SMS Marketing:
Supercharge Your E-Commerce Sales

The e-commerce world is fast becoming the leading market in terms of retail. Convenience and a great choice are the main attractions in shopping online. As an e-commerce retailer or service provider, you will already know the importance of good marketing strategies. Keeping the consumer engaged and informed is essential, so what are the best ways to capture the attention of your relevant audience?
SMS marketing is not a new concept, but it has been greatly refined in recent years. Where once it was simply a case of sending repeated messages until the consumer read one, now SMS is a preferred method for business owners and consumers alike. There are many reasons for this, not least the ubiquity of the mobile device and the rise of the millennial generation as consumers.

In the article that follows we will look in brief at what SMS marketing is about, what the consumer thinks of this method of marketing, why it works, and how to get the best out of your SMS marketing campaigns. We will also take a look at some useful SMS marketing tools.

Let’s start with a brief explanation of SMS, and how it works in marketing terms.

Table of Contents

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS – Short Message Service – will be familiar to anyone who has a smartphone. It is, in fact, the single most-used data application in the world with over 3.5 billion users. SMS is used to send messages between friends and family, but we’re interested in the usage of e-commerce promotional campaigns.

So, let’s take a step forward and look at how SMS marketing works.

SMS Marketing Explained

Put simply, SMS marketing is the use of a short message service to send information from brands to consumers. This information can be anything from a new product announcement to a special offer. It could be a forewarning of a deal that is ending soon or perhaps beginning, and it is also widely used for keeping consumers up to date with products or services they have ordered.

Time-Sensitive Marketing

Perhaps the most widely-used tactic with SMS marketing is that of promoting time-sensitive deals. The message such as ‘Reply Within X Minutes for 10% Discount’, for example, or ‘Deal Ending in 24 Hours’ prompts the consumer to revisit and check out the deal. Given that the average time taken to open an SMS message is 90 seconds – more about this later – it’s clearly an essential method of engaging with your consumers.
What other reasons are there for including SMS marketing in your promotional campaigns? We’ve listed some, and also talk about some important SMS marketing statistics.
sms notification

Why Use SMS Marketing?

It is reckoned that more than 80% of adults in the USA own and use a mobile device. This is the first major reason why SMS marketing is important. However, it should not be looked at as a stand-alone media.
Email remains important for long-form marketing. However, the average consumer takes a lot longer to open an email than a text message. Used in tandem, you could use the text message to remind potential customers there’s a great deal waiting for them in that email they have yet to open. That’s just one example of how to do it, which we will cover in more detail later. Here are a few other reasons why SMS marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy:
In short, the modern consumer does not want to get involved with long and drawn-out messages. They want to be told there is a deal or offer that will interest them in the most concise and direct way possible. Following are some informative SMS marketing statistics that have been lifted from a variety of research sources.

Some SMS Marketing Statistics

Now that we have clarified what SMS marketing involves and why e-commerce businesses use this method, we want to move on and talk about some of the best practices in SMS marketing, and the specific areas of your campaign where it can be used.
Before we do so, we’d like to present you with some revealing statistics about SMS marketing. There is an underlying belief that consumers do not want to see such messages, but as the following will show, this is not always the case.
Let’s start with a few facts about how consumers think about SMS marketing campaigns:
Just from the above, we can dispel the myth of the disgruntled customer being fed up with promotional messages, as it’s clear most welcome such communications.
Yet, there are factors with SMS marketing that do get the consumer frustrated, such as:
Those figures highlight the importance of marketing text messages and their ease of use as an SMS marketing solution. Here are a couple more informative facts:
The above two facts are about communication, and the modern consumer expects to be kept ‘in the loop’ at all times. SMS messages are a great way of letting customers know their goods are on the way, and when they are likely to arrive.

We need to mention millennials, the group who have grown up with this sort of communication. If we tell you that more than 80% of this younger age group open an SMS within 90 seconds of receiving it, and then compare that to the average time in which a marketing e-mail is opened – 90 minutes – you can clearly see the attraction of SMS to this target demographic.

In fact, across the board, SMS has an open rate of an astonishing 98%, while e-mails rate at just 20%.

Text Messaging and Customer Engagement

Here are a few more interesting figures:
Before we move on to our next section, a few final figures relating to customer engagement and text message marketing:
Time-Sensitive Marketing
We could go on and give you a wealth of further stats that show the power of short message service marketing, but we’ll leave it with this: it has been proven that 85% of communications between a brand and a customer are now completed without speaking. That includes customer service calls, where 70% of consumers prefer to use messaging to troubleshoot issues over all other communication media. Still doubting is SMS marketing effective enough for your business? Here’s a summary, then, of its effectiveness as marketing too.

Summary of the Effectiveness of SMS as Marketing

Without further ado, here’s what you need to remember:
That’s just a few of the obvious benefits of SMS marketing, yet it remains a fact that some 60% of e-commerce businesses have not adopted this method. Those are businesses that are losing customers to competitors who have implemented SMS marketing in their digital marketing strategy.
Of course, you don’t want to simply bombard your customers with messages, so it’s time to look at some of the rules and best practices in using SMS marketing.

Rules and Best Practices of SMS Marketing

Mobile phones that are constantly pinging with marketing messages are soon going to get ignored. One that sends informative and relevant messages in a timely fashion, however, will be answered – the statistics above are enough to prove this case. There are some sensible and simple ground rules to lay down when using SMS marketing, and we think it worth giving these some space. Let’s start!

Opting In

It is a legal requirement in most countries to invite your customers to opt in for marketing messages. If you have something they are interested in, they are likely to do so. Include an opt-in option when they sign up for an account.

Always offer an opt-out button to avoid spamming. Unsolicited SMS marketing messages are not acceptable. The reason that text messages achieve the very high opening rate we mentioned above is that the consumers have told you they want them. Nevertheless, there are lines to be drawn in some areas, so a bit about those next.

Timing Your SMS Messages

Timing is essential where SMS is concerned as the message is likely to be opened very quickly (unlike e-mail, which will be left until a convenient moment). This is because SMS is associated with personal messages and with those of an important nature.
Timing Your SMS Messages
For SMS make sure you send them at an acceptable time. This is not in the middle of the night when it will go to waste. You need to target a time when your consumers are not tied up in work and are not enjoying a holiday or leisure time.
Bear in mind that for many people Sunday is a rest day and interrupting them with marketing SMS on a Sunday may be considered annoying. Indeed, in some countries – France is one – it is against the law to send marketing messages on a Sunday, after 10 pm or on a public holiday!

Let Consumers Know Who is Messaging Them

Always include your company name in SMS marketing messages, and indeed in all types of marketing. There is no point in sending a message that does not indicate who it is from. This also applies to times and dates of deals being promoted: you need the customer to know when they should act by.

Areas in Which SMS Marketing Can be Used

In this section which looks at the areas of your business and consumer engagement in which you can use SMS marketing, we may repeat some of the information already mentioned. This is simply because certain things must be put forward correctly.
Let’s talk about what you are looking to achieve when incorporating SMS marketing in your digital marketing strategy.

Boosting Sales

It’s a fact that one of the major achievements of using SMS messaging is that of getting more sales. A consumer who receives your message has already opted in. This is more than likely because your business offers something they want, are interested in, or maybe looking at in the future.
The use of SMS for short-term promotions is among the most common practices. Given the speed and regularity with which the consumer opens an SMS, it is clear that this is the marketing method of choice for time-sensitive offers. This could be the end of a line, flash sales, a one-off deal, a special offer, or more.
Boosting Sales
It is recommended that the SMS message includes a link to further information, or perhaps reminds the consumer of an email previously sent that contains the information in a long-form. SMS marketing is a proven success story, and yet – as we’ve said – 6 out of 10 e-commerce businesses are not yet using it. It’s simple, effective, and cheap, and you need to be on board with SMS.

Building Relationships and Engaging with Customers

Long-term relationships with your customers are essential for building brand loyalty. SMS marketing can be helpful in this area. Not only is SMS useful for notifying consumers of deals and such, but it can also be used to keep your customer in the know as to the state of orders they have placed.

If your business uses an appointment system, then there is a lot of scopes for reminders and notifications to remove the chances of no-shows and missed schedules. As we know that most text messages will be opened and read this is a great way to build a relationship with your customer.
We also suggest that once the product has been received or the service performed, an SMS message asking if all was well, and they are satisfied can be a great way of cementing a relationship. The modern consumer wants to be made to feel they are important to you, and one-on-one conversation such as this will help create that feeling.

Types of Business that will Benefit from SMS Marketing

We have covered some important points so far including the advantages of using SMS marketing, especially alongside email for added detail and marketing success. So, what sort of e-commerce business would make use of SMS marketing, and how? That’s what we’re going to look at in this brief section.
It could be said that any type of e-commerce outfit in any market could make use of SMS messaging, so let’s look at the different uses for this versatile method of digital communication.
The goal of a customer loyalty program is to build a stronger relationship and to increase customer retention. Different customer segments require different loyalty programs. One-size fit all approach is not a recommended solution.

E-commerce Stores

Say you have a store selling a certain range of products. Text marketing works wonders for online retailers. It’s another marketing channel that can be used for your marketing campaigns and sales promotions.
SMS is the best way of getting information about those products to your target audience. We have already learned that the uptake – the open rate – of text messages is simply fantastic, especially when compared to email. We also know that when opted in – as they should be at first contact or checkout – consumers want to be sent SMS about any new products or deals.
SMS is easily the most efficient way for small businesses to enhance brand loyalty or to boost sales by way of sending timely deals, offers, even competitions to consumers. If you are looking to grow your brand, SMS is as cost-effective as email marketing compare to social media ads, Facebook ads, or Google ads.
It is also the preferred method of contact for customer service, inquiries, and any communication with an online business. Online retailers can also use the SMS system to notify customers of deliveries being sent out, to keep them updated as to progress, and to inform them of potential delays.
Follow-up messages, cart abandonment automated notifications, invitations to launches, and giving a hint of new products to come can all be done by SMS. We’ve already said it, but around 60% of e-commerce businesses have yet to get on board with SMS marketing despite clear consumer confirmation that this is the preferred method.

Appointment-based Businesses

Any business that takes bookings by appointment needs to look at automated messages right now if they are not already using it. The modern consumer does not want to make a telephone call to book an appointment at a salon, for example, or a beauty clinic, consultancy, or even accountancy and legal services. They want to do it online, on the move, and with a hand-held device.
With SMS you as the business owner can facilitate this using the right SMS marketing software. You create an online calendar with appointments that are free showing, and the customer chooses the slot convenient to them. That slot is then booked and shows as such. You get a notification of the booking, and the client gets an SMS notification of the appointment. You can also set it so that nearer the time they get an SMS reminder. This can be considered as one of the best practices of SMS marketing utilization.
The benefits of SMS marketing here are multiple for both parties: fewer no-shows thanks to forgotten appointments, better management of your time, and greater business growth as a result.

The Travel Industry

Travel companies – those who arrange holidays, hotel bookings, flights, even local trips – find SMS to be invaluable. In the travel industry, the customer needs real-time information on what is available when and where, and at what cost, for example.
The SMS system can be automated to notify the customer of changes – perhaps to a flight departure time or gate number change – instantly the information is relayed. The customer gets that information in an instant. As the open time for SMS is much quicker than any other medium the information they need will be seen.
Cancellations, weather alerts, problems with accommodation, and many more items of importance to the customer can be relayed this way. Indeed, any business that may be affected by changes will find SMS is of great value in enhancing efficient operation. It’s just important to find the text message marketing software that will fit the needs of your business.

Larger Business for Internal Communications

One further use of SMS messaging is in larger e-commerce companies who may need to get a message to all or a large group of employees at once. SMS does that immediately, while email is more cumbersome and less likely to be checked instantly.
Internal communication is vital to the successful running of an e-commerce business and being able to get a message across quickly and to large numbers is a bonus. So, what should your SMS message say? Let’s have a look at structuring the short message.

How to Structure an SMS for Marketing

As we’ve shown there are many different types of SMS marketing messages, so here’s a quick reminder of the most important, and the sort of script that should be included.
Campaign Messages – this is the SMS message that is promoting a product, a deal, a coupon, or any other happening that the customer will want to know about. Essentially, it’s this type of message they have opted in to receive. The message should simply read along the lines of ‘For our Loyal Customers: Reply within 24 hours for the best deal on XYZ’. Short, to the point, and succinct, and enhancing how the customer is important to you.

Transactional Messages – generally an automated message that is generated when the customer places an order – as a confirmation say ‘Thanks for your order, we’ll let you know when it’s despatched’ – or books an appointment. Follow-up messages could inform the customer of the despatch, or delays. Also used to keep customers updated as to changes in travel or booking details in the travel and hospitality industry.

Cart abandonment – a big problem in online retail, this sort of message will go to a consumer who has items in a cart but has yet to complete the transaction. It will be sent automatically at a pre-determined time following the cart being abandoned, and will remind the customer politely, perhaps include an incentive to complete, and also include a link to the cart.

That’s the basics of text messages, so let’s wrap up with a quick look at some relevant SMS marketing software packages.

How to Build Your SMS List?

If you are not sure how to start, here are some SMS marketing tips that we believe can be helpful.
Just as you have to follow certain rules and prerequisites when building an email list, so it is with an SMS list. Before you start to collect phone numbers of your potential customers, you have to define your SMS marketing strategy. Without a solid SMS strategy for legally growing your SMS list, you’ll never achieve the expected ROI.
First things first. You should start with setting up a simple opt-in process and nudge your potential customers to join your SMS list. Start with a shortcode – a 5 – 6-digit phone number – to make opting-in to your list faster and easier. Customers text your short code number to join your list, and you send them messages via that short code number.
When they are opted-in, send them a message containing your brand name, what you’ll be sending them, the phrase “message and data rates may apply”, and also how to opt-out if they stop being interested in your brand.
After the call-to-action button, place the privacy policies. The opt-in process should be compliant with the data protection rules. Even if you’re importing phone numbers from another database, you still need to get consent.

Some Useful SMS Marketing Software

We’ve covered the subject of SMS and how it can be used quite comprehensively, so we need to point you in the direction of some useful and efficient SMS marketing platforms. The following are the leading SMS marketing services that we think you should have a closer look at.


We should begin by reminding you that all SMS marketing solutions need to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in the USA. As your clients will have been offered and acted upon an opt-in option, you are part of the way there. A further step should be taken in the form of a software package such as Postscript which is designed to help you build TCPA compliant customers lists for your marketing purposes.
Postscript, an SMS marketing service, begins by collecting your SMS subscribers automatically at several points, including checkout, landing pages, using pop-ups, and more. One of the most popular software packages, it syncs with a Shopify page for greater integration.
Postscript offers features such as automated text messages triggered by cart abandonment, purchase follow-ups, and others based on user behavior and history. It automatically handles opt-out requests, can track ROI and report on it, and also features ‘Safe Send’ which monitors the number of texts you send and ensures you do not send too many.
This is a clever package that is well-designed and would be ideal for SMS marketing for growing businesses.


Automizely is an SMS service provider geared primarily at dealing with cart abandonment and also with getting emails and messages to the right in-box and recipient. Why is cart abandonment such a problem? Here’s a quite stunning statistic: in e-commerce across the board cart abandonment has an average rate of 75%. That means three-quarters of your visitors may leave a shopping cart with goods in it and not complete the transaction.
That number differs per market sector, but the problem is still great. Cart abandonment not only means a missed transaction, but goods in trolleys not showing as stock. Automizely allows you to set a time from the point of abandonment to when it sends an automated SMS to the consumer. It automatically carries a link to the cart for direct click-through.
Automizely is easy to use and effective – hence its popularity – and ensures your messages are TCPA and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation for European businesses) compliant.


One of the leading integration packages for Shopify is Klaviyo. As with the two mentioned above, it is about automating your SMS and email, as well as gathering leads and customer information while remaining TCPA and GDPR compliant.
Klaviyo comes with a selection of pre-built automation including cart abandonment and is also able to handle custom automation. It can also be used to automate tailored emails and syncs data with Facebook and Instagram for social media data gathering and marketing.
Free up to 250 contacts, Klaviyo is popular with Shopify stores thanks to its ease of use and effectiveness in contacting potentially lost customers and getting them to return. The paid version is very reasonably priced too.


Dedicated to SMS marketing, YSMS differs from some of the available packages in offering fine-tuning features that allow the user to target certain types of a customer through a wide range of criteria.
It automatically syncs with the Shopify store and the messages can include emojis, discount codes, and direct links to deals and offers. YSMS is less focused on cart abandonment than its rivals, for example, but is more streamlined in tailoring SMS lists to relevant recipients.
There is also an estimated cost tool that allows you to see how much the chosen and scheduled text messages are going to cost you before you commit, and a comprehensive reporting feature that keeps you up to date with results.

SMS Marketing Automation

SMS Marketing Automation comes from MessageMedia, experts in the field of message marketing with more than 20 years of relevant experience. This SMS marketing software is geared towards handling cart abandonment with the usual timed message going to the consumer. It claims to achieve 26% retrieval of abandoned carts.
Also part of the package is the automated brand loyalty function that can be set to send deals and offers to existing clients, as well as win-back campaigns for re-engaging customers who have not visited your Shopify store for some time.
Each of the above SMS messaging tools has its merits, and we recommend you check them out in more detail to get a better idea of which ones may help you grow your business.

Summary and Conclusion

As we see steady growth in mobile users and therefore in the use of mobile devices for online transactions, mobile shopping, mobile payment, every online retailer should include mobile marketing into their overall marketing strategy. Mobile marketing includes promotions sent through SMS text messaging, MMS multimedia messaging, through downloaded apps using push notifications, through in-app or in-game marketing, through mobile websites, or by using QR codes.
Put simply, text marketing is a currently under-used but surprisingly effective part of any e-commerce marketing campaign. The modern consumer is happy to opt in where the product or service is of interest to them, and text messages are opened and read in almost all cases very quickly. Used alongside email marketing, SMS marketing should be a part of every e-commerce business whether retail, SMS service provider, or in any industry where information communication is vital to customer service.

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