7 Creative SMS Marketing Hacks for Ecommerce Businesses

SMS or text message marketing is big business. According to Pew Research, 97% of Americans own a cellphone, and 85% are smartphones. That makes SMS marketing an almost universal method of communicating with consumers.

Of course just as many Americans have access to email, but when was the last time you sent a text message to junk or left it unread?

The data speaks for itself. SMS marketing has a 98% open rate, with a click-through rate (CTR) almost 10% higher than other marketing channels. That makes SMS marketing a powerful new tool for savvy ecommerce businesses. Read on to explore some creative SMS marketing campaigns that you can implement to help your business succeed.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is just sending text messages to customers that incentivize them to make a purchase. This method of marketing is successful because most people have their phones with them and are primed to read text messages as soon as they arrive.

But why would a customer opt in to text message marketing? The answer lies in the value of the information provided. Shipping updates, reservation confirmations and unusual credit card charges are prime examples of messages that matter most to the recipients. If it’s important or time-sensitive, many consumers prefer to have the information delivered by text.

The reason for this is simple: it's getting harder to reach customers through email. As of 2021, about 45% of all emails sent are spam. Spam messages have changed the way we interact with emails. Major email providers now filter out spam messages, but also exclude many legitimate marketing newsletters or account notifications. They end up in spam folders or separate promotions inboxes, where they languish unread.

Email Marketing Industry Benchmarks 2021 Campaign Monitor

(Source: Campaign Monitor)

Most people have experienced the frustration of being unable to locate an email containing important account or order updates because they were blocked by spam filters. And for marketers, the frustrations are just as high. At 12.6%, the retail industry has some of the lowest open rates.

Text message marketing presents new possibilities for reaching consumers who are willing to engage with brand communications, and the number of consumers who are opting out of emails in favor of SMS marketing is growing. According to TechJury, 48.7 million people opted into receiving marketing texts from trusted companies in 2020. That’s a 53% increase from 2019. And that makes it an ideal time to launch business marketing strategies in this exciting new niche.

SMS marketing examples

The most obvious place to integrate SMS messages into your brand is through shipping and delivery updates. Many consumers will opt in to receive these messages. With recent supply chain disruptions making headlines, text updates can deliver serious peace of mind.

SMS marketing is also an effective way of incentivizing first-time purchases. Customers can opt into text messages to get a coupon, voucher, or discount code. Geofencing turbocharges this process by letting brands target customers while they’re near a store location.

Repeat purchases can also increase with SMS prompts. This is especially effective for brands that sell single- or limited-use products. If a customer buys a 30-day supply of energy bars, a text message on day 25 can remind them to place a new order before they run out. Integrating SMS marketing into your order processing automation can make confirming a purchase as simple as replying Yes.

Creative SMS marketing campaign ideas

Texting your consumers doesn’t have to end with shipping updates and coupons. Here’s just some ideas for how you can integrate SMS marketing into your brand.

1. Offer time-sensitive promotions

Tap into your customers’ fear of missing out by announcing flash sales through text messages.

Here's a message from Fenty Beauty promoting their limited time offer.

Fenty Beauty SMS Marketing Example


2. Celebrate with customers

Wish your customers a happy birthday or new year, mark their anniversaries with you, and make your communications hyper-personal.

Designer lighting company, Brightech, persuades customers to gift a lamp for Valentine's Day.

Brightech SMS Example

3. Recover abandoned carts and wishlists

Use SMS marketing to prompt customers to complete an abandoned purchase, or treat themselves to an item from their wishlist.

Alexandra Winbush SMS Marketing Example

4. Request and deliver referrals

SMS marketing is a powerful tool if your online store runs an affiliate program, or you sell subscription products. Text satisfied customers with a referral code to forward to their friends, or reach out to the recipient of a referral.

5. Integrate text messages with content marketing

Get more eyes on your blog by informing customers when a relevant post is up. If they recently purchased a new dining table, send them a link to your post on hosting for the holidays.

Nola Skinsentials SMS Example

6. Provide customer support

Where’s my order? When will this be back in stock? Do you deliver on Sundays? Whatever questions your customers have about your ecommerce products, let them text you for an answer.

7. Start conversations

Put your number on your products and encourage customers to text you for any reason. As well as product and customer service related queries, let your customers know you’re open to anything! They might ask for instructions on how to use the products they’ve purchased, recommendations for similar products, or even request advice. Imagine a customer texting your clothing ecommerce store and asking for recommendations for a wedding or prom outfit. The possibilities are endless!

SMS marketing campaigns fall into three primary types. For the best results, try to develop a marketing strategy that encompasses all three:
  • Broadcast messages, such as announcing the launch of a new product or store-wide sale
  • Personal messages, like order updates or birthday treats
  • Two-way conversations, the most labor-intensive form of SMS marketing, but arguably the most effective

5 Tips for running a creative SMS marketing campaign

If you decide SMS marketing could be right for your ecommerce business, follow these tips to stay compliant and keep your customers happy.

1. Don’t overdo it

Customers will quickly opt out if you bombard them with text messages. Save your SMS marketing for the most important points in your sales funnel, and make sure every text adds value.

2. Keep it brief

SMS messages shouldn’t contain long walls of text. Keep your messages concise, use shortened URLs, and don’t be overly salesy in your approach.

3. Start small and late into your funnel

The best place to begin SMS integrations is with shipping and fulfillment. Use SMS marketing to boost retention before experimenting with acquisition.

4. Be conversational

Text messaging is usually reserved for communicating with close friends, so your SMS marketing shouldn’t sound robotic. Use slang, emojis and a friendly tone, and consider how you’ll respond to customers who text you back.

5. Check the regulations

In the U.S., text message communications are governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 and other regulations. Always check the rules in your jurisdiction, and pay attention to international laws if your ecommerce business trades across borders. As a rule of thumb, customers must always opt in to receiving SMS marketing, and your privacy policy should state how you store and use customer contact information.

Start texting your customers today

This new marketing niche is a great way to drive business and get customers engaged with your ecommerce brand. Start experimenting with SMS marketing and see how it drives new revenue for your ecommerce store.


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