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With the rise of mobile usage, a “new” channel of communication has emerged from the ashes - SMS.
In turn, this has paved the way for mobile commerce to conquer the day and give shoppers the opportunity to discover and engage with brands from the palm of their hands. Even more than before, brands need to find a way to communicate with their customers on a variety of channels, covering the entire gamut of users.
On top of that, to reach today’s consumers and win them over from the competition, businesses ought to find a way to be where they are: on their phones. SMS marketing gives eCommerce brands the opportunity to leverage a new revenue stream, engage with mobile users in a highly personalized, intimate, and direct way.
What Makes SMS Effective?
People are growing to be more and more prone to living their lives online, with the average user spending about 5 hours on their phone.
This number is even higher in the current global situation and the stay-at-home status quo. On top of that, smartphones have become people’s go-to place to fulfill a number of day-to-day activities, such as shopping: research shows that in 2019 40% of all transactions were completed on mobile devices and this number will only continue to rise.
Due to COVID-19, 75% of US consumers are using mobile devices to shop, making up for a drastic 146% increase in all online orders. Mobile commerce is evolving so quickly that it’s predicted that over half of total eCommerce sales will be made on mobile by next year. Not just that but by the end of 2020, 49 million consumers are expected to agree to receive SMS notifications from businesses.
All this points to a very important conclusion: brands need to find a way to reach customers directly on their phones, without anything standing in the way. And this is where SMS comes into play.
Not only is it direct, but there is no such thing as a spam folder when it comes to SMS, ensuring that all of your text messages will reach their intended recipients.
The value of SMS marketing lies both in its format and accessibility to consumers. Mobile phones are always at arms-length, but text messages are also short and easy to go through in just a couple of seconds.
Both factors provide for the medium’s undeniably high open rate of 98% and a click-through rate of 39%, making it one of the most effective channels for brands to reach their customers. Despite these competitive advantages, SMS is still rather underutilized.
Think of SMS as a channel that isn’t yet saturated, unlike email, social media, and essentially all other (traditional) marketing streams. This offers ecommerce marketers a unique opportunity to build a relationship with their customers on a channel they prefer.
In fact, 75% of consumers say they’d rather receive special deals on their phone, making SMS even more necessary.
Besides being one of the most convenient means to keep an ongoing relationship with your customers, SMS is your chance to provide your shoppers with a truly personalized approach. Why is this important? Because one thing is for sure: in the era of overcommunication and overabundance of choices, customers desire experiences that are tailored to them.
As a matter of fact, more than 40% of shoppers are ready to share information with a brand if that would mean they’d receive a more personalized SMS experience, and over 50% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if the messages they received are personalized.
Now that we’ve taken a look at what makes SMS such a valuable asset for any business, be it online or physical, or both, let’s make a deeper dive into what are some important trends you need to follow to bring your text marketing into the future. And turn SMS into a profitable marketing channel for sustainable growth.
Grow Your Subscribers Compliantly
We can’t stress this enough. Generating subscribers compliantly is at the core of every business looking to grow with text marketing.
There are quite a lot of tools to help your brand boost its base of followers, or if you already have a solid base on another channel - turn them into loyal SMS subscribers. Besides the heavy fines, the TCPA and GDPR regulatory bodies impose to keep merchants in line, collecting subscribers in a compliant way means respecting your customers and the information they provide you, and not breaking their trust.
When a shopper submits their phone number, they are essentially giving you a glimpse into their personal world, and access to something very private. In other words, providing them with explicit information as to what they should expect after opting in for your text marketing, would save you not just some trouble with the legal entities, but will not cost you any customers and hard-earned money.
Don’t forget: with the overbearing number of online businesses popping up every day, it is easy for customers to switch between brands if they feel their trust has been violated. Besides a compliant collection of subscribers, brands need to always strive to find innovative and easy ways to grow their followers.
In a world where people are looking for quick solutions and high-touch approach, providing them with a less time-consuming opt-in process would definitely make you stand out. Think about mobile. Think easy. Think one-tap and be good to go. Provide your visitors with a way to subscribe by only clicking a single button on your vibrant mobile-first pop-up. Or give them away to become a follower by just texting a catchy keyword they saw on social media, on a billboard, or in the newspaper if you will.
Yes, that’s right - pawn on the channels you already use and give your users the option to choose where to get information from their favorite brand. Entice your email subscribers to turn into SMS users by providing them with a simple link they need to click on if they’d like to convert. And don’t forget to checkout. It’s always good to have a quick checkout opt-in, available for your customers just at one tap of the button.
After all, they already went through your website, liked something, decided to buy it, and are now happy enough with you to want to receive more info and deals. Straight on their phone.
It is that simple to be compliant and provide customers with personalized offers and great value!
More Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better
There exists this misconception that in order for someone to remember you, you need to constantly remind them of yourself. While that might be true in some aspects of your life, it’s definitely not the case with the way you should handle SMS marketing.
Because it’s such a direct and personal channel, SMS should be used scarcely and only when you have something valuable to say to your customers. This is profoundly true now when people are even more hooked to their phones and have their notifications at all times.
SMS in 2020 is going to gain more traction and popularity, leading brands to be extra careful how often they utilize this stream. Instead of blasting campaigns every week, try to limit yourself to one campaign a month, but make it a good one.
Think ahead about the copy, calculate your discounts, craft an appealing call-to-action, and of course - send the right offers to the right flock. Due to the profusion of online advertising (especially at the moment), shoppers could easily get annoyed if they are frequently exposed to your brand.
Global ad spends in 2020 is expected to reach over $616 billion, with mobile ads accounting for about 30% of this, making it one of the largest ad market channels today. That being said, try not to turn SMS into a daily thing because you risk losing its glamour, and turning it from a convenient tool into...a spam generator.
The Power Of Transactional Messages
With increasingly cluttered email inboxes, more and more shoppers will look to receive order updates via SMS. It is instant and brief and provides them with just the information they need. More than 70% of people will have a positive perception of a brand that keeps them updated through text.
More importantly, in the current status quo, when orders are delayed, shipping times are extended and, sadly, some online stores are no longer functioning, order confirmations and updates are especially valued. They give customers peace of mind or inform them if there is some sort of an issue - either way, it’s important to give them this feedback.
Besides their importance to customers, what makes transactional messages important to you as a brand? Because they contain valuable information for shoppers, their open rates, and overall engagement levels are much higher.
This presents a major opening for marketers to optimize them and leverage their power beyond merely an informative tool. One way to do this is to make your transactional message sound the least robotic as possible. The future is in the hands of those who know how to make their technology sound human to the furthest extent.
A little “Hi, Joanne, this is Gary from Your Store…” could go a long way to establish a true relationship with your customers and brighten their day. Not to mention, well-crafted transactional messages give companies an in to cross- or up-sell promotions for future orders while customers are already engaged.
And finally - if a customer is happy with the way you handled their order and how you kept them informed about it, they are more likely to respond positively to a review request, giving your futuristic brand the much needed social proof that will make it shine brighter than the competition.
Although transactional messages don’t seem as much, at first sight, they provide a vast field of opportunities for brands to explore. PRO TIP: Branded short links in SMS marketing is now a best practice, as they're known to increase trust between your brand and your customers, as well as increase the deliverability rate (they're not at risk of being marked as spam) and the click-through rate.
Marketers can create branded short links using platforms like Rebrandly URL Shortener.
Speaking of happy customers, who wouldn’t be thrilled if they are provided with an offer that:
- Fits their budget
- Matches their taste
- Comes with a sweet discount?
All of this you can achieve with advanced text marketing services which provide you with the necessary tools to segment your customers based on different characteristics.
2020 shoppers will look more and more for personalized experiences and will expect brands to provide them with special treatment. As online shopping is evolving and aiming to give customers all the perks that usually only come with B&M shopping, it becomes essential for eCommerce stores to create their offers based on the individual traits of their customers.
Segmentation is important for a number of reasons but what it gives you is the chance to target your customers intelligently and based on their past behavior and preferences, instead of just shooting campaigns blindly, hoping that some portion of your customers will bite your offers. Important factors to consider when building segments are:
- number of orders: to determine your high-value customers
- amount spent in your store: to fetch out all big payers
- how long have they been your customer: these are your loyal shoppers.
If you are a multi-product store, try building segments based on different collections and make a post-purchase cross or upsell offers on relevant items.
If you are an international store, you also have the opportunity to filter customers based on location and with some SMS services - even text them in their local language.
Segmentation is a way for you to ensure your customers will only get promotions that are fitting to their interests, giving you a chance to boost conversions without just relying on your customers’ shopping intent, but your own smart targeting.
Personalization Beyond The Basics
On the flip side, with the way technology has evolved and continues to develop, brands now have the unique opportunity to learn about what customers want at the moment straight from them, without having to “guess” based on their past actions. With that in mind, personalization in 2020 will go way beyond simply using your customer’s first name to maintain closeness.
In recent times, marketers have been talking more and more about hyper-personalized, targeted shopping experiences. And SMS is going to lead the way in this hyper-personalized journey, as being one of the most intimate and direct channels of communication.
Personalization is shifting towards keeping an ongoing conversation with your shoppers and putting more effort into understanding what they are after, “hearing” it directly from them, before sending them a product recommendation, useful content, or a tailored offer. Of course, all this is done via advanced technological means, instead of a marketer doing it all “by hand”. And the end goal - achieving the feel of a 1-on-1 conversation with all customers, resulting in higher rates of engagement, loyalty, and conversion for your brand.
With advanced features such as SMSBump’s Conversational flows, businesses can quickly set up a sequence of actions to get to know their subscribers better. Send your new subscribers a welcome message that will trigger a series of questions to help you (or the algorithm) understand them better.
Provide them with up to three keywords they can respond with. For instance, if you are running a cosmetics brand, see if they are looking for products for dry, oily, or normal skin. Based on their response, send them additional questions (if needed) to really narrow down your product recommendation options.
Once you have it down to a tee, direct them to an item that would best suit their needs and watch as a sale is made. Here is an example of how a clothing brand could use conversational flows to make shopping even easier.
As the number of online businesses keeps growing, shoppers are gaining more and more freedom to move between brands. Moreover, with businesses “attacking” the same niche, competition is severe, leading to ever-increasing rates of abandoned carts.
But you can’t really stop customers from churning, nor can you avoid cart abandonment. What you have the power to do is try and recover sales and reactivate customers. And do so much more. To always stay on top of things, make sure to automate some of your text marketing in 2020.
Welcome all new subscribers with a juicy offer, congratulate them on their birthdays, recover carts in a two or three-step sequence, turn to previous customers with a sweet treat to win them back, score extra sales with post-purchase deals, and don’t forget to always keep them in the loop about their order if they end up making a purchase.
Automating these text messages will only give you more time to improve the rest of your SMS marketing, make it your strong suite, all the while these automation do the heavy lifting for you. As somebody once said - work smart, not hard.
Find The Right SMS Marketing Ally
As you can see, SMS is a versatile channel that can be used to fulfill a number of different marketing purposes.
To have an especially outstanding strategy, you will need to arm yourself with a robust tech stack of features that will allow you to turn SMS into a profitable revenue stream.
SMSBump is one of Shopify’s most popular and effective apps, offering a full suite of text marketing and automation features. With SMSBump you can collect and grow your subscriber's list, send highly-targeted and personalized text marketing campaigns, based upon different customer characteristics and actions.
On top of that, you can build custom flows that will set your whole SMS marketing on autopilot to recover abandoned carts and reactivate customers who haven’t shopped in a while.
Keep them informed and engaged with your brand for longer with automated order confirmations, new subscriber notifications, shipping updates. SMSBump can boost your revenue and help brands engage in truly conversational commerce.
About the author: Viktoria Philbrick is a content writer at SMSBump - a leading eCommerce platform for text marketing and automation. She is passionate about writing for work & pleasure, learning about all the new trends in eCom, and spreading the word about SMS marketing.
Written by Ricky Hayes
Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify - free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies and mentoring programs.
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