The research is in: we’re all totally glued to our phones (as if we didn’t know that already). And while that might be having a negative effect on our overall concentration levels, it’s actually great news for businesses — small and large alike.
SMS marketing has exploded in popularity in recent years, with one study finding that SMS traffic increased 10% between 2019 and 2020 alone. With text messages boasting an average open rate of 98%, it makes sense that the smartest businesses are starting to cash in on the trend.
So when you’re looking for the best SMS marketing tool, how do you know what will work for your business — and what features should you look out for?
In this post, we’ll get into the basics of SMS marketing tools and identify the key features you should be aware of when investing in a platform. We’ll also guide you through the things you need to consider when creating an SMS marketing campaign.
What is an SMS marketing tool?
Today’s always-on world means that as consumers, we’ve come to expect faster response times from brands. Whether we’ve got an issue we need support on, or a burning question about our favorite product, we want an answer ASAP.
And because most businesses don’t have the time or people power to send thousands of texts to connect with all their customers, they usually opt for an SMS marketing tool to get the job done instead.
An SMS marketing tool is a platform that helps businesses write, plan, schedule and send marketing text messages to customers and contacts in their database.
You can use an SMS marketing platform to send short-form messages directly to your customers for a range of purposes — whether it’s to tell them about a new discount code, manage subscription orders, provide CX support, or ask for feedback on how you did on their last order.
You can also automate messages based on the way your customer interacts with your eCommerce store. For example, if a customer puts something in their cart but doesn’t check out, your SMS marketing tool can trigger a text reminder.
Key features of an SMS marketing tool
When you’re looking for the best SMS marketing tool for your business needs, there are a few key features you’ll want to look out for:
Integration with your eCommerce platform
Today’s consumers want a seamless user experience when it comes to online shopping, so it comes as no surprise that you need a SMS marketing tool that integrates with the eCommerce platform you’re using.
Building your eCommerce tech stack can sometimes be tricky, but you shouldn’t need to be a coding expert to integrate your SMS tool with your existing systems. Look for a user-friendly, easy-to-use tool that promises a quick integration to remove the likelihood of headaches down the line.
Blueprint connects to Shopify stores in just 2-mins, with no code required. For more on how this works, check out our guide.
Many SMS marketing platforms offer brands the ability to send one-way bulk campaigns. These are mass messages sent to large audiences, which customers can receive but cannot reply to in-channel.
Whilst this kind of messaging can be great for dropping a new product, for example, it limits the power of SMS to a single use case. Smart brands are opting to use text messages not only as a means of sending mass campaigns, but also for engaging in two-way dialogue with customers.
Many are providing a rich experience for their audience, by offering support services, exclusive content and intimate brand-customer touchpoints via SMS. Used in this way, two-way text messages become a powerful driver of unique customer experience, and ultimately loyalty and retention.
The best SMS marketing tools offer both bulk messaging and one-to-one conversational features in one dashboard. Shopify brands can use Blueprint to chat two-way with their audience via SMS. Book a demo today to find out more.
Personalization & segmentation
When you’ve built a list of SMS subscribers, you’ll need to think about how you can engage different customers with messaging that’s directly relevant to them.
Segmentation is a must-have in this regard, because it allows you to sort your customers into different audience groups based on their habits and behavior.
Much like an email newsletter, you can segment groups by different metrics - like amount of purchases they’ve made, or the date of their last purchase, and send them relevant messaging based on that information.
Look for an SMS marketing tool that can offer a high degree of segmentation and personalized messaging for your audience.
One of the most exciting use cases for SMS marketing is subscription management. By 2023, 75% of eCommerce brands will sell products via subscription. Despite it’s growing popularity, subscriber churn within DTC remains super high.
Often this is caused by product overload, and clunky, inflexible subscription management portals that do not allow subscribers to edit their orders to suit their needs.
To tackle this, brands are now giving customers ownership of their subscriptions by enabling them to skip or change orders via SMS. This means that subscribers are able to easily manage their regular deliveries, without having to resort to cancelling when they’ve got too much product, or want to try a new SKU.
If subscription is an important part of your business, choose a SMS marketing platform that facilitates flexible subscription management via text. Here’s how Daring Foods increased subscriber LTV by 38% with Blueprint’s SMS subscription functionality.
Automated SMS messages
Whilst messaging customers one-on-one is a great way to build relationships, automating some of your SMS comms is an important timesaver for many brands.
Automation comes in handy for a range of marketing functions, delivery updates, reorder prompts and feedback requests, as well as providing out-of-hours customer support.
However, it’s particularly powerful in cases of cart abandonment, especially when coupled with a unique URL that allows the customer to access their basket in one-click. This not only increases your level of customer personalization, but is more likely to drive an immediate response.
Find an SMS marketing tool that can effectively automate some of your touch points to make it easier on your team’s time resources.
Analytics and customer insights
Relationships have been the cornerstone of sales and marketing strategy, because they provide the foundations for trust and long-term loyalty. However, you can’t build those all-important relationships without knowing how your customers shop, what they engage with best, and what they like.
That’s why when you’re looking for an SMS marketing platform, you need a tool that offers you the data and analytics on your customer behavior and buying habits.
Tracking metrics like open rates and click-through rates will help you better understand how your campaigns are performing, and how your customers are engaging with your messages. Meanwhile, tracking average customer revenue, subscriptions and churn rate will give you insight on your customers’ buying habits.
How to use your SMS marketing tool
Once you’ve figured out which SMS marketing tool you want to invest in, it’s time to look at how to actually use it! As we’ve seen, building an SMS marketing campaign takes a little more than sending out a mass text about a flash sale.
You’ll need to think a little more deeply about your goals, messaging, and audience in order to build a successful strategy that engages and converts your customers. Here’s how to get started with SMS marketing.
Step 1. Decide on your goals
Knowing what you want to achieve with your SMS marketing campaign is the first step — otherwise, you risk sending confusing or unclear messages to your customers.
First, you need to decide on your intended audience and goal of your campaign. Perhaps you’re trying to communicate a product drop, drive reorders or offer flexible subscription management.
Whatever your goal, you need to think about your intended outcome. What is it you want your customer to do when they read their text? Is it to click on your newest offer, repurchase a product or finish checking out? Make sure you communicate this clearly before hitting send.
Step 2. Understand your audience
If you’re ready to start using SMS marketing, then you need a clear idea of who you’re marketing to. Remember that the people receiving your texts have specifically opted in to receive text from your brand, so they’re likely to be amongst your most engaged customers.
You can use sales and demographic data to help guide how you communicate with your audience. Over time, you’ll be able to correlate that with your engagement rates from SMS marketing campaigns to build a clearer picture of how your customers interact with your brand.
Step 3. Know the law
Before you hit send, you need to know what the law says on contacting customers via SMS with your marketing offers.
The key word here is consent; your customers must be willingly and knowingly opted in to receive messages from you. If you contact your customers without their consent, you’ll be in breach of the law, which could leave you at risk of prosecution.
You can collect this consent in a number of compliant ways, including through a checkbox during your checkout process, a pop-up or banner on your website, or they can even message you directly to opt-in.
You must also provide customers with a way of opting-out and revoking their consent if they no longer want to receive messages from you.
Under the GDPR, you must provide an opt-out mechanism with every message you send — and it’s much the same under TCPA guidelines. Opt-out options can be provided in a couple of ways, including in-channel using a keyword (like STOP), or by using a one-click link.
Step 4. Customize your messaging
SMS marketing relies on brevity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t customize your messages in a way that is recognizable to your brand’s tone of voice. Instead, focus on conversational language that appeals to your target audience.
That might feel tricky when you’ve only got 250 characters to play with, so we’ve put together this handy message copywriting guide to give you a few pointers.
As a general rule of thumb, keep messages short and to the point, and use capital letters to emphasize important words like ‘sale’ or ‘discount’. Don’t forget to throw in a few emojis if it feels right 👍
Step 5. Get personal
Think about your favorite experiences as a customer — what made them memorable? It was likely all in the personalization. This is why making sure you have the right resources in place to chat with your customers one-on-one is essential.
Every time a customer gets in touch with you, it’s a chance to build an individual rapport. Whether it’s about an order update or they’re providing feedback, each touchpoint is an opportunity to establish a relationship and increase their lifetime value.
Smart chatbots can provide vital support here, but human support and tailored interactions can be a huge differentiator.
Why Blueprint is a top SMS marketing tool
Let your customers manage their subscriptions with ease
Subscription churn costs you 29% of your annual revenue — but giving your customers more ownership over their subscription management can help prevent it from happening.
Blueprint’s flexible subscriptions feature makes it easier for your customers to seamlessly skip an upcoming order via SMS through Recharge and Bold subscriptions.
All you need to do is set up an automated flow to trigger an SMS reminder when a subscription is set to recur and your customer can skip their order with a reply.
Get customer feedback in real-time
As a business owner, knowing what your customers think about your services and products is vital to your success. Feedback helps you understand what your customers want — and it helps you understand if you’re delivering on that goal.
Our platform increases feedback rates by 150% as compared with email channels, and makes it easy for your customers to give qualitative feedback on your service, products and their buying habits via SMS.
And if something goes wrong like an issue with an order, you can quickly start a two-way conversation with your customer to give them the support they need, driving better retention into the bargain.
Cross-sell and replenish with smart reordering
Research proves time and time again that repeat customers spend more money — and the better you engage them, the greater their potential lifetime value becomes. One key way you can do this is by anticipating when their purchase is due for a refill.
Blueprint’s intelligent reordering system works with your Shopify data to recommend the most effective reorder prompts for your customers — meaning they get the right reminder at the right time.
To make it even more hassle-free, you can send branded checkout links prefilled with your customer’s shipping and payment details, so all they need to do is click pay.
Once they’re at the checkout, our intelligent cross-selling feature draws on their data to suggest the most effective order add-ons based on their buying behavior, leaving the guesswork out of it.
How Blueprint can help
Using an SMS marketing tool like Blueprint can improve your customer experience, retention, help you better understand your audience, and turn casual buyers into long-term loyal supporters of your brand. To find out more about how you can get started with Blueprint, book a demo with us today.