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SMS Advertising: Lessons To Learn & Myths To Avoid


sms advertising

Delving into the world of SMS advertising, there exists an abundance of knowledge to be gleaned from brands that have fallen short. What inherent shortcomings led to their untimely demise? What unfortunate miscalculations were committed along the way? And, above all else, what is the best course of action to steer clear of these errors? Within this comprehensive guide, we shall delve into the intricacies of these topics and more, so that you, too, can profit from the missteps of predecessors and implement these newfound insights within your very own brand.

6 Brands That Failed Using SMS Advertising


Sears stands out as a salient exemplar of a brand that floundered when it comes to SMS advertising. Despite being one of the first companies to embrace text messaging as a means of engaging with their customers, Sears failed to fully exploit the potential of this technology.

There were a number of blunders that Sears committed in their SMS advertising approach. To begin with, the company neglected to individualize the messages they disseminated to their customers, opting instead for banal, generic messages bereft of any substantive value.

Moreover, Sears failed to segregate its customer base, making it arduous to aim messages at specific demographics in a relevant manner.

Finally, Sears lacked a perspicuous call to action in their text messages, which resulted in customers being perplexed about what they were expected to do with the information received.

Ultimately, Sears’ SMS advertising campaign was a flop as a consequence of all these foibles. The company was unable to establish a meaningful rapport with their customers, and as a result, failed to garner any consequential outcomes.

What can be learned from Sears’ experience?

From the ill-fated SMS advertising campaign of Sears, there are numerous invaluable takeaways to be garnered. Paramount among these is the indispensability of personalization to imbue messages with a sense of relevance that resonates with their intended recipients. Moreover, the imperative of customer segmentation cannot be overstated, as it enables the strategic targeting of specific groups of individuals with meticulously tailored messaging. And, last but certainly not least, every text message should incorporate an unequivocal call to action that motivates customers to act upon the desired objective.


When it comes to SMS advertising, Blockbuster provides an intriguing case study of a brand that made a plethora of mistakes.

To begin with, Blockbuster fell short in individualizing messages and honing in on their audience with specificity. Furthermore, they failed to dispatch timely messages that would have been germane to their customers’ interests. Consequently, customers felt inundated with extraneous information and subsequently disconnected from the brand.

Finally, Blockbuster neglected to leverage SMS advertising’s unique potential to trace customer interactions and optimize the customer experience. By abstaining from scrutinizing data, they overlooked valuable insights that could have assisted them in enhancing their strategy.

In the end, though Blockbuster’s SMS advertising campaign was riddled with pitfalls, by understanding the errors committed, other brands can evade the same mistakes. By personalizing messages, targeting the appropriate audience, and dispatching relevant and timely information, brands can formulate a much more lucrative SMS advertising campaign.


SMS advertising, Kodak’s failure looms large, as their entire digital marketing strategy was an absolute disaster. Even their belated attempt to shift gears and prioritize online photo-sharing was ultimately an exercise in futility, for the damage had already been done and the hour was far too late to effectuate any real transformation.

Some of the mistakes that Kodak made with SMS advertising include:

They did not understand how SMS works: They tried to use it as a one-way communication tool when in reality, it’s a two-way conversation.

Too much promotional, less of value: Their messages were all about selling, selling, selling. There was no value proposition for the customer.

Not knowing their niche: They sent the same message to everyone, regardless of whether they were interested in photography or not.

Not tailoring their messages: Again, because they didn’t segment their audience, they also didn’t personalize their messages. This made them come across as spammy and sales-y.

Not using opt-out options: Kodak didn’t use opt-out, so they were spamming people with their messages, which agigated several users.

Not having a call to action: Not having a clear CTA, the users did not know where to navigate or what to make of the message.

Not measuring results: Without measuring results, it’s impossible to know what’s working and what’s not. Kodak didn’t do this, so they were essentially flying blind.

Merely a quick glance at Kodak’s foray into SMS advertising reveals an astonishing array of blunders that should serve as a cautionary tale to any prospective marketer. Indeed, the depths of their mistakes are staggering, and one cannot help but marvel at the scale of their calamity.

If, however, you aspire to make the most of SMS advertising for your own business, it is imperative that you proceed with a far greater degree of prudence and diligence. To this end, you must first acquire a deep understanding of the workings of SMS, segment your audience with a laser-like focus, and deftly infuse your messages with personalization that resonates with each unique recipient.

Additionally, it is crucial to wisely employ opt-ins, include a compelling call to action in each message, and meticulously measure the results of each campaign. By conscientiously adhering to these principles, you can confidently forge ahead on the path to SMS marketing triumph.


Macy’s is a prime example of a brand that failed with SMS advertising. Despite heavily investing in the channel, they didn’t see the results they were hoping for.

# Failed Segmentation

One of the main reasons Macy’s struggled was because they didn’t segment their lists properly. 

They sent the same messages to all of their subscribers, regardless of their interests or purchase history. This led to a lot of people unsubscribing from their list, as they were tired of getting irrelevant messages.

## Wrong Timing

Timing is everything for marketing and there are certain timings where a promotion might work and certai not. No, we are not talking about astrological timings, but the industrial timings, where the Macy’s may have made a mistake not taking the time zones into the account and have sent out messages at midnight which promoted users to opt-out.

### Spamming

Finally, Macy’s also made the mistake of being too promotional in their messages. They would constantly send coupons and discounts, far too regularly, that has turned people off. Well, we now know, what Macy’s did wrong. If they had been more strategic, they could have seen much better results.

So, what can we learn from Macy’s mistakes?
  • It’s important to segment your list so that you’re only sending relevant messages to people who are interested in what you have to say.
  • Timing is everything when it comes to SMS advertising. Make sure you’re sending messages at a time when people are most likely to read them.
  • Don’t be too promotional in your messages. Provide value and information that people will want to read, rather than just trying to sell them something.

By following these lessons, you can avoid making the same mistakes as Macy’s and set your brand up for SMS advertising success.

The Limited

The Limited is a clothing retailer that recently filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? One of the main reasons was their failure to implement SMS advertising correctly. They neglected to target their customers effectively, and as a result, sales plummeted.

So, what can we learn from The Limited’s mistakes?
Mistake#1 Failed to target

You need to make sure you’re sending relevant messages to your customers that they’ll want to receive. If you don’t, you risk losing them entirely.

Mistake#2 Not segmenting its list

They sent the same message to everyone, regardless of whether they were interested in that particular type of clothing. As a result, many people unsubscribed from their list.

This is another important lesson to learn: when you’re sending SMS advertising messages, you need to segment your list so that you’re only sending relevant information to those who want it. Otherwise, you risk losing subscribers.

Mistake#3 Neglected to track their results

They had no way of knowing whether their SMS advertising campaign was working or not. This is a critical mistake to avoid. Always track your results so that you can see what’s working and what isn’t.


Radioshack might have been wanting to seem to clever with their strategy, instead of using SMS to send out simple, helpful messages that would remind customers about their products and services, they instead sent out cheesy, promotional messages that felt like they were being constantly bombarded with ads. Well, as we know, that didn’t work either with the target customers.

What’s more, they didn’t provide any incentive for customers to opt-in to their SMS advertising campaign, hence making the users annoyed and feeling intrusive.

The takeaway for brands:

Well, SMS marketing is no heist, it is as simple as it goes with the right strategy. That is why it is important to employ a well known specialist of the market to do your bid. Well, seems like being too clever like the Radioshack is also a disadvantage. So, If you’re going to use SMS advertising, make sure you are not too cheesy and your messages are helpful and provide value. Otherwise, you risk annoying your customers and driving them away.

Mistakes to avoid when SMS Advertising

1. Sending out too many messages: As we mentioned before, one of the biggest mistakes that brands make with SMS advertising is sending out too many messages. Not only is this annoying for customers, but it can also lead to them opt-out of your campaign altogether.

2. Not providing value: Another mistake that brands make is not providing any value in their SMS messages. If customers feel like they’re just getting promotional messages, they’re likely to tune out or opt-out.

3. Not personalizing messages: Another mistake is not personalizing SMS messages. If your messages are generic and don’t address the customer by name, they’re likely to delete them without reading.

4. Not using keywords properly: Yet another mistake is not using keywords properly in SMS messages. Keywords are a great way to help customers find your content, but if they’re used too much or in the wrong way, they can come across as spammy.

5. Not following up: Well, SMS marketing is not a one time thing. The advatange of SMS marketing is only seen when you keep following up with your users and customers with the new promotional messages regularly.

6.  Not using the proper call to action: CTA defines what your message exactly want to say. It is the CTA that the customers may look at when their reading over an SMS text message to help them navigate to the site or find offers.

7. Not tracking results: Tracking results will help you to change your strategy and know what’s failing you.

8. Not using A/B testing: Many brands do not bother with testing, however, to reduce the resources wasted, it is essential to test your campaign before you send out the messages.

9. Not segmenting your audience: There are only a certain audience that are interested in your niche, and sorting them out is important to make sure your resources are being used effectively.

10. Not using an automated system: Automated systems or tools help the businesses and brands to save time on the marketing efforts and focus on different strategies further in less time.

Remember that personalization and providing value go hand in glove, while following up afterward is crucial for success!

SMS Advertising Myth Buster

Texts have an up to 30.5X higher CTR than email

Voyage SMS & MailChimp

SMS marketing can be a powerful tool if you are careful with the myths of the marketing industry. Let us now look at a few myths so you know which to avoid when you are hosting a campaign of your own.

Myth: SMS Advertising is costly effort

Fact: As much as brands think SMS marketing is outdated or expensive, it is not. It is one of the marketing channels that is least expensive with greater results.

Myth: SMS advertising is only for brands who made big

Fact: SMS advertising is for everyone equally. Business of any size can use SMS marketing with different strategies curated especially for the brand to maximize their customer reach.

Myth: You need a huge list of contacts to make SMS advertising work

Fact: Well, if you are just starting out, it is not necessary for your contact list to be big yet, as you go on with the marketing efforts and reach wider audience, your list will also grow. Moreover, you have several 3rd party companies that can help you with providing you the list of contacts if needed.

Myth: SMS advertising is only for promotions and discounts

Fact: SMS marketing is of two types, promotions and transactions, if not you can also thank your customers for purchasing something and also invent new ways to stay in loop.

Myth: SMS advertising is spammy

Fact: As long you are giving your customers the option to opt-out SMS marketing is fine. A specialist of SMS marketing know the intervals and the pulse of customers to navigate them justly to your brand.

Myth: SMS advertising is intrusive

Fact: Depending on how you use, SMS marketing can be intrusive or used in a way that is respectful of your customers’ time and attention.

Myth: SMS advertising is only for text messages

Fact: SMS marketing and MMS marketing can go hand in hand with you who can also include images, videos, and links in brand messages.

Myth: All SMS messages are the same

Fact: Well, this is where content marketing helps to create a message that will match your brand voice and style.

Myth: SMS advertising is hard to set up

Fact: Agencies and platforms can effectively help to set you up in no time. 12 channels is one of those agencies that can you with SMS strategy and also other marketing channels if you want include 1, 2, 3 or more strategies in your marketing efforts!

Having been apprised of a bevy of both myths and verifiable facts regarding the merits and drawbacks of SMS advertising, you are now equipped with the necessary insight to make a judicious determination as to whether this multifarious marketing channel is well-suited to your enterprise’s particular needs and ambitions.

If, having considered all of the available information, you are convinced that SMS advertising is the optimal path forward, then it would be prudent to schedule a consultation with our team of esteemed subject matter experts, who stand ever-ready to offer their incomparable counsel and guidance to ensure your campaign is a smashing success.

In any event, we extend our gratitude for your time and attention, and we eagerly anticipate the prospect of working with you in the near future.


Having acquired a comprehensive understanding of the top 10 mistakes that brands commonly commit in their SMS advertising endeavors, as well as the various myths and facts that surround this ubiquitous marketing channel, you should now possess the requisite knowledge to make a well-informed determination about whether SMS advertising is the right fit for your business.

Should you be inclined to pursue this route, it is paramount that you steer clear of the aforementioned missteps and remain resolutely focused on the proven tactics that lead to SMS marketing triumph. With perseverance and determination, you will inevitably chart a path towards the success you crave.

Should any questions or doubts arise along the way, our seasoned team of experts at 12 Channels stands ready and willing to offer their invaluable guidance and support, ensuring that you remain on the path to prosperity at every turn. Contact us at 12 Channels today to get started.

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