Beginner’s Guide to Using SMS Marketing for Ecommerce

Beginner’s Guide to Using SMS Marketing for Ecommerce
Ivan Kreimer
Ivan Kreimer Dec 30, 2021 — 7 min read

If you had to choose one option to communicate with your customers, what would you say?

Most likely, you’d say “email marketing” and “social media,” but what about “SMS marketing”? Yes, we’re talking about the old-school method of text communication we all used back in the day before smartphones were a thing.

In recent years, many ecommerce stores have started using SMS marketing to engage with their customers and increase their sales. Why? Because it works.

If you want to learn what SMS marketing is and how you can implement it in your ecommerce store, here's what you need to know.


Why use SMS marketing in your ecommerce business

SMS marketing is a strategic approach to reach customers via SMS text messages. Even though SMS may seem like an odd communication channel, it’s actually more personal and less crowded than other channels.

A study done by Zipwhip found that 58% of consumers considered SMS messages as the most effective way for businesses to reach them quickly. They are also quite pervasive, as 83% said they had received a text from a business last year.

Businesses haven’t ignored this opportunity, as 70% indicated using SMS messaging as a way to reach customers.

70% of businesses indicate they’re using SMS to communicate with customers

One survey from G2 found that 62% of marketers considered the speed of delivery the biggest benefit of SMS marketing.

Interestingly, the popularity of SMS messages is relatively stable throughout every generation, as the following survey by Zipwhip shows:

Zipwhip found out that SMS messages have approximately the same level of popularity across generations

At the same time, 60% of consumers have indicated reading a text message within 5 minutes of receiving it, while 85% preferred to receive an SMS to a voice call or an email.

Besides all of these stats, there are many clear ways your ecommerce store can benefit from SMS marketing:

  • Promote offers and discounts. You can send targeted offers and coupons to customers.

  • Engage customers. SMS messages keep customers engaged with your business when they are not browsing your website. One study found SMS produces engagement rates six to eight times higher for retailers that normally use emails.

  • Send timely messages. You can boost the customer experience in the post-purchase phase by informing customers about shipping updates. In fact, there is a study showing that more than 50% of respondents choose SMS to receive delivery updates.

  • Offer customer support. If a customer ever wants a refund or needs to return an order, your business can stand out by enabling them to receive help through SMS.

  • Verify your customer's identity. A common challenge ecommerce stores face is the difficulty of verifying the information given by their customers. You can send automated SMS verification links to validate your customer's data.

SMS marketing might seem intimidating when you first hear about it, but it’s as easy as running an email marketing campaign, as you will see in the next section.

How to use SMS marketing for ecommerce

Step 1. Define the campaign

Before getting started with SMS marketing, it’s good to have an idea of what types of campaigns you’re planning to use it for.

Here are some of the most common SMS campaign examples:

  • One-Off. These campaigns work on an ad-hoc basis and are typically used for announcing seasonal promotions (such as coupons, sales, and more), product launches, or general information about company updates and the like.
  • Transactional. They communicate relevant and timely information based on customer triggers such as an order confirmation or shipping notification.
  • Post-Purchase. This campaign type includes any type of message you send after a customer has bought and received a product, such as an upsell, a loyalty program invitation, and reactivation messages.
  • Customer Feedback. Feedback campaigns allow your business to learn more about your customers’ shopping experience.

Example of sms marketing used for collecting customer feedback

Although one-off campaigns can work whenever there’s a specific reason for it, Zipwhip’s study found that 48% of respondents said the most valuable text messages they received from a business were status updates, while 29% mentioned discounts.

SMS marketing campaigns broken down by their value perceived by customers

If you run a brick-and-mortar store along with your online store, you can also send messages to attract recipients to the former while also appealing to the latter with coupons.

An example of an sms marketing campaign designed to drive customers to a brick-and-mortar store

Step 2. Collect phone numbers throughout the customer journey (and stay compliant)

Before you can start using SMS marketing, you need to collect your customers’ phone numbers along with permission to send them SMS messages.

This step works much like the process of building an email list, and as such, it requires you to stay compliant with the many laws that govern each country. In the case of the US, your business must respect the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Among many provisions, this law stipulates that companies need to:

  • Adhere to strict solicitation rules
  • Honor the National Do Not Call Registry
  • Provide information to recipients as to who’s messaging them and how they got their information

To stay compliant with TCPA, recipients must acknowledge and agree to your privacy policy, explaining in detail how your business will communicate with them, why you are doing so, and what your messages will be about. You must also make it easy for your subscribers to opt-out of your messages at any time.

With that point covered, you can start building your SMS list, and the first suggestion to consider is to use website popups by Getsitecontrol. Adding a popup to a website is easy, and it requires no coding knowledge. You can just click the example below (or the one above) and follow the prompts.

Once the popup is on your website, all you need is to integrate it with your SMS marketing app (more on that in a moment), so that new phone numbers go straight to the database.

Thanks to their versatility and pervasiveness, popups provide the same benefits as they do in your email list-building efforts: the setup is a complete no-brainer, and you have full control of when and how the popup will appear on your website.

Due to the popularity of SMS messages for product delivery updates, you should also collect your customers’ phone numbers on the checkout page.

Checkout is a perfect place to collect customers’ phone numbers

Finally, you can create a shareable online form using a free tool like Getform and send it to your social media followers and email subscribers. To sweeten the deal for them, you can ask them to select what type of messages they want to sign up for — promotions, company news, etc.

Step 3. Choose your SMS marketing service provider

You need to sign up for an SMS marketing service provider to start sending SMS marketing campaigns. These services will allow you to create SMS messages, track the results of your SMS campaigns, and more. The most popular SMS marketing services you can use are:

Any of these services will let you deliver your SMS campaigns to the customers no matter where they are. You can also expand your SMS messages to MMS, WhatsApp, and more apps using their APIs and integrations.

According to Yotpo data, the costs these platforms charge you per message sit around one to five cents per text message (MMS message costs may be slightly higher). However, this data may vary depending on the provider you choose.

These platforms offer tiered pricing plans based on the number of messages you send per month or the size of your list.

Step 4. Write the text message (SMS)

Your text messages will depend on the campaign you chose in the first step. To give you an idea of how you should approach writing an SMS that performs well, we’ll go through some practical tips.

To start, you should make sure your SMS messages are personal. That means using the customer’s name when possible or any other attribute they have given you voluntarily. This is especially important if you send a highly personalized campaign, like a birthday or loyalty campaign.

SMS marketing campaign sent on a customer’s birthday

As with any marketing message, your SMS messages must provide value to the customer. Since you have limited characters to use in your messages, you will have to focus on the value you want to provide, such as in the example below.

Given the limited character number you want to make sure you include value in the text

For most campaigns, you must allow the recipient to unsubscribe. As we mentioned earlier, compliance with the laws in which your business operates is crucial to keep your campaigns running for the long run.

One of the core requirements in SMS marketing is to provide an easy way to unsubscribe

Your SMS message must include a call to action (CTA) button that will direct customers back to your ecommerce store for more information, such as details about a product page or where they can go if they want to make a purchase.

Including a call to action in the SMS marketing campaign is crucial for conversions

Include a shortened link that leads your recipients to your store as part of your CTA. Make sure to add tracking to this link to measure your campaign’s performance in the next step.

You can add a shortened link to your website or LP to drive visitors and track performance

Step 5. Measure the success of your SMS marketing campaigns

Once you’ve sent your SMS marketing campaign, you’ll want to measure the campaign’s success. Every SMS marketing software provider offers analytics capabilities, much like their email marketing counterparts. Some of the metrics you want to keep an eye on include:

  • Delivery rate
  • CTR
  • Number of clicks
  • Response rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Number of conversions (e.g., sales)
  • ROI
  • Revenue

As you can see, an SMS marketing campaign shares most metrics with an email marketing one, except the open rate, which can’t be measured due to the lack of cookies.

To extract the most amount of data, integrate your SMS marketing provider with your web analytics software, such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics offers a custom conversion tracking feature that will allow you to track how many people purchased due to clicking on your SMS message.

Google Analytics allows you to track your SMS campaign performance over time

Conclusion

SMS marketing is a great way to connect with customers and increase your sales. By following the steps in this guide, you can create SMS messages that will resonate with your audience and drive them back to your ecommerce store. Measure the success of your campaigns using the analytics provided by your SMS marketing software provider and use this data to improve your future campaigns.

Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content writer for hire who creates educational content for SaaS businesses like Leadfeeder and Campaign Monitor. In his pastime, he likes to help people become freelance writers. Besides writing for smart people who read sites like Getsitecontrol, Ivan has also written in sites like Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, TheNextWeb, and many other influential websites.

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