Turn Browsers Into Buyers

Why businesses are texting their way to success with SMS marketing

Friday, March 29, 2024
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What is it?

Did you know over 80.5% of consumers check their notifications within five minutes of receiving a text? SMS is making its mark as a marketing channel. Globally, businesses are predicted to spend $50 billion on SMS messaging by 2025. 

SMS marketing lets businesses send targeted messages directly to customers' smartphones. It's an opt-in service, meaning people choose to receive texts with marketing messages, promotions, coupons, announcements, appointment reminders, and more. 

This high-engagement channel reaches people where they are – on their phones. Many companies, especially in e-commerce, leverage SMS marketing creatively to grab attention and drive action with dynamic content featuring everything from emojis and animation to AMAs and surveys. It figures that marketing teams would take advantage of this channel, considering SMS campaigns have a 98% open rate and a 10.66% click-through rate – significantly higher than email​​​​.

Here's a great example: Anthropologie Weddings, a clothing designer chain, uses SMS marketing to engage customers browsing their wedding section. They offer interactive content using a signup form where shoppers can specify if they're the bride, mother-of-the-bride, in the bridal party, or a guest. This allows Anthropologie to personalize messages and send relevant content, effectively engaging customers from the moment they opt-in.

Screenshot 2024-03-27 at 14.31.46

Via Attentive

The power of bite-sized messaging

SMS marketing is, in a sense, a form of snackable content, which is precisely what it sounds like: a short and engaging piece of content that doesn’t require a lot of thought, just engagement. Much like Anthropologie’s easy-to-use bridal SMS, snackable messaging can be visual, interactive, and under 160 characters, quickly leading users to the right place. 

GIFs are a great example of what HubSpot calls a “compulsively shareable form of snackable content with tremendous potential to catch on and go viral.” Since 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, GIFs are a good place to start. 

But what about when you want to go beyond visual engagement and start a conversation? SMS marketing can easily phase into conversational marketing. Major corporations like Bloomberg have used platforms like WhatsApp in the past to connect with their audience. 

The Bloomberg effect

In an interview with Digital Content Next, Bloomberg explains how they leveraged WhatsApp to send daily messages and interact with users. After breaking news, they'd use WhatsApp to find out what their audience wanted to know.

"We got thoughtful feedback that we could incorporate into our reporting and send updates," explains Katie Boyce, Senior Executive Editor Digital at Bloomberg. "It was a much different conversation than on social media – we built a highly engaged audience."

This engagement paved the way for Bloomberg to develop "micro newsletters." A new format that balances in-depth information with the demand for digestible content. 

Think: longer than a push notification but shorter than a traditional newsletter. Bloomberg’s newsletters have since moved to Telegram, a cloud-based, cross-platform, encrypted instant messaging service. After two weeks of driving the micro-newsletter messages to Telegram, Boyce noted that Bloomberg “gained over 25,000 followers.”

Conversational marketing and snackable content could be a match made for business success. These techniques can improve customer conversion rates by 36%

Expand your brand’s reach with SMS

SMS marketing can help expand your brand’s reach. First, which is a plus, SMS marketing costs are considerably lower than other marketing costs. For US-based brands, sending a message with up to 160 characters will cost $0.015. So, if you plan to send 1,000 messages, the total cost would be $15. 

Beyond affordability, SMS can be helpful in a number of ways when it comes to outreach. Bulk messaging is useful for one-off promotional campaigns, but we recommend that they be sparse in your strategy. A PMW survey found that 81% of respondents prefer personalization in SMS marketing, making them more likely to purchase from or do business with a brand. 

Using segmentation can allow brands to cultivate growing customer relationships and nurture new ones. For instance, segmenting customers by location or weather ensures that texts are not sent at the wrong time. If your business sells beachwear, it wouldn’t make sense to start sending promotional texts in winter. 

Seasonal marketing campaigns and SMS 

SMS works any time of the year, but seasonal campaigns have a knack for rekindling customer excitement. In fact, nearly half (49%) of businesses kick off seasonal marketing efforts in October. This focus makes perfect sense when considering the surge in mobile shopping during peak holiday seasons. Adobe reports that smartphone shoppers accounted for 51% of online sales in November and December 2023.

The end of the year is excellent for SMS marketing because shoppers are a) in a hurry and b) keen for deals and discounts. Outreach ideas range from holiday polls to better understand what customers are looking for to gift suggestions based on which products are most popular or which need a little traction.

Subscribers are ripe for the picking during this period as well. One in 10 people who received a marketing SMS in the first half of 2023 clicked on it. 

Use multiple channels to drive high-intent browsers to subscribe to your SMS alerts. Attentive suggests, “Place sign-up units displayed across your mobile and desktop websites. Encourage shoppers to opt-in with a special offer, or position your text messaging program as a VIP community and let subscribers know they’ll get exclusive offers and in-store experiences.”

Is texting the future of marketing? The numbers speak for themselves: with over 80% of texts opened within minutes and a click-through rate crushing email marketing, SMS is a goldmine for businesses seeking engagement.

Key takeaways

  • Snackable content is king: Engage customers with bite-sized messages like Anthropologie's wedding SMS signup. Keep it short, interactive, and visually appealing (think GIFs) under 160 characters.

  • High engagement & reach: SMS boasts a 98% open rate and surpasses email click-through rates. Reach customers directly on their phones, a prime channel for mobile-focused marketing.

  • Conversational power: Move beyond visuals with SMS marketing.  Integrate conversational marketing for deeper engagement, like Bloomberg's use of WhatsApp for Q&A sessions with their audience.

  • Seasonal marketing magic: Rekindle customer excitement with SMS during peak shopping seasons.  Send targeted messages like holiday polls or personalized gift suggestions based on purchase history.

  • Expand your brand reach: Grow your subscriber base through multiple channels.  Offer special incentives for opting-in and leverage SMS for exclusive deals and VIP experiences.

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