The Role of SMS Marketing in Ecommerce
The new competitive standard in eCommerce is to reach consumers across channels. Brands are making every effort to meet consumers “where they’re at” (whether searching for products on Amazon or idly scrolling through social feeds), and also to better use key channels of communication to build deeper relationships.
Two of the longest-standing forms of business-to-consumer communication, which continue to be the most effective, are email and SMS. Email communications in eCommerce average a 16% open rate, while SMS messages are opened 99% of the time. In other words, the more personal and in-hand communications are always those that get more views.
Does SMS play a role in ecommerce? Yes—and on every level of the sales funnel. Big-scale sales online have to be automated as much as possible, and SMS bulk messaging provides an invaluable tool to automate messaging that still feels personal. The experience for consumers is similar to the live chat interfaces that have become even more popular recently, but is still perceived as more “human” than the anonymous interactions with AI-powered chatbots.
Another added benefit of using SMS in ecommerce is that not many businesses are doing it.
People are acutely conditioned to respond to the vibrations and chimes of their cellphones. As a result, there are multiple roles that SMS marketing can play in ecommerce funnels, though the use does change from the top of the funnel to the bottom. Keep reading to see what role SMS can play each step of the way!
SMS for Top of Funnel
The top of the funnel is where leads come in. Naturally, brands won’t have those users’ mobile numbers to send direct messages just yet, but the potential for personalized SMS technology in this stage of the sales process still exists.
One of the first interactions users tend to have with a brand comes in the form of questions. Whether they type a search string into the search bar on your site or open a chat feature to ask you something, these are actions that require immediate response for the user to proceed with the purchase. Added SMS capabilities at this stage of interaction have a huge impact on conversions and abandoned carts.
SMS helps you cast a wider net to capture leads, too. There are still those consumers who aren’t using smartphones, although they’re the minority now. Having the option to reach out through SMS gives brands a competitive advantage over those who aren’t SMS enabled, because just about every consumer can be reached (including those without smartphones).
With push notifications, geofencing, and other technologies, there are even more ways you can reach consumers at the top of the funnel with SMS. Just be sure to brush up on SMS best practices so that your messages never look like SPAM.
Possibilities with SMS for top-of-funnel interactions include:
• Broadcasting to audiences through geofencing
• Personalized event-based notifications
• Two-way conversations and customer service
Keep brainstorming, and you’ll see even more opportunities. SMS messaging at this stage of the funnel feels so hyper-personalized that you can bring your leads that much faster from top to bottom.
SMS for Middle of Funnel
The ad practice of remarketing is what helps re-engage the 98% of users who don’t convert when they first discover a product or service online. Most of those users are simply browsing options, or simply happened upon a page idly. Conversion on the first visit to an eCommerce site makes up the minority by a long shot.
Of those users who trigger remarketing display ads once they navigate away, three of five users notice the ads and remember them. Then, a quarter of those users even say they enjoy seeing personalized content based on products they’ve viewed previously.
While those numbers are encouraging (and make the case quite clear for remarketing efforts), SMS can be an even more effective channel to achieve the same thing. While 99% of SMS are seen within 24 hours, 97% are seen within the first 15 minutes of delivery. This means that as soon as a user navigates away and abandons a cart, immediate feedback can be sent through the one channel where they’re bound to read the message right away.
While conversions through SMS are high (especially when sending offers and immediate-action incentives), an eCommerce brand also has to make sure that the user experience (UX) on their site and marketplace listings are optimized. Otherwise, people will open the SMS almost immediately but then navigate to a page that’s unattractive or frustrating to use, and the benefits of the SMS push are immediately lost. Learn what unique control eCommerce sales enable in optimized UX (from web design to how you manage your product data), even on those marketplaces where you aren’t the owner of the site.
The middle of the funnel is where potential customers are qualified. The utility of SMS at this stage of the sales process include:
• Greater value out of latent, “just-looking” traffic through real-time offers
• More interactive and personalized customer support
• Prevention of shopping cart abandonment
• Marketing for special occasions
SMS for Bottom of Funnel
Here is where consumers arrive at that final “buy” button.
The role SMS plays at the bottom of the sales funnel is inherently linked to superior customer service. If you don’t like picking the phone up to call a business, you’ll understand, because that’s the trend in consumer behavior, too. SMS is what your customers want. They’re on their phones but want the distance and ease of a simple message, and this is where eCommerce businesses need to be.
Of course, you’re past the questions and customer service phase once you reach the bottom of the funnel. This is the step where traffic turns into actual customers. As a result, the kinds of campaigns using SMS change, too. Specific applications of SMS at the bottom of the funnel include:
• Getting more customer feedback and reviews
• Giving real-time updates on order status
• Providing onboarding and welcome messages
• Providing other post-purchase updates
Overall, use of SMS improves customer approval at the bottom of the funnel. Customers feel taken care of and get greater satisfaction from their purchases. SMS can also bring you a bigger return on each purchase because the power of “social proof” and the constant flow of positive reviews can be automated with SMS triggers that give customers the one-click satisfaction of leaving you five stars.
Beyond the Funnel…
Sales don’t stop at the bottom of the funnel. You want to continue marketing to existing customers so that they come back for more, too. They’ve already proven that they’re interested. You even have all their contact information. The most natural next step is to make that relationship even deeper.
Further developing the relationships you have is more efficient through SMS due to message open rates plus the name recognition your brand already has with the audience. In the face of the “new normal” and the trends that have recently impacted eCommerce, customer acquisition has become less about price and more about ease of communication. This positions brands using SMS well ahead of the curve.
Adding SMS to your marketing quiver starts with choosing which service to enlist. There are plenty to choose from, so you can shop for the SMS provider who is best equipped to partner with you for a strategy specific to your brand. Start with a consultation with HSPSMS today.
The following blog was written by guest author Alex Borzo, a content contributor at Amber Engine, a software company passionate about eCommerce. The company’s fast and simple PIM software gets sellers, distributors and brands to Amazon and other online marketplaces in weeks instead of months.