Whenever your cell phone dings, what is your reaction?
Your eyes probably jump to the device, right? That’s assuming you’re not entangled in a fierce debate about the merits of Instagram versus Facebook marketing or immersed in a weekly meeting to dice the week’s sales revenue metrics.
Texts—better known as SMS (short message service) messages in ecommerce marketing lingo—are especially adept at commanding attention, and ecommerce marketers know it. That’s why they sent 378% more SMS messages in 2020 than 2019.
The massive increase paid off. Omnisend’s data shows marketers saw a 102% year-over-year increase in conversion rates, with rates steadily rising each quarter.
With such a captive audience and compelling data, there is no doubt that eCommerce brands should leverage SMS as a marketing channel.
We recommend adding five particular types of time-sensitive text messages to your customer communication arsenal if you want to capitalize on SMS capabilities to increase sales.
Laying the SMS Groundwork
Before jumping into the message variations, there are some ground rules to cover. A well-crafted message encompasses each of the following pillars.
- Keep the message brief. This isn’t an email, where you have an infinite canvas to express as much as you want. The limit is 160 characters. Use the space wisely and be concise.
- Mind your grammar. Abbreviations like LOL and BTW are standard nomenclature for text messages. But steer clear of this slang for eCommerce SMS applications, unless this casual text speak meshes with your brand’s voice.
- Identify yourself. Imagine you receive a message prefaced by a string of numbers. It’s no fun having to decipher who sent it. Put your brand’s name front and center so there’s no confusion.
- Personalize. Add first names if possible. Incorporate personalization into the message itself as well. Segment your subscribers and develop appropriate notifications for each, such as messages based on location or previous purchases, rather than blasting all with the same information. .
- Guide the recipient’s next move. End with a clear call to action (CTA). Direct the subscriber to the action you want them to take by providing a link. This is the stuff of standard marketing protocol.
Message elements aside, always make sure you have permission from your customer before sending SMS marketing. Include a phone number field within all subscription forms, like Black Halo’s pop-up form. Equally important is providing a way to unsubscribe or the option to text STOP.
Timing also matters. A lot of people, if not most, enable their text message notifications around the clock. Be mindful of time zones so you’re not waking them at 2 a.m.
5 Texts That Drive Action
Each of the above communication principles should be at the forefront when molding any SMS campaign, whether it be part of the workflow of an automated message series or a special deal you want to announce to your subscribers.
Here are five specific SMS messages proven to increase conversions. We share ideas for what to say for each, and when.
#1 Cart Abandonment
All eCommerce brands are familiar with the challenges of recovering abandoned carts, with the eCommerce abandon rate hovering around 70%.
SMS reminders—sent as soon as 15 to 30 minutes after a shopper populates a cart but leaves without purchasing—are a great antidote for winning back customers. For instance, equestrian apparel brand Kerrits has experienced a 15% conversion rate from its abandon cart SMS campaigns, as well as an average earning-per-message of $2.87.
Try structuring your message per the following blueprint:
The message in the example above directly mentions the shopping cart. Experiment with other variations to test what works:
- Still shopping? Don’t miss out! 30% off your order. Use keyword [keyword name] at the checkout. [link to the site]
- Hi! Do you need help selecting your perfect platinum ring at [brand name]? Call us at +555 555 5555 for any assistance! Reply STOP to opt-out.
Send abandoned cart text messages as single auto-reminders. Or, integrate them into a more sophisticated strategy combined with emails and even retargeting digital ads.
#2 Browse Abandonment
The abandoned cart challenge is widely known. But how much have you pondered those who view your products and exit without adding a single thing to the shopping cart? Some research shows 88% of shoppers fall within this category, spelling huge opportunity for you.
As is the case for the cart abandonment strategy, you need to act quickly. Shoppers have a lot on their minds and can easily forget about their browsing sessions. Automate your workflow so the shopper receives a text within 30 minutes of deserting your store, or one hour at most.
Here are some more copy ideas for inspiration:
- Thanks for stopping by! We noticed you visited us and we’d love to see you again. Visit us now at [link to the site]
- Hi [customer_name], thanks for visiting us! We sent you an email with a deal you’ll love. Check your inbox!
#3 Special Customer Occasion
Remember the importance of personalization? Recognizing your shoppers’ milestones is a perfect avenue for re-engaging and showing a more human side of your brand.
Most popular among these messages are “happy birthday” notes. Think of the other accomplishments worth celebrating: a signup anniversary, or perhaps reaching a rewards program threshold.
Reinforce the importance of the milestone with a discount or other special offer. Include the details directly in the SMS message, or use the text to direct the subscriber to an offer-containing email you concurrently send. Either way, it is good practice to follow up with an email that contains details and visuals.
Need examples of SMS occasion-focused copy?
- We know, today is special! Happy Birthday from us all at [brand_name]. Check your email for a little present.
- It’s your [brand_name] anniversary, [customer_name]! We sent a present by email. Don’t forget to open it!
#4 Limited-Time Deals
The typical time to respond to an email is 90 minutes. Compare that to the 90 seconds it takes to respond to an SMS. You can see why SMS is a perfect channel for time-sensitive messages such as flash sales and last-chance reminders.
Take, for instance, the ecommerce brand who makes the scarcity principle work in their favor by using SMS to offer a flash sale for limited inventory. This psychological effect arises when an object’s perceived value skyrockets when it becomes more difficult to procure due to supply.
These messages—like the string of automations below—are commonly seen during the holiday season. Although not necessary, they are often accompanied by some pizzazz with a bold, colorful image sent by way of an MMS (multimedia messaging service) message.
Try these other approaches on for size when shaping the text copy:
- THE END IS NEAR to use code BP2021SPR and get up to 25% off your next purchase. Visit the link below before the code expires in 24 hours [link to the site]
- Your 10% discount expires tonight. Head to [link to the site] to redeem it. Code: [code_name]
#5 Self Promotion
There is a time for shining the spotlight on your brand through promotions that are more day-to-day in nature, such as cross-selling or company news. Just don’t abuse it.
Silver Street Jewellers is a great example. The company turned to SMS to alert followers of its shift from an in-person gem show to an online storefront.
The jeweler also utilized texts to drive awareness of its email campaigns. These initial SMS-email combos generated a nearly 25% click-through rate that encouraged customer engagement, online awareness and sales.
Here’s our last round of examples to stimulate your own ideas:
- [Customer_name], because of your recent purchase of [product], there is an upgrade available to you for the [product group] at 60% off! Visit: [link to the site]
- Free [brand name] voucher only for you! Use the code [code name] at the checkout. Redeem it now: [link to the site]
Formulate Your SMS Strategy
SMS conversion rates more than doubled in 2020, proving that the channel has enormous potential to convert—especially our five prescribed types of SMS messages.
Just practice discretion. It’s important to think about what messages are appropriate and how frequently your customers want to hear from you.
By evaluating the value of each message from a subscriber standpoint, you’re well on your way to increasing sales and providing the best omnichannel customer experience possible.