How to Choose an SMS Provider: 5 Tips to Find the Best Platform for Your Business

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published on April 5, 2021. Emily Riedy has updated it to reflect current data and insights. 

If you use two different platforms to manage email and SMS, you risk losing sales, accurate reporting, and an ideal customer experience through the natural “crack” that occurs when using disjointed software solutions.

But by managing both email and SMS in one cohesive marketing automation platform, such as Klaviyo, you’ll unlock opportunities that wouldn’t be possible when using separate solutions. This bundled functionality is the precious metal that binds the two halves of email and SMS together, making them more valuable than they would be individually. 

If you’re already convinced that you want to try SMS for your ecommerce business but aren’t sure how to find the right SMS provider for your needs, here are a few factors to consider as you look to create better harmony across your marketing channels.

1 | A single platform for SMS and email marketing

Email is consistently one of the top revenue-generating channels for ecommerce businesses, which is why it’s best to strategize how email and SMS can complement each other.

Due to its immediacy and placement accessibility on consumers’ phones, SMS is a much more visible, and therefore intimate, marketing channel than email.

Things to keep in mind:  

  • When selecting an SMS provider, it’s ideal to choose one that manages both email and SMS under one roof, and merges your customer data into one profile. This way, you can easily account for and track the ways your customers interact with both channels. 
  • Often, SMS solutions only allow you to capture both email and SMS consent from customers through a single popup form. This can cause a delay in the sending of the first email in your welcome series, because you have to pass customer email addresses from your SMS software over to your email provider. For customers who prefer email or are waiting on a promo code to place their order, this delay can create a poor experience and result in lost sales.
  • When you bundle email and SMS together, you can make smarter decisions that shape your customers’ experience. For example, if a customer doesn’t open your email, you can try sending them a text message with the same information since you know they haven’t received it. This is a useful SMS strategy to convert shoppers who haven’t yet purchased.

No matter how you decide to time your campaigns, choose a tool that can send both your email and SMS messages immediately after your customers opt into your marketing communications to avoid any costly delays. 

2 | Clear tracking and analytics 

SMS touts impressive average return on investment (ROI) numbers. But that ROI is only valuable if you trust the analytics and reporting of your marketing platform. 

Consolidating SMS and email into one marketing platform resolves reporting issues that occur when different software providers manage each channel.

Consider this: 

  • Attribution allows you to track the performance of your marketing efforts, which can help you give credit to the appropriate marketing channel for any given sale. But accurate attribution can be a challenge if you’re managing SMS and email in two separate platforms, as it becomes difficult to understand whether an email or a text caused a sale.

Imagine a customer receives one of your emails and text messages within a few days of each other and then places an order. If you’re using a separate email and SMS platform, each one will attribute that order to their respective platform and cause your analytics to inaccurately attribute one sale to two channels. 

But, when you manage both email and SMS together, only the message that the customer most recently engaged with would get the credit for the sale.

3 | Seamless integration and functionality 

One of the biggest advantages of selling directly to your consumers is gathering data from them to create more personal and relevant experiences in return. When someone shops on your website, you collect information like their email address and phone number, plus their order history, onsite browsing behavior, and more.

Things to keep in mind:

  • You can use your site visitors’ behavior to trigger text messages to send based on your customers’ own actions—like an SMS message with a link to their abandoned shopping cart—or personalize your texts with customers’ first names. 
  • Consider tools that offer predictive analytics. With the right data, you can trigger emails and SMS messages to send based on your customers’ predicted next order dates and segment your audience based on their predicted customer lifetime value (CLTV)—all of which will increase the personalization and timeliness of your messages. Can you say, “Hello, higher conversion rates!”
  • The best performing marketing messages are sometimes the most personalized, so consider an SMS provider that allows you to send hyper-targeted messages to your subscribers. 

When choosing an SMS provider, your best bet is to select a tool that allows you to use all of your customer data through a robust integration with your ecommerce platform.

4 | Flexible contract structure

Whether you’re merely testing out SMS marketing for the first time or you consider yourself an SMS expert, having contract flexibility from your text messaging provider is key. 

Here are some things to consider:

  • Watch out for providers that want to charge you based on the total size of your business, not the size of your SMS subscriber list. 
  • Think about your contract length. Is your SMS provider forcing you to lock into a multi-year contract or charging additional fees to opt-out of a contract? Do they want to charge you an extra fee for month-to-month flexibility?  If so, you may find the contract with your SMS provider extremely limiting, especially if you’re still finding your footing with SMS.  
  • Choose an SMS provider that doesn’t lock you into long-term contracts and gives you the ability to adjust your spend base.

Let your provider prove their value on a monthly basis, so if SMS isn’t performing as you expected, you’re not locked into a multi-year plan that doesn’t fit your business needs.

5 | Compliance and deliverability expertise

Text message marketing is still a relatively new channel for most ecommerce marketers, which is why it’s important to choose a provider that’s focused on compliance and deliverability from the start.

Things to keep in mind:

  • SMS compliance isn’t complicated, but it’s mandatory. Between ensuring you’re only messaging subscribers who’ve given you explicit consent, to providing the recipient with instructions on how to opt out, try and pick a provider that understands all the nuances of compliance and automatically enforces them within the platform. 
  • Sending text messages is pointless if the messages don’t actually arrive in your subscribers’ inboxes. Regardless of whether you choose a toll-free phone number or short code, choose a provider that has an SMS delivery rate of over 95 percent for deliverability you can count on. 

Strategizing how you’re going to use SMS marketing is exciting; compliance and deliverability are not. Leave the boring part to your SMS provider and spend your time creating amazing customer experiences that will wow your subscribers. 

Choose the best SMS provider for your business

Text message marketing is an effective way to build customer relationships and drive revenue. But your SMS strategy is only as strong as the SMS marketing platform you use.

Any SMS provider can provide you the ability to text your customers. But not every provider will seamlessly combine SMS and email in order to give you the power, personalization, and flexibility that you need to create a truly exceptional marketing strategy.

Want to learn more about toll-free numbers? Check out how Klaviyo’s toll-free numbers can help you reap the benefits of SMS marketing, fast.

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