Mailchimp has dominated the email marketing industry for years, and for good reason. It offers a smooth visual email campaign builder that makes it easy for a beginner to get started quickly. It also provides a variety of theme templates as well as pre-built automation workflows.
However, what’s missing from Mailchimp is that it doesn’t have its own SMS solution. That’s because Mailchimp’s marketing automation workflows are limited since you can’t add conditions for user actions and you also don’t have a canvas to build a full customer journey. Mailchimp’s workflows are designed for email and email only and that’s why it relies on integrations. The downside of using Mailchimp’s integrations for SMS is that their functionality is different and may cause technical difficulties.
It’s for the above reasons that investing in a good marketing automation platform with built in support for SMS marketing is key to creating a successful SMS marketing campaign. There are a ton of Mailchimp SMS marketing alternatives for you to try. We’ll cover why Flashy is the best option if you need something a bit more robust.
But first, let’s cover the basics of SMS marketing and why it has become an effective marketing strategy for eCommerce business owners.
Why SMS Marketing is Effective
With people getting more attached to their smartphones, texts become the most reliable and direct line of communication. This has made SMS marketing a crucial component to include in your marketing efforts.
What’s SMS marketing?
Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is a strategy that allows businesses to send promotional and transactional messages to people who have consented to receive messages through text. These messages usually include alerts, updates, and time-sensitive offers.
SMS marketing consists of a keyword and a 5 or 6-digit shortcode. The keyword is placed in the body of the text while the shortcode appears in the recipient box.
A restaurant asks you to text “BURGER” to 555888 for our weekly list of flavors!
“BURGER” is the keyword while 555888 is the shortcode. When your customer sends the message, they opt in to your SMS campaign
How effective is SMS marketing?
Some marketers dismiss SMS marketing because they believe it has more regulations than email marketing. However, that’s just a myth. Let’s look at some of the advantages of SMS marketing that are unmatched.
Five billion people globally own a mobile phone. All devices are SMS enabled unlike applications such as email that need access to Wi-Fi or data connection. SMS texts cover every inhabited location so you can be sure of that incomparable reach.
When it comes to email marketing, all messages pass through a spam filter. This means that your messages may never reach their intended recipient. With SMS, messages don’t automatically pass through the spam filter. So your audience will receive all your messages.
Fast response times
Research shows that it takes 90 minutes for someone to respond to an email. With text messages, the average response time is 90 seconds. Similarly, SMS has higher engagement rates compared to email as 90% of SMS texts are read within 3 minutes.
Compliments your email marketing strategy
SMS marketing works best when combined with other channels. You can use SMS to get your customers to read their emails. This creates a seamless communication experience for your customers.
Who Should Consider Using SMS?
Now let’s dive into the type of businesses that can’t do without having SMS in their marketing strategy.
SMS is great for eCommerce stores as you can use it to send short-term promotions. If you have a limited sale or coupon promotion, SMS is the best channel to communicate these offers to make sure they don’t miss out. You could also use SMS messages for order or shipping confirmations.
Professional service firms
Professional service firms such as accounting, law firms, home cleaning services, and investing firms among others. Most of these businesses run on scheduled appointments. You can use SMS marketing to send appointment reminders to your clients. This will help you avoid wasting time and money on late appointments and no-shows.
SMS is crucial for travel companies because customers rely on real-time information. That’s mostly because they need weather alerts, flight time updates as well as cancellations.
If your company has a large number of employees, it can be hard to maintain direct communication with every employee. Emails prove unreliable when you have urgent information that needs to reach everyone instantly. An SMS works great for sending internal alerts because it guarantees that everyone gets the message.
Best Practices of SMS Marketing
There are some legal considerations you need to factor in when starting your SMS marketing campaign. There could be federal or state laws regarding who your business can send texts to and for what reasons.
For example, in the U.S, these laws are in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and some of the provisions in CAN-SPAM Act for emails can still apply. You should therefore seek legal counsel to assess whether your proposed SMS marketing complies with these laws or you’ll be faced with significant charges and penalties.
Here are the dos and don'ts you need to pay attention to when conducting an SMS marketing initiative.
SMS Marketing: The Dos
To create a successful SMS marketing campaign, follow the tips below.
You have to get your potential client’s consent before you start using their phone number. To do this, you could create an opt in campaign that encourages your customers to text an opt in keyword to your shortcode digits.
The second approach is where you require your customers to check an opt in box. For example, when they buy an item from your site, you can provide the opt in option at checkout to be receiving texts from you.
Your customers will be more likely to pay attention to what you have to say if the messages are tailored specifically for them. Apart from addressing your recipients by name, consider sending them offers based on their location. You could also mention their recent activity on your site such as recent purchases, shipping update or even a cart abandonment reminder.
Keep it short
Respect the standard 160 character length of text messages. Consider starting with the attention-grabbing information such as the great special offer to pique interest. Then encourage them to read on and drive them to take the action you want.
Make it valuable
Make sure that your customers receive the messages they opted into. If they opted in to receive messages about flash sales, don’t start telling them about the new products you have available or ask them to refer friends.
Provide instructions for opting out
Just as it’s illegal to text customers without their consent, it’s also illegal to not provide a way to opt out of receiving your texts. Always give them a way to opt out at the end of every text you send. This makes it easy for your customers to opt out if they didn’t know what they were opting in for. It also helps you have an SMS marketing list of people who are actually interested in what you have to offer.
Include a Call-to-action
If you want your customers to do something, you have to ask them. A strong call-to-action encourages them to take the next step as you move them along in the buyer’s journey. Your calls-to-action in your SMS texts could be just simple phrases such as:
- Click the link to see our amazing offers!
- Use this code at checkout for 25% off!
- Sign up for FREE!
Use SMS marketing tools
Leverage on a good SMS marketing software instead of busting your cell phone with texts. It allows you to automate SMS marketing to follow up contacts, send texts based on specific behaviors, and track performance.
SMS Marketing: The Don’ts
Here’s what you need to avoid when doing an SMS marketing campaign at all costs.
Use abbreviations or slang
Even though you have only 160 characters to get your message across, don’t use slang or abbreviations. That’s because not everyone will understand it and potential customers will ignore the text.
Be too salesy
Always use a friendly, conversational tone with your customers and avoid being too promotional.
Fail to identify yourself
If your customer receives a text from you without knowing who it’s from, they’ll probably suspect it’s from a wrong number. Always include your brand name to help customers recognize you.
Forget to consider the timing
Consider the time zones that your customers are located in so that you can send messages at appropriate times. Studies show that the best time for sending general marketing messages is either between 10:30am to 11:30am or 2:30 to 3:30pm.
Send too many texts
You need to limit how often you send texts to your customers. Rate your frequency depending on the value that each message offers to your customers. It's recommended to send out texts just once a week or less.
Omnichannel Marketing: How to Add SMS into Your Marketing Mix
What’s omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing involves creating a seamless message that adjusts to customer behavior through your sales funnel.
It removes the boundaries between different marketing channels to create a unified integrated whole. The omnichannel strategy involves communicating in ways that are aligned with why they use a specific channel and paying attention to their individual stage in the customer lifecycle.
How is it different from multichannel marketing?
Even though both multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing both involve selling across multiple channels, the two strategies are quite different. The major distinction is how the customer experience occurs across those channels.
How multichannel marketing works
The multichannel marketing strategy revolves around the product you want to sell. It treats every channel as a separate purchasing opportunity. Once you realize which channel resonates with your customers, you optimize them to maximize sales.
For example, if you’re an online home appliances seller, the first channel could be your website. You can provide a $150 off incentive in your welcome message. Let’s say the web visitor ignores the offer and keeps browsing. Then they select a short and add it to the cart, but don't buy it. Before leaving your site, a pop-up will appear accompanied by an email opt-in to target the customer later. Those who opt in will get a series of emails geared at converting them to make a purchase.
You might find that the same company also sells its products on Amazon. The web visitor who abandoned the cart could be browsing around to find a cheaper product on Amazon. The same will apply in social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest.
As you may have already noticed, multichannel marketing blends the customer’s experience and provides them with the choice of engaging with your brand through the channel they prefer. The product is the main point of focus and the company branches out to reach customers in different channels.
How omnichannel marketing works
The omnichannel approach revolves around your customer. It strives to create a single customer experience across the different marketing channels.
For instance, using the home appliances company, the customer starts by adding a beach short to their cart then doesn’t complete the purchase. You send them the first email containing the $150 off incentive but they still dont buy. You serve them a series of ads for the same dishwasher and $150 off on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest spanning over a week.
Once a week passes and the customer has not engaged, the beachwear company will then switch its approach and feature some ads highlighting its social responsibility efforts on its web page or YouTube channel.
The customer finally goes to your product page and instead clicks on a single wall oven. In response, a new round of social ads will appear as well as emails with a $200 off on the single wall oven.
After that, the customer decides to fill out their shipping information through Facebook. They then become hesitant and decide that they need to inspect the wall oven first.
Luckily, the home appliances company anticipates this objection and uses the shipping address provided to send a personalized invitation through direct mail for the customer to head over to their physical store near the customer’s location. The customer stops by the physical store and finally makes a purchase.
Here, you notice that the customer directs the channel to be used through their behavior. Every action they perform is squeezing them through a sales funnel. Every action is a touch point to an interrelated marketing system. Therefore, omnichannel marketing revolves around the customer.
Which one is better?
Omnichannel marketing offers the smoother customer experience. However, it requires more resources in terms of IT investment to make the transitions smooth.
So, even though omnichannel is the ideal marketing approach for all brands, it may be better to start off with the multichannel approach before going the omnichannel way.
How to add SMS into your omnichannel marketing
SMS can play a vital role in delivering a seamless and personalized customer experience like every other channel in your omnichannel strategy .
Ready to find out ways you can use SMS to add a powerful punch to your marketing campaigns?
Okay, let’s begin!
Click and collect
Click and collect allows your customers to collect products from the store after placing their order online. Customers may prefer this option because it helps them save on shipping fees. It’s also a convenient option for customers who are not certain they’ll be around when their delivery arrives.
To enhance your click and collect experience through SMS, below are some few tips on how to go about it.
- Send an SMS text to confirm that an order has been placed
- Notify the customer when their order is ready to be picked
- Remind the customer that their order is waiting if they still have not picked up their parcel
- Allow the customer to extend their pickup time by sending a keyword
Cart abandonment is the biggest issue most eCommerce businesses face. You can incorporate SMS marketing to help remedy this issue by sending a reminder that urges customers to complete their purchase. You could also incentivize the process with time-limited discounts by telling them that the items on their wishlist are on sale.
In addition, you could also send SMS updates about delivery estimates as well as order confirmation. Payment reminders can also be sent via SMS to customers who haven't made a payment on their orders.
Why Flashy is the Best Mailchimp SMS Alternative
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll need software investments to ensure that your omnichannel strategy is smooth.
Flashy becomes the best Mailchimp SMS alternative because it offers an all-in-one marketing automation solution. That means you get email marketing, smart popups, and SMS marketing from one software solution instead of relying on third-party integrations.
You’ll be able to create accurate segments to send the right SMS texts to your customers. You can also set an unlimited number of fields of personal information to engage your customers.
The best part is Flashy’s SMS automation allows you to enhance your omnichannel experience seamlessly. It allows you to set conditions based on user actions. This way, you’ll be able to set exactly when to send the text to each customer such as when the customer abandons the cart on your site, a pre-meeting alert or any other action you see fit.
To find out more about how Flashy can help integrate SMS messaging into your omnichannel marketing strategy, then please contact us today for more information. Our experts will explain exactly how Flashy Will help your business achieve this.