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How to Leverage SMS Marketing For Your DTC Business

a mobile phone displaying messages and alerts

Our smartphones have become our lifeline. We use them to order groceries, keep in touch with loved ones, take photos, write notes, learn new languages, shop online …

With the average person spending at least three hours a day on their mobile phone, it makes sense to take advantage of this usage for your DTC business.

SMS marketing is on the rise, with 75% of consumers admitting they’re open to receiving texts from brands they care about.

If your DTC business doesn’t already tap into SMS marketing, you’re missing out on a lucrative opportunity to improve your buyer experience and boost customer retention. But don’t worry, we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know about leveraging SMS marketing for your DTC business.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing refers to the process of using SMS (Short Message Service, or texting) to connect with customers and inform them of campaigns, promotions, news, and updates.

SMS marketing is similar to email marketing. Both are forms of owned media marketing, except one reaches customers through their email address while the other reaches them using their phone number.

With SMS marketing, you have full control over who receives your text messages. You can segment your audience and personalize your messages to your customers. This makes SMS a highly personal form of marketing that’s perfect for DTC brands.

Why use SMS marketing

The average American checks their phone 160 times each day. That means, if you use SMS as part of your sales and marketing strategy, you have 160 opportunities to engage consumers — and to make a sale.

We aren’t saying you should text your customers 160 times a day. Rather, we’re simply highlighting the full potential of SMS marketing and how it can be one of the best ways to get in front of your target audience.

From the ease of connection to the speed at which people respond to text messages, there are many benefits to using SMS marketing as a DTC brand.

Customers value convenience. Being able to navigate seamlessly from their text messages to your mobile website to browse and check out makes SMS marketing a convenient marketing channel for your customers.

SMS marketing provides a direct line of communication between your brand and your customers. It takes approximately 90 seconds for someone to check a text message. So, SMS marketing can help you reach your customers faster than ever before.

Incorporating text messages into your marketing strategy can help you stand out from competitors as well. The digital space is overflowing with email marketing and paid advertising across social media, search engines, and websites. SMS marketing offers a refreshing alternative channel of communication.

The unique nature of SMS marketing can also build more genuine connections with your customers, as proven by customers stating they would be happy to receive text messages from brands.

If all of the above points don’t convince you to try SMS marketing, perhaps the costs will. Unlike other marketing channels, SMS marketing can be incredibly cost-effective, regardless of how many messages you send or how many recipients you have. It’s an attractive tactic for DTC brands who may not have large marketing budgets.

SMS marketing statistics

To illustrate the power of SMS marketing, here are some of our favorite SMS marketing statistics:

  • The average U.S. smartphone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day (source)
  • 75% of people would like to have offers sent to them via SMS (source)
  • SMS has a 97% read rate within 15 minutes of delivery (source)
  • Sending customers a follow-up SMS can increase email open rates by 20%–30% (source)
  • On average, consumers have 192x more unread emails than text messages (source)
  • 90% of SMS messages are read within the first 90 seconds of receipt (source)
  • 60.8% of people would like the ability to text businesses back about customer support issues (source)
  • 50% of consumers report that flash sales and time-sensitive promotions would encourage them to opt in to a business’s text messages (source)
  • 54% of consumers want marketing text messages, yet only 11% of businesses send SMS messages (source)
  • 86% of small business owners who use SMS messages say texting offers higher engagement than email communication (source)

On a larger scale, these statistics reveal that SMS marketing is not slowing down.

Consumers are more invested in their smartphones than ever before, so, if you want to get in front of your target audience, you need to tap into that dependency via SMS text marketing.

3 Ways to use SMS marketing

Rather than speaking to consumers as a business, SMS marketing lets you speak to them person-to-person through casual text messages.

So, how can you make sure your SMS messages strike the right tone?

Take a look at the following examples to learn what a successful SMS marketing message looks like (and maybe even use them for your own SMS text marketing!).

1) Abandoned cart reminders

Win back customers who abandoned their online cart mid-shopping spree with SMS text messages. Similar to cart abandonment emails, these messages use the site visitor’s contact information (in this case, their mobile number) to send them a message shortly after they abandon their cart.

These automated text messages gently remind customers they left products in their cart without completing the purchase. Cart recovery SMS could lead to higher click-through rates (36% vs. 3.2%) and higher conversion rates than email equivalents.

Try this example abandoned cart SMS message:

Hey {FirstName}, did you forget something? Use the code {DiscountCode} to save 10% when you check out today ️! Get it now before it’s gone: {AbandonedCheckoutUrl}

2) Customer loyalty program notifications

Customers love a loyalty program. Don’t believe us? 75% of consumers say they would switch brands for a better loyalty program.

Retain and reengage existing customers with a loyalty program. Then, use SMS text marketing to remind them of their points balance, benefits, and to cash in their latest rewards.

Try these example loyalty program SMS messages:

Example loyalty program welcome text message

Congrats {FirstName}, you just became a {BrandName} loyalty member ! To celebrate, we’re offering you 30% off your next order when you use {DiscountCode}: {SiteUrl}

Example loyalty program reminder text message

Hey {FirstName}, we haven’t seen you in a while! Check out our latest collection and use your {PointsBalance} points to treat yourself to something nice. You deserve it: {SiteURL}

3) Shipping updates

Offering fast shipping is a sure-fire way to win over consumers. But that isn’t all you can do to satisfy your customers’ online shopping needs.

Customers also appreciate updates on the progress of their online order. 83% of shoppers expect to receive regular communications about their purchases.

Shipping update SMS messages let you inform shoppers about their order process, from the moment its picked up to when it’s due to land on their doorstep.

Try this example shipping update SMS message:

Hey {FirstName}, we have some exciting news ! Your {BrandName} order is on its way! You can keep track of your order here: {TrackingNumber}

SMS marketing platforms

If you are swayed by the idea of supercharging your DTC marketing efforts with SMS messaging, then you need to know about the best SMS marketing platforms.

SMS marketing doesn’t involve manually texting consumers one by one. With SMS marketing platforms, you can automate messages to go out to your customers. You can use these to provide customers with shipping updates, create specific SMS marketing campaigns, send exclusive offers and promotions, reengage shoppers, and much more.

Some of the best SMS marketing platforms available include:

  • ActiveCampaign
  • Birdeye
  • Klaviyo
  • MobileMonkey
  • Omnisend
  • Sendinblue
  • Zipwhip

To understand the various benefits of using an SMS marketing program, let’s dive into some of the services listed above…

ActiveCampaign is a popular omni-channel marketing tool. With ActiveCampaign, you can engage your customers wherever they are by sending messages through texting, WhatsApp, and other third-party apps like Twilio and BulkSMS. You can also set up SMS automation workflows to send messages to customers automatically when they perform a certain action.

Birdeye aims to help companies convert customers through business messaging solutions. Their omni-channel tool allows you to connect different apps so you can effortlessly switch between text and email. This tool also lets you turn voicemails into text messages to respond to customer enquiries easily.

With a laser-focus on eCommerce, Klaviyo offers SMS marketing automation for DTC eCommerce brands. This allows business owners to create strong, personable relationships with their customers through customized, automated text messages that inspire action.

Whatever your business needs, the perfect SMS marketing platform for your brand is out there to help you forge long-lasting relationships that keep your customers happy and your business growing.

SMS marketing best practices

As with any marketing tactic, following best practices will help you earn the most profitable results.

To help you start off on the right foot with SMS marketing, we recommend the following best practices.

1) Be consistent

You need to find the middle ground between sending too many messages and not sending enough. Customers should hear from you often enough to remember your business and feel compelled to take action. However, messaging them too frequently can make them feel suffocated and overwhelmed. As a result, they may opt out of receiving SMS messages from you altogether.

Aim to send text messages consistently. You can do this by creating automated text message workflows based on actions your customers take, such as shipping updates and abandoned cart reminders. You should also schedule frequent SMS marketing campaigns each month to re-engage your existing network of shoppers.

2) Provide measurable, exclusive value

Customers need to feel valued to maintain their brand loyalty. You can achieve this by sharing exclusive rewards, bonuses, and offers with those who opt in to your SMS messaging. These exclusive rewards will make them feel valued, and will encourage more people to sign up for your SMS marketing services to receive these special offers.

Be careful not to overuse rewards, though. Too much of a good thing is possible; offering too many rewards, flash sales, or promotions could negatively impact how your brand is perceived.

3) Make it personal

Personalization is one of the easiest ways to make your marketing messages feel unique. Use custom fields such as first names to send more personable, customized texts to your customers.

You could take this one step further by segmenting your audience based on customer data, such as the categories they tend to shop or their order frequency. Based on this information, you can send them tailored SMS marketing campaigns that are more relevant to their interests and shopping behaviors.

4) Be helpful

Customer service is key as a DTC brand. If you offer two-way communication, make sure you’re responsive when customers send SMS messages to your business number.

Similarly, you can use SMS to provide customer service and assist customers with their inquiries. Being helpful can move customers from a state of curiosity and “just browsing” to being engaged customers.

5) Keep it above board with disclaimers

When incorporating SMS messages into your marketing strategy, remember to include disclaimers.

Marketing disclaimers are a legal requirement. When sending marketing messages, you also need to include a link to your T&Cs and privacy policy, as well as let customers know how often you plan to text subscribers, whether any messaging and data rates apply, and how to unsubscribe from further SMS messages.

Your customers will appreciate the transparency. So, while it may seem boring, it’s in your best interests to share the necessary disclaimers.

How to introduce SMS marketing

If you already make use of email marketing, adding SMS marketing to your strategy should be a seamless process.

1) Collect consent

Before you fire out text messages to your customer database, you need their consent. Nobody wants to receive marketing messages they didn’t opt in for. So, make sure you first collect consent for SMS marketing from your audience. This can be done by emailing subscribers with an exclusive discount if they join your SMS list. You could also add a pop-up or flyout form to your website to collect customer information and consent for your SMS marketing services.

2) Plan your SMS messaging

Recall the SMS best practices and how we said consistency is key. Having an SMS marketing strategy in place will ensure you send customers relevant text messages with value. More importantly, your SMS strategy will make sure the text messages you send support your business goals.

In general, you should send three types of messages: transactional, automations, and campaigns. Transactional messages are related to customer orders, such as shipping updates. Automation and campaigns are marketing updates, with automations being SMS messages sent automatically based on customer behaviors and triggers (e.g., abandoned cart SMS messages), and campaigns being one-off messages. Campaign messages could include seasonal promotions or new product line announcements.

When devising your SMS marketing strategy, remember also to consider the frequency of your texts, and whether you plan to segment your SMS audiences.

3) Let people unsubscribe

Before putting your SMS marketing strategy into action, you need to set up an unsubscribe process. Make it easy for your SMS subscribers to opt out if they no longer wish to receive messages from your business. You could do this by setting up a rule where customers can simply reply “STOP” to unsubscribe automatically from your SMS list.

4) Harmonize your marketing channels

Don’t let your SMS marketing work in silos; your planned SMS activity should fit into your wider marketing strategy. For instance, you may want to maintain consistent messaging across your email marketing, organic social media, and SMS messaging.

Alternatively, you could create exclusivity by offering an SMS-only coupon code, then using email marketing, your website, and social media to let customers know how to join your SMS list to redeem this exclusive offer.

Whatever you do, make sure your marketing channels work together to help you achieve your business goals.

5) Measure and monitor your results

Finally, don’t just send out SMS marketing messages and hope for the best. Be strategic with your messaging and analyze its performance.

Your chosen SMS marketing platform should be able to keep you informed of relevant metrics and KPIs, such as message delivery rate, open rate, click rate, and opt-outs. You can determine the success of your campaign based on which metrics align with your goal. For instance, if you sent an SMS message with the intention of increasing online sales, you’ll want to measure the conversion rate of that message.

Use these metrics to determine the success of your SMS marketing. You may spot patterns in activity. For example, you may find using emojis can encourage more people to click links in your messages.

Analyze your campaigns and keep tweaking them until you find the SMS marketing sweet-spot that works best for your DTC business.

Wrapping up — Engage your DTC customers with SMS marketing

SMS marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage your customers. It’s a largely untapped channel that your customers are almost always on, and gives you a direct line into your favorite customers’ undivided attention.

Follow these best practices to build your community, give your buyers the information they want before they ask, and show your customers you value them.