How to Choose an SMS Provider: 5 Factors to Consider to Find the Best Platform for Your Business
Imagine you have a ceramic plate with a beautiful design that has broken into two pieces. You could put the two pieces next to each other on a table and imagine what the plate would look like if you reassembled it.
But if you actually tried to eat off the broken plate, food would fall through the crack, causing an enormous mess. You need to reassemble the two pieces into one plate in order to actually use it.
Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art form of reassembling broken pieces of pottery with gold, silver, or platinum. This repair method not only rejoins the individual broken pieces into one cohesive ceramic, but where the broken pieces are joined together by precious metals is what makes the new plate even more beautiful and valuable.
For ecommerce marketers, email and SMS are the two halves of the broken plate. If you use two different platforms to manage email and SMS, you’ll 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 tool, such as Klaviyo, you’ll unlock abilities that wouldn’t be possible when using individual email and SMS solutions. This added functionality is the precious metal that brings the two halves 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 where to start with finding an SMS provider, here are a few factors to consider to create better harmony across your marketing channels.
1 | A single platform for SMS and email marketing
SMS has many benefits, but it’s not the only channel you can use to reach your customers.
Email is consistently one of the top revenue-generating channels for ecommerce businesses, which is why it’s best to strategize how these channels 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.
In some situations, such as with a browse abandonment automation, many marketers will opt to send an email first. If the customer opens that email, they can delay an SMS message about the same product by 24 hours in order to avoid fatigue.
In other cases that are more time sensitive, such as a flash sale, sending a text first might be the right move.
When selecting an SMS provider, it’s ideal to choose one that manages both email and SMS under one roof, consolidating all customer data into one profile. This way, you can easily account for the ways your customers interact with both channels.
In addition, combining both channels within the same software provider will ensure your email marketing performance doesn’t suffer when you add SMS.
Often, SMS solutions only allow you the option to capture both email and SMS consent from customers with their popup forms. This can cause a delay of up to an hour for the first email in a welcome series, as the SMS software has to pass the email address over to the email provider.
For customers who prefer email or are waiting on a promo code to place their order, this creates a poor experience and can result in lost revenue.
Additionally, if the customer opens the email, you may decide to skip sending an SMS with the same message since you know they’ve already received it. Many marketers use this SMS strategy to convert any shoppers who haven’t yet purchased.
No matter how you decide to time your welcome series and other automations, choose a tool that can send both email and SMS immediately after your customers opt into your marketing communications.
2 | Tracking and attribution you can trust
SMS touts an impressive average return on investment (ROI) of 24x. 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.
To track the performance of marketing efforts you rely on attribution, which has the goal of determining which channel or messages converted a customer.
But attribution can be a challenge when it comes to managing SMS and email in two separate platforms, and it can be difficult to understand whether an email or a text caused a sale.
If you’re evaluating an SMS-only solution, there’s a high likelihood that a customer will receive an email and SMS within a few days of each other and that one order will be attributed to both email and SMS in their respective platforms, which would cause your analytics to inaccurately attribute one sale to two channels.
When you can manage both email and SMS together, only the message that the customer most recently engaged gets credit for the sale—and ideally, you can customize your attribution window settings at any time.
3 | Segmentation and data analytics that drive personalization
One of the biggest advantages you have selling directly to your consumers is your access to customer data, which includes your customers’ demographics, order history, and onsite browsing information.
When choosing an SMS provider, your best bet is a tool that allows you to use all of your customer data through a robust integration with your ecommerce platform.
Use your site visitor’s behavior to trigger text messages that go out to the customer at the right time, or personalize your texts with customers’ first names. Consider using your customers’ event data, such as the link to their abandoned shopping cart.
Additionally, keep in mind which tools offer predictive analytics. With the right data, you can trigger emails and SMS messages based on your customers’ individual predicted next order dates and segment messages based on their predicted customer lifetime value (CLTV)—all of which will increase the personalization and timeliness of each message, leading to a higher conversion rate.
The best performing marketing messages are often also the most personalized, so consider an SMS provider that allows you to send hyper-targeted messages to your subscribers.
4 | Flexible contract structure
Whether you’re just testing out SMS for the first time or you consider yourself an SMS expert, having flexibility from your text messaging provider is key.
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.
Another factor to consider is 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 is extremely limiting, especially if you’re still gaining your footing with SMS.
Instead, 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, you aren’t locked into a multi-year plan that doesn’t fit your business needs.
5 | Compliance and delivery 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.
SMS compliance isn’t complicated, but it’s mandatory. From ensuring you’re only messaging contacts who’ve given explicit consent to providing the recipient with instructions on how to opt out, pick a provider that understands all the nuances of compliance and automatically enforces them within the platform.
Additionally, sending text messages is pointless if the messages don’t actually arrive in 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 your SMS marketing strategy is exciting; compliance and delivery are not. Leave the boring part to your SMS provider and spend more time creating amazing customer experiences
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 require to create a truly exceptional marketing strategy.
Get started with Klaviyo SMS and start seeing results.