SMS marketing

The crawl, walk, run approach to launching a strategic SMS program

Kaleigh Moore, September 30th 2022

The percentage of Americans that now own a smartphone is 85%, according to Pew Research Center. People today are so attached to their phones that they’re almost an extension of the human body. According to, 71% of Americans say they check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up.

So what does this mean for brands?

If you’re looking for strategic ways to reach your customers, consider SMS marketing—37% of Americans prefer to receive brand communications through text.

Ready to learn how to start with SMS marketing? Keep reading to learn:

Success comes from setting mini goals and gradually expanding the number of use cases across the buyer journey. From baby steps to a big leap forward, this crawl, walk, run approach built from the best practices of thousands of Klaviyo users can help you nail your SMS marketing from day one.

Is SMS marketing right for your business?

The dramatic shift in how we communicate has made short message service (SMS) one of the best ways to reach customers. The instant gratification of texting makes it one of the preferred ways of communication. Half of Americans (51%) say they’ve texted more in the past 12 months compared to other methods of communication.

Brands are taking note, too: research from Statista shows in 2021, SMS and texting experienced a 75% year-over-year increase in popularity among customers.

Image source: Statista

Klaviyo’s own data shows that retailers are capitalizing on text messages to connect with customers: compared to March 2021, brands have sent 143% more SMS communication.

But is SMS marketing the right fit for your brand?

If you’re looking for ways to send time-sensitive messages, reminders, and notifications, have personalized conversations, and cultivate relationships with engaged customers—the answer is probably yes.

Some of the unique benefits of SMS as a marketing channel include:

  • Creating better customer experiences because of its speed, immediacy, and the ability to have two-way conversations
  • Offering customers an easy and convenient way to communicate with your brand
  • Owning the relationship with subscribers and avoiding data privacy issues.

“SMS is a channel merchants need to contemplate leveraging when delivering a seamless omnichannel shopper experience,” says Sharon Gee, Vice President, Revenue Growth & General Manager of Omnichannel at BigCommerce.

SMS is a channel brands need to contemplate leveraging when delivering a seamless omnichannel shopper experience.

Sharon Gee, Vice President, Revenue Growth & General Manager of Omnichannel at BigCommerce.

“A well-orchestrated SMS Marketing strategy provides unique engagement opportunities that span use cases from notifications (shipping/delivery) to customer support, to personalized clienteling and upselling.”

Should I focus on an SMS program instead of email? Hint: No.

SMS and email are not mutually exclusive. Effective SMS programs are used to enhance your emails, not replace them. The synergy between email and SMS can help you reach your marketing goals while providing a cohesive customer experience across various channels.

Effective SMS programs are used to enhance your emails, not replace them.

By adding SMS to your email marketing strategy, you can reach people who may not have taken a certain action or who simply prefer to hear from you via text. In order to effectively build customer relationships, businesses are increasingly turning to SMS messaging. Mixtiles is one of these businesses.

Mixtiles is a home decor brand based in Israel that allows customers to turn their photos into decorative wall tiles. By using one platform for their email and SMS communications they were able to create a consistent customer experience without having to invest tons of time or resources.

And it works, too: 40% of Mixtile’s revenue comes from email and SMS marketing channels.

Overcoming barriers—and fears—to SMS marketing

Adding new channels to your marketing mix is no easy feat. Never is a channel a one-and-done situation. You always need a strategy, the implementation of tactics, and measurement to make sure there is clear ROI. And that’s just getting started with a new channel.

SMS marketing is often talked about as being even harder to get up and running. There are strict compliance rules and regulations––and those are different based on country and even state. Many brands, as a result, are worried about litigation with SMS marketing.

“Some brands are fearful about starting with SMS because they are concerned if they send a customer a text they will get sued,” says Josh Mendelsohn Director of Product Marketing at Klaviyo.

If you get consent correctly, respect sending hours, and allow people to opt-out in accordance with local laws, you’ll be able to take advantage of SMS as a great marketing channel.

Josh Mendelsohn Director of Product Marketing at Klaviyo.

“The reality is that SMS is just another form of permission marketing like email. If you get consent correctly, respect sending hours, and allow people to opt-out in accordance with local laws, you’ll be able to take advantage of SMS as a great marketing channel.”

Litigation isn’t the only thing brands are concerned about with SMS marketing. Here are a few additional barriers:

  • Uncertainty about whether customers want to engage via SMS
  • Too many tools and channels
  • Conflicting attribution data
  • Cost

Different SMS marketing platforms and tools address each of these concerns––including compliance––differently, so be sure to talk to those you are considering about how they help solve for each of these barriers.

Klaviyo is a unified customer communications platform in which you can manage both email marketing and SMS marketing side-by-side. This creates a holistic view of how your customers engage with you. It also lets customers decide between if they want SMS updates or email updates via a central preferences page, and solves for conflicting attribution issues.

Our team highly recommends using only one platform, instead of several one-offs, for your forms, emails, SMS messages, and overall customer data management. It’s high time the ecommerce industry have a unified CRM—and that’s what we provide.

But whether you start with us, or another tool, the crawl, run, walk methodology we detail below will make sure you do it properly.

How to get started with SMS marketing: Think integration, not one-off

If everything we’ve covered so far sounds interesting, now it’s time to answer the big question: What’s the best way to get started with SMS?

Every time people—and businesses—try something new, the best advice is to go slowly—take baby steps.

That’s exactly what the crawl-walk-run method is all about.

You should first learn the basics, gradually increase the complexity of use cases, until you’re ready to apply SMS across the board.

To help you kick off your SMS program, we created a step-by-step guide. Why use this guide over any other? Because this guide is about integrating your email marketing and SMS marketing programs to deliver better experiences for your customers without overwhelming your internal teams with extra tools or platforms.

Types of SMS messages to consider

One of the first things to know is that you can implement two types of SMS messages as part of your marketing strategy—transactional and promotional text messages.

  1. Transactional SMS messages contain important customer updates, like order confirmations or shipping information. Using SMS for transactional updates is a great way to keep customers informed and build loyalty. The top two text message types customers like to receive most are shipping updates (75%) and delivery confirmations (65%), as reported by G2.
  2. Promotional SMS messages you can send to your target audience to increase sales, promote a product, offer a special sale, promote branded events or build brand awareness. Promotional SMS doesn’t need to feel spammy, instead it should be timely and relevant. You can send event-triggered messages based on the actions your customers take on your website. For example, if a customer adds an item to their cart but doesn’t make a purchase, you can send them an abandoned cart text to encourage them to place an order.

With this info in mind, let’s dive into the steps of launching a strategic SMS program. Let’s dive in.

Crawl: Setup your list, welcome subscribers, and learn how to measure SMS performance

To make the most out of your SMS program, you have to start with the basics—encouraging subscribers to join, creating a welcome series, growing your SMS list, and making optimizations along the way.

We call this stage “crawl.”

Make a plan for ethically incentivizing customers to join your SMS list

As you get started with creating your strategic SMS program, you’ll want to plan how you’ll encourage customers to opt in. Without a solid list all your SMS marketing efforts can go to waste.

Building an SMS list is not an easy task. Quite the contrary—unlike other channels, SMS requires consent, meaning it’s easy for subscribers to opt out.

Unlike other channels, SMS requires consent, meaning it’s easy for subscribers to opt out.

This means you have to ask customers for permission to enroll them on your SMS list. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implements and enforces laws—like the TCPA (The Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and CAN-SPAM—that regulate SMS marketing to protect customers’ rights.

It’s imperative that you grow your SMS subscriber list and send your text messages in a way that’s compliant with applicable laws, industry guidelines, and carrier requirements. The easiest way to do so is to partner with an SMS marketing platform that takes compliance seriously.

Automatically generate your own mobile terms of service (TOS) in Klaviyo: In addition to generating a mobile device TOS that you can customize to fit your needs, Klaviyo can also host the TOS for you, and you can add a link to your TOS anywhere (like forms where you collect SMS consent).
Alternatively, you can copy the text in the TOS and paste into another page, like your existing TOS page.

Here are a few ways to motivate customers to join your SMS list:

  • Create a unique offer—especially one that’s only going to your SMS list.
  • Give customers a time-sensitive deal, like buy one, get one (BOGO) for the rest of the day on items you need to clear out.
  • Send information that’s necessary to customers who might want to participate in an event.
  • Introduce new products or services, especially if you’re giving your SMS list first dibs.

For example, Soylent invites email subscribers to sign up for SMS in order to be the first to know when new flavors of their product drop.

Source: Electriq

“Build exclusivity around SMS as a channel,” says Brandon Amaroso, founder and CEO of Electriq. “Whether it’s content, pre-order access, or product drops, give people a reason to sign up for SMS other than just receiving a discount.”

Build exclusivity around SMS as a channel.

Brandon Amaroso, founder and CEO of Electriq

Now that you’ve started building a solid SMS list, it’s time to make new subscribers feel welcomed and set expectations.

Create an SMS welcome series

First impressions matter. That’s why it’s critical to build your SMS welcome series first––so it’s ready when subscribers opt in. The SMS welcome series is often the number one revenue generator out of all SMS workflows, according to a deep dive analysis of 400 Klaviyo SMS customers.

The role of a good welcome series is to educate new subscribers about your brand and products, familiarize your audience with the content and frequency of your communications, and even inspire the first purchase.

When creating your welcome series, there are some basic elements that can help you send an impactful first message:

  • Send it immediately after opt-in
  • Include your store name
  • Personalize the message with your subscriber’s first name
  • Let subscribers know how much you appreciate them being on your SMS list
  • Provide a clear call to action

One of the brands that nailed their SMS welcome series workflow is GhostBed. GhostBed is a mattress and bedding company that achieved outstanding results with its SMS welcome series—they earned $44,105 from it in just two weeks.

How? They created two different pop-up forms targeting two distinct audiences:

  • Current email subscribers: This form targeted current email subscribers asking only for their phone numbers.
  • Non-subscribers: This form collects both emails and phone numbers only from new visitors.

Both forms offered a 25% discount with 2 free pillows and early access to new deals and promotions coming in the future. The strategy proved successful.

The result: they collected 4,200 total new subscribers with a signup rate of 3.8%.

The first message with the discount code and the link produced a 32% click rate, 2.5% placed order rate, and generated $77,600 in revenue—a return on investment (ROI) of over 200x.

Combining SMS and email together in their CRM, GhostBed can understand which channel their customers prefer and send them messages that suit their preferences. Now they can easily see who subscribed to SMS and who purchased from their SMS marketing automation, so in the future, they can use that behavior to target the right subscribers with a text message instead of an email.

Grow your SMS list

To see results from your SMS marketing efforts, you have to build a solid list. But when it comes to growing your list, you can’t rely on a go-with-the-flow approach—you need a strategy for consistent growth.

Always look for an opportunity to ask customers to opt-in without interfering with the user experience.

Leverage the online checkout experience

Prompting SMS opt-in during checkout is a seamless and non-intrusive way to get customers to join your subscriber list. With Klaviyo’s integration with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce, you can use this approach and reach a wider audience with your SMS marketing.

Adding SMS consent collection to checkout allows customers to accept SMS marketing while filling out their delivery information.

The best part is they do not need to complete their order to have their consent synced to Klaviyo. Thus, you can more easily and quickly grow your SMS list, even if they abandon their cart.

Incentivize website visitors to become subscribers

To get visitors to opt into your SMS subscription, you need to give them a worthwhile incentive.

A good rule of thumb when setting a website pop-up form for SMS opt-in is to use strategic targeting and to show SMS-only forms for those already on your email list.

Use strategic targeting and to show SMS-only forms for those already on your email list.

Another best practice is collecting email and SMS in separate steps, as they see higher conversions than single-page pop-ups.

If you use a multi-step opt-in form, collect email addresses in the first step, then SMS consent in the second step. This makes sure that if a visitor only completes step one, you’ll be able to reach them via email and can encourage them to subscribe to SMS marketing in the future.

This is exactly what the Australian outdoor equipment supplier Summit Gear does with a multi-step form, where they offer a discount and ask for a visitor’s email in the first step, and then ask visitors to enter their number to join the Summit Insiders Club where they share exclusive mobile-only offers.

Target existing email subscribers

Tap into the potential of your email subscribers and ask this audience to enroll in your SMS list, too. Send occasional email campaigns to non-SMS subscribers, letting them know there are rewards or benefits when they join the SMS club.

To see this in action, look to It’s a 10 Haircare, a provider of high-quality hair care products. They entice email subscribers to join the VIP SMS Club by promoting a 15% discount on a future purchase as well as access to exclusive giveaways, sales updates, and ongoing promotions.

SMS sign-up form best practices

Of course, to message your audience, you need to ethically and compliantly collect their phone numbers and SMS marketing permissions.

Here are 5 best practices from more than 90,000 ecommerce brands using Klaviyo to get your form conversion rate to at least 2.5%.

  • Create a mobile-first form: More than 70% of web traffic is via mobile devices, and a form created specifically for mobile shoppers will look and convert far better.
  • Always add a form teaser for popups and flyout forms: This helps your shopper easily identify where they can give you more information once they are ready to sign up.
  • Use a multi-step form over multiple fields on one-page: Quiz-like forms perform better, and one line of information is easier to fill out on mobile, anyway.
  • Display popups/flyout forms immediately or 1-3 seconds after they land on the site: This helps convert folks quickly, so that you don’t live on a buy or bust mentality with new shoppers.
  • Reduce display frequency to 1-3 days after closing form: This reduces shopper frustration with your website, allowing them to browse without interruption for a while.

Measure early performance rates

The only way to see what works for your business is to measure the performance of your SMS program on an ongoing basis. According to sign-up form benchmarks, conversion rates should be around 2.5%, and the SMS click rate benchmark should be about 8% as you get started.

Here are SMS benchmarks from Klaviyo customers from Q222 to give you an understanding of how others are performing in this channel.

If you’re below the prescribed benchmarks, try making some adjustments by A/B testing your SMS marketing messages in flows. You can test the timing of your messages, the number of messages sent, the type of messaging included, and so much more.

Other elements you can A/B test around your SMS marketing efforts:

  • Increasing your discount amount
  • Including a product image in the signup form
  • Making the initial discount time-sensitive
  • Sending a last chance reminder on an expiring offer

Walk: Launch a campaign, add more SMS automations, and integrate SMS with email

Once you set the foundation of your SMS marketing program, it’s time to enter the “walk” stage and integrate SMS throughout the buyer’s journey.

From your first SMS marketing campaign to messages for cart abandonment and new product announcements, this channel can become pivotal for your business.

What is the difference between a campaign and a flow? Campaigns are typically one-off sends for specific holidays, sales, or the likes.
Automations and workflows––called flows here at Klaviyo––are on-going messages based on triggers like birthdays, engagement on a website, and more.

Send your first SMS campaign

After 1-3 weeks of collecting SMS subscribers, you can kick things off with a campaign for all your new SMS subscribers.

A few things to be sure are included in your first campaign:

  • Include your company name
  • Use a single CTA – keep it short and sweet
  • Make the CTA time-sensitive when possible
  • Personalize with subscribers’ first name or relevant info
  • Use a conversational tone
  • Deliver immediate value

If it will enhance your message, you can add an image or GIF that is under 600 KB. This will convert the message into an MMS, which also allows you more 1600 characters.

However, MMS messages count as three message sends under most billing plans, so make sure you have enough sends to reach your intended audience.

Use SMS to reduce cart abandonment

Cart abandonment is the internet equivalent of window shopping. According to Baymard, the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 70%, meaning the opportunity to bring back these would-be buyers is…quite large.

The good news: SMS is one of the best ways to encourage visitors to finish the purchase. Klaviyo’s data shows abandoned cart is often the first or second highest revenue-generating flow for SMS (together with welcome series).

You can use SMS to follow up on an abandonment cart email to increase your shopper’s chances to complete their purchase while also diversifying your messaging strategy. Abandoned cart SMS marketing flows are typically automated texts.

One example of this can be seen with KontrolFreek, an Atlanta-based company focused on improving the gaming experience.

They use conditional splits based on defined recipient profile properties and activity to only send text messages to subscribers who haven’t engaged with the first Abandoned Cart email. As a result, they produced both an 8% increase in attributed revenue and a 38% decrease in cost per SMS conversion.

Bring customers back to buy more via SMS

SMS is a great marketing tool for personalized recommendations for products customers have already purchased from your brand.

For example, by leveraging your customers’ past purchase data, you can encourage them to buy related items or higher-end products that go well with their existing purchases.

Rachel Zoe’s fashion and beauty membership site CURATEUR does this by using SMS to speak directly to long-term VIPs, letting them know about product collection launches based on the customer’s purchase history. No discount needed.

Sourced from Klaviyo’s Showcase.

Use SMS campaigns for new product announcements

Keep your SMS subscribers in the know by showcasing new collections and product launches. Customers love exclusivity, so make your texts worth subscribing to by offering these subscribers early access or first dibs when new products drop.

Want to see it in action? Each & Every is a beauty brand that uses SMS to make sure subscribers are the first to know about the release of its newest product.

Source: From Klaviyo’s Showcase

Review your SMS performance rates

As you continue implementing SMS marketing, be sure to follow campaign performance so you can further test, optimize, and improve.

According to our SMS and MMS performance benchmarks, top-performing campaigns see a click rate of 14.6% or higher. If you have average click rates between 6-8.8%, this may be an indicator that you need to adjust your SMS marketing approach or A/B test messages.

Top-performing SMS campaigns see a click rate of 14.6% or higher.

When it comes to conversion rates, everything above 2.1% can be seen as an outstanding performance. If your numbers are lower, you have room for improvement.

If you’re below the prescribed performance benchmarks, consider A/B testing different ideas, such as:

  • Promotional vs. conversational copy
  • Changing the time of day and day of the week when you send SMS messagesOffering different incentives.

Run: Two-way SMS, increased personalization, and improved customer loyalty

If you’re nailing your SMS basics and reaping the benefits of combining your SMS and email programs to drive more sales and grow your subscriber lists, it’s time to take your game even further with advanced SMS strategies.

“Run” strategies are focused on building trust, engaging customers, and establishing brand loyalty over time.

Engage customers with time-sensitive SMS messages

Taking SMS to the next level means reaching customers at the right time with the right message. Here’s where time-sensitive SMS messages come in handy. Here are two examples.

Price drop SMS alerts

The price drop notification is perfect for SMS, as it requires subscribers to act fast and take immediate action. This flow can be made a “mobile-only exclusive” by using flow filters to send only to SMS subscribers and encourage more SMS opt-ins.

Back-in-stock SMS alerts

Another type of effective time-sensitive messages: back-in-stock alerts. These alerts can be delivered as one-off campaigns to targeted segments who’ve shown interest in an out-of-stock product that’s now back and ready to ship.

Use SMS to create a stellar post-purchase experience

SMS marketing is not only effective for driving sales—it’s also a great tool for creating delightful post-purchase experiences.

Adding transactional SMS messages such as shipping delay notifications, billing, or appointment reminders in your strategic SMS program can help you meet (or even exceed) customers’ expectations.

Klaviyo + Shipbob for proactive shipping SMS: Klaviyo customers using ShipBob can now proactively update customers on their order status during the fulfillment and shipping process.
Sample notifications include: “Your order has been received by our warehouse,” “There was a 1-2 day delay in packaging your order,” “Your order has been received by the carrier,” “Your order has been delivered.” Get it set up now.

Once a product is delivered, you can also use SMS to share valuable information directly to customers’ phones instead of hoping they’ll see it in their noisy email inbox. A few ideas for this include:

  • Providing tips and tricks for best results
  • Sharing a link to a tutorial video
  • Highlighting customers using the product
  • Sending VIP status or loyalty points reminders

Assist your customers in real-time with SMS Conversations or by integrating your help desk

Strong communication is the backbone of every successful relationship, and the messages you send to your audience can make or break your relationships with them.

The good news is that using conversational SMS, you can communicate with your customers on a one-to-one basis, answering questions and providing support in real-time.

A simple way to do this is to integrate SMS with your helpdesk software, which makes it easy to see and respond to incoming responses to your texts from customers as help desk tickets.

If you’re working with an SMS platform that integrates with a helpdesk solution such as Gorgias or Zendesk, you can encourage customers to respond to your messages so your support agents can help your customers without having to toggle between applications.

Two-way texting still requires consent! You will also be able to view texts from non-subscribers, but to adhere to laws pertaining to SMS consent, you will not be able to reply to anyone who has not opted in to your SMS marketing efforts.
When non-subscribers text you, it does not count as consent for SMS marketing unless they subscribe (e.g., by sending a subscribe keyword).

You can also use text-to-buy to connect customer profiles to Shop Pay, and prompt the customer to purchase an item with a keyword—making buying from someone’s favorite brand as easy as texting a friend.

Personalize SMS using targeted segments

When you build a solid SMS list and reach a more advanced phase with your SMS marketing program, don’t forget to think about targeting. Batch and blast SMS campaigns (i.e. bulk SMS sends) are a surefire way to drive opt-outs and complaints.

Instead, use segments to identify customer preferences and send more targeted messages that speak to subscribers’ individual interests. Some of the ideas for your first targeted campaign might include segments based on engagement, prior purchases, intent, location, browsing behavior, or loyalty status.

Case-and-point: Proozy, known for its deep discounts on brand-name sports apparel and athletic gear, targets customers based on purchase history and preferences.

Proozy reached $0.70 revenue per recipient (RPR) and a 30% click rate.

For example, a customer who previously purchased sneakers will get a text about the latest drop from Adidas, while a customer who browsed the home category will get a text about a sale on linens.

As a result, Proozy reached $0.70 revenue per recipient (RPR) and a 30% click rate. Not bad, right?

Additionally, consider using the Customer-First Data that you collect from an onsite quiz to inform your SMS segments, similarly to how Amoroso displays in this segment which goes to people who indicated that they have oily skin.

Source: Electriq

“Once you build your segments, you can begin personalizing your text messages to different audiences,” Amoroso explains. “You need to be able to segment in order to do personalization, and if you don’t have the data to do the segmentation in the first place, then you can’t personalize anything.”

Once you build your segments, you can begin personalizing your text messages to different audiences.

Brandon Amoros, founder and CEO, Electriq

Reach subscribers with SMS at major milestones

To connect with customers on a deeper level, consider adding SMS messages that show you care. Here are a few ideas from Ted Ammon, Director of SMS Sales at Klaviyo:

  1. Highly targeted communication that’s based on a 360-degree view of the customer (and not just referring to when they last ordered and for how much), but scenarios like frequency of engagement, preferred channels of engagement, preference of styles, sizes, etc.
  2. Engagement-based campaigns that are not focused on driving a purchase. For example, sending loyal customers a text wishing them a happy birthday, letting them know you’re thinking about them with no strings attached.
  3. Two-way communication that assists customers pre-sale and post-sale with concierge-like product recommendations, purchase assistance, return or refund assistance, etc.

How to build strong customer connections with SMS

SMS marketing is set to revolutionize customer relationships. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your SMS subscriber list:

  1. Make SMS list hygiene a priority. A clean SMS list equals higher engagement and ultimately higher conversion rates. List hygiene means updating your list to reach engaged subscribers who want to receive your messages. To boost engagement, consider offering exclusive deals, organizing contests, and personalizing your SMS outreach.
  2. Create mobile-only offers. To get customers interested in your SMS program, offer early or exclusive access only available via text.
  3. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Be as concise as possible. People are reading these messages on tiny screens. Try to avoid sending a thread of texts and stick to one CTA.
  4. Encourage interaction with the ability to reply to customers via SMS conversations. The moment you get the customer to interact with your brand—you win. Since people love texting, SMS is a great tool to encourage customers to engage.
  5. Develop a name or personality for the person sending your texts. Creating a recognizable personality, tone of voice, and style is the easiest way to distinguish from other brands and connect with customers.

“Be intentional with every message,” says Tom Dinitz, Data Scientist at Klaviyo. “Any fluff (e.g., images unrelated to your product or sale you’re advertising, longer messages that could have been more concise), seem to bring down the effectiveness of marketing, according to our research.”

Be intentional with every message

Tom Dinitz, data scientist, Klaviyo

12 experts on the benefits of SMS marketing

Adding SMS to your owned marketing channels doesn’t have to be scary.

We asked 12 industry-leading experts to share their best tips on getting started with SMS marketing.

1. Morgan Mulloy, Associate Director of Email Marketing, Avex Designs

“Be patient! SMS is a more intrusive channel so it’s rare to go from 0 to 100,000 overnight. Just like a new plant, it needs nurturing but the payoff will be worth it!

Don’t treat your SMS like your email program!

Also, don’t treat your SMS like your email program! Your frequency should not be the same. Email is more of an ‘interact at your leisure’ channel where as SMS is intrusive and at the palm of their hand with a notification staring at them.

SMS is not the ‘blast every day channel,’ it’s the ‘quality over quantity’ channel.”

2. Joseph Hsieh, Founder, Retention Commerce

“Start collecting SMS opt-ins today! It’s only going to be more competitive, harder, and more costly as time goes on. Even if you don’t plan on a full board SMS program, capturing SMS opt-ins and using them sparingly is a great start for any brand that has yet to do it.”

3. Cassie Benjamin, Email/SMS Channel Manager, Tadpull

“When launching an SMS program, we like to think of it as a loyalty initiative.

Define your SMS marketing strategy before starting.

A customer is trading you something really valuable––direct access to a text notification they will most definitely see. Define your strategy before starting and ensure you have a plan for providing value back to those customers.

Some ideas we’ve implemented are first dibs on back-in-stock products, early-bird access to major sales, and even upgraded discounts throughout the year just by being on our SMS list.”

4. Ken Ott, Co-Founder, Metacake

“Be strategic and have a goal in mind. SMS is powerful because of course customers are much more likely to see your texts than emails.

SMS is powerful…but with power comes responsibility.

But with power comes responsibility. If you send too many texts or send texts that are not compelling, customers will get annoyed and opt out very quickly.

Try to start with texts that you know will add value VALUE for the customer. Tell them they’re the first to get access to a sale or new product launch. Or use it to remind them of a coupon that is about to expire or items in their cart they are about to miss out on.”

5. Jen Brennan, Director of Digital Marketing, Northern Commerce

“Start now! Collect consent, build your lists, and start testing ways to implement SMS into your owned marketing strategy.

Collect consent, build your lists, and start testing.

Klaviyo has made a very low barrier to entry product for brands to leverage the benefits of SMS, both from a cost and implementation point.

The data speaks for itself—consumers engage with SMS faster than email, so it’s a natural complement to any brand’s owned marketing strategy, especially during peak volume BFCM season.”

6. Ashley Scorpio, Senior Vice President of Partnerships, Hawke Media

“Capture data everywhere and segment your audience.

Just like email, one of the biggest hurdles of launching SMS is getting the contacts in the first place and then knowing how to work with the data you have. Don’t mass text your SMS audiences in the same way you shouldn’t just mass email your contacts there.

Don’t mass text your SMS audiences.

Utilize the data you have like location, age, past purchases, interests, and more to really tailor the experience.

If you’re hitting up consumers with things they don’t need or don’t want to hear you’re going to get a lot of unsubscribes very quickly. If you’re providing a personalized, unique value to each person based on the tagged segments you’ve created, you can see a ton of specific income come from this channel.”

7. Casey Armstrong, CMO, ShipBob

“Everybody says this, yet few listen: Don’t treat SMS like email. Think about how you text your friends. Then do that.

Think about how you text your friends. Then do that.

Go sign up for and buy from Verb Energy, then steal everything you can from them. They do it better than anybody. It’s like texting with your buddies, except you’re paying them for their amazing products pretty much every time.”

8. Ben Zettler, Owner, Ben Zettler Digital (Digital Marketing & Ecommerce Consultant)

“Do it on Klaviyo.

Do it on Klaviyo. No sense in having two owned marketing channels live in separate places.

No sense in having two owned marketing channels live in separate places when Klaviyo can beat competitors on price and is on-par with most functionality.”

9. Abby Siciliano, Director, Business Development, Tinuiti

“Don’t duplicate messages between SMS and email. Instead, aim for conversational messages that enhance one another.”

10. Arjun Jolly, COO, adQuadrant

“Get permission––just like email. Be clever, concise, and compliant.

Be clever, concise, and compliant.

Measure what works––and what doesn’t. Go global, but deliver locally. To do this, cast a wide net, but speak to each individual area and even persona with localized bespoke copy., And, finally, leverage promos to capture attention quickly.”

11. Drew Himel, CEO and Founder, PCR

“Now is the time to tap into SMS. It’s a much more personal channel than email and when a subscriber consents to SMS, they are definitely interested in your brand. Use it wisely and ensure you’re not spamming your subscribers with too much content.”

12. Loretta Doria, Head of Strategy, Ragnarok

“My best piece of advice for brands launching their SMS marketing programs is to go for an all-in-one platform like Klaviyo to start.

I really believe that fewer tools are better in almost all scenarios.

No, I do not work for Klaviyo! I just really believe that fewer tools are better in almost all scenarios.”

Ready to add SMS to your marketing strategy?

The more you experiment with SMS as a marketing channel, the better you’ll be able to understand what resonates with your customers and tailor an effective text message marketing strategy.

Ready to use the potential SMS marketing holds?
Try Klaviyo SMS today
Kaleigh Moore
Kaleigh Moore
Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer and consultant for ecommerce platforms and the software that integrates with them.