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When Should eCommerce Stores Send SMS Messages? (SMS types)

Written and researched by experts at AvadaLearn more about our methodology

By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

Drive 20-40% of your revenue with Avada
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eCommerce is growing faster and faster every day. In 2019, the eCommerce industry generated $3.5 trillion in sales and was about to hit $4.9 trillion in 2021. And while email marketing has long been a favorite choice for eCommerce marketers to convey messages, SMS marketing is earning more recognition over time.

Why? Because customers hate to call a business and** SMS can penetrate through daily social noise** better than any other marketing channel.

Your company’s marketing communications can achieve an almost 100% read rate within six minutes of hitting send — without requiring an online connection. That’s the power of SMS marketing.

SMS messages let businesses leverage micro-moments. Your SMS is there on the customer’s phone, and they naturally look at it. In most cases, people would also have push notifications enabled for text messages, so your messages are even more prompting to look at.

People are conditioned to respond to those dings and vibrations; it is an ordinary communication for most modern smartphone users. But do you know what SMS doesn’t feel like? Advertising — because the SMS messages are more personal and come in a bite-sized chunk.

With a near-perfect engagement score, SMS is without a doubt an essential tool for eCommerce nowadays. Especially when people seem to just can’t put their smartphones down (mobile users pick up their phones about 58 times a day!), since we are already all guilty of using smartphones, you would be a fool for not using SMS marketing for your business.

By combining SMS with other marketing channels, such as email, you can connect with consumers when they’re primed to and take them through your sales funnel with seamless interactions. That said, how should you know WHEN to use SMS messages for your eCommerce business?

In this article, I will answer the situations that you should use SMS messages and the suitable SMS types for such occasions. Let’s get started!

Why should you use SMS messages for eCommerce?

Why should you use SMS messages for eCommerce?
Why should you use SMS messages for eCommerce?

According to a Twilio study, SMS messages for eCommerce is highly effective with text messages ranking as the #1 channel consumers prefer to use and engage with businesses in the majority of regions surveyed.

6,000 consumers in Europe, North America, and Asia were surveyed. The study showed that nine out of ten consumers prefer to be able to use text messaging to talk to businesses. The study also found that more than 85% of consumers would like to reply to a business by messages rather than engaging in conversation. Email marketing follows SMS marketing as the second most preferred communication channel for consumers.

By allowing customers to have the type of communication they like, SMS marketing can lead to many big rewards, including a better engagement rate, increased conversions, and higher revenues and sales.

How to use SMS messages for eCommerce?

There are basically three usages of SMS messages to use with customers:

  • Broadcast news to an audience

  • Personalize attendees’ notifications related to a specific event

  • Have two-way conversations.

To be compliant with SMS anti-spamming rules, in most countries, the first two usages of text messages require opt-in by the customers. Messages initiated by consumers don’t require explicit opt-in methods but do not equal permission for you to broadcast or send personalized notifications. It is also important to notice that texting compliance can vary by country, and instant messages work differently based on the SMS app.

You don’t need to use all types of SMS messages at first. Let’s see the steps to use SMS messages for eCommerce:

First, decide your use cases or determine what you want to use SMS marketing for. The easiest place to start is customer support and conversion support on your eCommerce website.

Next, define your SMS’s success metrics. Goals are important for any marketing project, so set goals such as help X number of buyers in the customer journey, increase customer satisfaction, save X carts, or build a list of X SMS subscribers.

Third, you need to find an SMS software. Research and find an SMS marketing service that can meet your budget requirements and also offers the features required to support your goals. AVADA Email Marketing is a good option to start with capabilities to text at scale, take care of compliance issues, has automation features, and help manage the subscriber list.

Fourth, get more subscribers and segment them. Never send random texts, start asking customers to sign up for SMS messages at the check out phase of your eCommerce store or offer a coupon code in exchange for their mobile numbers. Then, use analytics to understand the people in your list and segment them to send relevant messages.

Lastly, start small and keep testing. There are multiple opportunities with SMS marketing. One step at a time with SMS or marketing is better than spending time designing an A-Z strategy and then hope for the best results. Review the result of your SMS campaigns often to understand what you are doing right and what to improve.

When should eCommerce stores send SMS messages?

SMS messages are scaled marketing tactics that, although not triggered directly from a customer’s past action, should still be relevant to consumers. You can ensure the relevancy of SMSs by taking subscribers through a preference phas - once they opt in - and using gathered information to tailor your SMS content; e.g., based on age or geolocation.

These next scenarios are the best timing to send SMS messages for eCommerce, and I would also give you the SMS types to use and which automation goes with it. Let’s start.

1. Welcome new subscribers or customers

Welcome new subscribers or customers
Welcome new subscribers or customers

Automated SMS messages are proven to drive ROI. In-time SMSs can also improve the customer experience and increase brand recognition and loyalty. Adding email marketing to the mix can exponentially boost the success rate of your marketing effort. You can use SMS and emails to reinforce any benefits of signing up with your online store and lead to more purchases.

With AVADA Email Marketing, we already have a workflow combining emails and text messages to welcome your new subscribers. The first email would welcome them and send a discount coupon for the first purchase. Then, after a day, a SMS will arrive to remind them about the discount code and have a link to access your eCommerce website.

Of course, you can create your own welcome SMS workflows in the app for new customers, new subscribers, new event attendees, and more. The app also has many automation triggers for different types of audience, so you will be able to create any kind of automated SMS you want.

2. Update the customer’s order after a sale

Update the customer's order after a sale
Update the customer's order after a sale

While billions of people worldwide own a smartphone, not all have an email account or use Facebook Messenger. But every one of the consumers (plus billions more of people using “not smart” phones) have a mobile number in use.

For that matter, you can send order updates via text messages to improve your SMS strategy. Informed buyers are happy customers. A high-rating customer experience includes frequent updates on the state of their orders, including shipping status and delivery timelines.

Compared to using emails to update a package’s delivery status, SMS text messages are much more helpful since customers often don’t turn off notifications for SMSs. You can set automated SMS to notify customers when a package starts getting delivered or 24 hours before successful delivery.

3. Send text messages based on certain dates to customers

Meet customers on the days that matter to them, which means your SMSs can act as appointment reminders, birthday wishes, and abandoned cart text messages as well. The buyers would feel much more appreciated to know that you remember all the important dates for them.

With an omnichannel marketing automation platform like AVADA Email Marketing, you can automatically pull in personal details and names of customers. Then, you can watch the engagement level soars.

Some ideas for date-based SMS messages are:

  • A special discount on birthday

  • An appointment reminder that is sent 12 hours before time

  • A cart abandonment message that is sent 24 hours after the abandonment happens

  • A auto-refill message for company with a subscription model

  • A check-up message on the day of maintenance of a product

4. Inform new arrivals to prompt a purchase

Inform new arrivals to prompt a purchase
Inform new arrivals to prompt a purchase

You can also communicate your hottest product drops using SMS marketing messages. SMS and email are the two core elements of marketing for eCommerce. When they go hand in hand, you can ensure that your customers always receive the latest information.

In certain contexts, you can even consider sending SMS over email, especially with time-sensitive news like new product arrivals and/or new releases. Emails are still good, but text messages can communicate the urgency much better with its short format and unfiltered method.

Customers can easily opt in using your provided keyword and short code to get real-time updates hot off the new arrivals. You can also include a time-sensitive deal for the new products. Plus, in addition to increasing online traffic, these updates are a fantastic way to get customers to rush to your brick and mortar store!

5. Promote flash sales and drive urgency

Promote flash sales and drive urgency
Promote flash sales and drive urgency

Via text messages, you can support the email marketing strategy for flash sales with punchy alerts. As mentioned above, many customers want to receive marketing text messages from companies, but not many actually send them. SMS marketing is a fantastic opportunity for brands to tap into the trend of savvy consumers and generate lifelong customer loyalty.

Also, don’t forget customers who have bought from your store before, a timely nudge can be all you need to make them return and repeat their orders, especially when a flash sale is happening.

If you want to have the best result with SMSs to promote flash sales, you should still combine emails and text messages to remind customers many times before the sales actually happen.

6. Deliver content-driven communications

You can enrich the customer experience using value-driven engagements and deliver content straight to the consumer’s smartphone devices with SMSs.

Consumers now expect highly-relevant content from their brands. 91% of consumers are ready to reward brands for their authenticity and content that can entertain, provide solutions, and produce experiences and events. Also, according to Aberdeen Group, conversion can be six times higher for marketers that adopt content marketing adopters vs. those who don’t.

SMS marketing is a wonderful channel to deliver concise and to-the-point content because text messages are fast, direct, and clear. With just a few words, you can convince consumers that you have the content they are looking for and include a link that takes them directly to the article or blog post. If you are producing video content, SMS is also a great way for channel subscribers to keep in touch with the latest content.

7. Remind of abandoned carts

Remind of abandoned carts
Remind of abandoned carts

Cart abandonment is one of most common problems for eCommerce companies. And an effective way to combat it is by using SMSs to remind customers of the lonely carts that are waiting for them.

You can use the same tactic for abandoned cart SMSs as abandoned cart emails and use a common phrase like “Your cart misses you :(“ to attract the attention of the recipients. Then, include a link inside the SMS to take the buyers straight to the cart page and continue the check out process.

With AVADA Email Marketing, you already have a cart abandonment SMS workflow to start with auto timing. Did I mention that the app is free to start using?

8. Trigger replenishment or renewal

Trigger replenishment or renewal
Trigger replenishment or renewal

SMSs can also act as timely nudges that don’t annoy customers about their service or product subscription renewal. By using them right, you can achieve repeat conversions and increase the average order value of a customer.

Kiehl’s takes advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) with SMS marketing to keep the customers more loyal than ever. With an insight that customers first purchase in an offline store, the cosmetics brand uses the online tools of text messages to hit buyers at the right time using a replenishment reminder.

The AI model will predict when customers are most likely to run out of the items they last purchased with Kiehl. Subscribers then have options to either reply ‘yes’, if they’re willing to re-order, or ‘RemindMe’, if they would rather wait more. Either way, Kiehl still comes on top with an in-time connection and doesn’t let customers forget about them.

9. Send important alerts

Send important alerts
Send important alerts

SMSs are also highly suitable to send crucial updates — and you can save your emails for something more creative with pictures!

The text message channel is perfect to deliver need-to-know information or updates of services to customers. Since SMSs are fast and direct, customers can be informed on the events that matter, in real time. Some important alerts can be named as store’s off days, shipping problems, out of stock items, and more.

Although not eCommerce, the text message update example above from easyJet highlights the effectiveness of using SMS as a clear and speedy channel for brands to communicate must-know info with customers.

10. Let customers receive referrals

If you are on the market for a while, there is a high chance that your brand has some advocates of your own. Take advantage of them and let these loyal customers help you convert new customers.

Nowadays, consumers are getting far more comfortable with companies meeting them on private channels such as SMS, Facebook, and other direct messaging apps. These apps are primarily on smartphone devices, so you can automate an engaging SMS template for your brand’s loyal customers to share with their friends quickly and effectively about your product.

Referrals are a fantastic way to make quick wins, not just for eCommerce companies. Your SMS can act as a notification for customers who receive a referral gift from friends, or a form for a prospective customer to sign up and start buying.

11. Send seasonal updates

Holidays are always a busy time of the year for eCommerce businesses and also consumers’ inboxes. They are often bombarded with marketing emails and advertisements from multiple companies, leaving the SMS marketing channel to be the least distracted channel with least noise.

For your brand to fire on all marketing channels when it comes to holidays, a simple and clean email combined with timely, personalized SMS messages is a holiday must-have. This way, you can make sure the customers are not missing any of your sales as well as getting updated on the cart’s status, especially when the shipping companies are also overloaded during the holiday seasons.

Which SMS automation platform should you use to send SMS messages?

Which SMS automation platform should you use to send SMS messages?
Which SMS automation platform should you use to send SMS messages?

Similar to email marketing, SMS marketing requires a lot of up-front work in order to set it up properly for an eCommerce store. Also, it should be quarterly monitored and measured to make sure that your text message efforts are effective.

But, with an SMS automation platform, you will be able set up the SMS marketing strategy and measure campaigns appropriately. Then, the scalability of your eCommerce business with text messages is endless.

A proper SMS platform will help store owners measure, scale, and ultimately improve and optimize SMS campaigns, resulting in increased ROI. With AVADA Marketing Automation, you have all the tools you need to use SMS marketing with automation, not to mention pairing it with many powerful email marketing features.

The main features for SMS marketing that AVADA Email Marketing offers are:

  • Welcome Series: This workflow is an excellent but short introduction to your brand, showing your company in terms of value and also convincing new fans and customers to trust your texting communication.

  • Abandoned Cart: The workflow for Abandoned Cart SMS marketing (and email) is already built-in and ready to hit the send button. You can still customize the messages however you want.

  • Order Confirmation: The SMS confirms the order with shipping details via text messages for customers. It also includes a coupon for the buyers to use in the next purchase.

  • And more: Those are only the available SMS automation messages at the moment, we are still working on adding more in the future. In the meantime, you can already create your own automated text messages with available triggers and segmentation.

Best of all, AVADA Marketing Automation has a free plan for users to start trying SMS marketing at zero cost. It can’t be easier to get started with text message marketing.

If you still want to learn more about SMS marketing before deciding to use the app, check out these articles from AVADA blog:

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.