According to Salesforce, the average marketer uses 8 different channels to execute their marketing strategy – including email, website displays, SMS, social ads and more. And that, in retail, sales growth via mobile is one of the top three growth-related business initiatives in coming years.
It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Yet it’s also challenging, with things like the globalisation of audiences and the rapid evolution of technologies making it hard to keep up.
To stay one step ahead – and to start reaping the benefits of a multi-channel, mobile-first approach – it’s time to get rid of manual tasks and replace them with automation. From sales right across to customer support and operations, automation will help you save time, be more efficient and, crucially, respond to your customers faster.
Here, we explore why SMS marketing automation has risen to the fore as a leading automation strategy.
Make SMS automation work for your business
SMS marketing automation helps you respond faster, personalise more messages, and win more business. Easy to test and run, and extremely cost-effective, it’s a great way to dip your toe in the automation waters. Even better, you’ll likely see results fast, as SMS campaigns achieve an average 23% response rate.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should have automatic text messages on your radar:
- It’s easy to nurture customers through the sales funnel
- It improves customer experience
- Lead generation happens faster
- Your marketing team saves time
- You save money
- And so much more
Automated text messaging becomes even more powerful when it complements a broader multi-channel marketing plan. For example, to extend the scale of your campaigns and drive more sales, you could automatically send a scheduled text a few days after an initial email marketing blast to cut through the noise and prompt your target market to take immediate action.
Put these 4 ideas for SMS marketing automation to work
Let’s look at the different ways you can add SMS automation to boost your business and marketing efforts right now.
1. Promotional campaigns
Transform how you engage with your customers with personalised SMS promotional campaigns and achieve 29% click-through rates when integrated with other campaigns. As the stats show, SMS promotions are opened and actioned. Win-win.
Here are some ways you could run promotional campaigns:
- Encouraging repeat or related item purchases
- Reminding customers about abandoned carts
- Sending promos about holiday deals
- Alerting customers to VIP or special sales
- Simply letting customers know more about you and your business
TOP TIP: Use SMS promotional offers in the lead-up to holidays like Mother’s Day or Christmas. Because of their time-critical nature, text message offers work well for last-minute shoppers.
2. Follow-ups and alerts
Make sure your customers don’t miss important notifications, information or urgent alerts by sending automated text messages, such as:
- Event and appointment reminders (‘Your appointment is tomorrow!’)
- Confirmations (‘Thanks for subscribing! Please confirm.’)
- Flash sales or restock alerts (‘Your item’s back in stock. Buy it now!’)
Sending automated text messages can help your internal teams, too. Say a customer has finished trialling your product, but they haven’t converted yet. Alert your sales team when the trial finishes, so they can follow up and seal the deal.
GET STARTED: Sketch out your entire customer journey and pinpoint where you currently send customers messages that could lead to action. Look at your open rates and responses. Are they low or slow? If yes, consider trialling an SMS alert automation instead. Test it out to see how quickly and how often customers respond.
3. Feedback and two-way conversations
Text messaging is a great way to engage in better two-way conversations with customers. Think about personal text messages – they’re all about a two-way conversation. Yet in business, SMS is often limited to sending out a single, one-way broadcast to all.
Until now, little thought’s been given to the advantages of enabling customer feedback and responses via text message. It’s a bit like how we once viewed marketing as a simple, one-way magic bullet sent out to the masses. It’s time for a change.
Two-way conversations using text message automation can help you forge stronger relationships, and gather insights and business intelligence at the same time.
Here’s how sending and receiving SMS could work for you:
- Sending feedback surveys or canvassing opinions
- Inviting customers for 1-on-1 consultations
- Checking in with clients after you’ve delivered a service
EXERCISE: What’s a two-way conversation you’d like to have with your customers? What type of information do you want to collect, and how will it help with future marketing? Using the examples above as inspiration, try sketching out a simple conversation. Make it as simple as possible, and think about where in the customer journey it fits.
4. Cart abandonment and win backs
Customers can be fickle, and their attention spans are short. If there’s a better price or a shinier thing, off they go. Yet, given the widely-reported statistic that it’s 6x more expensive to win a new customer over than keep a current one, retention is worth the effort.
Take cart abandonment. It’s a huge problem for many ecommerce stores – 7 out of 10 shoppers leave your store without buying anything. And it increases by 15% (to 85%) if the customer is shopping on mobile. You can use SMS’s immediacy to your advantage here.
So how does SMS win your customer back? Timing. SMS has an open rate of 98% – if you send a timely reminder about their abandoned purchase, they’ll be more likely to buy. Some marketers suggest reminding them a day or 2 later – we recommend sending an SMS reminder less than an hour after they’ve left your store.
You can set the timing of your automated reminders to suit what works for you, and you could add discounts or ‘short time only’ offers to the SMS to further incentivise the customer.
EXERCISE: For SMS automation to work, you need customers’ phone numbers. While you’re probably in the habit of collecting emails, you may not have considered collecting phone numbers too. Check out our 10 tips on collecting customers’ mobile numbers.
How to get started with SMS marketing automation
The good news is that technology exists to make SMS marketing automation easy. Choosing the right platform to suit your needs is the first step – look for one that comes with a range of marketing automation templates you can easily customise to suit your business. Also, look for one that integrates seamlessly with your existing marketing tools and platforms.
For example, MessageMedia’s automation templates cover everything from customer support (to help you manage support requests with automatic replies to customers) to event RSVPs (so you can manage event attendees and find out who’s coming). And so much more.
Our SMS service also integrates with leading marketing platforms like:
Easily add SMS into your existing Hubspot workflows, triggering new workflows with inbound SMS replies, and viewing individual SMS interactions via customer activity records.
Create even more incredible customer experiences by easily automating SMS directly from your ActiveCampaign workflows, saving time and minimising manual handling.
If you run a Shopify store, use our text service to drive more sales and engage customers. It’s easy to integrate, and then put powerful automation strategies into place to engage with your customers in the moments that matter.
Final thoughts and further reading
To get started with SMS marketing automation, think about where, when and how your customers would want to hear from you. If any of these instances can be automated to streamline internal processes and enhance the customer experience, then you’ve got yourself the workings of an automation strategy.
If you have any questions or would like advice on how SMS marketing automation could work best for you, we’re here to help.