How Brands Are Leveraging Email & SMS To Scale

June 18, 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Direct to consumer brands have been adopting SMS at an accelerated rate. We sat down with growth marketing agency Markacy based out of New York City to see how their clients were using text message marketing to drive revenue and improve customer experience. Learn their perspective on the channel and how their clients are succeeding using SMS platforms like Postscript.

An Agency Perspective

Over the past 12 months, Markacys’ clients have changed their tune on SMS. In 2019, the agency was receiving a lot of push back from clients when suggesting text marketing programs. Many brands were hesitant because they felt it was too intrusive. Others believed SMS efforts would cannibalize email revenue and email capture.

As society becomes more fast-paced and technology driven, we are spending more and more time on our phones. SMS has been able to help brands take advantage of that. Email, while still a cornerstone of ecommerce, is only one communication channel. Brands are constantly fighting for consumers attention in what feels like an ever increasing email inbox. 

Markacy has found that when used correctly, SMS marketing can support email marketing by pushing notification efforts, and in some cases is more effective. The agency is seeing significantly higher open rates and click-through rates on SMS messages versus other customer lifecycle communication channels, even conversion rates are substantially higher.

Let’s dive into how Markacy has helped its clients integrate email and text message marketing efforts to improve the overall customer journey experiences.

How To Get Started

Like any customer communication tool, SMS should be thought of in the context of the entire customer journey from start to finish. Markacy works with its clients to map out end-to-end Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategies by defining what communications are needed to drive initial conversion, ensure a smooth onboarding process, and to sustain repeat purchase. From awareness to acquisition to retention, SMS and email marketing help ensure a smooth customer experience and to nudge specific actions. 

Many brands already have existing email automations and monthly campaigns in place. Markacy recommends aligning your SMS automation flows and timing of communications with existing email automations as a starting point. 

Evaluate your welcome, abandoned cart and post-purchase email communications and timing to think strategically about where SMS fits in. Markacy has found that you shouldn’t be sending as many SMS messages as emails, and to use SMS to highlight the top communication points. The following are the top SMS automation flows and tactics that Markacy sees driving value with clients.

Driving Initial Purchase

Welcome series is a perfect example of where SMS can compliment and even enhance email communications. When customers are on site entering their email or phone number in a welcome pop-up or the footer of a brand’s website to get a percentage of first purchase, they are typically ready to buy. Since a vast majority of user traffic is on mobile, getting an immediate text message with your discount code is a lot more seamless than needing to open your email. 

Postscript also integrates with Klaviyo – a widely used email platform – which facilitates part of the opt-in where the brand captures the customer’s phone number and email. This is an example of how SMS compliments vs. cannibalizes email revenue.

Email and SMS automation messages should mirror each other in terms of content and timing. Markacy has seen the best practice of having brands default to new user email capture on desktop pop-ups and SMS on mobile since it helps better fit the user experience. 

Abandoned Cart

If a customer has added products to their cart, they have intent to buy but are unsure about the final purchase due to timing, price, etc. 

As a result, abandoned cart email automations are always one of the most effective channels for ecommerce brands; brands can market to customers who are high intent. Similarly, abandoned cart text messages work well for the same reason as the welcome series. Consumers open their text messages more frequently than their personal emails, making it no surprise that it causes cart abandonment rates to reduce exponentially when correctly implemented. It’s a different touch point, and simply increases your chances of moving someone from consideration to conversion when they have added products to cart. 

Your abandoned cart email and SMS messages should mirror each other in terms of content and timing.

Onboarding & Repeat Purchase

For post-purchase, Markacy sees SMS playing a key role in value-add communications around shipping updates, onboarding education, cross-sell and reminders for repeat purchase. Markacy sees 3-4 post-purchase SMS messages as  best practice compared to the same email automation series which might have between 5-8 touch points in the first 30 days. 

Once a customer has received a product, texting them with a link to onboarding education or tips and tricks content enhances their initial impressions when first using the product. Markacy is also seeing personalized cross-sell text messages be very successful. They say brands should dig into their cross-sell trends and build text automation flows that are personalized based on products that pair with what the customer originally bought. Lastly, a final text message communication or offer to spur repeat purchase should be triggered. The timing of that communication should be tied to the brands average time between 1st and 2nd purchase.

Subscription Series

For subscription brands, customer LTV is everything. Brands should have separate post-purchase automation flows for one-time purchasers and subscription customers. Postscript makes available several great features which Markacy is leveraging with their clients to drive incremental value from subscription. Because Postscript integrates easily with ReCharge, a popular Shopify subscription application, these advanced triggers are easy to set-up. 

  • Reply-To-Buy – For brands with multiple products, reply-to-buy is a powerful tool that can automatically text a customer to reply “yes” to add a product that pairs well with what they already have in their subscription. This feature allows customers to explore more products in a personalized way, and it creates great LTV for the brand. 
  • Skip A Order – Postscript allows brands the ability to get in front of customers before their next subscription ships to see if they want to keep it or skip it. Markacy has found with clients that by proactively getting in front of customers with the option to skip orders, it dramatically curbs the subscription churn rate. 

Credit Card Failed – One of the biggest reasons for losing a subscriber is that their credit card payment option fails. Establishing automated triggers to alert customers when new payment information is needed ensures customers do not churn. 

Monthly Campaigns

In addition to automation flows, SMS is extremely effective as a customer awareness tool for sales, key promotions, new product launches, etc. Brands should look at what days of the month they are sending promotional or educational emails to various segments and should try to incorporate SMS sends on those same days to similar customer segments. Markacy is finding that MMS which allows brands to send images and GIFs to customers in addition to text are also very effective for campaign messages. Since they cost most that SMS text only messages, brands should use them sparingly.

Customer Preferences

Markacy has found that some customers simply prefer certain forms of communication. A preference email flow can be triggered to ask customers what they like to hear from the brand and through what medium. This can give the brand the ability to further segment customer communications to email only, text only or both.

The Bottom Line

Bottom line, SMS is a fantastic communication tool but should be thought of in the context of your broader customer communication lifecycle. Use it to support your efforts and diversify your communication tactics to get in front of different customers in different ways. 

SMS can be used to highlight key messages to nudge customers towards specific actions. Markacy projects SMS and voice communication particularly to continue to grow as customer behavior continually shifts to a mobile first environment. Be an early adopter and test the above best practices to get started. 

Take some time to reflect on how your brand can leverage SMS to improve your customer experience.

Markacy and Postscript are here to help.

To schedule time with the Markacy team to discuss your SMS strategy, contact them today.

Corinne Watson

About the Author: Corinne Watson

Corinne Watson is a researcher and writer at Postscript. Prior to Postscript, she was on the team at fin-tech startup Skills Fund, then led partner content marketing at BigCommerce. When she’s not content-ing, she is cooking, gardening, or diving into a new book. Keep up with her on Twitter.

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