SMS Marketing During BFCM 2020: Trends and Stats

We are at the end of the busiest quarter for eCommerce, which this year was exceptionally hectic due to the boom we witnessed across all of online commerce. 2020 will be remembered by many as the year when eCommerce grew by more than 30%, accelerating the online shopping shift by nearly 2 years, if not more.

Another big shift we witnessed this year was the change in customer behavior -  the way they shop, what they shop and where. Over 72% of customers preferred to buy from mobile devices, making mobile-first experiences more relevant than ever.

Due to the global situation and the high uncertainty levels, customers sought direct 2-way communication with brands. This year alone over 48% of consumers have signed up to receive messages from their favorite brands.

Still, some things stayed the same. Black Friday and Cyber Monday remained in the spotlight of events that brought in the most traffic and sales.

Over the 4 days of the BFCM weekend, our users sent three times more text messages than they did last year, showing what a tremendous growth SMS as a channel has experienced just in the span of 12 months. As a result, brands generated over $23 million in BFCM revenue, an increase of over 638% compared to last year.

But our users weren’t only able to maximize sales this BFCM.

Following are some of the trends we drew out from the way this BFCM unfold and our take on the reasons behind them. 

 

BFCM Catalyzed Growth in SMS Subscribers 

Millions of shoppers subscribe to receive SMS updates from their favorite brand every month, but in November alone we saw a total increase in subscribers of over 170%! This proved brands’ efforts to branch out and leverage their presence across multiple channels effective in every way.

Online businesses took advantage of the expected increase in website traffic to convert visitors into subscribers and customers with the help of our advanced on-site conversion tools, such as pop-ups and embedded forms, as well as the checkout page.

Moreover, during the BFCM week (and in 2020 as a whole) online businesses benefited from their social media channels to drive up SMS subscriptions, using tailored keywords or a shareable link

 

SMS: Throughout All BFCM

Evidently, more people opted in for online shopping this BFCM, which drove brands to start their sales earlier than ever before, in an attempt to provide a seamless shopping experience, but also stand out from the competition.

The first big spike in SMS campaigns was already on Wednesday, which generated successful sales with an AOV of $86. However, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the biggest surge in SMS campaigns came with the morning of November 27.

An unmatched amount of messages were sent on Black Friday alone, totaling over 36% of all messages. With the AOV of a shopping basket growing to the staggering $92.

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Personalization Was Key This BFCM 

A big role in achieving these groundbreaking numbers played audience segmentation.
 

Realizing that now, more than ever, it’s important to reach the right customers with the right message at the right time, more brands opted in for building narrow segments, based on customer characteristics and behavior, such as purchase history, order value, engagement and more.

As opposed to relying on mass messaging customers with BFCM site-wide offers, a major part of our users went down the personalization path, ensuring their messages are both relevant to their customers, but also effective in maximizing engagement and sales. 

 

The Buyer Journey: Personalized & Perfectly Timed Messages

Personalization was an essential part of the BFCM success not only in the context of one-off campaigns. Thanks to the carefully segmented flows, personalized and timely messages engaged subscribers in each step of their purchase journey.

Over the BFCM week we supported over 20 000 automated messages daily. The majority of them were sales-driven interactions, such as abandoned cart reminders, but a great deal of all automated messages were part of a welcome flow series and cross-selling efforts.

Automated messages helped brands ensure that no matter where customers are in their purchase process, they are well taken care of with tailored and timed messages. Whether it’s greeting them as they first opt in, reminding them about the cart they left behind or suggesting a complementary item after they’ve ordered: shoppers received personalized treatment at the right moment. And that’s how powerful automated messages are!

This brings us to the conclusion that retention strategies and boosting CLV in the long run is just as important to merchants, as generating sales in the short term. 

 

SMS: the Channel for Creating Relationships  

Throughout the passing year, we’ve seen that users are looking for various ways to connect with their customers and build lasting relationships, starting from the very first interaction and maintaining a steady level of engagement throughout the entire buyer experience.

But more importantly, what this BFCM also made clear for us is that SMS is evolving into a direct 2-way communication channel, as a growing number of customers are also actively searching for ways to engage with brands. The messaging narrative this year focused greatly on encouraging people to reply back to the messages if they have a question or need anything, which proved massively effective. During the BFCM week we had a record-breaking number of customer interactions, rounding up to more than 1 million in total messages sent via SMS chat. 

As it’s direct and frictionless, with the highest open rates, but also preferred by close to 80% of shoppers, SMS is the channel to engage proactively with customers and strengthen your relationship with them over time.

Now that we’ve gone deeper into the BFCM statistics and what they actually mean, let’s see what you can do from here on out to make the most out of this event-rich Q4 and march into the new year with a strong lead.  

 

Lessons Learned 

As 2021 is approaching, it’s important to take a step back, analyze your results, see what went well and what didn’t, and try and replicate the great results with your upcoming campaigns.

So what are some of the key lessons we learn from this BFCM that we will carry over going into the new year?  
 

Lesson #1: Personalization is Key to High Conversions

Segmentation might seem as something tedious, but with the way eCommerce is developing, personalizing your marketing is becoming more and more necessary for maximizing your chances of conversion. Not to mention, SMS is the most direct marketing channel out there, and it’s also consent-based, meaning that your subscribers have true interest in your brand and want to be kept up-to-date. So a top priority of every text marketer would be not to overwhelm them with irrelevant content, but personalize each and every message and create a tailored experience. 
 

Lesson #2: Build Meaningful Relationships 

The best thing about SMS messages is that they are so versatile in what they can help you do. So besides texting your subscribers to notify them about yet another sale, consider spending some time getting to know your audience, their preferences, or just chat with them regarding their most recent purchase to make sure all went smoothly. This will both boost customer lifetime value, but will also help you nail your offers down to a tee.
 

Lesson #3: Go Beyond the Sales 

In marketing (any type of marketing, really) how you treat your customers after they’ve purchased from you is crucial for keeping them loyal to your brand for longer, and for boosting repeat purchases. Not to mention that even in online commerce, shoppers still expect to receive updates and notifications regarding their order, and over 70% of them will be excited to stick with your brand for longer if shown post-purchase care. And is there a more frictionless way to connect with customers than SMS?


This BFCM cemented SMS as the go-to channel for communicating with customers, building relationships and maximizing sales. And by the looks of it - it’s only going to get stronger and more effective. We can’t wait to see what Christmas brings along and how the trends are going to change as we are going into “the most wonderful time of the year”. 

Get your Christmas cheer on and be ready for the next sales event with our jolly Holidays guides. Check out the holiday marketing strategies we’ve prepared for you, wrapped in festive SMS flows, templates and pop-ups. 

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Viktoria is a Content Creator at SMSBump. Besides writing for work and pleasure, she is an avid foodie, a big fan of Stephen King, and enjoys spending time at the beach.

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