SMS Marketing for Providers: The Basics

Claudia Reiners
May 11, 2020

SMS Marketing for Providers: The Basics

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When it comes to delivering a speedy message to your students, SMS is the number one tool for your list.

Almost every business uses Email Marketing in one way or another, however, not as many have incorporated SMS into their marketing strategy to help drive revenue to their business.

While SMS and Email Marketing both achieve similar outcomes, it’s important to understand that they can and should be used together.

Compared to Email, SMS reaches more people, which ultimately results in higher conversion rates.

While this is the most obvious benefit of the tool, it’s important to adopt a testing approach and exercise caution with your campaigns.

SMS can sometimes be costly due to the variations in cost per send and also character limits when compared with Email Marketing.

However, when used correctly, SMS can generate some amazing results for businesses in the Education Industry.

Email and SMS Can and Should Work Together

SMS and Email work together to create seamless customer experiences.

While both channels can be used in the same way, this shouldn’t be your only approach.

Use both tools in a way that complements the other.

For example, in the scenario of a student not opening a particular email that contains important enrolment information, try sending them an SMS to prompt them to check their inbox.

They may be more receptive to that mode of communication and just needed that extra reminder to engage with your content.

While there is significant overlap between these two modes, they should adopt vastly different messaging approaches.

Emails should be more creative, emotive, and influential, whereas SMS should be more direct and to-the-point.

The other main difference between the two channels is ‘level of invasiveness’.

SMS is a much more invasive approach, which naturally results in a significantly higher open rate and conversion rate.

Close to 100% of people that you send the SMS to will at the very least see your message, whereas with Email the number is much closer to 20%.

Email Average Open Rate
SMS Average Open Rate

Source:ROI Showdown: SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing,
Campaign Monitor

Benefits of SMS

As mentioned above, the most obvious benefit of utilising SMS is the extremely high open rate and conversion rate you’ll achieve.

However, there are many other benefits that you’ll enjoy when utilising this tool.

Some other benefits include:

  • Creating and sending an SMS takes minimal time and effort
  • A Great Feedback Tool – Get feedback from your students on course satisfaction
  • No display/rendering issues that are common with Email Marketing
  • Flexible and Customisable – use customer data like ‘first name’ and ‘course name’ to make it more personalised
  • Quickly notify and remind your students about upcoming events or important dates

Testing is a Must-Do

To get the most out of SMS, a high level of testing is necessary to understand what works with your target audience. Having a testing framework in place will help you gain an understanding of what types of messaging work best.

For example, if you want to understand if SMS is a good tool to capture data from your subscribers, try sending one to a small portion of your database and then look at:

  • What percentage responded
  • How many opted out
  • The types of responses you received

All this data is highly valuable to discover whether these types of messages resonate with your audience.

Some other tests you can run could be around the type of language you use in your messages.

Does a more personal message work better than a general, automated-sounding message?

Some other tests include:

  • Afternoon send vs. evening send
  • Different ‘From’ names
  • The Type of Link – a tracked link vs. an untracked standard looking link

Through a series of small tests that focus on exploring one thing, you’ll naturally begin to gain a well-rounded view on the types of messages you should and shouldn’t send to your students and prospective students.

Considerations and Drawbacks of SMS

While we’ve uncovered the benefits of SMS Marketing, it is also important to discuss some of the drawbacks. Compared to Email Marketing, the opt-out rates of SMS are significantly higher, and this is to be expected due to its invasive nature.


is the average Australian SMS ‘opt-out rate’

Burst SMS, 2018

SMS is also a more costly method of communication.

Depending on the service you use, the cost can range anywhere from 2.5 cents per send to as much as 8 cents per send or more. While this doesn’t sound like much, it adds up and highlights the importance of getting your cost per send as low as possible.

For example, sending to 10,000 people at 2.5 cents will cost $250, whereas sending to the same number of people at 7 cents will cost $700, which is a substantial difference.

This reiterates that restraint must be used when sending out SMS campaigns.

If you send SMS communication to your entire database and hope for the best, you’re likely to cost the business thousands of dollars and could potentially impact your brand image and credibility.

This can lead to your audience becoming less receptive to your future messages.
Furthermore, character limits must also be taken into consideration.

In Australia, you can typically use a maximum of 160 characters per SMS send.

If you go over that, you’ll be charged double or even triple, depending on the length of your message.

It’s also important to note that you legally must include Opt-out instructions which take up valuable characters.

Tip: Be careful when using personalisation strings in your SMS, as this element could make you go over the character limit. For example, if you want to include ‘First Name’ in your message, you should expect a portion of your audience to have long first names.

Overall, SMS is an extremely valuable tool for businesses in the Education Industry to engage with prospective student audiences and communicate effectively through the student journey.

Like any marketing tool, you should pursue a continuous testing and optimisation approach towards your SMS communications.

When used in isolation or in conjunction with email marketing, SMS is incredibly powerful.

You will start to gain a better understanding of your students and the positive results will follow.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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