Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
But do customers really love marketing text messages? Or are they negatively perceived? The unknown behind the answer is what’s stopping most eCommerce merchants from leveraging this channel in their marketing mix.
Let’s clear the air: customers love SMS marketing – if you do it right and follow some key principles.
In this article, we’ll go over what types of text messages customers love to receive from their favourite brands and why you should consider using them as well. But, if at any point you decide you’d like to step over to the conversational side of SMS marketing, give us a call.
1. Discount Wars
It's a well known fact that coupons and discount codes will persuade customers to head over to your store, as evidenced by numerous successful sale deals or price cuts around certain periods of the year. So the question was never if you should use discount codes with SMS marketing, but when should you use them and how.
A lot of online retailers will take to SMS marketing to bombard customers with discount codes delivered at random, leaving little to no room for them to form a brand connection through real value and relevant content.
What retailers fail to realize when pursuing this 'Discount-first' strategy is a crucial difference between selective coupon sales and everyday low prices: urgency. When you are sending out coupons left and right, the brand hype and value decreases over time in the eyes of the consumer - no need to buy today, there will be another discount tomorrow, and the day after and so on.
Take a look at Apple - they rarely (if ever) offer any discounts, and yet they register record sales year after year. That is because their customers are already hyped about the brand, there is a large loyalty sentiment around their products and, discount or no discount, those customers are going to buy - they don't need to be lured into the stores through a coupon. In fact - can you really imagine Apple offering a 50% off everything sale event? Yeah, me neither.
So why do retailers insist on using that strategy day in and day out through SMS marketing? Take a look at some real text messages some of our colleagues received (links changed to protect the privacy of the retailer)
2. No personalization
Reportedly 91% of us keep our mobile devices within arm’s length at all times. And with open rates of text message marketing at a staggering 95%, it’s no wonder that some merchants send bulk texts in the hopes that each and every single one of them will result in a purchase.
However, violating a shopper’s personal space with too much content and bombarding them with marketing messages will have the exact opposite effect to what you’re working for and the only result you’ll be getting is mass unsubscribing.
Unsubscribe rates tend to increase significantly once merchants send more than 2 texts in a 7-day period. So limit your SMS communications to once or twice a week or, if you are just starting out, communicate exclusively about the shoppers' abandoned carts.
If you are just starting out with SMS marketing, we know it can feel like fighting against the windmill, especially when you really want to do it right from the beginning. That’s why we’re here – send us a note and we can help you get started.
SMS Marketing doesn’t work without personalization, and in turn, relevance. Most automated SMS marketing campaigns focus on sending out bulk text message blasts with little to no personalization. Not only does this affect your customers in the present moment, but it alters the way they feel about the information they receive from you. Not only that, but they are also reluctant to click through SMS links for fear of being bombarded with retargeted ads.
While this is a problem for your shoppers (which they thus solve by installing ad-block software), it is a bigger problem for eCommerce stores that end up seeing a decline in customer interaction and a rise in unsubscribe requests following a campaign.
True SMS marketing personalization is possible with conversational texts that focus not on volume, but on the real value they provide. For many eCommerce stores, with apps like Cartloop leverage intelligent use of both AI and human experts, text marketing is becoming a strong differentiator in their marketing strategy, as it allows them to create a personalized, relevant experience to every single one of their customers.
3. No added-value
One of the key points of ensuring your customers engage with your SMS marketing campaigns is providing real value to your audience. Fail to do so, and you might as well quit SMS marketing altogether. In general, promotional communications are seen with disapproving eyes – but, if you develop content that is valuable to your subscribers, you help motivate them to remain subscribed and engaged.
Value in a promotional SMS marketing campaign can come in many shapes and forms. From a personal discount code to answering support questions through a text, we each value something different in terms of what we’d like to see from a brand’s marketing communications. Sending three consecutive text messages about abandoned carts, is not real value to the shoppers.
If you’d like to turn your SMS marketing around and provide real value, check out how Cartloop Recovery Experts offer value to our shoppers through real-time communication:
4. Overused and Under-Defined
Many times we dread opening our inboxes and having to swim through heaps of promotional emails that are irrelevant, boring and unsolicited. Email used to be hip and people used it for fun, relevant communications. In those early days, not everyone had an email address (or even Internet, for that matter) and it felt good to be amongst the select few who did.
We also used to enjoy receiving emails but now the tables have turned. If you want to get a $2 discount from an online store, they ask for your email address and you get emails from them for the rest of your life.
A steep price to pay for $2 off, don’t you think?
SMS marketing is no different. Done right, most people love text marketing.
Problems come up when brands overuse this personal way of communication, and want to cash in quick rewards rather than building personal relationships with the customers: the classic quick win vs long term gain problem.
With conversational SMS marketing, you are able to reach the right people at the right time and minimize the possibility of annoying your database. Starting a conversation with your shoppers – that actually want to hear from you – not only reduces their anxiety when dealing with your brand or eCommerce store, but also increases your chances of them becoming a repeat purchase and associating your name with a positive emotion.
5. Bots, Bots, Bots...
Text messaging keeps on being one of the most personal communications channels globally. We use it with families and friends, and, lately - with brands. But the top mistake that brands make when integrating SMS marketing in their strategy is forgetting that because this is such a personal channel, your tone of voice should follow suit. Scripted messaging and bulk texts will do the exact opposite of what you'd like your text messages to do: they will turn your customers away and make them not only ignore your messaging, but go to great lengths to ensure they never get a text from you again.
And let’s be honest: once that happens, it is highly unlikely you will get a second chance with that customer. More often than not, we make buying decisions driven by emotions rather than logic. Nowadays, it isn’t about the loyalty points to a faceless brand anymore – it’s about creating genuine and meaningful relationships with your customers that in turn become your loyal fans. All without the actual loyalty points.
And the most effective way to prove the human side of a brand – be it eCommerce or any other industry – is to prove understanding, empathy or joy to their customers. And what better way to do that than by connecting them quickly via a text message whenever they have a problem to solve?
We’ve seen this time and time again and chatted with our Experts about the benefits of connecting with a customer. From recovering abandoned carts, to turning a negative comment on social media into a stellar customer review.
Regardless of how far you decide to take your SMS campaign, always remember that the key to a genuine customer connection is authenticity. Your brand’s promise to the audience and your way of communicating with them through SMS should always be genuine and understanding.
How to Turn Your SMS Marketing Game Around
The major difference between a typical bulk SMS campaign and a successful text marketing strategy is conversational marketing. SMS Marketing has the potential to be one of your most engaged and successful channels – that’s why cultivating a sense of trust is crucial. As people are a bit wary to begin with when sharing their personal data, using it sparingly and purposefully will make your customers feel better about it. And ultimately, about you as a brand.
You now have a direct line of communication with your most loyal customers, who have given permission to communicate with you through a highly personal channel.
Texting your support question is far easier and more convenient for customers than opening an email ticket, waiting for a reply (sometimes for days in a row), only to have to reply with a clarification and then go back to waiting. You shouldn’t limit yourself by just sharing promo codes every now and then, but try to include real customer service through SMS. Your customers will love you for it.
If you'll take one takeaway from this article, it should be that conversational marketing is the future. So don't fall into the trap of volume vs value - overusing a channel in the hopes of securing faster ROI will only render your texts useless. Follow the same guidelines you would for emails and social media - you wouldn't post the same image several times on your Instagram account, would you? So why do it for the other marketing channels?
If you want your customers to love your text marketing, send your messages sparingly and as needed: when a customer abandons their cart, when they ask you a question, or, when you have a personalized promotion worth sharing.
This is the core of what we do at Cartloop: building true relationships with our customers. Our goal is to create opportunities for shoppers to engage with online stores and let them see the human, empathic side of their favorite brands, not just sending promo codes.
Don't believe us? Give it a try! Sign-up for a free 14-day trial at Cartloop, and see for yourself. No strings attached. If you don't like it (although we know you will), you still get to keep the profits. Doesn't get better than that, does it?