This post was written by Paul Gray, a partner marketing lead at Shopify Plus.
It’s been over 20 years since SMS exploded into popular use when mobile networks allowed cross-network sending. Since that time, the short-messaging-service has exploded in usage, with over 3.5 trillion text messages sent each day.
Since that time, messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat have emerged, providing a free and easy way for users to send text, photos, and videos.
Brands are taking the opportunity to directly and succinctly connect with shoppers, and in commerce, we’re seeing an increase in the use of real-time messaging to help increase conversion rates, close sales and build closer relationships with shoppers.
In this post, we share five practical ways in which brands are growing revenue and boosting customer satisfaction with text message marketing. But first, let’s get some stats that show the true scale of this channel.
SMS and messaging statistics
- The average person spends almost 4 hours a day using a mobile device.
- 75% of consumers are OK with receiving messages from brands (after they’ve opted in)
- Text messages have a whopping 95-99% open rate, with 90% opened within 3 minutes
- Facebook Messenger users share more than 20 billion messages with businesses, every month
- 50% of the top 1000 online retailers are already using text messaging for marketing
There are some do’s and don’ts of course:
- Do: Make sure you have the shopper’s opt-in
- Don’t: send messages in the middle of the night
- Do: Give clear ways to change or cancel subscriptions
- Don’t: Spam users every day
- Do: Use personal info: It’s always nicer to see “hi Paul” than “dear customer”
Let’s take a look at some of the practical ways brands are using text message marketing:
- Converting abandoned carts into sales
- Growing a loyal audience
- Sharing personalized offers
- Offering 1:1 customer service
- Amplifying integrated marketing campaigns
We’ve all done this: You’re browsing Instagram or reading an article when a cool product catches your eye. You take a look and decide to order but get distracted or have to close the browser tab. You wanted that product, but something else came up and now it’s forgotten.
Abandoned carts are frequent, whether it’s new shoppers in cases like this, or an existing shopper taking a look at a product but deciding to wait for another time. Yet there’s great intent there, as the product clearly is appealing to the shopper.
Itzy Ritzy sells newborn products, and the majority of their customers are expecting, and new mothers. These shoppers are looking for products while juggling many other tasks and responsibilities: In fact, 90% of sessions take place on mobile.
Itzy Ritzy worked with SMSBump to connect SMS marketing to their Shopify Plus store and campaigns, driving upwards of 19% recovery rate for cart abandonment flows.
One of their top-performing strategies has been to send timely cart abandonment flows to shoppers who have left products, such as diaper bags and baby accessories, in their cart. Itzy Ritzy triggered this flow an hour after a cart was abandoned, followed by a reminder message the next day for shoppers that did not engage with the first message.
“We have seen explosive ROI with text messaging from SMSBump, far beyond what we’ve seen with any other channel. Our ROI on abandoned cart automations is north of 26000%," says Lee Kantz, the director of direct-to-consumer ecommerce at Itzy Ritzy.
Embodying popular culture, Ikonick sells modern art canvases and is the fastest growing digital art company in the world. As storytellers, the founders have pioneered new content formats to build their audiences, including the web series Behind the Hustle, documenting life in a startup.
When the direct-to-consumer brand launched their entrepreneur-focused podcast "Blank Canvas", they used PushOwl to send push notifications to their target audience for each new episode launch—with minimal effort. Using PushOwl's 'Smart delivery' feature, they reached their subscribers at their most-active time on their desktop or mobile device. Running these campaigns over time helps Ikonick compound growth, adding hundreds of new listeners who become engaged customers and advocates for the brand.
For more than 10 years, Skinny Mixes has built a community of shoppers looking for zero-calorie or sugar-free beverage flavor products. Their marketing is designed to grow their audience, and generates large volumes of new website visitors daily. However many visitors would arrive, browse and leave without purchasing.
Leveraging Octane AI, Skinny Mixes uses a Facebook Messenger chatbot to engage visitors. Two popular streams of conversation are recipes and nutritional information. This automated chat generates over 35% of Skinny Mixes’ subscribers, and gives it an opportunity to re-engage visitors. Sponsored messages are used to target personalized messages to custom audiences using Facebook Ads Manager.
For example, when Cold Brew was introduced as a new product category, Skinny Mixes built up an audience of visitors and shoppers with an interest in coffee products. A single custom message was sent to over 30,000 individuals and saw a 2409% return on ad spend.
Founded by entrepreneur Charis Jones, from the back of her minivan in 2013, Sassy Jones is a jewelry and accessories brand that’s leveraged social media to great success. Its Sparkle Party is an online party-like shopping event.
The brand makes use of Postscript to chat with customers. Leveraging Facebook messenger and SMS, Sassy Jones invites shoppers to text and chat directly from ads and posts—asking questions about products, getting style recommendations, or anything else product related.
Shoppers love the SMS experience, which has generated over $900,000 in attributed revenue in just 3 months. The approach continues to grow Sassy Jones’ channels of 1:1 communication and demonstrates their commitment to customer experience.
Cynthia Rowley creates sustainable, pretty-meets-sporty fashion for women, and has worked with Plus Certified App Partner Attentive to power text message marketing as part of its broader social marketing strategy. The channel gives subscribers a ‘heads up’ of new arrivals and best-sellers, cross-promotes an adventure-inspired “as seen on social” series and limited-time promotions.
For New York Fashion Week, the brand sent messages to subscribers teasing its new fall/winter collection, with a contest to win tickets to attend the Cynthia Rowley runway show where they would be among the first to see the new collection. This limited-time brand marketing campaign delivered through text message allowed the brand to build brand awareness and drive high engagement without offering a discount.
By implementing SMS sign-up creatives on their mobile website, Cynthia Rowley grew subscribers by 268% in just six months. And their text message program overall—including one-time marketing messages, as well as automated messages like abandoned cart reminders—has led to 33 times ROI for the brand.
“Texting just made sense to us because it’s how people communicate these days, and it's much more immediate,” says Emily Andrews, Vice President of ecommerce at Cynthia Rowley.
Shopify Plus merchants like Jack Rogers, ColourPop and Campus Protein use many technologies to grow their audience, boost shopper experience, increase conversion and nurture loyal repeat buyers. The most successful merchants use Plus Certified Apps to deliver unique, industry-leading experiences. More than 1,500 Shopify Plus merchants use messaging and notification apps, which you can easily find in our Plus Certified Apps Directory:
- Attentive (Messaging and notifications)
- SMSBump (Messaging and notifications)
- Postscript (Messaging and notifications)
- PushOwl (Messaging and notifications)
- Octane AI (Messaging and notifications)
- Yaguara (Business intelligence and reporting)
- Daasity (Business intelligence and reporting)
- Kustomer (Customer support)
- Omnisend (Marketing automation)
- LimeSpot (Personalization)