What the heck are we doing with our devices all day? Well, when we’re not endlessly scrolling the web or social media, we’re probably texting.
In 2023, 15 million texts are sent per minute while nearly 70% of people open up a new text message within five minutes of receiving it. With endless stats like this in mind, businesses are presented numerous opportunities and touchpoints to engage their target market through SMS.
What is SMS marketing?
SMS, an acronym for “Short Message Service,” is a communication channel used to send and receive text messages on mobile devices. It allows users to send brief messages, typically 160 characters, to individuals or groups instantly. Text messaging has gained immense popularity due to its simplicity, convenience, and widespread availability across different devices and networks.
On the other hand, MMS, or “Multimedia Message Service”, goes beyond simple text and allows users to send multimedia content such as pictures, videos, audio files, and even formatted text.
SMS marketing allows businesses to connect with their target audience through personalized and timely text messages. It leverages the widespread use of mobile phones and the convenience of SMS to deliver promotional offers, updates, reminders, and other engaging content directly into the palm of the recipients’ hands.
Integrating SMS marketing alongside email and social media allows businesses to strike the right balance when it comes to timing and frequency of their messages.
2023 SMS Marketing Usage Data & Results
Based on the compelling trends from 2023, SMS marketing plays a crucial role for businesses in 2024.
With 86% of business owners and marketing managers having embraced SMS marketing in the past year, it’s clear that it’s become an integral part of marketing strategies. What’s more, 71% of those who used SMS marketing reported an increase in their 2023 SMS opt-in rates in 2023, highlighting its effectiveness in engaging and capturing the attention of audiences across many industries.
Think people are bothered by SMS from brands? Think again. Today, the unsubscribe rate for SMS subscribers is less than 5%, demonstrating the high level of engagement and satisfaction. This is in stark contrast to email marketing, where approximately 20% of subscribers leave each year.
Additionally, incorporating an SMS follow-up to an email has shown to increase open rates by 20-30%, proving the effectiveness of a multi-channel approach. Lastly, SMS advertising also boasts an exceptional return on investment (ROI) of approximately $71 for every dollar spent, exceeding the estimated ROI of email marketing, which stands at around $36 per dollar invested.
AI’s impact on SMS Marketing
Gone are the days of spending hours crafting the perfect SMS message. With AI-powered tools at your disposal, you can now quickly generate personalized and impactful messages that will wow your audience.
Harnessing the capabilities of AI, you can leverage customer data and insights to create tailored SMS campaigns that resonate with your recipients.
How to Get Started with SMS Marketing
1. Identify your SMS use case:
The key to achieving success with SMS marketing lies in effective planning. As you prepare to launch your first SMS campaign, it is essential to have a clear idea of the use case you are addressing with your messages.
By aligning your SMS strategy to the various stages of the buyer’s journey, you gain a deeper understanding of the purpose behind each message and how it contributes to both your target audience’s needs and your business goals. This strategic approach enables you to ensure that every SMS you send serves a specific purpose in guiding your persona towards the desired outcome.
Consider these common SMS use cases:
Order updates: provide real-time tracking information and keep customers informed about their purchase progress.
Receipt confirmation: ensure customers have proof of their purchase and create a seamless customer experience.
Product launches: generate excitement and awareness among customers for a new product.
Brand announcements: effectively communicate important updates, new initiatives, or significant milestones to your audience.
Seasonal campaigns: leverage the time-sensitive nature of holidays or specific seasons to drive customer engagement, boost sales, and create a sense of urgency.
Loyalty programs: nurture customer relationships, reward loyalty, and promote continued engagement and brand advocacy.
Event management: effectively communicate event details, updates, and reminders to attendees for a seamless and organized event experience.
Timely support: providing quick and convenient assistance to customers.
Onboarding flows: guide new customers through the process of getting started and ensure successful user adoption.
Marketing to sales handoff: seamlessly transfer leads or prospects from the marketing team to the sales team.
Upsell/Cross sell opportunities: leverage existing customer relationships to offer additional products or services.
Non-Forbidden Messsage Categories
If you’re using HubSpot’s SMS tools, you should also be aware of use cases that are non-compliant due to the forbidden message categories. These regulations are upheld by most SMS service providers and are outlined by CTIA.
If you’re sending your SMS messages using HubSpot, be sure to review your use case against the forbidden message categories in order to ensure you don’t run the risk of being filtered or blocked.
2. Build a compliant consent process
Establishing a robust and compliant consent process is crucial for the success of your SMS campaigns, protecting you from sending messages to inappropriate contacts, which could undermine the effectiveness of your campaign and expose you to the risk of being blocked.
Depending on the specific use case you have chosen, your consent process may vary, but it should incorporate essential elements to ensure compliance and maximize results. In this section we will explore the key inputs that should be addressed in every consent process, empowering you to build a solid foundation for engaging your audience through SMS campaigns.
Gather explicit consent: Obtaining explicit consent is vital when it comes to SMS marketing, setting it apart as a highly effective and engaged channel. Explicit consent is defined as consent given when you ask an individual for permission to send them marketing materials and they agree. The recipient has to manually opt-in to receive your content through written consent, clicking a checkbox on a form, or by confirming through double opt-in.
Alternatively, implicit consent is defined as consent given when an individual gives you their email address for some business purpose, but has not explicitly stated that they want to receive marketing content from you.
Utilize opt-in terminology: Contacts have the option to opt in by using any of the three words: START, UNSTOP, or SUBSCRIBE. These keywords allow individuals to express their interest and willingly join your communication channel.
Provide value in exchange for consent: Transparency is key, so it’s important to offer your contacts something valuable in exchange for their consent. Clearly communicate the frequency of messages they can expect and define the specific content they will receive, such as order updates, exclusive discounts, or dedicated customer support. By providing this clarity and promising real value, you’ll build trust and increase the likelihood of obtaining and retaining consent.
Manage contact consent status: Leverage a comprehensive consent management tool to effectively handle and track the consent status of your contacts. This tool should enable you to efficiently manage the consent of your contacts, offering the flexibility to handle consent in bulk or manually as needed.
Always offer opt-out: Prioritize giving your contacts the option to opt out of receiving messages.
3. Register your business for SMS.
Before sending SMS messages, it is crucial to register your business with your SMS service provider. While the specific nomenclature may vary across providers (check out HubSpot’s process here), the registration process typically involves following these steps:
Register your business: Provide specific details about your business including status, website URL, registration number, and industry.
Provide SMS details: Enter additional information about how your business intends to use SMS and manage consent. Ensuring you have properly outlined your intended use cases and consent process is vital to this step.
Get an SMS number: Generate a phone number that your business will use to send SMS messages.
4. Set up your first campaign.
Create a list of contacts: Compile a list of contacts who have provided explicit consent to receive your SMS messages. It is crucial that all contacts on the list have willingly opted in to receive SMS communications from your business.
If you need assistance in expanding this list with qualified contacts, consider implementing a low-barrier opt-in method, such as a QR code, on another channel like social media. This allows for easy and seamless engagement, helping you grow your contact list while maintaining compliance with consent requirements.
5. Write Actionable SMS Copy
Remember, when you’re messaging someone in their SMS inbox, you could be adding to the many texts they’re already receiving from family, friends, and other competitors, so you should ensure that your messaging is valuable, relevant, actionable, and concise so they understand why you’re reaching out to them there and seeing enough benefit in your messages to stay subscribed.
Customize these messages according to the specific stage of the buyer’s journey your contacts are in. For optimal targeting, consider segmenting your list into smaller, more focused groups based on the various stages of the buyer’s journey.
SMS Campaign Samples
The SMS copy below reminds users that they’re still a member, user, or past customer of a given service and encourages them to re-engage with a brand in some way – ideally by highlighting perks they’ll discover when they re-engage.
When hosting an in-person or online event, sending event updates can keep your attendees excited, engaged, and in the know before, during, and sometimes even after an event.
Marketing to Sales Handoff:
When a prospect converts, these messages can help smoothly introduce them to your sales team incase they choose to buy a product.Customer service feedback:
After a deal is made, keep the customer journey going by following up and seeing how their experience went by sending customer service feedback or survey messages.
Kickstarting & Reporting on SMS Campaigns
Once your messages have been carefully crafted and thoroughly reviewed, it’s time to initiate sending them to your contacts! Take the step forward and begin delivering your impactful messages to engage and connect with your audience.
To ensure your campaign’s running as planned, analyze key performance indicators such as click-through rate and return on investment (ROI). Monitoring and reporting on these metrics will help you measure the success of your campaign and make data-driven adjustments as needed.
SMS Marketing Best Practices
Say hello! Send a welcome message to any new contact. Clearly state who you are and why you’re messaging to provide valuable context.
Manage your subscriber lists: Effective contact management is crucial for successful SMS marketing and ensures you’re sending the right messages to engaged contacts at the right time.
Segment different groups: By strategically categorizing your audience into segments, you can tailor your SMS campaigns, ensure message relevancy, and optimize engagement with specific segments of your target market.
Get to the point: By keeping messages brief, recipients can easily read and action the information across smartphones, watches, and digital assistants like Siri.
Don’t overdo it: SMS is a high cost communication channel. Make sure you reserve SMS for use cases that are deeply personalized and/or express urgency.
Personalize your copy: Tailor SMS communication, recommendations, or offers to individuanamescipients and/or acknowledge their name, preferences, and past interactions, to create a sense of relevance and make a meaningful connection with them
Incorporate AI: Want to personalize a campaign, but don’t have time to write 1000 individual message,es? AI tools, like workflows or tools can bring a new level of efficiency, personalization, and effectiveness to SMS cahigh-cost
Avoid forbidden message categories: If sending your SMS messages using HubSpot, never send a message that falls into a forbidden category.
Be transparent: Consistently reintroduce your brand, purpose, and message frequency.
Offer a way out: Every message should include the option to opt out.
Step into SMS with HubSpot Today
Not ready to invest in a new product just yet? Check out our free resource with a plethora of SMS templates you can use across many different business strategies by clicking the banner below.
Referral traffic is a powerful and often overlooked way to give your website a competitive edge.
The problem is that SEO takes time to work, PPC is expensive, Google is oversaturated with blog content, and it’s tricky to prove ROI with social media. That’s where referral traffic comes in.
So, what is referral traffic, and how can you use it to generate more leads? Today, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know — why it’s important and seven steps you can take to improve yours.
What is referral traffic?
When visitors land on your website from sites other than the major search engines, that’s referral traffic.
The originating website is the “referrer” since it refers to traffic from one website to the other.
HubSpot’s marketing analytics tools can provide you with insight into your referral traffic. You can isolate this traffic from other categories and determine your best referral sources.
With this information, you can measure the effectiveness of your strategies to boost referral traffic.
Why is referral traffic important?
Referral traffic is valuable to inbound marketers because it sends potentially qualified visitors to your website. This, in turn, gets your content in front of new people, giving your website the opportunity to convert that visitor into a lead.
Your sales team will take it from there, as they then have the opportunity to convert that lead into a new customer.
That’s not the only reason referral traffic is helpful, however. Referral traffic also has SEO benefits. When someone visits your website from another site, they are usually clicking on a link or completing some type of social activity.
Google and other search engines consider these links and social signals as positive ranking factors — as long as they are coming from trusted websites.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let’s get started on getting you some juicy referral traffic so you can brag about all the hot leads you have rolling in.
7 Steps to Generate More Referral Traffic
Ready to increase your referral traffic? Start with these seven tricks.
1. Publish Your Website To Online Directories
Submitting your website to online directories is one of the easiest ways to get referral traffic, but you don’t want to publish your website to every directory out there.
Instead, focus on the ones that are most relevant to your industry or generate the most traffic. Whether you’re a veterinarian in St. Louis or an assisted living facility in Daytona Beach, Moz has you covered.
Once you’ve submitted your website to the top directories for your city and industry, focus on finding directories that can generate some serious traffic. How do you know which directories will accomplish this?
It’s as simple as performing a Google search.
The directories that appear at the top of the search results should, in theory, generate the most traffic.
For example, if you do a search for “personal trainer in Los Angeles,” there are three directories that show up on the first scroll of the search results: Thumbtack, Yelp, and FitnessTrainer. Focus your efforts there to start.
You can’t use SEO to pass up these directories in the search results overnight. What you can do, however, is use these directories to your advantage.
List your website on these directories in order to generate quality traffic and get some free SEO juice.
After all, if someone is looking for a personal trainer in Los Angeles and finds your website via Yelp, that referred visitor is just as valuable to you as them landing directly on your website.
2. Get Published on Review Websites
Review websites are another tried and true tool you can use to increase referral traffic. These visitors have already completed the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.
They’ve now reached the decision stage and are comparing vendors or products. What better time to get your product or service in front of them for consideration?
Getting listed on a review website can vary depending on whether you are a B2B or B2C company.
If you perform a search for “St. Louis roofing company reviews,” there are seven websites that you would want to be listed on if you were a roofer: AngiesList, Yelp, BBB, This Old House, Expertise.com, Houzz, and Porch.
By adding your website to these seven directories, you’re increasing the likelihood of your website being found during the decision phase of the buyer’s journey.
The next step, however, is getting those reviews. If you’re operating a respectable roofing company that treats customers fairly you should have no problem standing out from other roofers that have not-so-positive reviews.
B2B businesses will find that it is more difficult to get featured on review websites.
A lot of times, you have to “pay to play,” meaning you will basically have to pay to be featured toward the top of the review listings. For example, if you do a Google search for “top mobile app developers,” the first search result is Clutch.co.
They showcase a list of mobile app development firms with reviews, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that they are “sorted by sponsor.” Essentially these companies are paying to have their website and reviews featured first.
It’s a slick way for Clutch to make money but also maintain its reputation as a respectable source for reviews.
3. Publish Guest Blog Posts
Guess what? You’re currently looking at step three of seven for increasing your site’s referral traffic. That’s right — you’re reading a guest blog post by Agile & Co, a HubSpot Partner Agency.
Guest blog posts create numerous opportunities to get referral traffic to your website. External links (like the two in this paragraph), author bios, and calls to action (like the one at the bottom of this post) are typically present on most blogs.
If you can get a post featured on a well-known industry website, you’ll benefit from the referral traffic and links coming to your site.
It’s best to focus your efforts on websites that are considered thought leaders in your industry. Since we’re an inbound marketing agency, HubSpot is the perfect place for us to contribute a guest blog post.
I mean, HubSpot literally coined the term inbound marketing.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when guest blogging:
Focus on websites related to your industry. No one wants to read about fall fashion trends on a blog about dogs. In most cases, the dog blog wouldn’t even give a fall fashion post an okay.
Keep the target audience in mind while writing. Most blogs have strict guidelines in place for guest bloggers.
Write content under your own name. You deserve to get credit for your work. Plus, with enough blogging, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in the space.
Link to influencers. They will notice and might even help promote your guest blog post, which in return will increase the referral traffic it generates.
4. Leverage Social Media
According to Social Media Examiner, a whopping 86% of marketers indicated that social media generated more exposure for their business. Additionally, 76% found their website traffic increased as a result of their social media efforts.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok were the top six social media platforms used by B2C marketers.
However, most B2B marketers ranked LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok as their top social media platforms.
Being active on social media isn’t just for fun — it’s a tactic most marketers are using to get more traffic, leads, and sales. And if you’re not leveraging it, you’re seriously missing out.
Every time you tweet, share, like, or pin a piece of content, you are creating an opportunity to drive referral traffic to your website. Plus, you’re increasing the likelihood of your content showing up at the top of Google.
76% of marketers using social media reported improved search traffic, and 55% reported improved sales. As mentioned before, referral traffic not only brings more potential customers to your website but also helps with SEO.
5. Comment on Blogs
A question that comes up a lot is, “Does blog commenting help SEO?” Not only can it help with SEO, but it can also generate more referral traffic for your website.
According to Neil Patel, his 240+ comments on blogs have generated close to 4,000 visitors to his website.
Commenting on blogs will definitely increase your referral traffic — just make sure you’re not filling the interwebs with more spam. Here are a couple of tips for the newbie blog commenters out there:
Make sure your comments are valuable. No one likes a complainer or bragger. If your comments are negative or promotional in nature, just keep them to yourself.
Focus on blogs that allow links in the comments. Remember, you’re trying to get more traffic. In order to do that, you need to add a link to your website
If you aren’t first, you’re last. Just like search engines, if your link is at the top of the comments list, you’re more likely to generate more clicks and traffic.
6. Be Active on Industry Forums
Online forums are a great source of potential leads and customers but are often overlooked as a marketing tactic for generating traffic.
Similar to blog comments, you should focus your efforts on forums in your niche and always try to add value without sounding too promotional. Here are a couple of steps and tips below for getting the most out of forum marketing:
Make sure the forum is active. Don’t waste your time on a forum that hasn’t had a new post for a month.
Register using your brand name. You want to make sure people associate your comments with a memorable brand name.
Create a signature with a call-to-action link. This is how you’re going to drive traffic to your website.
Participate. You’ll want to participate in the areas of the forum where you have the most expertise.
Use real-life examples, don’t just offer your advice. Try to provide value using your personal experiences.
Share your resources and start a new thread with a link to a resource you think could benefit the group. If you’re proud of a particular piece of content, it’s likely others will enjoy it too.
7. Publish Infographics
When asked to select the social media platforms they want to learn more about, 68% of marketers selected YouTube and Instagram, which are heavy on visuals. The reason is pretty simple.
Humans have attention spans shorter than goldfish, and it’s easier for the brain to consume an image than a bunch of text.
Plus, you’ve probably noticed that an image of a cute puppy gets liked and shared more than a 100+ page industry report.
The great thing about infographics is they can help people understand complex data with simple visuals.
The goal is to get your infographic shared, liked, and pinned on social networks and have others embed it in their articles (like I’ve done above), thus creating links to your website.
In addition to your own website, there are several websites where you can post an infographic. One of my favorites is Instagram, which 37% of marketers rank, along with Facebook, as the best platform for developing loyalty.
Instagram gives you the option to link your infographic to your website and makes it easy for it to be shared on other platforms.
Once you start receiving additional referral traffic, you’ll want to make sure your website is ready for these new visitors.
Download the FREE eBook below to learn some best practices for ensuring your website is set up to convert visitors into leads for your business.
Welcome to Breaking the Blueprint — a new blog series that dives into the unique business challenges and opportunities of underrepresented business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn how they’ve grown or scaled their businesses, explored entrepreneurial ventures within their companies, or created side hustles, and how their stories can inspire and inform your own success.
White authors dominate book publishing, and it can be difficult for people of color to find successful entrepreneurship stories written by founders, CEOs, and marketing executives with similar cultural backgrounds.Penguin Random House, a “Big Five” publisher, reported that 76% of their released books in 2019-2021 were by white contributors. This percentage may correlate with 74% of their staff being white.
Between statements to prioritize DEI efforts and leadership restructuring—like at PRH after their bid to acquire Simon & Schuster was halted—time will tell if publishing houses will make significant strides in diversity across their rosters and workforces.
Learning from someone with lived experiences you can relate to is invaluable and affirming. It’s a chance to feel less isolated when creating the blueprints for a company you once thought was an improbable dream.
1. This Is Not a T-Shirt: A Brand, a Culture, a Community–a Life in Streetwear by Bobby Hundreds
In his memoir, Bobby Hundreds invites us into the behind-the-scenes journey of building his iconic and culture-shifting streetwear brand, The Hundreds. It’s an intimate story that starts with a tumultuous upbringing in Southern California as a punk Korean-American outsider and cascades into in-depth anecdotes about emerging as a prominent voice in the industry.
Beyond practical advice and the gripping history of streetwear’s global influence on fashion, art, and music, this memoir is a motivating salute for preserving the essence of streetwear and the importance of nurturing the lifeline of a brand–a ride-or-die community.
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Review excerpt: “This book is more than just a story of a brand that sold shirts, it shows how in order to build a lasting brand it‘s more than just a cool design or logo, but building a community that will call you out on your BS and support you to the end because you’ve held true to your foundations.”
2. Jefa in Training: The Business Startup Toolkit for Entrepreneurial and Creative Women by Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda
Written in Spanglish, Jefa in Training is a playbook and tool kit for solopreneurs and small businesses in the startup stage. In conversation with Latina immigrants and Hispanic Americans, Ojeda shares first-hand experiences, guest stories, worksheets, and templates to guide women of color to transform their projects into full-fledged businesses.
Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Review excerpt: “This book helps you overcome every fear you have that may be holding you back from starting a business. The quotes at the front of every chapter keep you motivated, the worksheets at the end keep you productive, and the tips/stories from other Latina entrepreneurs remind you that your dreams are attainable.”
3. The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John with Daniel Paisner
Shark Tank star Daymond John had humble beginnings. He sold products on the streets of Queens and turned that hustle into the $6-billion brand FUBU. Through his personal story and those of other hustling visionaries with empires, John shares how ambitious entrepreneurs can turn the desperation of being penniless into a superpower to be more efficient and innovative to achieve greater success.
Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Review excerpt: “The most comprehensive business book I’ve read! So many examples of successful entrepreneurs and their journeys to the top. I enjoyed the format of the book with all of the case studies, I really felt like I learned a lot. Daymond is very authentic and I think that is how people relate to him most. He is very approachable and humble and it comes across this way in his book.”
4. It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton with Rachel L. Nelson
Arlan Hamilton is a Black, gay woman who survived on food stamps and slept on the floor of the San Francisco airport.
Even with no college degree, background in finance, or any contacts in Silicon Valley, her tenacity and hard work propelled her to become a venture capitalist investing in underrepresented and underestimated people like her.
Her book is an unfiltered and inspiring account of staying true to yourself while pursuing success, overcoming obstacles, and staking your claim as an entrepreneur, even if no one like you is breaking into your dream industry.
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Review excerpt: “As someone who doesn‘t plan to raise capital as part of my business models, I originally didn’t think this book would apply to me. How wrong I was. From the beginning chapter, I was hooked on Arlan’s story, and her innate ability to weave in business advice, truth and pointed (and poignant) realities, as well as real life suggestions to change the narrative.”
5. We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth and Gaining Economic Power by Rachel Rogers
Rachel Rogers is on a mission to rewire the way women think about money so they can take charge of their lives, overcome the history of systemic inequality, and secure financial freedom.
While seven figures may sound wildly unattainable, Rogers’ book is a practical guide on million-dollar decisions, savvy strategies for making and investing money, and tackling mindsets that limit you.
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Review excerpt: “Part autobiography, part roadmap to success, wholly authentic, and 100% relatable – this book is THE new book for women in business. I read a lot of personal development and business books and run my own 6-figure generating business and I can say without hesitation that there is next-level mentorship between these covers.”
No matter your story, success is unlimited, and the path to it differs for everyone. Whether you’re just getting started or have an established company, pick up a book from this list and invest in your business journey by learning from those who endured the highs and lows of entrepreneurship before you.