The Ultimate Conversational SMS Guide for DTC Brands | 2021 Edition

Table of Contents

  1. Why DTC Brands Need a Conversational SMS Marketing Strategy in 2021
  2. Why Customers Love SMS?
  3. How are DTC Brands Using SMS Marketing
  4. How to Launch Your SMS Program in 3-Easy Steps
  5. The Essentials of Conversational SMS: SMS Campaigns, Automations & Lead Capture
  6. Navigating TCPA & CTIA SMS compliance
  7. The Rundown on Long Codes vs. Short Codes
  8. 5-Step SMS Best Practices to Nail Every SMS
  9. Lucrative SMS Campaign Personalization Ideas
  10. High-ROI Customer Segmentation Strategies
  11. SMS Marketing Apps for Shopify DTC Brands
  12. Main Takeaways
  13. Get Your SMS Marketing Game Off the Ground

We're not talking about any old bulk SMS blast. In this ultimate SMS guide, we're going to show you how to take your SMS game *conversational—*theoretical and actionable strategies are included. Why is this so important for DTC brands?

Your customers need instant gratification. You can quickly lose them, both new and old, to competition if you're not providing a seamless experience across the board.

It's not every year a new marketing channel appears. We'll show you how you can meet your customers where they are and forge stronger relationships under one communication channel— a text conversation.

But what is a conversational approach? In a nutshell:

It's so easy for marketers to write content that appeals to the masses, but conversational content needs to be exactly that -conversational. Use the conversations in the same way as if you were texting a friend or emailing a colleague and remember to talk to your customers, not at them.

— William Lynch, Partnerships Manager at Underwaterpistol.

There's a reason why 25 eCommerce experts are behind why conversational marketing is the next big thing in 2021. But let's jump straight into how this applies to SMS marketing.

Why DTC Brands Need a Conversational SMS Marketing Strategy in 2021

With eCommerce, the conversational and human aspects of in-store experiences that your customers crave are lost. So SMS — specifically conversational SMS, can help bring the human element back. Give your shoppers something to look forward to.

It’s about elevating the customer experience with a human approach to build stronger connections between a brand and its customers.

And the 2021 trends are aligned. Shopify Plus just released their annual report that spells out the 5 trends they predicted to be the future of eCommerce in 2021 are:

  1. eCommerce boom fuels record online competition
  2. New consumer behaviors are reshaping future retail 👀
  3. Fulfilment emerges as competitive differentiator
  4. Brand building challenged by marketplace dominance
  5. Retention becomes top priority as acquisition costs spike

In short, customer experience will be at the forefront for everyone in the eCommerce space.

It's about delivering connected experiences from fleeting transactions, knowing what your customers want, and retaining the human element in eCommerce.

Why is Customer Experience Important?

Modern customers have mercurial preferences and even bigger demands to be met. You'll need to figure out a cost-effective way to keep them nurtured and engaged through every stage of their journey

Last year's eCommerce quickening pretty much added fuel to the fire— online spending is at an all-time high. But so is online competition and customer acquisition costs.

And the numbers speak for themselves:

A solid customer experience can hold sway to over 80% of your customers' purchasing decisions.

What Does CX Look Like for DTC Brands?

If you're wondering where to start, we grabbed some actionable intel straight from 12 DTC brand operators.

Here are some of their top 3 ways they've built better customer experiences:

Being available to answer questions as needed is crucial to capture a customer while they're in a decision-making mindset!

— Kristen Jones, Director of Marketing @ The Groomsmen Suit

SMS marketing. Taking a very personalized, casual, and empathy-driven approach!

— Ashwinn Krishnaswamy, Co-Founder @ Oklahoma Smokes

We’re focused on fostering two-way conversations with our customers, capturing customer feedback so we can effectively and efficiently review our wins and our greatest opportunities for growth.

— Amanda Goetz, Founder @ House of Wise

You can offer real value to your customers is by engaging with them frequently, gain insights through real-time feedback and continue building that relationship to consistently delight them,

A solid example of this theory in practice is how we analyzed over 514,719 text conversations with abandoned shoppers to find out the top 6 reasons why they abandoned their shopping carts. And the results were astounding.

Why Customers Love SMS

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.

But that's not the only reason, customers love texting as a direct channel between them and their favorite brands.

Why DTC Brands Love SMS Marketing

  • It is predicted that 48.7 million consumers will opt-in to receive business SMS messaging by 2020 (City Numbers)
  • 39% of US consumers find that they use their mobile phones excessively (Journal of Accountancy)
  • 74% of cell phone and smartphone users have no unread text messages.(Zipwhip State of Texting Report)
  • The average open rate for text message marketing campaigns is 98%, compared to a 20% open rate for email marketing campaigns (Pew Research)
  • 75% of people wouldn’t mind receiving an SMS text message from a brand if they opt-in for the service.

SMS vs. Email: Who Wins?

Bulk SMS/Automated Blasts vs. Conversational SMS

It's about responding instantly and reacting appropriately. SMS in its nature is a 2-way communication channel.

Going beyond automated blasts with a conversational approach means getting used to the idea of treating SMS like a personal channel between you and your shoppers.

This is important because your shoppers are granting you access to their personal space— their mobile phones, which is all the more reason you’ll need to shift your mindset and be more sensitive in how you come across in your messaging in text messages.

The major difference between a typical bulk SMS campaign and a successful text marketing strategy is conversational marketing.

Conversational SMS

  • A customer-first approach
  • Value over volume
  • Personalized and offers qualitative insights
  • Highly targeted and effectiv

Bulk SMS & Automated Blasts

  • A discount-first approach
  • Volume over value
  • No personalization and one-dimensional statistics
  • Overused but under-defined

SMS marketing has the potential to be one of your most engaged and successful channels – that’s why cultivating and sustaining that sense of trust and rapport is crucial.

A conversational text messaging approach means adopting a human approach and personalization that goes beyond Hey, {{First Name}}.

Here's why conversational SMS brings you a competitive advantage:

  1. Combine sales and support in one communication and save hours and costs in customer support. Read how LEVO did it in just one month and drove 28x in ROI.
  2. Build better relationships with your customers and increased customer retention
  3. 90 seconds in average response time from customers, with a 55% reply rate
  4. Near perfect engagement score that drives action during crucial micro-moments with customers
  5. You become memorable

The biggest mistake that DTC brands often make when they first get started with SMS marketing is overusing the channel in the hopes of securing faster ROI. This not only renders your texts useless but obliterates your shoppers' trust that you've worked hard to cultivate.

In this guide, we'll show you some of our field-tested tactical and actionable strategies to deploy a successful conversational text messaging strategy.

But let's get inspired on how some of the overarching ways DTC brands are using SMS marketing to gain a competitive advantage this year.

How DTC Brands Are Using Conversational SMS Marketing to Drive Results

Ava Estell Captured and Grew 6k Subscribers in 30 Days

Ava Estell, a British-based skincare brand, wanted a channel to engage and nurture its growing client base from all over the US, Canada, and the UK.

They set out to forge stronger relationships with their shoppers and elevate their instant support for their customers.

They decided on taking an SMS-first approach to effectively establish a personal channel between them and their shoppers.

Here's how a two-way text conversation with one of their shoppers looks like:

Investing some time and effort into growing their SMS lists really paid off.

Ava Estell's 30-Days Performance

  • 28x ROI
  • $49,420 Revenue
  • 40.14% Conversion Rate
  • 6,566 Subscribers

Read Ava Estell's 30-day Cartloop success story to find out how they hit 28x ROI and grew 6k SMS subscribers in 30 days.

Smoke Rise Hit a 100% Conversion Within a Month of Deploying Popups

NYC-based fashion streetwear and denim brand, Smoke Rise, was looking for a way to directly interact with its avid shoppers who love the brand's eye-catching inventory of varsity jackets and cargo pants to graphic denim jackets.

Here's how a conversational text to an abandoned shopper went:

Once Smoke Rise decided on conversational text messaging as a potential strategy to build stronger relationships with their customers, reduce abandoned carts and provide instant support for their shoppers, there was no turning back.

Smoke Rise's 30-Day Performance

  • 100% Conversion Rate
  • $16,665 Revenue
  • 1,251 Subscribers
  • 10x ROI

Read the full case study of how Smoke Rise started connecting with their subscribers right away with a conversational SMS strategy.

Blazer drove $37k sales revenue in 2 days for a Shopify Plus Brand during Post-BFCM Downtime

Trusted by big names such as GoodieCo, Belle Bar Organic, and Dr. Louis Crowe, Blazer is a Growth Media Agency for DTC brands and specializes in 8-figure strategies for Shopify Plus stores.

Blazer caught on early on the instant benefits of SMS and the compounding effect it delivers on existing marketing channels.

A two-punch strategy of email and SMS was exactly what gained our merchant a competitive advantage during the BFCM off-season, driving $37k in sales revenue within 2 days.

Performance based on the Shopify Plus Brand's Australian and US site:

  • Blazer : $100k+ in 30 minutes during BFCM 2020
  • Blazer x Cartloop: $175k+ in 2 days during post-BFCM downtime
  • Cartloop's SMS Revenue in 2-days = $37K

This opportunity meant that Shopify Plus brands could maximize profits throughout the year without waiting for a major sales event and eCommerce holiday.

Read how Blazer's ROI-centric approach and human-powered SMS marketing worked hard to beat the numbers and drive sales during the post-BFCM downtime.

ShineOn Generated Over $101K and 30x ROI in 30-Days

ShineOn's brand ethos is hinged on sustainability and social responsibility. This US-based brand crowdsources unique and creative products and jewellery from talented artists all over the globe.

All products sold are assembled and shipped to customers from their facility in NJ, USA.

Before taking on a conversational approach to humanize customer experience, ShineOn was actively working with Email Alchemy, a specialist email marketing agency to boost their revenue.

They decided to add SMS marketing to their marketing mix, and took it conversational right away to create a more personalized customer experience.


  • $101,123 Revenue
  • 30.3x ROI
  • $63 Average cart value
  • 39% Reply rate
  • 14% Conversion rate
  • 56.654 Active Subscribers

Read how Email Alchemy and ShineOn added conversational text messaging to their tech stack as a potential growth strategy alongside email and hit 30x.

How to Launch Your SMS Strategy in 3-easy steps

Step 1: Invest the time to capture and grow your SMS subscribers

Step 2: Start texting your customers right away and start a conversation

Step 3: Personalize, optimize and understand your customers. Respond instantly, react appropriately.

The Essentials of Conversational SMS

Basics build the business. In this section, we'll cover:

  • The differences between SMS Campaigns and SMS Automation
  • SMS Automations that every brand needs
  • How to Capture and Grow Your SMS Subscribers

SMS Campaigns vs. SMS automation

If we could simplify their differences, we'd say that SMS campaigns are dynamic, whereas event-triggered texts are static. But of course, this depends on which conversational SMS marketing platform you team up with.

SMS campaigns are one-off messages or manual broadcasts that you send to highlight, notify and inform your customers. Event-triggered texts behave like marketing automation and drip campaigns.

SMS automation or flows allow you to automate sending personalized, tailored responses when a shopper meets specific factors or an event occurs. For example, when a shopper abandons their shopping cart or becomes a new subscriber.

Expert's tip: We love to advise our customers to try out two-way SMS campaigns when they want to highlight seasonal, time-limited deals to drive urgency and provoke an immediate conversation.

In short, you'll need to master how to use both SMS campaigns and SMS automations to deploy a complete and effective conversational SMS marketing strategy.

5 Heavy-Lifting SMS Campaign Ideas

It's important to keep your SMS lists warm even when they're not browsing, adding to cart, or taking actions on your website. SMS campaigns are a great addition to your marketing arsenal to stay engaged with shoppers throughout their customer lifecycle.

Here are our favorite SMS campaigns that we personally love— they'll be sure to go to work for your brand and deliver on maximizing sales with a well-timed message.

🏆VIP Campaign

Quick question, do you know who your VIP customers are? By definition, your VIP customers are a group of highly engaged shoppers who opted into your SMS marketing list and purchased from your store recently and frequently.

Expert's Tip: Knowing who your VIPs are now will prove to be a lucrative and successful SMS marketing strategy when Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) rolls around. You can fully maximize the impact of this once-a-year eCommerce sales holiday with early-access VIP sales.

Before they reach VIP status, start nurturing returning customers to encourage frequent buying.

⏳Time limited discounts: Storewide and Category Promotions

The better you are at surprising and delighting your customers, the higher the chances of them anticipating and clicking on your next SMS campaign.

Everyone loves a great deal. Here's how to text your shoppers as if you were sharing a great discount with a friend.

Expert's Tip:  It's important not to over-market and treat your SMS channel only as a sales channel that gets you the high open rates. Although that's true, it might ruin the performance of your SMS marketing in the long run. But when you've got a great deal to share, it won't hurt to drive some urgency by highlighting the sales deadline in your text message.

🚀 New Product Launches

New product launches are an exciting event for customers who love your brand and your products.

Expert's Tip: When done right, Product Launch announcements are a great way of providing value to your SMS audience without really selling anything upfront. It builds hype and gives your customers more reason to return to your website.

🔁 Winback Campaigns

With our own Shopify merchants, we usually leverage a product restock as an effective way to win back inactive customers and entice SMS audiences to return to the store's website for a browse.

Here's an example of how it's done below:

Expert's Tip: Winback campaigns are a genius tactic to give your store a revenue lift and engage your subscribers regularly while maximizing the real estate of an SMS. Here are some winback strategies you can explore for your brand:

  • Remind customers of previously wishlisted /browsed products
  • Nudge inactive shoppers back into your store
  • Guide a Recommend a back in stock product that's relevant to their interests

🛍 Boost AOV with BOGOF campaigns

Buy one get one free (BOGOF) campaigns are a surefire way to win some serious trust points with your customers.

They score a great deal for their favorite products. You can entice them to spend more than they normally would and maybe even get some slow-moving products going.

Expert's tip: Always include one clear call to action (CTA) so they know what action to take next.  Always make sure to convey the benefit to your shoppers first and foremost, before drilling down on the urgency with the discount deadline.

If you liked these 5 heavy-lifting SMS campaigns, grab the templates here and learn 3 more SMS campaigns you can send to keep your subscriber lists warm, forge closer relationships and make more money.

SMS Flows Every DTC Brand Needs

Cart Recovery Flow

A staggering 88% of all online orders are abandoned. You have a crucial mission to find out what your customers want before they know it themselves.

Cart recovery texts are triggered as soon as a shopper adds products to their cart but doesn't end up completing their purchase.

Expert tip: Payment issues, unexpected fees, and technical issues are the top 3 reasons for shopping cart abandonment. It's important to not only reach out to your shoppers instantly but to react appropriately. It helps with letting them know that you're available, listening to their issues and assisting them with a solution, all while guiding them through the checkout process again.

Cartloop's Cart Recovery SMS feature only triggers the first text before Live Experts take over to have a live, 1:1 conversation with your customers. Not so static after all.

Welcome Flow

Just like how welcome emails can drive up to 33% more returning customers, sending a welcome text once a person becomes your new subscriber ensures better long-term brand engagement. They're extremely effective as these are hot leads that just subscribed to your list.

This event-triggered text is important because it's the first crucial step of introducing yourself to your new leads and immediately sets the tone to establish instant rapport to build brand loyalty.

Here's of a welcome campaign series:

Expert tip: Customers can tell the difference if they're speaking to a real person on the other end of a text message who is answering inquiries in real-time. Let them know that they have a direct line to your brand if they need assistance and can hit reply to speak to a real person.

Post-Purchase or Thank You Flow

This text message series is usually triggered when a shopper completes his or her purchase.

Nailing your post-purchase SMS flow is a great way you can cut down on unnecessary customer support interactions and reduce the likelihood of returns.

Give your recent buyers their peace of mind by sending them an immediate:

  1. Proof of the transaction or order confirmation
  2. Provide them with a timeline or next steps
  3. Order status updates such as order confirmation and shipping updates
  4. Send them links to an educational content page or videos on product usage tips or a well-researched blog content

Expert tip: A post-purchase text message is also an opportunity for you to keep your customers in the loyalty loop. If you want to turn a first-time buyer into a lifelong customer, you can:

  • Start building social proof and user-generated content for your brand by asking for their feedback and product reviews
  • Get them to return and buy more from you with a thank you discount on their next order
  • Cross-sell relevant items or up-sell high-value bundles
  • Replenishment reminders

3 Methods To Capture and Grow Your SMS Subscribers

1. Website visitors from desktop and mobile devices

Popups are an exciting and highly effective tool for online brands that want to convert website visitors and first-time shoppers into SMS subscribers and loyal customers all in a single click.

A well-designed popup can catch your website visitors' attention at the perfect opportunity: while they're already on your website browsing and looking for a sweet deal.

When properly timed, an engaging popup:

  • Makes a lasting first impression with first-time visitors landing on your website
  • Converts website visitors — both from mobile and desktop to customers in a single click
  • Goes to work for you as the highest converting opt-in method for your SMS program
  • Can sometimes prevent visitors from exiting your store's website altogether — and continue with their browsing

Expert Tip: If you're already seeing consistent and healthy traffic on your website, the best time to start capturing your website visitors is now.

It's time for you to start engaging and nurturing them into happy, returning customers.

2. Email subscribers

It's important to remember that your email and SMS subscriber lists should be treated separately.

We'll dive into SMS compliance a little further on in this guide but converting your email subscribers to SMS subscribers is as simple as sending a well-crafted email.

Announce to your email subscribers that they'll now have a direct and personal channel to reach you whenever they need to. You can even offer them a discount or extra perks to incentivize their opt-ins.

As long as you bring the excitement and hype, your customers are sure to meet you halfway. And it helps to play the long game with email marketing.

Like a double opt-in when acquiring new subscribers, having your shoppers subscribed to receive both email and SMS ensures the quality of your subscribers to build long-term success.

3. At Checkout

Collecting checkout subscriptions is one of the lowest hanging fruit to grow your SMS subscriber list.

Expert Tip:  When customers complete their personal and shipping details before placing an order, you can leverage this by optimizing your checkout to collect their phone numbers— it only takes 3 minutes.

If you want to migrate existing SMS Subscribers to a new platform but wondering how much earth you'll have to move, you can use this form to reach out to us anytime.

Thinking of seriously investing some time into growing your SMS subscribers? We can vouch that it does pay off. Learn these 8 actionable growth strategies you can use to capture and grow more SMS subscribers.

Navigating SMS compliance: TCPA & CTIA

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a piece of federal legislation designed to protect consumers’ right to privacy and effectively curb  "annoying"—and more specifically unwanted— telephone calls and texts.

You'll have to take note that the keyword here is "annoying". Alongside the risk of non-compliance, the cost of it to your business is high.

How much does it cost to violate the TCPA

Breaking the law can expose you to fines that range anywhere from $500 per violation to $1,500 per willful violation— this means you knew what you were doing was wrong. But you still did it anyway.

What is Section 4 and 5 of the TCPA?

For brands looking into using SMS marketing this year, Section 4 and 5 of the TCPA are where you'll need to zone in.

Here's what they are:

  • (4) The term “telephone solicitation” means the initiation of a telephone call or message for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services, which is transmitted to any person, but such term does not include a call or message (A) to any person with that person's prior express invitation or permission, (B) to any person with whom the caller has an established business relationship, or (C) by a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
  • (5) The term “unsolicited advertisement” means any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or serviceswhich is transmitted to any person without that person's prior expressinvitation or permission, in writing or otherwise.

The CTIA and Shortcodes

Shortcodes were created by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and come with guidelines of their own. Because of the risk of TCPA non-compliance that can result in hefty fines, some companies have opted in favor of the use of shortcodes.

These allow consumers to opt-in by texting a short string of 5-6 alphabets or digits to a specific number.

Unlike the TCPA, no fines are involved under the CTIA because their function is to serve as guidelines.

How do you become both TCPA and CTIA compliant?

Here are 3 things you'll need before you start texting your customers:

  1. General Customer Consent: There are three instances you'll need to obtain their consent beforeyou send them conversational, informational, and transactional messages.
  2. Express Written Consent: You will need their express written consent only if you're sending them automated marketing and promotional text messages.
  3. An Option to Opt-Out anytime: Allow your customers the autonomy to opt-out by revoking theirconsent, and stop receiving text messages from your business at any time they choose.

The fourth on our list is to make sure to partner with a fully compliant SMS marketing platform that can automate SMS compliance for you and avoid your business landing in hot soup

Want to gain a deeper understanding and nail both CTIA and TCPA compliance? We created a nifty little 10-step SMS compliance checklist here.

The Rundown on Long Codes vs. Short Codes

Short Codes are 5-6 digit numbers that brands use to send high-volume text messages to their customers. Also used as a growth tool for collecting text subscribers by sending opt-in promotions for a certain product or campaign.

There's an ongoing debate on the benefits and usages of long codes compared to shortcodes.

Both shortcodes and long codes must be registered with the CTIA, and it takes about 24-48 hours for your registration to reflect in compliance with both the CTIA and TCPA.

On the 1st of September of 2020, AT&T and T-Mobile released their Code of Conduct which relates to Commercial Messaging. The result was that brands that have been using Short Codes had to migrate to dedicated phone numbers by March 31st in order to avoid service disruptions and additional costs.

Brands that leveraged conversational SMS marketing platforms like Cartloop remained unaffected because we used dedicated phone numbers to text your shoppers.

Dedicated vs. Shared Phone Numbers

Using a Shared Number to text your customers means they will receive text messages from you and other brands as well from the same number. Pretty confusing stuff.

On the other dedicated local phone numbers, which are 10-digit standard length numbers that can establish a dedicated contact point which you can use to communicate with your customers proactively. This also enables customers to reach out to you at any moment.

Typically, conversational text messaging apps use dedicated phone numbers to create a 2-way communications channel between the online stores and their shoppers.

Among the benefits of dedicated 10DLC numbers are:

  • A sense of trust
  • Familiarity
  • A single point of contact and consistent number for your shoppers to text at anytime.

Verdict: Text your customers using dedicated 10DLC numbers so your customers can reach out and have a single point of contact with you at any point in time or find an SMS platform that does this for you.

If you want to dive deeper into this matter, check our recent article on The Difference Between Shared and Dedicated Phone Numbers.

5-Step SMS Best Practices To Nail Every SMS

Here are our tried-and-proven SMS best practices to engage your customers and nail every text you send out:

Step 1: Figure out your message and keep it short

Keep your messages short and relevant and less than 160 characters to avoid being charged twice.

Personalize your messages and make sure you’re using your brand voice whenever possible. It's important to invest in the effort needed to personalize your messages. That way, you can get the most out of your text messaging ROI and for your business.

Step 2: Gain permission to build a compliant SMS list

You'll need permission from your subscribers to start sending text messages. And include an easy way for them to opt-out from receiving text messages from you in the future.

This is easily done by asking people to tick a simple checkbox at the checkout to continue receiving promotional updates from you via SMS and including a link to unsubscribe or a number to text STOP.

Remember your TCPA and CTIA compliance? Consent is the first item you need to check off your list before you start texting your shoppers.

Expert's Tip: Asking for consent doesn't have to be strictly transactional. You can incentivize opt-ins by offering new visitors something of value. For example, offer them a special discount for new customers or even an exciting piece of content in exchange for their consent to add them to your SMS subscribers list.

Step 3: Choose an SMS Marketing Service/Platform that Integrates with your Store

Having an SMS marketing platform that's both intuitive to use and integrates with your eCommerce store gives you the power to engage and support your entire customer journey.

This allows you to collect numbers at checkouts and trigger event-based SMS messages such as your cart recovery and you own this list and the insights you gain from your shoppers.

Need help in getting to know all these new SMS marketing terms? Check out the eCommerce SMS Marketing Glossary and learn them.

Step 4: Find your Ideal Texting Frequency and Timing

To get the most out of your text campaigns and drive instant action from your audience, make it timely when you send out your SMS campaigns.

If you have an international customer base across multiple time zones, here's how you can avoid sending a text message during the quiet hours— typically between 9 pm to 10 am in their respective time-zones.

No one wants to read a text at 3 am— it leads to bad engagement and hurts your relationship with your prospects before it has even begun.

As a rule of thumb, the recommended messaging frequency is one message a week.

Step 5: Text like a human 🥰

Last but not least, no one wants to chat with a bot. You'll want to come across as a helpful shopping assistant rather than an answering machine.

Here are some of our personal favorites on how to retain the human element in your text messages:

👋 Say hi and include your customer's name

❓ Directly address their questions

🕺 Don't be afraid to show your brand's personality

💡 Ask if there's anything else you can do to help

💬 Let them know you're only a text away

If you liked these tips, we've got more where that came from. Here's how you can go from invasive to personal with your SMS strategy and  12 effective tips you can implement for successful text campaigns.

Lucrative SMS Campaign Personalization Ideas

No two customers are alike, so there's no one message that fits all.

Campaign personalization strategies can take your SMS marketing strategy beyond automated text messages and bulk sends.

Here are some ideas on how you can personalize your messaging to each individual shopper based on their product interests, behavior, and preferences:

  • Subscribers who have never purchased previously
  • Product Interests: What they've bought previously
  • Which discounts or sales holiday they prefer
  • What actions they've taken on site: Browse, Added to Cart, Added to Wish list
  • Their Birthdays
  • Know Their Concerns: Price sensitivity, Checkout Issues, Technical Product Information, Shipping Information

With these in mind, let's jump right into customer segmentation strategies below.

High-ROI Customer Segmentation Strategies

1. Recent Subscribers Who Have Not Purchased

These are subscribers who have recently opted-in to your SMS list but have not made their first purchase.

Nudge them in the right direction to becoming first-time buyers without overwhelming them (read: spam) with unrelated content.

Send your new subscriber:

  • Newcomer discount reminder to drive urgency by reminding them of the deadline before the discount expires.
  • Subscriber-only bundles or a welcome gift are a great way to instantly build rapport and generate interest
  • Free shipping because shoppers would rather drop their shopping carts (like it's hot) than pay for shipping
  • Prime them for future benefit by setting expectations and communicating clearly what you'll be sending them and how often you'll send it.

2. Engaged and Active Customers

They're shoppers that have purchased from you before at least once within the last 3 months and that you have texted recently.

For the example below, we used shoppers who have placed an order at least once and received a text within the last 30 days.

Keep them coming back for more by sending them:

  • Product Spotlights
  • Educational Content
  • Seasonal Gift Guides
  • Email Reminders

3. Product Interest

Similar to email marketing where you have the browse abandonment email flow, text your shoppers with a timely reminder to nudge them to return to the product or sales page. End Reminder_Cartloop.png

4. VIP

Remember your VIPs? These are the customers who have purchased from your store recently and frequently to celebrate their status as VIPs. 2021-06-03 at 3.01.05 PM.png

Make them feel as if they're part of an exclusive community by sending them:

  • Early access to bigger, better discounts
  • priority during major sales events like the Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales
  • First dibs on new product launches

Want to discover more effective customer segmentation strategies to skyrocket your SMS marketing game? Personalize your SMS campaigns with these 12 psychographic customer segments to boost sales.

SMS Marketing Apps for Shopify Stores


  • Starter: $0 per month + 10% of Cartloop revenue
  • Growth: $49 per month + 7% of Cartloop revenue
  • Pro: $299 per month + 3.5% of Cartloop revenue

Cartloop is a conversational SMS marketing platform that can help you drive more revenue and scale your customer relationships for your Shopify store.

It's great if you want to truly engage with shoppers in real-time, with real people behind each conversation. The features menu includes seamless popups, two-way SMS campaigns, conversational cart recovery, dedicated 10DLC numbers, and integrations with Gorgias, Zendesk, and more to come.


  • Growth: $49 per month + 10% of SMS revenue
  • Pro: $99 per month + 5% of SMS generated revenue
  • Enterprise custom: Requires you to contact their sales team and annual commitment

LiveRecover focuses only on cart abandonment and sending text messages to shoppers within the US and Canada.

If you need to reach an international audience, see how LiveRecover compares to other SMS Marketing alternatives for Shopify stores.


  • Based on their website, Attentive offers only custom plans. While a free trial is not available, you can book a demo to get a quote based on the needs of your business.

Need a guiding star in the right direction? Here are 5 Attentive alternatives for SMS marketing for Shopify stores you can check out and compare.


  • Free: $0 per month/ $0.0149 per SMS*
  • Growth: $19 per month/ $0.0149 per SMS*
  • Prime: $59 per month/ $0.0142 per SMS*
  • Powerhouse: $199 per month/ $0.0130 per SMS*
  • Enterprise: Custom Pricing

*All message pricing listed are for within the US only

SMSBump offers an SMS solution for brands and stores that want to focus on bulk SMS with global coverage and autopilot their SMS program with automation.

You can check out this review to see how SMSBump compares to other alternatives this 2021.


  • While the Emotive website requires you to book a demo to get a quote, they offer two types of plans.
  • Starter: Free-trial
  • Custom Pricing
  • For anyone who's already familiar with email marketing automation, Emotive's automation tool works to automate your responses using branch logic.


The Postscript pricing model runs on a credit system to cater to brands that are looking for more flexibility.

  1. Cost Per Message is calculated based on how many messages you'd like to send per month
  2. The Total Cost per month is calculated based on the cost per message.
  3. The minimum starts at 2.5 messages per month with $0.01 cost per message.

While there is some calculation required, they have a calculator here for this.

Currently used by thousands of growing Shopify and Shopify plus stores to manage their SMS marketing, Postscript is an option for brands and stores within the Shopify ecosystem looking for mass-scale SMS marketing for their shoppers. They support both SMS and MMS.

Want to make an informed decision this 2021? Check out how Postscript compares to other SMS solutions here.


  • While your first 50 SMS contacts are free, Klaviyo's pricing plans are steeper than most so scaling with Klaviyo can get expensive really quickly. Play around with their cost estimator tool on their website here.

Currently used by thousands of growing Shopify and Shopify plus for their email marketing needs, Klaviyo is a pretty complete platform that offers a suite of marketing automation features.

Klaviyo is an automated SMS platform that allows brands to drive sales on autopilot using their pre-built automation flows.

Main Takeaways

  1. Compared to email marketing and bulk SMS, using a conversational text messaging approach right off the bat can take your SMS marketing program from invasive to personal really quick
  2. We've seen DTC brands that are using conversational SMS to drive results. They've seen some instant benefits as quickly as 30 days in these areas:
  3. To maximize ROI and grow their SMS subscribers
  4. Grow their SMS subscribers and build stronger relationships
  5. Elevate their email performance and drive more sales
  6. In essence, launching your SMS strategy requires 3-steps:
  7. Capture and grow your SMS subscribers
  8. Start texting your customers right away
  9. Personalize, optimize and understand your customers with consistent and continuous testing to find what works for your brand
  10. Brands can now capture both email and SMS subscribers without compromising the other. There are a variety of methods to capture and grow your SMS subscriber list.
  11. We focused on these 3:
  12. Website visitors with a seamless and compliant popup that will allow you to grow your list with confidence
  13. Converting your existing email subscribers with a well-crafted email to announce that they now have a more direct and personal channel to reach you
  14. At checkout— shoppers usually provide their mobile number before completing a purchase, you can leverage this by optimizing your checkouts in less than 3 minutes.
  15. If you're already familiar with email marketing, SMS marketing covers campaigns and automation; SMS campaigns are one-off messages or manual broadcasts that you send to highlight, notify and inform your customers. SMS automation is based on your audience's behaviour and is event-triggered when a shopper abandons their cart or becomes a subscriber.
  16. However, before you start texting your customers, it's essential that you understand the laws and regulations governing SMS marketing compliance to avoid hefty fines.
  17. We outlined 5 field-test best practices that you can follow to nail every text message with a conversational approach:
  18. Keep it within 160 characters to avoid being charged twice
  19. You'll need your shoppers' consent before you can start texting them
  20. Gain control over your entire customer journey by choosing an SMS service provider or platform that integrates with your store. It's also important that you choose a platform that can text your customers using dedicated 10DLC numbers if you're going for personalized and effective this year.
  21. Find your ideal texting frequency and avoid sending them during your shoppers' quiet hours.
  22. Avoid sounding like an invasive bot and add a personal touch to each text that you send out.

Get Your SMS Marketing Game Off The Ground

By the end of this guide, you've become a newly-minted SMS marketing expert.

If you want to get your conversational SMS marketing game off the ground before the year ends, look no further than Cartloop! Our merchants who chose us as their trusted conversational SMS marketing partner have seen results in less than 30 days of installing us for their Shopify store.

Here's what we love to do, and do it well:

  • You'll have end-to-end assistance from setup, tracking, and optimization of your SMS marketing program
  • You'll build a compliant list of SMS subscribers with confidence
  • You can engage with subscribers via Two-Way Campaigns
  • You'll recover 5x more abandoned carts than automated blasts
  • Your shoppers can reach you anytime by replying to their very own dedicated 10DLC numbers
  • You save time and costs in customer support and keep all customer interactions under one single conversation with our Gorgias or Zendesk integrations

Here's what some of our happy merchants are saying
Cartloop are amazing, we actually weren't sure of how good they were until we stopped services, seen a massive drop straight away, so we knew we needed to get things set up again. Andrei and the team are an amazing support, nothing is too much work for them. Getting around 20x ROAs per campaign they send out!

- The Essence Vault (21).png
I was incredibly dubious about using Cartloop, especially for a brand we're so cautious about keeping the right tone of voice for—we're in a quite sensitive space that requires an enormous amount of empathy. Outsourcing support on a channel as intimate as SMS was a risk. I cannot tell you just how impressed I've been! Alexandra has been utterly fantastic at understanding our brands' mission and ensuring that Cartloop's support agents also understand what our brand is about and proactively monitoring conversations on our behalf. What's been even greater is the feedback we're seeing from customers. (......)

— Empowered by Ashley

Ready to get started with conversational SMS marketing for your Shopify store? Request a demo to see how Cartloop combines sales and support under one communication channel, or try it out for free— the first 14-days are on us!

Jun-Li is a content person at Cartloop. When she's not writing a blog article, you can find her collecting a new hobby or doing yoga.

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