Enhance Your Online Store Experience With an SMS Strategy

Enhance Your Online Store Experience With an SMS Strategy

Enhance Your Online Store Experience With an SMS Strategy

SMS messaging can be a game-changer for e-commerce brands. Find out why SMS is so important—and how to easily add it to your marketing arsenal.

These numbers don’t lie: more than three-fourths of U.S. adults use their phones to shop and make purchases. By 2024, an estimated 42.9 percent of global e-commerce sales will come from mobile devices. As the e-commerce industry evolves, SMS marketing is moving closer to its gravitational center, enabling 1-to-1 communication that personalizes messages, boosts conversions, and improves customer retention rates.

Seamless integration with your e-commerce platform creates a collaborative relationship between your SMS strategy and your online shoppers. With the right tactics, SMS marketing can be plugged into numerous marketing initiatives. Audience targeting and trigger-based automation can optimize message delivery while reducing the manual labor involved in managing these campaigns. 

The benefits of SMS marketing can’t be replicated elsewhere. If you’re serious about growing your e-commerce business, it’s time to add this powerful strategy to your marketing arsenal.

We’ll get your business started on the right foot. In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • The importance of developing owned media channels for your e-commerce brand

  • How to integrate your SMS platform with your online store

  • What kinds of SMS campaigns can drive engagement among your customers

  • How SMS automation can improve the online shopping experience and increase sales 

Owned marketing channels are a valuable e-commerce asset

Your business website, blog, email newsletter, and SMS strategy all fall into a marketing category called “owned media.” Owned marketing channels are assets that your business has complete control over, independent of paid advertising, marketing partners, PR support, and other channel-specific publishers and owners.

By prioritizing the development of owned marketing channels like SMS, e-commerce businesses can diversify their marketing capabilities and enable a more cost-efficient approach to enhancing their customer experience.

Rely on social media reach at your own risk

Social media often gets lumped in with SMS and email as an owned marketing channel. The label isn't entirely accurate.

On the one hand, businesses indeed have total control over the content they publish to their social media accounts. But there’s an enormous difference between social media and other owned marketing channels when it comes to audience reach. 

Your business may control what and when you publish to social media, but those social platforms have complete control over your organic reach. Most major social networks use algorithms to control how much organic reach your business posts can achieve: the average engagement rate for an organic Facebook post, for example, can be as low as 1.52 percent.

Social networks are incentivized to suppress organic reach so that your business ends up springing for paid promotion. When your business doesn’t own the distribution, it doesn’t own the marketing channel.

Social media still offers plenty of value to e-commerce brands, but that value is at the mercy of the platforms where your business builds a presence—which is why it’s worth investing in marketing channels your business can fully own.  

The ownership advantage of email and SMS

Compared to the limited control offered by social media and paid marketing channels, email and SMS stand apart by offering total control of not only the content you create but also the distribution of that content and the audience you reach.

The list of benefits runs long. Here are the highlights:

  • You fully control the content you create and the audience you reach. We mentioned it above, but it bears repeating: email and SMS offer end-to-end ownership that other marketing channels can’t match.

  • Audience reach and delivery is fully transparent. Social media, paid search and other marketing channels target an anonymous audience based on predefined filters. Email and SMS, by contrast, are delivered to a list of known customers and prospects.

  • Your business doesn’t have to pay for exposure. While you’ll pay a nominal cost to cover the delivery of emails and SMS messages, the cost is fixed and only a fraction of the cost of paid ad exposure.

  • SMS and email delivery happens on your own schedule. Timing can be of utmost importance when promoting flash sales, sending shipping notifications, and delivering real-time updates. Social media and other channels don’t let you control this timing, which can impact the performance and value of your communications.

  • Messages can be precisely tailored to a specific audience. With greater control over the audience receiving your messages, SMS and email improve the quality of your personalized messaging.

  • Owned marketing channels grow in value over time. As SMS and email lists grow, the potential engagement from a single delivered message increases. Ongoing testing and iteration will refine your messaging strategy over time, optimizing performance as you expand your reachable audience.

  • A stronger owned marketing presence reduces your dependency on paid alternatives. Your business might not stop investing in paid marketing altogether, but owned channels will give you greater flexibility to adjust your marketing mix to balance marketing spend and ROI.

Launch your SMS strategy through Shopify

Your e-commerce SMS strategy is powered by the customer data and shopping activity that runs through your online store. Personalized offers, flash sales, coupons, abandoned cart reminders, shipping notifications, and requests for product reviews are just a handful of scenarios where SMS messages are dependent on information from your e-commerce platform.

With more than four million online stores built on its platform, the odds are your e-commerce business is running on Shopify. But whether it’s Shopify or one of its competitors, your messaging strategy depends on seamless integration between your company’s SMS and e-commerce platforms. 

Here’s how to make that happen:

Choose the right SMS platform for your business

Set your SMS strategy up for success by choosing a messaging platform that integrates with Shopify and meets your unique business needs. At a minimum, your SMS platform should offer:

  • Built-in compliance controls. E-commerce businesses must stay compliant with local customer data privacy regulations in any country where they do business. Choose an SMS platform that can keep your messaging and data management in compliance at all times.

  • Seamless integration with your e-commerce platform. If you’re using Shopify, choose an SMS provider with an app in the Shopify app store—meaning you can trust the quality of the platform integration.

  • The ability to personalize messages to your audience. By using e-commerce data to tailor personalized messages to your subscribers, your business can foster strong customer relationships that lead to increased retention and loyalty.

  • E-commerce reporting. Generate SMS campaign data in near real-time to monitor and analyze performance—including how SMS messaging is delivering e-commerce outcomes.

Along with the above essential features, your business may also want an SMS platform that offers the following:

  • No-code automation capabilities. Fast, user-friendly automation development tools can help you develop SMS messaging strategies connected to e-commerce events ranging from backroom operations to customer behaviors.

  • Drag-and-drop tools for building website pop-ups. Simple pop-up widgets can be added to your website to collect opt-ins for your SMS messages.

  • Easy integration with other e-commerce applications. SMS marketing can benefit from integrations with e-commerce applications delivering customer support, shipping, CRM, and other business services. The more you’re able to integrate your SMS platform with other applications, the more you’ll be able to leverage shared data and capabilities for a better customer experience.

  • Support for other owned marketing strategies. When SMS, email, WhatsApp messaging, and other communications are managed through the same platform, you can share performance data, message templates, and other strategic elements across these channels for more efficient campaign management and improved performance.

Integrate your SMS tool with Shopify

If you choose an SMS platform with pre-built integration tools, connecting that platform to your e-commerce platform is easy. Bird’s Shopify Connector, for example, allows your business to connect your SMS and e-commerce platforms in just a few steps, giving you access to shared data and capabilities between these solutions.

Once this integration is complete, you’ll want to start configuring your messaging platform to align with your SMS strategy. This process should include:

  • Building your SMS list. Whether you’re importing existing contacts or setting up channels to gather new subscribers, create an SMS audience that will serve as your master subscriber list.

  • Implementing strategies for gathering explicit consent. To meet global compliance requirements, your SMS list will need to collect opt-ins from your subscribers. Pop-ups and the online checkout process can be used to add new subscribers, but your business will need to make sure that appropriate disclosures, as well as information regarding opt-outs, are also available.

  • Strategic cost management for SMS campaigns. Message delivery pricing varies by country. When communicating with a global audience, cost-optimized delivery can take advantage of these differences to increase the overall reach of your SMS strategy. When you’re new to SMS marketing, it’s particularly important to understand these costs before you go live with your first campaign.

Enable real-time updates for your online store

Use timely SMS communication to enhance your customer experience. Along with marketing messaging, SMS communications can be integrated with e-commerce operations to deliver valuable updates to your customer base.

Shipping notifications can keep customers in the loop on when deliveries will arrive. Abandoned cart notifications can remind shoppers that they forgot to check out. These updates can be automated and triggered by information delivered from your e-commerce platform, enhancing your company’s post-conversion experience.

Engage your customers through creative SMS campaigns

Once your SMS platform is fully integrated with your online store, your business is ready to create messaging campaigns aimed at driving sales and increasing customer loyalty. 

Your first SMS campaigns won’t be perfect. By testing different types of messaging and analyzing the results of your SMS campaigns, though, your business can take away insights that will help refine your approach and strengthen your SMS strategy going forward.

Looking for campaign inspiration? Here are some popular e-commerce strategies to get you started:

  • Develop an SMS-based loyalty program. Encourage subscriber opt-ins by promising exclusive deals, product offerings, and other perks of membership. Rewards points, limited-time promotions, and VIP content can be delivered via SMS to remind customers of the benefits of staying connected through text.

  • Flash sales. Time-limited sales can spur sales from customers who don’t want to miss out on a great deal. Since SMS messages can be delivered within seconds of launching the campaign, e-commerce businesses can use this communication channel to share time-sensitive information.

  • New product launches. When demand is high and inventory is limited, SMS will reward subscribers by instantly letting them know that popular products are available.

  • Collecting customer feedback. Let customers know you care about them while also gathering valuable feedback to improve your shopping experience. Whether you request feedback via text reply or refer customers to a short online survey, these responses can help inform your SMS marketing strategy going forward.

  • Celebratory texts. Deliver a simple, personalized SMS experience by messaging your subscribers on their birthday or their anniversary of becoming a customer. A brief show of appreciation will go a long way with your subscribers—although a special discount or promo won’t hurt, either.

Establish goals and analyze results

A test-and-iterate approach to SMS marketing only works if you’re setting goals and evaluating performance across all of your campaigns.

This process is easy to execute when your SMS platform offers built-in analytics and reporting. Before your campaign goes live—really, before you create the campaign messaging and set your target audience—your business should establish the goal of that campaign: revenue generation, promotion redemption, survey completion, etc.

Most SMS campaigns center on these core metrics:

  • Delivery rate: This measures the number of SMS messages that were effectively sent to your audience. Without a dependable provider, SMS messages can be blocked, delayed, or simply fail to send.

  • Open rates: How many recipients received your SMS message and decided to open it. High rates indicate a willingness to interact, while low rates suggest that a change in copy, timing, segmentation, or messaging is needed.

  • Click-through rates (CTRs): Once an SMS message is opened, are recipients clicking links and acting on CTAs? This metric is a good indicator of engagement and interaction. 

  • Opt-in and opt-out rates: Consumers have the option to consent to SMS messages. This metric can be monitored to understand how many recipients are saying “yes” to your brand. 

After the campaign has run, look at the performance metrics you identified and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the campaign. What were the campaign’s strengths? Where were its shortcomings? What can you change next time to achieve better results, and what takeaways can be applied to your other SMS campaigns?

Expand SMS automation and fine-tune triggers

An e-commerce platform integration will supply your messaging platform with troves of valuable data to power a robust SMS automation strategy. By leveraging this data with trigger-based automation and artificial intelligence, your business can achieve more personalized messaging and more responsive interactions—even at scale.

Automation doesn’t mean doing more, faster. It means doing more, faster, and better than before.

As mentioned earlier, no-code development tools will fast-track your ability to implement SMS automations across your e-commerce business. But speed is not as important as making sure automations are properly configured with the correct triggers and target audience.

Top automation flows to enhance your Shopify store experience 

When your SMS platform is integrated with Shopify, the automation possibilities are endless. 

But your automation efforts have to begin somewhere. Here are some of the most valuable automations that e-commerce businesses may want to prioritize:

  • Back-in-stock alerts. By sharing inventory data with your SMS platform, subscribers can immediately receive a notification when in-demand products are available for purchase.

  • Abandoned cart reminders. Recommendations on the best time to send an abandoned cart notification can vary between one and 24 hours. However, one study reported a 20.3 percent conversion rate for messages sent within one hour of cart abandonment. Experiment with different timing strategies to find the approach that delivers the best ROI for your business. 

  • Order confirmations. Let anxious consumers know their order is confirmed as soon as possible. You can also let them know what the next steps will be in terms of processing time and shipment.

  • Shipping notifications. Notify customers when their order has shipped, and provide them with a tracking number so they can monitor the shipment’s progress on their own.

Fill the SMS-sized hole in your e-commerce marketing strategy

SMS isn’t a silver bullet for e-commerce marketing. But as mobile shopping becomes the norm, SMS messaging is becoming an indispensable tool to enhance customer engagement and loyalty.

When you build SMS campaigns on Bird, your business can benefit from a suite of powerful tools to help you test, iterate, and optimize your SMS strategy faster. 

Your messaging ROI will improve, and your customer experience will be stronger than ever.

Ready to take the leap? Let’s talk

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.