The Limitations with SMS Marketing and How to Fix Them


Text message marketing or SMS (Short Message Service) marketing is an incredibly powerful promotional tool that has yet to reach its full potential. SMS marketing is at its infancy now and is experiencing phenomenal growth.

However, with anything that is as promising as text message marketing, there are always some kinks that need to be worked through.

Instead of calling these kinks “problems,” we’re going to look at them as “limitations.” The distinction is critical because SMS marketing is still evolving.

In the meantime, however, here are some surefire solutions to battle some of the more serious limitations with SMS marketing.

1. SMS are limited by space

This limitation is probably the most obvious and pervasive. Essentially, SMS are limited by 160-characters, and that, for a marketing tactic, is not a lot of space to write.

Beyond character space, SMS doesn’t provide a lot of space for graphics or images. Depending on the type of phone and operating platform, sometimes text message graphics are sent in a separate message than the content.


To go around this issue, write no more than 140-characters. This also provides enough space for subscribers to forward interesting messages to their friends. 

If you must include a graphic, ensure that it contains all of your relevant promotional information. This saves you the off-chance that if you include content, it won’t be separated into several different messages.

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2. SMS are limited by mobile phones

Each cell phone – whether it’s a smartphone or a huge 1980s cell phone – is different. There are different models. There are different operating systems. There are different carriers.

You’re thinking, “So, what? Of course, cell phones are different!”

Well, this is a slight problem for SMS marketers. Take email programs: they’re pretty much universal across the board including operating systems (Windows or Mac) and free email programs (Hotmail or Gmail). Most email programs have a similar set-ups including preview windows.

nokia old phone

Mobile phones are different. Each make and model has different size screens, different text programs and different ways to view text messages. 


The simplest solution is to design, well, simply. Considering the variety of mobile phones available and the uncertainty of which subscriber has the most recent Android phone or a Nokia flip phone from 2003, its best to design with the lowest quality of phone in mind.

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3. SMS are limited by the instantaneous connection

Think about it: how often do you go back through your archived text messages? 

Now, think about how often do you go back through your archived email messages?

Chances are, you go through your emails far more often than you do with your text messages, if at all. And, what most likely happens that your SMS marketing subscribers view your message immediately and forget about it.


Actually, there are two solutions to this problem. First, do some research about when your subscribers actually redeem your promotions or act on your messages. Chances are they’re doing so after work hours, when they have time to digest your message and their focus isn’t on deadlines.

redeem your promotion

Second, encourage your SMS subscribers to opt in for your email marketing campaign. Segment these subscribers into a special category so that you can send duplicate promotional messages to them or email them friendly reminders that their SMS promotion is running out of time.

Do you respond to SMS marketing messages?

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About the Author: This post is brought to you by Michael Cusden at SimplyCast, a leader in multi-channel marketing automation and the home of The Epic Free Plan, which gives all users up to 5,000 email sends, 50 fax sends and 5 SMS sends every month for free, forever.


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