Text Message and SMS Marketing Tips for eCommerce Brands

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If you’re debating whether to use SMS and text message marketing for your eCommerce business, take a look at the following statistics:

  • 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.

The stats above should give you a clear answer. While email marketing is extremely effective and has one of the best ROIs of any digital marketing service that we offer, these days, we are all inundated by emails in our inbox each day. SMS is a great way to diversify your strategy and ensure you’re getting in front of your customer wherever they prefer to read marketing messages.

For our in-house eCommerce brand, DermWarehouse, we’ve built a strategy that covers both email and SMS. Email is still our main source of revenue, as our list is much larger, however, SMS has been a big driver of sales for us as well, and a great way to capture our customers’ attention through another channel.

This article is going to give an overview on SMS compliance (very important before getting started with your text message strategy), discuss how we utilize SMS in our marketing strategy for DermWarehouse, and cover additional tips for eCommerce businesses getting started with text message marketing.

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 our in-house eCommerce brand, DermWarehouse, for several years. We send our SMS messages through our email marketing platform, Klaviyo. They make it extremely easy to create a wholistic strategy with both SMS and emails. The beauty of Klaviyo is that you can incorporate text messages into your flows, and also send standard SMS campaigns. More on both of these below. 

How We Utilize 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 to every customer who is opted in to SMS for our largest sales of the year, but outside of that we save SMS campaigns for the end of a sale. We’ll send a text message to customers who didn’t open our initial promo emails or to those who didn’t make a purchase throughout the duration of a sale. We will give them one last chance to take advantage of the discount via an SMS campaign.

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 had a pre-Black Friday sale, which offered our customers our Black Friday discounts at the beginning of October so that they could start their holiday shopping early. Our sale lasted one week, Monday to Friday. The SMS below was sent on Saturday (the day after the sale ended) to anyone who was subscribed to SMS but had not made a purchase in the last 7 days. This was our last ditch effort to get customers to buy during our sale. This text  message generated over $4,000 in sales with purchases from 38 customers.


Below is the segment that we sent this campaign to. You can do so much with list segmentation in Klaviyo, which is one of the reasons that we love using them.

Related Blog: How to Grow Your Klaviyo SMS List

How We Utilize 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 vs. email, we use text messages 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. If a customer is not consented to received SMS, then they will receive a 2nd email instead in step 2, again ensuring that our messaging is reaching everyone.


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.

Make Your Text Messages Enticing

I don’t stay subscribed to text messages from many companies, but I am always enticed by the messages from the clothing brand Quince. They make their texts really enticing so that I always want to click on them. They give just enough information to reel you in but then you have to click the link to learn more. I’ve taken a page out of their playbook and instead of trying to stuff a ton of information into my texts, I leave a little more to the imagination in the hopes of luring customers to click the link to learn more.

Personalize your SMS campaigns

Customers are far more likely to pay attention to your text if the message is personalized for them. In fact, “71% of customers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal” [Source]. The simplest 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’ll see below in our abandoned cart SMS for DermWarehouse, we 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.

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. Choose your text messages widely. Send enticing messages that will excite your customers, rather than annoy them.

I love receiving text messages from Crate & Barrel. As a (semi) new homeowner, I’m always interested in seeing new home items, especially when they’re styled and give me inspiration. I get a text message from Crate & Barrel every week or so with an amazing styled look, and often, some  kind of discount. I received the text message below last summer just as I was moving into my house. It was the perfect time to receive discounts on outdoor furniture, and their beautifully styled looks captured my attention and made me want to click to see what items were on sale.

To ensure your customers aren’t getting texts too often, Klaviyo offers a handy tool called Smart Sending. This 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 mentioned compliance earlier, 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 your 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. While 105,000 seems like a lot of text messages, the plan allows you to send to only 15,000 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. In the last 30 days, for example, we had a 19×1 return, meaning for every $1 we spent on SMS marketing, we made $19 in return.

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 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.

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