While still an essential marketing channel for brands of all kinds, it's no secret that email marketing has become a much tougher nut to crack since its inception. With open rates dipping below 25 percent across the board, spam filters becoming more sophisticated and privacy laws continuing to pile on, alternatives to email marketing are looking more enticing than ever before.

Additionally, with social media channels like Facebook continuing on the path of slashing organic reach and becoming a "pay to play" platform, the time to explore new marketing opportunities is now.

One promising opportunity that's often overlooked is SMS marketing, or text message marketing. Here are the reasons why SMS marketing could be the medium that takes your brand to new heights in 2019, how to get started and some best practices to ensure you're using the channel most effectively.

People are always connected to their phones.

We live in a mobile-first world where people of all ages are increasingly becoming glued to their smartphones. In fact, it's been recorded that, on average, people check their phones a whopping 80 times per day. As a result, it's no wonder why open rates for SMS marketing typically hover around 82 percent. This makes sending texts to customers and members of your brand's community the closest thing to being absolutely certain your content won't get overlooked.

Additionally, unless the medium becomes saturated with every brand on the planet, it's unlikely this trend will change anytime soon given how mobile-centric contemporary culture has become. 

Lastly, when taking a look at how often people change their social media profiles, email addresses and more, phone numbers are certainly updated the least. This essentially guarantees your SMS marketing will have longevity, something that can't always be said about alternative marketing channels.

Here are some tips for getting started and making the most of your SMS marketing:

1. Get the right software. 

There are loads of mobile marketing platforms out there, but two of the best?--?based both on how long they've been in business, reviews and quality of their features?--?are Textedly and Avochato. Take some time to browse through other options though to see which product best fits your organization's particular needs.

2. Begin collecting user's phone numbers.

The next step is to begin collecting customer's phone numbers. In the same way you try to snag the email addresses of website visitors and prospects, you need to begin collecting phone numbers as well. You can get started by inserting a field in all your company's opt-in forms that asks for a prospect's phone number. 

You can also run social media ads on Facebook, Twitter and beyond which asks viewers to opt-in through mobile for a discount, for entry into a contest or something similar. Lastly, you can also beef up your phone number list by giving away free content, such as a webinar or ebook, in exchange for their contact information. This tactic has proven fruitful for collecting email addresses, and the same can be done for phone numbers.

3. Make 100 percent sure you have the user's permission to text them. 

Be absolutely sure you have a person's explicit permission to use their phone number for promotional purposes. Not only is it the right thing to do from an ethical perspective, it'll also make sure you're not breaking the law. On top of that, be sure all your text messages used for marketing purposes have an unsubscribe option. 

4. Don't bug your audience. 

Don't exploit access to a person's phone number. Be mindful of how personal and private a text message is, and act accordingly. Only send text messages when absolutely necessary. If you spam your list with a massive amount of messages, they'll quickly get annoyed, unsubscribe and lose trust in your brand as a whole.

5. Know the limits of text messaging.

Let me be clear here. SMS marketing should, by no means, be a replacement to your email marketing. Instead, think of it as a supplement to your email efforts.

There are a couple limits of SMS marketing to keep in mind. For one, you have to keep your character count to a minimum, so maintaining your brand voice or telling a compelling story is difficult. Also, you can't alert your audience as frequently as you can on social media for the reasons listed above.

If you're looking for fresh ways to market your business in 2019, SMS marketing could be the secret sauce you've been looking for. Because of the exclusive nature of texting, stellar open rates and longevity of a person's phone number, the future of SMS marketing looks bright. Be sure to give it a try in 2019. Best of luck.