SMS marketing gains traction: how can marketers reap the best of it?

Published: April 24, 2023

min read

KBP Brands, a KFC franchisee, is expanding its SMS marketing capabilities across its 847 U.S. locations after testing its targeted mobile messaging in over 160 different cities late last year.

Alongside local print ads and digital media, the company is also spending dollars on SMS marketing this year. It is unknown how much KBP Brands spends on marketing or SMS campaigns. It's a first for the franchisee, whose focus centres on increasing customer loyalty at the local level through this move.

It's about repeat customers and striving to boost customer loyalty at the local level, as well as providing value. Our main goal with SMS campaigns is to increase traffic, sales, and repeat customer visits.

Tonya Mangels,

VP of Marketing Activation, KBP Brands

KFC operates over 25,000 restaurants in over 145 nations and regions worldwide.

According to Vivvix, KBP spent $11,096 on media last year, including paid social data from Pathmatics. Meanwhile, KFC spent nearly $235 million on media, an increase from $181 million.

The KFC's SMS campaign is aimed at regional and local residents. It is intended to supplement KFC's primary brand marketing efforts, such as TV, radio, and social media campaigns that run concurrently across the country.

SMS marketing will not, at least not yet, replace KBP's KFC local marketing efforts such as print and local digital media buys, according to Mangels, who adds that it will take a full year to develop a finalised SMS marketing strategy across its locations.

Is SMS still an effective way for brands to drive conversions?

Since mobile adoption has risen, marketers have started to see and use SMS as a marketing vehicle.

But, with the technologies, the number of channels to reach audiences increased, and thus marketers’ spend on SMS campaigns diminished.

At this point in time, KFC’s new take on the SMS campaign sounds intriguing.

Not only has a KFC franchisee reconsidered text message marketing in recent months, but brands, such as Peace Out Skincare and BruMate drinkware, have also incorporated SMS into their core marketing strategies in an effort to diversify their spend beyond social media ads.

And it is well known that SMS offers infinite possibilities and flexibilities for marketers to engage with customers at a relatively low cost.

However, in our opinion, the success of the SMS campaign is 90% dependent on its relevance to your audience.

To that end, we believe the following points should not be overlooked by marketers:

  • Micro-segmenting the audience list based on their behaviours and overlaying them with the demographics, preferences, and interests of the customers is crucial. By doing so, marketers can send different sets of personalized messages to different audiences. This way, they make the campaign effective and more relevant to their audiences. It, in turn, will help brands build trust with their customers.
  • Conducting A/B testing will be highly beneficial for marketers to comprehend what types of offers, call to action, or messages work well with their customers. So that by measuring the responses in real time, marketers can tweak the campaigns accordingly and make them more relatable to audiences.
  • Having a clear understanding of the brand’s ideal customers is pivotal. It will only help marketers create campaign messages that resonate well with their audiences and drive action. To achieve it, marketers must not skip analysing customer feedback and doing market research before crafting campaign messages.
  • In addition to the right strategy and content, dispatching messages at the right time is critical to maintaining the relevance of the campaign.
  • Making the campaign messages stand out is important to catch audience’s attention and let them know the message is relevant to them. To achieve it, marketers must strive to convert the intention behind their campaign messages into crisp, to-the-point messages and avoid lengthy, monotonous messages.

Overall, considering SMS as a primary path to foster loyalty is not an old-fashioned or ineffective way for brands. However, while the ease of access to SMS is a huge plus, the success of the campaigns is solely dependent on their relevance.


Bill Walker

Bill is a marketing strategist who believes in the power of storytelling. He's known for his creativity, wit, and ability to connect with audiences across all channels. When he's not crafting marketing campaigns, you can find him hiking in the mountains or reading a good book.


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