As you embark on your SMS marketing journey, your mission - should you choose to accept - will be to send texts customers will love.
Many e-commerce brands are taking a personalized approach to SMS marketing and generating 10x, 20x, and even 30x returns on their investment.
"Turns out, when given the choice, customers would rather engage via SMS messaging than by way of voice or email — a surprising fact given what many marketers expect." - Content Marketing Institute
In this guide, we will show you how to set up your e-commerce SMS strategy so that:
You'll know how to send texts your customers will love.
Your texts will convert.
Texts Customers Will Love: The Basics
When the idea of text message marketing surfaced in the 2000s, regulations were virtually non-existent. As a result, spammers and scammers went to work.
In time, new laws started defining illegal texting and prosecuting those that abused the medium. This development has made it easier for vendors to nurture meaningful relationships with customers over text - a more accessible channel than email, phone call, or pay-per-click advertising.
Getting down to the basics of text message marketing means understanding the bare minimum requirements for a respectable e-commerce SMS strategy.
You Need Permission
Long gone are the days of buying a list of leads and mass texting recipients with hopes that a few of them will respond. This tactic is a great way to alienate customers and collect thousands of dollars in fines.
That said, there are many reliable ways of respectfully collecting phone numbers from consumers directly. We will discuss this more in-depth in our six steps below.
If prospects give you their phone number, you have their permission. However, SMS courtesy also insists that you make it simple for your customers to opt-out of receiving your messages should they ever decide to do so.
You Need a Solid SMS Marketing Platform
There are many SMS marketing providers out there, but not all of them can ensure adequate deliverability. Additionally, some platforms are better suited for one-way text blasts over 2-way personal messaging.
For e-commerce brands, you need an SMS platform that generates engagement with consumers. That means that the messages you send are text messages that customers love and want to engage.
The best SMS marketing platforms for e-commerce brands today utilize 10DLC numbers. These 10-digit phone numbers establish proper connections over A2P (application-to-person) channels. As a result, most carriers refrain from blocking those texts (so long as the sender also abides by opt-in/opt-out rules and regulations).
Dedicated short code is the other reliable way to send text messages to customers. However, dedicated short code is better-suited for mass text alerts rather than fostering relationships with consumers.
The two platforms to avoid are those that use shared short code or standard long code. Even though you may do everything in your power to honor SMS marketing laws, carriers frequently block shared short code and standard long code numbers.
For more information about the differences between 10DLC, short code, and long code, check out our "Short Code, Long Code, & 10DLC: A Quick SMS Marketing Guide" here.
You Need to Deliver Value in Every Text
When your phone alerts you of a text, your expectations are high. But that excitement can quickly dissipate when you find out that the text was an unwanted ad or impersonal mass message.
Sending text messages customers enjoy comes down to delivering value with every text.
And while discount codes are a great way to deliver that value, there are many other ways to do so. Helpful tips and contests are just a couple of examples of texts your customers will appreciate.
By far, the most effective way to deliver value in texts is to implement 2-way personal messaging.
The Key to Essential E-Commerce SMS Strategy: 2-Way Text Conversations
What if instead of getting a mass text, an e-commerce brand asked you if you had any questions about your recent product view or purchase?
That's one example of the power of how 2-way text message marketing works. Rather than leaving your abandoned cart conversion attempts to email marketing (where open rates are lucky to rise above 20%), you can text the customer to find out what went wrong.
In personal messaging, consumers receive texts that include the human touch. These texts are specific and aim to help the consumer.
When your customer receives a personal message, they feel more compelled to respond. Your text message marketing rises above SMS blasts' noise and caters to the needs of the buyer.
2-way text message marketing can accomplish the following objectives (and more) within a matter of minutes:
Answer questions about a product or shipping
Provide discounts to customers worried about the price on a first-time buy
Resolve a declined payment
Collect user feedback to improve UX design
Suggest complementary products relevant to a recent purchase
Escalate a customer issue that requires more hands-on assistance
6 Simple Steps to Sending Texts Your Customers Will Love
After understanding the basics, it's time to take steps to create a long-lasting e-commerce SMS strategy. Here are six steps to help you embrace a consumer-centric approach.
Step 1: Know your audience.
The first step in any marketing approach is to become deeply acquainted with your target audience's problems, needs, and preferences.
In any vendor-consumer relationship, there will be some initial disconnects. These disconnects exist when e-commerce brands fail to identify key customer pain points or common objections.
As you get to know your audience, the number of disconnects will shrink, and you will be able to execute an e-commerce SMS strategy with greater effectiveness.
Step 2: Track consumer behavior on your e-commerce site.
Collecting and organizing analytics from your website will also help you know what messages to send your customers.
Consumer behavior will tell you the most popular web page sequences and which products are most popular. Most importantly, you'll be able to track product views and abandoned carts.
Step 3: Collect phone numbers from prospects.
Anytime a web visitor wants to buy or request more information, ask for their phone number. It may seem like common sense, but it is surprising how often e-commerce vendors simply forget to ask.
Step 4: Use 2-way personal messaging in response to consumer behavior.
2-way personal messages are especially effective when engaging a customer for the first time over text. Brands that ask a question or encourage immediate engagement are most likely to convert. See the example below in the case of an abandoned cart:
Hey [consumer], this is [name of representative] from [brand]. I saw you started to sign up/purchase [product], but you didn't finish? Here's a link to pick up where you left off: [link]. Did you have any questions or problems that I can help you with?
You can also "welcome aboard texts" with an invitation to further engage your brand.
Congratulations on your purchase! I noticed that you're new to [brand]. I want to help you get the most out of your purchase. Do you have any questions?
At Emotive, empowering brands to engage consumers over text is our "bread and butter." We can help you merge time-saving automation with personalized messaging for optimal results.
Step 5: Change it up.
If all you do is send texts incentivizing consumers to buy, they're bound to opt-out at some point. So switch up!
Some of the most successful SMS marketing campaigns focused on sharing valuable tips and encouraging customer user-generated content online. Check out these ideas on our guide, "How to Keep Customers Engaged (Without Pushing Sales)."
Step 6: Track results and refine your approach.
As you send your texts and collect customer responses, you'll begin to see trends to help you scale your e-commerce SMS strategy and increase ROI.
Don't be afraid to experiment with alternative messages and tactics. Like any marketing approach, consistently sending texts customers love requires testing and ongoing improvement.
Recap: Building the Perfect E-Commerce SMS Strategy
Text message marketing has the potential to increase your customer base exponentially.
It's not enough just to hope your customers won't opt-out of your texts. The real conversion power is learning how to send texts your customers will love. We hope that this guide has helped you grasp the concept of what it means to maintain a profitable e-commerce SMS strategy.