It’s no secret that retention is the lifeblood of successful and scalable direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses. Let’s face it: paid media costs are rising across all platforms, and recent iOS updates have made accurate attribution nearly impossible without additional software. That’s why marketers have started to look to first and zero-party data to help with targeting and personalization.
Enter SMS marketing.
Unlike email, where people frequently change their addresses, phone numbers tend to be kept for life. And while it’s easy for your meticulously crafted marketing emails to fall victim to the Gmail promotions folder, text messaging ensures that a vast majority of your recipients will receive and read what you have to say.
SMS marketing has quickly become a saving grace for many DTC brands, enabling them to reach and connect with customers in an intimate way that no other marketing channel provides.
After reading this article from start to finish, you’ll have a comprehensive overview of why SMS marketing is important, the advantages and disadvantages of implementing an SMS marketing strategy, and the best platforms to use. More importantly, you’ll see firsthand how the top DTC brands are using SMS to deeply connect with their customers, increasing brand affinity, retention rate, and revenue in the process.
The premise is simple. Over 5 billion people own cell phones globally, with each picking their phone up on average 344 times per day. There's no better way to capture eyeballs than by meeting customers where they already are. No third-party social media apps or growth hacks required.
Try to think of the last time you deleted a text message without opening it first (or at least reading the preview). It just doesn’t happen.
Consider these stats:
Through welcome offers, easy reorders, and personalized abandoned cart flows, SMS unlocks an unprecedented marketing opportunity to personally engage with your customers, getting to know them on a deeper level as you guide them through the sales process.
Given the sky-high open and clickthrough rates and relative to other channels like paid media or OOH campaigns, SMS marketing is fairly affordable. Most platforms allow you to send and receive text messages for a fraction of a cent. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than any paid ad click. And since your customers opted in to receive these messages, you can rest easy knowing that you’re giving them the information they actually want. Most importantly, the impact of text message marketing is easily measurable and attributable, so you can see exactly how much revenue each campaign generates.
But achieving SMS marketing success doesn’t come easy. The best SMS marketers spend hours creating specific funnels to capture phone numbers, setting up personalized flows, and segmenting audiences.
Then comes the content. Like launching any new marketing channel, you must dedicate the time to learning what type of content resonates with your audience. Text messages are limited to 160 characters, so there’s no room for fluff. Simple and sweet CTAs win every time. If you can’t fit everything you want to say in a text, you’re better off repurposing it for a different content medium.
While people have gotten a bit willy-nilly with their email inboxes, text message real estate is sacred ground. And since shoppers are usually less inclined to give out their phone numbers, it’s likely that the size of your SMS list will pale in comparison to the number of your email subscribers. Lastly, those who do sign up for brand texts are generally more selective about what they want to receive and when they want to receive it. Unoriginal content at too consistent of a cadence will land you on a one-way trip to unsubscribe city.
With the rise of SMS, there are now plenty of platforms that offer text message marketing services. Here are a few best geared towards DTC brands of all sizes.
Postscript is an SMS platform specifically designed for Shopify users. With over 1,700 positive reviews, Postscript has helped companies like CROSSNET, OLIPOP, Brooklinen, and Arizona grow their lists, increase revenue, and form meaningful relationships with customers. Unlike certain platforms that encourage users to focus on ROI, Postscript pushes the importance of subscriber LTV, or the average dollar amount that subscribers spend over the time of their engagement.
Self-dubbed as “the most comprehensive text message marketing solution,” Attentive integrates directly into many popular ecommerce platforms across all business areas, such as Shopify, Magento, Mailchimp, and Gorgias. Attentive offers a suite of tools around targeted personalization and audience segmentation, list growth, and business reporting. To date, Attentive has helped companies like Rebecca Minkoff, Urban Outfitters, Supergoop!, and CB2, drive millions of dollars in revenue and reach mobile shoppers all over the world.
Surprise! DTC email darling, Klaviyo also offers SMS marketing. If you already use Klaviyo for email, this is a compelling play to manage all messaging from a single dashboard. Like Postscript and Attentive, Klaviyo offers list growth, personalization, and analytics tools. Where Klaviyo really shines though is its integration, with over 200+ partners to choose from (including Triple Whale), across CRM, returns, reviews, attribution, and more.
While it’s always important to see ROI on your campaigns, SMS doesn’t always need to be used strictly for sales and promotions. SMS can also be used for:
The following examples show how brands can use SMS not only for discounts, but to provide consistent value to their customers throughout the entire shopping journey.
Instead of blatantly pushing their product, JUDY uses SMS as a way to educate customers and keep them safe (literally). The company behind the incredibly well-branded survival kits, JUDY has a team of six dedicated solely to communicating with their growing list of text subscribers. After entering their phone numbers, customers receive personalized emergency information and recommendations. JUDY also uses SMS as part of their post-purchase flow by sending customers personalized resources from their growing library of guides and blog posts.
JUDY also advertises its text messaging service across all social media platforms. Another great example of meeting customers where they already are.
A brainchild of Gary Vee, WineText removes all friction from the wine-buying process. By entering your phone number (for free) WineText sends out a daily deal on a heavily discounted bottle of quality wine. All you need to do is reply to the message with how many bottles you’d like to order…and boom. A few days later you have your wine at your door.
Gary also implemented SMS as a way to connect with customers of his subscription fine wine business, Empathy Wines.
Customers who sign up for Club Empathy’s connoisseur membership, receive access to an on-demand sommelier who can assist with recommendations and trip planning. Now any wine-related question you have is only a text away.
Keeping the wine and spirits trend going, ReserveBar uses text conversations to capture zero-party data. In this example, they ask customers to reply with their favorite spirit. Now that they know this information, ReserveBar can segment its audience and serve them personalized, relevant product options. This trove of data can also be used throughout different marketing campaigns.
Instead of using quizzes to grow their list, La Colombe sees quizzes as a way to engage with existing customers. In honor of National Coffee Day, La Colombe tested their customers’ coffee knowledge with a few questions. Those who engaged received a discount coupon in return. This is a perfect example of a fun, gamified way to educate customers and keep La Colombe top of mind.
By now, you should have a good sense of why SMS marketing is important and how it can be used to level up your business. If you’re already using SMS and want to see how it fits into your broader marketing ROI, check out Triple Whale. We centralize all your marketing metrics in one place and integrate seamlessly with your favorite text apps and networks like Klayvio and Shopify.
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