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What is SMS Affiliate Marketing? Ultimate Guide 2024

Brands with several marketing channels, including a well-crafted and dutifully executed SMS affiliate marketing program, are more likely to succeed than businesses that limit their marketing methodologies. This strategy leverages a short messaging service’s (SMS) exceptional ...

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Brands with several marketing channels, including a well-crafted and dutifully executed SMS affiliate marketing program, are more likely to succeed than businesses that limit their marketing methodologies.

This strategy leverages a short messaging service’s (SMS) exceptional open rates. More people will know your brand, take advantage of offers, and spread the news to social circles. You know what already follows. You’ll increase brand awareness, produce more leads, and improve your chances of boosting the bottom line.

But what’s this strategy, and how can it benefit your brand? More importantly, how can you create and launch such a program? Read on.

What is SMS Affiliate Marketing? 

SMS affiliate marketing is a business strategy that empowers brands to drive traffic using a short messaging service or SMS. Businesses partner with affiliates to embed unique marketing links to SMS messages to their contact lists.

Recipients open the SMS message and click links, transporting them to the company’s mobile-friendly website. When SMS receivers buy or perform a desired action, credit goes to the affiliate, and the brand pays the marketer a commission.

An SMS affiliate marketing strategy leverages people’s mobile phone fascination and the high tendency to open messages. A short beep from a cell phone is enough to draw attention.

Benefits of SMS Affiliate Marketing

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Judiciously implemented SMS affiliate marketing campaigns can benefit companies in many ways. Here are some to stir your interest in such a strategy.

More potential customers

Nearly 6.85 billion people (about 84% of the world’s population) have smartphones. And although most use internet-based messaging services (i.e., Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram), some still prefer conventional SMS.

SMS messages work on non-internet-connected mobile phones. And that accounts for millions of cellphone users. For example, 13% of Americans are non-smartphone users (they have basic phones). Two in five Indian cell phone owners use non-smart technologies.

So, what do these numbers imply?

Using SMS for marketing communications empowers brands to reach more potential customers or leads. You will cover smartphone and primary mobile phone users.

And here’s the gem!

SMS-based strategies have higher open rates than other affiliate marketing channels. Only one in 50 recipients won’t open their SMS messages. Meanwhile, only 21% of people will open their emails. That’s impressive!

But that’s not all.

Nine in 20 SMS recipients will click links embedded in their messages. Compare that with email marketing’s 6% to 7% click-through rate, and you have a clear winner.

How about spam messages?

You will be glad to know only 2.8% of SMSs are unsolicited or unwanted. On the other hand, spam emails can account for 53% of all email communications.

These figures translate to better acceptance among cellphone users. Potential customers will always pay attention to your messages. And that increases engagement.

Allows personalized messages

Did you know that personalizing messages can boost customer relationships and motivate them to buy your offerings? Only one in a hundred digital marketers don’t believe this statistic.

Personalizing your SMS communication touches customers’ hearts. They feel the connection, making them more receptive to your offers.

How to Get Started with SMS Affiliate Marketing?

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Leveraging SMS’s reach and phenomenal open and click-through rates can boost business objectives. But where and how do you start? Here are eight proven tactics to help you launch an SMS marketing campaign for affiliate marketers.

Keep compliant

Laws regarding transparency exist to protect consumers against unwanted marketing tactics. And that extends to SMS marketing. Hence, you will want potential customers to know why they receive such messages on their cell phones.

Start by reviewing your affiliate program’s terms and conditions. Modify them accordingly to comply with existing laws.

We must point out that businesses must ask permission to send SMS to customers. Hence, the communication must contain an option for people to choose whether to receive such messages.

You can add an enticing offer in the opt-in communication. For example, you can embed promo codes in opt-in text messages to entice recipients to subscribe to receive regular SMSs.

After all, two in three consumers buy discounted products, although they don’t have any plans. Moreover, four in five customers will buy from less-recognized brands if the latter offers a discount.

These tactics should make recipients ditch the opt-out option. At least, they can choose.

Choose the right SMS provider

Picking a partner for your SMS affiliate campaign isn’t as straightforward as it seems. You have hundreds of options. Hence, the best SMS provider for your company must meet business and marketing objectives.

Start by defining your goals and objectives. For instance, do you want to drive sales, boost brand awareness, or enhance customer engagement? Consider your target audience’s demographics, including mobile usage habits, buying behaviors, and other attributes.

Decide the budget for affiliate marketing. You’ll need this information to shop across SMS platforms.

Check a platform’s messaging capabilities, including MMS, automated messages, and two-way communication. Does it offer audience targeting and segmentation? How about metrics monitoring, analytics, and data reporting?

Ideally, you will want an SMS provider that allows integration with other business tools. For instance, can you connect the SMS to your virtual store, customer relationship management (CRM) software, or marketing automation systems?

Lastly, the SMS provider must comply with existing laws, including data security and privacy.

Ask the price and if the provider offers a free trial. Compare the cost to your budget and pick the right partner for your SMS marketing program.

Automate the conversations

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Manning your SMS campaign is challenging. Imagine sending thousands of texts weekly, with hundreds replying to your offers. You’ll need a team to handle the massive communication.

Not necessarily. You can automate the messages, including SMS responses. It’s a feature you will want from an SMS provider. Some platforms have SMS chatbots that simplify customer interactions.

Although automation is cost-effective, chatbots can only handle simple and routine tasks. SMS recipients expect brands to interact with them, especially for more complex concerns. Live agents can manage such issues, allowing your brand to win customers and drive more leads to the business.

Leverage SMS templates

Many SMS platforms offer message templates. These are pre-made conversation pieces with blank data fields you can customize to fit business needs.

SMS templates are powerful tools that save time and effort when drafting text communication. You can personalize the message to accommodate varying situations or business objectives.

The best part of using templates is consistently clear messaging. Everyone in SMS lists receives identical offers, except for name and other personal details. You can effortlessly promote your brand, remind recipients of exciting discounts, and encourage customers to contact your customer service department.

Examine the templates and analyze how you can tweak them to suit your marketing requirements. You can start with a small batch and evaluate customer responses. An uptick in leads should indicate an effective template.

Create an SMS campaign

Launching an SMS campaign starts with careful planning. It begins with a sound and realistic marketing objective to identify the most appropriate strategies.

You will want SMS recipients to click affiliate links. You can add an irresistible offer in the text message to improve the chances of SMS receivers activating the link. For instance, you can give free eBooks, exclusive content, or store discounts.

Consider the opt-in form. These tools must be visible and contain clear and enticing CTAs. Where should you post these SMS opt-in mechanisms? Should you place them on your website, blog post, pop-up, footer, or sidebar?

Ideally, you should A/B test these elements to determine the most effective tactic.

Lastly, consider where to promote the SMS campaign. Although most businesses use official websites, social media platforms are always excellent channels. You can also promote the campaign via email, online communities, and guest blogs.

Track engagement rates

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How do you know the SMS campaign is successful? Do engagement rates show a robust picture? How many customers did you send SMS to? How many opened the text message? More importantly, how many SMS recipients clicked links in the communication?

Answering these questions is essential to determine the campaign’s effectiveness. Unfortunately, manually monitoring engagement metrics can be challenging.

And that’s why we recommend picking an SMS platform with data tracking, analysis, and reporting capabilities. SMS providers with such features enable businesses to monitor crucial metrics, allowing them to determine whether the strategies produce the desired outcomes.

Optimize your campaign

Tracking SMS marketing-related metrics allows you to tweak strategies and tactics to ensure success.

For example, you should split-test a few messaging elements if you notice a barely increasing open rate. You could try adding dynamic content or improving the SMS’s personalization. Referencing past customer interactions or addressing SMS recipients by name should also work.

Did you promote your campaign across multiple channels or rely only on your website? How about emails and social media?

What if the click-through rate is lower than expected? You can study customer preferences to identify passions and interests. Maybe your SMS recipients prefer store credits to special discounts. Have you tried scheduling SMS sending to coincide with email marketing activities?

Analytics offer more than data. They give you insights on what to do next.

Collect customer feedback

Analytics aren’t your only source of crucial marketing optimization data. A more valuable source is customer feedback.

So, please remember to send an SMS right after the customer buys or avails of your offerings. These messages allow you to interact with customers. You’ll learn about their experiences and thoughts regarding your products.

Did they receive the item in pristine condition? Were there missing or damaged parts? How about the product’s overall function? Did the customer service agent provide exceptional assistance?

Be proactive in knowing the customer’s thoughts about the purchase.

SMS Affiliate Marketing Tips

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Starting SMS marketing is easy. Unfortunately, sustaining the momentum can be challenging for some newbie business owners. Don’t worry because we prepared the following tips for you.

Use SMS to expand your channel reach.

Blogging and social media are the bread-and-butter channels for most businesses with affiliate marketing programs. While these methods drive traffic and boost sales, they aren’t the only tactics available to brands.

As mentioned, SMS has exceptional open rates. Imagine only two in a hundred SMS recipients won’t open their texts. It dwarfs email users. More importantly, the click-through rate for SMS is more attractive than email.

We don’t recommend implementing an SMS-only strategy to improve customer reach. Successful businesses observe a multi-channel approach to cover as many customers as possible. After all, not everyone will be checking SMS every time. Some would be surfing the net, navigating social media pages, reading blogs, and opening emails.

The point is that an omnichannel marketing approach is more productive than a single-channel strategy.

Implement SMS loyalty programs.

Just because a lead became a customer doesn’t mean you can stop interacting with them. Do you remember our tip about collecting customer feedback after a purchase? We failed to mention to take this opportunity to thank them for trying your offer. It shows you appreciate them.

And guess what? You can turn this interaction into a customer retention activity. Make your customers happy and satisfied by making them feel valued and appreciated.

Unsurprisingly, over nine in ten brands have customer marketing loyalty programs. These are strategies that boost brand awareness and foster brand loyalty. Moreover, the more customers stay loyal to your brand, the higher your revenues. That’s how you generate a handsome ROI.

So, think about thank-you notes via SMS. Couple these with exciting freebies, store credits, special promo discounts, access to exclusive events, and other rewards that customers will find irresistible.

Leverage SMS landing pages.

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We encourage promoting SMS campaigns across multiple marketing channels. This strategy also works with landing pages. These are standalone digital platforms where SMS recipients “land” after clicking links embedded in the SMS.

Please don’t limit your landing page to a dedicated section on the business website. You can consider blogs about product reviews. Other worthy options include email marketing, social media (i.e., Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn), webinars, and podcasts.

Many businesses create an SMS landing page on YouTube to leverage the platform’s impressive viewership.

We recommend developing a mobile-friendly SMS landing page. After all, SMS messages are almost exclusive to mobile phones (although some apps have desktop and tablet versions). The point is to create a webpage that’s easy and quick to navigate and offers an exceptional user experience.

Personalize offers through SMS affiliate programs.

Did you know that 43 in 50 consumers consider personalization a crucial factor in buying decisions? Not only that. Nearly three in four consumers prefer brands with personalized customer experiences. Two in five shoppers buy from online stores with customized recommendations.

So, heed these numbers if you want to sell high-quality affiliate products.


Learn your customers’ preferences, buying behaviors, interests, and passions. The information should be easy to obtain with a reliable SMS platform. Create customer segments based on analytical data. It will give insights on personalizing SMS marketing offers to a specific consumer segment.

For example, how many customers love discounts? How about store credits or loyalty points? Do you have frequent shoppers who love free items? Tailor your offerings based on these data. Offer discounts only to customers who want such rewards.

Use conversational SMS.

Has someone ever sent you a text that seems more like a legal brief or a medical abstract? How about an SMS that’s too technical? Readers would need a dictionary or manual to decipher what you’re conveying.

Text messages ARE personal. SMS senders connect with SMS recipients like we would with friends, acquaintances, and social contacts. The communication is light yet substantive enough to encourage the recipient to act.

SMS is a two-way street. Hence, you should plot different business-customer conversational scenarios to guide your SMS marketing plan.

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Generating leads and boosting sales are easier if brands use multiple marketing approaches. While blogging, emails, and social media have their place in affiliate marketing and promotion, businesses should not neglect SMS marketing.

This strategy has excellent open and click-through rates, allowing businesses to reach more potential customers. Platforms also offer various features that help companies optimize their marketing strategies.

We recommend running an SMS marketing program to complement other affiliate marketing and promotional strategies.

Ellie Tran, a seasoned SEO content writer with three years of experience in the eCommerce world. Being a part of the UpPromote team, Ellie wants to assist Shopify merchants in achieving success through useful content & actionable insights. Ellie's commitment to learning never stops; she's always eager to gain more knowledge about SEO and content marketing to create valuable content for users. When she's not working on content, Ellie enjoys baking and exploring new places.