Conversion

How Ecommerce Brands can use SMS Marketing to Boost Customer Engagement

how-ecommerce-brands-can-use-sms-marketing-to-boost-customer-engagement

Finding the key solution to boosting customer engagement is something every business strives for. And honestly, who wouldn’t? When your customers are engaging with you, it means they trust you, they’re loyal to you, and they’re likely to stick around for their lifetime to make repeat purchases. 

While every business and every customer are different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are a few strategies ecommerce merchants can use to increase their customer engagement rateone of those strategies is SMS marketing. 

Your business may already use a series of email marketing and social media promotion, but have you ever considered the range of marketing possibilities if you were to add Messenger and SMS marketing to that stack? You’ll be able to reach customers in an entirely new way with increased open rates and click-through-rates. All of this leads to a major increase in your revenue, and we’ve seen it happen over and over again. We’ll explain how in this article.

What is SMS marketing?

Simply put, SMS marketing is a mobile marketing technique where businesses send personalized and targeted text messages to selected customers in specific segments. The reason why brands choose SMS marketing is because it’s a great tool to reach customers directly through their phones, meaning the messages are likely to be received instantly and read by every recipient. In fact, marketing messages sent through SMS have an open rate of up to 98%. With odds that high, it’s easy to see the benefit of this type of direct marketing, especially as a strategy to increase engagement.

Email vs SMS graph

If you’re a Shopify brand that’s ready to boost their customer engagement to foster a great community, we’ll share our best tips and tricks for SMS marketing to help you achieve that. 

Promote SMS opt-ins on all your customer-facing channels

It’s likely your business already uses social media or email marketing, and as an ecommerce brand, you obviously have a website. If SMS marketing is something new to your business, you’ll want to ensure you’re promoting it on all channels to start increasing your number of subscribers. In fact, reports show that over 48 million people will choose to opt-in to SMS in 2020, meaning many customers will appreciate the ability to have instant communication with your brand for coupons, shipping updates, and more. 

A few best practices include creating graphics to promote your brand’s SMS opt-in, share those graphics on Instagram and stories, tweet about it and explain the benefits, and give your new SMS opt-in a small shoutout in any newsletter you send. In each case, tell customers the benefits of subscribing and show them exactly where they can sign up. 

Also, make sure you add an option to opt-in anytime a customer is checking out items in their cart. Keep in mind that customers may not think to subscribe to SMS automation on their own, which is why it’s important for you to showcase the option on an obvious page, like the checkout page. 

Checkout opt-in example

With Skinny Mixes, this option to opt-in to SMS comes right before the customer’s billing information, so it’s difficult to miss it. Including an opt-in CTA during the checkout process is a great way to increase your SMS subscribers and start engaging with more customers who will return the favor and stay loyal to your brand. 

SMS marketing can have powerful results. In fact, Skinny Mixes saw a monthly increase of $280,000 with simple Messenger and SMS automation.

We’ve shared their entire strategy in a case study. Other brands can definitely replicate their strategy, so check it out!

Download The Full Strategy

Be strategic with your timing

The point of SMS marketing is for direct communication where customers can get instant gratification by receiving coupons, important news, and more. When customers have the option for immediate messaging, they’ll gladly take it if they see it as a value-added tool. However, even with the ability to send messages instantly, there’s a strategy behind the timing of each message you send. 

SMS Timing graph

90% of SMS messages are read within the first three minutes. But, there are a few key timeframes where you will grab your customer’s attention the best. Think about the times people are more likely to check their phones. Your customers get busy during the weekdays at their job, so they check their phones before work, during breaks and lunch, and after work. Avoid early mornings and late evenings, and ensure you’re following the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines about not sending SMS messages before 8 AM and after 9 PM local time. If you’re trying to reach customers to share a promotion, it’s better that you send your messages during peak response times. 

Even though you can send customers a message at pretty-much any time, the point is you want to ensure customers are going to actually engage with you by clicking a promotion or link. This is why strategizing SMS marketing during key times is important: if customers glance at your message, close it, and forget about it, they aren’t engaging. Engage with your customers during their best times so they have an opportunity to engage with you too. 

Add a relevant CTA to drive traffic 

As we said before, make sure your messages provide value. Whether you’re sharing an upcoming promotion or deal or telling your customers about your latest product release, offer a CTA where customers can learn more. Adding CTAs is a must in blog posts and email marketing, but there’s a great opportunity to add clickable action items in your SMS messages too. If it’s valuable, customers will engage with it, especially when data shows SMS messages have a 209% higher response rate than phone and email.

SMS example

Sharing links to special deals for customers and adding their name for personalization is the perfect way to get people engaging with your brand. It isn’t good practice to send a message about a deal or product without giving your customers a way to actually see it. Always provide links. Your customers will appreciate it because it means less work for them to see what you’re talking about, and it’ll increase your engagement rate and purchase rate when they have a direct line to new products they’re likely to enjoy. 

If you want to learn more about how you can use SMS marketing with Facebook messenger using Octane AI, check out our help center to see what automations you can easily set up to increase engagement and boost revenue. 

Just like customers choose to opt-in, you must allow them to also opt-out

Not only is this part of TCPA compliance that opt-out options must be included in SMS messages, but customers don’t want to feel like they’re trapped in an endless cycle of receiving messages. To keep your relationship positive with your customers, always offer a simple way for them to opt-out. Take Domino’s text alert example:

Dominos SMS example

Like Dominos, give customers an option to respond with “STOP” or other simple action words to opt-out, receive more information, or get help. If you continue to provide value to each customer, they’ll choose to continue engaging with your SMS messages. However, if you do notice more customers opting-out of your SMS marketing rather than opting-in, you may want to rethink your strategy. If you see this pattern, you may not be providing the best value for your target audience. 

The beauty of SMS is that you can see immediate patterns from how your customers choose to interact with your brand, so you can make informed decisions on how to improve your marketing strategy. 

What you could be sending your customers right away

Now that you’ve got the tips, you’re going to want to consider the types of messages you plan to send your customers. Even if you have the strategy right, the key messages are another strategy alone. To help you get started, here are a few types of messages you could be sending your customers to start boosting engagement and monthly revenue:

  • Send thank you messages after every purchase to increase loyalty. 
  • Ask for customer feedback about a product or service to better your brand.
  • Share discount codes or coupons for timely events where customers can save money.
  • Tell customers about any upcoming events you are doing that they may be interested in.
  • Highlight any contests or giveaways to get customers engaged.
  • Provide shipping updates on products they’ve purchased. 
  • Update them on their loyalty program status and points.

There are so many types of messages you could be sending customers on a regular basis. This will keep the conversation flowing between your brand and your customers, keep your brand front and center in each customer’s mind, build a strong and healthy relationship with every shopper, and drive that positive customer engagement that you’ve been seeking. 

SMS marketing is the perfect tool to help you achieve your customer engagement goals, and there are a ton of SMS marketing softwares available for Shopify merchants. When you tie SMS marketing with Facebook Messenger marketing, you have a bullet-proof automated communications strategy where you’re bound to reach customers to offer valuable ways for them to engage with you and make purchases.

Ready to take your automated marketing to the next level?

Book a demo now to see how Octane AI can help boost your customer engagement rate and increase revenue. 

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The 250+ Page Playbook on Facebook Messenger & SMS Marketing for Ecommerce

Fast-growing DTC brands implementing this playbook have connected with 18x more customers, doubled their 7-day ROAS, recovered 5x more abandoned cart revenue & increased AOV 25%.

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This article originally appeared in the OctaneAI blog and has been published here with permission.

About the author

Steve Hutt

Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. In the early days of online commerce, he achieved Power Seller status at eBay, which then propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens, and eyewear retailer. After a successful exit from his startup, he embarked on his next journey into agency work in e-commerce and digital strategy.

Currently, Steve is part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus, where he is a Strategic Advisor helping brands continue to grow and scale with the Shopify Commerce Platform.

To maintain his competitive edge and life of learning mantra, Steve also hosts and produces a top-rated weekly podcast show, eCommerce Fastlane, where he interviews Shopify partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, platforms, and must-have apps, to help Shopify brands build and scale lifetime customer loyalty.