Retail companies are scrambling to stand out from the increased competition online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, consumers have changed their behavior drastically.
Therefore, enhancing relationships with your customers and gaining new leads is more important than ever. This is where SMS marketing can help.
Mobile phone usage and texting habits have changed in recent years. In 2020, 23 billion text messages were sent every day worldwide. According to research into demographics of mobile usage by Pew Research, 97% of the American population own a mobile device of some kind, with 85% of them owning a smartphone – up from 35% in 2011 when the survey was first conducted.
With the growth in popularity of social media, SMS marketing was perhaps thought of as a less relevant or old-fashioned way to reach consumers. A prominent example is Domino’s pizza, who started using SMS as their marketing channel, using SMS marketing services till this day.
SMS marketing hasn’t gone anywhere, if anything, marketing via text messages is making a bigger comeback. People are increasingly “on the go” – a survey into cell phone behavior conducted by Reviews.org, a products and services testing business, showed that Americans check their phones once every 5.5 minutes!
Let’s have a look into how to best use SMS marketing for your business to increase your e-commerce sales.
What is SMS marketing?
SMS marketing is a form of digital marketing, aiming to reach wide or local audiences on their mobile devices through text messages. Customers can opt-in or opt-out by sending a simple text message and receive regular updates or promotions from their favorite businesses.
For inspiration, here you can find some excellent SMS marketing campaigns and examples from retailers to brainstorm and come up with your own.
Mobile marketing can cover a wide range of ways of e-commerce marketing activities, from promotions and updates to new products and services launches. Whether you are an established company or only thinking about starting your new e-commerce business, SMS marketing is an excellent way to promote your business, enhance sales or generate new potential leads.
Why use SMS marketing?
The benefits of SMS marketing services include high open rates and wide audience reach. SMS open rates are at 98%, compared to 20% for email marketing, making it an attractive option to market your e-commerce business. One could say that SMS marketing is the hidden gem amongst digital marketing.
There are several excellent SMS marketing software solutions available for every budget. Third- party applications providing full SMS services, such as BulkSMS, Twilio or VertexSMS are compatible with large e-commerce service providers such as Magento or Shopify. What is more, e-commerce platform provider Shopify has got several good first-party applications for bulk SMS service providers to choose from.
Key facts about SMS marketing
Let’s go through some of the main facts and figures to understand more about SMS marketing.
- Text messages are usually 160 characters long, including spaces, however the maximum length is obviously much longer – these are subsequently composed of multiple texts, but looking like one message.
- What is an SMS API? Application Programming Interface is a set of tools that allow computer systems to interact so that SMS messages are sent and received.
- Why SMS API? Due to the huge number of network providers such as Vodafone, Virgin Mobile or T-Mobile, a single network is unable to deal with the number of integrations.
SMS API allows to simplify the whole process of sending and receiving an SMS message from one company (you e-commerce company, for example) to your customer’s mobile phone, regardless of their chosen network provider.
- SMS marketing has got a wide customer reach, due to the high share of people globally using mobile devices.
- SMS has got a 98% open rate, with open and read within 90 seconds, compared to only 20% for email marketing.
- Posting on social media is free, however to get your content in front of the right target audience isn’t as easy. To promote your content, paid ads such as Facebook or Twitter ads can be costly. Of course, low cost social media marketing tactics exist, but SMS marketing services, on the other hand, can end up being even more cost-efficient over time due to targeted reach and high open rates.
How to use SMS marketing to generate more sales
Use SMS notifications to offer engaging promotions and offers
Even though SMS marketing could be a little intrusive due to its highly direct approach, it is one of the most effective ways to catch your customers’ attention. Texts can be used to communicate about so many different aspects of your business, including information about your promotions or exclusive offers.
To achieve high engagement, offer your customers highly engaging promotion deals such as vouchers, free delivery, BOGO deals, free gifts in exchange for an incentive – feedback or a social media follow.
What works well are exclusive offers and flash sales, creating an urgency to make a purchase. Make sure to add a “call to action” to achieve the highest ROI possible.
Build your list of contacts
If you are thinking about starting with SMS marketing, one of the first things to do is to build an opted-in customer contact list. Only customers who have agreed to be contacted via text messages, you can regularly send updates or promotions to. It also helps to maintain this opt-in database and get more accurate data about your target audience.
There are a few steps to take to generate and maintain your contact list:
- Build – create a database of numbers who have opted in to continue with your campaign and targeting.
- Grow – on growing the list of opted-in customers.
- Maintain – your list of contacts, regularly track the number of subscribers and retain them and your database to have a “clean” list of contacts. Make sure to delete any that have opted out.
Collect feedback to improve products and services
Feedback is extremely important for any product or service improvements – SMS messages are an excellent way to gather quality feedback from your customers.
With a small incentive, for example, offering your customers a 10% discount on your products, in exchange for some useful information about improvements, you can make important changes to your assortment or service, ensuring your offering lives up to your customers expectations and quality.
Hi [Customer_Name], thank you for shopping at [Store]! If you have a minute to spare, please review your new [Product] here: [short_url]. Reply STOP to opt-out.
Combine SMS with other channels and wider marketing strategy
SMS marketing on its own can be very effective, however, it can also be a good idea to combine it with your wider marketing strategy. To cross-promote and for a cohesive strategy, SMS marketing is best integrated with other channels.
Omnichannel and multichannel strategy is in focus in 2021, this trend is expected to continue and have an effect on text messaging marketing, too.
For example, you can promote your social media post, or your new blog post through SMS messages. You can use SMS to get feedback from your customers and forward it to your customer success teams.
It is expected that these channels will integrate more in the near future:
- sharing new social media posts or content updates through SMS
- combine email promotions with SMS
- share company news – blog posts, PR etc. through SMS
Use SMS alerts for product or service updates
Text messages can be useful to let your customers know about any updates related to your business, products or services. For example, new product launches, back-in-stock alerts and delivery notifications can all be easily distributed through SMS notifications.
What is more, companies are increasingly opting to let their customers know about any updates through SMS over email, due to higher readability and faster open rates. Email is still a considerable and important way to send more in-depth and accurate information to your customers, as they can include any exciting and engaging content or images.
But text messages, on the other hand, are a great way to let your audience know about short updates for timely info delivery.
Use two-way communication to engage with your customers
Text messaging is increasingly the preferred method for consumers to engage with businesses, particularly over email or phone, due to speed and ease. Customers are more likely to interact with companies that would allow them to text back.
Despite this, several businesses are unaware of this and won’t allow two-way communication and responding to email is still the primary source of communication. SMS chat is an important medium to create a personalized approach.
Research into Text Communication from 2019 by EZ texting, SMS marketing software provider, found that 70% of customers are willing to allow and prefer two-way SMS communication. With two-way SMS chat, you can develop a personalized and customer-first connection with your audience.
By using SMS chat, the interaction between the company and customers feels a lot more personalized and human than a cold no-reply message. These work best, if combined with automated and live SMS chat with human agent support.
Apply these best practices to generate more sales
E-commerce businesses worldwide have had to focus on sales growth, new customer acquisition and improving customer experience, due to heightened expectations from consumers and increased competition online.
Nowadays, consumers can be bombarded with notifications from social media platforms on their mobile devices, and many opt to disable them to avoid being overwhelmed. SMS notifications, on the other hand, can be a good alternative, in case the customers have opted in to receive messages from your business and get notifications.
At the end of the day, it is important that your SMS marketing strategy provides useful and traceable quality leads that enable a targeted approach. Hopefully, this article helped to get some ideas of how to either implement SMS in your marketing strategy or how to improve your SMS marketing.
SMS marketing is great for fast communication, feedback collection, promotions and sales offers distribution and personalized communication. With SMS marketing you can choose to reach either a wide range of consumers, or take a targeted and localized approach.
Make sure to apply these best practices when thinking about your next steps in order to increase your e-commerce sales and generate more leads.