One of the biggest challenges in ecommerce marketing is getting your product or service in front of your target audience. Information overload has our inboxes overflowing, and our social media feeds overcrowded with ads. If only there was a channel that allowed you to get in front of your customers (without being annoying), at exactly the right time, in a way that’s short and easy to consume… oh wait. There’s this channel called SMS… and we just launched our very own SMS feature!
Omnichannel campaigns are the gold standard in ecommerce marketing, and SMS is an integral channel. The way consumers interact with brands is changing, and the value of SMS marketing is in its format and proximity to consumers. Not only are mobile phones always at arm’s length—but text messages are attention-grabbing and to the point. So, what the heck is SMS marketing, and why should you integrate it into your marketing strategy? We’ll answer those questions, as well as how Drip’s SMS functionality can help you increase brand awareness, boost customer engagement, and generate more sales.
What is SMS Marketing?
SMS stands for “short message service.” Also known as text message marketing, brands use SMS marketing for net new customer acquisition, repeat sales through VIP and loyalty programs, and time-sensitive announcements + incentives. SMS marketing often includes multimedia messaging (MMS), which includes media besides text (gifs and images).
SMS is different from email in that the messages are very short, with a limit of 160 characters and more immediate delivery. The message appears on your customer’s mobile phone just seconds after it’s sent, and the customer often receives a push notification that it’s arrived.
Why You Should Use SMS Marketing
Email is so widely used that customers expect it now. Don’t get us wrong, email marketing is still an extremely effective channel—and it isn’t going anywhere—but a well-timed SMS is effective because it’s an attention grabber, and it’s a near guarantee that people will see your message. Add an incentive in the mix, and your message is hard to ignore. SMS is a unique and underused channel, and SMS marketing offers ecommerce marketers a unique opportunity to build a relationship with their customers. When executed well, SMS marketing can lead to better engagement, increased conversions, and higher sales and revenues.
Consider this: SMS messages have an average open rate of 98%, while email scores around a 20% average open rate. When someone does open and respond to an email, it takes an average of 90 minutes or more. Average time for SMS message responses? 90 seconds. The speed and sky-high engagement rates of SMS are reason enough to implement this channel in your marketing strategy, but with that comes higher stakes if you misuse it. Given the proximity and intimacy of SMS for customers, it’s important to get it right the first time around. Communicating strategically is key–rather than using SMS as a medium for a barrage of coupons and promos.
Implement SMS With Drip
The combination of immediacy and mobile push means a well-timed SMS gets your customers’ attention exactly when you want it. Drip makes it easy to set up and activate SMS in your account, wraps you in a hug of compliance so you don’t have to stress about the legal jargon, lets you make any message an MMS (multimedia message) by uploading an image or gif, and best of all—SMS is free through the end of the year. Marketers can use SMS with no extra cost and reap all of the benefits.
The total cost of SMS marketing typically depends on how many messages you want to send, and average prices tend to range between $30 and a couple of hundred dollars per month for thousands of text messages. If around 98% of those messages are being opened, you can reach each consumer for pennies or less—that’s extremely cost-effective. Now with Drip, you can do it for free for the rest of the year.
SMS Best Practice
We’ve raved about the benefits of SMS, and now that Drip has it for free for the rest of 2020, here are some best practices to follow.
Get explicit permission. You need to get explicit permission to send SMS to customers by law. Luckily for marketers, Drip helps you do this by providing compliant pop-ups and sign-up forms, tools, and language to ensure you're receiving proper consent at checkout, and in conversation opt-in confirmations and opt-out prompts.
Full disclosure when your customers opt-in to SMS. Tell people what kind of text messages they should expect to receive from you and follow it.
Include a way for people to opt-out with every message. Just like email, you need to make sure you give customers an unsubscribe link or a number they can text STOP to. Drip provides an automated opt-out and unsubscribe process + the following keyword response to allow people to opt-out of SMS:
Don’t be annoying. Don’t overuse SMS. Use it to pack an extra punch with your email strategy for your most relevant messages only. SMS is personal, immediate, and overt in getting your customer’s attention. Overusing this channel is the fastest way to kill it for your customers.
Keep it short and sweet. Character limits do this for you, but keep in mind that people’s attention spans are short.
Include a link so you can track engagement.
Lead with the offer.
Avoid sending a thread of texts. Many people still pay a surcharge on text messages, so they won’t appreciate you using three messages to communicate one thing.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Use a gif or static image to give people a lot of information about your product with fewer characters.
Quality over quantity. Determine when and why you’ll text people. Building an SMS list is similar to building an email list, but the purpose and cadence of communication are very, very different. Ask yourself if you’re adding value to your customers by sending this text. SMS should only be used when you have a strong value add because this channel will burn out quickly if you send too many messages.
Meet customers in the moments that matter. From a welcome message to cart notifications, with Drip, you can automatically pull in names and cart URLs, and watch your engagement levels soar.
SMS Use Cases for Ecommerce Brands
People like to be in-the-know, and they want to feel like they matter to your brand. Keep customers informed about offers, events, and other news that matters to them so they feel cared for and part of the process. Providing value to your customers via SMS boosts customer engagement and loyalty.
Welcome message. Support your email marketing strategy with punchy alerts via text.
Time-sensitive offers. Consider customers who have purchased from you before; a timely nudge may be all they need to return and repeat their order.
Cart abandonment. Understand your channels’ strengths and weaknesses: SMS is great for immediacy, and email is the go-to for information. Send an SMS with a cart URL to capture your customer’s attention, and add the photos of the abandoned products in the email follow up to remind them of what they’re missing. Limit your SMS to one per workflow for cart abandonment. It’s great for that initial message, but you don’t want to overdo it.
Seasonal updates. Black Friday Cyber Monday is a great time to implement SMS into your marketing strategy. Add value to your customers and capture their attention by including a new product image or gif during the busy holiday season.
Drip SMS helps marketers get super relevant messages in front of their customers at just the right time to increase conversions, brand awareness, and build relationships that lead to long-lasting loyalty. We’re psyched for you to try out our new SMS channel, and we can’t wait to hear your feedback.