SMS is unique as a marketing channel because it offers Low Cost, High Reach and High Retention. Compared with marketing via Email, with it's low retention, or Mass Mailing, with it's high cost, SMS provides a better way to market.
Successful SMS Marketing has to be permission based. Since it is nearly impossible for a person to stop incoming messages it is very important to make sure that the receiver either wants the message or finds the message to be very beneficial. Sending unwanted messages to people could be very damaging to your brand. Working with the customer to ensure they want the message will be a key to success.
There are many ways to get a customer to 'volunteer' to receive messages. Of course the easy way is to offer incentives. Here are some suggested guidelines.
As a starting point offer the potential or existing customer some tangible incentive for giving there mobile contact information. Perhaps offer a discount within the first message.
Once they have signed up and have responded to your incentive, increase the incentive over time. Keep the incentives fresh by offering different types of incentives. This will also allow you to judge the impact of the incentive.
When possible make the SMS as personalized as possible. Using shopping histories, for example, for incentives on like items.
Create a value index and reward accordingly. When shoppers respond to 5 incentives - they receive an additional incentive as a reward.
Always keep in mind that to be successful with SMS marketing it is very important to respect the customer and they way they feel about SMS. With that in mind building a long term relationship will be that much easier.