10 SMS Questions Answered for You
November 23, 2020
SMS marketing is leading the way for DTC companies to have direct contact with their customers. Arri Bagah realized the value in SMS marketing after working in the Facebook messenger marketing industry for years. In 2018 Arri founded Convesmart and now him and his team are helping their clients make six figures a month using SMS.
But you may be asking, what is SMS marketing and how could it really help my business? I sat down with Arri and asked some of the top SMS questions to get a better understanding of the business, and the concept of reaching your customers in this new way.
Firstly, Arri, how would you define SMS marketing for those who have never heard of it?
“SMS marketing allows brands to have real conversations with their customers, just like if you were to have a conversation with your family, friends, or co-workers over text. It’s no secret we all use messaging apps, the average person spends at least 3 hours a day on their phone, and 80% of that time is spent in messaging apps. Historically businesses have to go where their consumers are, never the other way around. With SMS it's easier than ever to go directly to consumers at scale and have a one-on-one conversation in a transactional way.”
Why did you start a company specifically for SMS marketing?
“I was originally working specifically on Facebook Messenger marketing. In 2016 Facebook allowed any business to chat with their customers one-on-one at scale in an efficient and personalized way - at that time it was exciting until Facebook started getting in between the brands and their customers. Facebook added restrictions including only reaching out to customers within 24 hours of when they originally subscribed, and most recently you can only message subscribers if you pay. Which is fine, but pay-to-play meant running all messages through Facebook Ads Manager, and needing approval from Facebook on all messages. This resulted in unpredictable timing and deliverability. So by 2018 I was already looking at SMS, knowing there had to be another channel to connect with customers without relying on Facebook. SMS is a greater and easier opportunity to build relationships and generate incremental revenue. I knew brands would benefit from this.”
How does SMS differ from email marketing?
“When people hear us talking about SMS, they usually think we’re telling them to stop email marketing. That’s not the case at all. We want them to continue what they’re doing with their email campaigns. SMS is meant to supplement the drop in email marketing performance. The recent eCommerce Email Marketing Benchmark guide from Klaviyo, shows across all industries, the average Open Rate is 11.81% with a 1.24% Clickthrough Rate. Compared to SMS, where the average Open Rate is 99% with well over 20% Clickthrough Rates. Because email performance dropped 41% over the past 5 years, it makes sense to use a channel to contact customers directly to ensure they see the campaign you’ve worked so hard on. With SMS we can ask you a question, get a response and ask another question, get to know your customer so you can send them the product they’re most likely to purchase. You can’t do this over email. The experience on text messaging is far greater which leads to higher conversion rates.”
Where do you see the future of text messaging going and how will that effect sms marketing?
“Right now, the experience with SMS is fairly simple. You can send a text, a link, images, gifs, and video. In the future the experience will need to be better for the end consumer. I was invited by Google to attend a conference where they introduced a new way of texting called Rich Communication Services (RCS). RCS will enable suggested responses, cards, galleries and rich content that businesses can leverage. According to OpenMarket, RCS will be able to take full advantage of all the features smartphones have to offer, including geolocation, star ratings, audio messaging and it won’t even require keywords, the reply buttons will make it much simpler for customers to respond.
But RCS will take another 2-4 years to be viable in the US. Apple on the other hand always strives to do their own thing. Apple is currently working on Apple Business Chat as a competitor to RCS as well. In the end both the end user and the businesses will benefit from these new ways of text messaging and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for text messaging.”
How do you alter your strategy for different ecommerce clients?
“An interesting thing we’ve seen with SMS is that it works for any industry. It doesn’t matter what product you sell, your customers want to connect with you. With our clients, we first need to figure out who your customers are to define how we communicate with them. Our team also learns how our client is currently running their marketing campaigns and strategically sees where we can best fit in SMS. For example if your company is running an abandoned cart email flow 4 hours after a cart is abandoned, we could decide to send an abandoned cart text message 30 minutes after the cart is abandoned. We’ve seen an excess in click through rates for those messages compared to emails, 36% vs 3.2%, as well as higher conversion rates (Sale Cycle). We adapt to our clients marketing strategy and ensure we’re offering a great experience to the end consumer.”
Some people have noted they wish Conversmart worked with companies outside of the Shopify market, do you see that changing in the future?
“We’ve always worked with brands across multiple platforms. Don’t have to be using Shopify. Any brand on any platform that includes custom built eCommerce stores can successfully use SMS. There’s an integration for any website to ensure messages are triggered and purchase tracking. You do not have to be on Shopify to work with our team!”
What are the legal requirements for SMS marketing?
“This is not legal advice, so I highly recommend all brands to communicate with their legal team before running SMS campaigns to ensure they are compliant. There are two main agencies that regulate SMS compliance. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Associated (CTIA) which provides guidelines for how businesses can actionably stay compliant. In 2003 the FCC placed a ban on all telemarketers from messaging or calling people soliciting them to buy products. The TCPA was revised in 2012 to enforce compliance and required businesses to get consent from their subscribers. Do not buy or rent lists. You need to have customers specifically opt-in to receive text messages, and you need to provide them with an opt-out mechanism to ensure they can easily opt-out anytime.
In your experience what has been the response by consumers to SMS marketing?
“One of the biggest misconceptions that marketers have is that the consumer doesn’t want to receive text messages from businesses. This is far from the truth and has no data behind it. Marketers have this misconception due to past bad experiences they’ve had themselves. There are now restrictions and punishments for those misusing text messaging. The experience is much better for the end consumer. Customers have to specifically opt-in to receive text messages, going out of their own way to sign up!. Data from our partner shows that 79% of consumers want to receive text messages, and 62.7% of them are already receiving them. Across all demographics we’ve seen SMS work, even with the 55+. Presidential campaigns use SMS a lot for their marketing as well. Pretty much anyone across the globe has received some sort of text message from a business, and are open to them. We just need to be sure we are using SMS as a two-way communication channel, otherwise performance gradually drops when customers feel it is only being used for sales purposes.”
How can you grow your SMS list?
“You can use all the ways you’re currently using to grow your email list to grow your SMS list. Such as giveaway campaigns, Facebook ads, pop ups, QR codes, in store banners, etc. Any opt-in you’ve used in the past can be used for SMS as well. In the near future we will be doing a longer blog series going into more depth about tips to build your lists.”
Any final tips for ecommerce companies to optimize their SMS campaign?
“If your company is doing SMS marketing already one of the best ways you can optimize your campaign is making sure you’re having a two-way conversation with your customer. A lot of marketers right now are just spamming inboxes with the same sales every other day. These marketers are seeing pretty high unsubscribe rates. Think about how you text your friends and colleagues. It’s not natural to use SMS as a one way communication channel. You can also leverage your existing channels, like email, to grow your list. If you’re starting out and have a list of 500 people, that won’t make a huge difference in the amount of revenue you generate. I highly recommend also setting up opt-ins on your website to collect subscribers quickly. As for your copy, make it more casual and fun, use emojis and gifs to provide a fun experience for your consumers.”
If you’d like more information on SMS and our company please visit conversmart.com or text CASE STUDIES to 1-205-479-8916 to join our list and be the first to know about upcoming events, keep in touch with the team and future blog posts!