May 20, 2021
5 Key Features of a Powerful SMS Marketing Platform
As SMS marketing continues to grow in popularity and more and more brands are eager to adopt it to connect with customers and increase sales, it's important to know exactly what you need from an SMS service platform in order to make the most out of the channel. Our partners from Software Pundit contributed with this elaborate piece, containing the 5 key capabilities an SMS marketing software should have to be the perfect fit for your eCommerce business.
SMS marketing is one of the most direct and personal ways to reach out to your customers. While businesses continue to leverage SMS marketing for their communications, it’s integral to note that use-cases vary depending on what industry you’re working in. This is especially true for those in the eCommerce space.
More and more businesses have started to adopt SMS marketing for their communications and sales funnels. As the market itself continues to grow and the technology evolves more quickly than ever before, it’s important to discuss the five key features an SMS marketing platform should have for your eCommerce store to thrive. We’ll provide visuals and we’ll walk you through various use-cases to help out with context.
Subscriber List Builders
Building your list is integral to your SMS marketing. Your list is composed of existing or potential customers who opt in. The more SMS subscribers you have, the more people you will be able to sell to, so let’s take a look at three effective ways to opt-in subscribers to your list: social opt-ins, pop-ups, and keywords.
Social opt-ins are a unique and engaging way to collect subscribers for your list. You can feature your product or services on your social media, with an option for users to swipe up. Upon doing so, they’ll be a tap away from joining your list for future campaigns and messages.
Setting up social opt-ins should allow you to draft up a subscription request and confirmation. Your request will be pre-filled for subscribers who swiped up, so all they need to do is press send. Upon doing so, they can join the respective list you’ve linked them to.
Marketing is a multifaceted process. Social opt-ins allow you to take advantage of one of the most popular mediums of communication and leverage it to build your list!
For marketers old and new, pop-ups are a tricky game to play. If played right, they serve as an effective, personalized way to capture subscribers for your list. You need to make sure an SMS marketing tool can help you tread that fine line between engagement and annoyance.
The most important thing to look out for pop-ups is timing. Let’s look at the three top ways a SMS marketing tool should accommodate your pop-up timer:
After a certain amount of content has been scrolled through.
After a certain period of time has passed.
Right before a customer leaves.
You also want to make sure your pop-up isn’t showing up every single time a customer visits your store, unless it’s an important notification or alert they absolutely need to see.
The second factor to look out for is customization. There’s no reason why your company branding and style shouldn’t be communicated in your marketing strategies.
You should be able to edit text, colors, and even fonts. These are all integral components of your style guide and an SMS marketing platform should accommodate for all of them.
Finally, you want to make sure your pop-ups are built for compliance. As you can see above, a marketing platform should provide the correct legal language to properly communicate compliance to your subscribers.
Keywords are words and phrases customers text to join your list. This is one of the most standard opt-in methods in any SMS marketing tool, so what should you look specifically for for your eCommerce store?
You also need to make sure that your keyword creator allows you to attach GIFs or images to take your welcome message to another level. At the end of the day, you have a brand identity you want to maintain. Adding a visual element to your messages will allow you to do so. Plus, MMS messages typically have better conversion and click-through rates.
Once you’ve built your subscriber list, it’s time to start targeting customers based on demographics, their purchase history, and more. As an eCommerce store owner, you need to make sure that the SMS marketing platform you’re using can help segment your customers as specifically as possible.
Let’s say you’re running a clothing store and you’re looking to reward customers who have been of high value to your store, i.e. have purchased from you more than 2 times and spent more than $100. Here’s how you’d create this segment:
Although segmenting customers is a key feature in many SMS marketing tools, your business should be on the lookout for segmentation tools designed specifically for eCommerce stores. This is especially important once you begin targeting customers more actively and need to build more complex segments. Here’s just a preview of the most widely-used conditions you can mix and match to further target your customers:
Placed an order
Number of orders
Located in specific country
Order payment status
Abandoned an order
Seen above is an example of more complex segments you can create utilizing AND-OR conditions. These allow you to group segment dimensions together for even more targeted marketing opportunities.
You’ve built your segments and have your SMS subscribers split into different target audiences. Now what? Campaigns in many SMS marketing tools allow you to bulk text your subscriber lists. Although mass texting definitely has a place and time, you’re going to want to make sure your eCommerce business is leveraging text campaigns for highly targeted messages instead.
This means the SMS marketing tool you’re selecting needs to help you send messages that cater to your customers’ preferences, taste, and more. One way to personalize your campaigns is by building segments and ensuring you are targeting the right people. Another is to use shortcodes that fetch customer data and add it to your text message, making it super tailored to the specific shopper and their journey.
Take a look at this campaign. Let’s analyze what makes it work.
First, it’s short and sweet. Open rates for texts are already high. Giving critical information right off the bat to customers will only boost engagement.
Second, and most importantly, it’s tailored specifically to the customer’s user journey. With five shortcodes, we’re establishing the store they purchased from, their first name, the product they bought, the product they can get, and the specific URL they can get it from. This is a perfect case of leveraging shortcodes for highly personalized messages.
When your SMS marketing platform provides shortcodes, this means every text message will contain relevant customer data, fetched automatically by the shortcodes you include, thus maximizing efficiency instead of individually typing out each name and product.
Here are some of the most common shortcodes for eCommerce businesses:
Abandoned checkout URL
Even if your SMS marketing platform allows you to send targeted campaigns, you’re still manually building and sending campaigns out yourself. Let’s look into how we can leverage automated messages to truly maximize both efficiency and engagement for your eCommerce store.
If there’s one thing that will truly take your SMS marketing strategy to the next level, it’s automations. These are actions that are triggered after specific events occur, automated messages being one of the most common examples.
Automations must tackle two essential things for your eCommerce store. The first is maximizing your efficiency, the second is making sure they target specific customers with relevant content. If your SMS marketing platform already has diverse segmentation and shortcodes built in, you already have a head start!
Let’s look at the most common automations an SMS marketing platform should help you build:
New subscriber welcome message
Each individual automation is triggered upon a certain event happening. Let’s say your eCommerce store is unfortunately suffering from high abandoned cart rates. You realize you need to set up an automation that reminds shoppers their cart still has items ready to be purchased.
We already know how to use shortcodes to personalize our message, but now we want to make sure this message is going out to customers upon a specific event occurring. In our case, that event is whenever a customer abandons a checkout.
When you’re looking for an SMS marketing solution, you need to make sure that events such as the ones listed above are available to use in your automations.
Automated SMS Sequences:Flows
Already we’re seeing how simple automations such as abandoned carts can help with engagement and ROI, but what if we want to create a string of automated messages? If an SMS marketing tool allows you to set up multiple automations back to back, that maximizes both the efficiency and personalization that are critical for your eCommerce store.
The most common example of this are drip campaigns. These are messages you can attach together that are individually triggered upon a certain event, usually after a period of time has passed since a subscriber has joined. But SMS marketing tools designed specifically for eCommerce can take this a step further.
Seen above is an SMS marketing flow. Flows allow you to string various messages together to essentially cover the entire sales funnel. Drip campaigns are usually limited to customer retention.
To maximize the effectiveness of this flow, we’ve set up two branches of automations targeted towards customers of higher value (those with orders of over $100) and lower value (with orders of less than $100). Since high-value customers are of greater importance to any store, getting them to return and finalize their order is of top priority. Hence why we will reach out to them with an engaging MMS which has a 15% higher conversion rate compared to SMS, and an enticing discount.
We definitely don’t want to leave customers who don’t meet these conditions hanging. Let’s take a look at our alternative path. We still want them to finish checking out , but we’re using a simple reminder and a smaller discount to encourage them to do so.
The most important thing to note is how we built our user journey. Your customer base is diverse, and a great SMS marketing tool will help you address that diversity, instead of only targeting one portion of it. On autopilot.
Now that we’ve seen all the different ways an SMS marketing tool can help your eCommerce store, we need to discuss how to track that success. Believe it or not, many SMS marketing solutions don’t offer detailed analytics for your business. Instead, they offer general statistics on delivery rates and how many people clicked on a URL.
Although these are all helpful, there are specific reports you need to ensure an SMS marketing platform offers for your store.
As you can see above, some critical statistics to look out for are total revenue, total orders, total ROI, revenue sources, and more. What’s also important though is being able to keep an eye on your top paying customers, your most successful SMS campaigns and automations etc., so you know where your best results are coming from and focus on that. Having visual elements like graphs or tables doesn’t hurt either!
To Sum it up…
As you can see, eCommerce businesses have specific use-cases and features they should always be on the lookout for when selecting an SMS marketing platform. Let’s review what key features should be included:
Subscriber list builders: diverse ways to build your subscriber list and capture both potential and existing customers.
Segmentation: highly targeted conditions such as customer demographics or purchase history that will help you personalize your messages.
Campaigns: relevant messages sent to your segmented customers that boost engagement, retention, or both.
Automations: actions triggered by specific events that streamline your SMS marketing workflow, such as abandoned cart reminders.
Analytics: reports and statistics directly related to your eCommerce store and its success with your SMS marketing platform.
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