Over the past decade, ecommerce website traffic has rapidly shifted from desktop to mobile devices. In 2018, mobile overtook desktop as the predominant global online traffic source. Mobile usage skyrocketed during the 2019 holidays and for the first time ever, became the primary ecommerce revenue source from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. In today’s mobile-first ecommerce environment, marketers should strive to invest in strategies that optimize user experience on smartphones.

One of the most effective mobile marketing strategies is implementing a Short Message Service (SMS) program. With 98% of text messages read within two minutes, 36% average click rates and 45% average conversion rates, SMS marketing has unparalleled engagement rates compared to other channels. These metrics aren’t surprising considering the text message inbox is one of the least saturated; especially compared to email inboxes and social media news feeds.


Get Started with SMS 

SMS allows marketers to reach their customers in a more personal way, in the right place, at the right time, and on the device they can’t do without. In order to help get started with SMS marketing, here are some leading practices businesses can utilize to start acquiring mobile contacts, design engaging messages and automate personalized campaigns.


Mobile Contact Acquisition

Similar to email marketing acquisition strategies, marketers must promote their SMS marketing channel if they hope to grow subscribers. Luckily, SMS and email marketing are easy to promote together and leverage similar tactics to optimize sign-ups across web and digital marketing channels. Offering an incentive to sign-up like a coupon or special offer is the top tactic to help boost subscription conversion rates. Businesses need a contact’s mobile number and their opt-in consent to receive SMS text messages.

It’s becoming more ubiquitous to see print advertising and physical signage inside retail stores promoting SMS sign-ups. Simple directions enable users to opt-in with a text to join, followed by an automated SMS message asking to provide their mobile number to opt into the program. Subscribers then receive their initial welcome SMS campaigns. This efficient process makes it possible for shoppers to easily sign up while they’re in the store. Marketers should place text-to-join signage at the front entrance and throughout the store, so shoppers can sign up before heading through the check-out line; eliminating the need for staff to annoyingly collect shoppers’ phone numbers at the register.


Designing SMS Campaigns

SMS communication is more intimate than email and must be used thoughtfully. SMS subscribers expect SMS messages to be timely, personalized and deliver value. Since SMS unsubscribe rates are nearly three times higher than email marketing opt-out rates, designing exceptional SMS interactions are vital to keeping well-earned sign-ups.

In order to be timely, plan SMS campaign send times when shoppers are on their phones. Sends between 6-9 p.m. result in the highest engagement as people have time to shop. Don’t schedule campaigns during the early morning or rush hour commutes. SMS campaigns sent on Fridays have a 44% higher open rate compared to any other day of the week.

Keep SMS content short and sweet. With a 160-character limit that includes website URLs and mandatory unsubscribe language, it’s best to lead with an offer and reinforce a call to action without wasting words. Save fine print for the website landing page and shorten URLs to save character count. Personalized dynamic content such as first name, local store, loyalty program status, order details and one-time use coupons can be used to stand out from generic promotions. Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) content like video, images, animated gifs or scannable barcode offers can be utilized to help grab attention and drive engagement.


Automated Mobile Interactions

SMS requires exceptional marketing automation in order to scale. Using behavioral triggers rather than gut intuition takes the guesswork out of sending the right message at the right time. SMS adheres to established customer lifecycle automation strategies like welcome, website abandonment, transactional order status and post-purchase. 

Shoppers expect an immediate response upon sign up. It’s unacceptable to not receive an initial welcome campaign until the next day when a back-end process decides to run. Text-to-join strategies will quickly fail if shoppers don’t receive their sign-up offers while in the store. Make a great first impression with a multi-touch welcome series that provides shoppers with a reason to keep receiving your SMS campaigns.

Marketers can recapture lost sales by monitoring website browsing activity and triggering abandonment messages when shoppers bounce. By being mindful of timing and frequency, shoppers will be open to receiving SMS reminders if they don’t become annoying. It’s useful to send an initial SMS cart abandonment campaign within the first few hours of their session and follow up the next day with an email campaign containing the full details of their shopping cart. Limiting SMS frequency prevents unsubscribes and allows the more non-pervasive email channel to handle reminders.

Even if shoppers aren’t interested in receiving promotional SMS campaigns, many are willing to opt in to receive order status alerts like order, shipping and delivery confirmations. With workflow triggers for when an order is added or marked to ship, you are able to send order and shipping confirmation messages with dynamic variables such as order number, order total, shipment tracking and projected delivery date. These transactional messages are intended to give shoppers peace of mind, reassuring them their order was successful and on the way.


Start Engaging Customers with SMS

With NetSuite’s Bronto Marketing Platform, marketers can take advantage of today’s mobile-first ecommerce environment. Bronto’s integrated SMS capabilities make it simple to start seamlessly engaging with shoppers through multiple channels including mobile, email, web and social to drive sales with consistent messaging throughout. Bronto has helped many businesses find omnichannel success using a single fully integrated, unified marketing platform.

Learn more about SMS marketing capabilities with the Bronto Marketing Platform and how marketers can use SMS to reach their VIP customers.