Texting is an inherent part of modern life, yet many businesses have been hesitant to use this to their advantage—instead sticking to emails and social media marketing. Consider the graph below showing the number of smartphone subscriptions worldwide, which exceeded 600 million in 2021.
Regardless of apps downloaded or internet connection, what do these smartphones have in common? Almost all of them have access to SMS.
Additionally, SMS open rates are reported to be as high as 98%, compared to just 20% for emails.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that SMS marketing is now being recognized as a powerful digital marketing tool. It is particularly prevalent in ecommerce and B2B businesses.
Automation is beneficial to use in many areas, including in ecommerce, such as an automated inventory management system that allows retailers and wholesalers to manage their inventory in real-time. So why not apply it to text messages?
Automated text messages are pre-written, pre-scheduled messages that go out to one or more recipients with minimal manual intervention. In many cases, these are simply transactional messages sent out en masse, but with a little effort, you can elevate them to do more for you and your business.
We will go into more detail on each of these later. In general, the idea at each touchpoint is to do one or both of two things:
Once you’ve set up automated messages, you do not need to be particularly hands-on with these campaigns.
Many SMS marketing platforms will help you to set up drip campaigns, meaning that messages are triggered by customers taking particular actions. This ensures that the right people receive the right notifications at the right time.
Before we get into the benefits, note that if your business is venturing into SMS marketing, it’s worth getting a virtual number for free.
To reiterate: open rates for SMS are 78% higher than for emails. Think how likely you are to open an email as soon it arrives, compared to your likelihood of opening a text straight away.
The same is likely true of your customers, so take advantage of the popularity and reach associated with SMS. If your lead forms are collecting email addresses but not phone numbers, it’s a waste of an opportunity.
Additionally, an SMS creates a greater sense of urgency—ideal for encouraging customers to take you up on time-sensitive offers!
(Free image sourced from Unsplash)
If your employees are currently bogged down in repetitive, manual tasks like scheduling appointments or sending promotions on an individual basis, then automation could be the answer. This is not to say that you should replace human employees with an automated attendant, but by leveraging smart messaging, you can free up your employees to focus on creative tasks.
Rather than relying on generic mass text messages, you can carefully craft your messages according to the situation and type of customer. You build stronger relationships by sending the right message at the right time. Most SMS marketing software can identify segments of customers in your contact list and automatically send them only the most relevant notifications.
Good businesses know when to keep things simple, for their own sake and to the benefit of their customers. The same can be applied to telecommunications, with automated contact center solutions connecting customers to the right information as efficiently as possible.
Another great thing about automated SMS is that it makes it easier to maintain a coherent brand voice, ensuring customers know who you are and what they can expect from you.
Once you’ve managed to build up a solid list of subscribers, you’ll want to start sending out SMS content.
Every ecommerce brand has a unique image and voice, so what works for one may sound disingenuous coming from another. Take inspiration from these examples and tweak them according to your brand and target audience.
A welcome message is the perfect way to nail your first impression, incentivize first-time shoppers, and generate leads. Offering a promo code on their first purchase is a common way to do this. Or, take the opportunity to direct them to a particular product line or a sales section you think they’ll love.
Hi [name], welcome to the [brand name] community! We’re thrilled to have you here. Use promo code [code] for 10% off your first order, on us! Code is automatically applied with this link. Shop now: [link]
(Screenshot from Disturbia)
Note how the Disturbia lead collection form collects phone numbers as well as email addresses, using the 10% first-time buyer discount to incentivize joining the mailing lists.
Status updates on an order are some of the most valuable communications for customers. Getting a text to say that your parcel is arriving is a great feeling, so this is one of the safest texts to send if you’re worried about coming across as too pushy.
While fairly easy to set up, these messages go a long way in establishing trust and ensuring happy and loyal customers. Feel free to add your own spin to the templates, and get your unique voice across. For some brands, gifs or memes are appropriate here.
Yay! Your order has been dispatched. We’re as excited as you are! Follow along here: [tracking link]. Thanks for shopping at [brand name]
Flash sales and time-sensitive promotions are compelling motivations to buy. Don’t do too many of these—make sure it’s only the best and most relevant offers that you’re flagging up to customers via SMS.
Hey [name], last chance to take advantage of 50% off all products at [brand name]! Exclusive code: [code] Shop now: [link]
Be clever with the timing of when you send discount codes. Ecommerce brands lose an estimated $18 billion in potential sales each year due to cart abandonment. For an indecisive customer, a gentle nudge can be all that’s needed to go back and complete the transaction. For example...
Forgotten something? Use code [code] for 10% off your haul! Go to cart: [link] before your basket expires!
Birthdays are a great time to reach out to customers and make them feel special—solidifying your place as one of their favorite brands. It’s a time when many people are more willing to treat themselves, and a promo code can be all the persuading they need.
Happy birthday, [name]! From all of us at [brand name], we hope you have a day just as [adjective] as you are. Check your email for a little surprise on us.
Note how this works in tandem with email communication. A birthday email containing a discount code can be sent first, then, if a certain amount of time elapses with no response, a follow-up SMS is triggered.
Digital word of mouth is everything, so why would you miss out on this opportunity to get some feedback? Below are two examples of collecting survey data via SMS—either by including a survey link, or by asking for a rating sent via SMS.
In the same vein, you can use this opportunity to ask for reviews.
Thank you for ordering from [brand name]. Want to let us know how we did? It would help us out if you post a quick review here: [link]
It’s important to give the customer the option to opt out. In this situation, don’t burn bridges. Look for patterns and ways to improve.
Sorry to see you go, [name]. We’d love to know why you’re unsubscribing, so we can work on ourselves. Let us know [link]. We’ll miss you!
Once written, you can program these messages to automatically be sent to the right customers at the best times.
Before you get to work on making the templates your own, consider the five tips laid out below:
Check for grammar, spelling, and correct tone of voice. With the limited characters of SMS, this is essentially an exercise in short and punchy copywriting.
If your links are broken or don’t lead to the correct page, you’re wasting time and money
When including dates, times, addresses, or contact information, make sure that it can’t be misread. Don’t confuse potential customers.
Each SMS message should have an obvious desired result—this will also make it easier to measure the success of your campaign
If users no longer consent to receiving SMS communications, you need to let them go.
Using the tips and templates above, you can connect with customers of all generations and build positive brand relations.
As shown in this article, this doesn’t have to be a hands-on process. Once you have pre-written the messages in keeping with your brand’s voice, you can hand things over to technology.
Automation, then, can be a great help to ecommerce businesses. If you’d use an ACD feature to enhance your communications over the phone, why not use automated messages to boost your SMS marketing campaign to the best that it can be?
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that offers features like virtual business fax by Dialpad providing business owners and sales representatives with useful call information. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna has also written for other domains such as TRACX. Check out her LinkedIn profile.
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