Shopify Ecosystem

7 SMS Marketing Best Practices for Growing Your List with Offers

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Consumers have become much more value-driven and price conscious than ever before. 88% of US shoppers have used an offer in the last year. 95.4% said they’ve used an online coupon or offer at least once, and 28.6% say they search for a discount offer almost every time they make an online purchase.

With the rise of e-commerce sales, and subsequent rise of offer usage, retailers have a unique opportunity to tap into existing purchasing behaviors by offering incentives to grow their audience and drive revenue.

Providing consumers with incentives is a standard practice within retail and e-commerce. The most common types of offers can be categorized into two buckets: promotional (discount, free gift, BOGO) and non-promotional (free shipping, product launch, exclusive content). We find that including a promotional offer as part of the initial subscriber’s welcome journey leads to 77% higher conversions.

Here are seven SMS marketing best practices that retail and e-commerce marketers should implement into their list growth strategy to quickly scale their list of subscribers and convert browsers into buyers.

1. Percentage off vs. dollar off discounts

Giving shoppers a site-wide discount in exchange for signing up for your text messaging list is one of the most common welcome offers. According to our recent survey of 2,000 US consumers, people indicated they would be most willing to sign up for a brand’s text messaging program if the brand offered a dollar off discount or percentage off discount in return for subscribing.

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger advocates for the rule of 100, which states that for products or services over $100, a dollar discount will be more effective. For those under $100, a percentage discount will likely be more effective.

2. Easily add coupons into shoppers’ carts

Auto apply URLs are special links that automatically apply a coupon into a shoppers cart, and makes them more likely to convert. Incorporating them into your welcome offer reduces a customer’s barrier to purchase and makes it easier for you to drive revenue. By not requiring subscribers to search for a coupon, you’ll curb comparison shopping and drive incremental revenue.

3. Reach new audiences

SMS complements your other marketing channels, including email, social media, paid ads, and even in-store promotions. You can leverage our landing pages in email marketing, social media, and paid ads campaigns to grow your text messaging list. Enticing your audience with giveaways is the best way to drive off-site list growth. Instagram Stories are excellent ways to attract a net-new subscriber base. In fact, giveaways perform 79% better on our Instagram Story Swipe-Up list growth tool than discounts.

4. Run A/B tests to see what copy or offer performs best

When it comes to copy for SMS sign-up units, we’ve generally found brands see the most success when they keep it short and sweet. To find what copy or offer resonates most with your customers, conduct A/B tests for each variable—one at a time. Once you nail down the offer strategy that works for your brand, don’t be afraid to tweak the language to drive incremental sign-ups. Some phrases to consider include: Unlock, Enjoy, Exclusive Access, and Get % off. We’ve seen that even small changes can lead to big results.

5. Get personal with dynamic coupons

Coupon aggregators like Rakuten, Honey, and RetailMeNot—which circulate static coupons from retail and e-commerce brands—are on the rise. 1 in 3 US shoppers use a browser extension to help them find and apply coupons when shopping online. Because static coupons are circulated by aggregators and may be used multiple times by different shoppers, brands are seeing massive gaps in their analysis. To close this gap, we recommend using dynamic coupons instead, which allow you to send unique discount codes to each shopper and drive a sense of urgency to use the coupon before they forget it.

Pro tip: Combine dynamic coupons with auto-apply URLs to create a smooth and seamless checkout experience.

6. Create a sense of urgency

Drive action with limited-time offers while growing your subscriber list. Time-sensitive offers for new product drops, anniversaries, and holidays can feel exclusive and create the feeling of “FOMO.”

For example, stationery retailer Paper Source launched custom onsite mobile and desktop creatives during Cyber Week featuring an exclusive offer. Typically, the brand offers 10% off for signing up for SMS. But with increased web traffic during a particularly busy holiday, they doubled their offer to 20% to help incentivize sign-ups even further. As a result, they were able to drive over 15,000 new subscribers from November 28 – December 1.

Tapping into these special moments with limited-time offers like “This weekend only” or “24 hours only” on your sign-up unit creates a sense of urgency for your customers to sign-up or miss out on a great deal.

7. Try non-promotional offers

There are endless other text messaging use cases that engage subscribers, build brand loyalty, and drive revenue through non-promotional offers that don’t include a discount. Offers like free shipping, exclusive access (“be the first to know!”), product launches or recommendations, and tips & tricks are all effective ways to engage your subscribers and drive purchases.

89% of our customers’ subscribers make a purchase within the first 72 hours of opting in, using our sign-up units and offers. Whether you decide to use promotional or non-promotional offers, it’s important to remember that subscribers just want to know more about how they’ll benefit from your SMS program before signing up. Delivering a welcome offer to text subscribers immediately after they join will start your relationship off on the right foot and show your customers that you truly value them.

Want more actionable insights? Explore Attentive Outlook 2021: The State of Text Message Marketing

Special thanks to our friends at Attentive for their insights on this topic.
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