Australian Shoppers Tell All: How (and Why) Brands Should Text Them

In our latest consumer survey, Australian shoppers revealed their motivations for texting with brands, what they like most about the channel, and how brands can create better customer experiences by sending the right messages.
INTRO
The Secrets to the Best SMS Marketing Are Finally Revealed

As far as marketing communication channels go, SMS marketing has been mostly overlooked by brands in Australia. But as mobile shopping continues to skyrocket, and more brands transition from brick and mortar to eCommerce, it’s time to start taking this marketing underdog seriously — before your competition does. So what is the secret to doing it right?

To find out, we polled hundreds of Australian consumers across six age groups and asked them to reveal their secrets to SMS marketing that will engage them, and we got some surprising results. Now when it comes to what, when, and how to text your shoppers, you can stop guessing and start knowing — and create the ultimate mobile experience.

It’s time to text your customers the way they want to be texted. In this survey report, we’ll give you key insights into:

    • What motivates shoppers to opt in to SMS messaging, and why they prefer it to other channels
    • What types of text messages shoppers want to receive from brands, and when they want to receive them
    • What reservations shoppers have about SMS, so your brand can combat them head on

    Plus, we share six strategies to help you craft a winning SMS programme that gets results.

    Table of Contents
    01
    Survey Methodology & Audience Data
    02
    Making a Great First Impression
    03
    The Need for Speed
    04
    Shoppers’ SMS Preferences Revealed
    05
    Stripping the Spam Stigma
    06
    Strategies for SMS Success
    01
    Survey Methodology & Audience Data
    02
    Making a Great First Impression
    03
    The Need for Speed
    04
    Shoppers’ SMS Preferences Revealed
    05
    Stripping the Spam Stigma
    06
    Strategies for SMS Success
    Survey Methodology & Audience Data
    Chapter 01
    Survey Methodology & Audience Data

    In July 2021, Yotpo conducted a survey of 500 Australian consumers who had shopped online in the past year. These shoppers spanned six different age groups (16-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, and 54+) and four demographics (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers).

    Of all shoppers polled, over 74% are signed up to receive text messages from at least one brand, compared to only 26% who haven’t yet signed up. There is clear interest in texting, and therefore a prime opportunity for brands to start taking advantage of the channel.

    For those 74% of shoppers who already receive texts, they mostly subscribe to a limited number of brands — 45% told us they have only signed up for 1-4 brands, while just 15% are signed up for 5-8 brands, and only 5% are signed up for 9-12 brands.

    These numbers indicate that, although shoppers want to text, they are still selective about who they choose to text with, making it crucial for brands to make their SMS programmes shine.

    How can you ensure you stand out from the competition and get on your shoppers’ SMS short-list? Start by making a great first impression.

    Making a Great First Impression
    Chapter 02
    Making a Great First Impression

    Because shoppers are selective, it’s important that you demonstrate the value of subscribing to your texts across the customer journey to ensure you engage everyone.

    Over 60% of Australian shoppers were likely to sign up to receive SMS messages in the course of their journey, but many of them want to know the brand first. When asked when they would sign up, more than 49% said they would sign up after their first purchase, or after a few purchases.

    For these shoppers, a one-time discount (such as 15% off your order, or free expedited shipping for new subscribers) can be an attractive incentive, but it’s typically not enough to convince them of your SMS programme’s worth.

    Instead, they are interested in the overall value of communicating with your brand via text, such as the ability to chat with you one-on-one or receive personalised product recommendations. They may be asking themselves, were they happy with the product they ordered, and do they plan to purchase more? Did they have a great customer experience, and will signing up for SMS messaging make that experience even better? These shoppers see texting as the start of a relationship, and their intention to be a lifetime customer goes hand-in-hand with their decision to opt in.

    Shoppers consider these perks and more when deciding if they want to receive text messages from brands.

    We asked them about the considerations they make, and over 50% claimed they consider the types of incentives (like discounts) that the brand offers. Another 48% consider if the products the brand offers are relevant to them, 43% how often they purchase those products, and 42% if they belong to the brand’s loyalty programme.

    These numbers further highlight the importance of a worthwhile value exchange for shoppers, both in terms of short-term value (one-time discounts) and long-term value (customer experience and relationship-oriented incentives).

    When asked specifically about which incentives would most motivate them to opt in, unlocking that one-time discount code was the most common answer (56%). Shoppers were also motivated by the prospect of getting early access to sales or new releases (47%), and direct order status and delivery notifications (41%).

    The data is clear. One-time offers are an absolute must for attracting shoppers to your SMS programme, but they are just that: one-time only, leading to one-time sales. Australian consumers are also thinking beyond that initial purchase to how much they trust and enjoy your brand as a whole. They need to know that you will provide a full, engaging, and personalised experience just for them in the place they have previously reserved for personal conversations (their phones).

    If there is one benefit to SMS that all shoppers can agree on, it’s how fast and easy it is to connect.

    The Need for Speed
    Chapter 03
    The Need for Speed

    Great SMS marketing is not passively consumed; it captures attention and prompts action. With 98% of text messages opened, and 90% of messages read within 3 minutes, texting provides a natural sense of immediacy for today’s mobile consumers who want everything at their fingertips — and that’s why they love it. Shoppers want real-time updates they can engage with, and texting offers a level of speed and convenience that other channels just can’t match.

    However, brands need to be everywhere their customers are, and we believe the more channels you use, the more successful you will be at reaching and connecting with them all. To see how SMS fits into an omni-channel marketing strategy, we asked shoppers: why would they sign up for SMS messages in addition to emails?

    Over 50% of shoppers said they would also sign up for SMS messages because they want to know immediately about promotions, offers, and updates. In addition, 24% said their email inboxes are overflowing, so they are more likely to see a brand’s message if it’s via text. More than 23% also noted that it would be worth signing up if each channel has its own exclusive offers.

    We also asked them why they prefer SMS to other marketing communication channels, and the results were similar — 35% said they prefer text messaging because it’s immediate, convenient, and allows them to quickly get updates.

    Heavy email saturation takes away that experience of immediacy, even if the email is about a limited time sale. With SMS marketing, shoppers can receive and act on relevant information at the exact moment it becomes available (especially if you include a link to your site) — over 82% of consumers have their SMS notifications turned on, making your brand’s messages difficult to ignore.

    Shoppers’ SMS Preferences Revealed
    Chapter 04
    Shoppers’ SMS Preferences Revealed

    We know that texting is the communication choice for many consumers, but what do they actually want from your brand’s SMS marketing? Our data shows that they see more value in an SMS programme that provides an element of control, creates engaging and exclusive experiences, and allows for communication without disruption.

    Shoppers want to be in the driver’s seat

    Consumers want to feel in control, especially when it comes to who can reach them on their phones. The nature of SMS marketing as a permission-based channel gives them that. Shoppers have to give their explicit permission to be marketed to via SMS by opting in, so you can’t text your customers unless they want you to text them. And if they ever decide they no longer want to hear from you, all they have to do is opt out.

    More than 36% of shoppers said they prefer SMS to other channels because they can easily opt out if they need to, though they rarely do. In fact, SMS has a less than 5% opt-out rate. Being able to simply text “STOP” if they aren’t happy with the messages they have been receiving makes them feel like they are steering the conversation, not the sender.

    Shoppers also expressed interest in being able to control the text messages themselves once they have opted in. When asked about which customisation options they would be most interested in, 55% of shoppers wanted to choose the types of messages they receive (such as sales offers, loyalty perks, and new product announcements), while 30% wanted control over the message frequency.

    Putting this control in the hand of the consumer and giving them the ability to choose makes every message more valuable to them. They get to decide not only who they receive messages from, but what those messages consist of, so that they are only seeing content that matters to them — leading to increased conversion rates and customer lifetime value.

    Shoppers want to be engaged with exclusive experiences

    Shoppers don’t want to receive the same message as everyone else. Every customer is unique, as are their shopping habits, and they want brands to cater to this individuality with messages that are personalised, relevant, and exclusive to them. To find out what content would best capture their attention, we asked them what would make a text message most engaging.

    Over 51% said a text message is most engaging when the brand sends them information relevant to their interests and past purchases. Almost 43% prefer when brands include direct links to their website, so they can conveniently click through without having to search, and 32% want to be greeted by name.

    Shoppers want brands to send them personalised and actionable (i.e. clickable) content, not the same generic messages that every other shopper receives.

    What other text message content would engage them and encourage them to take action? Loyalty perks and exclusive offers.

    More than 44% of shoppers surveyed said that receiving a text with information about their loyalty points or rewards would encourage them to complete a purchase, and 57% said a personalised offer (like 10% off) would encourage them to do the same. Providing these personalised and exclusive experiences is key to keeping shoppers engaged throughout the customer journey.

    Shoppers want communication, without disruption

    It’s not just important to send the right message to your customers, it’s also important to send the message at the right time. We asked shoppers what time of day would be best for brands to text them, so that your texts are always welcome and never bothersome.

    The answer wasn’t so clear cut. More than 37% of consumers answered that they would prefer to receive texts between 12:00pm – 6:00pm, while 30% preferred the morning to early afternoon hours, and 23% had no preference. However, only 9% of shoppers wanted to be texted after 6:00pm.

    Why might this be? Consumers could be commuting home from work, having dinner, enjoying personal plans they made, or even heading to bed early. Regardless of the specifics, it’s time they have reserved for themselves.

    Due to the high open rate of SMS, it’s important that text messages are sent at a time when the consumer can immediately take action, without feeling like they are being distracted or interrupted. This way, a text from your brand won’t ever feel like spam.

     

    Stripping the Spam Stigma
    Chapter 05
    Stripping the Spam Stigma

    Text message marketing is not telemarketing, but the days of endless cold calling have caused some consumer reservations to linger. Shoppers are wary of sharing private information with brands, fearing irrelevant and uninteresting spam. However, SMS has powerful personalisation and customisation capabilities, giving it the potential to change these perceptions.

    We wanted to know, is spam the main reason why shoppers wouldn’t want to receive text messages from brands?

    It certainly seems to be the case. Shoppers are worried that their phone numbers will be shared with third parties (38%), or that they will be texted by the brand too frequently (58%). Other responses included receiving “constant messages” and “spam.”

    The frequency of spammy texts proved to be a main concern for the shoppers surveyed — 71% said receiving too many texts would make them want to opt out, and 55% said they would opt out if the texts are not relevant or helpful to them.

    Does this mean brands shouldn’t text? Not at all. Over 51% of consumers worldwide want to text with their favourite brands. To ease concerns, brands should offer shoppers some control over the types of messages they receive, and tailor every SMS campaign to fit your customers’ interests and preferences. That way, you can ensure you are always delivering content they care about.

    Strategies for SMS Success
    Chapter 06
    Strategies for SMS Success

    Now that shoppers have spilled their secrets to engaging them the right way with SMS, we would like to share our tips for getting started and making your channel as successful as it can be. Here are six strategies to inspire your customers to opt in, and ensure they never want to opt out — because with SMS, it’s easy to give every shopper the exact experience they want.

    1. Provide value to get them interested

    In order to motivate your shoppers to sign up, your brand first needs to convey the value of SMS — and that looks different for every shopper. Some shoppers are only focused on getting great deals, while most Australian consumers are thinking about their commitment to your brand and your products. So offer them perks that are exclusive to your subscriber community, and show them how your relationship will grow and evolve once SMS is in the mix.

    Our tip to engage both of these mindsets? Grab their attention from the start with the opportunity to unlock a coupon, such as $10 off, 20% off, or free shipping. But don’t stop at this limited sale — give them a glimpse of what your relationship will look like with SMS. This could be through offering exclusive first-access to new product releases, always keeping them in the loop about special events, or staying in touch with regular updates about their loyalty status. Experiment with different incentives and offer values to determine what is most attractive to your brand’s shoppers.

    2. Make it easy for them to opt in

    Once they know why they should opt in, give them multiple opportunities to do so. Meet your customers wherever they are by taking a multi-channel approach to subscriber collection, and include at least 3-4 on-site and off-site collection opportunities for maximum results. We’ve got some ideas to get you started:

    • Customise branded pop-ups to catch your mobile consumer’s eye as they shop, or utilise our native tap-to-subscribe feature for even easier opt-in.
    • Add a footer or checkout widget to your website to ensure you are capturing all of your site visitors.
    • Send an email campaign to your email subscribers with a CTA that directs them to a dedicated SMS sign up page (where you can promote all the great things your SMS programme has to offer).
    • Engage shoppers on social media by sharing a story with a unique keyword, or have them swipe up to subscribe.
    • You can even use QR codes to collect subscribers at your storefront, or as part of your packaging inserts for online orders.

    Audiences differ, so test out different methods of collecting your subscribers across channels, online, and offline to engage them wherever and whenever they are most active.

    3. Address privacy and security concerns upfront

    For shoppers who are still on the fence, there is an opportunity for brands to provide clear direction on the privacy and security measures you have in place. Your list might be built for GDPR compliance, but the average consumer might not know what that means.

    Clearly communicate the strict SMS opt-in and opt-out policies you stand by, how you will be using their phone number, and why their private information will be safe with you to really create an aura of transparency and gain their trust, which will ultimately lead to higher opt in rates.

    4. Leverage customer data to segment your audience

    A one size approach does not fit all. Leverage the data you have at your fingertips — including gender, location, and purchase history — to segment your audiences so you are always sending the most relevant messages.

    To further tailor your texts to your customers’ preferences, ask your SMS subscribers about their interests and give them options. What products are they considering, or do they want to hear more about? What types of messages would they like to receive from your brand? Not only will you learn more about your customers through this zero-party data, but you will also create a more personalised experience for every shopper, helping you to nurture the customer relationships your brand hopes to build.

    If you send messages that are tailored to each shopper’s unique interests, needs, and purchase behaviours, you can guarantee that you won’t be mistaken for spam, and the frequency of your texts will no longer be cause for concern but excitement.

    5. Send your most engaging content (when they can act on it)

    Shoppers are most engaged by text messages that are relevant to their interests, which is why it’s so important for brands to learn about their customers and ask them about their preferences. What can you do beyond this? Greet them by name. Then include a clear call to action and a direct link in every text you send — this way, your subscriber can quickly and easily take action, increasing the chance of conversion. If they have to pull up your website or app on their own, it’s likely that you will miss out on potential revenue.

    And don’t forget one of the biggest drivers of purchases: discounts. Give your subscriber community exclusive offers from time to time. If they are a loyalty member, reach out to tell them how close they are to reaching the next tier in your programme, or let them know how many points they will earn from their next order.

    Unless your message is automatically triggered by a customer’s action (like their latest purchase), we recommend delivering the bulk of these messages within the early afternoon to late afternoon hours, when you won’t be too disruptive to your customers’ morning or nighttime routines. If you have customers in different locations, make sure to text them according to their time zones so you can stay as true to this as possible.

    To determine the preferred hour for your unique customers, consider running a test: send the same message at two different times to two different groups to see which performs better. Alternatively, look back at your message performance over time to identify trends — are your click-through rates higher when texts are sent at 11:00am than at 3:00pm, or vice versa? Once you’ve narrowed down the optimal time to text, you can maximise the results of every message.

    6. Supplement email with SMS

    The data shows that SMS should not replace your other marketing communication channels, but complement them. Take a dual-approach to SMS and email to disseminate information appropriately and improve engagement across channels, and encourage your customers to sign up for both to always be “the first to know.” Leverage a subscriber collection tool that’s optimised for dual-capture of email and SMS, so you can consolidate collection efforts with one engaging touchpoint.

    With these two different channels comes the opportunity for different content, so don’t just copy and paste what you wrote in that email into your next text. Because of the brief and conversational nature of text messages, brands can take a more casual, fun, and personal approach to text messaging while still maintaining your unique brand voice.

    If you are not sure which channel to use for which message, you don’t have to guess which is best — let your subscribers decide. Send a text to ask them which messaging interests them the most. Consider prioritising SMS for messages of high urgency that your customers need and want to know, like order status updates or limited time offers — 27% of shoppers said a text with a countdown to when a sale or offer expires would encourage them to complete a purchase.

    Keep an eye on your metrics, and A/B test your text messages so you can optimise for even better results. Adding a sense of urgency and personalising the copy of your SMS campaigns can significantly boost performance.

     

    Conclusion

    SMS might still be under the radar in Australia, but the numbers show that it is a highly desirable and valuable communication tool for brands and consumers alike — when it is done right. With these shoppers’ secrets and our strategies, you can jump into the channel today and be on your way to crafting a mobile experience that makes them fall in love with your brand.

    But remember, SMS is not a set it and forget it channel — so ask your shoppers for feedback, analyse your data, and optimise as you go, and it will quickly become one of your brand’s top revenue drivers.

    At Yotpo, we’re experts at building an SMS marketing strategy from the ground up and optimising the channel to meet your brand’s goals, create captivating customer experiences, and spark relationships that drive revenue. Request a demo with us to learn more secrets to SMS success, or get started now.

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