Increase mobile traffic with SMS and measure it

Topic: Guides

MCommerce is not just the next buzz word surrounding commerce and the retail industry, but it is the future of online retail. Short for Mobile Commerce, it has been rapidly growing year on year and you can be sure that this year, and the years to come, will be another prosperous year for purchases on mobile phones. To give you an idea of the impact MCommerce is having; last year, on Black Friday, almost ¼ of all online shopping was carried out on a mobile device.When it comes to retail this Christmas, mobile is a huge channel and cannot be ignored; it is also a great channel to encourage impulse buying – Google claim that 81% of purchases on a smartphone were spontaneous. Mobile current accounts for a large chunk of the retail market, with PayPal handling almost $14 billion in mobile payments. This channel simply cannot be ignored. Not only should it not be ignored, but you should embrace it, and thus drive more sales to your website through mobile. The market is there; don’t you want your fair share of it?Like any source of web traffic, you want to be able to measure it, not only for validation but also to test certain variables and campaigns. With mobile still being a new channel for most retailers, best practices can vary and you’ll only get an idea of what works for your customers by testing, measuring and then testing some more. This is where Esendex can help you, with use of URL shorteners and Google Analytics.Below is a full guide on how to measure the traffic generated by an SMS campaign, tips on what to test as well as an example SMS copy. The agenda is as follows:

  1. Setting up Google Analytics on your web store
  2. Creating a URL that can be tracked
  3. Tips, facts and best practices for SMS copy
  4. Testing with SMS
  5. Analysing results in Google Analytics.

Setting up Google Analytics on your web store

If you already have Google analytics set up then you can skip this step, if not, then never fear, it is fairly simple to do. You need only sign up for Google Analytics and then add a bit of code to each and every page of your web store. You can find all the information you need to do this on the Google Analytics website. Go to track the success of certain SMS campaigns you will also want to make sure, if you’re a retailer, that you have Ecommerce tracking set up. You can visit Google Analytics support site for information on how to set this up:

Creating a URL that can be tracked

There are two steps to this process. The first step is to create a nice long URL that Google Analytics can read and track. To do this, simply head over to their URL creation tool, which will look like this: (Figure 1):

figure 1

figure 1

For the URL to be able to pull the correct information through, you are required to fill in a minimum of 4 fields; Website URL, Campaign Source, Campaign Medium and Campaign Name. Google needs these to build the results into your Google Analytics account.Our advice is to do the following, however these can be modified for personal preference. For the Website URL, you should use your desired landing page’s URL as this is ultimately where the user will land, an example could be something like: both the Campaign Source and Campaign Medium use the word “SMS”, as this represents the channel and medium for the traffic. For the Campaign Name, use a unique name of the specific campaign the SMS will be sent out for, an example could be “Black Friday SMS campaign”. You can also add unique Campaign Names for testing different variables within the same campaign. Once you have entered all of the required data and hit submit, you will be shown a URL that will look a lot like this: you have this URL, you can choose to test it by sending an SMS to yourself, click the link on your smartphone, and then wait a few minutes to check whether it came into Google Analytics as you had expected it to. There will be more on how to view the campaign in Analytics later. However, you might want to wait until you have completed the next phase before testing.As you can see this URL is rather long, 125 characters in this instance. That would leave you with a mere 35 characters to write the rest of your message – not ideal. A great way to save characters is to shorten this URL. If you’re not aware of URL shortening, in essence a URL shortening service takes a long URL and simply creates a redirect for it and uses a much shorter URL in its stead. In this instance, the shortened URL retains all the information needed for Google Analytics, but uses a fraction of the characters; very handy for SMSs with limited space. More info on URL shorteners can be found over on the ever faithful Wikipedia – URL Shorteners.The most popular URL shortener is This service creates URLs that look like this: – so that previously long URL is now just 21 characters long. We have tested this process with Bitly and it retains all the information required for Analytics to track the URL accurately.Other URL shorteners may work also, but we have not tested them, so it’s worth pointing out that if you do choose another URL shortening service, or decide to make your own, please test that URL retains the information for Google Analytics to track before launching your SMS campaign. When you get to Bitly for the first time you’ll see this screen (Figure 2): 
figure 2

figure 2

You then need to simply paste your traceable URL into the top input box, with the phrase “Paste a link to shorten it” and Bitly will shorten it and present you with your new URL. You will also have to option to sign up, which is recommended to track each URL and the number of times they are clicked. You will be able to see this in Google Analytics, of course, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep a backup and ensure all URLs are kept in the same place. Now is a good time to test the shortened URL by sending it within an SMS to yourself.Once you have created the URL in Google’s URL builder, you have shortened it, and you have tested that it works without any problems, you can be satisfied that your URL is ready to go.

Tips, facts and best practices for SMS copy

Now it’s time to create some SMS copy for your campaign. As you may well be aware, a single SMS message has a limited number of characters available, 160 characters to be precise, and many senders choose to stick within that limit. You may feel that it is worth the investment to send more than one SMS per message; if this case it’s important to understand that 2 SMSs does not equal 320 characters, but some characters are used to join the SMSs into one message. The list below states the number of characters against how many SMSs would be required to send it:

  • Up to 160 characters = 1 SMS
  • 161 – 309 characters = 2 SMS
  • 310 – 459 characters = 3 SMS
  • 460 – 612 characters = 4 SMS

It is also very important to understand the laws for SMS marketing within your country. In Australia there are two main stipulations that you must be aware of when it comes to SMS messages used for marketing. Firstly, it must be evidently clear who the message is from – best practice states that the Sender ID or Sender Name should be the company name; however you could also include your company name at the start of the SMS. The second thing to include is an opt out clause. If you’re using a Sender ID, this could be something like “Opt out send STOP to 0461111111”. If you’re using a mobile number as the Sender ID then an example of an opt out clause could be “Reply STOP to opt-out”.If you would like to know more on the SMS laws in Australia, give us a call on 1300 764 946 or email [email protected] and we will send you through some more information. For most companies, you will probably want to keep each message to 1 SMS, meaning you have 139 characters to play with, after taking away the 21 used for a Bitly link. To make sure you are making the best use of these characters you should jot down exactly what you need to say. Include all of the facts, such as if there is a sale on, what a certain offer includes, when an offer expires, how to claim such an offer and anything else relevant to the campaign. Once you have jotted down what you need to say, you can then start to craft the message that is to the point yet also engaging. A great way to measure this is to either use our Send > Simple SMS tool, which counts the number of characters used, as seen here:

figure 3

figure 3

Creating short marketing messages is a great skill to have and one you will soon perfect. SMS marketing is great at forcing you to get all of the necessaries across without padding it out with too much marketing spiel.For some inspiration or help with writing marketing SMS messages, there are a few listed below for both SMS messages using a Sender ID and those not:

With Sender ID

“SALE on this weekend only – 40% off everything. Go to and enter the code SMS1 at checkout. Opt out: send STOP to 0411111111. T&Cs apply” – 157 characters

Without Sender ID

“RetailerNo1 – SALE this weekend only – 40% off everything. Go to and enter the code SMS1 at checkout. Reply STOP to opt out. T&Cs apply” – 157 characters“20% OFF EVERYTHING at RetailerNo1 + FREE shipping on all orders over $100. Ends this Friday! Reply STOP to opt out. T&Cs apply” – 126 Characters

Testing with SMS

To get the most out of any marketing channel, it is a great idea to continually test different variables. SMS is no different. This could be testing the times of the sends, different copy, different deals, different market segments and many others.When you have decided on what tests you are planning to carry out, it is important to be able to measure the results effectively. An easy and great way to do this is by labeling the test on the end of the Campaign Name variable within the URL creation tool. This way you could have 2 shortened URLs that were used within different messages, aimed at different demographics or offered different deals. These will be pulled into Google Analytics as separate campaigns and can be compared more accurately.

Analysing results in Google Analytics

Once the messages have been sent out, it’ll soon be time to start analysing the results. With regards to SMS, we would recommend waiting at least 3 days before attempting to analyse any results. You may want to wait longer, depending on your customers’ time lag between visiting your website and purchasing. Either way, once you feel you have given it enough time, you can open up Google Analytics, found at, and see the results of your SMS campaign(s).As mentioned earlier, if you have created the URL as explained, then the Source and Medium will be measured as SMS. To view the traffic that has come in through these sources, you’ll need to go to Channels, under the Acquisition tab, found on the left hand side of Google Analytics:

figure 4

figure 4

Once here you need to click on one of the Primary Dimensions, be it Source / Medium, Source or Medium. For this example click on Medium.If SMS is a Medium that has driven a lot of traffic to your website, you may see it as a Medium within the top 10. However, to make it clearer, or to even view said traffic, it is worth filtering on SMS. To do this simply type “sms” into the search box and hit enter. Now you will only see traffic from SMS as a medium.
figure 5

figure 5

Now you can see all the traffic that came to your website from your SMS campaigns. If you have more than one campaign, or perhaps you experimented with two different messages and therefore had two URLs for the two campaigns, you will be able to see the impact of each of these by simply clicking on the Secondary dimension dropdown, choosing Acquisition and then choosing Campaign. This will then split the traffic into the campaigns that drove traffic to your website.Note: make sure that the date range is the correct date range you wish to measure to get the correct data.Here you can quickly see how many visits each campaign drove to your website, as well as other information such as the Bounce Rate, Pages / Visit and also Goal completions, if these are set up.You can apply this same process to the rest of Google Analytics to see things like the revenue generated by SMS.You can also set up a new Segment that will enable you to see only the traffic driven from SMS, no matter what you are looking at within Google Analytics. To do this you need to click on the button with a blue circle and a label “All Visits”, at the top of Google Analytics. It looks like this:
figure 6

figure 6

Once you have clicked this, click on “+ Create New Segment”. Once here name your new segment something like “SMS Traffic”, then choose “Traffic Sources” down the left hand side, and simply type in “sms” to the Medium or Source. Hit save and you’ll have a new segment that tracks SMS traffic. If you uncheck “All Visits” from the drop down menu, you will only see SMS traffic. Now you can click on Acquisition > Channels again, and you’ll see your segment’s traffic displayed. You can now explore the whole of Google Analytics and only see results brought in by the SMS traffic. You can apply campaign filters as previously explained to measure the difference in your SMS campaigns also.That sums up how to drive mobile traffic to your web store, as well as how to measure and test this traffic. If you would like to know more, please give us a call on 1300 764 946 or email [email protected].
Author Avatar
Liz Wilson