The Case for an SMS-Heavy Strategy This Holiday Season

Laura Serino

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We’re in the business of text messages, so it’s fair to say that we think every year could benefit from an SMS-heavy marketing strategy. But if there’s anything merchants have learned from the past 18 months, it’s that owned marketing channels like SMS are more important than ever before.

From pandemics and nationwide shutdowns to supplier issues and shipping woes, 2021 will go down in ecommerce history as one to remember. And one that hopefully doesn’t happen again.

Now is a great time to ramp up what merchants can control: an owned marketing channel like SMS. 

Let’s look back on why 2021 was a banner year for ecommerce and how focusing on a strong SMS strategy this holiday season could be a game-changer for your business.

Supply Chain Issues, Employee Shortages + Privacy Problems

Store owners continue to feel the effects of COVID. Manufacturers are trying to reap some of their losses due to shutdowns over the past two years and suppliers are hiking up prices. Store owners are paying more for overseas shipments than ever before and even then, they’re not sure exactly when shipments will arrive. And to make matters worse, shipments to customers are also exceedingly slow with carrier delays expected to continue all season long.

An uptick in COVID cases and new variants are also a factor in the major shortage of employees. The Labor Department reported in early September that August was one of the weakest months for hiring since the recovery began more than a year ago. Store owners have struggled to find warehouse workers to meet the increased demand for ecommerce sales. We’ve heard from employers offering everything from signing bonuses to free workplace meals in order to incentivize people to apply for open positions.

And then Apple put the final nail in the coffin with the rollout of iOS15. This update came with a new set of robust privacy features including their Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). With MPP,  Apple pre-loads emails on their servers which are then viewed by a consumer. Because the email is stored on a different server, it shows as opened because Apple is opening the email and displaying it themselves, thus messing up email open rates. Is it Apple opening the email? Or the consumer? It’s anyone’s guess. This lack of clear metrics is another challenge for email this season and another reason why an SMS strategy is so crucial.

Apple’s Private Relay function has made it so retargeting ads will no longer be able to use the unique identifier (the IP address) in conjunction with other 3rd party data. This was a big hit to marketers too. We’ve got a deep dive into this new rollout here if you want to dig in more.

As marketers scramble to gain full control of one aspect of their business, SMS is proving to be the best choice. If there has ever been a year to ramp up your SMS strategies and hit it hard, this is the time to do it.

Why an SMS-Heavy Marketing Strategy is Critical This Holiday Season

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is fast approaching.  After last year’s record-breaking BFCM weekend with sales up 76% over the previous year, it’s going to be a hard weekend to top, especially with all the ongoing troubles for merchants. But the experts are weighing in and this year might top even 2020’s gigantic growth. 

When you compare SMS open rates to email open rates, SMS blows it out of the water at around 98% with 34% of people reading their messages within five minutes of receiving them. Sending a text to a subscriber is a near guarantee that they will see your marketing message. 

This is why SMS marketing is becoming more and more important. While you can’t control a lot of factors moving into Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, you can roll out a solid SMS strategy without giving up any control.

With SMS you can:

  • Send customized messages to your full list and to segments of different subscribers, hitting your existing and prospective customers at different times of the day.
  • Enable campaign flows to schedule texts during your busiest times
  • Turn on automations like browse abandonment and an abandoned cart to target shoppers and get them to convert
  • Engage in conversations with your customers throughout the season to give them a personalized experience that will cut through all the marketing noise. A text message is a direct and personal approach to building customer relationships.
  • Arm your customer service team with a direct link to customers with our help desk integrations.
  • Rely on your own marketing efforts free of controlling third party platforms.

Your Holiday HQ for All Things SMS

Here are a few resources to help you ramp up SMS just in time for the holidays.

Check back here each week for new posts with ideas and inspiration to get you ready all month long. 

Here’s a peek at what’s to come:

Week 1: Holiday Kickoff – Roll out your gift guides and encourage customers to start marking off their shopping lists. 

Week 2: Your VIP List – We’ll walk you through building powerful segments and targeting your most active customers with compelling campaigns.

Week 3: Sales + Promotions – Promote early holiday shopping with flash sales, product bundles and more. 

Week 4: BFCM Weekend – Still don’t have a strategy? We’ve got you. We’ll roll out ideas for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Small Business Saturday.

In the meantime, be sure to sign up for our upcoming office hours to ask experts your most pressing BFCM questions.

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Laura Serino

Laura is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Postscript. She honed her writing chops as a magazine editor in New York before moving into the ecommerce world as a copywriter for L.L.Bean. She led the content and community at eCommerceFuel, manufactured and sold her own skincare line and ran the marketing team at Bella Luna Toys before landing herself at Postscript. When she isn't writing about her favorite topic (marketing) she's hanging out with her two sons on an island off the coast of Maine. Follow her on Twitter at @laura_serino.