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Effectively Utilizing SMS Marketing for eCommerce
SMS Marketing Best Practices

Effectively Utilizing SMS Marketing for eCommerce

Here are 5 tips on how to do SMS marketing effectively: choose a service provider, build your distribution list, ensure compliance before you text, craft the right message, and keep it direct and simple.

April 11, 2019

Email marketing has long been the bread-and-butter of direct digital marketing, but it’s quickly losing ground. Engagement metrics for email have been dropping steadily. Between 2016 and 2018, open rates for retail emails dropped from 43.8% to 30.3%. Even click-through rates have plummeted from 30.3% to 2.7% in just two years.

(Source: “2016 SendGrid Global Email Benchmark Report”, & “2018 SendGrid Global Email Benchmark Report”, SendGrid)

Email might have been too successful for its own good. 53% of all consumers say that they receive too many irrelevant emails, and an estimated 45-73% of all emails are spam.

(Source: “DMA Insight: Consumer Email Tracker 2017”, 01/12/2018, The Direct Marketing Association, or DMA)

(Source: “Spam Statistics and Facts”,

In an increasingly mobile-first world, SMS marketing may be the answer.

Does SMS marketing work?

While SMS marketing is functionally similarly to email marketing, it consistently prevails over email marketing on the two most relevant engagement metrics:

  • Open Rate – Email Marketing: 20.81%; SMS Marketing: 98%
  • Click-through Rate (CTR) – Email Marketing: 2.43%, SMS Marketing: 36%

In terms of revenue, adding SMS to existing email marketing campaigns was shown to increase revenue by 38%. Text marketing is proven to work – as long it’s implemented effectively.

(Source: “Email Marketing Benchmarks”, MailChimp, updated 03/2018; “What is the open rate of SMS Text Messaging?”, Shift Communications, Christopher S. Penn, Shift Communications, 09/29/2015)

(Source: “Spam Statistics and Facts”,

How do you use SMS marketing?

Here are 5 tips on how to do SMS marketing effectively:

  • Choose a service provider
  • Build your distribution list
  • Ensure compliance before you text
  • Craft the right message
  • Keep it direct and simple

Choose a service provider

Many platforms provide text messaging for businesses. Choosing the one that’s right for you involves deciding which features and pricing best suit your specific needs. Here are some considerations when making your choice:

  • Does it require coding? Choose a platform with an easy-to-use editor. Your platform should be built for marketers, not for developers.
  • Is it automated? The most useful platforms will allow for automated customer segmentation and building a calendar for a forward-looking plan and campaign.
  • Can you optimize? The best platforms will allow you to track the effectiveness of different messages, and collect customer-level data and click information.

Build your distribution list

Once you have chosen a service provider, the next step is to build your audience. Most businesses ask users to share their email addresses to receive offers or promotions. This usually comes at the end of them making a purchase, or as an opt-in field on the website. However, this doesn’t always have a lot of traction.

Other ways to get opt-ins are the same as with email – nothing makes a customer willing to share their email address or phone number as much as a discount does. You can leverage your social media presence as well, offering discount codes to people for sharing their phone numbers and email addresses. You can also offer free content, such as a webinar or ebook, to build your distribution list.

Ensure compliance before you text

It isn’t just bad marketing to SMS someone without their permission – it is against the law to send promotional digital communication to someone without them expressly opting in. Therefore, you should make 100% sure that you have a digital record of customers who choose to opt-in, and that you additionally provide an unsubscribe option with every marketing SMS that you send.

Craft the right message

You should be set to send out your first marketing SMS at this stage. However, it’s important to take a step back and take a big-picture look at the whole campaign first. Think through the user journey and your audience segments – craft campaigns to make leads buy, to get feedback from present customers, and upsell to long-term users. Your goal shouldn’t be to communicate for the sake of building the brand. SMS marketing is purpose-driven, and each message you send should have a clear purpose and a clear and actionable expectation from the recipient. Build out your automated campaigns, and continually measure their effectiveness.

Keep it direct and simple

SMS as a medium is more personal than email. People reach for their smartphones as soon as they wake up, and the mobile phone is the default channel for one-on-one communication for most individuals. The limited character count in SMS also means that brevity is essential in getting your message across. In other words, keep it short and simple, with a clear CTA that spurs the recipients into clicking or reacting the way you want them to.

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