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Everything You Need to Know About E-Commerce SMS Marketing

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Twenty-three billion text messages are sent every single day. Those are some pretty staggering numbers and shows just how much people love using this medium for communication. 

I know I personally love it and couldn’t imagine life without the convenience of texting. 

Although not everyone in the world has a smartphone with Internet access, five billion people can use SMS messaging. And it’s this sheer scope along with the frequency in which people use texting that makes it so potent from a marketing standpoint.

If you know what you’re doing, you can effectively leverage e-commerce SMS marketing to connect with shoppers, generate high-quality leads and rev up your sales.

For this post, I’m going to discuss everything you need to know about this form of marketing so you’ll understand just how receptive people are to it, why it works and how to implement it into your marketing campaigns.

And of course, I’ll include plenty of examples from brands who are already nailing it. 

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Eye-Popping SMS Stats

I’ve already established that most people use texting on a daily basis. But does this really translate into a digital marketing opportunity? The short answer is yes.

Most shoppers (75 percent) are receptive to receiving SMS messages from businesses, as long as they’ve willingly opted in. Tech news site TechJury, says this is likely because of two main reasons.

“First, SMS marketing is less intrusive, as it is a permission-based activity.” Shoppers have a say in the brands they’re in contact with and are far less likely to encounter annoying “push” content that’s not relevant to them or they’re not interested in. “Second, it highlights the value proposition of an offer more effectively because of the limited space.”

Take, for example, this text from Australian women’s fashion boutique Jules & Roc Clothing. Look how straightforward and to the point it is. 

Source: Vision 6

It notifies a shopper about a flash sale and the details on when it ends and literally takes just seconds to digest. 

That way, a shopper can get the essential information they want and move on with their day. It’s arguably the most streamlined form of digital communication there is. 

Another big reason why many people prefer SMS marketing over email is that it’s less spammy. Although half of the emails are spam, only 10 percent of text messages are. 

So people tend to put their guard down when receiving texts. Maybe that’s why “98 percent of all SMS messages are read, compared to only 20 percent of emails.” And when it comes to the response rate, this is off the charts as well. In fact, “SMS messages have a 209 percent higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook.”

More specifically, nearly a third (30 percent) of shoppers will respond to text, and of those who do, nearly 50 percent will buy. If that wasn’t enough, people tend to respond much quicker to texts (in only 90 seconds on average) than to email (90 minutes).

So in many cases, you’ll get a response within just a minute and a half after sending an SMS message.

It should also be noted that 64 percent of shoppers think brands should contact them more through text. This is evidence that e-commerce SMS marketing is powerful but underutilized at the moment. 

When you put all of this data together, it’s clear that working texting into your marketing campaign can be a smart business move and one that can prove fruitful. 

E-Commerce SMS Marketing Strategies

Now that you’ve got an idea of how receptive most people are to this medium and why it works, let’s examine some specific e-commerce SMS marketing strategies you can use to get the most from your campaign. 

Let’s start at the top.

 

1. Offer a Coupon or Perk for Opting In

Just like email marketing, a big part of finding success with text-based marketing is giving shoppers a reason to opt-in. For those who already love your brand and are loyal, it may not take much coaxing. But for others, you’ll want to offer some type of incentive. And one of the best is to simply give them a coupon.

Research has found that eight million US adults redeemed online coupons in 2016, but that number is predicted to spike to around145.3 million by 2021. Moreover, people are especially receptive to SMS-delivered coupons, with shoppers redeeming them 10 times more than other types of coupons. 

So it’s likely something that a large number of your shoppers will be interested in. It’s just a matter of giving them the right offer.

International discount footwear brand Payless ShoeSource gives shoppers 20 percent off on their next purchase by opting in.

Source: Tatango

That’s a pretty good deal and should motivate plenty of people to sign up. And it kills two birds with one stone because shoppers are more likely to complete a sale and become paying customers. Or if you don’t want to go the coupon route, you can offer some other type of perk instead.

For instance, Hudson’s Bay, a Canadian clothing and houseware brand gives shoppers inside access to one-day sales by opting in.

Source: Tatango

This gives shoppers the inside scoop on upcoming sales, and they can conveniently receive information by simply checking their phones.

Women’s clothing and accessories brand New York & Company does something similar and gives shoppers the chance to get new products first by opting in.

Source: Tatango

So there are a few different approaches you can take. Just do some brainstorming to figure out what would work best with your customer base, while keeping profit margins in mind. And remember, you can always switch up your offer later on as you gather more data.

2. Make it Easy to Opt Out

Also, like with email marketing, it’s important that SMS recipients can opt out in one simple step. Otherwise, it’s going to create friction and can potentially sour relationships you’ve built. This starts by clearly explaining how to stop texts in your initial offer. 

Here’s a good example from clothing, home and kitchen store Kohl’s.

All a shopper has to do is type “STOP” to cancel, and they’ll no longer receive more texts. Besides that, it’s usually a good move to include opt out information with every single text you send.

Here’s an example from tea company Teavana.

In this case, shoppers simply type “5258” to opt out.

3. Keep Messages Brief

Like I mentioned earlier, a big part of the appeal of SMS marketing is that it concisely highlights the value proposition of an offer while taking up minimal space.

People enjoy it because they can instantly see what an offer entails at a glance without sifting through a lot of content. So you definitely want to be cognizant of how long your messages are and keep striving to make them as succinct as possible.

Macrobox Meals, a brand that specializes in healthy premade meals does a great job of this here where they confirm that a customer’s order has been successfully delivered. 

There’s no droning on, and they get straight to the point.

4. Pepper in Some Visuals

I’m sure you already know that visuals can be insanely effective for grabbing shoppers’ attention and getting them to take action. Maybe that’s why “32 percent of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business.”

Visuals can be used across a variety of digital mediums, and SMS marketing is no exception. While I don’t necessarily recommend using visuals in every text you send or using multiple images in a single text, you can do yourself a favor by peppering them in here and there.

Let me give you a couple of examples of brands that really pull this off well. 

First, there’s personalized hair care company Function of Beauty. In this text, they let shoppers know that there are only three hours left to get 20 percent off. 

They include a stunning image of two of their products—shampoo and conditioner—along with a delicious looking milkshake. The light colors in the foreground do a great job of contrasting with the darker green in the background to make it pop. This combined with some sharp copywriting acts as a one-two punch that should pique the interest of many of their shoppers and maximize engagement. 

Next, there’s fine jewelry designer Aurate New York. Their text is super simple and straightforward and features an image of a model sporting some of their signature rings.

This allows shoppers to instantly see what Aurate’s products look like and conveniently click-through the link to learn more.

5. Celebrate Milestones

One of the main things I love about e-commerce SMS marketing is that it allows brands to connect with consumers on a personal level. Just think about it. Most of the people you text with are probably friends, family, and close business contacts. So by using texting to reach out to shoppers, you’re using a medium that they naturally associate with intimacy. 

A particular technique that’s especially effective for nurturing these one-on-one type of connections is to celebrate milestones. And perhaps the best way to go about this is to send out birthday greetings. 

That’s what Serenity, a beauty and cosmetics company, does with this text. 

It’s a nice way to acknowledge shoppers on their special day, which can go a long way for building rapport. And offering them a small gift (like 20 percent off) can help strengthen your relationships even more, while at the same time increasing your odds of making a sale. 

Here are some other ideas besides birthday:

  • Anniversaries
  • Six months or a year of being your customer
  • Reaching a certain number of rewards program points

There are numerous possibilities, so don’t be afraid to be creative. 

6. Personalize Text Messages Whenever Possible

If you’ve been paying any attention to recent marketing trends, you’ll know that many consumers crave personalized experiences. In fact, “80 percent of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand who provides personalized experiences.”

Furthermore, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) only engage with marketing messages that are tailored directly toward them and their unique interests in mind. By these numbers, it’s clear that incorporating personalization into your overall digital marketing initiatives is very important. And this is true with e-commerce SMS marketing as well. 

Coming across as impersonal, detached and overly salesy is going to minimize your impact. But using a warm tone and addressing shoppers by name can help you quickly win them over and boost engagement.

Here’s an example from home furnishings brand Made (formally Homeware). 

Source: Voices Ages

This particular text is well done because it addresses the customer by her first name and follows up after she made a recent purchase—in this case, a coffee table.

They also provide her with an ultra-relevant link where she can get inspiration on how to decorate her new coffee table. And they accomplish all of this in just a few sentences.

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Conclusion

Using e-commerce SMS marketing is a practice that’s been around for a while. However, it’s only recently that it’s really taken off and gained momentum. 

More and more brands are recognizing the potential of texting as a medium and jumping on board. And considering that “consumers who get SMS marketing messages are 40 percent more likely to convert than those who don’t,” who can blame them?

As we’ve learned from this post, most shoppers are highly responsive to texting, and given that they check their phones so frequently, it’s an excellent way to stay in touch. 

Following the core strategies I mentioned above should help you take full advantage of this technique and get tangible results more quickly. That way you can build tighter relationships, nurture leads more efficiently and crank up your e-commerce sales. 

Have you ever experimented with SMS marketing as a medium for reaching e-commerce consumers?

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