10 Ways you can Leverage SMS Marketing to Increase Mobile App installs

10 Ways you can Leverage SMS Marketing to Increase Mobile App installs

Let’s face it- phones have literally become an extension of ourselves. And we check it often- say, an average of 47 times a day!

That’s 47 opportune moments for your brand to cut through the noise and land directly in their pocket.

Now, imagine those messages driving 10x discount offer usage and boosting your engagement rate 150x times more than email.

That’s how powerful SMS marketing can be. Even when you have to use its channel to increase your mobile app installs.

In this post, we’ll show you just how you can do it.

Let’s dive in!

Why SMS marketing?

Ask around, and you’ll find out that most of us have gotten conditioned to think of SMS as important, time-sensitive, or financially sensitive bank alerts, booking confirmations, and OTPs.

But this conditioning may be just what can be leveraged to stand out from the deluge of notifications most users get and end up glazing over, swiping aside without even registering it.

An SMS warrants a glance- even if they scan it through the notification bridge on their phone, that is a win.

Let’s not forget that many users also disable notifications, even if they have your brand’s mobile app. According to this study, almost 71% of smartphone users silence push notifications!

The likelihood of them finding out about a sale or an offer is low if you only depend on emails because, unlike SMS, not everyone checks their inbox.

But an SMS lands directly in the palm of their hands.

In fact, the average reach of a text message is also 98%, and 56% of users intentionally sign up to receive communication from brands for offers through this channel.

And if it’s a well-crafted SMS- say it has an intriguing hook, a compelling offer, and a time-bound urgency to it, you can turn that interest into a click or an app download!

The key here is not to replace SMS, which is mostly used for transactional messages, but to leverage the inherent trust and immediacy SMS gives.

This way, you can create unique opportunities to increase the number of customers who get to explore your app.

Let other brands battle it out for visibility on one channel; your brand can bypass notification fatigue through SMS and ensure your offer actually gets seen.

Ten ways you can leverage SMS marketing for app downloads

There are many ways you can use SMS to drive your app download efforts.

Here are a few easy ways you can get started:

1. Send coupon codes and exclusive offers

Who doesn't love a good deal?

It’s usually compelling enough that users forgive and forget any feelings of irritation that can accompany a promotional message.

With SMS and its potential for personalization, you can study user data and send highly targeted offers, e.g., narrowing it to promote products or categories they have shown interest in or previously purchased from, for example, their wishlist data or order history.

Imagine a user gets an SMS for 20% off on a sneaker right after they wishlist a few on your store.

Now, add a sense of urgency to your copy and make it app-exclusive. This will drive immediate downloads and app browsing!

You can add additional campaign layers to this in different ways, like rewarding app downloads by

  • Offering early access to new collections
  • Inviting users to free trials or premium features of the app
  • Sending birthday or anniversary greetings with a custom offer

All of these SMS campaigns will build loyalty and encourage them to download the app AND engage with them afterward.

2. Utilize Surveys to Gather Insights

The success of your mobile app depends largely on user satisfaction and engagement.

Hence, it’s critical that you pun in the work of understanding them and their experience with your app.

It’s also not inherently promotional - letting users feel their response will be valued and put to effect by improvements to the app.

While sending surveys through SMS might not directly lead to immediate app downloads, the insights you gain about your audience can be pivotal in improving your app, which not only leads to more app downloads but also helps them retain longer.

With a survey, you can:

  • Identify friction points or user pain points that you can improve within your app, and then update those users through a feature launch SMS campaign (as we mentioned above), to notify them their feedback was heard and implemented
  • Craft tailored, personalized marketing messages that work for custom user segments by writing about features and benefits that address their specific needs and desires, which makes your app more appealing to download
  • Optimize your app store descriptions and content by looking at their responses to the survey and choosing keywords that appeal to them, thereby increasing downloads.

3. App launch

App launches are a high-adrenaline time, thrilling but also nerve-wracking.

You want the world to know, often immediately as you officially launch.

By using SMS for such launch announcements, you build a targeted way to build anticipation and drive the crucial initial surge of app downloads.

Unlike emails that tend to get buried in inboxes, SMS boats an unrivaled open rate, ensuring your announcement reaches the intended audience loud and clear.

They’re also more personal compared to social media launch announcements.

One needs to remember that each message from different channels can enforce each other. If someone saw the announcement on social media but didn’t download the app since links are cumbersome to navigate on such platforms, they get reminded to download by an SMS.

You can also build short custom app download links and add them to the copy.

4. Product and collection launch

Just like announcing the launch of your app, you can notify users about any new products or collections you have added to your catalog.

You can send a series of SMS messages, starting with pre-launch buzz. Use captivating visuals and hints about the upcoming reveal.

The key here is to make the launch app exclusive - even if it's only for a few initial hours.

You can also add a discount or an offer that works only on shopping through your brand’s mobile app.

Additionally, you can offer VIP members or loyal customers an exclusive sneak peek of the launch, visible only through the app.

Next, keep the anticipation growing by sending countdown messages and highlighting key benefits or features.

Remember to create urgency and limited availability to tap into FOMO and boost your app downloads fully!

5. Create a referral program

Building a community doesn’t happen overnight.

But what if you could use your happy, satisfied existing users to drive new app downloads organically?

Referral programs can be very powerful, combined with the reach and engagement seen in SMS messages.

As we mentioned before, an SMS message lands directly and immediately after being sent, increasing the chances of the message being read and opened.

An interested user can then forward the invite/referral message to their contact list, reducing work from the user's end.

Just remember to include a clear CTA and a convenient link, like Share Now.

Additionally, you can also include positive user reviews or success stories within your message copy and finish with an app download link.

6. Win-Back abandoned carts

Did you know a whopping 70% of shoppers abandon their carts?

Every brand knows the money needed to find a new customer is significantly higher than nurturing an interested one.

Abandoned carts have the potential for high-intent shopping. All it takes is a notification from their social media app or a call to distract a user.

With SMS, you can turn these forgotten purchases into recovered sales. It is a powerful tool to re-engage them and bring them back to complete the transaction.

Remember to:

  • Act with urgency. Send your first reminder through SMS within 1-3 hours of abandonment. This way, the purchase intent is still high and fresh in a user’s mind.
  • Use a scarcity mindset. Mention limited availability or add a time-bound discount to encourage immediate app usage.

7. Loyalty programs

SMS can be used to build and nurture lasting relationships through your loyalty program, which can be promoted through SMS messages.

Leverage user data to check browsing history and past purchases to send personalized SMS offers and discounts to your VIP members so that the chances of redemption are higher.

Remember to segment your loyalty program into tiers and then send personalized, custom messages to each.

For example, higher-tier members can get early access to features or unique offers like expedited shipping if they shop through the app.

You can also use SMS to send them updates about any reward point milestones a customer has achieved and link the app to encourage them to shop from you again.

8. Re-engage inactive users

Some app users need to be reminded of how awesome your brand is (or has become!) since they last explored your app.

A simple campaign to notify them that a new version of the app has been launched, preferably with the updates they and other users requested through surveys, can be helpful to get them to download your app again.

It is important here to segment your audience well and find a batch of users who are most likely to return, for the SMS app download campaign to be effective.

9. Interactive campaigns

An easy way to make any marketing campaign more engaging is to gamify it.

You can run polls, quizzes, or contests via SMS, with participation contingent on app downloads. Make it fun for them to get your app!

Maybe it's an interesting poll about your brand’s niche and what they expect from it, or even what product category they want to continue hearing more from.

Maybe the quiz is about your app, or the game is about finding a hidden feature in your app screens.

Ideas here are numerous and can be used by any brand to change the reception of such marketing messages with one of joy and engagement instead of frustration.

Run polls, quizzes, or contests via SMS, with participation requiring app downloads. Gamify the process and make downloading fun!

10. Seasonal & culturally-relevant campaigns

Since SMS messages are known to be mostly transactional, as discussed previously, it’s possible to send a few well-planned campaigns to deliver a strong impression on users' minds.

Especially when many users may not read your emails on time, and may have switched off notification alerts.

Look at upcoming holidays and anything that is trending on Twitter (oops, sorry X), and see if they can be tied into your brand’s unique way of marketing.

It’s a great way not only to drive app downloads and engagement but also to remind them of your brand in a fun and pop-culturally relevant way.


SMS marketing offers multiple ways for you to increase app downloads. It may sound contradictory, but it isn’t.

From sending coupon codes and exclusive offers to surveys to learn more about your customers, SMS can become a highly effective channel for reaching and engaging your target audience on a device that is always with them.

And it doesn’t have to be tough to execute!

Here at Shopney, we can help turn Shopify stores into great mobile apps, which can also integrate efficiently with your SMS tools!

Want to try us out? Reach out here!