How to Use SMS to Reduce Subscriber Churn and Boost Retention | Yotpo

Last updated on January 7, 2024

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Catherine Lambert
Account Manager, France @ Swanky
March 21st, 2023 | 7 minutes read

Subscription retailers can leverage an SMS strategy to retain customers

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Do you communicate with your customers via SMS? Whilst email marketing has become the backbone of every eCommerce marketing strategy, SMS usage still remains low amongst subscription merchants.

And yet SMS is a flexible, fast channel for keeping customers informed about their subscriptions and engaged with your brand. What’s more, incorporating SMS into your marketing strategy can increase your customer lifetime value (CLTV).

If you’re a subscription retailer who is still hesitating over whether to adopt SMS as a new channel, this article explains how SMS can help to boost subscriber retention and reduce churn. We’ll guide you on how to create a first-class SMS experience for your brand that benefits your customers as well as your business.

Benefits of SMS for subscription brands

Before we dive into the details of building an effective SMS strategy, here are just some of the benefits SMS can have for your subscription brand.

1) Direct channel of engagement to reach customers at critical moments in their subscription journey

SMS is a channel that meets your subscribers where they are. Shoppers increasingly use their mobile devices to interact with the brands they love, so SMS is the perfect choice whenever it’s important to get your subscribers’ attention, fast. An SMS can alert the customer to time-sensitive issues, especially when there are decisions they need to make.

  • Subscription renewal: When their subscription is due for renewal, you can use SMS to offer your customer the opportunity to amend their subscription plan before it renews. This gives you the chance to upsell a more expensive plan, or encourage customers to add additional items to their monthly order.
  • Abandoned sign-up: If a shopper has recently abandoned the subscription sign up flow, tailor your abandoned cart reminder messaging so it highlights the benefits of becoming a subscriber. This is especially pertinent since mobile users have a higher rate of cart abandonment than other users.

2) Keeps customers informed about upcoming subscription deliveries

A negative delivery experience with a lack of communication could be the reason a subscriber churns. A smooth post-purchase customer experience is key for keeping your subscribers happy — and SMS can play an important role:

  • Delivery updates: Customers prefer to receive a text message with tracking information once their subscription order has shipped.
  • Communicate delays: If there are shipping delays, clear communication can alleviate customer frustration and save your customer support team time dealing with questions or complaints.

3) Offers subscribers flexibility in managing subscriptions without having to log into their account

This is especially useful for customers who don’t have easy access to a computer or who prefer to manage their subscriptions on their phone. Logging into an account can be time-consuming, especially if customers forget their login details.

By using interactive SMS messages, you can allow customers to modify their plan or even add additional items to their cart by simply replying to the message. Keeping things simple is key to an easy and enjoyable customer experience.

4) Nurtures rich, long-term subscriber relationships

Customers remain loyal to brands that offer an excellent customer experience and create a sense of belonging. Regular communication with your subscribers via SMS can help them feel like valued customers and keep them connected to your brand, informing them of new product releases and brand updates. The flexibility and ease of communication via SMS improves the customer experience, helping to build long-term relationships and reduce churn.

How to create an excellent SMS experience

Now you know the benefits of SMS as a marketing channel for subscription brands, here are some top tips for building an SMS strategy that delivers great results.

1) Leverage data to personalize text messages to subscribers

Personalization is king when it comes to customer experience, so it’s vital that your SMS messaging feels tailored to the individual subscriber. Subscriptions allow you to foster long-term relationships with loyal customers, so you want your subscribers to feel like VIPs.

  • Get to know your customers: consider using your subscription sign up flow as an opportunity to learn more about your customers. By creating a quiz, like this one used by Bouclème, you can help guide your customers to the best subscription plan for them, whilst at the same time collecting valuable information about their preferences.
  • Segment your customers according to gender, location, their subscription plan or the products they subscribe to, so you can offer them targeted messages that are more likely to convert. Yotpo’s robust segmentation engine allows you to create hyper-targeted segments based on advanced data points like customer behavior.

2) Implement real-time SMS flows

Save yourself time and resources by automating your SMS messages. Many touchpoints will be common to all your subscribers, so you can create SMS flows that are triggered by specific events.

SMS flows can be used in various ways:

  • Customer retention: Such as win-back messages for past subscribers, triggered a certain number of days after their last interaction.
  • Celebrate milestones: Create an SMS flow to message your subscribers on their subscription anniversary date, offering them rewards for their loyalty to your brand.
  • Post-purchase confirmation: Each customer can receive a confirmation SMS as soon as they have signed up for a subscription, or be alerted when their product is shipped.
  • Customer care: Personalized customer support through SMS to resolve any issues or answer questions.
  • Brand advocacy: An SMS can be triggered post-delivery to request a product review or user generated content that will add social proof to your site. You could even offer an incentive for customers to promote your brand on social media.

3) Enable shoppers to select subscription add-ons via SMS

As well as improving brand loyalty, SMS can be a great way to add to your CLTV through upselling and cross-selling. Using what you know about your subscribers and their preferences, you can recommend relevant products to them via SMS, with an option to add them to their monthly order before it is shipped.

4) A/B test your SMS campaigns

Learning more about your subscribers is key to reducing churn. Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a great way to better understand your subscriber behavior and learn what messaging they respond best to. This will improve the effectiveness of your SMS campaigns over time.

To A/B test your campaigns:

  • Decide on your KPIs for the campaign.
  • Draft two alternative messages, keeping the majority of the message identical, but testing changes to key wording, for example the call to action (CTA).
  • Divide your customers in two and send one variant to each half.
  • Measure the results of each variant against your KPIs.
  • If you want to be even more specific, you can segment your customers first according to engagement, type of subscription plan or other demographics, and test how certain wording performs with different customer segments.

You can use the learnings you gain not only to improve future SMS messaging, but to inform your communication strategy across all your channels, as you start to understand what resonates with your customers.

Unlock success with Yotpo SMS & Email

Yotpo SMS & Email is easy to use and integrates seamlessly with your other platforms. SMS & Email is designed to help brands connect with their customers on a personal level and offers a host of customisable templates to help you quickly and easily create effective messaging and automated flows.

If you’re looking for further support in implementing your SMS marketing strategy with Yotpo SMS & Email, Swanky provides commercially-guided eCommerce growth services for Shopify Plus brands all over the world, including subscription brands like Huel, HelloFresh, and YuMOVE.

As certified Yotpo partners, Swanky works alongside brands to help them implement innovative marketing strategies and improve key metrics such as conversion rate and customer lifetime value.

Contact the award-winning team at Swanky to find out more about how they can unlock your eCommerce potential.