Don't leave us on read | A Guide to SMS Marketing. In the modern consumer era, brands need to continuously find ways to connect with customers. While consumers are often busy, they are always on their mobiles, making SMS marketing a viable way for brands to connect.
In the modern consumer era, brands need to continuously find ways to connect with customers. While consumers are often busy, they are always on their mobiles, making SMS marketing a viable way for brands to connect. SMS provides a time-sensitive, personalized and direct channel to inform consumers on discounts, new product arrivals, flash sales and VIP offerings.
What is SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing, much like email marketing, is an opt-in method of marketing, allowing a brand to send text messages to a list of contacts who have given their express permission to receive communications. The message is sent via the mobile network, to a customer's cell phone, making it a quick and effective way to provide information to those that opt-in.
Unlike an email there are more content constraints, an SMS is limited to 160 characters, and an MMS may include images or gifs and up to 1600 characters. While emails offer the opportunity to provide more content to consumers, such as long-form copy, multiple click-able links, and an extensive range of imagery, they are disadvantaged by time and have much lower open rates. While average email open rates sit at around 20% - depending on the industry, SMS has an average open rate of around 98%, making it one of the most effective ways to reach consumers.
Research shows that the average person checks their phone around 58 times per day, and that 90% of text messages are read within the first 3 minutes, offering the opportunity for brands to reach people quicker than ever before. With the rise of e-commerce, SMS is becoming even more relevant. As 80% of customers use their phones for shopping, the time-sensitive nature of SMS is ideal for sending messages for flash sales, early access and back-in-stock alerts.
As well as being a fast way to reach consumers, it is also highly interactive. Being an opt-in form of marketing, SMS is only received by customers that want to receive marketing materials, it allows for highly targeted, and conversational messaging. SMS allows customers to receive welcome messages, product recommendations and abandoned cart reminders in real-time, using short-form copy that feels personal. Conversational SMS can also be utilised to provide customer service or product information using custom key words, e.g “Reply YES to receive more information about this product”, allowing for a two-way interaction between brands and customers. The direct, time-sensitive and personal nature of SMS makes it a highly engaging marketing tool that has been shown to generate increased revenue and deliver a high return on investment.
Why use SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing is incredibly beneficial in the sense that it provides a better omnichannel experience for customers - adding an extra layer to a brand's marketing approach, providing better diversification and providing customers with more consistent brand experiences. When customers feel that each interaction with your brand is a continuation of the previous one, it enhances brand recognition and builds a base of loyal customers.
Through delivering a consistent brand experience, SMS can offer the ability to engage with customers for a variety of circumstances, uses include; abandoned carts, flash sales, customer support, early access to products or promotions, exclusive offers, discounts, collection releases, back-in-stock alerts, and transactional messages, such as order, shipping or payment confirmation. All of these instances allow customers to receive information in real-time, and in turn, allows brands to be more available.
Alongside receiving marketing material, customers can receive personalised product recommendations to cross-sell or up-sell, order replenishment messages and birthday offers, providing an experience that feels exclusive. Brands can also adopt VIP SMS flows, to reach out to their most valuable customers. All of these benefits and use cases contribute to a more cohesive omnichannel approach, building closer relationships with shoppers, increasing conversion rates and revenue, and boosting overall customer satisfaction.
How do you use SMS?
Like all marketing channels, there are limitations and constraints that must be considered with SMS marketing. Content within the messages themselves is limited, therefore in order to successfully engage customers, an SMS should feature a single offer or call to action, be time-sensitive, and deliver immediate value. Brands should avoid using the same copy and messaging for SMS - it should feel personal, as well as taking into account timing e.g timezones. It is also important to ensure brands are not over messaging customers, as this would lead to high opt-out rates.
There are also particular issues around privacy and consent that must be considered with SMS. Collecting customer consent and phone numbers can be done through sign-up forms on the website and at checkout, however unlike email sign-ups, explicit consent must be provided, through the use of check-boxes and forms that are separate from ones that collect email information. Privacy policies must also be present on the website and must include SMS-specific privacy information.
Case Study: Ghia
Los Angeles based beverage brand Ghia, supplies non-alcoholic apéritifs though a combination of wholesale and DTC channels. In 2021 the brand began utilizing SMS marketing to reach their customers and boost their monthly drink subscriptions and online sales. As a result they increased their customer lifetime value by an estimated 32%.
Ghia utilised 2 key SMS strategies; Conversational 2-way messaging, and VIP segments. By using 2-way messaging though their SMS platform, Ghia were able to answer time-sensitive questions regarding orders, subscription plans and products in real time, generating a 19.8% reply rate. Using SMS segments, Ghia significantly increased ROI during the launch of their new Le Spritz ready-to-drink cans range. By dropping the range exclusively to their most engaged SMS subscribers, they generated a 18X ROI.
By creating a community focused, personal experience for their customers, Ghia were able to increase ROI significantly, as well as form engaged audiences with higher lifetime value.