Definition, Examples, and Best Practices (2023)
As a business owner, have you ever considered SMS marketing to reach your audience? If not, you’re missing out on a powerful and fast-growing communication channel. Last year, 55% of businesses texted their customers and got high open rates and click-through rates. With a phone in almost every pocket or on every desk, it’s no wonder more and more companies are embracing this powerful communication channel.
Despite its benefits, some businesses are still hesitant to implement an SMS marketing strategy. Misconceptions like SMS being outdated or annoying to customers keep them from taking action. Today, we’ll debunk those myths and explain how SMS marketing can be a valuable tool for your growth.
What is SMS marketing?
SMS marketing, also referred to as text message marketing, is the practice of sending transactional messages or promotional messages via text. Marketers can use it to send discounts, personalized promotions, and even surveys to people who have consented to receive text communications from their business.
How SMS marketing works
Email and SMS marketing share similar strategic goals, such as educating, selling to, or building loyalty with customers. SMS marketing is an “owned” marketing channel, where businesses can send one-to-one or one-to-many messages, controlling the distribution list of numbers. Like email marketing, obtaining consent from customers is essential before sending marketing messages via SMS.
Shopify simplifies the process of obtaining SMS consent for store owners. You can activate this feature by following the step-by-step instructions. Once you have consent, there are many types of SMS campaigns you can test, such as subscriber-exclusive offers, loyalty programs, or new product announcements.
SMS marketing requires a short code, which is the SMS equivalent of a company email address. A short code is a five- or six-digit abbreviated phone number, easy to remember for opt-in subscribers. Building a list of phone numbers with opt-in consent is essential before starting an SMS campaign.
Here’s an example of how Lane Bryant, a plus-size women’s clothing brand, builds an SMS subscriber list:
SMS marketing campaigns are effective during peak shopping seasons, when email spam is high and paid advertising is expensive. They’re also an excellent addition to omnichannel marketing automation campaigns, where automated texts can be triggered by specific actions.
Advantages of SMS marketing
SMS marketing has numerous advantages:
Reports indicate that around 96% of marketers who use SMS marketing see an increase in revenue. On average, ecommerce marketers generate approximately $71 for every dollar spent on SMS marketing. Additionally, deliverability issues are nearly non-existent since customers must opt in to receive text messages, ensuring your list consists only of customers who are interested in your business.
Preferred by customers
SMS marketing is attractive to both large and small businesses, as well as customers. In fact, approximately 58% of consumers prefer to receive information via text, and they tend to open and click through texts more frequently than other marketing channels.
Easy to write
Unlike mass emails, which require considerable effort to craft a compelling subject line and copy, SMS messages only require a few lines of text. Additionally, since the SMS window is small on mobile devices, a simple emoji or GIF can add visual appeal to your message.
Fosters loyal relationships
SMS messaging facilitates personal, loyal relationships with customers. People find texts easier to respond to, which encourages genuine 1:1 conversation. It’s no wonder that the average response rate for SMS is much higher than for email, with 45% of text recipients replying back, compared to 6% of email recipients.
8 types of SMS marketing messages to send (if you like having customers)
Now that you understand the basics, here are a few examples of SMS marketing campaigns to inspire your own (photos courtesy of Fantastic Texts).
1. The welcome message
Whenever a customer subscribes to your list, consider sending them a series of texts to welcome them, give them a discount, or invite them to a competition.
2. The flash sale message
Everyone loves a good deal! Use SMS to promote major promotions or one-off flash sales currently live on your store.
3. The back-in-stock message
Let your customers know when sold-out items are back in stock. This is a simple but effective way to re-engage past visitors and increase your average order value.
4. The Hype-Up message
Build excitement and anticipation for your new product line by sending a text a few days beforehand. This gives your customers time to plan their purchases and ensures your product drop is a success.
5. The feedback message
Use SMS to start 1:1 dialog with your customers. For example, you can send an SMS asking for feedback on new product ideas. By involving your customers in the process, they’ll feel more invested in your brand and are more likely to buy the item when it’s released.
6. The giveaway message
Use text-to-win giveaways or contests to generate leads and expand your customer base. According to a study, 46% of people share contests without any extra incentive. This means you can get more leads without having to stretch your marketing budget. Make sure to promote your giveaway across all of your marketing channels to maximize participation.
7. The BFCM message
Automate SMS messages for time-sensitive campaigns during Black Friday Cyber Monday to encourage consumers to act fast.
8. The cross-sell/upsell message
Recommend products to customers based on their past purchases to improve your average order value and customer lifetime value. This is a common strategy in email marketing that can easily be replicated via SMS.
SMS marketing software
If you’re a Shopify store owner, launching an SMS marketing campaign is straightforward. All you need to do is download an app from the Shopify App Store, which comes with built-in compliance. Here are some SMS marketing platforms for beginners:
- Attentive: This SMS platform is ideal for bigger brands that have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Some of its high-profile customers include Coach and Williams-Sonoma.
- Postscript: This software is user-friendly and easy to integrate. Once installed, you can quickly create automated workflows for personalized communications or bulk campaigns. Pricing varies depending on usage.
- SMSBump: Another fantastic SMS marketing platform that is widely used by both Shopify and Shopify Plus customers.
5 SMS marketing best practices
1. Permission is key
To ensure SMS messaging remains a valuable marketing tool, it’s crucial to obtain permission before sending messages. Sending messages without consent can result in legal issues and can make your company appear spammy. Avoid uploading phone numbers or contacts and sending messages without prior consent. Keep a record of opt-in agreements to avoid any misunderstandings.
2. Keep it contextual
Avoid sending random messages to subscribers. Contextually relevant texts are more likely to get a click-through, resulting in higher conversion rates. Send messages at the right time, such as sending a text about a promoted event on Friday afternoon or a bar special during the late afternoon on a workday. Keeping it simple and relevant will avoid being marked as spam and achieve better results.
3. Make it easy to opt out
Opt-out should be easy, as SMS marketing relies heavily on buyer trust. Make it easy for customers to opt in and out of your SMS list. Losing some subscribers is better than having disinterested subscribers on your list. You can put customers in control by having them text your business first to join.
4. Inform, don’t promote
Since promotional SMS messages are easy to opt out of, it’s essential to be considerate of the buyers’ preferences. Ensure the majority of your texts are educational, and offer some value to the recipient. Promotional messages should be limited to no more than once a week.
5. Make it conversational
SMS is inherently conversational, and your marketing message should reflect that. This makes it a great way to generate reviews and feedback from your customers. For example, asking for their opinion on future product lines can create engagement and excitement.
Using text messaging to cut through the noise
Many ecommerce businesses steer away from SMS marketing, believing it to be a costly and intrusive strategy. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When used effectively and in compliance with guidelines, SMS marketing can be a highly effective and affordable way to connect with customers on a more personal level. So why not give it a try and see if it works for your business?
SMS marketing FAQ
Why is SMS marketing effective?
- SMS has high engagement rates.
- Consumers prefer SMS interactions.
- It strengthens customer relationships.
- SMS marketing tools are easy to use.
What are the types of SMS marketing?
- Text-to-win competitions
- Flash sales
- Promotional discounts and deals
- Product drop notifications
- Loyalty programs
Is SMS marketing legal?
Yes, SMS marketing is legal, but requires expressed written content from consumers prior to sending marketing messages. In the US, SMS marketing is regulated and marketers must adhere to codes of practice enacted under TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act).