Want to get more customer engagement with your store, faster? The solution is cheap, simple, and probably in your customersâ€™ hands right now.
SMS marketing (aka â€œtexting promos to your customersâ€) doesnâ€™t get as much love as email marketing, but it should. Thatâ€™s because while email marketing can be super effective for eCommerce, email doesnâ€™t have the immediacy of text.
Weâ€™re not saying SMS is better than email. What weâ€™re saying is that SMS fills a different niche in the marketing ecosystem. If your marketing program includes email but not SMS, itâ€™s like a savannah with lions (bigger and slower but bring in some major hauls) but no cheetahs. You want cheetahs, too, right?
Texts, like cheetahs, get things done fast. More than 90% of text messages get read within five minutes after they arrive, according to text platform SlickText. Emails have an average open rate of about 20%, and theyâ€™re usually not opened as soon.
So, with text marketing, more customers see your messages as soon as you send them. That creates more opportunities to get your customersâ€™ attention and get them to buy from you again.
Now that weâ€™ve covered why SMS marketing is important, and maybe got â€œCircle of Lifeâ€ stuck in your head, letâ€™s give our cheetah metaphor a well-earned rest and exploreâ€¦
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5 Cool Things Your eCommerce Store Can Do with SMS Marketing
Itâ€™s a good idea to vary the kinds of texts you send your customers, so they donâ€™t get bored or tune them out.
1. Announce product drops and flash sales.
Got a hot product that sells out fastâ€”or one youâ€™d like to sell out faster? Text your customers. The average smartphone user checks their phone about 150 times per day, so odds are youâ€™ll get some eyes on your big news right away.
2. Let text subscribers be the first to know about new products and services.
â€œInsider informationâ€ can motivate people to sign up for your texts. Getting first pick of your new stuff can keep them on your list.
3. Update customers on theirs order and deliveries.
You know whatâ€™s a hassle? Spelunking through your email inbox to see if your orders are confirmed, if your stuff has shipped, and when itâ€™s going to arrive.
You know whatâ€™s easy? Getting texts about those things. Easier updates = happier customers.
4. Deliver real-time customer service.
When customers have questions, they want answers right away. If they have to wait for your customer service team to email them backâ€”or worse, if they have to wait on holdâ€”theyâ€™re likely to go shop somewhere else instead. Help them out fast over text and keep them loyal.
5. Re-engage customers who havenâ€™t visited your store or opened your emails in a while.
Remind them of whatâ€™s awesome about your store with some personalized product recommendations, exclusive coupon codes or a birthday bonus.
Finding SMS marketing tools for eCommerce
Look for an SMS marketing platform thatâ€™s compatible with your eCommerce platform or website. Then make sure you understand the providerâ€™s plans, pricing and where they operate.
For example, some SMS marketing software plans charge by the text, others charge a base monthly rate, and some are free up to a certain number of texts per month. Some work only in North America or the EU, others work worldwide. Read the fine print, do the math, thank yourself later.
Not sure where to start your search? Review sites like Capterra and G2 have roundups of the best-rated SMS software options, and many of the platforms offer free trials or demos so you can see how they work for your store.
SMS marketing best practices for eCommerce
When youâ€™re ready to start, make sure youâ€™re following the rulesâ€”both the unspoken social rules about texting and the legal rules about data privacy and opting out.
- Give customers a reason to sign up. A promo code, an exclusive offer, or a preview of new merch can encourage people to sign up.
- Make it easy to sign up and to leave. Your software will let you set a keyword as your opt-in phraseâ€”what people text to join your listâ€”and an opt-out phrase or word to stop getting texts from your store. A simple “STOP” is a popular one.
- Write your autoreply to new subscribers. It should include:
- your opt-in offer
- a compliance statement to keep you on the right side of GDPR, CCPA and any other applicable data laws
- instructions on how to opt out
- Promote your text listâ€”on your site, in your customer emails, and on your social media.
- Donâ€™t overtext. A few texts per month is plenty. Remember, every text needs to offer your customers something useful â€“ either an update on an order or a deal.
- Track your results. Stick with the promo texts that generate good results and drop the ones that seem to drive up unsubscribes. Over time, you can grow your SMS marketing program into a reliable way to drive conversions and repeat visits to your store.
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Machielle Thomas curates content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.