SMS is one of the trickiest marketing channels today—one ill-timed message can make customers feel disconnected with your brand right away.
The fortunate thing, though, is that it is possible to add a human element in this automation-ridden channel.
Let’s explore the best practices and tips for SMS marketing today. By the end of this guide, you’ll learn how to create an SMS marketing strategy from scratch, spark connections with customers, and generate higher conversions.
How to do an SMS Marketing Strategy?
Your SMS marketing campaign is unlike other channels.
It requires different strategies.
Before you create your first SMS campaign, gather all stakeholders in a group. Consider the following questions to get aligned on your goals:
- What do we really want to achieve in our SMS marketing campaigns? Is it building customer relationships or generating sales?
- How will SMS differ from our existing email marketing campaigns?
- Do customers really need to hear from us via SMS?
- How can we balance automation and human connection in our SMS campaigns?
- How can we train our customer support team for this channel?
Brand consistency across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%, so ensure that brand messaging is reflected in every single text in your SMS marketing strategy.
For example, if your eCommerce brand values authenticity, wit, and comedy, your SMS messages should mirror these qualities.
Imagine sending a bunch of monotone text messages that feels like it’s written by a faceless corporation. That would really confuse your SMS subscribers.
And finally, invest in a unified email and SMS marketing platform like Sendlane. This helps you create a multi-channel customer experience across emails and text messages on one platform (more on this later).
The Pros and Cons of Using an SMS Marketing Strategy
In the eCommerce industry today, text message marketing offers a straight-line communication with customers.
Sounds perfect, right? Not quite. Despite the many SMS marketing benefits, there are also some drawbacks.
But first, let’s talk about the advantages.
1. Lightning fast delivery
Customers don't need to be connected to the internet to receive your marketing messages.
With the average US consumer spending 4 hours, 31 minutes per day on their mobile phones, shoppers will see your text message instantly.
2. Higher engagement rate
Mcommerce sales are expected to account for 43.4% of total retail eCommerce sales in 2023.
That’s a 1.6% increase from last year.
With more consumers shopping through their mobile devices than ever before, there’s no better channel than SMS advertising to engage customers.
3. Open direct communication with customers
SMS is more intimate than other marketing channels.
It lets you connect with customers, and vice versa, in a matter of seconds.
This proximity boasts many perks. You can offer time-sensitive assistance and gather first-hand data on how customers navigate the shopping experience.
1. Message limitation
Text messages are limited to only 160 characters, including spaces. This makes it harder to hook in your target audience.
Focus on clear, snappy, and engaging copy. Bonus if you can attract their attention with the first few words.
SMS is annoyingly intrusive when misused.
eCommerce brands need to adhere to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance. Only send SMS messages if it provides additional value to the buying experience.
Even with its drawbacks, mobile marketing continues to be a powerful vehicle to connect with customers. Let’s look at how you can use SMS to grow your brand and supercharge your sales.
SMS Marketing Best Practices
SMS marketing requires a different framework.
Unless your eCommerce store sells replenishment-based products (e.g., diapers, toiletries), sending multiple transactional texts eleven every week will frustrate customers to no end.
We recommend these seven SMS marketing strategies to create a delightful shopping experience. To illustrate how they work in a real-world context, we’ve included some SMS marketing examples featuring our favorite eCommerce stores.
#1. Treat SMS as a two-way customer support channel
82% of U.S. consumers want more human interaction in the future, despite living in a world of advancing AI technology.
eCommerce stores should aim to personalize every touchpoint in the customer journey. Engage customers in real-time conversations instead of over-relying on auto-replies in your welcome and post-purchase flows.
D2C snack bar brand Verb Energy adds a human element in its one-on-one welcome message to customers. Note how the support agent personally addresses the customer with an animated GIF in this brief text exchange.
The SMS message creates an instant human connection, not to mention how it also shows off the brand’s personality and delights the customer right off the bat.
If you’ve visited Verb Energy’s website, you’ll notice that its marketing text messages clearly reflect its style and tone.
Customers feel disconnected if you rely too much on automated replies. Here’s how you can ensure human connection and automation work in sync in your SMS marketing program.
On Sendlane, click the Campaigns icon > New Campaign > Create SMS Campaign. Enter the following details (e.g., campaign name, audience) and create your SMS message.
Add emojis and a destination URL link. You can also create MMS messages, like images and GIFs. Either send the text message immediately, or schedule it to your desired date.
To reply to SMS subscribers individually, click the Reply Center icon. Search for specific messages or sort them from latest to oldest, and reply accordingly.
2. Provide context
SMS shows up unexpectedly, so aim to provide context in every marketing message. Always remind customers why they’re receiving the text to refresh their memory.
Note the clear-cut text message below. The CS rep introduces himself and the company and directs the customer to a 15% discount for the new summer line.
Right away, the customer knows what to do (tip: make it easy for customers. Include a destination URL in your targeted messages to boost clicks.).
Here’s how you can set up your SMS branding on Sendlane.
Click the Account icon > Billing > Set up SMS.
Review the SMS consent and opt-in agreement and register your company information. Next, enter your Business Name and Subdomain.
Your business name (sender ID) and subdomain identify your brand to customers and boost brand recognition.
#3. Track every SMS campaign without fail
Nearly 2 out of 3 marketers agree that data-backed decisions are more effective than gut instincts.
SMS marketing campaigns backed by data create better customer experience and drive greater revenue.
Add a UTM code at the end of each campaign URL to track where traffic comes from. That way, you can identify your best-performing campaigns and content without any guesswork.
You can do this easily on Sendlane.
In the text message section, click the Create Link icon and add your URL link, starting with “http://” or “https://”.
Next, assign a Tag to customers who click the tracking link.
Customers who click this link will get tagged with whatever tag you set. This lets you segment existing customers based on buying behavior and create a digital marketing strategy with greater personalization.
#4. Personalize to elevate experience
Personalization raises revenue by 10-15%. The more personalized your SMS messaging is, the greater the ROI.
What do we mean by personalization?
It’s SMS marketing messages tailored based on buying behavior, like cart size and the type of products bought. Essentially, it’s text messaging that fits the target audience’s profile and gets delivered at the right time.
Note this product recommendation SMS text message from MaryRuth's.
We see various personalized elements, such as the customer’s name and the last product viewed. Personalized messages like these, with a playful and humorous tone, recapture high-intent interest and encourage customers to complete their purchase.
You can quickly create personalized messages on Sendlane. Yes, even for bulk text messages.
For example, if you want to retarget abandoned carts, integrate your eCommerce store with Sendlane and set up an Abandoned Cart Automation Node.
Start with an Email Node and a 24-hour Wait Node before adding an SMS Node. Space out these transactional messages to give shoppers enough time to check out.
#5. Stay compliant
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance regulates unsolicited calls, messages, and faxes. You need to ensure your SMS policy and processes are compliant before you collect phone numbers and send promotional SMS text messages.
Lifestyle brand Letterfolk gives customers a heads-up on how it uses their data in this straightforward opt in form.
Consider the following tips to stay compliant:
- Collect your contact’s documented permission to send them promotions, offers, and other marketing messages
- Indicate the frequency of messages in your text marketing communications (“Sign up now to receive weekly deals!” instead of “Sign up now!”)
- Deliver your bulk SMS messages between 8 AM and 8 PM EST
- Avoid sending messages with SHAFT content (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, or Tobacco)
- Offer an easy way for subscribers to opt out (e.g., text “BYE” to opt out)
Sendlane boasts built-in TCPA-compliant SMS opt in forms for you to use right away.
Alternatively, upload a screenshot of your lead collection page (including the required legal language) and click Submit.
Our team will email you the status of your registration.
#6. Go beyond selling
No one likes a pushy salesperson, and this rule applies in your SMS marketing channel, as well.
Every text message is a chance to surprise and delight customers. Consider sharing resources in your transactional texts to educate shoppers on your product. The more value they get from it, the more likely they’ll buy again in the future.
For instance, an eCommerce store selling potted plants might send a quick guide on how to keep them in tiptop shape in the post-purchase SMS workflows.
Outdoor gear brand Groove Life does this exceptionally well.
Note the Mother’s Day text above that features one of its hero customers. The destination URL directs subscribers to an influencer spotlight video.
There’s no selling. Just an all-around wholesome video that sparks connection and boosts loyalty.
#7. Unite SMS with email
95% of text messages are read and responded within three minutes of receiving it.
Whereas in email marketing campaigns, marketers receive $36 in return for every $1 spent.
Now imagine what you can achieve when you use SMS marketing together with your emails.
Unite SMS with your email marketing strategy to increase the visibility of your messages. One of the best email and SMS strategies you'll want to use is conditional splits that send text messages to subscribers who didn’t engage with a specific email.
All customers are different.
With conditional splits, you can accurately target shoppers at a specific stage in the buying journey.
Not only do you bump up your products on the channels of their choice at the best possible time, but you also improve engagement and conversions in the long run.
The Best SMS Marketing Software to Improve Your Strategy
Sendlane is a user-friendly email and SMS marketing platform for top-rated eCommerce brands. Look no further if you want unparalleled customer support, deep integrations, and create campaigns with “set and forget” funnels.
Other top features include:
Real-time analytics: Analyze what’s working and not in an easy-to-understand dashboard. Get a bird’s-eye view of your most important eCommerce metrics in just a few clicks.
Pre-built funnels: Access 50+ templates and build email & SMS funnels within minutes. Tailor them to fit every buying behavior. Take your pick from welcome, product recommendations, and abandoned carts flows.
Two-way reply center: Create an instant human connection in text messages to customers. Sendlane lets you communicate with customers and provide top-tier support in real-time. Our chat history goes back 30 days. Search through messages quickly and easily.
Intuitive user interface: Sendlane boasts an intuitively robust interface. You no longer need to overcome any steep learning curve. Whether it’s adding SMS to an existing email workflow or using tags to segment contacts, you can create multi-channel touchpoints on Sendlane with ease.
Integrations: Sendlane integrates with popular third-party apps like Shopify, Shopify Plus, and BigCommerce. Never change the way you work in your email and SMS strategy. Uncover your ROI and attribute revenue to specific sources.
Stellar customer service: Sendlane offers 24/7/365 live chat support in all plans, even for free trial users. Hear from us in just 30 seconds, or less. For our Pro accounts, your dedicated account manager will personally walk you through to navigate our platform and advise you how to succeed your goals.
SMS is a wildly intimate channel. Start your 14-day free trial on Sendlane to build relationships with customers and generate higher conversions.