Mailchimp SMS for Small Businesses: The Ultimate Guide

SMS is a valuable tool for reaching your contacts with the right message at the right moment. In 2023, Mailchimp launched its SMS Tool, allowing users to integrate SMS messages into their existing email strategy. After 1 year with the tool, we’ve helped clients navigate the entire process– From getting messaging set up to sending SMS and analyzing the results. Here is our ultimate guide to Mailchimp SMS, with expert-backed tips to optimize your strategy.

What is SMS? 

SMS stands for short message service. In layman’s terms, that’s a text message. With Mailchimp SMS, you can send messages directly to your subscribers’ smartphones. When you add an image to your SMS, it becomes an MMS. MMS stands for multimedia message service. AKA: Text messages with pictures. 

Getting Started: Mailchimp’s SMS Application

Before you can send SMS or MMS with Mailchimp, you’ll need to fill out an application. This helps Mailchimp ensure you are a legitimate business following all relevant regulations, so they can protect all their users.

The application features a few key steps:

  1. SMS Goals: Choose from a list of approved uses for SMS, including order notifications, promotional campaigns, and more. Be sure to check your intended use against the list of “Unapproved ways of using SMS.” Unapproved use may result in account suspension.
  2. SMS Experience: Select your level of SMS experience or hit “Skip” to receive default how-to pop-ups from Mailchimp.
  3. Business Information: Fill out key business details including website, address, and Tax ID.
  4. Phone Number: Create a new phone number or send using an established number for your business.
  5. Sender Information: Choose your SMS audience (We recommend a single-audience strategy.) and fill in some additional information about your business.
  6. Terms & Conditions: Mailchimp requires terms & conditions and a privacy policy for SMS users. You can use Mailchimp’s template language, or link to existing pages on your website. Check out Mailchimp’s guide to creating a privacy policy.
  7. Credit Subscription: Choose how many credits you’d like to buy per month once your application is approved.

Mailchimp takes up to 5 business days to review your application, during which time you will see a “processing” status. Once your SMS application is approved, you’ll get an email from Mailchimp & be ready to send immediately!

How Mailchimp’s SMS Credits Work

Mailchimp SMS is available to users on the Essentials plan or above. Once a user completes their SMS application, they can choose to purchase anywhere from 1,000 to 450,000 credits per month. Users spend credits every time they send a message.

How do you know how many SMS credits you’ll need? It may take a little math. Mailchimp SMS messages consume 1 credit per 153 characters, or 1 credit per 63 characters if you use emojis. MMS messages consume 3 credits per 1,600 characters. 

Once you know how many credits your message is likely to use, you can multiply that # by the number of subscribers you’ll be reaching.

So, if you send 3 messages per month to 1000 recipients, and each message is under 153 characters long with no emojis, you’ll need 3000 credits per month.

Small businesses on a shoestring budget may want to start with 1000 credits and purchase more as needed.

Sending SMS & MMS Campaigns

Just like with email, Mailchimp users can schedule SMS messages in advance to moderate their send frequency. The SMS builder is a fairly simple interface, with a text box where users can type in their message, and an option to add an image. Images in MMS campaigns should be no wider than 640px and no taller than 1138px. If you’ve optimized image sizes for email before, you’re already on the right track!

Using SMS in Mailchimp Journeys

SMS messages can also be sent automatically using Mailchimp’s customer journeys. Just add a “Send SMS” journey point and customize the message to your preference! 

Here are some journeys small business owners can use to increase revenue with SMS:

  • Welcome new subscribers as they sign up (This can help decrease unsubscribes down the line!)
  • Send order notifications
  • Trigger reminders when a subscriber registers for an event
  • Send abandoned cart texts to accompany your emails
  • Use date-based automations to beat the competition during holiday rushes (Hello, Black Friday)

How Do I Know if an SMS Campaign is Successful?

Mailchimp offers a range of reports to analyze your SMS campaigns’ performance. For a general benchmark on engagement, click rates and open rates are a great place to start. According to Forbes, SMS open rates can be as high as 98%. However, your first few SMS messages are unlikely to reach such a high open rate and open rates don’t necessarily equate to high click-throughs.

SMS success is best measured in the context of your larger business goals. For example, if you’d like to increase revenue by 25% this quarter, see what percentage of your sales come from SMS. It can also be valuable to evaluate your first quarter using SMS against the same quarter the previous year.

If you’re not seeing the growth you’re hoping to achieve, don’t worry! It can take time to perfect your strategy and reach the right people with the right messages at the right times.

What Not to Do: SMS Practices to Avoid

As you develop your SMS strategy, be sure to avoid the most common pitfalls for new users!

  1. Never cold-SMS: All SMS subscribers MUST be actively opted in
  2. Don’t Send Too Frequently: Keep your messages to 1 per week at absolute maximum
  3. Message with a Purpose: Don’t send SMS just for the heck of it– Always share something valuable for your subscribers
  4. Keep it Personal: Use merge tags to personalize your messages
  5. Don’t Forget Your Numbers: Monitor campaign analytics to ensure your messages are bringing the intended results

When in doubt, put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes! If a message would annoy or upset you, it’s likely to do the same for your customers.

Optimize Your SMS Strategy with Pure Firefly

Pure Firefly was founded to provide high-quality, cost-effective marketing solutions for entrepreneurs, nonprofits & small businesses. As an agency with a combined 10+ years of experience, we’re committed to staying ahead of the curve in digital marketing. To get started with SMS, try booking a training call with one of our experts. Or bring us on a retainer for help with all your Mailchimp needs! We offer a wide range of services to fill your marketing needs.

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