SMS Marketing: E-Commerce Brands Should be Leveraging Our Marriage to Cell Phones

SMS marketing

The rapid rise in cell phone ownership and reliance has created room for significant opportunity in SMS marketing. Not only do almost all of us own a cell phone, but a lot of us are also in a very committed relationship with our device.

We spend a significant amount of time with our faces buried in our phones. Most of us look at them immediately when we wake up, just before bed, and plenty of moments in between. Americans check their phones an estimated 80 times per day and once every 12 minutes.

The most commonly used app among cell phone users: texting messaging. That’s because we don’t let text message go unread and we very rarely wait long to read them. Can you remember the last time you let a text message go unread? Yeah, me either.

Depending on who you ask, SMS open rates are anywhere from 82 to 98 percent. Regardless of which statistic you believe, that’s far superior to email open rates, which have an estimated open rate of 25 percent. And it’s for these reasons SMS marketing presents some potentially significant opportunities for e-commerce brands.

We’ve established SMS marketing has a very high chance of being seen by consumers. But that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion it will lead to results. Statistics actually show it to be one of the most difficult strategies while email, despite its much lower open rate, remains the most effective.

As much as anything though, that may just be a lack of understanding. In the marketing world, text messaging is today what email was 25 years ago. You have to put in the time and effort to build a plan optimized for SMS. You cannot half-ass it and expect a high open rate will get results.

For an example of good practices in SMS marketing, let’s look at Greats.com. The footwear brand used banners and widgets on its site to promote its SMS plan. The consumers who committed to subscribe were given $10 off their first pair of shoes. Greats.com gained 6,397 qualified opt-ins over a period of nine months and 638 during one 30-day span. One of the primary keys to gaining such an SMS list is subtle but can be easily overlooked. The brand wisely rewarded subscribers immediately with an easy-to-redeem offer. You have to make your most interested consumers feel as if they’re valued, which was exactly the case with Greats.com. Its list can now be used for future promotions with many of its subscribers having the potential to become all-important affiliate marketers.

While there can be great benefits to SMS marketing, it’s important to be conscious of not overdoing it. Just like anything else, this strategy has its limits. None of us want to receive an annoying amount of text messages no matter how good the incentives might be. If you push the envelope too far, your subscribers are going to start diminishing.

SMS marketing has the ability to not only help you attain a high return on investment, but also increase your customer lifetime value. Remember, the plan for long-term success revolves around building that personalized relationship with your consumers. If you’re using smart tactics in SMS marketing, you can help your brand take a big step towards accomplishing that.

Written by
Trent Shadid is a senior copywriter and editor at Engine.