If you’re running an eCommerce business, SMS marketing is more important than ever.
And don’t just take our word for it: a whopping 49% of B2C marketers say they’re looking to prioritize SMS alongside email in 2021 and beyond.
Because SMS marketing is a sure-fire way to reach customers on-the-go.
In fact, SMS and email together represent the perfect one-two punch to make your marketing messages can’t-miss for mobile shoppers.
But despite the popularity of SMS marketing, so many businesses get it wrong.
That’s where this guide can help, though. In this post, you’ll learn:
- Why eCommerce businesses can’t sleep on SMS anymore
- The best practices of SMS marketing (and campaign ideas you can totally adapt for your own business)
- Examples of effective text marketing campaigns in action
Why SMS marketing matters so much
Chances are that incorporating SMS into your business has been on your to-do list.
Hey, we get it! But SMS marketing should be a matter of “when” and not “if.”
Why, though? For starters:
- Text messages boast remarkably high engagement rates. Research from Gartner notes a shocking 98% read and 45% response rate for SMS marketing messages. Although we’re obviously all-in on email here at Sendlane, this sort of engagement is almost unheard of versus a traditional email marketing campaign.
- SMS marketing allows you to reach customers around the clock. Food for thought: the average American checks their phone 250+ times per day (hint: that’s once every ~5.5 minutes). Not only does SMS enable you to get in touch with shoppers 24/7, but it also helps your marketing messages become more visible.
- Mobile shoppers represent a massive (but often untapped) market. There are a staggering 3 billion people active among SMS and text messaging apps. Unlike social media where customers are highly segmented, smartphones (much like email) are universal.
In short, your target audience is glued to their phones.
And if you aren’t meeting ‘em there, you could be leaving money on the table.
11 Best SMS marketing tips to win more subscribers and business
Let’s say you’re interested in getting started with SMS, or maybe you’re looking to fine-tune your current texting strategy.
Good! That means your head is in the right place!
Below are some low-hanging tips and best practices to help you develop campaigns that’ll actually engage your customers.
1. Entice customers with exclusive, text-only offers and deals
Reality check: even your most rabid customers aren’t going to opt into text messages “just because.”
Much like you need to provide incentives to boost your email opt-ins, the same rings true for text messaging. Similarly, people don’t want businesses to blow up their phones with spam and need strong incentives in exchange for their info.
For example, you might hook your text subscribers up with a first-time discount or exclusive offers in exchange for their phone number.
Check out how Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a $20 reward for anyone who opts in. The fact that their SMS marketing opt-in is right next to their email coupon serves as a double-whammy to help them build their contact lists.
See how that works?
2. Increase opt-ins and engagement by asking for permission the right way
This tip is a two-way street.
For starters, you can’t be shy about asking for SMS subscribers. There are so many places to promote your texts and score opt-ins, anyhow. Include includes:
- Your website (via popups or your header/footer)
- Social media (including Messenger)
- Your email list
That said, you need to make sure that your subscribers know exactly what they’re getting. Setting expectations in terms of the types of messages you’ll be sending (think: offers, updates) and how often (think: weekly, monthly) will lead to fewer opt-outs and more engagement.
Also, clarity goes hand in hand with the best SMS marketing practices of SMS compliance. This includes offering (and honoring) opt-outs, too.
After all, you don’t want to trick people into signing up for text messages. Higher engagement happens when people see the value of what you’re offering from the word “go.”
For example, check out how the Sound of Vinyl highlights the benefits of receiving their texts (limited products, exclusive discounts) without any sort of subscription or obligation. Their offer feels like a friendly invitation, not something pushy or aggressive.
3. Make your text messages easy to understand at a glance
When it comes to your SMS marketing, think “less is more.”
Because you only have ~160 characters to work with per message you send.
Text messages follow many of the same principles as effective email marketing. Short and sweet messages that pack a punch are preferable to massive walls of text.
In short, recipients should be able to make sense of your offer or update as soon as it hits their inbox. Shorter messages and simpler language mean less decoding and confusion, meaning your readers are likewise more likely to take your desired action.
4. Engage customers by prioritizing SMS-friendly campaigns
Piggybacking on the point above, certain types of marketing campaigns lend themselves to SMS because they’re direct. This includes:
- Post-purchase autoresponders (think: payment or shipping confirmations)
- Coupons, offers, and deals (with a tappable link or easy-to-redeem code)
- Reminders and announcements (see the “back in stock” text message from Brevite below)
On the flip side, SMS marketing is not ideal for customer interactions that require a bunch of questions or back-and-forth (such as onboarding).
Instead, you should focus on campaigns that move customers directly from Point A to Point B or convey basic information that doesn’t necessarily require a direct response.
5. Identify yourself to avoid getting left on read
Let’s assume the average person gets dozens of texts per day (if not more).
You can’t afford to be just a random number in someone’s inbox. Make a point to introduce yourself or your brand with some sort of creative trademark with each of your texts.
For example, some businesses straight-up preface each text with their company’s name (see Zazzle below):
Even if someone welcomes you into their inbox, reintroducing yourself is a smart move to create a personal connection and a sense of familiarity over time.
6. Connect with customers by using conversational language
Much like email, conversational language goes a long way toward winning customers versus jargon and business-speak.
So make a point to write your texts like a human, not a robot! The upside of using SMS marketing campaigns is that it lends itself to slang and short, snappy sentences.
For example, check out how Quay shows off their human side via text message:
7. Use simple call-to-action phrases to encourage instant responses
With SMS marketing, you can’t mince words.
This includes the specific actions you want your shoppers to take.
Much like you wouldn’t just drop a link in an email, you shouldn’t send text messages to your customers without some sort of direction or call-to-action.
For example, asking someone to reply “YES” (or “NO) or redeem a promo code is simple and actionable. Likewise, phrases like “get yours” or “shop now” signal that your message deserves their attention and requires them to do something. These two SMS messages from Free People do the trick.
Translation? Don’t send campaigns that don’t include some sort of next step for your recipients.
8. Boost SMS campaign performance by timing your texts to perfection
Fine-tuning your email frequency is a well-documented way to increase your CLTV and earn more cash from your campaigns.
SMS marketing likewise requires you to really think about timing and frequency. You obviously don’t want to overload your subscribers with marketing messages. Then again, you also don’t want your hot list of opt-ins to grow cold.
And even though we know people are glued to their phones, timing still matters. Consider that you’re competing with other businesses and anything you can do to optimize your campaigns is a plus.
Research from SMSglobal notes that late-morning and mid-afternoons are considered “optimal” in terms of timing.
Regarding frequency, sending SMS campaigns once a week or every other week is fair game. However, this largely depends on the expectations you’ve set for your list and what offers you’re currently promoting.
And actually, that leads us to our next point...
9. Align your SMS efforts with the rest of your marketing campaigns
Keep in mind that your text messages shouldn’t be sent in a vacuum.
Think about the existing offers and deals being promoted on-site.
Are you currently running a sale? Ramping up your holiday marketing? Make sure that your SMS list isn’t left out.
For example, check out how Pottery Barn uses SMS marketing messages to hype up a massive on-site sale...
...while Steve Madden uses text messaging to remind subscribers of Black Friday deals.
Sending both emails and texts means that you’re making your offers can’t-miss for folks who’ve signaled that they want to hear from you.
10. Segment your subscribers to avoid sending one-size-fits-all messages
Here’s yet another link between SMS marketing and email.
We’ve seen firsthand how much email segmentation impacts both response rates and engagement. Similarly, you shouldn’t treat your SMS subscribers as one-size-fits-all.
For example, you wouldn’t blast a first-time buyer deal to a loyal customer or talk to a new subscriber like an existing one.
This speaks to the importance of segmenting your texting campaigns based on interests, rewards, subscription length, and similar factors to personalize your marketing campaigns.
11. Implement SMS into your marketing funnels
We’re all about automation here at Sendlane.
And if you’re looking for a low-effort way to always keep in touch with customers without having to reach out manually, SMS can do the trick.
There are a variety of SMS automations you can implement as an eCommerce business to increase your CLTV and keep customers from bouncing. This includes:
- Cart abandonment texts (see below)
- Shipping and delivery status updates
- Special occasion offers (think: birthday deals)
Putting these sms messages on autopilot does double duty of creating a better customer experience while also encouraging them to spend more over time. It’s a win-win!
Are your SMS marketing campaigns clicking with customers?
Listen: SMS marketing should be a top priority for any eCommerce business.
Used alongside your email marketing campaigns and data, you can build an omnichannel presence that reaches customers anywhere and everywhere.
The upside of using an email and SMS marketing software tool like Sendlane is that you can automate and run your eCommerce campaigns from a single platform. This gives you an all-in-one solution plus, a more comprehensive understanding of your customers and clues you in on more opportunities to sell to them.