SMS marketing was such a great idea, but now you’re looking at the bill, and… yikes. It’s a little high.
But just how expensive is SMS marketing? And will you see a return on that investment?
Let’s look at whether SMS marketing is actually worth it.
- Easiest platform to use
- Have two-way conversations with customers
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Best Email + SMS
- Manage your email and SMS messaging from a single platform
- Designed for eCommerce brands
- On-page marketing: push notifications and pop-ups
Mobile Text Alerts
- Affordable monthly starting cost of $19 (paid annually)
- 200+ integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot, Mailchimp, and more
Table of Contents
- What Is SMS Marketing?
- How Much Does SMS Marketing Typically Cost?
- What Factors Influence SMS Marketing Costs?
- What Do Credits Mean for SMS Marketing?
- SMS Marketing Pricing Rates
- What Are Short Codes?
- How to Measure ROI of SMS Marketing Campaign
- Simple Formula to Figure Out
- Text Message Marketing ROI Examples
- How Does Text Message Marketing Compare To:
- Pricing Comparison of Top Providers
- How to Maximize ROI on Text Message Marketing
- Other Uses for SMS Marketing
- Frequently Asked Questions
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What Is SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing is using SMS (text messaging) to send promotional marketing material to customers and clients.
This can include sending special discounts, alerting customers about important updates or new items, and even taking care of customer service tasks using features like two-way messaging.
How Much Does SMS Marketing Typically Cost?
SMS marketing costs… well, it depends.
There are a few SMS marketing services that are entirely free up to a certain amount of messages.
SMS marketing services vary in whether they charge per message or offer tiered packages with a set number of messages already included, so comparing prices gets tricky.
On average, SMS marketing will cost between one and five cents per message. Tiered packages often start at around $20 to $30 per month for the first 500 messages and upwards of $1,000 per month for 50,000+ messages.
What Factors Influence SMS Marketing Costs?
A few different factors can also affect how much companies have to pay for SMS marketing.
Here are three big ones.
If you’re sending messages domestically within the U.S., you’ll pay a much lower price than you would if you’re sending SMS and MMS messages overseas to places like Hong Kong.
SMS (short message service) refers to standard text messages with only text, while MMS (multimedia messaging service) refers to text messages sent with other forms of media like photos, GIFs, and video.
Some services charge more for packages that include MMS or charge more per MMS, so that factors into what businesses pay per month.
Features like shortcodes, shortlinks, two-way messaging, and auto-responses can also cost more for companies using SMS marketing. Unique features like scheduling and collecting payment via SMS also often cost more.
What Do Credits Mean for SMS Marketing?
SMS credits are essentially the currency of SMS marketing.
With some SMS plans, users are given a certain number of credits that they can use each month. Users can use these credits to send SMS and MMS messages.
For example, let’s say you purchase a plan that includes “500 SMS credits” per month. It costs one credit to send an SMS message and three to send an MMS message. So you could send 167(ish) MMS messages or 500 SMS messages, or any combination of the two.
SMS Marketing Pricing Rates
There can be multiple different rates that you need to factor in to figure out the true total cost of your SMS marketing plan.
Costs per Message
Some plans charge a certain amount for each SMS message, many of which allow you to pay as you go.
Rates for these SMS messages range from one to five cents each (remember that the 160-character limit typically applies) and MMS messages can cost up to three times that rate.
Some of these services offer packages where customers can buy 100 at a time for a certain price per message or get a discounted rate by buying more messages at a time.
Costs per Keyword
Keywords are what companies use to get subscribers to sign up to receive SMS marketing materials.
Keywords are also a great way to easily segment your subscribers into different groups for more targeted marketing.
Many monthly plans include a certain amount of keywords, offering one or two for lower-tiered plans and more for more comprehensive ones.
Businesses often have the option to purchase more keywords at around $15 to $25 per keyword.
Monthly fees are the base price that SMS services charge each month for the inclusive packages.
These costs vary widely based on the provider and how many services they offer, but monthly fees typically cost anywhere from around $10 to upwards of $1,000 per month.
Short Code Costs
Shortcode is an additional cost that you will need to include in the total cost of your SMS marketing.
The only place that companies can purchase shortcodes from is the U.S. Short Code Registry, where a randomly generated number costs $500 per month and $1,000 per month for a vanity code (more on that later.)
You will have to pay an additional cost ($800 to $1,500 per month) to get carrier connections included.
What Are Short Codes?
You’ve probably noticed that when you get SMS messages from businesses, they’re sent from an 8-digit number. That’s called a shortcode. Shortcode is the unique short phone number that businesses often use to send messages.
Similarly to how you have to buy the domain name for your site and pay a monthly or yearly fee for it, businesses also have to buy their shortcode number and purchase the rights to that shortcode in 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month increments from the U.S. Short Code Registry.
Vanity vs. Non-Vanity Short Codes
Non-vanity shortcodes are generated randomly by the U.S. Registry. These are a great option for businesses with smaller budgets since they cost half the price of vanity shortcodes.
Vanity short codes are custom numbers selected by a business for specific reasons, typically to have a more memorable or relevant number.
How to Measure ROI of SMS Marketing Campaign
Are you really getting your money’s worth? How do you even know?
Here are a few KPIs that you can use to quantify the success of your SMS campaign and decide if it’s worth it to continue.
The clickthrough rate or CTR shows the percentage of customers that receive and open your SMS messages actually click on hyperlinks that you send them.
Conversion rate is how many subscribers that do click the links sent to them end up taking the action you wanted them to.
This usually means making a purchase.
Cost Per Subscriber
How much are you paying per month for each subscriber? If you’re spending a huge amount of money monthly just to keep people on your subscriber list and aren’t seeing the conversion rate you’d like to, it may be time to try something else.
Simple Formula to Figure Out
If you’re looking to calculate and find out for yourself what your ROI percentage is, just follow this simple formula.
First, find your ROI by subtracting your investment (how much you’ve spent on the SMS marketing service) from your return (how much money you have made from SMS marketing.)
One you have that number, divide it by that initial investment cost, then multiply that number by 100. This will give you your ROI percentage.
This will look like:
- (Return – Investment) ROI
- (ROI / Investment) x 100 = ROI percentage
A real-world example for one month would look like this:
- Return: $2,000
- Investment: $40
- $2,000-$40= $1,960
- ($1,960/$40)= $49
- $49 x 100= 4,900%
Text Message Marketing ROI Examples
High-end restaurant using MyArea Network
Using MyArea Network, a high-end restaurant was able to see a 600% ROI percentage over the course of three months.
MyArea Network created a landing page and contest for the restaurant.
According to the case study, “The goal was to build the database while also driving customers into the restaurant for a dinner-for-two special. The landing page received 72,291 impressions through Facebook ads. There were 2,235 clicks and 1,405 entries.
If we estimate that only 5% of people who received coupons visited the restaurant and had an average check of $60, the ROI of this text marketing campaign is 6X the investment.”
- Investment: $600
- Return: $4,200
- ROI: $3,600
Personal care products brand Curie was looking for the best way to convert free sample users to paying customers, so they turned to PostScript to help with their SMS marketing campaign.
They added text-to-buy callouts to the signage already displayed in partner locations which built a significant list of subscribers. Instead of blasting out mass texts constantly, the brand was intentional with their messaging, and this approach paid off.
The brand achieved an 8% click-through rate with a 46% conversion rate when they used SMS to notify subscribers about their annual sale.
Australian clothing brand Princess Polly used Yotpo to see a significant increase in their conversion rate and return on investment.
According to the case study:
One of their flash sale campaigns saw a 41% conversion rate and 73x ROI from their non-engaged segment alone. At the same time, the SMS Welcome Flow has realized an 84% CVR.
How Does Text Message Marketing Compare To:
Is SMS really that much more successful than email marketing? What about social media ads?
The average open rate for SMS messages is an impressive 98%. The open rate for emails is just 20%.
According to Textedly's study, there’s a huge disparity in clickthrough rate as well, with SMS seeing a 9.8% higher CTR than all other forms of marketing (an average of 19%) and emails sitting at 2.5% CTR.
Emails are also more likely to get flagged as spam, while SMS is far more likely to be delivered successfully.
With Facebook marketing, according to Textedly’s study, the median engagement rate across all industries is 0.08%, with 35% of marketers reporting successful influencer campaigns.
Companies using SMS marketing effectively have experienced conversion rates as high as 47% from subscribers while the average Facebook ad conversion rate is 9.21%.
Pricing Comparison of Top Providers
The values in based on the cheapest monthly plans by each provider.
|Cost per message|
How to Maximize ROI on Text Message Marketing
Though the average ROI is pretty impressive, there are some steps you can take to make your ROI even more impressive.
Here are a few tips.
With a good SMS marketing service, businesses can create SMS templates that autofill customers’ names as well as segment them into different groups for more targeted messaging.
Using these tools is a great way to make your customers feel like you care about them and like the message was specifically created for them. And who doesn’t like feeling special?
Try different iterations of messages with separate, random groups of subscribers. See which one receives more interaction, then consider that movig forward.
If your SMS campaign is successful, you’ll get a longer subscriber list.
Keep up with the increase in subscribers by constantly evaluating, tweaking, and perfecting your SMS marketing campaigns.
This includes figuring out the best time to send SMS marketing messages.
Other Uses for SMS Marketing
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to send an SMS marketing text?
An SMS marketing text costs one to five cents on average.
How much do SMS marketing services cost?
SMS marketing services can cost anywhere from $0 to over $1,000 per month.
What is the ROI for SMS marketing?
The ROI for SMS marketing varies depending on how well the SMS marketing campaign is created, but ROI can be upwards of 1,000% in some cases.
Is sending MMS more expensive than SMS?
Yes, MMS marketing can be more expensive than SMS, but not always.