6 SMS use cases for driving more sales, with 11 examples to inspire your next send

Profile photo of author Jax Connelly
Jax Connelly
18min read
SMS marketing
May 9, 2024
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When Ohio-based apparel brand HOMAGE launched their first SMS campaign to promote the release of their 80s- and 90s-style NFL Starter jackets, they drummed up 100 orders in the first hour alone.

Ultimately, 87% of SMS customers clicked the in-message link, and 9% of fans placed an order. Even more impressive: The campaign delivered $167 in revenue per recipient (RPR).

Those numbers aren’t representative of all SMS campaigns. In fact, they’re miles above average—according to Klaviyo’s latest benchmarks report, SMS campaigns drive, on average, 11% click rates and $0.12 in RPR.

But in a data privacy-forward world, HOMAGE’s numbers do show just how impactful SMS can be as a marketing channel—for the ecommerce brands that know how to use it right.

How do you make sure that’s you?

Here are 6 SMS use cases that take advantage of the channel’s unique characteristics, complete with 11 examples of real-life SMS marketing campaigns and automations that check all the right boxes.

1. Promote product launches, sales, and discounts

Email is a strong marketing channel because it drives high-intent traffic to your site at a low cost. But SMS campaigns built around product launches, holidays, offers, and price changes can help generate incremental revenue and customer engagement, too.

Sending promotional text message campaigns to your customers or subscribers, in addition to email, will likely increase your overall performance.

People check their text messages more quickly and frequently than they check their email.
Emma O’Rourke
Email and SMS marketing manager/copywriter, CURIO Agency

“Promotional messages are large revenue drivers for SMS,” says Emma O’Rourke, email and SMS marketing manager/copywriter at CURIO Agency. “People check their text messages more quickly and frequently than they check their email, so it’s convenient for subscribers to hear about sales and new products directly through text and have the ability to quickly purchase right away.”

Jen Brennan, director of digital marketing at Northern, observes that flash sales, in particular, “are great SMS ‘rope drops.’ So many subscribers will see the message and action it well before they see an email and possibly miss out on a limited-time offer.”

Examples of promotional SMS campaigns from real-life brands

This promotional text from microdrink brand waterdrop® is personalized with the recipient’s first name, and gets straight to the point introducing the specs of a new product line.

Instead of relying on a discount code to promote the new product, waterdrop offers a simple reminder that shipping is free after $20.

Image shows a promotional text from microdrink brand waterdrop which reads, “Hi James! Say hello to our Frida Kahlo bottles! Available in 3 gorgeous designs (400ml, 600ml & 1L), 10% of every bottle sold will be donated to the Global Fund for Women. Enjoy free shipping from $20. Discover more here.” The text includes two red flower emojis and a link to shop.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

Similarly, in this promotional text for a new line of body wash, clean beauty brand Each & Every makes the most of the higher character count of an MMS by pairing playful emojis with a beautiful, specific product image.

Image shows a promotional text from clean beauty brand Each & Every, which reads, “And our newest product is…body wash! Available in our top selling scents: lavender & lemon, citrus & vetiver, coconut & lime. Experience the luxe lather for yourself.” The text includes a drum emoji in the first sentence and an emoji corresponding to each scent, as well as a product shot at the top and a link to shop at the bottom.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

2. Coax abandoners back to their shopping sessions

Visitors who come to your site and browse the same product multiple times show high intent to purchase. And visitors who add a product to their cart but don’t purchase show even higher intent to purchase.

Even if you’re already using email to prompt those shoppers to take the final plunge, incorporating SMS into your existing flows could help you increase your conversion rates even more.

Unless the subscriber has consented to receive only email or only SMS, most of the flows at ethical jewelry brand Dana Rebecca Designs are hybrid, says Blair Peterson, VP of strategy. “If they’re an SMS subscriber, the first touchpoint is coming to SMS vs. email, and that’s where we’ve seen a greater return,” she explains.

In fact, the brand’s cart abandonment flow consistently earns the highest engagement from subscribers. “In the beginning, SMS was the second or third touchpoint within the flow. But we see a higher conversion rate from being able to send the reminder directly to the customer’s fingertips,” Peterson explains.

We see a higher conversion rate from being able to send the reminder directly to the customer’s fingertips.
Blair Peterson
VP of strategy, Dana Rebecca Designs

The team at ecommerce growth marketing agency Homestead Studio sets up hybrid email and SMS flows in Klaviyo by using conditional splits and time delays. “If someone’s getting a text, we want to delay that maybe 2-3 hours after the email, and then delay another day until the next email,” explains Jacob Sappington, head of email.

Similarly, you want to filter out anyone who recently made a purchase, or who has a history of not engaging with SMS—even if they’re still subscribed to the channel.

“Sending to disengaged audiences or those who have purchased within the last X hours is only going to hurt your KPIs,” cautions Kelly Cunningham, senior retention manager at Fireside Digital.

Example of an SMS abandonment flow from a real-life brand

Many ecommerce brands believe they need to include a promo code in their abandonment flows in order to drive conversions. But this example from Zend Coffee proves that’s not true.

Notice how the coffee brand uses simple, on-brand copy, a beautiful product image, and a prominent CTA to remind the subscriber of the product they intended to buy. No discount necessary.

Image shows an abandoned cart text from Zend Coffee which reads, “Hey Laura, forget something? You left the Tanzania in your cart, but we’ve temporarily saved it for you! Tap here to find your Zend.” The text includes a photo of someone scooping coffee beans into a grinder at the top, and a link to the recipient’s cart at the bottom.
Image source: Zend Coffee

This is also another great example of a brand using MMS strategically. An SMS marketing platform like Klaviyo makes it easy to pull images into flows of products shoppers leave behind in their carts.

3. Keep recent buyers in the know

According to Klaviyo’s SMS consumer sentiment report, the top types of text messages consumers want to receive more often from brands include transactional text messages like delivery, shipment, and order confirmations.

But many brands are missing out on leveraging SMS within transactional flows, observes Alex Klein, VP of consumer engagement at 85SIXTY.

“lt’s not usually thought of as a revenue-driving tactic, because at the goal level, it’s not,” Klein says. “In reality, the increased engagement you get typically results in increased incremental revenue—which drives tangible business results.”

“Transactional messages are underutilized in SMS,” agrees Katherine Burlock, senior account strategist at &BAM. “I personally love getting a text that lets me know my delivery is on its way or is waiting on my porch. It also gets the subscriber used to hearing from you—and, more importantly, wanting to hear from you.”

Transactional messages are underutilized in SMS.
Katherine Burlock
Senior account strategist, &BAM

Ashley Ismailovski, director of email marketing at SmartSites, adds that transactional texts help prevent “common issues like repetitive inquiries about package status, missed deliveries, package theft, and more”—and also “give brands an easy way to follow up with customers post-purchase to ask about their experience, request a review, or suggest recommended products.”

Rob Hand, lead product marketing manager at Klaviyo, adds that transactional texts are particularly important for warming up new customers.

“Sending proactive updates about their order puts customers at ease and builds trust,” Hand explains. “You’re building a strong relationship right out of the gate, and that’s really important in ecommerce where we can’t see, touch, or feel a product in real life before buying.”

Example of an SMS order notification from a real-life brand

In this order confirmation text from premium skincare brand Hello Skincare, the brand does more than just confirm the recipient’s purchase. They also include a cute image to build excitement, encourage the recipient to take progress photos, and share their social media link so that the subscriber can stay connected on other channels.

Image shows an order confirmation text from premium skincare brand Hello Skincare, which reads, “Great news-your Hello Sknicare goodies are arriving soon! Don’t forget to take progress photos and stay consistent. We can’t wait to see your transformation! Follow us on Instagram.” The text includes an image featuring several of the brand’s products and a banner that reads “Get excited” at the top, plus a link to the brand’s Instagram page at the bottom.
Image source: Hello Skincare

Here, Hello Skincare does a great job following this advice from Fiona Stevens, head of marketing at LoyaltyLion, on how to improve the performance of post-purchase SMS messages: “Take the opportunity to remind customers of the ways they can interact with your brand in between purchases. Tell them where to find you on social media, tell them how to create a loyalty account, and tell them how to find your content.”

4. Nurture your post-purchase customer relationships

On that note, post-purchase SMS messages “are a great time to get the flywheel going and re-engage existing customers to queue up their next purchase,” observes Sharon Goldstein, CEO of LimeSpot.

“Many brands use SMS as a microphone for newness and promotions, but it’s also a great tool for targeted up-sells and cross-sells,” agrees Loretta Doria, senior strategist at Ragnarok. For example: “You know what would go great with that couch? This rug!” “You got the bathing suit—now complete the look with these sunnies!”

“You get the idea,” Doria says. “Prompting and inspiring customers to their next most likely purchase in a specific way can be more effective than general marketing blasts.”

But post-purchase SMS is also a prime opportunity for non-promotional communication with your new and repeat customers. As you build out your SMS subscriber list, “it provides the opportunity to really interact with customers and use SMS in a more fun way,” says Elliot Scott, founder and CEO of London-based retention agency ElliotDigital.

Brands have to send more community-building SMS messages.
Mollie Woolnough-Rai
Senior marketing manager, Penny Black

“It’s asking questions, it’s requesting user-generated content (UGC), it’s playing games with them—it’s just building community,” Scott explains. “I think that’s what a lot of brands are missing out on is that community element.”

“Brands have to send more community-building SMS messages,” agrees Mollie Woolnough-Rai, senior marketing manager, Penny Black. “Whether that’s to just check in with the customer, share some exciting content the brand has just dropped, or spotlight other members of their community, this will make sure that customers don’t just think the brand is reaching out for a transactional relationship.”

That could erode trust, Woolnough-Rai points out. By contrast, “brands that adapt their SMS strategy to emotionally connect will show customers they care about them on a personal level, ultimately building long-term customer loyalty.”

Examples of post-purchase nurture texts from real-life brands

Consider this great example from Leggari Products, LLC, a brand that aims “to sell the industry’s most durable and user-friendly epoxy products while providing the industry’s most user-friendly installation.”

In this educational text, Leggari celebrates “DIY Sunday” and shares a link to help subscribers resurface their old countertops—no purchase required.

Image shows a post-purchase nurture text from building materials brand Leggari Products, which reads, “It’s DIY Sunday, y’all. Resurface old countertops with this easy and affordable epoxy technique. Just look at these amazing results! We’ll show you how to do it.” The text ends with 3 pointer finger emojis pointing down toward the link to the how-to content.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

Sparkling water brand Aura Bora takes a similar approach with this post-purchase MMS text, sharing a recipe for a homemade drink called the “Spiked Cactus” SMS subscribers can make at home—using Aura Bora ingredients, of course.

Image shows a post-purchase nurture text from sparkling water brand Aura Bora, which reads, “Here it is! Weird Recipe #1. We call this wonderful concoction the Spiked Cactus, a sour sipper with a sweet prickly pear finish (plus a kick if you want it). Click for the deets.” The text begins with an image of a cocktail in a smiley face glass garnished with a lemon wedge, with a sliced orange and a can of Aura Bora in the background, and ends with a link to the recipe.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

Here’s one last fun example from Pizzamas—a two-week annual event that is “equal parts fundraiser and celebration of community, with a healthy dose of absurdity and nostalgia,” according to Good Good Good.

For a brand that started as a niche internet joke, an SMS marketing strategy centered on daily jokes is a perfect fit. And after the joke, the text doesn’t try to pivot into making a sale—it just encourages subscribers to stay connected to the Pizzamas online community.

Image shows a post-purchase nurture text from nonprofit brand Pizzamas, which reads, “Hey, it’s Hank with your daily Pizzamas Joke…I’ve been using duo lingo lately, so now I can order Pizza in Spanish. I’m officially pielingual! Check out 90+ translations of John in the Draw a Pizza John Zine.” The text ends with a link to the content mentioned above.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase
14 tips for growing your SMS list and getting more opt-ins—without breaking compliance laws
Healthy SMS list growth is one of the biggest factors in generating revenue from SMS marketing.
But it’s easy to accidentally go about it the wrong way. Here’s what to keep in mind.

5. Build long-term loyalty by asking for feedback

Compared to email, SMS is also a more intuitive channel for actually interacting with your subscribers. Most people won’t reply to an email they receive from a brand, but that’s not true for SMS—one of its primary differentiators as a channel is that it allows businesses to communicate directly with subscribers, in real-time conversations.

To promote a positive customer experience in the long term, consider using conversational SMS to ask your customers if they have any questions or suggestions regarding your products or the way your brand is doing business.

“A lot of brands should be doing that more—asking for feedback,” Scott says. “Take that more personal approach. ‘Hey, I wanted to introduce myself. I’m the community manager of XYZ Brand, if you have any questions, let me know.’”

Stevens puts it this way: “The more ways you can show subscribers how to connect with you after their first purchase, the more likely you are to secure the next—and enjoy a longer-term relationship with your customers.”

Example of an SMS feedback request from a real-life brand

Even if you don’t have the ability to respond to subscriber inquires via text, you can still use SMS as a channel for soliciting feedback from your customers. In this post-purchase text, organic skincare brand Essentially Haitos shares a survey link encouraging the recipient to share feedback about their experience with the brand.

After greeting the recipient by their first name, the text expresses a human desire to learn more about their customers—and anticipates customer needs by promising the survey will take only 5 minutes to complete.

Image shows a feedback request text from organic skincare brand Essentially Haitos, which reads, “Hi James, I’m always trying to learn more about our customers and your interests. When you have 5 min, please take the quick survey linked below. Thanks so much (it’ll help more than you know)!!” The text ends with a link to the survey.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

6. Treat your best customers like the VIPs they are

Scott’s agency primarily uses SMS as a VIP channel. “We push it as a channel to sign up for early access,” he explains. “It’s not always a discount, it’s not always the biggest deals, but whatever it is, you hear about it first.”

Dana Rebecca Designs loves the early-access approach, Peterson says. “We are not a discount- or promotion-heavy brand,” she explains. “Our strategy is more around, ‘We’re moving new product into the sale section on Friday, but an SMS subscriber would find out on Thursday.’ Or, ‘We have a new product launch—get access a day ahead via SMS.’”

It’s not always a discount, it’s not always the biggest deals, but whatever it is, you hear about it first.
Elliot Scott
Founder and CEO, ElliotDigital

Exclusive content, upgraded discounts, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and first dibs on special sales, back-in-stock inventory, and limited-edition products are all great ways to make an SMS subscription worth a VIP’s while, Benjamin says Cassie Benjamin, email/SMS channel manager at Tadpull.

“They’re getting the discounts first, they’re getting responses quicker, and they’re the ones who’re hearing about new or limited-edition products,” Scott explains. “That way, they know we’re thinking about them. That makes them feel like they’re in a channel that’s worth it for them.”

In sum, Peterson says, it’s about sharing “small perks that make them feel exclusive and stay engaged.”

Examples of VIP texts from real-life brands

This text from premium skincare brand Rebels Refinery accomplishes exactly that. It’s clear from the very first line that the recipient is getting something special—the words “early drop” plus “VIP” are a one-two punch that make the subscriber feel like they’re getting in on something exclusive before they even open up the notification to read more.

Image shows a VIP text from skincare brand Rebels Refinery, which reads, “EARLY DROP VIP SMS: New Years limited edition! It’s festive, it’s new, extremely limited AND IT’S FANCY! Get early access before everything is gone forever.” The text ends with a link to shop the drop.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

Or consider this early-access reminder, in which kids’ clothing brand Cheeky Chickadee combines a brand-positive greeting with short, direct copy to invite SMS subscribers to access their new fall collection early. The inclusion of a secret password makes the invitation even more enticing:

Image shows a VIP text from kids’ apparel brand Cheeky Chickadee, which reads, “Eeep, it’s time, Chickadee! Use the password AUTUMN for early access to the new collection. Shop now.” The text ends with a link to shop the new collection first.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

We’ll leave you with this strong example from The Peach Truck, a Tennessee-based fruit subscription brand whose mission emphasizes buying local. This colorful MMS message does several things to make the recipient feel special and connected to the brand:

  • It’s personalized with both the recipient’s name and the sender’s.
  • It reminds the recipient of their VIP status above the fold.
  • It provides details on an exclusive new product that’s available for a limited time—it’s a special, seasonal fruit, one of the juiciest varieties of oranges, and it’s only harvested for a few weeks a year.
Image shows the beginning of a VIP text from fruit subscription brand The Peach Truck, which shows a product shot of a box full of tangerines before reading, “James! Stephen from The Peach Truck here. Since you’re a part of our Early Access Community, can we let you in on a little secret? We’ve been working (for years now!) to find seasonal fruit that we could share with you during the holiday season.”
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase
Image shows the end of a VIP text from fruit subscription brand The Peach Truck, which continues, “Well, we are thrilled to say, we have finally found it. It’s the juiciest variety of mandarin oranges called a Satsuma. They are only harvested for a few weeks each year! To celebrate: FREE SHIPPING for the next 3 days. Click below to get some for your family!” The text ends with a link to shop.
Image source: Klaviyo Showcase

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Jax Connelly
Jax Connelly
Lead editor
Jax Connelly (they/she), lead editor at Klaviyo, started their career doing SEO at a small digital ad agency and spent most of their twenties managing a financial magazine for a trade association based in Washington, DC. Most recently, she studied and taught writing at Columbia College Chicago during the peak years of the pandemic. Outside of their day job, Jax is an award-winning creative writer who has received honors including 4 Notables in the Best American Essays series, contest awards from publications like Nowhere Magazine and Prairie Schooner, and a residency from the Ragdale Foundation. Jax lives in Chicago a block away from Lake Michigan with her elderly Jack Russell Terrier, Cloo.