Build strong one-on-one customer connections with SMS

Whether you’re creating emails or ads, savvy marketers know that personalization is the key to building a loyal and engaged customer base. But now that SMS marketing is on the scene, brands haven’t quite prepared for just how personal it is.

The immediacy and hyperpersonal nature of SMS allows brands to promote their products more intimately than with traditional channels like email—almost like a marketing superpower. But with great power comes great responsibility.

You need to be thoughtful and judicious in how you operate your text message marketing. To humanize your texts, leverage hyperpersonal communication to foster stronger customer relationships. The key is not to treat SMS like just another email subscriber marketing channel—in fact, it’s better to think beyond marketing altogether.

Don’t treat SMS like email

Customers may open as many as 98% of the text messages they receive, while opening just 20% of all emails.1 That means that your customers are likely to see every text message you send them. If you’re nuanced and intentional in your texts, your customers will feel like there’s value in the exchange.

While you can use data to personalize emails to your customers, SMS is a very intimate form of communication. Your SMS messages pop up in the same channels as texts from your customers’ friends and family. Text messages integrate your communications in a hyperpersonal way—whether your customer is walking their dog or having dinner with their family.

“With SMS, we try to be very personal,” Carly Havlin, Vice President of Marketing at skincare brand Teami wrote in a Klaviyo community chat on Twitter. “We establish one persona sending all of the text messages. Email is more promotional, more from the brand. We want to have a 1:1 relationship with our customers via SMS.”

tweet of a community chat from Teami

Customers tend to be very selective about what brands they allow on their phones. To earn—and keep—that place of trust, be respectful in your approach when you text customers.

Avoid sending excessive messages

Sending a stream of promotional emails may have a place in email marketing, but sending a barrage of text messages may annoy your customers and threaten their trust.

Customers don’t typically see every email you send. But your text messages could ping your customer mid-activity—and they’ll likely open and read your messages in real time. According to research, 58% of consumers open a text message within five minutes of receiving it.2 That number is even higher for millennials, with 83% of them opening SMS messages within 90 seconds.3

Consider where your customers are in their individual journey. Delivering the right message at the right time greatly improves your chances of closing the sale. 

Don’t blast your entire list with the same messages

Sending one blanket message to all of your customers at once isn’t the most effective marketing strategy. While it’s not a great idea to blast your customers with a series of emails, sending multiple text messages is even worse.

Text messages are a hyperpersonal form of communication, so your strategy should be personalized, too. Keep blasts to a minimum in favor of segmenting and personalizing your SMS campaigns. According to research from Epsilon, consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that creates personalized experiences.4 Take advantage of the hyperpersonal nature of SMS by using customer-first data to create meaningful touchpoints to customize your customers’ journey.

Don’t make your SMS campaigns a one-way conversation

Unlike email campaigns, which are typically one-sided, text messages should feel like a fluid conversation between you and your customer.

According to data from Invesp, 73% of customers consider live chat to be a preferred method of communication with a brand.5 Facilitating live conversations in your text messaging is vital to making the most of the channel. It’s also a way to build loyalty with your customers. Customers don’t want to feel as if their messages are falling on deaf ears—they want to be seen, heard, and recognized. 

Your customers want to receive a prompt response if they reach out to you, so make sure that they can reply to your messages. One-on-one communication with your customers maximizes conversions. 

Make your strategy hyperpersonal

Personalization strategies can make each text message connection meaningful, strengthening your customer relationships. But before you can begin personalizing your SMS campaigns, you need real-time customer data to guide your personalization strategy. 

You can gain these vital insights into consumer preferences and behaviors by looking at data points. This includes views, clicks, cart abandonments, and past purchases.

A hyperpersonal text message from Kitsch to a customer.

Hair and beauty brand Kitsch sends hyperpersonal text messages to their customers as part of their SMS marketing strategy.6 The text begins by addressing the customer directly by name before acknowledging the customer’s personal interests. The text notes that the customer liked a specific hair accessory and uses this information to suggest another product the customer may love. This strategy not only encourages a repurchase—it also nudges customers to try a new product.

You can also use customer data across multiple marketing channels to send fewer text messages. Gaming accessories retailer KontrolFreek found great success by sending targeted text messages and emails in the same flow using Klaviyo. The company ran a hyperpersonal campaign, sending text messages to customers who abandoned their carts—and didn’t open the original abandoned cart email. This strategy enabled KontrolFreek to send fewer text messages while boosting their revenue, earning them an 8% increase in revenue per text message and a 25% increase in their SMS click-through rate.

A hyperpersonal text message from KontrolFreek to their customers.

Mattress company GhostBed also used a hyperpersonal strategy for their SMS marketing, earning the company $77,600 from a single text message flow. The company created two different forms in Klaviyo to collect phone numbers and consent. Then, the company sent an SMS welcome series targeting email subscribers and new site visitors with discount incentives. The text also offered early access to future deals and promotions.

Hyperpersonal text messages from GhostBed to their customers asking to explore their productsHyperpersonal text messages from GhostBed to their customers.

The strategy not only lets GhostBed better tailor its text messages to different segments of customers, but it also helps the company gain insight into which channels its customers prefer—and further personalize its messages to them.

Humanize your brand

Marketing shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch. Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to, especially on such a personal channel.

“Invisible marketing: It’s the messaging we don’t see but that drives our association towards a decision or company,” Kushaan Shah, who heads up growth at Grammarly, explained in his essay on Substack.7 “An actual conversation, one that drives the same positive associations you have with texting a friend to a brand, is durable.”

When a text message feels more like a one-on-one conversation instead of one-sided marketing, it humanizes your brand and motivates customers toward a purchase. The key is to think beyond sales and marketing to improve the overall customer experience.

According to Oracle, a customer’s emotional connection with a brand is a strong driver of loyalty.8 The report revealed that 70% of consumers who had high emotional engagement with a brand spend up to double—or more. The report also found that 86% of consumers who feel emotionally engaged with a brand are thinking about that brand when they are in the market for an item.

Three Ships Beauty, a natural skincare product manufacturer, uses personalization in their SMS marketing strategy to increase customer confidence. The brand also uses text messages to help solve customer problems. If a customer texts Three Ships Beauty asking about the proper way to use a cleanser or toner, they’ll receive a message back with clear instructions, written in the style as if it was coming from a knowledgeable girlfriend. 

Slumberkins, a manufacturer of learning products for children, humanizes its text messages to strengthen the emotional bond it shares with its customers. Slumberkins sent customers a text with a picture of a vaguely anguished stuffed animal.9 The text asked customers how they were feeling, and invited them to respond with a corresponding emoji.

A hyperpersonal text message from Slumberkins to its customers.

FUNBOY plays off of the hyperpersonal nature of text messages, addressing the customer as someone who should be one of their “besties.” This captures the customer’s attention by using invisible marketing. FUNBOY now invites its new “bestie” to take a look at the new collection and encourages a purchase with a call-to-action (CTA) link with a code.

A hyper-personalized text message from FUNBOY to their customers.

Start using SMS now to foster customer loyalty

SMS is still a relatively new channel, and the opportunities for ecommerce brands to hyper-personalize their marketing through SMS are wide open.

Take advantage of the benefits of SMS marketing now and begin building relationships with your customers. When more brands join the scene, your relationships will already be established. Your customers will be excited when they receive texts from you—and you can continue to build those connections and drive brand loyalty.

Ready to try SMS marketing out for yourself? Learn how to get started. 

 

Sources:

1“ROI Showdown: SMS Marketing vs. Email Marketing.” Campaignmonitor.com

2“2020 SMS Marketing Report.” Simpletexting.com

3“Millennials Prefer Texting, But Can It Create Tension In Office Communication?” Forbes.com

4“New Epsilon research indicates 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.” Epsilon.com

5“The Importance of Live Chat Customer Support – Statistics and Trends.” Invespcro.com

6“Peruse fantastic text marketing.” Fantastictexts.com

7“#39: Is There a Science Behind Good SMS Marketing?” Mindmeld.substack.com

8“Why an Emotional Connection Matters in Customer Loyalty and How to Achieve It.” Blogs.oracle.com

9“Peruse fantastic text marketing.” Fantastictexts.com

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