Four SMS Marketing Case Studies that Highlight it’s ROI

 In Mobile
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One of the most untapped, yet most effective marketing tools brands can (and should) use today is SMS marketing. That is, marketing via text message.

Now, if the concept of marketing through text has never occurred to you, welcome, you’re in the right place.

We all know about the rise of mobile and how it’s becoming a true game changer in marketing channels. The fact of the matter is, we love our phones, they rarely leave our sides (or our pockets, purses, etc.) and the data bares that out.

The Rise of Mobile

The majority of social media shares, podcast listens, and email opens all happen on our phones. Now, approximately 40% of YouTube videos are watched on mobile devices. And an estimated 80% of people use their mobile devices while they are watching tv.

Right now, the time we spend on our mobile devices is growing, from just over an hour only a few years ago, to over three hours a day now.

This graph from SmartInsights also highlights how 90% of that time is spent on apps; messaging, social media, and games to highlight a few.

time spent in apps

Judging from those facts, it seems pretty clear why some brands and marketers are quickly making the pivot to SMS marketing.

SMS Marketing Facts

So you might be thinking, yes people spend more time on their devices, so where’s the actual connection with SMS marketing?

Glad you asked. Because, turns out, the connection and benefits of SMS marketing is pretty big.

Let’s take a quick look:

It’s easy to see that the brands and marketers who are using SMS messaging as part of a full marketing campaign, via channels like mobile, video, email, and social media, are seeing a lot of success.

There are a couple of reasons why SMS marketing works so well that really matter to marketers: it’s personal, it’s immediate, it allows for lots of data collection, and it increases active engagement.

Now, let’s take a look a couple of brands that are really thinking out of the box and getting creative when it comes to SMS marketing.

Case Studies

Jack in the Box

Tatango shares an example from fast food chain Jack in the Box. They started a text message campaign that offered a coupon for two free tacos with any purchase to anyone who texted a word, in this case Jacksb to their short code number.

Here’s what the campaign looked like from SMS:

SMS marketing case study

Once the code was sent, the recipient would then get an image text and a regular text that has instructions. The would then be told to click on the image to get their coupon.

The image message looked like this:

taco bell sms marketing

Seems pretty simple, right?

Now the cool thing is that Jack in the Box offered this same deal via email marketing as well, but the results were dramatically tipped in the favor of their SMS marketing campaign, since they found that redemption rates were “3 to 5 times higher” for the SMS campaign as opposed to the email marketing campaign.

Texas Roadhouse

The restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse as also seen quite a bit of success through a mobile SMS marketing campaign that they’ve done the last few years. In a test run to see how SMS marketing could do compared to email, the trial was able to net them over 60,000 subscribers in their database, according to Mobile Commerce Daily.

The messages are based around a loyalty program, which means that once they opt-in, they are then offered a free appetizer, for example. What’s interesting about this case study, as opposed the the Jack in the Box, is that Texas Roadhouse got a better response via their similar email campaign, however it was the SMS users that were actually found to be far more loyal and ate there more often.

Viking Cooking School

Viking Cooking School, the same brand behind the well known luxury kitchen appliance brand, also also recently begun to embrace a pilot SMS marketing program with excellent results. Operating from a much smaller email list, the school was able to build up a SMS subscriber list of approximately 300 people for one of their locations.

They decided to use the SMS campaign to fill up classes that were near empty as a test run. Here’s an example text from their case study:

Girls Night Out in Vegas! Cook shrimp to perfection, make herbed melt in your mouth biscuits and grilling meat to perfection Sun 4/18 5PM-8PM call 898-8345

A text like this cost them approximately $15 to send out, yet it 8 spots in a class that cost $79 per spot, clearly a very nice return on investment.


High end beauty chain Kiehl’s decided to embrace both SMS marketing and geotagging in one campaign that saw a dramatic increase in redemption and purchase rates. Kiehl’s asked participants to text a message to their short code in order to be placed in the program.

The company would then send three location based text messages every month, which were based on the general radios of a recipient’s vicinity to one of Keihl’s brick and mortar locations.

The results speak for themselves:

After the six month pilot program, Kiehl’s found that 73% of their customers that had signed up for their SMS marketing campaign had made a purchase, and 81% of respondents to a survey sent out after the pilot program recalled receiving SMS marketing messages from Kiehl’s. That means out of the customers that recalled receiving SMS marketing messages from Kiehl’s, 90% of them made a purchase in-store during that six month pilot program.

Pretty impressive.


Try using interactive content! Things like polls, quizzes or reveal marketing can really make the most of SMS’s high open rates.

Final Thoughts

You can see from the impressive results from just a few case studies that SMS marketing works. As consumers grow to depend on their mobile devices more and more, it’s clear that being able to use SMS as a marketing channel is something brands will need to understand how to approach to really maximize their overall marketing success.

Has your brand embraced SMS marketing? How have the results been? Let us know in the comments.

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