50 Examples of Brands Using SMS Marketing
It’s one thing to read and learn about SMS marketing; it’s another entirely to see some examples. Fortunately, the team at Tatango has created this blog post to highlight the top 50 SMS marketing campaigns in the United States. This list includes text message marketing campaigns from top restaurants, retailers, hotels and casinos, news outlets, nonprofits, and many other industries.
What Is SMS Marketing?
Have you ever received a text message from your favorite brand, such as Auto Zone, Best Buy, Boston Market, or even Chili’s? If so, you’ve received an SMS marketing message.
SMS marketing is used by businesses to send text messages in bulk to consumers. In most cases, those text messages will include some sort of coupon or promotion. It’s important to note that businesses can’t just send SMS marketing messages to anyone. In the United States, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) clearly states that businesses can only text message consumers if they have the consumer’s permission. This protects consumers from text message spam from businesses. These rules are also great for businesses because these rules are the reason why SMS marketing has a 99% open rate.
For more SMS marketing examples, see SMS Archives: Search Engine for SMS Marketing.
So without further adieu, here are 50 examples of brands using SMS marketing.
This intimate apparel and lifestyle retailer leverages SMS marketing towards sale promotion and website redirection. Their messaging is short and sweet, designed to funnel consumer interest onto their website. Consumers can get a huge deal from Aerie’s text coupons, such as 40% off.
A well-known clothing retailer, Aeropostale utilizes SMS messaging in a very similar fashion to Aerie. The primary difference is that Aeropostale’s text messaging utilizes a trendy hashtag—doubtlessly paired with a deal on social media—and more details about the 20% sale itself in the message.
Albee Baby is a baby product retailer that deals in strollers, clothing, and bedding (among other things). Considering their target consumer base, their messaging does not spend time being trendy or relatable, opting instead to jump right in to the sale and a website link. Parents and babysitters don’t have time for trends—they need those products cheaply and quickly.
American Eagle Outfitters is the popular clothing retail store that is a common sight at malls all over the country. Their messaging is, as you might expect, sale-oriented. American Eagle Outfitters provides just enough detail to entice the consumer—with a 50% deal no less—and then provides an external link to shop. They also include a time constraint—2 days only—making their deal even more actionable.
Auto Zone is one of the most well known and trusted automotive retailers. Auto Zone’s text messaging is the first on this list to feature clearly displayed “STOP” and “HELP” disclosures in the text messages; in this case, it tells the consumer how to unsubscribe or learn more. This Auto Zone text coupon offers $10 off a $50 purchase, saving consumers around 20% off.
Bed Beth & Beyond is an American chain of domestic retail stores selling bedding, bathroom apparel, appliances, and some clothing. Their text messaging is concise, displaying a coupon and a website link, and ending with an unsubscription command. This message could be improved by shortening the URL of the website link with one of the varied shortening tools online, which would save space and improve the formatting.
Best Buy is the technology and office retailer that is a household name across America. Their messaging does not inundate the consumer with capital letters, symbols, or numbers; it’s a simple encouragement to shop online, with a shortened link to keep the message concise.
Bloomingdale’s is an American luxury department chain. In the SMS example above, they take the time to identify themselves—many consumers might just leave their conversations with a brand marked with the short code, which can leave some confusion when a new message comes in. In addition to that, this message clearly describes the deal, how to access it, and how long it lasts, capping off with an unsubscription command and the web link. This message is concise, effective, and respectful of the consumer’s time.
Boston Market is a chain of American restaurants headquartered in Colorado. Their brand identity is casual, and their messaging takes a similar approach; known acronyms let Boston Market save space in the text message without sacrificing the message itself. Boston Market is clear with the deal—buy one get one free—and provides a shortened web link for the consumer’s convenience.
Champs Sports is an American sports retail store that sells apparel, equipment, footwear, and sports accessories. Their messaging is the most descriptive of the messages we’ve seen so far, with smooth language trying to prompt interest in the products—a stark contrast to the boldly presented deals and sale numbers in the other messages. Considering the social aspect of the sporting community, this is likely a better approach for the brand, as it’s more about keeping consumers trendy and up-to-date.
Chili’s Bar and Grill is an American casual dining restaurant chain. Their messaging is consistent: one sale or product deal at a time. Describe the meal, describe the savings, and show the consumer a picture of the food. Nothing is more likely to get consumers into a restaurant than having them open a message and see good food on their screen.
Cold Stone Creamery is an American ice-cream parlor chain, where premium ice cream is made-to-order. They have a rewards system in place, which gives them another avenue of promotion beyond simple sales and deals that other locations might be limited to. The example above shows how a rewards points system can encourage consumers to buy the brand’s product, without limiting their choices. For modern consumer bases, points systems can feel like a game as well—and nobody ever turns down double points, especially for ice cream!
Cratejoy is the monthly hobby-box subscription service that lets people experience a curated set of surprises. Their messaging normally consists of single-topic sales on boxes, but the message above is attempting to leverage social distancing and social pressures towards product purchases. We like how they also include a photo that links directly to their website so consumers can shop from the text message itself.
Dollar General is an American variety-store chain, and their text messages are either about a sale, or about encouraging their app usage. Their bright image draws attention, and we love how they use the space to show consumers what the app experience is like, with a large “Explore Coupons” headline.
Dressbarn is an online women’s retailer, and their messaging is more or less the same as other retailers, but with one notable feature: the “SMS Exclusive Flash Sale”. Consumers are already receptive to sales and discounts—the fear of missing out on a good deal is a significant factor. Adding exclusivity to that package simultaneously makes the consumer feel special and increases that pressure, which can be the difference between a consumer purchasing or not.
Edible Arrangements is a U.S. franchise that puts together and delivers fresh fruit arrangements. Their text messaging highlights deals and limited-time offers, using a short link for ultimate shopability. Consumers can use the text to place an order today and have it delivered for free tomorrow—a great deal for a delivery service.
Express is an American fashion retailer targeting young men and women. Their messaging is all about appealing to the youth; casual grammar, acronym usage, and symbols all save time, and the provided links give easy access to the website. Express text coupons enable subscribers to buy one item and get one free, or even save 50% off clothing.
Festival Foods is a Wisconsin-based grocery store. Their messaging is longer than most, but that’s because they weren’t willing to sacrifice quality for page space. As a result, their messaging is significantly longer, but the grammar is solid, the deals are clearly described, a link is provided for convenience, and it’s generally easily read and absorbed.
Foot Locker is an American sportswear and footwear retailer, and their messaging follows much of the same standard pattern: deal, deal code, website link. Foot Locker is somewhat unique in that they don’t bother with any social lead-in or cues, they jump immediately into the deals at hand. They also offer subscribers a solid deal: a full 25% off their next order with the text coupon provide. That makes subscribing to Foot Locker’s text coupons a no-brainer for footwear lovers.
Gymboree is a children’s specialty retail store, and their messaging is—as you might expect—aimed at parents. They feature short, simple sections for busy parents, with limited information spread out to avoid clutter. We love how they make the most of an upcoming holiday and also include an enticing “Reveal” command, where subscribers can click to see their deal.
The Home Depot is one of the most well-known American home improvement and hardware stores. Their message clearly displays the deal of the day, the runtime of the deal, and a link to the deal itself. Home Depot text coupons are as utilitarian and effective as the products and lifestyle they cater to.
The Humane Society uses their SMS messaging in the same way they use their TV commercials: as total tear jerkers. It’s nearly impossible not to feel moved or impacted by an image of a sad puppy, or kitten, or other baby animal, which results in donations for their worthy cause. This is our first example in the list of a non-profit organization using SMS marketing to spread their cause, although you can read about others here.
Jack in the Box is a well-known fast-food chain, and their text messaging is clean and simple. Instead of inserting a shorter web link into one message, they opted to send a branded link. This makes for a cleaner appearance, with a bright red logo that catches attention and makes consumers want to shop the 25% off deal.
Jamba Juice is a beloved smoothie and juice bar found all over America. Their messaging takes a leaf from Jack In the Box’s book with a text message and image link, but Jamba Juice also takes the time to write in a more conversational tone, designed to build this feeling of humanity and connection. Specifically, affirming phrases like “you earned it” sway people’s mood in a positive direction, which makes them more generous and therefore willing to spend.
Jos. A. Bank is a high-end professional clothing retailer, and their messaging highlights deals almost exclusively. Suits are expensive, and a 25% off sale could be a savings of $50-$75 or more depending on the set—these are deals that people will pay attention to and subscribe for.
Kmart is an American big box department store chain. Like most retailers, Kmart keeps their text coupons short and concise, opting to highlight the existence of a deal and divert attention to the website instead of describing one specific deal in particular.
Kohl’s is the largest department store chain in the United States as of 2013. Their messaging is entirely based on sales and coupon deals. Subscribers of Kohl’s text coupons can get $15 Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent. We love how Kohl’s also gives a time limit, because that gets customers to click the link or head to the store to shop and save.
Kylie Cosmetics takes a text-heavy approach to SMS messaging, using complete sentences to describe the offering and event. This keeps the text generally uncluttered and easy to read. Kyle Cosmetics gives text subscribers a $10 off coupon and even promises to donate a portion of proceeds to a worthy cause. This takes advantage of a holiday, a time-sensitive promotion, and a great text coupon for subscribers, all in one text message.
Lands’ End is an American clothing and home decor retailer. Their SMS messaging is deal-focused, but they offer both a promo code and a PIN code, giving consumers more information and identification in the process. Subscribers of Lands’ End text coupons can get a great deal of up to 75% off all outerwear.
Lane Bryant is a United States retail women’s clothing store chain focusing on plus-size clothing. They don’t bother identifying themselves in the message as their name appears in their contact token, but their deal is easily described. The use of a single emoji stands out, as it provides a small splash of color, which can let these messages stand out in the crowd. Lane Bryant offers a solid text coupon of 50% off to all subscribers.
Lord & Taylor is an American luxury department store chain, and the oldest department store in the United States. They offer text subscribers up to 40% off when they spend $200 or more, a massive 20% savings. Lord & Taylor also provides a clear call-to-action—”Shop Now”—and a short link for subscribers to shop with ease.
Lowe’s is an American retail company specializing in home improvement. Their messaging is incredibly concise, all dedicated to saving time and helping consumers save on appliances when they need them most. Lowe’s also customizes the end of their short link to relate directly to their text coupon topic.
Macy’s is an American department store chain, and a household name. Their messaging offers an exclusive 2-day offer, enabling text subscribers to save 50 to 75% off fine jewelry and watches with the promo code FORYOU. They also include their own branding short link, “mcys.co”.
New York & Company, Inc. is an American wear-to-work retailer for women. New York & Company alerts their text subscribers about a 5-hour sale, where subscribers can save $150, with everything 30 to 60% off. As an added bonus, all orders ship free. New York & Company also uses the extra real estate in their link title to summarize their message, making it even easier for consumers to shop.
Office Depot is the go-to office supply retailer in the U.S. This Office Depot text coupon offers consumers 20% off posters, banners, and flyers. Office Depot provides a clear call-to-action—”Shop now”—and a custom short link that makes shopping (and saving) a no-brainer.
Old Navy is a classic clothing retailer, and their messaging takes an extremely casual approach to messaging. The use of casual grammar, colloquialisms, and text acronyms keep their message fun and playful. The “OMG!!!” intro gains immediate attention from subscribers, and a great deal like 50% off makes this text coupon irresistible for clothing lovers.
Olive Garden is an Italian-inspired restaurant in America. Their messaging is in line with standard restaurant messaging—deal, link to a webpage, and easy speech. Olive Garden offers a deal like buying one, getting one free, so that dinner is covered for two nights in a row. They also offer a link where consumers can purchase to shop and order right from their phones. Deals and pasta, what could be better!
Papa John’s is an American pizza restaurant franchise. Papa John’s is the fourth largest pizza delivery restaurant chain in the United States, with headquarters in Kentucky. In Papa John’s text coupon, they offer subscribers two large 2-topping pizzas for only $8 with a special code sent to text subscribers only. That makes joining the Papa John’s list a great value for anyone looking to save money on delicious pizza. Papa John’s also includes a time limit, making consumers more likely to take immediate action so that they don’t miss out.
Papa Murphy’s is a take-and-bake pizza company based in Vancouver, Washington. The example above uses a large amount of shorthand and symbols to save space on the page. Papa Murphy’s also created a special day of the week to message subscribers a text coupon: Take Out $12 Tuesday. Papa Murphy’s also customized the end of their short link as “frshpizza” which is a clever way to squeeze in additional advertising and add a playful spin to their messaging.
The Pep Boys is an American automotive aftermarket retail and service chain. They are referred to as the “founders of the automotive after market.” The Pep Boys text coupons open with the web link, explaining the promotion afterwards. A deal like 25% off can add up to serious savings when dealing with automotive tools, making The Pep Boys a worthy text campaign to join.
Pet Supplies Plus is a private pet supply retailer with a major presence in the U.S. They also opted for a clickable image, which helps them keep their formatting clean and effective. By seeing all of the available deals, subscribers are more likely to want to click the image to zoom in, and find the deal they want.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an American animal rights organization, and their messaging plays on that theme. PETA offers their subscribers a chance to stand up for animals by simply texting the letter Y. They also alert their subscribers of the next chance to participate.
PetSmart is an American pet retail chain. They specialize in pet products like food, furniture, habitats, and accessories, as well as services such as dog grooming, training, boarding, and daycare. Their messaging is clean and concise, and we can see their acquisition of express consent in the example above. PetSmart sends subscribers weekly text coupons and deals, making it a great text campaign to join for animal lovers.
ProFlowers is a flower retailer in the United States that sells products shipped from growers, suppliers, and its own distribution facilities to consumers. ProFlowers’ text coupons indicate that subscribers receive about 4 messages per month containing exclusive deals.
Round Table Pizza is a chain of pizza parlors in the western United States. Right before lunch time, at around 11 a.m., they send a text coupon to subscribers offering a personal pizza and 20-ounce drink for just $7.99. It’s super smart to send right before lunch, as this is when subscribers are most likely to have appetites for this deal.
Sherwin-Williams is an American Fortune 500 company in the general building materials industry. Their messaging is neat and to-the-point; focusing on solving the problem and meeting a need. There is no room for fluff in the DIY space, so they offer subscribers a text coupon for 30% off paints and stains for a limited time only.
Sonic is one of the last remaining iconic drive-in dining brands, and their text messaging is direct and to the point—no tagline, no introduction, just immediate deals and savings. This particular Sonic text coupon offers half-price drinks and slushies for one day only. To see Sonic MMS messaging examples, check out this post.
Subway is the artisan sandwich franchise popular in America, and their messaging is simple and straightforward. They offer a text coupon for a free footlong when consumers order two footlong subs. Talk about a delicious deal! Consumers can order directly from the text message by clicking the link provided.
The Children’s Place is an American specialty retailer of children’s apparel and accessories. Their messaging is separated by line breaks and short sentences, making it aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. The Children’s Place offers an incredible text deal of 60 to 80% off everything, plus free shipping. They also use the term “Reveal” to pique curiosity and entice consumers to take action.
We hope you enjoyed these 50 examples of brands using SMS marketing. For help designing and promoting your own text message marketing campaigns, contact us at Tatango here.