Did you know that text messages have an open rate of 98% compared to emails which have an open rate of only 20%? Because of its unintrusive nature, SMS marketing is quickly becoming a powerful digital marketing strategy besides email and social media marketing.
Phone calls have almost become a thing of the past, with customers preferring text as a medium for businesses to communicate with them — whether it be promotions, emergency alerts, appointment reminders, automated payment reminders, etc.
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of using automated text messages for eCommerce marketing. We’ll also check out some common types of eCommerce text messages as well as some of the best tools you can use.
Let’s dive in.
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What are automated text messages?
Text message automation is the process of sending pre-written and pre-scheduled messages to one or more recipients in your contact list with little to no manual intervention.
Many SMS marketing platforms can also help you set up drip campaigns that trigger automated messages after certain time intervals or when users take a particular action. This helps you build more personal connections with customers.
For example, you can use SMS automation to send welcome messages to new customers who sign up for your opt-in campaigns and move them further along the sales funnel. Each of these touch-points provides you an opportunity to build authentic connections with customers without having to spend any extra time managing these campaigns.
All you need to do is to set up workflows and sequences that engage your customers at certain points in the sales funnel. This is a great solution for sales teams to run large-scale campaigns while maintaining personal connections with every lead.
Why use automatic text messages?
The most obvious benefit of automated messaging is that it helps you save time and boost efficiency by delegating tasks to a messaging tool, service, or software. It frees up your employees from spending their time on manual, repetitive tasks like scheduling appointments or sending promotions, so they can focus on the more important stuff.
Automation also ensures that nothing slips through the cracks. Besides improving productivity, it can also help you create more engaging and personalized experiences for your customers and prospects. For example, you can send automatic text replies, service updates, or appointment reminders, to your customers regularly and on autopilot.
Benefits of automated SMS campaigns
But simply automating your SMS messages isn’t enough. You must also focus on creating exceptional experiences that boost customer engagement and build authentic connections with customers.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are the key benefits of automated text message (or SMS) campaigns.
1. Improve engagement
The truth is, consumers are more likely to open a text message than an email. People are more likely to miss emails or forget about them in their packed inbox, so SMS marketing typically results in higher engagement rates, open rates, and click-throughs than email marketing.
A recent study by Omnisend found that SMS conversion rates increased 102% YoY for eCommerce brands.
That’s why SMS marketing needs to be an integral component of your digital marketing strategy. Text messages also tend to perform better than emails with respect to open rates. So, if you’re not collecting your customers’ mobile phone numbers along with their email addresses, you’re leaving serious money on the table.
2. Efficiency and speed
Automating your text messaging ensures that you spend less time managing these campaigns. This boosts both efficiency and productivity. For example, you can set up a number of automatic message replies to common events in the buyer’s journey such as:
- Welcome messages
- Shipping notifications
- Order confirmation messages
- Delivery notifications
- Birthday and anniversary greetings
- Discounts and offer notifications
Automated text messages require very little manual intervention and can help you focus on other important areas of your business.
Automated text campaigns are also great for time-sensitive offers like flash sales because people are more likely to immediately read text messages than emails. If you can incorporate a sense of urgency in your message content, you can get customers to respond much quicker.
3. Improve the customer experience (CX)
Automated SMS campaigns can also help you build strong customer relationships by ensuring that you send the right messages to your customers at the right times. Most SMS marketing software can identify specific segments in your list and send them relevant offers automatically.
You can also distribute customers surveys more effectively using text messages. This makes automated text messaging a powerful customer retention strategy.
Automated text messages can not only help you improve productivity, but they can also help you stay on brand with a consistent tone of voice. The right business text messaging platform can help you leverage smart messaging without having to rely on generic mass text messages.
Types of automated text message campaigns
Here are some of the best automatic SMS campaigns you should set up for your eCommerce business:
1. Order confirmation and shipping notifications
Great customer service is all about sending customers timely information that provides value. This includes order confirmation statuses, shipping updates, and delivery notifications. Studies show that 30% of consumers say that delivery and shipping updates are the most valuable type of text messages they’ve ever received from businesses.
Here’s an example of an order confirmation message from Myntra.
And here’s an example of an order shipping notification from FREY.
Since these messages typically don’t contain a lot of information, it should be fairly easy to set them up. This can go a long way towards building trust and creating a loyal band of happy customers.
2. Welcome flow
Welcome flows can be great for creating an awesome first impression of your brand. Send individual text messages to engage new customers and incentivize first-time shoppers.
Although many brands use emails for welcome campaigns, texting is another great way to welcome new customers. Research shows that the average person has 96 unread emails compared to 0.5 unread texts at any given time. So if you want your welcome flow to get noticed, send it via email and SMS.
Use your welcome flow to invite customers to:
- Check out a particular product line
- Purchase an item currently on sale
- Use a promo code to make their first purchase
- Remind them of your return policies and various warranties
Here’s an example of a welcome message from FUNBOY. When a new user opts-in to receive text notifications, they get a welcome message with a discount code that gives them 10% on their first purchase.
3. Cart abandonment
Another popular text message flow is the cart abandonment flow. eCommerce brands lose $18 billion in potential sales every year due to cart abandonment and an automated text message can really help reduce that.
When a customer adds items to their cart, it establishes their intent to buy. Sometimes all you need to do is to give them a gentle nudge in the right direction to get them to complete their purchase.
You could set up reminder campaigns that create a sense of urgency and encourage users to buy the items in their cart. Sharing a promo code is always a great idea. Here’s an example of a cart abandonment message from WonderShop.
Here’s another example of a cart abandonment flow from Grinds. It starts off by offering a coupon to the customer that aims to generate interest and engagement, followed by several texts to encourage indecisive buyers to try out various flavors with the goal of driving conversions.
4. Birthday greetings
Birthdays are a great time to make your customers feel extra special. These are also the times when customers don’t mind splurging a little. So, it’s a good time to send them individual text messages with gift vouchers, promo codes, and special offers. Here’s an example of a birthday SMS campaign from Basic Piece.
5. Promotions and discounts
Flash sales and time-sensitive promotions are great motivators for purchases. Studies show that 75% of customers like to learn about special offers via text, so don’t be afraid to send promotions via email and text. Timing the two close together is a well-known strategy.
Also, don’t assume that the promotion by itself will compel your customers to buy. You must effectively convey the benefits and exclusivity of the offer and include a compelling call to action. Here’s a great example of a promotional text message from Francois Pierre.
Here’s another example of a promotional message in which Outer Aisle uses some quirky humor to share exclusive offers with their subscribers:
How to set up a text message autoresponder
Autoresponders (or automatic message replies) are the simplest type of SMS automation. These are the standard automated texts sent to customers who send a particular keyword to a business phone number. These are typically used to confirm a customer's subscription to a mass texting service, welcome them, and provide them with an offer or a promotion.
Here’s how you can set up automatic message replies using a platform of your choice.
Step 1: Select a theme
Once you have built a solid list of contacts, select a theme for your autoresponders. Are you catering to customers seeking information about your prices or offers that are currently available?
Your text automation platform will prompt you to set up a theme that will subsequently determine the type of communication. This is entirely for internal reference and your customers won’t be seeing it.
Step 2: Select your keywords
Next, choose your keywords carefully based on thorough research that covers as many customer questions as possible. For instance, a customer who wants to know the price of your products might send a message with words like “price”, “rate”, or “cost”. So, make sure that you cover the widest possible range of relevant keywords.
Step 3: Draft an accurate response
Finally, you must write a response that answers customer questions with as much accuracy as possible. This may not always be easy. A customer may use the keywords in varying contexts that your autoresponder may fail to capture accurately.
Be sure to consider all the possible contexts in which the customer may use a particular keyword.
If you’re not sure what to write, here are a few helpful templates for you.
Text message templates for eCommerce brands
Every eCommerce brand has a unique image and voice. Use these standard message templates as a starting point for your automated SMS workflows. Then, tweak them according to your brand and target audience.
1. Limited-time offers
“Hey there, [first name]! Only FOUR MORE HOURS left to avail a flat 40% off on all products at [brand name]! Use code: [code] Shop now: [link]”
2. Cart abandonment
“Hi, [first name]! The prices of some items in your cart have dropped. Hurry up and shop before they sell out! Go to your cart: [link]”
3. Order confirmation and shipping
“Hooray! Your order is confirmed. We’ll notify you when it ships. To modify or cancel, click here: [link] Thanks for shopping at [brand name].”
4. Birthday messages
“Happy Birthday [first name]! We at [brand name] hope you have an amazing day. P.S. A little surprise awaits you in your email ;)”
The best text message automation tools and platforms
There are plenty of texting services and platforms that you can choose from depending on your unique business needs. Each of them comes with exciting features and a host of capabilities.
Here are some of the most popular SMS tools to use:
Omnisend is an advanced marketing automation tool that allows you to weave automated text messages seamlessly into your workflows.
- It includes pre-built birthday, cart abandonment, order confirmation, and shipping notification workflows for SMS marketing.
- It allows you to personalize your message content and set up auto-responders, drip campaigns, event-triggered actions, etc.
- Its biggest USP is its consistency across platforms especially SMS and email.
Pricing: SMS +email marketing starts at $59/month.
2. SMS Bump
SMSBump is a text messaging service and marketing tool built specifically for retail stores. It is known for its robust features and functionality.
- It’s spot on when it comes to SMS-related compliance concerns.
- It allows you to segment customers by country.
- The price of messaging is fixed according to the time of day.
Pricing: starts at $59/mo
Postscript is another great texting service that’s specifically made for Shopify businesses.
- It allows you to use images, photos, and GIFs in your messages to engage your customers better.
- You can talk to your customers directly via 1-on-1 messaging.
Pricing: starts at $25/mo
Twilio is another great comprehensive tool that allows you to interact with your customers via SMS as well as on WhatsApp and on Facebook Messenger.
- The platform allows you to engage your customers via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, calls, and email.
- It also allows you to schedule messages, set up keywords, event-triggered actions, shortcodes, and mass texting among others.
Pricing: pay-as-you-go, varies by country.
Heymarket greatly simplifies the various types of tasks associated with automated text messages.
- It’s extremely fast and can help you send highly personalized messages.
- SMS opt-ins and out-outs can be handled with great ease and simplicity.
- It allows you to send or schedule emergency alerts to your entire list of contacts.
Pricing: starts at $49/mo
This text messaging platform allows you to import contacts easily, personalize messages, and set up campaigns quickly.
- The tool allows you to schedule messages in advance so you can send the right message at the right time.
- It is also great for sending out discount coupons and driving more traffic to your site.
Pricing: pay-as-you-go, varies by country.
Klaviyo is by far the most popular email and SMS marketing platform that eCommerce brands use for these channels.
- It provides you with a business SMS toll-free number so you can start your campaigns right away.
- It helps you turn anonymous site visitors into SMS subscribers by capturing their data.
- It allows you to grow your list with click-to-text forms, API, Instagram, and so on.
Pricing: varies by the number of texts per month.
Automated text messaging is quickly becoming a key marketing and communication channel for eCommerce brands. Texting is still one of the most preferred ways for customers across all generations to communicate with businesses.
Follow the tips mentioned above to connect with your customers directly and create more personal connections and positive relationships with them.