The 1-2-3 SMS Roll-Out Guide


SMS is a powerful channel that helps Marketers rise above the noise and get their message across to their customers. It’s no surprise that an increasing number of brands are incorporating this channel into their marketing strategy. In 2017, about 1.67 trillion business messages found their way to consumer’s phones, and this number is predicted to increase to 3.5 trillion by 2023.

Getting started with Zaius’ SMS and MMS solution is incredibly fast and easy because all your customer data is already available in your account. Setup is as simple as toggling a button and assigning you a dedicated phone number. (What’s even better is that we care of that part for you!) And if you know how to send an email from Zaius, you know how to send an SMS. So, configuration is undoubtedly the easy part.

What we’ve seen since the release of our SMS channel is that users feel tentative about launching their first SMS. They often ask, “Where do I start?” and they don’t want to impose unsolicited messages on their shoppers. We’re happy to see how much consideration Marketers show for their customers. To put them at ease and help them understand laws and regulations around SMS messaging, we created a comprehensive webcast for SMS compliance. Now, in this quick guide, we address questions about getting started with SMS as a new channel.

Our 1-2-3 roll-out plan consists of three steps:

  1. Growing your SMS subscription list
  2. Announcing your presence on the channel
  3. Enticing and incentivizing

1. Growing Your SMS Subscription List

As soon as your Growth Success Manager generates your dedicated phone number, you’re ready to go with SMS. But before you kick off your first campaign, remember that you have to follow SMS compliance regulations and first gain your shoppers’ explicit consent to send them marketing messages.

Collecting New Subscribers

A form for collecting information and marketing consent is a great way to grow your list of consented SMS subscribers. You can save a lot of time using Zaius’ Web Campaign Recipe called Email and Phone Collection Modal, which will spin up the layout of your web modal with the click of a button. The layout will include all the necessary elements of a consent form, including data fields, the checkbox and notice for consent, and the submit button. A huge benefit of using this form is that Zaius will automatically update the marketing consent status to opted-in: true for those who check the consent box and submit the form. This way you don’t have to worry about setting up operational campaigns to update your customers’ consent statutes. Taking advantage of the out-of-the-box recipe (and depending on how much you want to change the modal’s design), you can go live with this campaign in as little as five minutes!

Select and customize Web Recipes to quickly configure Web Modals with forms

We also recommend implementing a text-to-subscribe promotion that will allow your customers to subscribe to SMS communications from your brand by texting you a keyword. This method requires more time to configure initially but it’s a much more customer-centric solution for getting your shoppers to opt it.

Trigger a campaign off of incoming keywords in text messages

Updating Opt-in Status for Consented Customers

If you already have a list of existing customers who already explicitly consented to receive text messages from you, you can update their SMS opt-in status by importing a CSV file. Note that explicit consent means that your customer gave you written permission or checked a box for receiving marketing messages from you. (Written permission, in this case, means the electronic or digital forms of your customer’s signature. They can provide this on a website form, text message, or email.) Having a phone number for a customer, possibly because you collected it as part of an online order, doesn’t automatically mean they consented to SMS marketing communications.

Importing a CSV file

Quick SMS compliance callout: Simply providing an opt-out of SMS communications is not a substitute for obtaining consent. For instance, you cannot send your customers text messages in which you tell them how to opt-out of unwanted messages if they haven’t previously given their explicit consent to be contacted via SMS.

2. Announcing Your SMS Presence 

Once you have all the operational bits in place, you should inform your customers that you can now get in touch with them via SMS. Don’t let your concerns of “What if my shoppers don’t want to get texts?” get in the way of shouting it from the rooftops. The numbers prove otherwise: 95% of text messages are opened in the first five minutes of receipt, and 20% of coupons sent via text are redeemed! They want to get text messages from brands. The goal of implementing SMS into your marketing strategy is to cater to your customers’ preferences on where and how they want to be reached. 

We have customers who email their shoppers that they are available on this channel. A large number of brands pop up colorful, attention-grabbing web modals on their website to spread the word. This is where a text-to-subscribe promotion can come extremely handy because you can place a concise message of “Text GO to [phone number]” nearly anywhere. So be sure to rely on your other channels, like your website, emails, and social media pages to announce your text-to-subscribe promotion.

Launch an announcement banner for your new SMS channel

3. Enticing and Incentivizing 

Let’s now talk about what you can say in your announcements. Giving your shoppers discounts in exchange for opting into SMS communications will increase your likelihood of getting them to sign up. In addition to discounts, you can offer a wide range of other enticing incentives, like product samples, free shipping, entry to a giveaway, or branded swag. 

You’ve probably heard us say it before that incentivization doesn’t have to come at the cost of losing revenue or spending more money. Customers get excited at the thought of getting early access to products and sneak peeks, receiving preferential treatment, or enjoying VIP status in your customer community. 

Not all incentives need to have a monetary value

But if you do decide to give away a percentage or dollar amount off, here’s a pro tip: Segment your customers by their discount usage likelihood. If you are launching an email announcement, send it only to those customers who always or sometimes use discounts to purchase. No need to include customers who never use discounts!

Segment based on discount usage

How are you feeling about rolling out your SMS program? Are you ready to get started?

Just remember: Gain your shoppers’ marketing consent first. Announce your SMS channel and ask for their permission on all your other existing channels, including email, social media, and your website. To give your shoppers a little extra encouragement, incentivize their subscription with special offers.

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

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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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