Even in the digital age, SMS marketing is a great way to reach customers and drive them online or in-store to make a purchase. It’s the perfect channel to increase conversions for B2C marketing campaigns.
Consumers of all ages have a mobile phone – very few of us leave the house without one. For this reason, SMS marketing has great engagement rates and is one of the most effective direct marketing channels. Some reports estimate the open rate of SMS messages are as high as 98 and 99% – significantly outstripping marketing emails, which have an open rate of about 32%.
This makes SMS marketing a great place to focus efforts if you’ve seen a drop in engagement for your email messages. SMS can be used to create a great customer experience through support messages, convenient password resets, and handy reminders. And due to its high engagement rates, it is also a great way to boost conversions (read the 8 point guide to SMS Marketing here for in-depth information).
In 2016, 31% of sales were made on a mobile device – and this figure is growing – so whether you want to drive visitors to your ecommerce store or your local shop, here are five ways to use text message marketing to boost conversions.
1. Use triggered messages to trigger conversions
It makes sense to target customers based on their interactions with your brand – or even their lack of interaction. Triggered messages can help you build a relationship and foster loyalty with regular customers, but you can also use them to get them back.
If someone makes a purchase, thank them with a discount code. If they haven’t booked an appointment, used their loyalty card or made a purchase online for a while, entice them back by sending an incentive straight to their phone.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, increase footfall by sending messages to people who are nearby. SMS geo-fencing allows businesses to target customers based on their location. Well-known brands like Pizza Hut, Kiehls and the North Face have successfully used it to bring customers through their doors.
In one of of its UK campaigns, Pizza Hut texted customers with a promotion when they were within a half mile radius of one of its locations. The move generated more sales than its online advertising.
More recently, pharmacy chain Rite Aid rolled out proximity beacons in more than 4,500 stores across the US. It is possibly the biggest example of proximity based marketing to date. The system uses existing retailer and brand apps to send offers to customers entering or passing a store location.
Some SMS software is even sophisticated enough to send targeted messages to those who’ve stepped inside your store. The Hershey Co. used this approach to deliver coupons to their in-store visitors so they could engage with them before they approached the tills.
While it can take some time to build up a list of people who’ve opted into your text alerts, it is worth the investment as you’ll end up with the direct contact details of consumers who liked and trusted your brand enough to share their phone number with you.
2. Optimize your messages to increase sales
No matter what kind of campaign you are running, conversion rate optimization can help you boost sales and ROI without the need for much investment.
With tools like VoiceSage, the real-time analytics and custom reports make it easy to measure the effectiveness of campaigns, so future activities can be optimized and informed.
If you offer users a discount, use a unique coupon code so you can track redemptions. Or if the aim of your campaign is to drive customers to your website, consider adding UTM parameters to the message link. This will let you see if your campaigns are leading to conversions and the data will appear in Google Analytics alongside the analytics of your other online marketing activities.
With detailed analytics at your disposal, it can also be worth running A/B or split tests to really hone your messages. Experiment with different text, offers, CTAs, sending times, emojis and personalizations. You can even see the reaction your messages get when you make a promotion available for 24 hours or a week.
3. Personalize your messages whenever possible
People like their brand interactions to have a personal touch, whether they are in-store, online, or on their mobile messenger. And there’s an abundance of research to prove this can increase conversions.
According to a 2013 report by consumer data specialist Experian, personalized emails generate six times more revenue than non-personalized emails. Another study by Janrain found that 73% of consumers were fed up of being presented with irrelevant content.
A more recent study by SalesForce showed that shoppers presented with relevant product recommendations accounted for more than a quarter of revenue on e-commerce sites. This highlights just how much personalization can impact conversions. So what does this all mean for your SMS messages?
Well first off, make sure to segment your audience so you can send them targeted messages. This way your messages won’t annoy anyone and they will be more likely to lead to improve your campaign’s conversion rates.
During opt-in give people the option to specify what kind of updates they would like to receive. Are they interested in products, promotions, contests or live events? You could even get more detailed and ask what kind of product alerts they would like to receive – maybe they are interested in your brand’s clothing or homeware etc. Kohl’s, for example, offers SMS alerts specifically to notify people about sales.
In a smart move, H&M managed to collect customers’ phone numbers and email addresses at the same time by encouraging them to sign up for their newsletter via SMS. This no doubt provided the clothing retailer with a more complete data set which can help it plan more integrated and effective campaigns.
It’s also a good idea to integrate your CRM system with your messaging platform. This will allow you to send out messages based on the information you have stored. You’ll be able to receive automatic updates on customer status, pull previous conversations and add people to a campaign from within the CRM. The more you know, the easier it will be to send relevant messages to your audience.
There are a number of ways you can personalize your SMS messages, from addressing customers by their name to sending them personalized product recommendations. You could even segment recent customers and ask them to rate their experience with your brand. The further down the sales funnel you can bring prospects, the more likely they are to convert.
But even if you don’t have all the deets needed to properly personalize your messages, it’s not the end of the world. Take a leaf out of Abercrombie & Fitch’s book and simply let customers choose their own journey. The American retailer sends sale alerts with links to both the men’s sale and the women’s sale, which lets prospects click on the content most relevant to them.
4. Put your brand to the fore
Whenever possible, send texts using your brand name as the sender ID. This will leave users with no doubts about who is texting them.
If you’re including a URL in an SMS message, make sure to use a branded link. Many CTAs will require a website link, but it doesn’t make sense to use a long URL full of UTM parameters when there’s an 160-character limit. Though it may be tempting to shorten your links with a generic URL shortener, it’s much better to share a branded link which features your brand’s name and a keyword after the slash.
In SMS messages, URLs are hyperlinked which make them the most eye-catching element of a text. This provides marketers with the ideal opportunity to showcase their brand. Featuring your business name in a link increases brand visibility but, more importantly, it also builds trust with your audience as they know the link won’t lead to spam or malicious content. This increased trust can boost click-throughs by up to 39%.
More clicks mean more conversions and a branded link will make for a tidier text message too.
5. Transfer to payments
To make it easy for prospects to convert, get rid of any friction caused by the payment process. This final step is often when prospects disappear from the sales funnel, but by making the customer journey as intuitive and smooth as possible, your business can maximize conversions.
If possible, make the payment process just two clicks long – it will make for a better brand experience for your customers and a better bottom line for your business.
Though it’s been around for a long time, SMS marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to connect with consumers in the digital era. The huge majority of people open the text messages they receive, but that’s just half of the journey. It’s up to marketers to make sure their messages are optimized to spur on click-throughs and conversions.
Published on: 31st July 2018