SMS Marketing 101: 10 Ways to Set Your E-Commerce Brand Up For Success

SMS Marketing 101: 10 Ways to Set Your E-Commerce Brand Up For Success

Did you know that SMS marketing is the fastest-growing marketing channel in e-commerce? According to Klaviyo, “37% of Americans prefer to receive brand communications through text, but these numbers are even higher for younger generations—45% of millennials and 43% of Gen Zers prefer texts from brands.” 

If you’re not using SMS marketing for your online business, you’re missing out on everything this channel has to offer. Whether you’re wondering how to start SMS marketing or you simply want to learn more, we’ve put together a list of 10 SMS Strategies to Set Your E-Commerce Brand Up For Success.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing is an owned marketing channel, meaning that it enables companies to own their customer data. Other owned marketing channels include email and push notifications. Unlike paid advertising, owned marketing lets you use this data to create a completely personalized experience for your customers: what you send, who you send it to, and when you send it.

SMS or “Short Message Service” marketing allows brands to send text message promotions, campaigns, and updates to customers who have opted into their SMS list. SMS marketing also includes the option to send MMS, or “Multimedia Message Service”, to include images and GIFs in messages.

How Effective is SMS Marketing?

While SMS is a newer channel, SMS marketing has been steadily growing in popularity, especially with younger consumers. So why is this type of marketing so effective?

SMS marketing works because these messages are delivered instantly and directly to the consumer. Attentive states that 97% of text messages sent from brands are read within 15 minutes of delivery. Furthermore, open rates for SMS marketing campaigns and automated flows are 98% on average—that’s 3x the average open rates for email campaigns. Click rates can range between 8.3-35%, performing much better on average than email campaigns and flows.

Because it is the most intimate form of advertising, SMS marketing has its pros and cons. Its conversational nature also allows your business to build brand loyalty via more personal relationships with customers. However, you must be careful not to abuse this channel to avoid losing subscribers.

Want to know how to create and maintain a great relationship with your SMS audience? Check out our list below!

10 SMS Marketing Basics to Set Your E-Commerce Brand Up For Success:

  1. Keep It Short and Sweet.

Because each SMS has a character limit of 160 characters, your campaigns must be concise and to the point. Exceeding the character limit will result in sending multiple SMS at a time, which will likely result in a high number of unsubscribes. For MMS, the maximum is much higher (1600 characters), but use this extra space wisely! In general, the best SMS marketing campaigns get their messages across in as few words as possible.

  1. Use MMS to Stand Out.

MMS allows brands to send GIFs and images via text to capture subscribers’ attention. However, this option does cost more, so be sure to use it sparingly. MMS works great to show subscribers what you’re offering (sales, new collection launches, etc.) While MMS can be quite effective, be sure to test out both SMS and MMS to see which type of SMS marketing resonates best with each audience.

  1. Personalize Your Messages.

Just like with email marketing, the “batch and blast” method is an outdated and ineffective SMS marketing strategy. That’s why SMS marketing platforms provide different personalization options. You can personalize your text messages with user-specific purchase history, engagement data, browsing history, first names, etc. to tailor your message to each customer.

  1. Don’t Over-Text.

Because SMS is more invasive than email marketing or paid ads, make sure not to send to the same lists too often. Keep it to 1-2x per week max., depending on your number of subscribers and their level of engagement. Over-texting will cause a high unsubscribe rate and damage your sending reputation. You’ll only want to use SMS for sharing high-value information with subscribers: new collection drops, discounts, storewide sales, giveaways, etc. For less pressing information, we’d recommend using email marketing.

  1. Use SMS Marketing to Connect with Your Most Loyal Customers.

Create VIP segments to make your customers with the highest returning customer rate feel special. Provide SMS-exclusive deals, including time-sensitive “VIP first looks” and SMS-only discounts.

  1. Set Up Automated SMS Flows.

SMS flows are just as effective as email flows, if not more! We recommend first setting up an Abandoned Cart flow and a Welcome flow, offering discount codes in each one. As your list grows, consider other options like Browse Abandonment, Back in Stock, etc.

  1. Build Your SMS List with Signup Forms That Include a Special Incentive.

When collecting SMS consent, ask for emails and phone numbers together in a multi-step form that offers a special incentive (e.g., a welcome discount) to subscribers. Be sure to create a form for mobile-only as well as desktop, since most users sign up on mobile. You can even include keywords they can text (e.g., “JOIN”) to make signing up for SMS as easy as possible.

  1. Get Exclusive SMS Consent and Stay Compliant with SMS Best Practices.

Many people ask if SMS marketing is legal. The short answer is yes; however, because subscribers are signing up with their personal phone numbers, SMS has stricter guidelines than other marketing channels. These guidelines often differ based on the state or country, so be aware of this when you send messages to people in different locations. Here are some SMS marketing best practices that your brand should follow:

  • Your opt-in forms must clearly state that signing up for SMS will give your brand exclusive consent to send text messages to subscribers. Be sure to include your website’s privacy policy and terms of service.
  • Do not send messages during quiet hours (typically between 8pm-12pm, but this can vary depending on location).
  • Provide an opt-out keyword in every SMS you send.
  • Always include your brand’s name in the message. Many SMS platforms will include the brand name as a prefix before the text message body (e.g., “AB Skincare: Take 50% off sitewide, today only!”).
  1. Send Your Brand’s Contact Card to All Subscribers.

Send a contact card along with your first welcome text to encourage subscribers to add your business to their contacts and keep you from being filtered out of SMS inboxes (we discuss this in our iOS 16 blog post). This will also create trust in the brand as you build an ongoing relationship with subscribers.

  1. Use SMS and Email Marketing Together.

An effective SMS marketing strategy lets email and SMS work hand-in-hand, allowing you to play to each channel’s strengths. Create urgency with SMS to relay the most time-sensitive and important information. Then, use email to provide more details or to include more than one link at a time. Because some people prefer email and others prefer SMS, the two marketing tools make the perfect team to help you reach as many customers as possible.

Still not sure about your SMS game plan or don’t have the time to implement it? Book a Free Strategy Call with us now and let our SMS marketing experts do the work for you!


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