Best practices to grow and engage your SMS subscriber list

Reaching your audience through their preferred or most popular channels is vital to any marketing strategy—but that's just one aspect of personalization. To engage with customers and keep them wanting more, marketers can't only think of current leads, but future leads as well. In this blog, we'll delve into the following topics related to SMS marketing:

  • Introduction
  • Engagement strategy
  • Personalization
  • Automation
  • Data-driven decisions
  • Setting up the right platform 

SMS marketing in a nutshell

As a marketing channel, SMS enables businesses to connect with their audiences directly on their mobile phones. It involves sending targeted messages like promotions, updates, or transactional alerts to a permission-based subscriber list. 

Here's why SMS marketing is powerful

Open rate: Unlike emails—which may get lost in cluttered inboxes—SMS messages cut through the noise and result in incredibly high open rates, often exceeding 90%. This means your message has a much greater chance of reaching your target audience. 

Immediate delivery and engagement: SMS messages are delivered immediately and land directly in the customer's viewrather than ending up in spam filters. This precision ultimately drives higher engagement and conversions. 

Versatility for different marketing goals: SMS marketing isn't limited to just promotions; you can leverage it for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Order notification: Send order confirmations, shipping updates, and delivery notifications.
  • Personalized welcome series: Deliver a personalized series of welcome messages with a discount code.
  • Post-purchase upsells and cross-sells: Recommend complementary products based on the customer's purchase history or offer an exclusive upsell deal. You can also send a short SMS survey to gather customers' feedback on their experiences.

 Engagement strategy  

With open rates as high as 98%, it's no wonder businesses are turning to SMS to engage their customers instantly. But how do you ensure your messages aren't just opened but also acted upon? That's where engagement strategies come into play.

An engagement strategy is a roadmap for creating ongoing interactions between your audience and your brand. It involves understanding your target audience, crafting compelling content, and leveraging various channels to foster a two-way communication flow. The goal is to move beyond simply delivering messages and instead spark conversations, build loyal relationships, and ultimately drive desired outcomes.

Why are engagement strategies vital? 

A well-defined engagement strategy ensures your content doesn't just sit there, waiting to be noticed. Here's how it fuels your marketing efforts:

  • From awareness to action: Through interactive elements and compelling CTAs, engagement bridges the gap between awareness and action. It motivates your audience to take the next step, whether it's visiting your website, subscribing to a service, or making a purchase.

  • Turning data into insights: Engagement strategies provide valuable data on what resonates with your audience. By analyzing responses, clicks, and interactions, you gain crucial insights into their preferences and can refine your content and messaging to be even more impactful

Here's how 

There isn't just one optimal engagement strategy for SMS marketing, as the ideal approach depends on your specific audience, brand voice, and marketing goals. However, here's a framework for crafting a highly-engaging SMS marketing strategy:

Personalized communication

  • Segment your audience based on demographics, purchase history, and interests. Tailor messages that resonate with specific customer segments to create a sense of relevance.

  • Personalize greetings, product recommendations, and offers using customer names and past behaviors. This demonstrates your understanding of individual needs and preferences and can increase brand loyalty.

Content creation

  • Keep your messages concise and clear. Focus on a single, compelling message or offer to deliver the intended impact.

  • Craft a clear call to action (CTA) that highlights the value of your proposition. Emphasize exclusive offers, limited-time discounts, or early-access opportunities to drive engagement action

Leverage automation

  • Automate routine tasks like welcome messages, cart abandonment reminders, and appointment reminders to free up time for strategic planning and reduce manual effort.

  • Use automation to send timely, personalized messages that increase customer engagement and drive conversions, such as tailored offers and personalized follow-ups based on customer behavior.

Measure, analyze, and adapt

  • Monitor metrics like open rates, click-through rates, reply rates, and conversion rates. Analyze these metrics to identify what resonates and what needs improvement.

  • Test variations in message content, timing offers, and CTAs to optimize for better engagement and results.

  • Use the insights gained from analytics to adjust your campaigns and continuously improve your engagement strategy.


Standing out from the crowd can feel like a constant struggle in marketing, but one can only imagine how efficientlypersonalization helps overcome it. 

Let's say you walk into a high-end clothing store. A salesperson greets you by name, remembers your previous purchases, and suggests tailored outfits based on your style preferences. Now, contrast that with walking into a crowded clothing store where the staff throws generic promotions your way without any recognition. 

Just as personalized service creates a more positive customer experience in a retail setting, personalization is equally important in SMS marketing. It's the difference between mass-produced messaging and crafting a custom experience that resonates with each customer.

There are various ways to personalize your SMS marketing messages. Here are a few examples:

  • Divide your subscriber base into groups based on their preferences, past purchase histories, or demographics. This enables you to send targeted messages that resonate with each segment.

  • Integrate merge tags to personalize greetings ("Hi [Name]!") or product recommendations based on past purchases ( "We noticed you liked [Product X]. Check out [Similar product Y]!").

  • Celebrate special occasions with a personalized message and a unique offer to demonstrate that you value their loyalty. 

Personalization is a sequential journey. By analyzing your results and continuously refining your approach, you can benefit from SMS marketing and build meaningful relationships with your customers. Remember, a little personalization goes a long way in creating a positive and memorable customer experience. 

However, manually personalizing every message can be time-consuming, especially as your subscriber base grows. This is where marketing automation comes in. 


Automation in SMS marketing enables you to use marketing automation software to send targeted messages automaticallybased on pre-defined triggers. This ensures your messages are relevant, timely, and highly personalized to each customer's journey. Here's how automation can elevate your SMS marketing strategy:

Welcome messages: Greet new subscribers with a warm welcome message that includes their name, a discount code, or an introduction to your loyalty program.

Abandoned cart reminders: Nudge customers who haven't completed their purchases with a friendly reminder and a link back to their cart—and maybe include a special offer to incentivize them to complete the order.

Post-purchase engagement: Show appreciation for customers' purchases and encourage repeat business by offering upsell or cross-sell opportunities based on their purchase history.

Transactional alerts: Enhance the customer experience with automated order confirmations, shipping updates, and delivery notifications. Add a personalized touch by expressing gratitude for their business.

Birthday campaigns: Strengthen customer relationships by sending personalized birthday greetings with special discounts or anniversary messages that recognize their loyalty.

Exclusive offers and promotions: Reward loyalty and drive engagement by sending targeted SMS promotions based on customer preferences or purchase history.

Re-engagement campaigns: Reconnect with inactive customers by sending personalized messages reminding them about your brand, offering exclusive deals, or highlighting new products they might be interested in.

By implementing these automation strategies, you can create a personalized customer experience that drives conversions and maximizes the effectiveness of your SMS marketing efforts. 

Data-driven decisions 

Coupled with SMS marketing, automation extends beyond efficiency. By integrating marketing automation software with your SMS campaigns, marketers can make data-driven decisions and achieve the following:

  • Performance tracking: Track key performance indicators like open rates, click-through rates, reply rates, and conversion rates across different campaigns. Analyze these metrics to understand what resonates with your audience and what needs improvement. 

  • Identify trends and patterns: View trends in customer behavior based on demographics, purchase history, and engagement levels to tailor your SMS marketing strategy to specific segments for increased effectiveness.

  • Optimize your campaigns in real time: With real-time data insights, you can adjust your messaging, timing, and offers to maximize engagement and achieve your desired outcomes.

Now, let's explore how to translate data from SMS campaigns (or any customer behavior-based campaign) into actionable insights that drive results.

Define your goals

Before interpreting data, clearly define your campaign goals. Whether you're aiming to increase brand awareness, drive sales, or boost customer engagement, you must know your objectives to make it easier to identify metrics that directly impact those goals.

Identify high-performing content 

Understand the types of messages that generate the highest open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Focus on replicating successful elements in future campaigns.


Create customer segments based on demographics, purchase history, and interests. Use this information to segment your audience and personalize your SMS messages for increased relevance and engagement.

A/B testing

Utilize A/B testing to compare different versions of your SMS messages, including content, CTAs, and timing. Analyze the results to identify the most effective approach for each segment and continuously optimize your campaigns.

Measure and refine

Regularly monitor your KPIs, track the impact of changes you implement, and measure their effectiveness over time. This enables you to identify long-term trends and make data-driven adjustments to your SMS marketing strategy for sustained success. 

How does own SMS gateway impact in SMS marketing?

A marketing automation platform needs its own SMS gateway to offer a more integrated, reliable, and cost-effective messaging solution. This allows for better control over message delivery, security, and customization, leading to an enhanced user experience. Users benefit from lower costs, higher reliability, improved data protection, and the ability to create more personalized and effective marketing campaigns. 

Zoho Marketing Automation stands out as a comprehensive marketing automation software with its built-in SMS gateway. This robust feature streamlines your marketing efforts by bundling all the tools you need in one place.

 But what ensures message delivery? 

Zoho Marketing Automation has you covered. We support 10DLC registration. It's a system that ensures businesses sending mass SMS messages use approved local long codes. This registration process improves deliverability rates and ensures your messages reach your intended audience. 

Benefits of 10DLC registration

  • Registered long codes are less likely to be blocked by carriers.

  • Sending messages from a verified number builds trust with customers.

  • 10DLC ensures users adhering to best practices for SMS marketing. 

Key takeaways before kick-starting your SMS marketing 

SMS marketing offers a direct line to your customers' buying power, but before you start sending your campaigns, consider these essential tips:

  • Tailor your messages to the right audience based on their preferences for higher engagement. 

  • Highlight value propositions, include promotional offers, and keep your messages concise and clear. 

  • Analyze metrics to understand what's working and what needs improvement by refining your strategy for optimal results.

  • Don't just inform; engage! Use actionable calls to action, ask questions, and encourage replies.

  • Comply with all regulations and obtain clear opt-in consent before sending messages.

By understanding these crucial elements, you can launch successful SMS marketing campaigns that yield customer engagement, drive results, and strengthen your brand connections. Remember, it's about building relationships, not just bombarding your subscribers with messages.

Happy Marketing!


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