There’s no better place to reach your customers than on the device they can’t leave home without: the smartphone. In the United States alone, there were over 307 million smartphone users in 2022, with 85% of American adults carrying them around like a lifeline (guilty). Additionally, with 47% of web traffic in the USA originating from mobile devices, it’s very clearly a place many individuals choose to shop from over desktop or laptop computers. With smartphones becoming even smarter with every new iteration, there’s a very high likelihood that even more users will choose mobile as the place they prefer to shop. So running SMS marketing campaigns, where you can send specialized ads to your loyal customers, is a great way to market your brand. In this article, we’ll review some basics of getting started with SMS marketing, the benefits for your business, and some of the best platforms to make SMS a key part of your marketing strategy!
For the young ones… back before smartphones, text messages were called SMS, or Short Message/Messaging Service. If what we wanted to tell someone was too short for an email, but too insignificant for a phone call, we’d type out a message using a T9 keyboard, which involved using the number pad on our traditional cell phone and the letters that lived on each digit. It was clunky, time consuming, and took considerable skill to execute well (should I put it on my resume?). But, they were meant to be short, informative messages and not meant for today’s longform diatribes that unfold on iMessage. Point is - SMS can still be short and useful, they’re just no longer painful to send.
SMS Marketing is when you send marketing messages via text message. The best part is that it’s an opt-in marketing format, so contacts are required to sign up in order to receive the text messages. Also, it’s important you follow your country’s anti-SPAM legislation (CAN-SPAM in the USA) to make sure you’re not breaking any spamming laws if you’re going to embark on this marketing strategy. Once you’ve got their permission, the types of marketing messages you can send to customers are endless but can include personalized promotions, discounts or special offers, remarketing attempts, or simple surveys.
One of the benefits of SMS is exactly that, it’s a short message. We’ve heard the concerns about our attention spans rapidly deteriorating, and the trend in marketing seems to be leaning towards messages that can be digested quickly and calls-to-action (CTA) that are easy to follow. Some studies have even suggested that Gen Z has a 1.3 second attention span. Depending on the demographic group you’re trying to reach, you may need to adjust your messaging to earn their interest. When SMS marketing is done right, it can be especially effective.
According to Attentive, SMS is fantastic for growing and retaining customers, with 53% of marketers surveyed saying SMS is a top revenue driving channel. Besides driving revenue, SMS has also come to the forefront as a retention channel for marketers surveyed, with 79% of respondents saying it has made an impact on keeping customers engaged.
Compared to other forms of marketing (social or email), SMS is much simpler, as there’s no design or visual components required! You can get your point across with simple text, and the simpler the better. Some steps for getting started with SMS are below.
As mentioned above, there are some legal requirements to meet in order to engage in SMS marketing. In the US and Canada, it’s against the law to text people that haven’t given you their explicit permission. If you can’t confirm if a contact has given you that explicit permission, make sure it’s removed from your list. There are tons of loyalty software programs that can help you collect that information to keep you compliant.
Software is essential to automate your SMS marketing - you won’t just have an employee banging out individual text messages all day (although, it might be a funny initiation for a new recruit). There are plenty of software programs that focus just on SMS marketing, but several combine marketing efforts, like Klaviyo and Attentive, so that you can manage and scale your messaging from one platform.
Short and sweet is the way to go, and Twitter was onto something with the original 140 character limit. Say more with less, people want the details quickly so they can decide if they need to act immediately. If you’re offering a deal, make it clear right off the bat, and make sure the call-to-action is easy to follow.
Not every customer will respond to a message in the same way. A loyal customer requires a different approach to a marketing message than someone you’re trying to recruit as a first-time buyer. Use the information available to you within your sales data to target appropriately. We love the Triple Whale Smart Customer Data Platform for categorizing segments of customers into Big Spenders, Engaged Customers, or Newbies you can target appropriately in your SMS messages.
Don’t just send it and forget it, watch what happens! You can set up specific UTM tracking links to share in your SMS message to track link clicks, or set up a specific discount code that’s only shared on SMS to see how often the code is used at checkout. Evaluate the performance of the SMS to see how you might improve the copy or offers in the future to get a better result.
Since customers need to give you permission to send them SMS marketing, they have to have an easy way to opt out of receiving those messages (it’s also required by law). Remember that you don’t want to spam them, you just want to connect with your customers in a new way (don’t be annoying).
Welcome Message: When someone signs up for SMS, they expect a welcome text. It’s a great time to offer a discount code, especially if you mentioned they’d get a discount in reward for signing up for SMS messages.
Flash sale: Promoting sales with a limited duration is a great way to get buy-in for a sale. By offering that sense of scarcity (limited time or limited quantity), you’ll often get the response you want!
New product arrivals/back in stock: Letting your loyal customers know about new products they’ll love or that a beloved product is back in stock is a great use for SMS.
Abandoned cart: Send along a text message with a custom discount code to encourage customers to finish the purchase.
Order notifications: SMS is a great way to keep a customer informed about the status of their order, from estimated delivery time, shipping progress, or a notification once its arrived!
Feedback: Some time after the order is received, you can ask the customer how much they love their purchase with a review. If they for some reason don’t love their purchase, they’re able to give you a gift in the form of feedback so you can improve.
Now that you know some best practices and types of messages to send, let’s look at some of the top SMS marketing platforms you can add to your tech stack. In no particular order:
As a household name in email marketing, Klaviyo has a lot of great tools to take your SMS game to the next level. Klaviyo has built-in deliverability and compliance features so that your messages only get sent to those customers who’ve opted in. Klaviyo has the ability to respond to individual customers in real time through Klaviyo or Gorgias/Zendesk integrations.
Billed as a Conversational Commerce platform, Attentive provides the tools necessary to deliver timely messages that customers actually want to receive. Attentive provides a playbook for growing your list, targeting the right audience, and driving 10x the revenue over email alone.
Postscript features personalized messages that drive 1:1 engagement at scale with robust segmentation, filtering, tagging, and response branching features. By providing the right offer to the right subscriber, their behavior-based message branching is perfectly integrated into the campaign and automated flows. They have a lot of happy customers in many different industries, from Beauty & Cosmetics, to Food & Beverage, to Fashion & Apparel, and can adapt the expertise to match your industry, too.
With an easy-to-use platform with the “perfect balance” of sophistication and simplicity, SlickText makes it easy to get started with SMS and grow your marketing strategy. It’s easy to create relevant mass text messages while also focusing on one-on-one conversations to build loyalty and drive action.
Birdeye is highly-rated as a platform to manage online reputation, connect with prospects, gain customer experience insights, and grow and thrive through sales. Used by over 100,000 businesses, its all-in-one approach is favored as a way to get growing.
As the dynamics of online shopping switch from desktop/laptops to the powerful devices we all keep in our pockets, there’s been a shift towards SMS marketing to reach people more easily. By crafting the right message for the right cohort, many companies have experienced success using this marketing channel. Since SMS marketing allows a company to reach its customer directly and in a more personal manner, it’s easier to forge those personal loyalties that are so important to brand success. With powerful platforms like Klaviyo, Attentive, and Postscript (and more!), you can add SMS to your marketing stack with a few easy clicks. Additionally, using the data available in those platforms and an attribution platform (like Triple Whale) will ensure your marketing attempts are landing and driving revenue. By implementing the best practices outlined in the above article, a brand can foster that stronger, more meaningful relationship with their consumers to drive revenue. Don’t sleep on SMS; get back to texting (just not all the way back to T9).
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