SMS marketing in the UK: 6 of your top FAQs answered

Aubrey Harper
8min read
SMS marketing
April 7, 2022
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Ping. You just got a text message. How long before you check it?

If you’re the average United Kingdom resident, the answer is in less than 3 minutes.

This magnetic draw to texts isn’t limited to chatting with friends, either. In fact, 64% of UK consumers say businesses should use SMS more, according to the same data.

So, do your customers fall in this majority of people asking UK brands to communicate with them this way?

While text marketing is relatively new in the UK, early adopters are already seeing impressive results. The Couture Club, for instance, made their entire SMS investment back with one text message––earning more than £10K+ in sales from a single SMS campaign.

Want to lead the way in the UK and implement SMS before your competitors? Keep reading to learn:

What works best over text message for UK brands?

Whether you’re just starting out with ecommerce or you’re looking to test a profitable new marketing channel, businesses of all sizes can use SMS to build better customer relationships.

Thanks to how quickly UK consumers check their mobile, texting is the fastest way to share important updates, like announcing:

  • Time-sensitive offers
  • Limited inventory
  • New or recently restocked products

In other words, say goodbye to calls from disappointed customers who want a price match on the flash sale they saw a week after it ended.

But text marketing isn’t just a way to inspire quick conversions––SMS marketing builds customer loyalty, too.

By using text messages to engage with your returning and new customers throughout the buying process, you can inspire more people to make additional purchases. Say hello to a higher customer lifetime value.

Quick tip: Offer replenish-able products? If you sell replenishable products like apparel or food, marketing messages targeted to repeat customers—like Grind’s reminder to reorder coffee—will resonate over text because of the channel’s personal, informal nature.

Is SMS marketing effective in the UK?

Like with any marketing channel, the value SMS marketing brings your business will depend on your strategy, your customers, and your industry. But the proof is in the numbers: Over 10,000 brands use Klaviyo SMS to drive more revenue than if they only used email.

“I can’t tell you how much my life’s changed since SMS has been on Klaviyo,” says Scott Shashua, managing director at The Couture Club. “I have all this information that I almost don’t know what to do with it all. And because SMS is such a high-converting channel, it’s going to mean a lot of revenue.”

Because SMS is such a high-converting channel, it’s going to mean a lot of revenue.

Scott Shashua, managing director at The Couture Club

The question, then, isn’t if SMS marketing is effective—it’s why is it so effective?

Think about the quality of interactions via text versus other marketing channels. Nearly everyone opens their text messages, which means SMS as a marketing channel has exceptionally engaged users.

Plus, engagement doesn’t stop at high open rates. Promotional text messages have an average click rate (CR) of 36%—that’s 16x email’s average CR of 2.25%.

What if I don’t have a large SMS list?

Your SMS list is likely to be smaller than your email list, since people are selective about what brands they want to see lighting up their mobile phones.

But list size isn’t everything.

Communicating with a targeted audience means you’ll see higher engagement rates. That means your SMS audience is more likely to be interested in your messages since they’ve already let you into one of the most personal parts of their lives.

In fact, you might even find that you reach a wider audience, because some customers will prefer texting over email.

Some of our customers prefer texts over email, and that audience is definitely growing.

Olivia Chapman, CRM manager at Current Body

“Some of our customers prefer texts over email, and that audience is definitely growing,” says Chapman. “We’ve created a segment for this group and we send SMS messages based on their preferences.”

Is bulk SMS marketing a good strategy?

Bulk texts—the ones that go to a wide audience who have little in common—aren’t as effective as highly targeted SMS marketing campaigns.

Since text messages are such a personal channel, it’s better to use real-time data to automate and personalize your texts to customers.

Fortunately, automation helps you do this at scale, so you can deliver great customer experiences in less time. Plus, since personalization drives up to 20x conversions for UK brands, it’s well worth the small amount of time to set up more curated campaigns.

Yes, SMS marketing is legal in the UK—you just need to follow data privacy regulations when sending text messages on behalf of your brand.

As GDPR and the Data Protection Act of 2018 require, you’re only allowed to send texts to customers who have given explicit consent. That’s why brands that use Klaviyo actually aren’t able to send texts to someone who hasn’t opted in—so you don’t have to stress after you hit that “Send” button.

This means that SMS marketing isn’t just legal. It also gives you more control over your customers’ experience so you can take your marketing from compliant to compelling.

For compliant SMS marketing, you’ll also need the ability to delete a customer’s data, manually or via an API, and to give them the option to unsubscribe.

SMS marketing compliance, beyond the strict legalities, is also about ensuring your customers don’t feel spammed, which is especially important to UK consumers.

By using zero- and first-party data, or rather Customer-First Data™, to create SMS profiles and segments, which are all GDPR compliant, you can create meaningful text messages that your audience will love.

Plus, you don’t have to rely on third-party channels to collect data that your customers don’t really want you to have.

Compliance could be an article on its own—so if you want to dive deeper, read about how to tackle SMS compliance in the UK.

How expensive is SMS marketing?

You’ve made it all the way here and are bought in. But how expensive is something that generates this high of a return? Good question.

The price of SMS marketing typically depends on how many people are on your marketing list and how many messages you want to send.

You’ll find that, per message, SMS is usually more expensive than email—but it’s highly cost-effective. Since SMS lists are more targeted by nature, they typically have excellent returns.

Plus, with Klaviyo, only your customers who opt into SMS count toward your plan, so how much you pay is based only on people who actually want to engage with you via text.

When you consider adding texts to your marketing strategy, these numbers make SMS significantly less expensive and more valuable than what you tend to see with paid channels like Facebook or Google, where 5X ROI is often a good result.

What’s more, targeting on third-party channels is getting increasingly limited due to data privacy laws, which means advertising spend on third-party channels is getting more inefficient.

How long does it take to set up text message marketing?

To start sending text messages to your customers, it takes most UK brands two weeks to get fully ramped up. This time frame ensures high deliverability for your text messages marketing. That said, some Klaviyo customers can get started slightly faster thanks to easy templates and customer support.

We’ll continue to optimize and set up additional flows, but we’re very happy with how quickly we could get started.

Olivia Chapman, CRM manager at Current Body

“We switched to Klaviyo SMS during our busiest sale period and got everything set up in about two weeks,” says Chapman. “We’ll continue to optimize and set up additional flows, but we’re very happy with how quickly we could get started.”

Reply YES to opt-in to text messages for your business

Your UK customers—and their mobile phones—are ready and willing to hear from you over text.

Elevate your messaging and create unique experiences that lead to better customer relationships by using a central email and SMS platform

Want to see how SMS could fit in your marketing strategy? Here are five ways you can use text messaging for your ecommerce store.

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Aubrey Harper
Aubrey Harper
Content strategist
Aubrey is a Content Strategist at Klaviyo, where she leads content efforts across EMEA. Her background is in marketing technology, but she most recently worked in ecommerce, giving her a passion for entrepreneurs selling amazing stuff online. When she’s not making content to educate fellow ecom enthusiasts, you can find her in one of the many London parks chasing after her squirrel-happy dog and listening to the Everybody Hates Marketers podcast.