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SMS marketing is taking over

Everything you need to know before implementing your SMS marketing strategy.

We’ve all had that moment – you hear your phone buzz and think it’s that all-important message you’ve been waiting for – not quite. It’s a text from a clothing brand you bought from once in 2019. And by the end of the day, you’ve bought a new outfit that you had no inclination of buying at the start of the day. That’s the power of SMS marketing.

Over the past two decades, SMS marketing has become so ingrained in our lives that we don’t even pause to consider what life was like without it. Specifically in the US, there has been a shift in focus from email marketing to SMS as there have been significant developments in this area. Let’s take a deeper look at why that is.

The rise of SMS marketing

SMS marketing has often been overlooked when searching for the best marketing communication, with many opting for email or social media marketing instead. However, there are many unsung benefits when it comes to SMS marketing, so if you have been hesitating towards making the change, perhaps now is the time to reconsider.

The untapped potential of SMS in the US

There are currently five billion unique mobile subscribers worldwide, and 442 million of those users reside in the US as of 2019, with that number rising steadily each year. This means that the potential reach for SMS marketing is boundless, with even more potential to grow in the coming years. Many businesses have seen exponential growth since adopting SMS marketing, especially when used in conjunction with other marketing communications.

There was always one major drawback to SMS marketing – Spam. In the early days of SMS marketing, there were barely any regulations to guide marketers in using it appropriately. Spam was prevalent and branded text messages were considered a nuisance. Several regulations have already been developed and widely accepted across the world to encourage not only respectful practices but also data privacy protection. These regulations have made people more open to receiving promotional text messages. In fact, nowadays, 75% of consumers say they don’t mind getting texts from brands as long as they have opted in.

What are the benefits of SMS marketing?

One of the biggest benefits of SMS marketing is the fact that texts are opened 98% of the time when received by your customers. This gives SMS more visibility than any other marketing channel. It’s easy for your email marketing campaign to get lost in a spam folder and it’s simple for a customer to throw away a flier they pick up at the shops. But with the prevalence of mobile phones and the popularity of texting, text marketing is hard to ignore. More often than not, your customers will open that text and read its contents. If you want to find a way to reach your customers more consistently, SMS is a great option.

SMS Marketing is also cost-effective. Especially when considering other marketing options such as buying a Facebook Ad spot, it is much more affordable to send a text message to a phone, even when sending it to a lot of people. This makes SMS marketing a great choice for all businesses. Especially for businesses that are just starting out and are looking for a way to start advertising without spending too much money in one go.

Now that you’re sold on the benefits of SMS Marketing, it is important to understand the different types of SMS you can use to send communications to your customers in the US. Here’s a breakdown of shortcodes, toll-free numbers, and 10DLC.

SMS marketing in the US: what you need to know


A shortcode is a phone number, typically between five and six digits, used to send and receive text messages. It allows your customers to receive marketing communications and promotions, as well as interact with your brand by engaging in workflows that handle typical customer use cases.

For example, if you’re a retail pharmacy, your customer can interact with your shortcode to complete routine tasks such as requesting prescription refills or signing up for pick-up reminders (e.g. Text REFILL to 12345 to refill your prescription). Or, if you’re a retailer, you can promote your shortcode for customers to gain access to exclusive deals (e.g. Text SUMMER to 67890 to receive 40% off your purchase).

Toll-free numbers

Texting over a toll-free number allows businesses to engage with their customers via two-way messaging using an existing business toll-free phone number. With toll-free messaging, your customers will be able to reach out to you by text using the same number they use to call you. By simply adding “Text or Call” next to your marketing materials, you can build awareness and equity in your toll-free numbers ensuring higher customer engagement via texting.

10-digit long codes (10DLC)

A long code, on the other hand, is a phone number with the same length as standard mobile or landline numbers (typically a 10-digit number in many countries). In the past, business messaging traffic over long codes was sent over the carriers’ P2P networks, which limited them to very low throughputs and restrictions on use from the carriers. With the release of 10DLC, carriers in the US have rolled out requirements to register senders and their campaigns, which allows higher messaging throughput on 10DLCs and improves message delivery.

10DLC numbers also offer the unique benefit of a localized experience, which can be ideal for local business outreach, as it may be a number your customer already recognizes and engages with. Businesses may be able to enable existing phone numbers for texting programs.

Start sending SMS in the US

At dotdigital, we’ve made it all simple for you to get started with dedicated in-house SMS specialists. They are on-hand to help you with all things SMS, from strategic advice, recommendations on sending method, and where applicable use case registration as well. We support SMS in 222 different countries, so we are well equipped to manage all your needs.

Get in touch with your Customer Success Manager or book a demo to find out more. Happy Texting!

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