How SMS marketing can drive traffic and revenue, naturally

14 min read by Emily Berriman 11 Sep 2023

SMS is a different playing field to what it was in previous years. Here, we’ll reveal why you should be using this direct channel in your business and how we can help you achieve a global view of your customers’ behaviour and priorities.

Why SMS is a big deal right now?

Keeping customers up-to-date and engaged needs to evolve beyond email marketing and simply managing your customer relationships. Innovative customer marketing platforms, such as Klaviyo, give users the opportunity to implement a cross-channel marketing approach, making an impact at every touchpoint on the customer journey. This encourages connected, meaningful engagement across multiple channels – like SMS and text messaging.

SMS (standing for ‘short message service’) is far from new, but attitudes towards it have changed significantly over the past decade – both in brands’ approaches and customer comfort with the channel.

Customers now expect to receive helpful notes, transactional communications and occasional promotional messages via SMS from companies they’ve learned to trust. Which, as an almost frictionless channel directly into users’ minds, puts SMS on the front row from a marketing perspective. No wonder it’s the fastest growing channel for customer interaction.

Want proof? Here are the stats…

A quick glance at the figures provides a compelling case for making SMS a key channel in your marketing:

  • 75% of consumers are comfortable receiving SMS messages from brands as long as they opted-in to messaging (MarketingProfs)
  • 75% of consumers want to receive texts with special offers (SmallBizDaily)
  • Texts have an impressive 98% read rate (Dotdigital)
  • Click-through rates for ecommerce brands can be as high at 36% (learn.g2)
  • Sending an SMS follow up can increase email read rates by 30% (Dotdigital)
  • Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value (Dotdigital)
  • 42% of Millennials check their text messages 10 or more times per day on average (learn.g2)
  • 70% of consumers think SMS marketing is a great way for businesses to get their attention (learn.g2)
  • 83% of consumers would like to receive appointment reminders via text, but only 20% of businesses send them this way (read all these and more)

Did you know?: One in three consumers have tried texting a business but received no response. Despite its acceptance with customers, SMS remains a much under-used channel.

How you should use SMS in your business

SMS offers greater immediacy with the customer or user. It’s easier to check than email, harder to ignore and provides an opportunity to make a faster connection with them and their thoughts – and do so in an informal way.

SMS messages can be used to complement your emails in many common use cases:

  • Nurture customers post-purchase – sending customers a text will show you care. As well as checking in to see how they are getting on or offering handy tips, you can also go on to use thank you flows and win back flows at key points in their journey.
  • Re-engage customers – SMS messages are a great way to remind disengaged customers about your brand, your offers and the reasons they were interested in your services or products in the first place.
  • Drive revenue through campaigns – when done sensitively, SMS is a great way to inform customers about opportunities and special offers, especially when they are time-sensitive. It could be almost irresistible to click through to your website from texts about:
    • New product launches
    • Flash and seasonal sales
    • Back-in-stock alerts
    • Price drops
    • Event announcements
    • Key brand updates
    • Other time-sensitive events or content
  • Recover abandoned carts – a text to customers to remind them about the purchases they have lined up can prompt them into action. Retailers with this facility in their CRM have seen as much as a 37% lift in revenue by adding SMS to abandoned cart sequences.
  • Ask for a review – usually the best time to ask for feedback is when the customer is still flush with the happiness and excitement of their new product. Strike while the iron’s hot with a quick click-through link to your reviews page. And if it’s a bad review? This is an opportunity to improve your product and customer experience.
  • Offer an incentive – added to a campaign text or as a stand-alone, an SMS with a quick offer or sweetener to a deal will be a powerful tool to help get a customer over the line with a purchase or booking.
  • Notification messages – this is what customers are already most comfortable with. Although these will be transactional – order confirmation, shipping confirmation, etc. – you have an opportunity to make them feel more personal or to start a conversation around your product.
  • Grow subscribers – with targeted sign up forms. An SMS list can be used to grow your mailing list, and vice versa, allowing you to learn more about their preferences at the same time, for better segmentation.
  • Send customised messages – once you’re able to segment your users, you can start to send more personalised texts. Messages sent on a birthday, anniversary or Mothers/Fathers Day, or around events in their location, help make the relationship stronger.

Bring your SMS closer to your emails, and your customers

Connecting your SMS marketing with your email marketing on a single CRM platform can make for a powerful tool in tracking your customers’ interests and behaviour. Some email service providers (ESPs) designed for business already have SMS tools into their offering.

Taking a cross-channel approach will pay dividends and allow you to make connections to your customers more personal and relevant. But we would also be very aware of high ‘send frequency’ and repetition across channels – i.e. don’t send email and SMS with the same content, or customers will start to get bored and feel that you don’t care quite as much as they thought you did.

“Working SMS and email channels seamlessly with accurate omnichannel attribution and automation has helped brands increase their ROI by 66x and their revenue by 9%, whilst growing their lists in a personalised way at scale.”

Jaime de Botton, Klaviyo

Mistakes to avoid

As with any form of marketing, there are some common pitfalls that many brands slip into, often without realising. Our practices and processes ensure we stay on top of all these issues – but do you?

  • Failing to define the relationship – off the bat, let your customers know how and when you plan to stay in touch with them. This will increase the level of trust and show you care about their time and attention.
  • Using the same message for SMS and email – it may save time, but SMS should be short and time sensitive, creating an exciting, frictionless experience. The two channels naturally use communication in different ways – a brief message in an email might leave readers confused, and a long SMS text expanding on your offer will send users rushing to the delete button in disgust.
  • Poor timing – receiving a late-night text from a brand rather than a loved one is not only annoying, but it’s unlikely to get the fast results you want from this channel. Timing means everything with SMS.
  • Forgetting a clear CTA – some texts offer multiple options or have no call to action at all! There should only be one CTA per message. 
  • Sending too many messages – with such a personal channel, you can expect high unsubscribe rates if you send too frequently, unless the messages are relevant and useful to the customer. Less is more with SMS.
  • Only using SMS – SMS is an excellent communication strategy but shouldn’t be your only channel. Don’t neglect your other channels – work out ways to use SMS alongside your emails, social media and paid campaigns to provide customers with a joined-up experience that uses the right messages at the appropriate times and touch points.

Testing is key

If StrategiQ was on board for your cross-channel marketing, we’d make the most of testing your SMS messages – trying out options to see what elicits the most sales, positive feedback, page views or whatever metric you’re aiming for.

The three key aspects we would test in SMS messages are:

  • Timing – there may be a point in the day when your customers and prospects are more likely to click through and make a purchase (or also times when they certainly won’t, as in the nighttime example earlier).
  • Offers – SMS can be particularly useful to get responses on ideas for new deals or new products and service lines. It’s the easiest channel for users to reply quickly, so you’ll know which offer will have the greatest impact with your tribe.
  • Tone – how you speak to your customers can be even more important than the time you message them. A text pitched how a friend would talk can create far more responses than a more formal sounding message – and vice versa depending on your audience!

Remember: include a link back to your site in texts so that your ESP can automatically attribute responses and revenue from these messages correctly.

Add SMS to your marketing strategy today

Are you in the kind of business where you want to make your customers, clients or users feel closer to you, on a personal level, with more trust? Then SMS is the marketing tool for you.

Talk to us now about how we can incorporate SMS into your strategy, and see how your engagement changes. Our CX team will give you a detailed assessment of your customer journey, showing how SMS can make a difference with your people, while our certified SMS specialists will create messages and flows designed to have the most impact. Don’t wait until tomorrow!

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