Believe it or not, 98% of SMS sent still get opened. Despite the endless number of chat apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and others, SMS is clearly the most preferred channel of communication for most of us.
More specifically in terms of eCommerce, 75% of consumers prefer SMS communication for deliveries, promotions and surveys from brands.
Considering how people tend to check their phone at least 80 times a day, the above two statistics are beyond justified. Text messages are giving brands a whole new level of opportunity to connect with their customers – not just where they are present, but also where they are the most active.
But is every brand out there seeing similar results from SMS marketing?
The answer is NO.
Everyone’s using one form of SMS marketing automation or the other to send out text messages to their subscribers and customers. Some are even leveraging blast messages. But everyone is missing the whole point of SMS – what it is truly meant to do.
Two-way SMS marketing conversations.
SMS Marketing – Status Quo
Text messaging boosts happiness! It’s proven by a study conducted by psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley.
We humans experience a mood uplift when we receive or respond to a text message from a friend or family member, or someone we want to hear from.
Brands sending SMSes to consumers can generate a similar mood uplift. Especially when as a consumer, they have willingly subscribed to updates on text messages.
In fact, brands using SMS marketing to engage their subscribers and customers, see six to eight times higher engagement rates than both social media and email campaigns.
As of today, online stores are running various kinds of text message campaigns with the help of automation and bulk message senders. Be it to promote an ongoing deal, discount, promote a new range of products or simply recover abandoned carts.
Automated SMS marketing campaigns have been successful so far in helping brands capture consumer attention at the ‘right time’. This has also helped brands drive these consumers back to their store, increasing the probability of conversions and sales.
But as the world continues to move to digital, human contact that we as consumers experienced at brick and mortar stores, has reduced to a minimum.
While automating SMSes has its benefits, there’s one big gaping hole that brands ignore – what happens when a customer replies to your SMS?
In most cases, the customer doesn’t get any response. It becomes a one-sided conversation. Devoid of a human touch. Something that no one wants to engage with.
For years, brands have evaded conversational marketing. But when 80% of consumers want to talk to the humans behind a brand, it is becoming inevitable.
The Problem With the Current SMS Marketing Campaigns
Imagine walking into a store to check out a new range of products. You’re wanting to ask more details about the material used, but the salesperson only keeps pushing the discount your way.
What would you do?
You’re probably going to walk away feeling that the salesperson was being too pushy. You were looking for someone who could help you make an informed purchase decision. You weren’t asking for a discount.
That’s the problem with the traditional SMS marketing automation.
A study by Harvard Business Review backs our example by explaining how customers enjoy their experience with a business when there’s a human involved. They want to interact with a human behind a brand rather than abstract automation.
The very few brands that do manage to reply to their subscribers and customers, often end up having a very high turnaround time.
As a store owner or an eCommerce marketer, you’re probably wondering how one could keep track of all the different replies you can get. And how you can reply to someone instantly!
You can’t stay glued to your phone all day.
But the response time has a big impact on the conversion rate. With every minute’s delay in responding to the consumer, you’re going to see an average drop of 4% in your sales.
Now that’s also the reason why brands tend to prefer using a one-way approach to SMS marketing. We call it, playing safe.
But we also call it losing out on a lot of opportunity to sell if you could have tapped into the conversation.
Think about the last time you walked into a store to buy a pair of jeans. But walked out with a t-shirt alongside it. Yes, that’s the power of human conversations.
This is where two-way SMS marketing campaigns come in.
What is a Two-Way SMS Marketing Campaign?
Let’s understand two-way SMS marketing through an example.
You send an SMS to your subscribers and customers to promote a new collection on your Shopify store.
Some recipients decide to reply to the SMS with questions. They have questions related to making purchase decisions – about delivery time, return policy, etc.
In the traditional approach, the customer might not receive a response from you. Rather, they’ll have to go to your website and drop a message on your live chat to get a response and maybe even go through all your pages to find information.
But in a two-way SMS marketing campaign, they get answers from YOU.
With an app like TxtCart, you can leverage the power of SMS marketing automation and human conversation at the same time.
Using automation, we let you start the conversation by sending the right message at the right time. But then, with the help of our experienced eCommerce live agents, we help you strike a conversation when a subscriber or customer replies to your message!
Here, your Shopify app will smartly help you out in replying to your customer queries. As soon as a customer replies, a live agent will jump into the conversation to ‘chat’ with them.
Here’s an example of a two-way SMS marketing campaign:
What just happened here?
You added a human touch to the typically only-automated scenario.
Research shows that customers enjoy a sandwich more when they see it being made by the sandwich-maker. Why?
People feel more satisfied with a product when they see the efforts exerted towards them. Similarly, when you use a two-way SMS marketing campaign, you show the consumer that you’re making an effort to help them make an informed purchase decision.
Why Should You Use Two-Way SMS Marketing Campaigns?
A human touch can bring warmth to your SMS campaigns
Customers want to talk to people, not automated screens. An SMS response sent to a customer just when they were eagerly expecting it, doesn’t happen too often.
So when brands respond to customer SMS, it brings about a positive experience. Customers feel heard and cared for when a human being responds with a specific, personalized answer. Add to it an incentive or an offer, and it’s hard to ignore.
Help release your customers’ purchase anxiety
Customers feel anxious when making buying decisions. Will the purchase be worth their spend? Will it reach them soon enough or will they have to wait for weeks? What if they don’t like it?
Purchase anxiety is a psychological block that customers experience because they don’t know everything about your product or brand.
A two-way SMS marketing campaign can help release this anxiety by responding to customer queries and solving their doubts. The key here is that the SMS response should be worded correctly in a positive manner, so as to make the experience fruitful.
Build great customer relationships easily
Texts are intimate. They can be personalized. And the majority of the customers (85%) prefer to receive texts compared to other modes of communication. This means half your battle is already won.
Now all you need to do is engage with customers and provide a good experience.
SMS is the most direct channel to reach your customers 24/7. You can send targeted messages that add value to your customers. It’s a great channel to build lasting customer relationships easily. And it’s cost effective, too!
It’s an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell
Imagine this – you send a promotional SMS for a discount on your latest collection. A customer responds asking if the discount is applicable on other collections as well.
Instead of responding with a straightforward ‘no’, you could turn this opportunity to upsell or cross-sell your other products. Offer them an incentive or additional discount on your current offer and they might end up making a purchase.
Turn abandoned carts into sales
69% of consumers abandon carts. Mobile shopping cart abandonments are even higher – 85%. Now think about what you could do – you could reach out to these customers on their mobile through SMS soon after they leave your site without buying.
There are many reasons why customers abandon shopping carts – high pricing, a better offer on a competitor site, lack of trust in a new brand, etc. You won’t come to know why a customer didn’t complete a purchase, unless you ask them.
A good way to understand the reason – SMS. Engage them with a two-way SMS marketing campaign, using the conversation to understand what stopped them from making a purchase.
Offer answers and resolutions that will motivate them to come back and complete the purchase.
To Wrap Up – Should You Use Two-Way SMS Marketing Campaigns?
In times when consumers crave a human connection, the answer is a big YES.
There’s cutthroat competition in the eCommerce space. Brands are constantly competing to catch the customers’ attention.
To do so, brands need to build emotional connections with customers. Moreover, provide validation that they have value to offer. Two-way SMS marketing offers both.
It lets your customers know that you’re a human responding to them and hence, there’s a higher level of validation. It helps you build stronger relationships with your customers, leading to higher conversion rates.
So how do you get started with both SMS marketing automation and a two-way communication?
We’d love to show.
Install TxtCart today and see how two-way SMS marketing campaigns work.