The Rise of SMS Marketing (And Why It's Here to Stay)

As brands look for new strategies to connect with their consumers, SMS marketing has emerged as the top channel to drive revenue, fast. Deep dive into the past, present, and future of today's highest-converting marketing channel.
INTRO
SMS marketing is quietly taking over the eCommerce industry.

As mobile usage continues to skyrocket — five billion people around the world today are using mobile phones — text messaging has become a go-to means of communication. However, while consumers have been busy texting each other for years, brands have only just begun to catch on to the power of SMS.

Until now.

Today, SMS is the fastest growing marketing channel for brands around the world. Almost half (49%) of consumers have already signed up to receive SMS messages from their favorite brands, and statistics estimate that by the end of this year, 49 million consumers will agree to receive SMS notifications from brands.

So, what sparked the sudden turn to SMS? Seismic shifts in consumer behavior, brand marketing strategies, and technological innovations have paved the way for an SMS takeover — and it’s here to stay.

Read on to learn about the evolution of mobile communication, the power of SMS to drive fast revenue, and our predictions for how SMS fits into the future of eCommerce. Plus, see examples of real brands who are making SMS work for them.

Table of Contents
01
Innovation, fast tracked: How did we get here?
02
SMS marketing: A brand's most powerful channel
03
SMS in action: 4 brands creating revenue-driving mobile experiences
04
Our predictions: The future of SMS marketing
01
Innovation, fast tracked: How did we get here?
02
SMS marketing: A brand's most powerful channel
03
SMS in action: 4 brands creating revenue-driving mobile experiences
04
Our predictions: The future of SMS marketing
Innovation, fast tracked: How did we get here?
Chapter 01
Innovation, fast tracked: How did we get here?

Widespread cultural changes and technological advancements have taken place.

Consumers are on their phones more than ever. The average person now spends over five hours a day on their phone, and 90% of messages are read within three minutes

Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2016 – 2021.

 

Not so long ago, text messaging was a luxury. Early phone plans charged per text and allowed limited characters, making every message precious and sparking new, adaptive ways of communicating. Now, a phone plan with an unlimited number of texts seems commonplace; the average person sends at least 15 texts a day. 

As mobile phone usage has become more widespread, consumers have demanded more from their devices.

New apps and built-in shopping capabilities have sprung up to meet that demand, transforming the mobile phone into more than just a communication device. Consumers can now browse, buy, sell, track, photograph, and share purchases all with their fingertips. According to Shopify, 70% of Millennials spend over six hours per week shopping online, and they prefer text messages to emails in order to communicate with businesses on their phones; on mobile, shopping becomes more social, personal, and convenient.

Consumers have changed, too. 

As texting became the quick and engaging way to communicate between friends and family, consumers began to crave these experiences from brands as well. 

Today, consumers not only prefer to be able to engage in conversations with the brands they purchase from — they expect it. According to Chief Marketer, consumers desire both one-word answers (yes, no, help) and natural language feedback at the level of two-way communication with businesses, and 60% of Millennials prefer two-way text engagement because it’s easy to use, fast, and convenient.

Short-form content, like texts, also easily caters to ever-shrinking consumer attention spans. Rather than viewing the messages they receive as spam, consumers actually want to receive texts from brands they like; the majority (68%) of consumers find SMS messages sent to them from a company to be valuable, rivaling email at 46%. With SMS marketing, brands can generate growth without gimmicks. They can be direct without distracting from brand identity.

Luckily, consumers’ desires to build connections opens a massive opportunity for brands to drive customer lifetime value with SMS anytime, anywhere. 

Brand marketing has evolved to keep up with demand. 

To reach customers in an expanding market, eCommerce brands have had to focus efforts on targeting shoppers more effectively.

Traditional marketing channels, like email, have become saturated; nearly 269 billion emails are sent per day and approximately 50% are spam. Shoppers receive more messages than they know what to do with, making it more important than ever for brands to be able to cut through the noise to reach their customers.

SMS marketing presented itself as a highly effective channel. Today, texting drives 8x higher engagement rates than email.

SMS marketing: A brand's most powerful channel
Chapter 02
SMS marketing: A brand's most powerful channel

SMS marketing has evolved quickly throughout the years. We’ve partnered with brands as they’ve experimented with the channel, learned from their customers, and built their SMS marketing strategies from the ground up.

“As marketers, we saw the opportunity for SMS marketing to solve a variety of pain points almost instantly. With this channel, brands could not only have a way to communicate with their shoppers, but to also build relationships with them — a shift that had the potential to change the course of eCommerce. We started SMSBump to drive that change.”

— Mihail Stoychev, CEO & Co-Founder, SMSBump

 

With SMSBump, brands are able to drive revenue quickly by sending hyper-tailored messages to engaged customers. Not only that, SMS empowers customers to respond, sparking conversations that drive conversion and lifetime value. In fact, 70% of brands view SMS as a top way to create personalized experiences for their shoppers.

SMS marketing is the top revenue-driving channel D2C brands need in today’s mobile-first eCommerce landscape. Here’s why.

sms infographic

Sources: Yotpo Consumer Survey, Yotpo SMS Marketing Guide, SMSBump, Mobile Marketing Watch, GSMA, LeadsBridge, Connect Mogul.

 

Our SMSBump team has been at the epicenter of SMS marketing innovations, making waves that have rippled throughout the eCommerce industry as a whole.

Over the years, we’ve strived to take a unique approach, ensuring we push the SMS market forward. We’ve made it our mission to live and breath SMS marketing since day one, working to help thousands of brands launch a top-notch SMS strategy and navigate changes as the channel continues to evolve.

SMS in action: 4 brands creating revenue-driving mobile experiences
Chapter 03
SMS in action: 4 brands creating revenue-driving mobile experiences

SMS is now an essential part of modern eCommerce marketing, and more brands are catching on. We’ve already seen an increased adoption of SMS strategies that support mobile consumers. But SMS is about more than just catering to the digitally-savvy — it’s about driving your company’s success.

How can SMS marketing empower your brand to craft customer experiences that yield results? Take a look at these success stories.

Princess Polly leverages SMS to collect 95k+ reviews and visual UGC

Princess Polly, proclaimed “Australia’s best online fashion boutique,” has become a global eCommerce sensation. Their chic and easy-to-wear items are trending across Instagram and TikTok with Gen Z consumers who shop social, buying clothes they see in their feeds and sharing their favorite purchases. Turning to SMS marketing to build direct connections with this younger, mobile audience was a no-brainer for the brand.

Over 50% of Princess Polly’s VIP customers are already signed up for SMS, and they continue to find new ways to add and engage subscribers. Using Yotpo’s integrated solutions, Princess Polly texts their loyalty customers directly for feedback in the form of reviews, star ratings, photos, and videos. These SMS engagements have increased ROI by 10.3x, and enabled the brand to collect over 95,000 product reviews and counting. Princess Polly displays the collected reviews and visual content across their website to maximize social proof, ultimately ensuring that interested shoppers convert to even more loyal customers.

MTN Ops achieves 222x ROI with targeted welcome flows

Outdoor energy and performance nutrition brand MTN Ops also leverages the power of SMS and Loyalty to drive revenue. They engage new SMS subscribers from the start with customizable welcome flows, asking questions about customer interests so that they can offer tailored recommendations that build trust and drive conversion.

Not only have welcome flows helped the brand achieve 222x ROI, including over 36% CTR and 27% CVR, but they can now leverage the replies to further personalize the customer experience. MTN Ops matches new product drops and sales to each customer’s unique attributes and preferences, helping them to find exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Personalized text campaigns encourage non-rewards members to join MTN Ops’s loyalty program, too. Once they’ve been converted, MTN Ops keeps them engaged at key points of the customer journey to increase their lifetime value. Loyalty members receive texts when they’ve reached a new VIP status, a strategy that’s driven over 125x ROI, as well as regular offers, promotions, education campaigns, and more — all on their mobile devices.

“We’ve really been able to engage with our loyalty customers through SMS — it’s been a game changer and has helped us drive even more repeat purchases. It was really simple to set up. We used the guidance from our CSM and it’s been running itself ever since.”

— Chris Neff, MTN Ops

Googan Squad increases ROI by 142x with the Googan Text Club

Googan Squad, the go-to brand for fishing enthusiasts, makes products “for the everyday angler by the everyday angler.” The brand leverages SMS to drive sales, engage customers at key touchpoints, and reduce some major eCommerce pain points: cart abandonment and browse abandonment.

When an SMS subscriber leaves an item behind in their shopping cart, Googan Squad sends a triggered SMS flow to re-engage them and encourage them to purchase. These abandonment flows have already helped the brand increase ROI by 142x, with over 40% CVR.

In addition to driving revenue, Googan Squad has also taken advantage of SMS marketing to create a community of loyal customers with the Googan Text Club. They advertise their exclusive club across channels to grow mobile subscribers, then send news, promotions, and giveaways straight to their customers’ phones. As an SMS marketing strategy, the Googan Text Club pairs well with the brand’s loyalty program, Team Googan, to inspire shoppers and send engagements that are most meaningful to them.

Parks Project uses advanced A/B testing to craft the perfect message

Parks Project is an eCommerce brand built with a purpose: to promote, protect, and preserve national parks. The brand supports the preservation and care of America’s parklands through creative collections of quality goods, which help to fund vital park projects. SMS has become their latest tool to reach an increasingly mobile-only audience.

Parks Project treats their SMS audience to offers they wouldn’t receive online or in-store, along with letting them know about upcoming sales and sending alerts when popular items are back in stock. By A/B testing variables like discounts or SMS vs. MMS, Parks Project iterates to craft the perfect message for every customer, every time. With over 80x ROI on their exclusive sales announcements, Parks Project is expertly positioned to continue their track record of success, and our parklands will thank them.

Our predictions: The future of SMS marketing
Chapter 04
Our predictions: The future of SMS marketing

SMS is already the highest-performing marketing channel for brands, and it’s only just the beginning. 

Here are our predictions for where SMS marketing is headed. 

1. Text-to-buy is coming

The next big thing? eCommerce in your pocket. SMS marketing will become a tool where customers can shop simply by responding to the messages they receive. With text-to-buy, consumers’ shopping experiences will become more streamlined — the next step in conversational commerce.

2. Richer, engagement-centric experiences

Multimedia messages (MMS) are just the beginning of an engaging SMS strategy. New formats and design elements within texts will enable messages to become more brand-specific. 

Not only will brands be texting consumers on a first-name basis, but the messages will become more visually engaging, with on-brand elements that immediately build brand credibility and drive engagement.

3. Integrating SMS with every marketing channel

A channel is made only more powerful by its platform, and vice versa. We expect a shift toward more platform synergies in the future, where brands will build marketing strategies that leverage all of their efforts, including SMS, loyalty and referrals, reviews and ratings, email, social, and more, in an interconnected way.

For example, it will be easier than ever for shoppers to leave reviews, receive loyalty program updates and offers, send referrals, and more, all via text. SMS marketing will continue to establish itself as an integral component of a brand’s eCommerce marketing platform.

4. AI-powered smart texting

Brands will look to leverage artificial intelligence within their SMS strategy. They’ll be able to foster more concierge-style conversations, where they can provide more accurate response suggestions based on the conversation. 

With smart texting, brands can respond more easily to texts and initiate 1:1 chats with customers — making every shopper feel special.

5. Messages that customers appreciate

SMS compliance regulations are built to protect consumers; they keep messages to a minimum and ensure that brands can’t inundate shoppers with unwelcome texts, creating a unique customer experience with every message.

SMS won’t make the same mistakes as email when it comes to spam; instead, messages will remain exclusive. Customers will only receive the messages they want and engage with brands on their own terms. 

Looking ahead, tirelessly innovating

The growth of SMS marketing and the story of SMSBump are intrinsically linked. SMSBump has driven reputable growth for the channel and continues to innovate with every passing day — and that drive to create isn’t stopping anytime soon. 

“If you’re a growing brand, it’s time to double down on SMS marketing before your competitors do. I’m excited about what we can do for our customers to make SMS one of the most powerful channels for engagement and retention.”

— Tomer Tagrin, CEO, Yotpo

 

As the eCommerce industry evolves, SMSBump by Yotpo will be there, helping brands build engaging connections with their customers and drive lifetime value that lasts.

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