Do you ever open your inbox or text messages and feel like you’re getting yelled at? Imagine how customers feel on Black Friday and Cyber Monday when dozens of brands bombard them with promotional messages.

When every other online store is shouting for attention in someone’s inbox, it can be helpful to take a more conversational approach with SMS.

In this article, we’ll cover the downsides of traditional “batch and blast” campaigns, why conversational messaging is a better approach, and SMS tips to make the most of your BFCM campaigns.

Why Batch and Blast Hurts the Customer Experience

Imagine you walk into a brick-and-mortar store and the sales associate shouts the same greeting to you as everyone else, even though you are a frequent shopper. This would be comparable to the “batch and blast” approach that most online stores use for BFCM marketing.

Batch and blast is when you send the same generic message to all of your email and SMS subscribers. While this is certainly the easiest way to market to your audience, it isn’t the most effective.

According to the American Marketing Association, “batch-and-blast… only generate on average $0.04 in revenue per spend, whereas one-to-one messages can generate up to $0.95 in revenue per spend.” What does that mean? It means that personalized messages are nearly 24x more effective than batch and blast.

Now, imagine you walk into a brick-and-mortar store and the sales associate greets you by name and offers to show you products that complement the purchase you made last week. Much better, isn’t it? This is the sort of customer experience you should aim for.

Why Conversational Messaging is a Better Approach

The biggest reason conversational messaging is better than batch and blast is that it is a two-way channel.

In traditional email and SMS campaigns, marketers send out information without expecting any sort of response. That’s just like going on a first date and the person across the table from you talks the whole time and doesn’t ask you a single question—not very fun, right?

But with conversational messaging, your brand interacts with the customer after the initial message. A conversational approach creates a better customer experience because it allows your brand to treat every customer as an individual.

Conversational messaging allows customers to ask questions, provide feedback, receive product support, and much more.

The result is a stronger one-on-one connection between brand and customer. Not only is this great for the customer, but research shows that loyal customers are much more profitable than single purchasers.

SMS Tips for BFCM

Now that we covered why conversational messaging is a smarter approach to BFCM marketing, let’s cover some best practices for SMS marketing.

  • Segmentation is your friend. Segment your subscribers so your initial message resonates with its audience. For example, create a VIP customer segment and give them early access to your sales. After the initial engagement, a conversational approach means every interaction will be different, which is great because every customer is different.

  • Focus on increasing retention. Too many marketers spend all their time, money, and energy chasing new customers. But the real return on investment comes from engaging and retaining existing customers. Some people call this strategy lifecycle marketing. Whatever you want to call it, customer retention is a crucial part of text message automation.

  • Automate whenever possible. Black Friday/Cyber Monday is the busiest shopping period of the year. If you’re not prepared, your online store could quickly become overwhelmed with two-way messages. Scale your conversations by creating automated quizzes to recommend products or create an abandoned cart flow so your marketing team doesn’t have to send each one individually.

  • Plan ahead. If you haven’t started planning for Black Friday, start now. Figure out your sales and promotions and start scheduling your email and SMS campaigns. There’s Black Friday (of course), but don’t forget about Small Business Saturdays and Cyber Monday.

  • Create a sense of urgency. SMS is great because recipients are more likely to open a message soon after it’s sent. Use this to your advantage and create a sense of urgency by mentioning deadlines in your marketing copy.

  • Give people a reason to respond. Many recipients of marketing text messages don’t know that they can actually respond—let your audience know they can ask questions by giving them a prompt. For example, you could ask, “Are there any products you have questions about?” Many customers will be surprised and delighted that they can actually interact with your brand!

  • Don’t shout. You never want to yell at your customers. Instead, talk to them like actual human beings with jobs, budgets, families, and so on. Marketing shouldn’t be about blasting your message to as many people as possible—it should be about connecting with your core audience.

Marketing has changed a lot in recent years. A decade ago, email was the clear leader for online stores. Nowadays, millennials prefer text messages. We are also seeing a shift in how marketers use SMS. Instead of a one-way approach, technology now allows marketers to harness the power of two-way messaging.

A two-way, conversational approach is the modern approach to marketing for online stores. There is no better time to test out conversational messaging than Black Friday and Cyber Monday—when every other store is blasting out emails, you can engage and delight with conversational messaging.

Darin Evangelista is the director of content at Quantum Lifecycle Marketing, an email and SMS marketing agency that increases revenue and customer lifetime value for online stores with data-driven lifecycle marketing strategies.