What We Learned Surveying Hundreds of Marketers About Their SMS Strategies

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Published on
May 11, 2021
Written by
Kasey Hickey
Kasey is the Senior Director of Content Marketing. She loves to travel, dabble in amateur photography, and practice yoga. She calls the West Coast home.
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Whether you’re just getting started on your SMS marketing strategy or you want to take your existing program to the next level, see how marketers are putting SMS best practices to work.

Explore the 2023 SMS Marketing Benchmarks Report for updated data & insights.

Finding new ways to engage audiences and drive revenue is part of every marketer’s job description. And based on survey results from our 2021 SMS Marketing Benchmarks Report, more and more of your industry peers are turning to SMS to help them achieve their goals.

More than 66% of marketers who are not yet using SMS told us they plan to upgrade their digital marketing strategies by adding the channel this year. And among brands that aren’t texting their customers yet, 36.5% said that some, most, or all of their competitors are.

As part of our new report, marketers told us how they’re using text messaging to engage shoppers, drive incremental revenue, and build brand loyalty. Whether you’re just getting started on your SMS marketing strategy or you want to take your existing program to the next level, take a peek at some of our findings to see how marketers are putting SMS best practices to work.

How your peers are building their SMS marketing strategies

Maximizing reach by growing subscriber lists

Marketers are engaging mobile-first shoppers using mobile-first methods, prioritizing sign-up creatives optimized for mobile websites to drive subscriber growth. Increasing subscriber lists with desktop website creatives is a close second.

subscriber sign up list

How effectively you drive opt-ins directly impacts the success of your SMS marketing program, so converting website traffic into subscriber growth via both mobile and desktop sign-up creatives should be your first priority. But don’t stop there—cast as wide a net as possible with cross-channel Text-to-Join campaigns and platform-specific sign-up tools that help you engage email and social media followers as well as in-store shoppers.

And be sure to give people a reason to join your program—our consumer survey results show that discount offers are most likely to get consumers to sign up to receive text messages from your brand.

Automating engagement with triggered messages

Marketers are taking the guesswork out of reaching shoppers with the right message at the right time, using triggered welcome messages to nurture new subscribers. Their second-favorite automation technique? Re-engaging high-intent shoppers with triggered cart abandonment reminders.

Triggered messages don’t just allow you to automatically turn browsers into buyers, they empower you to tailor your messaging across the entire customer lifecycle based on the actions subscribers take. Browse abandonment reminders can help you give shoppers extra motivation to add an item to their online cart, and post-purchase messages are ideal for driving future transactions, whether you’re promoting a loyalty or rewards program or recommending products based on a recent purchase.

You can even turn buyers into brand advocates with triggered post-purchase messages that encourage shoppers to write a review of their recent purchase or receive a discount in return for referring family and friends.

Maintaining momentum with campaign messages

Marketers are creating a sense of urgency and keeping their brands top of mind via campaign messages that highlight special offers. And when they’re not starting conversations with shoppers about limited-time sales, free shipping, or other promotions, they’re spreading the word about new products and treating subscribers like VIPs with early access and mobile-exclusive offers.

types of texts sent list

Your SMS subscribers are likely among your biggest brand fans—and they want to be treated like it. Consumer survey data shows that incentives, product updates, and exclusive content all make the list of marketing messages consumers are most interested in receiving.

But there are many ways you can and should drive brand awareness and keep your subscribers engaged. Non-promotional messages—such as texts that educate consumers on topics related to your industry or humanize the people who make up your brand—can help you build deeper emotional connections with shoppers and stand out from your competitors.

Optimizing performance via segmentation and testing

Marketers are refining their SMS strategies and boosting performance by taking purchase history into account and regularly A/B testing the messages subscribers receive.

Beyond purchase history, criteria such as past message engagement, browsing behavior, and geolocation allow you to develop targeted segments for enhanced personalization. And by testing how different copy, calls-to-action, and visuals drive clicks and conversions, you can inform future text messages to maximize results.

Don’t be afraid to drill down and create highly segmented audiences for your text messages—the more personalized your content, the more impactful it will be. But make sure you’re regularly engaging with your entire subscriber base. And when it comes to testing, consider the role frequency plays in performance. Our consumer survey data shows that 58% of consumers want to hear from brands via text message multiple times per week, and approximately 19% want to hear from their favorite brands on this channel once per day. Find out the cadence—including days and times—that works best for your audience.

Amplifying results through integration and collaboration

Marketers are making the most of their SMS programs by integrating their text messaging solutions with their e-commerce platforms. They’re also working with their email teams to make sure their channel strategies are complementary.

technology integration list

SMS is a top performance marketing channel all on its own, but it can become even more powerful when integrated with your existing tech stack. The data you pull from e-commerce platforms such as Shopify—as well as ESPs, CDPs, CRMs, and other technologies—lets you centralize and access valuable customer details to craft more relevant text messages and increase revenue. And by providing visibility into your text message marketing program to teams both inside and outside your marketing department, you can uncover and apply valuable insights related to channel alignment, consumer trends, and more.

Putting SMS marketing best practices into action

With nearly 96% of marketers say SMS has increased their revenue—and the majority saying it outperforms their other marketing channels—it’s easy to see why more marketers are gearing up to get their own text messaging programs off the ground.

If you count yourself among them, or just want a refresher on SMS marketing best practices, we’ve created a checklist for you. Use it to help guide your text message marketing strategy or drive even better results with your existing program.

Download Checklist

Explore the 2021 SMS Marketing Benchmarks Report for more insights into how marketers are driving incremental revenue with SMS and proven strategies for enhancing your own program.

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