Guide to SMS Marketing for eCommerce
Ever received an SMS from Amazon about their sale or your order being shipped? SMS is a highly visible marketing channel and has stayed relevant, despite the boom of new channels like Facebook Messenger.
Despite its many benefits, many eCommerce stores only stick to email, missing out on communicating with their shoppers in a more personal manner. With this extensive guide, we’ll help you get started with SMS marketing and set up SMS campaigns that generate more revenue.
Table of Contents
What is SMS Marketing?
SMS is an abbreviation for ‘short message service’. Also known as text marketing, SMS marketing is a way to send promotions, updates, and alerts to your shoppers via a permission-based, opt-in text message.
Shoppers can opt-in via your eCommerce store and they would then receive text messages from you about your store’s products, sales, and offers.
An SMS has 5 elements:
1. Sender logo: Logo of the brand that sent the SMS
2. Sender name: This is the ‘from’ field, displaying the name of your brand.
3. Message: The copy within the SMS that explains the promotion and pushes shoppers to click through and start browsing.
4. Link: The link that takes shoppers back to your store.
5. Image: You can add an image of your product to increase appeal.
Benefits of SMS Marketing
If you are skeptical about using SMS as a marketing channel, we have 5 solid reasons to help you understand the advantage of this channel.
1. Higher engagement
With more consumers using smartphones, SMS is a direct channel that merchants can leverage to reach their consumers instantly. One report found that 75% of consumers actually prefer to receive promotions via text message.
2. Higher open-rates
Since they are a direct channel, SMS sees better performance than other marketing channels. It was found that text messages have 98% open rates with 83% of them being opened within 3 minutes.
3. Reach customers offline
An SMS is sent to your shopper even when they are offline. This ensures that you don’t miss out on a shopper even when they aren’t connected to the internet. So, if you’ve sent an email or a social media post about your sale and certain shoppers haven’t seen the promotion, your SMS campaign can inform them about it.
4. Highly personal channel
SMS is sent to your shopper’s phone. As a brand, SMS provides you with a direct and personal channel to communicate with shoppers. Your subscribers would receive your messages instantly. Unlike channels like social media, your SMS isn’t lost among the rest of the messages.
5. No spam filters
Unlike email, SMS has no spam filters. This means that your SMS is sent to your subscribers regardless of any words you use. With email, many merchants worry about being filtered as spam when using words like ‘sale’ or ‘free’.
Since these words are important for merchants when sending promotions, SMS is your best option when you plan to send out messages, ensuring you don’t have to worry about being blocked.
Setting Up SMS Marketing for Your eCommerce Business
Looking to set up SMS marketing for your business? Before you can start sending campaigns, you need to set up the right Shopify SMS app for your business. Here are 4 SMS marketing apps you can enable on your store to start sending SMS campaigns.
SMSBump is a Shopify app built for SMS marketing. It allows merchants to create SMS message flows and set up triggered messages, helping you communicate better. The app has every feature you need to send SMS campaigns. It is free to install and SMSBump only charges you when you start sending SMS messages.
TxtCart is another Shopify app that is built to enable stores to leverage SMS or text marketing. The app utilizes a human-powered sales team and artificial intelligence to reach out to customers on your behalf, answer their queries, keep them engaged and nudge them towards making a purchase with timely-sent discount codes. Pro Plan starts at $35 per month.
3. Octane AI
Octane AI is a Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing automation platform for Shopify. The app provides you with all the features you need while also allowing you to set up Facebook Messenger marketing. Octane AI is much more expensive, starting at $209 per month for merchants who want to run SMS broadcasts and flows.
Some merchants prefer keeping their marketing in one place, enabling an omnichannel plan. If this is your cup of tea, we would recommend Omnisend, an app that provides all the marketing channels in one place. Omnisend starts at $16 per month.
Once you’ve set up your SMS app, you need to configure your settings. Each app works in its own way. However, there are 2 details you need to look for and customize to match your preferences, regardless of the app you use:
1. Edit your Sender name
This is the ‘from’ name that will be shown to your shoppers who receive your SMS. Ensure that you’ve edited it to your brand name. If you haven’t already, you should also add a ‘logo’ for the brand.
2. Set country limitations
If your app allows it, you can set up limitations so that SMS is only sent to shoppers in a certain country. This feature is especially important if you want to only target a specific country. SMS rates are high so it’s important to consider if you want to target global audiences or just a specific segment.
Pro-tip: While you are setting up the platform for your brand, it’s also a good idea to tinker with the app and understand the interface better.
Getting Started with SMS Marketing
To help you better understand how this marketing channel works, we’ve broken down the process into different steps:
Step 1: Growing SMS subscribers
Before you start sending campaigns, you need to capture SMS subscribers through your store.
Step 2: Creating SMS campaigns
Whether you’re running a sale or launching a product, a campaign lets your broadcast your promotions and offers to bring back shoppers to buy from you.
Step 3: SMS automations
You can send automated SMS to shoppers based on a trigger that they match, like when they abandon a cart or complete an order.
Step 4: Understanding SMS analytics
You can look into your analytics for your campaigns or your automations to pinpoint ways to improve your future campaigns and optimize your automated campaigns.
Let’s look into each of these steps, including best practices to help you market better.
Growing SMS Subscribers
Before you start sending campaigns, you need a sizable subscriber list. To start acquiring new subscribers, you need to set up a subscription form on your Shopify store and include an enticing copy that is sure to convert these shoppers.
Strategies to Set Up Subscription Form
There are many ways you can acquire new SMS subscribers on your Shopify store and on other channels. We’ve listed 5 strategies to acquire new subscribers:
1. Add an embedded form within your footer
An embedded form is found within the site, as part of the page. These forms look native to the site and shoppers come across them as they are scrolling through the page. Many brands set up an embedded form within their footer.
When setting this up, you can display messages to entice shoppers, letting them know that by subscribing, shoppers can get access to exclusive deals.
2. Enable a pop-up
Pop-ups are small windows that appear on a website while a shopper scrolls through. Pop-ups are extremely effective in capturing attention. You can enable pop-ups to capture new SMS subscribers.
3. Add a floating button
A floating button shows up at the bottom left of the website with a short copy to catch the shopper’s attention. These buttons have text like “Join the club” or “Unlock deals”. Once shoppers click on it, they are shown the entire sign-up form where they can enter their details.
4. Add a sign-up form at the end of your blog post
If you publish blogs, quizzes, recipes, or guides on your website, you can leverage this trust by placing a sign-up form at the end of the content piece. With this sign-up form, shoppers will first feel like you created value for them, making them more likely to subscribe to your SMS.
5. Set up shareable subscribe links on social media posts.
You can nudge shoppers to join your SMS list by sharing on social media. Let shoppers know what they’ll earn by subscribing and add a link within the post so that shoppers can click on it and be led to your sign-up form.
This tactic is especially effective on Instagram Stories since these post formats are highly engaging. Stories also allow shoppers to quickly get to the form, just by swiping up.
Copy Ideas to Increase SMS Subscriptions
There are many ways to structure your copy to nudge shoppers to subscribe to your SMS offers. We’ve made your job easier by listing 3 different copy ideas and when you can use it.
1. Join the club
Create exclusivity by using this phrase in your subscription form. Shoppers would see this as an opportunity to be one of the few lucky shoppers to be in on your deals and offers.
2. Get exclusive deals
Let shoppers know that they will receive deals that they otherwise wouldn’t have if they didn’t subscribe. This copy is perfect to let shoppers know what kind of SMS they can expect.
3. Unlock 40%
Add a copy that gives shoppers a reward for subscribing. Copy like ‘Unlock 40% off’ or ‘Unlock free shipping’ will make shoppers want to subscribe instantly.
When using this copy, ensure that your welcome SMS provides shoppers with the deal that you promised. You can include a discount code you’ve created specifically for shoppers who subscribe.
Your Shopify store’s analytics is an untapped opportunity to grow your sales. Make your data work for you. Give RevTap a spin!
Creating SMS Champs
An SMS campaign acts as a broadcast and is sent to all your subscribers. This feature allows you to inform all your subscribers about a sale on your store, bringing them to your store effortlessly. In this section, we’ll help you understand the types of SMS campaigns you can send and the best practices you need to keep in mind when creating a campaign.
Besides this, we will also walk you through 2 features that can help you make your SMS campaigns more powerful— segments and A/B testing.
6 Types of SMS Campaigns
When planning your SMS campaigns, you may be a little lost about the kind of campaign you should send your subscribers. Here are 6 types of SMS campaigns you can pick from, based on promotions that are live on your store.
Send SMS campaigns about any sales you are running— from BFCM, discounts, BOGO, and free shipping. Ensure that your copy includes details about when the sale ends and add the coupon code that the shopper can use to avail the offer.
2. Product launch
Amplify your product launch by sending SMS campaigns about it. When crafting your copy, you can describe the product, highlight its benefits, and add an image to show shoppers what they’ll be getting.
3. Limited edition promotion
Do you sell limited edition items on your Shopify store? Let your SMS subscribers know about the product with a well-crafted message
4. Free delivery
Waiving off delivery fees for your shoppers? Let your subscribers know so that they can make a purchase. You’ll find your subscribers flocking to your store as soon as you send this campaign!
Shoppers respond well to seasonal messages, from Christmas sales to curated collections for a specific holiday. Send a campaign to your subscribers about your seasonal offer and
6. New Arrivals
When you launch a new collection, you can amplify its sales by sending a campaign to subscribers about it. Ensure that you use copy that describes the benefits of the new products so that shoppers are compelled to buy.
7. Content share
Share any content you create with your subscribers. Such campaigns can add more value to the relationship between your brand and the subscriber, making them eager to receive new help you build a relationship with shoppers.
Best Practices for Sending SMS Campaigns
When setting up your campaign, it’s always good to keep these 6 best practices in mind. By following these tips, you are sure to see better engagement and conversions.
1. Keep your copy short and impactful
Your shopper shouldn’t have to read a paragraph about your promotion. Keep your message short (between 30 to 120 characters) and make every word count.
2. Use power words
Phrases like ‘exclusive’, ‘bargain’, ‘don’t miss’, etc create trigger a quicker response from shoppers. Whether you want shoppers to feel like they may miss out on an offer or inform them about an immensely valuable offer, power words can do the trick for you.
3. Make your CTA actionable
An SMS without a CTA is sure to make shoppers abandon a message without even clicking through to your store. Ensure that your SMS campaign includes an actionable CTA, even something as simple as ‘Shop now!’. This will prompt shoppers to take action.
4. Add images of your products
When relevant, add images to your SMS campaign, especially when you’re promoting a specific product. Visual elements like images and GIFs in a promotional message bring in higher clicks.
5. Ensure your links take shoppers to the right collections
Once you’ve crafted your SMS campaign, it’s best to check if the link you’ve added to the text takes shoppers to the right collection or page as you intended.
6. Add personalization elements
Personalize your SMS campaign to the shopper by adding personalization elements. Here are some ways to make the message personalized:
- Add a first name parameter, adding the shopper directly.
- Address the shopper directly, using the second person pronouns (like we and you).
- Make it conversational so that the shopper can connect with you.
Using Segments for SMS Campaigns
Audience segments allow merchants to group their subscribers based on similar criteria, like location, behavior, purchase history, etc. When sending marketing messages, it isn’t enough to communicate. You also need to be able to send relevant messages to that shopper. Segmenting your subscribers makes this possible, allowing you to send personalized SMS campaigns to your shoppers based on the conditions you’ve specified for that specific segment.
Here are 4 subscriber segments you can send targeted SMS campaigns to:
1. Inactive shoppers
By not engaging shoppers who haven’t bought in a while, you end up losing them entirely. Set up a segment with shoppers who haven’t bought in 60 days. You can use this segment to provide these shoppers with a large discount to bring them back to shop from you.
2. Shoppers who have bought more than 3 times
Your loyal shoppers are already motivated to shop from you. Sending sale promotions doesn’t make sense. Instead, you can use this segment to send them messages about new arrivals and limited edition products.
3. Shoppers who need to reorder
If you sell products that require reordering, like skin care or hair care products, your shoppers would need to reorder them from time to time. Make it easier by sending an SMS to shoppers who bought a specific item more than 30 days ago. This SMS can remind the shopper that it’s time to restock the item.
4. Discount hunters
You are sure to have shoppers who only buy from your store when you have a discount running. You can specifically target these shoppers and send them a campaign when you have a new offer on your store. You’ll notice higher engagements and conversions with such a targeted campaign than when you just send a sale campaign.
A/B Testing SMS Campaigns
A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions of a campaign against each other to determine which one performs better. You can use A/B testing to compare a specific element in your SMS and see which one performs better among shoppers.
With A/B testing, you don’t have to guess what tactic would work better. These tests will give you definitive data on which version of the campaign performs better among your subscribers. You can then use this data to write more effective SMS campaigns.
Here are 4 ways you can start using A/B testing for your SMS campaigns to understand how shoppers respond:
1. Try first-person copy
Test out how shoppers respond to first-person versus second-person copy. Using the first-person copy tactic in Facebook ads has worked wonders for many stores. However, the response changes depending on the kind of marketing channel you use. You can test how it works by setting up an A/B test for the same kind of campaign.
2. See which type of offer shoppers respond to
You can test different types of offer— discount versus free shipping— to see which one your subscribers would convert better on. By testing this, you can plan your offers better in the future.
3. Test between long and short copy length
Would your subscribers prefer a short and sweet message or do they like longer messages better? Learn what works better by A/B testing the length of your message copy.
4. Test different types of images within the SMS
Designed images or product images— which one yields better conversions for your subscribers? Test out these two types of images to see how shoppers respond to them.
SMS marketing automations allow you to set up customized text messages based on specific triggers and conditions met by a subscriber. For instance, if a shopper abandons a cart, your SMS marketing app would be triggered to send a message reminding the shopper about their cart.
Using SMS to Recover Abandoned Carts
Abandoned cart SMS reminders are set up to recover abandoned carts, helping merchants to lower their cart abandonment rates. Since shoppers are already glued to their phones, abandoned cart messages via SMS are sure to see higher engagement.
Here’s a checklist to help you set up high-converting abandoned cart SMS campaigns:
1. Create a sequence of 2 or 3 messages
When setting up messages for abandoned cart recovery, it’s best to set up a sequence of 2 or 3 messages. Here’s how you can set them up for success:
- Set up the first message with a 10-minute delay. Use the message to remind shoppers that they left an item in their cart.
- Add a 2-hour delay on your second message. Add more urgency in your message and let them know that they may miss the item. You can even provide a discount.
- If you are setting up a third message, add a 24-hour delay. Provide shoppers with a solid reason to buy, like free shipping or a discount.
2. Mention the product name
Ensure that you’ve mentioned the product’s name within your message so that shoppers know exactly what you are talking about when they read the message.
3. Enable product images on the message
Add a product image on your SMS to help shoppers recall the item better. Having a visual aid can also remind shoppers why they adding the item to their cart in the first place.
4. Link shoppers directly to their cart
Don’t let your shoppers wander away! Add a link to your store’s cart so that shoppers can instantly land on their cart and start checkout without any hesitation.
Setting up Welcome Experiences with SMS
Once a shopper subscribes to your SMS updates, ensure that you give them a memorable welcome with a well-written SMS. Here are 5 ways to welcome your new SMS subscribers and build a relationship with these shoppers:
1. Say hello
One way to give subscribers a warm welcome is with a conversational and casual message. With such a message, your goal is only to make the shopper feel like you’re just another ‘person’ who is texting them, rather than a brand trying to sell them something.
Some stores even add a GIF to their welcome message to make it more interactive.
2. Send an irresistible offer
You can send new subscribers a reward for subscribing, like a discount. This can help you convert the subscriber from their first interaction with your campaigns.
Note: If you had already promised a discount within your sign-up form, ensure that your welcome automation includes the coupon code for the shopper to use.
3. Let shoppers know about your bestsellers
Use the welcome message to let shoppers know about your bestsellers, nudging them to browse through the collection and make a purchase.
4. Share your best content piece
Show your new subscribers the value you create by sending them your best content piece, whether it’s a guide or a quiz.
5. Inform them about your loyalty program
You can use your welcome message to let shoppers know about your loyalty program. To make it more interesting, you can reward shoppers with points for subscribing to your SMS campaigns.
Simply put, transactional updates are unique messages sent to a shopper that is related to the product they order or any action they took on the store. These messages are triggered and sent to the individual shopper.
Transactional messages are important for the shopper as these messages keep the shopper in the loop. By setting up such SMS automations, your shoppers will feel valued and be more willing to shop from you again, seeing as how transparent you are.
There are the 6 types of transactional messages you can set up:
1. Order confirmation
This message is sent when the shopper has placed an order and your store has confirmed it.
2. Order shipped
Once the order is shipped, the shopper receives an SMS letting them know about the update. If tracking is available, you can include the tracking link within the message.
3. Order delivered
Once the order is delivered, an automated message is sent to your shopper confirming this. This automated SMS can help shoppers raise a complaint in case the order was wrongly delivered.
4. Order paid
If you allow shoppers to pay after purchasing, you can set up an automated SMS that confirms payment.
5. Order canceled
Send an SMS to shoppers when they cancel an order. This confirmation helps shoppers verify their action and if they haven’t actually canceled the order, they can place another order instantly.
6. Order refunded
Once an order has been returned/canceled and the refund has started to process, an automated SMS is sent to shoppers alerting them about this. Such an SMS would be helpful for shoppers to keep track of their refunds and not have to worry about losing money.
Upsell and Cross-Sell Using SMS Marketing
Once a shopper has made a purchase from your store, they have high intent to stay connected with your brand. During this time, you can send upsell and cross-sell messages to nudge shoppers to make another purchase.
Here are 3 ways to use this automation:
1. Cross-sell collections
Enable cross-sell messages that prompt shoppers to buy from a collection that compliments the item they bought. For instance, if your shopper buys an item from the ‘shoes’ collection, you can prompt them to buy a pair of socks to go with their latest purchase.
2. Promote a discount
Give your recent shoppers a reason to come back to your store for another purchase. You can set up automated messages to be sent to your customers post-purchasing, providing them with a discount.
3. Recommend limited edition items
Set up SMS automations that recommend unique and limited edition items on your store. This way, you can re-engage high-interest shoppers and have an opportunity to convert them on a higher-priced item.
Understanding SMS Analytics
Once you’ve set up your starting capturing new subscribers, set up automated SMS flows, and sent a few campaigns, it’s crucial to analyze how your SMS marketing strategy has performed and optimize it based on the data.
Most SMS marketing apps have inbuilt analytics to allow merchants to easily monitor their marketing performance and make changes on the go. You can tap into this data to make quick assessments and tweak your campaigns accordingly:
- Compare your SMS campaigns to understand what kind of campaign performs better.
- If you’ve run A/B tests, you can compare their performance and use tactics implemented in the version that performed better.
- Analyze your welcome flows, abandoned cart SMS, and other automated messages to constantly monitor and tweak them for higher performance.
The analytics available on your SMS marketing app can help you improve your campaigns. However, these apps are built to focus on just one solution. You can’t look at your store’s analytics in a comprehensive manner. For this, you need a holistic analytics solution like RevTap.
Using RevTap, you can view your SMS marketing performance and compare it to other marketing channels, allowing you to prioritize and restrategize your marketing channels accordingly. The analytics dashboard would show you the impact that SMS marketing creates on your Shopify store. Here are 3 use cases of such a comprehensive analytics dashboard:
- Compare how the same promotion performs on different channels (like email, SMS, web push, and Facebook Messenger). Using this comparison, you may find that sales perform poorly on one channel but have high returns on SMS. Knowing how different promotions perform on different channels can help you plan them better.
- Test how different tactics on automated messages perform. For instance, you may find that shoppers receiving SMS about their abandoned carts convert with or without a discount. However, on Facebook Messenger, you would need to provide a discount if you want cart abandoners to convert.
- Understand subscription preferences. You may find that more shoppers subscribe to web push on your store when they land as compared to SMS. You can then plan to display SMS sign-up forms on your blogs, quizzes, and social media stories.
Get RevTap on your Shopify store and turn your store’s data into actionable strategies
Set up a successful SMS marketing strategy
We hope this extensive guide has familiarized you with SMS marketing, helping you start sending promotions through this channel.
As an eCommerce business in a competitive field, it’s important to leverage this personal and direct marketing channel and communicate with your shoppers directly.
Need help strategizing or setting up an SMS marketing campaign for your Shopify store?
Your Shopify store’s analytics is an untapped opportunity to grow your sales. Make your data work for you. Give RevTap a spin!
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