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SMS Marketing: 5 Text Messaging Strategies For e-Commerce Businesses

Phil Forbes
Phil Forbes | 5 min read

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SMS marketing is one of the fastest-growing channels for brands to reach their customers effectively and sustainably.

Whether it's to answer a customer's question, say thanks, or give them tracking information, SMS is a versatile channel to communicate with your customers.

The advantage of text messaging is that there’s an almost 100% open rate of your marketing messages.

It’s not every year a new marketing channel appears. So what are you waiting for? 

We’ll teach you how you can adopt an SMS-first approach this year to cut through the marketing white noise, forge stronger relationships with your customers, and pull in some serious sales revenue. 

The good news is that you won’t even have to compete to stand out from a crowded inbox. 

Because SMS marketing still remains an unexplored opportunity for many marketers and brands out there, but not for long. 

So let’s take it from the top. 

Why is SMS Marketing a Power Channel for Businesses This Year?

The focus (and challenge) in 2021 is to move past fleeting transactions and curate connected experiences for your customers. 

SMS by nature is a 2-way communication channel.

And the first step brands should take is to look past its profitability as a sales channel, and to treat it as a personal channel between them and their shoppers. 

But before you ditch your email marketing and paid channels, let’s first see how email and SMS compare. 

How Do I Choose Between Email Marketing vs. SMS Marketing? 

While emails can spend days unopened in a customer’s inbox, text messages are generally opened within 90 seconds of delivery. 

SMS boasts higher open rates than email.

SMS open rates clock in at a whopping 98% compared to email at 20%. 

While high open rates do lend a compounding effect on deliverability and making sure your marketing messages get in front of your customers, does it provoke a response?

You bet. 

  • SMS boasts a 45% average response rate— and a 209% higher response rate compared to emails and phone calls.
  • Comparing the average click-through rates, SMS comes out as the clear winner at a solid 19%. This beats email and the 2% average CTR of PPC ads

We haven’t even reached the best part yet. The best part is this:

You don’t have to choose between email or SMS marketing. 

With its low margin for error and how well it complements the nature of emails, use both to deliver a highly effective two-punch marketing message that your shoppers can’t ignore. 

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Email marketing is one of the tried-and-true marketing strategies for e-commerce, but sending frequency and deliverability rules don’t necessarily apply to SMS marketing. 

SMS requires more sensitivity in messaging and different strategies to keep your subscriber lists healthy and engaged. 

The core of your SMS marketing strategy lies in how relatable you come across to your customers in a span of 160-characters. 

When you add on a conversational approach to your marketing mix, you’ve got yourself the secret sauce to tap into the mercurial demands of your shoppers this year. 

5 SMS Marketing Strategies for e-Commerce Businesses in 2021 

We wanted to take our SMS marketing strategies one step further this year. So we added on a conversational approach to engage with your customers and keep your lists warm.

Here's how you can leverage conversational text messaging:

  1. Initiate a conversation with your abandoned shoppers 💬
  2. Provide value through each text
  3. Provide assistance throughout the entire shopping journey

Let’s take a deep dive. 

Establish an Instant Two-Way Communication Channel

If you’re already familiar with email marketing, you know there are two types of emails you can send out— campaigns and automated flows. 

So wait, are there SMS campaigns and event-triggered text messages too? Yes! 

Text messaging has since evolved from mass bulk sends into an elegant solution for eCommerce businesses.

Event-triggered texts behave similarly to email automation or drip campaigns. These are personalized, tailored responses that are set off when a shopper meets certain criteria or event factors. 

For example, when your shopper abandons their cart or first subscribes to receive marketing messages from your brand. 

SMS campaigns are dynamic, singular messages or manual broadcasts to highlight, notify and inform your customers on seasonal, time-limited deals. 

But we're not talking about the old marketing fail of a bulk SMS blast.

SMS campaigns are a great e-commerce marketing tool to build rapport, drive urgency and provoke an immediate response— if done right. 

Try out two-way SMS campaigns because:

  • You’ll never miss an opportunity to provide instant support to your customers during their most crucial time of need 
  • Add the human touch through real-time, 1:1 conversations with your customers 
  • Personalize your interaction by opening up more possibilities to engage your shoppers with educational content, interactive quizzes, and surveys.
  • Most importantly, retain your customers under a single conversation

Using local, dedicated 10DLC numbers means that your shoppers can reach out to you even months after making a purchase—and you to respond directly to their needs.

Once a customer, always a customer. 

This brings us to our next point. 

Combined Sales and Instant Support Channel For Your Customers 

Visualize your brand’s customer journey.

Can you pinpoint the crucial touchpoints where your customers are most likely to drop off from your sales funnel? 

The instances where customers really need your undivided attention in customer support can be surmised in two succinct words: pre-purchase and post-purchase

And 96% of consumers have said that the deciding factor when purchasing and completing an order is hinged on the quality of customer service of your eCommerce store.

So when choosing how to start your SMS marketing program, aim to go beyond automated AI bots and FAQs. 

Our 7-step guide to Deliver Great Customer Support Over Text 

  1. Respond quickly and react appropriately to resolve their issues
  2. Offer to understand and help to find an effective solution in the first contact
  3. Ensure a timely resolution of the problem— we recommend within 24 hours 
  4. Value their time and feedback
  5. Learn what positive customer service etiquette is and stick to it
  6. Always provide accurate and honest information
  7. Personalize your communication: No automated bots

Effectively Recover More Abandoned Shopping Carts

In 2020, the rate of cart abandonment was up at a shocking 88%.

Cart recovery texts don’t have to be strictly transactional to give great results. 

As marketers, it’s always easy for us to whip out the marketing jargon while keeping one eye on the conversion dashboard. 

But take a look at a real text conversation below between a brand and an abandoned shopper, they drove 28x in ROI in just one month.

Here’s a great strategy you can execute to start recovering up to 5x more abandoned shopping carts: 

  1. Automate a cart recovery text message to trigger 30-minutes after a shopper abandons a cart
  2. Add some personalized touches to your message by introducing yourself, this alone already sets you apart from the usual bulk SMS sends ✨
  3. Remind them where you’re texting from
  4. Establish yourself as a point of contact for further assistance
  5. Offer to understand their situation, and you’re there to help them find a solution
  6. Incentivize and make it hard to say no; a discount, free shipping, or alternative payment options
  7. Send them a shortened branded link to the checkout page
  8. Guide them through the checkout process again

As we mentioned above SMS campaigns are dynamic, but that doesn’t mean your event-triggered texts like abandoned cart recovery have to be static. 

A Cart Recovery SMS only automates the first text before Live Experts take over to have a live, 1:1 conversation with your customers. Not so static after all.

Build Trust and Forge Closer Relationships 

Why should your shoppers buy from you and now anywhere else? With online competition at an all-time high this year and products flooding the market, shoppers are now faced with a serious case of choice paralysis. 

Texting your shoppers also adds a quality of social proof to your products because you can use this marketing channel to share real and personal product recommendations with your shoppers.

If you need another reason to get creative with social proof, user-generated content (UGC) and online reviews hold sway over 93% of buying decisions.

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Here are some of the strategies you can use to provide value over text and persuade your shoppers to buy from you and not anywhere else:

  • Send Kind Reminders: Win back inactive customers you haven’t heard from in a while and send them reminders that it’s been some time since they bought {{ product_ name }} from your brand 
  • Recommend Best-Selling/ Personalized Products: Bring the in-store experience to your customer’s fingertips by becoming your shopper’s personal assistant to navigate complex buying decisions, product details and user benefit 
  • Cross-sell and up-sell: It’s a win-win situation for both you and your customers. While this is a great strategy to boost the average order value (AOV) of your carts it helps craft a personalized shopping experience for your shoppers. 

The modern consumer expects brands to deliver a solid and engaging brand experience. 

What this means is brand personality, user benefit, and education on product usage from their favourite brands over a communication channel of their choice.

So why not aim to delight and surprise them over text?

This brings us to our last point. 

Text Your Shoppers Like They’re People 

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. You want to feel as if you’re texting with an actual person over the phone. 

The real estate of a text message is only 160-characters, to relate to your customers you have to find a common tongue and speak your customers’ language.

Here’s an actionable tip for you: 

It's so easy for marketers to write content that appeals to the masses, but conversational content needs to be exactly that - conversational. Use the conversations in the same way as if you were texting a friend or emailing a colleague and remember to talk to your customers, not at them.

— William Lynch, Partnerships Manager at Underwaterpistol.

Here’s are some of our best practices to how you can sound more human over text message:

👋 Say hi and include your customer's name

❓ Directly address their questions

🕺 Don't be afraid to show your brand's personality

💡 Ask if there's anything else you can do to help

💬 Let them know you're only a text away

Key Takeaways To Leverage SMS Marketing This Year 

So there you have it, you’re probably a pro by now at conversational text messaging. 

But before you go, let’s jog your memory on how you can leverage an SMS marketing strategy this 2021:

  1. Establish an instant two-way communication channel with your customers
  2. Combine your sales and instant support channel 
  3. Effectively recover more abandoned shopping carts
  4. Build trust and forge closer relationships by continuously providing value 
  5. Text your shoppers like they’re real people

We’ve narrowed down the 3 critical instances where SMS marketing will give you the competitive edge this year:

Pre-Purchase: Product-specific questions, payment issues, or choice paralysis.

Send a cart recovery text to guide them back to the checkout to complete their purchase

Post-purchase: Shipment and tracking updates, or order cancellation. 

Message shoppers using a dedicated 10DLC number so that shoppers can reach out with questions at any moment within a single conversation. 

Late/Post-Purchase: The order arrived did not meet their expectations, you haven’t heard from them in a while.

Send a two-way SMS campaign to re-engage inactive customers, verify an item’s delivery, or a kind reminder that a product is back in stock 

With the right frequency and message, SMS marketing can quickly go from invasive to personal.

About the author: 

Yong Jun-Li 

Content at Cartloop. When she's not writing a blog article, you can find her collecting a new hobby or doing yoga. 

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