Mariya Arabadzhieva-Todorova
Content Marketing Specialist @ Yotpo
June 8th, 2023

Learn effective SMS marketing strategies for your eCommerce business.

Table Of Contents

SMS is one of the highest-yielding ROI channels available to marketers, but most brands underutilize its full power.

With a 98% open rate and the fact that over 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, SMS is the perfect channel of communication between a brand and its customers. More than half of the respondents in a Yotpo survey want to text with their favorite brands. However, 61% of marketers still don’t use SMS marketing.

If you’re one of them – you’re leaving money on the table.

In this blog post, you’ll learn effective SMS marketing strategies that you can use to boost the performance of your eCommerce business and how to turn SMS into your top-revenue channel. Let’s dive in!

Understanding SMS marketing for eCommerce

What is SMS Marketing

SMS marketing, or text marketing, is a form of marketing where businesses use text messages to communicate with customers.

SMS can be leveraged for a wide variety of marketing activities – all depending on your brand’s goal and strategy. From promoting your products and collecting valuable feedback to sending important company updates and announcements or even providing customer support – there is an SMS for everything.

There are two main types of text messages:

  • Transactional messages: used to inform customers of the status of their order, payment, shipment, or subscription.
  • Promotional marketing messages: used to present a new product or collection, announce a flash sale, offer a personalized discount, etc.

What makes SMS an effective marketing channel

Mobile commerce sales are expected to reach $700+ billion by 2025. Brands must meet customers where they are and offer frictionless shopping experiences.

SMS is mobile-first, customer-first, and privacy-first and, as such, can quickly become the greatest asset of your overall marketing strategy.

Its brevity and immediacy make it the perfect channel for engaging with customers and creating unbeatable shopping experiences.

SMS marketing statistics

The conversational nature of SMS enables businesses to be “always on,” available 24/7, and just a tap away. Engaging in direct and personalized 2-way communication with a brand helps shoppers build trust, nurtures loyalty, and boosts customer lifetime value.

SMS takes personalization to a whole new level. From customers’ first names to previous purchase history or demographic data – brands can exceed the level of closeness and engagement with customers online compared to the experience they receive at an actual store.

As a bonus, the fact that you can send a text message to the most remote corners of the earth, at predictable costs and with no internet connection takes reliability to a whole new level.

You might be wondering if you’ll have the time and resources to manage yet another marketing channel. Well, worry not – SMS can be fully automated, too.

SMS Marketing Automation Strategies for eCommerce

SMS marketing automations are custom text messages triggered by specific events. They work in the background of your store 24/7, helping you deliver engaging content at every step of the buyer journey.

Whether it’s welcoming new subscribers or winning back churned customers, SMS automations ensure you won’t miss an opportunity to interact with shoppers, establish credibility and trust, build long-lasting relationships, and drive repeat sales.

Here are 5 must-have SMS marketing automations that will boost the overall performance of your eComm store:

Personalized welcome messages

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same applies to your subscribers – greet the newest members of your SMS marketing program and make them feel appreciated with a heartwarming message.

New subscriber automations are the quickest way to boost conversions and turn new opt-ins into lifelong customers with a single text. For best results, add a small incentive in the form of a gift voucher or a discount with the first purchase.

Example: Hey Kim, welcome to the family! Thank you for registering for our SMS VIP Club! Here is a $10 gift voucher for your next purchase. Enjoy!

Another great way to approach this is to use your welcome message to initiate a conversation – ask shoppers a specific question and use their response to extend a tailored welcome offer and quickly send them down their personal path to purchase.

SMS Marketing Strategies for eCommerce

Abandoned cart reminders

Did you know that 3 out of 4 visitors add products to their carts but leave your store without making a purchase? These devastating stats show why recovering abandoned carts should be the #1 priority for eCommerce businesses of all sizes.

The good news? Over 33% of abandoned carts can be recovered with a simple text.

Abandoned cart automations allow you to bring high-intent shoppers back to your store, contacting your potential customers a certain period (30 minutes or 24 hours) after they have left their cart. Shoppers will be taken back right where they left off, making it easy and convenient for them to finish the purchase.

Example: Hey Jailene, you left GlamFam without your purchase! Grab it now before items sell out.

Order confirmation and delivery updates

Post-purchase care is often neglected, but the truth is – it’s the easiest way to turn a first-time customer into a loyal brand advocate. More than half (51%) of the respondents in a recent Yotpo survey said they would sign up for SMS just to receive transactional text messages.

Whether it’s an order confirmation or delivery notification, your customers will greatly appreciate timely updates on their phones. It’s easy, direct, and convenient!

Example: Great news, Kevin! Your order 14546 just shipped and is on its way to you. Use this link to track it.

Product recommendations and upsells

You’ve heard this before: it’s about 5 times easier to sell to existing customers than new ones. In fact, 49% of consumers are likely to become repeat buyers if offered a personalized experience by a retail brand, so it’s not surprising that post-purchase cross-and upsells are responsible for 10-30% of a store’s revenue.

Cross-sell or upsell SMS marketing automations help merchants boost AOV and drive repeat purchases by offering shoppers complementary products relevant to their current or previous purchases.

Cross-sell or Up-sell SMS marketing automation

With the rise of artificial intelligence in eCommerce, you can now leverage AI-powered product recommendations that analyze past purchase behavior and suggest products shoppers are most likely to buy next. On autopilot.

Example: Hey Michael, how do you like your new BBQ? Check out our best-selling grilling sets. Limited availability!

Winback messages

Winback automations are a powerful tool for marketers who want to focus on retention, especially now, with the current sky-high customer acquisition costs.

Approach shoppers with a tailored offer after they’ve been inactive for longer periods (30 or 60 days). Think of an enticing way to grab their attention, such as a sneak peek into your upcoming Black Friday sale, a pre-holiday deal to have them beat the crowds, or a flash sale to make them act fast.

Stats show timely and personalized messages can bring back over 18% of lapsed customers.

Example: Hey Jess, long time no see! Check out our brand new collection and benefit from limited free shipping to your door!

Tips for effective SMS marketing campaigns for eCommerce

While highly effective, SMS automations are just one part of the equation. How can you make your text marketing campaigns equally as powerful and personalized to prolong customer engagement? It’s time to dive deeper and learn how to make the most of each message you send.

Establish clear goals and objectives

The first step in launching a powerful and effective SMS marketing campaign is having a solid plan. Start with the basics and answer the following questions:

1. What do you want to achieve?

Do you want to promote your latest product, send an announcement for an upcoming store opening, or launch something special for your most loyal customers? Be perfectly clear with the goal of your campaign.

2. Who is this message for?

Segmenting your audience by demographic characteristics or previous purchase behavior will not only help you send more relevant messages and therefore help boost conversion rates but will also save you money, as you’ll send fewer text messages (but to the right people).

3. What is your budget?

Budgeting your SMS marketing campaigns might seem overwhelming at first, but with the right tools and strategy, you can easily build a plan that works for your brand.

Build a high-quality SMS subscriber list

It’s a fact: you can’t have a revenue-driving SMS marketing strategy without an audience. Building a high-quality subscriber list won’t happen overnight, so the sooner you start actively collecting opt-ins, the better.

And another fact: brands that provide a variety of subscriber collection experiences are known to increase collection rates by over 40% MoM.

Not sure where to start? Here are some quick tips on subscriber collection – guaranteed to bring you quick wins (and TONS of new subscribers).

1. Start collecting subscribers at checkout

Brands that leverage an SMS opt-in directly at checkout see over 45% mobile number capture rates.

2. Enable an onsite pop-up

Pop-up subscribers are considered one of the most valuable types of SMS audience, with a 76% higher conversion rate and a 38% higher LTV, compared to other subscribers.

3. Don’t limit yourself

Your customers are everywhere! Brands that take an omnichannel approach enjoy 2x more subscribers and 25x ROI. Leverage your social media channels to turn followers into SMS subscribers. Use keywords or QR codes for cross-channel campaigns and catch shoppers where they are likely to engage with your brand.

Create compellings messages

Create compelling SMS messages

Now that you have clear campaign objectives and an audience waiting to hear from you, it’s time to think about the most important ingredient in the recipe for your SMS success: your message.

Your goal? Grab the attention of your subscribers and make them fall in love with your brand or product.

And while there are no specific rules on what to say in your message, these simple tricks will help make your SMS more engaging and memorable:

1. Add a visual

MMS messages convert better than SMS. Customers buy with their eyes, so it’s essential to put your product on top.

2. Make it personal

Approach shoppers with their first names or mention a product they’ve recently purchased. This will grab their attention from the start and help create a strong bond with your brand.

3. Add an incentive

Whether it’s a $10 gift card, a 15% discount, or free shipping – make them an offer they can’t (and won’t) refuse.

4. Use FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Urgency and scarcity are proven marketing tactics to get customers to act on your offer. Fast. Use phrases such as “hurry up,” “get it before it’s gone,” “offer ends tonight,” “get it before others do,” “while supplies last,” “limited quantities,” etc.

5. Add a pinch of humor, if appropriate

Whether it’s a dad joke around Father’s Day or a Halloween pun – it will surely make your message stick.

6. End with a clear CTA

Let customers know what’s expected of them: “buy now,” “shop now,” “grab the deal,” “get the discount,” etc.

Timing and frequency considerations

There is a fine line between effectively using SMS to promote your brand and products and simply spamming your audience.

When in doubt, ask yourself the following: am I being of value to my customers? If the answer is yes, move forward with this campaign. If not, think of ways to make your SMS marketing more relevant.

With text marketing frequency, a good rule of thumb is to send 4-6 messages per month to your entire subscriber list to keep your brand top of mind and, at the same time, keep unsubscribe rates on the low side. Monitor closely the performance of your campaigns and subscribers’ growth and adjust your strategy accordingly.

The same goes for the timing of your SMS marketing campaigns. Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach and see what works best with your product and audience. There is no clear rule on when to message your subscribers as long as you respect quiet hours and take into consideration your customers’ time zones.

“Some brands over-communicate with existing customers. You wouldn’t write 100 love letters after the first date, so it’s important to respect the windows you communicate in and the time of day as well. For example, an existing customer does not give a brand free permission to SMS at 7pm. Communication needs to be smart and timely.” — Adam Sharon-Zipser, Managing Director, Elephant Room.

Measuring SMS marketing success in eCommerce

As you continue to collect subscribers and engage them with various campaigns and automations, keeping track of your performance will be critical to understand what works (and what doesn’t) so that you can optimize for success.

SMS marketing analytics

Brands’ goals may differ, but we always recommend tracking the following SMS marketing performance metrics to measure your success and easily identify areas for improvement.

Subscriber growth

Subscriber growth is the ratio between SMS opt-ins and SMS opt-outs for a selected period, or, in other words, how many people decided to join or leave your text marketing club. Monitor this metric closely to see where most of your subscribers come from and how to leverage this information to further grow your audience.

Our tip: Take an omnichannel approach and use various tools to collect SMS subscribers at scale: whether at checkout, through an appealing pop-up, or, for example, via QR codes on product packaging.

Open rate

This one’s easy! With an open rate of 98%, SMS is the #1 communication channel to ensure your message gets seen.

Our tip: use contact cards to slide in customers’ contacts, further boost recognition, and position your brand as a trusted friend rather than just another unknown number so they are more likely to open your messages.

Click-through rate

A click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio between the people who have clicked on a link in a text and the whole group of people you’ve sent that text to.

Our tip: add an appealing visual, a clear CTA, and a pinch of FOMO to nudge subscribers to take action.

Conversion rate

The conversion rate shows how many people who clicked on a link in your text message purchased from your store.

Our tip: make sure the link leads directly to your offer, your website is mobile-friendly, and the checkout process is as quick and seamless as possible – for the highest chance of conversion every time.

Revenue generated

One of the easiest metrics to measure – how much revenue your SMS marketing efforts generated throughout the selected period.

Our tip: one simple trick to drive more revenue is to increase the average order value of your store, as both metrics are in direct correlation. To boost AOV, set a minimum order value for an additional incentive, try volume discounts, or simply group products in bundles.

Return on investment

If we need to choose one KPI to “rule them all,” it would be the Return on Investment (ROI). Monitor the ROI of each text message you send to gain valuable insights on what performs well, what doesn’t, and what you need to focus on when planning future campaigns.

Our tip: Focus on your highest-spending customers or try to replicate the success of your top-performing text marketing campaigns. Use advanced segmentation to approach shoppers with highly relevant offers and make the most out of every text you send.

Choose the right SMS marketing platform

Congratulations! With this list of effective strategies, you are now ready to take your SMS marketing to the next level.

But before you start texting, make sure you’ve chosen the right SMS marketing platform for your eCommerce business: one that will provide you with all the necessary tools to achieve your goals.

Wonder if Yotpo SMS & Email is the right fit? Talk to an expert today and see how we can help you build a solid, revenue-driving SMS program.


SMS Marketing FAQs

What is SMS marketing, and why is it important for eCommerce businesses?

SMS marketing, also known as text marketing, is a form of marketing where businesses use text messages to communicate with customers. It is crucial for eCommerce businesses due to its high open rate (98%) and the fact that over 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes. SMS provides a direct and personalized channel of communication between brands and customers, leading to increased customer engagement, trust, and loyalty, ultimately driving revenue for eCommerce stores.

What are the main types of text messages used in SMS marketing?

The main types of text messages used in SMS marketing are transactional messages and promotional marketing messages. Transactional messages are used to inform customers about the status of their orders, payments, shipments, or subscriptions. On the other hand, promotional marketing messages are used to present new products, announce flash sales, offer personalized discounts, and engage customers with compelling offers.

How can I automate my SMS marketing efforts to save time and resources?

Automating SMS marketing can save time and resources while delivering personalized and timely messages to customers. Choose an SMS marketing platform that offers automation features and allows you to set up custom text messages triggered by specific events. Automated SMS campaigns, such as welcome messages, abandoned cart reminders, and winback messages, work in the background 24/7, ensuring you never miss an opportunity to engage with customers.

What are abandoned cart reminders, and how can they help recover lost sales?

Abandoned cart reminders are SMS messages sent to customers who added products to their carts but left the website without purchasing. These reminders act as gentle nudges to encourage customers to return to their carts and complete their purchase. By offering limited-time discounts or incentives, eCommerce businesses can recover abandoned carts, and drive more revenue.

How can order confirmation and delivery updates through SMS improve the post-purchase experience for customers?

Order confirmation and delivery updates through SMS provide valuable post-purchase care, enhancing the overall customer experience. By notifying shoppers about their order status, shipment updates, and delivery details in real time, eCommerce businesses offer convenience and peace of mind to their customers. This improves customer satisfaction, fosters trust, and encourages repeat purchases.

Contributed to the article: Mariya Arabadzhieva-Todorova