In the age of doing more with less, maximizing your conversions should be at the center of your SMS strategy.
Between tighter budgets and rising customer acquisition costs (CAC), “efficiency” has become the marketing buzzword of 2023.
SMS has emerged as a powerful channel for marketers tasked with making the most out of their resources. In our 2023 Marketing Benchmarks Survey, 53% of marketers said SMS is a top 3 revenue-driving channel for their brand. And for 22% of them, over 20% of their total revenue comes from SMS.
Increasing your SMS conversion rates is key to getting the most bang for your marketing buck—and increasing your customers’ lifetime value for long-term growth. From tips on formatting your text messages to easy-to-implement personalization strategies, you’re going to want to bookmark this guide to driving more SMS conversions.
What are SMS conversion rates?
Your SMS conversion rate is the primary indicator of how successful your campaign or journey is. You can calculate your conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions (such as purchases, sign-ups, or other desired actions) by the number of messages sent.
Keeping a pulse on your SMS conversion rates is essential to increasing your program’s ROI. This metric gives you a window into what resonates with your audience in real time, helping you make tweaks (and test new message types) to boost revenue and engagement.
But SMS conversion rates aren’t just limited to revenue. In fact, we recommend taking a holistic look at the types of conversions you want your audience to make. You can measure your conversion rate based on any action—whether that’s making a purchase, signing up for your loyalty program, following you on social media, or joining a livestream shopping session.
Inviting your audience to take a variety of actions won't just help you drive revenue in the short term with immediate purchases—it’ll help you build an engaged audience that'll make repeat purchases over the long haul.
What factors impact SMS conversion?
The factors that affect SMS conversion rates are very similar to the ones that affect any other direct communication channels:
- Targeting: Are you reaching the audience that’s most likely to convert?
- Timing: Are you sending your message at the right time of day, and on the right day of the week?
- Personalization: Are you tailoring your messages to your audience to make them feel understood?
- Content: Is your message engaging and actionable?
- CTA: Does your message include a clear call to action?
But keep in mind your SMS conversion rates aren’t just determined by these granular factors. Your subscribers’ holistic SMS experience will impact your conversion rates over time, too. Think about it this way: With email or social media, you’re delivering stand-alone content that appears alongside other brands, so your audience isn’t as aware of whether you’re repeating messaging or offers. But your SMS program is an ongoing, 1:1 conversation with your subscribers. They can scroll through your thread and see if you’re personalizing your interactions to their preferences, and if you’re sharing a variety of helpful offers, recommendations, and content.
When you’re evaluating your SMS conversion rates over time, you should ask yourself:
- Who is our target audience?
- What types of messages are we sending to our different audiences, and what value do they offer?
- When are we engaging our subscribers?
- Are we delivering a strong brand experience, leaning into our voice and signature imagery?
How can I improve my SMS conversion rate?
Increasing your conversions is so much more than optimizing individual messages. It ultimately comes down to building a relationship with your subscribers. You should send promotional messages that encourage them to convert immediately, but you should also bake in your brand voice and loyalty-building content to keep them engaged and drive repeat purchases.
Striking the right balance between strategies (such as positioning your SMS channel as a personal shopper) and tactics (such as testing CTA variations) is also key. Here are our top seven ways you can increase SMS conversions in the immediate and long term.
1. Tailor your messaging to the season and promotional period you’re in
SMS is an immediate channel—it’s where your subscribers know they’ll get the most up-to-date offers and content. That’s why it’s important to make your message timely. For example: Is there a holiday coming up? Are you in a season that’s particularly aligned with your product offering? Do you have products that speak to a specific segment around an event? Or, is there a conversation or trend happening online that’s relevant to your brand?
For example: TikTok is full of consumers buzzing about their outfits for Beyoncé’s Renaissance world tour. If you’re a clothing brand with a collection of playful going out attire, you could send a product recommendation for a best-selling sequined dress to your subscribers with a nod to the tour. You could even take it a step further and target these messages to subscribers who live in cities with upcoming concert dates.
Don’t forget to personalize your triggered messages
Adjusting your triggered messaging to match any sales or brand initiatives you’re running on your website is a great (and low-lift) way to deliver consistent customer experiences across channels. You can incentivize shoppers who have abandoned their online shopping cart to take advantage of a limited-time offer, or encourage new subscribers to shop your latest collection before it’s gone.
2. Lean into your brand voice
Many brands are hesitant to flex a strong brand voice in their text messages, given the limited space. But we’ve seen that brands who establish a strong, recognizable brand voice perform really well.
When you lean into your brand voice, your subscribers can instantly recognize you when they receive your message (helping you differentiate yourself from your competitors). It also helps build loyalty. You’re speaking in a shared language, letting subscribers know that you’re tapped into what they care about. That authenticity ultimately helps them grow organically, whether through word-of-mouth or going viral on social media for a stand-out text message.
Not sure where to start? Incorporate your brand voice into your welcome message to help subscribers get to know you. It’ll help you build brand loyalty, and it’s a low-lift way to learn what copy resonates with your audience.
Treat your SMS channel like your social media profile
The most successful brands we work with send a diverse mix of content and message types. They understand that their subscribers will tire of an endless stream of offers and product announcements. Instead, they approach their SMS program like their social media profile, enriching their thread with branded imagery and videos (and even voice notes), longer brand-building, educational messages, and quick invitations to join loyalty programs or take advantage of exclusive perks.
This goes for your SMS journeys, too. Your welcome and post-purchase journeys are natural places to weave promotional and brand-building messages together to increase engagement. If a shopper hasn’t made a purchase within a given period after signing up, you can guide them down the funnel with educational content (like a fit finder quiz or reviews of your best-selling items). Then, if they still haven’t made a purchase, you can send a follow-up offer to incentivize them to click “buy.”
3. Build a collection of go-to segments
Segmenting out your brand loyalists from the rest of your list is always a winning formula for driving more SMS conversions. Not only is this segment more likely to convert than the rest of your audience, treating these loyalists like VIPs will help you deliver personalized experiences that lead to even higher engagement.
SMS pro tip: There are a few ways you can identify your brand loyalists: Integrate your SMS and loyalty programs, ask your subscribers directly using two-way text messaging, or base it on how many purchases a subscriber has made within a given period.
Just like you tailor your messaging to VIPs, you should adjust your messages to new subscribers who haven’t made a purchase yet. Approach this segment with a “getting to know you” mindset, introducing them to what makes your brand special (such as a signature product, quality, or mission). You can then send more promotional messages to guide them down the funnel and encourage them to convert.
We recommend building a few other go-to segments to target your messaging:
- Past purchasers/non-purchasers
- High-intent browsers
- Content or shopping preferences
- Geo-location or time zone
Take these audiences and their preferences into account not just when crafting one-time campaigns, but for your triggered SMS journeys. Using branching, you can tailor your triggered messages (such as cart or browse abandonment reminders) to speak to their preferences and behaviors. For example: If a shopper who’s browsed your lipsticks abandons their session, you can send them a text message inviting them to shop your best-selling shades.
And remember: Each of your audiences will have their own unique preferences. You should always A/B test the days and times you’re engaging shoppers, as well as the types of content you’re sharing with them (e.g., seasonal products vs. best-sellers).
4. Be your subscribers’ personal shopper
Between work and their personal lives, people don’t always have time to stay on top of the latest trends or products. Over the long term, the most successful brands we work with feel like a true style guide in their subscribers’ pockets. They share best-sellers and curated recommendations that show that they’re in touch with the broader culture and their subscribers’ preferences.
This can be as simple as recommending weekend staples at the turn of the season, or as timely as recommending products consumers can shop to recreate viral looks (like the glazed donut manicure).
Serving as a virtual style concierge not only saves your shoppers time and increases immediate conversions—it helps you build long-term loyalty. Consumers appreciate when they’re marketed to with more than promotions and deals. This attention to what’s popular can make them feel like their favorite brands are truly helping them stay ahead of the curve.
5. Deliver more relevant experiences using product data
Ingesting your product data is key to personalizing your SMS subscribers’ experience. When you integrate your SMS program and your product data, you can customize and enrich your journeys (including welcome, browse abandonment, and post-purchase triggers) with the products and categories your subscribers are interested in.
You can also use your product data to target your product recommendation campaigns. Start by segmenting your audience based on the product categories they’ve browsed and added to their cart. Then, send a campaign tailored to each of these audiences, sharing new arrivals and best-sellers similar to what they’ve browsed. Add an extra layer of personalization by complimenting their taste, inviting them to shop “because they deserve it” or to “level up their look.”
SMS pro tip: Using Attentive AI™, you can automatically send personalized product recommendations unique to each of your subscribers.
These product recommendation campaigns are a great way to target high-intent shoppers with content that'll encourage them to convert, without having to offer a discount or perk. We recommend including these types of messages between seasonal offers or sitewide sales to drive conversions during slower periods, or after major shopping periods to maximize cross-selling opportunities.
6. A/B test message copy formats
While you should always stay true to your brand voice, there are a variety of SMS copy formats you can test to increase conversions.
When writing promotional messages, we recommend highlighting your call to action and incentive with capitalization, emojis, or line breaks. Your goal should be to make the message as scannable as possible, so subscribers can immediately click through and take advantage of your offer.
When it comes to special announcements—such as product launches, collaborations, event invitations, or major promotions like anniversary sales—we recommend flexing your budget and extending your message beyond the usual 160 characters. Tell the story behind your products and events, tailoring the copy to your audience’s interests and highlighting special features.
We also recommend including branded images, GIFs, and videos to entice shoppers with the products they’re missing out on. A picture is worth a thousand words, which is great when you have 160 characters to tell a compelling story. Plus, including images and GIFs help set these exciting messages apart from your typical touchpoints, encouraging your subscribers to click through and convert.
7. Improve your on-site experience
Your SMS experience is more than just the text messages your subscribers read. The mobile experiences you link to need to be optimized, too.
When deciding what pages to link to, your goal should be to reduce the number of clicks a subscriber needs to make to convert. For triggered messages, link directly to your subscribers’ abandoned shopping cart or the last product page they browsed so they can pick up right where they left off. And for general campaign messages (such as site-wide sale announcements or offers for specific categories), linking to your best sellers or new arrivals pages is a great way to signal to subscribers that you’re sharing relevant content. It's another touchpoint to let your audience know you’re in tune with what’s trending.
It’s also worth considering how your landing page is designed. Depending on how the page is organized, it can impact how your customer interacts with the page. For example, are your subscribers more likely to convert on pages:
- With an endless scroll a limited number of products?
- Organized by popularity or price?
- Filtered by a specific color or product feature, based on their preferences?
While these are small tweaks, these tests can have a major impact on how your customers convert.
As you grow your list, your audience (and their preferences) will change. That’s why it’s important to take regular pulse checks and revisit your strategy to make sure your messages are optimized for your current audience. A/B testing will help you identify what resonates with your audience, and move away from strategies and tactics that aren’t making much of an impact.