Text Message and SMS Marketing Tips for eCommerce Brands

If you’re wondering whether or not you should utilize SMS and text message marketing for your eCommerce business, the following statistics will likely help make this a very easy decision:

  • 75% of clients want to receive offers via SMS. 
  • The CTR rate for offer messages is higher by 9.18% compared to any other digital channel. 
  • SMS has a 98% open rate compared to email marketing. 
  • 60% of customers read texts within 1-5 minutes after receiving them.

We are all inundated by emails these days. I can’t tell you how many emails I receive in a day, many of which I delete before even opening. Don’t get me wrong – email marketing is extremely effective and it’s a very important part of the marketing strategy for our in-house eCommerce business, DermWarehouse.

We utilize email marketing campaigns daily and they generate a huge amount of revenue for us. We also understand, however, how many emails each one of our customers is getting every single day. In addition to doing everything we can to send effective email marketing campaigns, we’ve also begun to utilize SMS and text message marketing as another way to capture our customers’ attention.

Want help with your email marketing and SMS marketing? Contact the experts at The Media Captain!

SMS Compliance

Before we get into the best ways to utilize SMS marketing for your eCommerce business, it’s important to understand that there are compliance guidelines that must be followed in order to protect your customers, but also your business. If you don’t have the proper precautions in place, you could face fines or legal action. THIS ARTICLE goes into detail about SMS compliance, but some of the most important things to remember are as follows:

  • Get consent
  • Give customers an easy way to opt out
  • Explain what customers will be opting into
  • Follow time of day restrictions

How We Use SMS and Text Messages for DermWarehouse

We’ve utilized text message marketing for DermWarehouse for several years. At first, we used a great company called Mozeo, which allowed us to purchase text messages a la carte for a great price. We would send out promotions via text message several times a year for some of our big sales, like Black Friday. 

When we switched over to our current email marketing platform, Klaviyo, from MailChimp, we decided to utilize their SMS services and move away from Mozeo. At around the same time, Mozeo also stopped offering a la carte pricing options and now you must sign up for a subscription. Klaviyo offers the same subscription model and with them, we’re able to also incorporate text messages into our flows, such as abandoned cart and browse abandonment. 

How We Use SMS for Promotions

Sending text messages to customers isn’t cheap. The cost is a lot higher than sending an email to all of your customers, so it’s important to be strategic in how you’re utilizing these. We still send out text messages for all of our big sales to every customer who is opted in to SMS. For smaller promotions, we may only send out an SMS for people who didn’t open an email we sent or who clicked on an email but didn’t make a purchase.

Learn More: 17 Can’t Miss SMS Marketing Statistics for eCommerce

Below is an example of a recent SMS campaign that we sent out. We sent this on the last day of our sale to customers who were consented to receive SMS who had received the email for our sale (customers who were engaged over the last 180 days, meaning they had either placed an order or opened or clicked one of our emails over the last 6 months), but who did not open or click the email. The thought behind this is that anyone who somehow missed our sale email but was engaged with us over the last 6 months would receive our text message. Klaviyo makes it really easy to target very specific segments or people based on their behavior, which is one of the reasons we love using them.

How We Use SMS for Flows

According to Klaviyo, “with flows, you can trigger a message, or series of messages, based on when someone joins a list, is added to a segment, or takes any other action — such as making a purchase or abandoning a cart. Any data syncing to your Klaviyo account can be used to trigger and target automated flows. Flows help you send timely communications to recipients via email or SMS.”

Because of the higher cost of SMS messages, we always make sure that we’re using these in flows that can actually trigger a purchase. For example, we wouldn’t use a text message in a flow reminding someone to sign up for our loyalty program, but an abandoned cart flow that reminds them of something they added to their cart, but never purchased, is a perfect place to include an SMS. 

For DermWarehouse, our abandoned cart flow contains three steps:

First, the customer will receive an email about their abandoned cart with a special discount or offer to try to get them to come back. 

The second step in our flow is our text message. It contains a similar message with the same discount, but is only sent to people who didn’t purchase after email 1. The reason we use SMS as our 2nd step instead of our first is two-fold. First, a majority of our customers purchase on desktop vs. mobile. Second, sending an SMS as step 2 will decrease our cost. The SMS is not getting sent to every single person who abandoned their cart, only to those who weren’t captured via email in step 1. Maybe they mindlessly deleted our email but they always check their texts. This ensures they will see our message one way or another.

You’ll see below in our abandoned cart SMS, we are able to personalize the text to include the customers’ name, a photo of one of the items from their cart, and a link that will take them directly back to the cart that they abandoned.

Step three in our abandoned cart flow is another email. This is our last effort to capture the customer by letting them know that their abandoned cart and their special offer will soon expire. 

Text Message Tips for eCommerce:

Utilize SMS for promotions and for flows

The most obvious time to text a customer is during a large promotion or sale. These text messages will likely convert the best for you as well. If you have flows available to you, however, this is an important place to reach your customers via SMS as well, especially to ensure that they actually see the message since emails can often get overlooked. Including SMS in your flows will ensure you’re covering all your bases.

Personalize your SMS campaigns

Customers are far more likely to pay attention to your text if the message is personalized for them. The most simple way to do this is to include the customer’s first name in a text. This will surely capture their attention! 

You can also take your personalization a step further by including a product name that they were looking at or even a picture of a product. The more you can personalize each message that’s going out to your customer, the more likely it is to pique their interest and catch their attention. You can see the example above in our abandoned cart flow for DermWarehouse that we personalize both the customer name and show an image of something in their cart to jog their memory.

Offer value with each text message

This seems obvious, but make sure each of your text messages are offering value to your customers. Don’t overuse this channel for each and every message you can think of. People are used to getting a ton of emails each day, but as soon as you start filling up their phone with texts, they will get aggravated or bored or both. 

I’ve subscribed to SMS messages from companies that have inundated me with so many messages that I had no choice but to opt out. It’s no fun getting multiple texts per day taking you through every single thing going on at a company. We always choose to save our texts for the most important messages, such as big promotions or special offers on items the customer has showed prior interest in.

Klaviyo offers a handy tool called Smart Sending, which ensures that customers only receive a certain amount of messages in a given time frame. This can be turned on for SMS or email and you can decide that customers shouldn’t receive the text message campaign you’re sending out if they received another SMS within the last 24 hours, for example.

Keep your messages short & to the point

Remove any fluff from your texts and make sure the messages you’re sending are to the point so that they can best capture your customers’ attention. If you’re offering a sale, make sure to say that first thing. You should also let customers know who the message is coming from at the beginning of the text. We always start our text messages with our company name, followed immediately by the offer.

Keeping your messages concise will not only keep your customers more engaged, it will also help you keep costs down. SMS messages allow for 160 characters. Make sure you’re within that character limit otherwise you’ll be charged for sending two messages per customer! 

Comply with opt out requests

I know we discussed this earlier when talking about compliance, but it’s so important that it should be mentioned twice. Respect your customers’ wishes. If they ask you to stop texting them, do it. You may even have customers who mean to text Stop or Opt Out but misspells their message accidentally, keeping them in your list. Make sure you’re always going through the text message replies (which should show up in whatever software you’re using to send your messages) to answer any questions or opt out people who aren’t interested.

The Cost of SMS

I’ve mentioned throughout this article that SMS messages aren’t cheap so I wanted to give you a run down of what these costs look like on a platform like Klaviyo. We have a monthly subscription which allows for 105,000 messages to 14k-15k people. This gets a little tricky because 105,000 seems like a ton of text messages, but where we end up using up all of our allowance is with the unique profiles. Whenever we have a big promotion going on and want to send text messages to everyone in our customer base, we upgrade our subscription for the month and then downgrade after the promotion to our normal subscription level. 

Even with the higher cost of SMS marketing, we always have a good ROI with this and the subscription more than pays for itself each month. You can see below an example of some of our recent text message campaigns. Our cost for the entire month is $675 and each campaign yields at least a couple thousand dollars. With only about one campaign text per month (which doesn’t account for any of the SMS messages in our flows or other promos), we’ve more than paid for our subscription. So, while we do always try to be conscious of the fact that SMS costs more than email marketing, the returns are there. 

To Conclude

Both email and text message marketing are extremely effective ways to engage with your customers and both can yield an amazing ROI. As people’s email inboxes become more and more flooded with marketing messages, it’s smart to diversify and make sure you’re also hitting your customers’ cell phones, where they are even more likely to read messages.

Stefanie Parks

Stefanie is the Co-Founder of The Media Captain. She's currently the CEO of DermWarehouse, The Media Captain's in-house eCommerce brand. Stefanie is an expert on all things eCommerce. She's grown DermWarehouse to beyond $5 million in annual revenue and has a customer base beyond 250,000. Stefanie provides helps with eCommerce strategy development for The Media Captain. She's a frequent contributor onto the TMC blog.

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