Get Started with SMS Marketing: Drive Appointment Bookings & Delight Customers

SMS marketing text message promoting special at a veterinarian's office

Chances are, in the last few months, you’ve received a text message (or ten) from a company you previously bought from promoting a new deal or special. You know, the kind you glance over briefly as you absentmindedly swipe away. And yet, you find yourself opening it again later and taking advantage of that offer even though you weren’t in the market for the product or service in the first place.

Intrigued by the idea of wielding this marketing magic for your own business but not sure where to start? SMS Marketing is a dynamic tool that can help your business grow appointment bookings by grabbing the attention of your prospective and current clients. Learn how to use SMS marketing to expand your client communication strategies beyond appointment confirmations/reminders and how to craft irresistible SMS marketing campaigns. 

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing, or text message marketing, is a powerful strategy that involves sending promotional messages or updates directly to customers’ mobile devices via SMS (Short Message Service). Whereas SMS messages can only include text, MMS (multimedia message service) messages may include text, images, gifs, audio, and a handful of other file types. 

SMS boasts unparalleled open rates and immediacy, making it an effective channel for reaching and engaging your audience. According to a report by Mobilesquared, 90% of text messages are opened within three minutes of being received. Likewise, the open rate for SMS messages is 98% compared to just 20% for email. 

Sending marketing text messages is a great low-cost way to connect with prospective and current clients and keep your brand in mind. Businesses can use text messages to promote specials or discounts, share updates about new products or services, or celebrate personal milestones (e.g., birthdays and anniversaries).

How Businesses Utilize SMS Marketing

Businesses across a multitude of industries leverage SMS marketing. From sending appointment reminders and confirmations to delivering exclusive promotions and event invitations, the versatility of SMS marketing knows no bounds. Whether you’re a salon owner looking to reduce no-shows or a retailer aiming to drive sales, SMS marketing offers a direct line of communication to connect with your customers. Below are some of the most common types of SMS messages you might send to your customers as an appointment-based business:

Promotional SMS Messages

A promotional SMS marketing message offering a discount if the recipient books an appointment quickly

Promotional SMS texts are designed to convince people to buy something from your business. A promotional text typically includes a discount or special offer to entice a customer to take action. For appointment-based businesses, this may look like a text offering 25% off a service if booked before a specific date or a BOGO (buy-one-get-one) special. Promotional messages can also be used to engage prospective customers who’ve “gone dark” or stopped responding to you, given an enticing enough offer. If you’re trying to grow your appointment bookings with a promotional campaign, it’s a great idea to include your online booking page link to make it as easy as possible for people to schedule an appointment.

Payment or Transactional Messages

An SMS Marketing message is used to notify a client that a no-show fee has been collected.

SMS messages can be used to collect or confirm that a purchase has been made. Retail businesses use these commonly to show a purchase has been made, provide shipping details and updates, and confirm delivery. However, service or appointment-based businesses can use these messages as well! You can utilize Payments text messages to collect partial or full payments for booked appointments before or after each visit! A healthcare office can collect a copay via an SMS message and link before a patient’s appointment. At the same time, a tattoo studio could use text messages to collect a deposit and then request the remaining payment after the tattoo is finished. 

Appointment Reminders

An Appointment Reminder is sent to a patient of Valley Springs Health Clinic, notifying them of their upcoming appointment

Booking confirmations, appointment reminders, and follow-up messages all fall under the category of SMS marketing as well! Once you’ve secured an appointment with a client, sending them a confirmation to let them know you’ve added them to your schedule is a great practice. Appointment reminders ensure your client is aware of their upcoming visit, which helps reduce no-shows and late arrivals. And, of course, sending a follow-up message after a client’s appointment is a great practice. You can use follow-up messages to simply say thanks, ask happy clients for reviews, or offer customers a discount if they recommend you to friends. 

Alerts / Updates

A text message is used to alert a client that the business needs to reschedule their appointment.

Inevitably, something might happen at your business that will require you to communicate with some or all of your client base. An employee at your company could fall sick, necessitating all their appointments to be rescheduled. Road construction could mean you must alert your clients to a new detour they should take to your business. You can also update your clients about a new provider or service at your company! All of these are times when “Alert” SMS messages can be helpful for quickly reaching clients.

Event Invites, Polls, Giveaways, and More

There are a multitude of other creative ways that businesses can use SMS marketing campaigns, depending on the type of business they run. For example, while an SMS Marketing campaign promoting a giveaway might not be appropriate for an Accounting firm, a message blast inviting clients to participate in a financial planning seminar is! The great news is SMS marketing campaigns are highly flexible, and the options are only as limited as your creativity!

Best Practices for Effective SMS Marketing

When diving into SMS marketing, it’s crucial to adhere to best practices to ensure your campaigns are successful. Here are some key strategies to consider:

  • Personalize Messages: Tailor your messages to each recipient whenever possible. Incorporate their name or previous interactions to make the message more personalized and relevant.
  • Optimize Timing and Frequency: Timing is everything in SMS marketing. Consider your audience’s schedule and time zone when scheduling messages, and avoid bombarding them with too many messages in a short period. Fun fact: did you know that clients are the most likely to respond to text messages when sent at 6 PM
  • Provide Value: Deliver content that adds value to the recipient’s life. Whether you’re mentioning exclusive discounts, helpful tips, or important updates, ensure that your messages resonate with your audience and offer something of value.
  • Keep it Concise and Clear: SMS messages have a character limit, so keep your content concise and to the point. Clearly communicate your message and include a solid call to action to encourage engagement.
  • Include Opt-Out Options: Provide recipients with an easy way to opt out of receiving further messages. This ensures compliance with regulations such as GDPR and TCPA, respects the recipient’s preferences, and enhances their experience.
  • Test and Iterate: Continuously test different elements of your SMS campaigns, such as message content, timing, and offers. Analyze the results and iterate based on what resonates best with your audience.

By following these best practices, businesses can maximize the effectiveness of their SMS marketing campaigns and achieve better results. With Apptoto’s Campaigns tool, implementing these strategies becomes seamless, allowing businesses to drive engagement, increase revenue, and foster stronger connections with their audience.

Launching SMS Marketing for Your Business with Apptoto Campaigns

Enter Apptoto Campaigns–your ultimate companion for mastering SMS marketing. If you’re already using Apptoto to send appointment reminders, you know it’s a powerful tool for sending out personalized appointment notifications for your clients. But you can also use that same powerful automation to promote new services and specials, send bulk alerts, recall past customers or patients, and more. 

When you first sign up for Apptoto, you sync your existing calendar and address books and set up an online booking page. Luckily, that’s all you need to start building your first campaign! Two types of Campaigns are currently available: Calendar Campaigns and Address Book Campaigns. 

Calendar Campaigns  

A Calendar Campaign sends mass SMS messages (or emails) to clients with past, present, or future appointments on your calendar. You can target campaign messages to clients based on the date of their last or next appointment. Six default Calendar Campaign templates are available in Apptoto, although you can also customize them yourself. 

Calendar Campaigns can be used to recall “lost customers” and target anyone whose last appointment was longer than six months ago who hasn’t rebooked. You could also send an informative message to all your current and future clients about changing your cancellation policy. Because calendar campaigns can work on a rolling basis, once you’ve launched one, you can let it run perpetually. 

Address Book Campaigns

Address Book Campaigns allow you to send targeted mass messages (SMS and email) to specific clients in your address books. Depending on how your address books are set up (and what type of information you store about your clients), you can create highly segmented campaigns to target clients with the right offers or messages at the right time. Similar to Calendar Campaigns, you can create your own templates, or there are 18 default Address Book Campaigns to choose from. 

Use an Address Book campaign to send messages to your clients on their birthdays or target VIP clients with a special invite to an exclusive event. Campaigns can track who has or hasn’t booked and will continue to send messages to each person in that address book until they do.

Conquering SMS Marketing with Apptoto

From promotional offers and appointment reminders to event invitations and transactional messages, the ways businesses can leverage SMS marketing are endless. By harnessing the power of SMS marketing, companies can engage with their audience in real time, drive sales, and foster stronger relationships.

Ready to add attention-grabbing, business-driving SMS campaigns to your marketing efforts? Whether you’re a salon owner, retailer, healthcare provider, or any other appointment-based business, Apptoto’s Campaigns tool is your ultimate companion for mastering SMS marketing. Connect with the Apptoto team today to explore how you can unlock the potential of SMS marketing to grow your business, drive engagement, and delight your customers.