SMS alerts are a powerful marketing tool that can be used to engage your subscribers. You can reach people instantly, and they have an incredibly high engagement rate of 95% in just three minutes. Couple that engagement with low costs, and Emotive customers end up with a strong ROI of $27 for every dollar spent on SMS marketing.

By integrating it into your strategy, SMS can help you acquire, engage, convert, and retain customers. And there's little competition in SMS as a marketing channel, too. Only 55% of brands text their customers, even though 70% of shoppers are subscribed to receive SMS alerts from brands. So your messages are more likely to be seen and read by your subscribers.

But to take advantage of the benefits of SMS alerts, you need to know how to text your customers. We'll cover what SMS alerts are, what to use them for, and best practices to keep your list engaged and subscribed.

What are SMS alerts?

An SMS alert is another term for a text alert or SMS notification. SMS (short message service) is the technical term for a standard text message with no media attachments (like photos or links).

Text message alerts are a great way to send your subscribers time-sensitive information, marketing messages, and order updates.

What can SMS alerts be used for?

SMS text alerts are a powerful marketing tool that can be used to engage customers at every stage of the customer journey. Here are some ways ecommerce brands can use SMS notifications to boost customer engagement:

  • Promote one-time sales and discounts

  • Send automated personalized marketing flows (e.g., welcome, abandoned cart, and post-purchase flows)

  • Notify customers of changes or updates to their orders

  • Provide customer support

Best practices for sending SMS alerts to customers

If you're not careful, SMS text alerts can quickly become a nuisance to your customers, and they'll unsubscribe. Follow these best practices to get the most out of your SMS strategy.

1. Use a 10-digit long code (10DLC)

A 10DLC is a 10-digit local phone number that can be used to send and receive SMS messages. Long codes are better for sending text messages than short codes. This is because they are less likely to be blocked by carriers and have a higher deliverability rate than short codes.

They also cost less than short codes or 1-800 numbers and can support two-way conversations for a seamless customer experience.

2. Get opt-ins before sending text message alerts

Just because you've got a customer's phone number from their orders doesn't mean you can text them. You have to get their permission first as part of TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) laws.

Only 55% of brands text their customers, even though 70% of shoppers are subscribed to receive SMS alerts from brands.

Add a sign-up form to your website and consider promoting mobile text alerts to your current email subscribers.

3. Broadcast relevant SMS alerts at a regular cadence

Sending text alerts too frequently will quickly become annoying. But if you don't send them often enough, customers could forget who you are and lose interest.

So test your cadence to find what works for your business. Then, send relevant texts that customers will care about on a regular basis. That means messages about product promos and sales, behavior-based flows, and other texts relevant to your industry.

4. Keep your texts brief, but limit textspeak

When sending SMS alerts, keep your messages brief and to the point -- that's what customers expect when they're reading texts.

But avoid textspeak (like "u" for "you") unless it makes sense for your brand. If you do use textspeak, don't overdo it. Make sure the message is still clear and easy to read and doesn't use acronyms that aren't widely known.

5. Personalize your text alerts

Personalized SMS alerts are more likely to get customers' attention and be acted on than generic mass messages sent to your whole list.

So use the first-party data you've gathered on your customers to send relevant and timely text alerts.

Include SMS in your behavioral flows, including your welcome, browse and cart abandonment, and post-purchase flows.

And use segmentation to send SMS alerts based on each subscriber's interests and engagement. For example, do they only shop for women's clothes? Avoid sending them an SMS text alert about your new men's dress shoes. Do they own a dog? Celebrate National Dog Day with a treat for their favorite pooch. Or do they only shop during gift-giving holidays? Be sure to tell them about all your special offers when they're likely shopping.

6. Automate two-way conversations to boost engagement

Two-way SMS conversations are more engaging than one-way messages. Use automation to send follow-up messages based on subscribers' messages.

For example, you could set up automatic responses that help customers find the right product through a recommendation quiz. Or you could ask a new customer for product feedback. Then, automate replies based on whether the customer's review was positive or negative or contains specific keywords.

7. Integrate with your customer support tools

Subscribers generally don't reply to marketing emails, but SMS feels more personal. Your customers might text you back. So don't leave your text inbox unattended.

Integrate your SMS platform with your existing customer support tools. That way, your customer service team can help customers quickly while keeping track of all your support conversations in one place.

8. Send texts when your customers will read them

Timing is everything when it comes to SMS alerts. Even though most people have their phones on them all the time, customers also need to receive texts at a time when they can act on your message.

Send text alerts when your customers are likely to be awake. Not only does it feel rude to receive a ding in the middle of the night, but it's also against many U.S. state laws to text customers outside of certain hours. For example, many states, like Florida, generally prohibit businesses from text messaging customers between 8 am and 8 pm.

Beyond that, you should run tests to see what days and times are most effective for each type of text message campaign you plan to send.

Use an SMS marketing platform built for growth

The right SMS marketing platform will be made for ecommerce. In other words, it will be able to track important metrics like conversions and come with built-in automations for important flows like cart abandonment.

It will come with segmentation capabilities so that you can send them targeted marketing messages.

Integrations should enable you to connect your SMS marketing program to your ecommerce platform, email marketing software, loyalty program, and CRM.

And, of course, it should include a robust reporting system so you can track the impact of SMS campaigns on your business.

Emotive does all of that and then some. Two-way conversations allow customers to reply to your messages or initiate conversations with you. Then you can automate replies to recommend products, help customers re-order products, or answer common questions.

And we're dedicated to being your partner in growth by helping you set up your program for success. That includes assistance with defining your strategy, writing copy for your SMS alerts, and even responding to customer queries.

If you're ready to scale your business with SMS, try Emotive for free today.