Why is SMS marketing so effective?

Published On: December 15, 2022

How to reach customers on their favorite devices: their smartphones.

The best guest relationship strategies focus on building loyalty through multi-channel, personalized communication. And a crucial, all-too-often overlooked element of a great communication strategy is SMS marketing.

With SMS (text message) marketing, restaurants can get guests’ attention immediately, by delivering messages straight to the device they use most often – their cell phone.

While most restaurants utilize email marketing, reaching customers through SMS can be more complex, but also a more rewarding channel.

Let’s break down the most effective way to use SMS in a marketing strategy, and review some best practices to ensure maximum impact. 

Why is text message marketing so effective for restaurants?

SMS has evolved rapidly over the last five years, but the pandemic created unprecedented adoption by businesses and customers. One study found a 450% surge in consumers texting Main Street businesses; while 34% of retail businesses embraced text messaging during the pandemic.

On average, 27% more businesses are using text message marketing today compared to a year ago.

And – the supporting numbers tell a compelling story:

  • 90% of consumers prefer text messaging to communicate with businesses
  • Consumers are 8X more likely to redeem mobile coupons than printed ones
  • 90% of smartphone owners see value in SMS loyalty programs
  • Texts have a 99% open rate
  • 90% of coupon users accessed theirs through a smartphone this year
  • Business texts generate a 45% response rate
  • It usually takes just 90 seconds for the average recipient to respond to a text

These numbers make a crucial point: SMS marketing increases both value and engagement, so it’s a win-win for customers and restaurants.

How can you implement SMS marketing for your restaurant?

One of the best things about SMS marketing is its versatility –  marketers can easily map SMS across different marketing goals to gain value. They use SMS marketing for a variety of communications:

  • Customer acquisition: Build a mobile database list by acquiring users via keywords or contests, and offer special promotions and deals to bring in new customers.
  • Information: Have an important announcement such as new closing or opening times, menu items, or news? SMS marketing helps you get your message across effectively and quickly.
  • Loyalty: Reward customers for their loyalty through SMS-exclusive offers. You can also use the enticement of promotions and deals through SMS as a marketing tool to add more members to your database.
  • Surveys: Discover more about their experience and analyze opportunities to respond to their feedback.
  • Surprise and Delight: Using triggered campaigns, you can create fun messaging to build a connection for occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Tips for successful text message marketing for restaurants

Here are some key recommendations restaurants should consider to successfully implement SMS text messaging in marketing campaigns.

Make your message worth it

To be successful, your messaging should be a combination of value, exclusivity, and clarity. With every text message campaign, it’s essential to think about: what value can guests derive from, how exclusive is it, and is the message clear? The more campaigns you run over time, the more trends will emerge to help you further refine your messaging.

Optimize frequency

Getting the frequency of text messaging campaigns is often tough. Too much, and you risk being ignored. Too little, and it’s easy for customers to forget. The general rule is to stay consistent without going overboard.

According to SMS Archives, many leading restaurant brands with well-established channels text their customers 1-2 times per week.

Opting for 2-4 messages a month is a more modest starting point to communicate with someone who has requested to hear from you. Schedule those texts at consistent times, based on when you see the most engagement. 

And review the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to ensure that your campaigns are compliant.

Stay relevant and engaging

Staying relevant and creating content that recipients enjoy will help boost engagement. You can accomplish this by providing real-time information and compelling promotions.

You can further improve your effort by pairing SMS data with location data to offer tailored promotions and deals. (Questions about how to get your data working for you? See our post about Data Storytelling.) 

And of course, express your brand’s personality with vision, humor and spot-on emojis to make your campaigns even more interesting.

Personalize whenever possible

One of the benefits of SMS marketing is that it gives you a chance to create personalized content. This also goes a long way in boosting engagement and interest in campaigns. 

Leverage your guest data to send personalized messages around their last visit, purchase behavior, and time of day they visited for maximum interest. 


Today SMS is ubiquitous, and one of the most powerful tools restaurants use to reach their guests in a meaningful way.

When implemented as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy with email, social media content, loyalty rewards and offers, and data-driven personalized communication, SMS can help restaurants create and strengthen guest relationships and build loyalty. 

Is SMS marketing right for your restaurant operation? Let’s get a conversation started to find out.


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