SMS Marketing for E-commerce: Importance, Examples, and Best Practices

Categories: Sms marketing
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Haley Updated: October 28, 2021


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You can see how rapidly E-commerce has been growing recently.

In 2020, retail E-commerce sales worldwide generated $4.28 trillion and are expected to grow to $5.4 trillion in 2022 (Statista).

While email marketing has been the E-commerce marketer’s favorite choice for delivering messages, SMS marketing is earning more prominence.


Because SMS marketing can penetrate through noise much better than any other channel.

Imagine your marketing communications were achieving a 98% read rate within 5 minutes of hitting send - even without the need for an online connection. That is what SMS marketing helps you do.

That’s why in this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about SMS marketing for E-commerce, including the importance, examples, and best practices. Let’s explore!

Table of contents

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing refers to the act of delivering promotional materials via text message. For example, if you send a text message to your subscriber list saying, “50% off today only! Come get your savings,” that is SMS marketing.

What is SMS marketing?
What is SMS marketing?

Primarily, SMS marketing is used to communicate offers and other information to existing customers who have permitted you to send them text messages.

The importance of SMS marketing for E-commerce

Email marketing is widely accepted as the best digital marketing medium. That prestige is actually well-deserved because, in addition to being inexpensive, it provides a dynamic and effective platform on which brands can communicate with their target audience. However, email marketing lacks the immediacy that SMS marketing is perfect for.

Below are the top reasons SMS marketing won’t trump email marketing but will perfectly complement it:

  • Arriving instantly after sending, E-commerce text messages are read very fast. This proves its immediacy and whopping open rate. After all, texting doesn’t need the Internet.

  • People like to feel important. They often initiate outreach to businesses in order to be in-the-know and cared for. So, SMS marketing can boost subscriber engagement.

  • Interesting information, helpful field-specific tips, offer announcements, events, and news keep you top of mind and strengthen the community of your ardent supporters. SMS marketing helps grow your brand awareness a lot.

  • SMS is an affordable channel. Implemented properly, with carrier lookup by number, it can drastically improve your ROI.

  • As a marketing channel, SMS is still atypical, and it’s now in its early days. There’s room for more companies to use it, so they can cut their way through the noise of other overloaded channels. SMS marketing can give them unique opportunities.

6 SMS marketing use cases for E-commerce

1. Welcome messages

Email is often the standard channel to send welcome messages. People already expect them, so these messages enjoy higher open rates than any other type of email. However, if your subscriber gave you permission to contact them via SMS as well, sending an immediate SMS message might be a welcome surprise.

To make your welcome message even more valuable, you can include a gift that recipients can avail of just once. For E-commerce brands, a welcome discount offer might be what subscribers need to complete their first purchase. For other business types, a link to access exclusive content is a great way to boost engagement.

You can also use this valuable opportunity to ask questions that will help you improve your customer’s experience with your business.

2. Special occasions

Special occasions are always the best excuse to contact your subscribers, and there is no better way to attract them than with irresistible offers directly sent to their mobile phones. You can capitalize on practically every holiday (even the made-up ones!). But the most valuable opportunity is actually your subscriber’s birthday.

It is already common for E-commerce brands to send birthday greetings over email. These messages often have a well-crafted greeting along with an incentive to buy (usually a considerable discount).

However, every brand your customer has subscribed to will send pretty much the same message. Ensure you are the one they pay attention to either by sending offers via SMS or by prompting them to open your email.

3. Time-sensitive promos

Time-sensitive promos are one of the most useful marketing tools to drive sales. Naturally, people want to avoid missing out on good opportunities. Therefore, it should be no surprise that phrases like “don’t miss out,” “last chance,” and “ends tonight!” prompt them to make checking out your offers a top priority.

If you are running an exceptional sale, use SMS marketing to appeal to your recipients’ sense of urgency. Highlight that they have a limited time to join.

It’s essential, though, that you don’t overuse this tactic, and most importantly, don’t waste the chance on mediocre offers. Save this for several occasions like clearance sales for products about to be discontinued or huge sales you rarely host. By doing so, subscribers know that when you say “last chance,” you really mean it.

4. Cart abandonment

Every E-commerce brand has to contend with cart abandonment. That might happen for some reasons. Most times, shoppers become distracted and forget about the products they were buying. They sometimes use carts to save items for later. In other cases, they could become averse to the total price, or they are discouraged by the cost of shipping to their area.

No matter the reason for cart abandonment, it is undeniable that there was interest, to begin with. That means you can probably recover it. Email is already an effective channel for salvaging abandoned carts. However, consider adding SMS to your workflow, and you will likely save enough abandoned carts to impact your revenue significantly.

5. Post-purchase updates

Purchase and shipping updates are often sent via email. Indeed, it’s the perfect channel for this because you have enough space and formatting capabilities in order to provide purchase breakdowns, timelines, product photos, etc. However, sending updates via SMS gives your customers additional value.

Confirming order and shipping status via SMS don’t contribute to your revenue directly. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent way to engage your customers and show them that you are willing to go an extra mile for their peace of mind.

6. Feedback collection

It’s essential to collect feedback from your customers if you want your brand to remain relevant to them. The best way to collect comprehensive evaluations online is through a survey form, but you will need to find a way to drive your customers there. Email marketing is a good place to start, but when recipients don’t indulge in your initial request, a well-crafted SMS message might do the trick.

Given SMS’s high open and response rates, chances are good that your recipients will click through to your feedback form. However, it cannot hurt to give them a little incentive in the form of a special coupon code or a free gift. No matter the incentive, ensure that the value to your recipients is proportional to the amount of effort it’d take to complete your survey.

Another way is to simplify the feedback you need and ask for a specific score for their most recent transaction. You can use a scoring scheme and ask your customers to directly reply to your SMS. That way, you can quickly collect feedback and address any negative experiences right away.

7 SMS Templates for E-commerce

We have compiled a list of 7 SMS templates to help you boost your E-commerce experience. Once you have found some templates that fit your marketing goals, you recommend that you customize the messages to fit your target audience and brand’s personality.

1. New customer welcome template

If somebody has opted in to receive your SMS messages, that’s great news. They have given a valuable piece of information, their private phone number, and permission for you to use it.

Why not thank them with a warm, friendly welcome message and then include a discount to sweeten the deal?

Hi {first_name}, thank you for signing up to receive updates from {brand_name}! Save 15% on your first order with the code FIRST15: {web_link}

2. Order confirmation template

Because this is usually the first message you send to your customers, we recommend you include your brand name. Connecting with your customers right after they’ve made a purchase is a great way to help them remember your brand and motivate them to make future purchases.

{brand_name}: Hi {first_name}, thanks for your order! View details and more: {order_status}

3. Shipping confirmation template

Send this to inform customers that their shipment is on the way. You can also send messages to update them if their shipment is delayed.

Hi {first_name}, your order has just shipped! You can track your order right here: {tracking_link}

4. Abandoned cart template

If you’d like to avoid lost sales and boost E-commerce conversions, SMS retargeting is an important tactic. It is crucial to personalize your retargeting text messages. Include a direct link to their chart and remind them if they have any unclaimed discounts.

Hi {first_name}! Return to your shopping cart and complete your purchase with 15% off your first order with the code FIRST15: {cart_link}

When someone abandons a shopping cart, the chances are high that they are looking for similar items on competitors’ sites. Time is of the essence, so consider using a marketing automation tool to send an abandoned cart SMS right after a customer abandons a cart.

5. Upcoming sales template

Incentives sent via SMS have open rates much higher than incentives sent via other marketing channels. Sharing discount codes, special offers, and coupons via SMS can also help with subscriber retention as customers won’t want to miss exclusive deals.

Hi {first_name}! We’re having a 20% off sale across the {brand_name} website, and didn’t want you to miss out! Start shopping right now to see what you can save: {shopping_link}

6. Restocked items template

Remind customers of what they are missing by including a photo in your message and directly linking to the item.

Hi {first_name}, good news: The item you want is back in stock at {brand_name}! Get your now: {product_link}

7. Survey/Feedback template

Collecting feedback is an essential part of improving your customer experience. Many customers forget to leave a review on your website, so an SMS survey can make it easy for both parties.

Hi {first_name}, thanks for shopping with {brand_name}. We truly value your feedback, and we would love if you could complete a quick survey about your experience: {survey_link}


Hi {first_name}, we hope that you are enjoying your new {product_name}. Would you recommend us to your friends?
1 - Definitely! 
2 - Yes
3 - Maybe
4 - Not really
5 - No

8 SMS marketing E-commerce best practices

When engaging in SMS marketing, you need to value the fact that your customers really trusted you to let you access them through the medium closest to them. Show that you highly value that trust by getting your SMS campaign right at the onset.

Follow these best practices to get it right the first time and minimize the risk of disappointing your SMS subscribers:

1. Get explicit permission

Just like email marketing, it is vital to get permission from your customers for SMS marketing too.

Sending text messages only to the people who have opted in is not only a good sign of respect. It is actually the law. Thankfully, getting consent is easily done through subscription forms that most platforms already have templates for.

Or, you can use SMS opt-in keywords to get permission from your customers. For example, when customers reply with some keywords like “Y” or “YES,” they’ll be added to your list.

Remember that you should offer the customers an option to opt-out with every text message. Like email, you also need to ensure to give customers a number they can text “STOP” to just in case they cannot relate with your brand and want to unsubscribe from your service.

2. Use a capable SMS marketing platform

Using an SMS marketing platform is an effective way to reach more customers. When choosing a platform to use for your business, don’t make your decision based on price alone. Of course, the cost of accessing the software and sending the messages themselves are significant deciding factors. However, you should also compare the value that each platform offers.

One of the most helpful features you should consider is the ability to automate text message sending. If you are using this channel as part of a larger omnichannel marketing campaign, you should consider all-in-one solutions that let you integrate your other channels and manage them all on one platform.

Read more: Top 7+ Best SMS Marketing Platforms for E-commerce

3. Always aim to provide value

Providing value should be a fundamental requirement for every marketing channel. However, it is even more important for SMS marketing because of its proximity to its recipients. Plus, because you shouldn’t send texts too often, don’t waste your limited opportunities if you have nothing valuable to offer.

Keep in mind that providing value doesn’t always have to be grand. It is not always about offering discounts or giving away free stuff (although they do help a lot!). Recipients just want to feel like you have their needs in mind instead of just yours.

4. Keep your SMS relevant

Part of providing value to your audience is making sure that every text message they receive is relevant to their particular needs and preferences. This is where personalization comes in. One of the most vital success factors in SMS marketing is the ability to run a data-driven campaign.

Use the available data to segment your subscribers into groups of similar profiles. That way, you are able to reach every subscriber with the messages that they find most engaging or useful. This task might be overwhelming for beginners. Fortunately, most SMS marketing platforms offer precise targeting and personalization features, making this task much more manageable.

5. Keep your SMS short, sweet, and to-the-point

Your customers’ attention span necessarily means that you need to get to the point quickly.

If you offer something or notify important information about their order, include it in your message. Consider including a link so your customers can get more detailed information about the offer/update you have sent.

Another good practice is to follow up with an email. If you have sent something important, make sure you are sending a follow-up email as well, just in case the customer needs any help.

6. Incorporate rich media into your campaigns

When it comes to mobile messaging, it’s more than just plain text. It is now possible to get the engagement rates of text messaging skyrocketing while providing customers with an app experience.

Rich media messages can be used to share payment processing or appointment scheduling.

By sending media like images, videos, GIFs via mobile messaging, you can improve your customer experience and engagement. Rich media also allows for more flexibility in the message types sent.

7. Experiment with Timed Delivery

Even when your customers have their phone next to them 24/7, trust us, they don’t want their phones buzzing in the middle of the night or receiving disruptive messages during their meals or holidays.

Keep in mind that many people have their text message notifications enabled all the time. This means that sending a message at 2 a.m will result in a very grumpy customer. Sending messages at the right time makes sure that the customer will open and read them. Right timing also creates a positive customer experience.

8. Limit your SMS marketing campaigns

Text messages are most valuable when they are received infrequently. Not so far between that your recipients forget you, but seldom enough that they are not tired of you.

Typically, you shouldn’t send more than 4-5 text messages per month. However, that figure might be different based on your brand nature and the relationship you already have with your subscribers. You can test your audience to see if they can tolerate more frequent messages.

The bottom line

SMS marketing has the potential to produce remarkable results, especially for E-commerce businesses.

When managed through a capable SMS marketing platform, it can be an even more powerful channel for marketers. Of course, that is only true if you follow best practices and strategically use them to garner the greatest impact on your bottom line.

Feel free to contact us if you want to build a solid SMS marketing plan for your E-commerce store. We’re always happy to hear from you!

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About Author: Haley
Haley is a content creator at Mageplaza. When not working, she gets hung up on travel adventures, books, and food tasting. As growing up, she wants to read, learn, and experience more and more up-to-date things to adapt herself to this ever-changing world.
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