This past year, when the pandemic mostly kept us apart from friends and family, we maintained those relationships via social media, video calls and, probably most often, texts. The average American adult spent more than three hours per day on a smartphone in 2020.
While people have been notably surprised by their screen time reports, they’re not putting their phones down as a result. Consumers are making more mobile purchases than ever, with shopping apps reaching 14.4 million downloads in the U.S. between March and April 2020.
Tapping into SMS — Short Message Service, or simply texting — provides brands the opportunity to meet customers where they are spending the most time. It’s the fastest and most logical way to interact with shoppers. Here’s why SMS is the marketing tool of the future and how to leverage it now.
Consumers engage with SMS faster than any other marketing channel.
It takes approximately 90 seconds for someone to answer a text message. Compare that to the 90 minutes it takes, on average, to respond to an email. SMS has proven efficiency when it comes to abandoned carts, customer service inquiries and promoting new product launches and seasonal sales. It is one of the most effective ways to recover lost revenue.
The channel’s early success means it will likely continue to progress before reaching its full potential as an independent e-commerce platform.
Consumers are hungry for convenience and often don’t want to be bothered with steps like re-entering credit card information at checkout. As many as 97% of shoppers have abandoned a purchase because the checkout process was not seamless enough.
In the future, I predict we’ll see texting become its own distribution channel where users can complete their entire purchase journey quickly via SMS, stored card details included.
Texting is uniquely personal, making it an ideal channel for DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands.
As inboxes and social media feeds become increasingly inundated with ads and branded content from department stores and big-box retailers, SMS is a more personalized method for companies to engage with their audience.
DTC brands are frequently the first adopters of new marketing channels. Many are already capturing phone numbers through their checkout flows on Shopify. They then segment users based on their prior behavior and use that data to send them targeted messages.
In general, digitally native brands lack the advantages of a heavy brick-and-mortar presence, such as face-to-face customer service and hospitality. SMS provides a moment to level the playing field and facilitate a two-way conversation between the brand and the consumer.
The SMS marketing model’s simplicity also means it’s incredibly cost-efficient for small businesses — there’s minimal need for creative and management tools.
To see tangible results and prolonged engagement, a thoughtful strategy is essential.
While the concept of SMS seems reasonably straightforward, marketers should view it in the same manner as any other performance marketing strategy and take a thoughtful approach.
It’s crucial to personalize messages based on real customer data and behavior and make those messages conversational. Texts from brands shouldn’t feel starkly different from friends or colleagues.
Companies can use pop-ups to offer perks for opting into receiving SMS messages, and then take it a step further and continue giving incentives to avoid losing subscribers. The real opportunity with SMS lies in prolonged engagement and a chance to create lifelong customers.
The takeaway: SMS is the next phase of e-commerce.
As e-commerce grows at an impressive rate and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) rises, companies have to nurture their customer relationships to succeed in a crowded space.
SMS will continue to evolve and has the power to become an entirely shoppable experience; everything a customer can do on a Shopify site will be achievable via text. Live, timely, person-to-person messaging will become the norm as we get further into 2021, and it’s in a brand’s best interest to get started now.