Shopify SMS Marketing: Innovating Engagement One Text at a Time
January 28, 2019
Reading Time: 6 minutes
In 2018, 69 percent of Americans reported having purchased at least one item online in their shopping history. Forty-three percent of Americans classify themselves as “regular” online shoppers. In December 2018, the online retail segment was projected to outperform November by almost $7 billion, for a possible total online spend of $65.5 billion for the month. It’s safe to say that ecommerce is no longer the upstart stepchild of the retail world: it’s all grown up, and a force to be reckoned with.
Entrepreneurs have taken note of this and moved their focus online. For those looking to start their own businesses, a robust, professional, and easy-to-use ecommerce solution is mission-critical to the success of their venture. The introduction of Shopify gave business owners the perfect solution to their ecommerce needs.
As Shopify has grown in popularity, the world of ecommerce has grown increasingly competitive. Store owners need a marketing edge, and they’ve found it in the form of SMS marketing. It’s personal, effective, and builds a relationship with customers that you just can’t get with a static web page.
When used properly, savvy SMS marketing campaigns can result in the following:
- Customer loyalty,
- reliable engagement,
- improved conversion rates, and
- a holistic improvement in communication with the customer.
The key phrase there is, “when used properly.” SMS best practices mean resisting the urge to flood your customer’s phone with unwelcome solicitation. They mean planning text campaigns that are customized to different demographics. It’s not enough just to send a text message out into the world. You must also be prepared to engage with all kinds of customers.
Engaging customers in a more personal way
One of the biggest mistakes that an ecommerce store owner can make is to consider an SMS marketing campaign a “set-it-and-forget-it” method. Text messages are meant to engage consumers, and engaging means responding. Replying quickly has a huge impact on the future relationship between your store and the people who buy from it. Answering them promptly and appropriately can improve that B2C relationship, and build a dialogue centered on valuable consumer insight. Resolving the issues of angry customers is particularly important, and requires a planned diplomacy to be productive. This means meeting even a curse-word riddled text response with a cool, calm, and collected tone.
Text messages are communication shorthand. They’re limited in size and provide an instant means of communication. So, unlike emails, texts cannot go on and on without quickly driving to a point. Further, people expect texts to be more casual than emails—it’s the accepted form. This means that you have an opportunity, through well-crafted marketing text messages, to reach your customer in an intimate, personal way. As important: your customers expect to be reached in this manner. It’s a win for everyone. Customers get short, personal and to-the-point information from a vendor; vendors get to fast-track a relationship with consumers.
The personal touch in text marketing always does better than a mass outreach. Messages that are tailored to the recipients present as personal before they’re even opened. Following the SMS notification with straightforward language that clearly presents the customer with a call to action and a number to respond to further increases your personal connection. In turn, this ups the odds that your potential customer will decide to close the deal.
Offering text techniques that work
Because text messages are immediate in nature, they have a better chance of driving customer engagement than a formal email or social media campaign. Essentially, this is because texting itself has trained its consumers to be responsive. Kids don’t email their parents when they’re stranded in the snow needing a pickup; friends meeting up for a night out don’t plan via Facebook status. Customers are predisposed to engage when you send an SMS—so don’t lose them!
Effective business texts should be consistent. They should arrive regularly, but not so often that they spam the recipient. A good rule of thumb is to keep messages bi-weekly. This is enough to keep customers engaged and apprised of sales, but not to come off as pushy. A cadence is all-important here.
Do not eat up your customers’ data (and time) with second-rate or recycled content. No one wants to read the same ad that popped up on their Instagram feed, so don’t send them.
Just as you expect your customers to engage in a quick, often near-immediate way, so you should do the same. Be available and respond in a timely manner to text queries. We’ll touch on this more in future articles!
Keep it relevant by making it personalized. Text content should never be vague or catch-all.
Engagement comes through a desire to take action, and effective business texting can help your Shopify business do business. Shipping notices, reminders about sales that might appeal to specific customers (remember to keep it personal), abandoned cart follow-ups, purchase update information…if you manage it correctly, SMS messaging can be a very effective customer service tool.
People love free stuff. Of course, the metrics behind customer incentivization are a little more complicated. But essentially, it is a business truism that offering free “thanks” or “loyalty” items can convince customers to keep buying. This is effective even when the literal monetary value of the gift is quite low. Popular incentives include:
- digital vouchers,
- cross-branded “thank you” gifts like items with a perceived luxury value (champagne/wine nicely boxed tea or coffee sets, gourmet snacks, etc.)
- unique experiences, and
- “intelligent” deals based on customer analytics; like Uber credits in an area where lift-share programs are popular.
To achieve your customer retention goals through an SMS-based system, though, remember that value is everything. Text messaging’s customer response rate is 45 percent, compared to email’s much less impressive six percent. In fact, research shows that two-thirds of customers like getting offers via texts, and three-quarters of smartphone users prefer it to email.
This is largely due to personalization: your customer is much more likely to engage with a text that is highly relevant to them “alone,” where they are called by name, and when the sender, too, has a name and identity. In fact, 85 percent of consumers say that personalization actively impacts their purchasing decisions. And, though a near-equal percentage of people are concerned about having their data tracked, they nevertheless were willing to “risk” it and provide their phone numbers. Why? In order to reap the shopping benefits that data-based personalization provides. Be warned, though: blanket texts with offers like: “Big Black Friday Sale!” are likely to do no better than their bulk email brethren.
How you respond matters
Staying connected with your Shopify customer is critical to growing your business. Oracle’s Customer Experience Impact Report from as far back as 2011 that shows 89 percent of responders started doing business with a competitor after just one poor customer service experience. Competition has always been fierce and your window of engagement is small, so every text counts.
Even an automated text response in special circumstances (e.g a data breach or unexpected product sell out) can do its bit to reassure customers that you are listening and acting. Don’t forget, though, a personal response could reap much greater dividends: many customers feel like businesses don’t listen to or address their concerns and feedback…and when they feel ignored, they leave.
Responding to inquiries
Because SMS response time has an impact on customer relationships, it can be beneficial to consider integrating CX tools like Gorgias, which Postscript offers. Customer loyalty is built by offering a great product, and by establishing trust through personal acknowledgement. Ignoring or overlooking relevant inquiries isn’t an option!
Responding to complaints
The Forbes Communication Council recommends responding through a human within one hour of receiving a complaint—even if the customer receives an automated response immediately. It’s all about the personal touch.
The first response shouldn’t be the final one. To optimize your success, remember that following up—either to make sure that a problem was resolved or to offer an upsell—is key for long-term customer engagement and satisfaction. Keep the conversation going…and both you and your business will be glad that you did.
Postscript can change the way you Shopify
Ecommerce is not only the future of retail: it is very much its present. Using effective SMS marketing tools can drive the growth of your Shopify business, increasing sales and improving retention.
Shopify SMS marketing is about reaching customers and keeping them engaged long after they leave your site. This is where Postscript comes in. We have the tools you need to change the way that you approach ecommerce, and take full advantage of the benefits we outlined above. Want to learn more? Contact us or schedule a demo today!