Should We Be Doing Text Marketing?
In 2021, 79% of smartphone owners made a purchase using their phone. The pandemic may have left consumers with no other choice than to buy online, but even as stores have reopened, many consumers have found that they prefer the ease and convenience of shopping on their phones for a variety of goods. Most businesses have already incorporated social media and email into their marketing campaigns, but with the number of smartphone shoppers continuing to increase, independent retailers are turning to SMS marketing.
SMS marketing is the practice of sending promotions or other marketing materials to consumers via text messaging. Text messaging is, for most people, the primary means of mobile communication. If you want to reach someone and get an immediate response in your personal life, you will most likely send them a text. The same holds true for businesses communicating with customers. The average open rate for text messages is around 98%. By contrast, the average email open rate hovers around 25%. The difference in click-through rate is even more striking: 2.5% for email and 20% for text.
Why do consumers interact with texts so differently than with email? For one thing, text is convenient. You get a text notification and open it immediately (because that’s what people do), you see it’s a discount offer, you click the link that takes you directly to the product, you buy it. Some people might not have push notifications enabled for email, but just about everybody gets notified when they receive a text message.
Another advantage of SMS marketing is that you don’t have to rely on someone else’s servers as you do with Facebook or Instagram. If one of those platforms are down—or if your own website goes down—you still have access to all of your customers via text message.
How Independent Retailers Use Text Marketing
Many businesses use SMS marketing to solve the problem of cart abandonment. Carts are most often abandoned when customers forget they put something in their cart. A simple text reminder can bring them back to the site to complete their purchase.
Some businesses, such as Handheld Handmade, an online retailer that sells all manner of handmade goods, rely exclusively on SMS marketing to conduct all business. Their website is as bare-bones as can be, but when shoppers sign up to receive text messages, they’re asked to fill out a questionnaire about their interests. They then receive curated offers they can purchase by replying “buy.” That’s all there is to it: no catalog to browse, no account to log into; you get texts based on your answers to the questionnaire, and you can buy the product or ignore the text.
One of the strengths of text marketing is that it is useful at almost all points of the buyer’s journey. Once a visitor to your website opts in to receive text messages, you can send them a welcome message. You can send texts about products they might be interested in, offer persuasive information about or discounts on products they’ve added to their cart but haven’t purchased yet, and follow up with warranty, return, and care information after they’ve made a purchase. For things you’d like a customer to immediately act on, there is no more reliable method than text message.
However a business decides to use SMS marketing, they must make sure to comply with federal regulations. Consumers must opt-in to receive SMS marketing, and messages cannot be sent between 9PM and 8AM in the receiver’s time zone.
Text Marketing Tools
The independent business owner who is already managing an email list and social media accounts might be wondering where they will find the time to incorporate SMS marketing. But there are tools to help create, manage, automate, and launch SMS campaigns. Here are some of the most popular.
Postscript is an SMS marketing tool specifically for Shopify. It is fully integrated with your Shopify data and will let you send customized messages to multiple segments: welcome messages, promotions, nurture campaigns, and more. If you’re using Shopify, you should also be using Postscript.
Simple Texting works best, as its name implies, for simple campaigns, such as sending an announcement to everyone on your list.
Text Magic is an easy way to set up and manage an SMS marketing campaign. Its setup wizard guides users through importing contacts and writing, scheduling, and sending messages. In addition to being easy to use and powerful, it is one of the more affordable SMS marketing options.
Twilio offers great customization for businesses of all sizes, but can be intimidating for new users, as it is a developer platform rather than a marketing platform. You can do just about anything you want with this tool, but there is a learning curve. They do offer a free trial so you can decide if this is the right tool for you.