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eCommerce SMS Marketing: Do Customers Love It or Hate It?

The average person sends and receives over 100 texts a day and 23 billion texts are sent worldwide each day. Keeping that number in mind, it’s no surprise that brands are taking to text marketing more and more as a channel of communication and support between them and customers. But do customers really love marketing text messages? Or are they negatively perceived? The unknowns behind the answer is what’s stopping most eCommerce merchants from leveraging this channel in their marketing mix.

How many texts have you received today?

The average person sends and receives over 100 texts a day and 23 billion texts are sent worldwide each day.  Keeping that number in mind, it’s no surprise that brands are taking to SMS marketing more and more as a channel of communication and support between them and customers.

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.

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So let’s look at some different types of SMS marketing and why customers like or dislike each of them, and what you can do about it.

Why Your Customers Hate SMS Marketing

No Permission

You may think that compiling a list of phone numbers is enough to get started with SMS marketing. Not only is sending text messages without permission in violation of data regulations, it is also bad practice from a branding point of view.

Customers do love conversational SMS marketing, as long as they agreed to have that conversation with you. If you are just starting to include text messages in your marketing mix, your goal is to give a good impression of your brand. To do so, allow your customers to opt in to marketing communications before you start sending those text messages.

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Take a look below at what sort of reactions you should expect if you violate a consumer’s right to decide against marketing communications from brands:

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But you’d never do that. Right?

That’s why platforms like Cartloop that allow the customer to share their contact details and opt-in to text marketing are vital to your SMS communications as a successful eCommerce business.  Ask your shoppers to click on the opt-in box on the checkout page – it’s that easy!

How To Turn It Around

Merchants should set up an Opt In Checkbox at checkout in order to collect phone numbers for marketing campaigns.

Federal law (TCPA) and GDPR for European customers require that you receive “prior express written consent” from any customer that you send a marketing text message to. You also need to know that just because you have established a business relationship (e.g. a customer acquired a product from you), that doesn't equate user consent to contact them.

Over Sharing

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.

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How To Turn It Around

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 when shoppers abandon their 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.

Not Personalized

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. 

How To Turn It Around

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. 

Doesn’t Add 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.  

How To Turn It Around

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. 

If you’d like to turn your SMS marketing around and provide real value, check out some of the reasons why our customers love our texts below.


Why Your Customers Love SMS Marketing


Convenient

Marketers have had a ‘mobile-first’ strategy for many years. They understand the importance of being there for your customers in an efficient and suitable way. 

Much of the appeal of SMS marketing is that it’s convenient for both companies and customers. Mobile has become the most used communications channel both between brands and their customers, but also between peers.  With our phones always within arm’s length, people are likely to read the entire text simply because it’s short and to the point. Add customized value to it and a 2-way stream of communication and you’ve got yourself the start of a winning customer relationship.

While many eCommerce stores are playing catch-up with social engagement through various channels, none of them are as convenient as a text message. As we place a premium on convenience and brands that expedite customer service, reaching out to your consumers where they communicate the most will command a much higher response rate than any other approach such as in-app notifications, pop ups or email. 

Reduces Inbox Anxiety

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? 

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. 

Real Value

Do you know why most of us dislike marketing emails? It’s because there’s no real value behind them – we all know they’ve been sent to thousands of users with little to no customization at all and, more often than not, they are irrelevant to our personal situation.

Do better with SMS marketing. In order for customers to love your text messages, you need to switch the way you look at your communications stream. Typical SMS marketing is about promotions, while 2-way SMS marketing is about conversations.

One of the key benefits of conversational SMS marketing is that it has the chance of becoming similar to a live support function: provide real value and solve real problems, one client at a time. Leverage that, and you have yourself a winning text marketing strategy.  

Take a look below at a few screenshots from actual conversations between our experts and actual customers. Do you see how this conversational approach is a step up from traditional automated SMS marketing campaigns?

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Cartloop solves various technical support issues, product or shipping questions.

The key to any successful interaction - be it via SMS or otherwise - is showing you care. And sometimes, in the midst of marketing campaigns, empathy can fall through the cracks. That's why taking the time to understand your customers and what they are interested in can make wonders in terms of building a strong customer bond.

Take a look at a real conversation taken from one of our Cart Recovery Experts conversations with a simple reach out to one individual with no special promotion but a custom solution to their unique interests:

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Who would say no to a personal discount code?

Emotional Connections

Let’s be honest: oftentimes 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 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. 

Empathy & Real-Time Support 

When you adopt a new marketing channel, most of us are tempted to overuse it in the hope it will show ROI sooner. Don’t fall into that trap. Millions of irrelevant marketing messages are sent every day – not just SMS, but emails, social media ads, even phone calls.

If you want your customers to love your messages, send them sparingly and only when needed, case by case: when a customer abandons their cart, when they ask a question or when you have a promotion worth sharing.

Unlike regular email or typical, Cartloop is about building human relationships with consumers. Instead of a 1-way communication, we use a combination of real people and AI to connect and convert customers into loyal advocates.  This is significant as most text marketing adopters focus on 1-way automation and one-off messages – and the results are not very encouraging. The reason behind it is that 1-way text marketing is similar to emails that go unresponded. Your goal is to create opportunities for your customers to start a conversation and engage with you – to see the human side of their favourite brand, not just to send out promo codes.

Successful text marketing improves your customers’ experience, by reducing shopping anxiety, frustration and increasing happiness through seamless communication.  When your customers know a certain brand is just a text message away, you can safely say your strategy works.

Trust

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.  

Easy Opt-Out

Under GDPR and TCPA, all merchants are required to honour opt out requests from marketing communications. Failure to do so can bring about high fines for eCommerce stores and brands alike. 

That’s why platforms like Cartloop developed an easy opt-out feature that automatically unsubscribes all customers who changed their mind about receiving text message communications. All customers need to do is reply to text messages with “STOP” or "UNSUBSCRIBE" and they will automatically be removed from the marketing lists. Should they change their mind and wish to opt back in, they can respond to any of your text messages with “START” or "UNSTOP". At the same time, if they reach out to you through other means, you can also manually unsubscribe them directly on the platform. 

Fun

SMS Marketing in itself is a relatively informal platform. So why not show your customers you do have a sense of humour? After all, great service is a competitive advantage. 


Why You Should Look Into Conversational Text Marketing

 

The success of text marketing is only as good as the text itself. And amongst those eCommerce businesses that are giving it a try today, they all have one thing in common: they stay away from bulk messaging. However, they have this instead:

  • High open rates: Text messages have a 99% open rate, making it the most effective marketing channel to date. In fact, studies show that most text messages received are read within 3 minutes! That makes it perfect not just for, say – cart abandonment recovery – but also sharing promotions or time-sensitive alerts. This, coupled with the fact that most people carry their mobile phones at all, makes texting a very reliable and easy way to reach your customers.  
  • Quick Response Time: The average time it takes someone to respond to a text is 90 seconds. Studies also show that text marketing delivers engagement rates that are 6-8 times higher than what an email call to action would produce.  
  • Improved Customer Experience: The number one reason customers will turn to a competitor is due to a negative customer service experience rather than discrepancies in price. And over 70% of customers say they’d prefer texting with customer support or that texting is their preferred form of communication (Source). What conversational text marketing does is find the customers where they spend most of their time: their mobile phone, and solve their problem in real-time.  
  • Competitive advantage: Not even looking at the above statistics, just having the option for customers to reach out to you and vice versa is already a step up over your competitors who aren’t SMS-enabled.

Key Takeaways

SMS Marketing has the potential to significantly turn your marketing game around, efficiently and with great success for your brand’s customer relationships.

Conversational text marketing is appreciated by customers due to its real-time approach and human touch to customer service. The experience for the customer is similar to the “Live Chat” interfaces that are becoming popular for the simple reason that they can be accessed by customers whenever it is convenient for them, without having to wait 24h for a response (or more).

Always remember – the more unique a customer’s shopping experience is, the more likely they are to return to your store. With text marketing, you now have the opportunity to bring the in-store experience online in just a few clicks.

Curious to see how your customers would love texting with your brand? Sign-up for a 14-day free trial at Cartloop and start connecting with your customers like never before.



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Raluca Tarcea

Allegedly wise to the ways of Marketing, PR and Social Media at Cartloop. Entrepreneur, pilot, visual thinker & planning ninja.

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