs them to the sales section on your website. No time wasted.

#4: Creating Generic SMS Marketing Campaigns

Your customers receive advertisements from multiple sources every day. You don’t want to look like just another ad campaign in their eye. What you need to do is to make sure that your appearance is professional and offers something valuable to customers. Everybody knows and you know it too. Hundreds of thousands of businesses use SMS marketing for the same reason. Getting more sales. Your goal should be the same too. It’s just that, you shouldn’t rub it in people’s face.

Make sure to provide your customers with relevant information and most importantly – benefits. People don’t want to receive texts from an SMS campaign that doesn’t promise them anything in return. Make sure that you offer deals, give them updates that they might find useful, or provide them with relevant information. This will let them know that you don’t want to just get in their wallet. You also want to help them out.

Remember that a business isn’t you taking money from your customer: it’s the customer giving you compensation for a service or product that they enjoy.

An extra tip to use here:

If you live in an area where thunder and storm is a frequent occurrence, cutting the electricity probably happens a lot as well. Imagine if the local government neglected the power of SMS and didn’t send out the warning to your phone beforehand. People would be livid. The same applies to businesses and customers and here’s why.

When someone is subscribed to your business and it’s going under a major change or an update, the right thing to do is to notify your customer base. Doesn’t matter if it’s a policy change or a maintenance notice for your website temporarily shutting down, just send them a text message about it. Let them know what’s going on or you risk complains piling up.

This is one of the major mistakes lots of businesses make when it comes to SMS marketing. Just sending a congratulations text or notifying them about an upcoming sale is not enough. What if they want to place a gift purchase for a family member’s birthday next week but your website is down? They have probably calculated the delivery time but now their plans are ruined because nobody warned them about your website maintenance. Had they received a text message timely, they’d rearrange their plans by placing the order earlier.


It’s quite straightforward. Notify your customers ahead in case of an emergency concerning any aspect of your business. Try to stand out from the dozen of similar text messages from your competitors. Whatever you do, whether it’s formatting or a signature emoji at the end of each SMS, appeal to your customers. Stay informative and offer them something in return to your CTA.

#5: Bad Timing

Since SMS marketing allows you to send instant messages to your customers, you need to avoid bad timing. We see the same principle being adopted in timing social media posts. For example, if you want to confirm an appointment with a customer, you can take a good or bad approach. Look at these examples.

Bad: Sending the confirmation text the day of the appointment.

Good: Sending the confirmation text 24 hours before the appointment.

The first one gives them no leeway for confirming the appointment and the second one gives them an appropriate reminder. It’s good for your business more than your customers to be honest. If you know who’s going to cancel or miss the appointment beforehand, you have a free time slot. The time slot can be filled by those on the waiting list, for instance. Even if nobody fills in, you can take that time to simply rest or take care of some other urgent business.

Avoiding bat timing tips:

Another example of a bad timing is when there’s an important social, political or other type of crisis is going on and you send out usual SMS. You should not stay ignorant during difficult times. If everybody is talking about something, you should too. It’s not necessary to send out a whole report of your stand in the case. Just keep it short by using a relevant emoji or a keyword, or send out a short text showing you are standing on the right side of history.


Set up your SMS marketing to send messages to your customers at appropriate times. Avoid texts late at night or early in the morning. You will likely interrupt their sleep or cause other problems for them. Find the right time for your customers so that you can get quick and positive responses. Furthermore, don’t ignore important social events, especially when it affects your community which includes your target market.


SMS marketing requires you to pay attention to your customers and to stay true to the type of channel you are using. They are called short messages for a reason: keep them short, keep them simple, and keep them easy to follow. You can quickly inform your customers through the service and avoid inconveniencing them. As you avoid these marketing mistakes, you can improve your business SMS marketing campaign and the response it can generate from your customers.

Share your own experience with using SMS marketing in your business strategy. Have you been making these mistakes? Or are there any we haven’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments.


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