SMS Marketing 2024: Best practices and expert tips 

SMS Marketing 2024: Best practices and expert tips 

Cathy Carpetta

Cathy Carpetta

February 2, 2024

Consumers have now become plagued by “inbox fatigue” — where they avoid the promotions tab because there is too much being sent to them. 

The global daily email volume surged from 269 billion in 2017 to 333.2 billion in 2022, projected to hit 392.5 billion by 2026 (Statista).

Texting, the world's preferred communication, is quick and easy. With the rise of mobile e-commerce, brands focus on SMS engagement.

Businesses globally are projected to allocate a substantial £50 billion to SMS messaging by 2025

Flashback to ten years ago … Following the 2009 recession, consumers saw a decrease in direct mail from brands due to the expense associated with this channel — besides, people just weren’t shopping much any more. 

Accordingly, businesses looked for the next “cutting-edge” technology to promote their goods and services: email marketing. Almost every business uses email in some capacity, and the channel is getting crowded (from a promotional standpoint).

In this blog post, we'll examine:

  • Why SMS marketing is becoming more and more popular among businesses 
  • SMS marketing best practices for your e-commerce brand 
  • Tips to grow a healthy list base 
  • SMS marketing examples that worked  

1. Connect and convert: What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing, or Short Message Service marketing, isn't boring. It's all about adding excitement to your promotions, you can add pictures, videos... It's also one of the speediest and simplest way to connect with your customers.

Look at this awesome MMS marketing campaign by Basic Piece with a waving GIF to grab attention! Source: Omnisend

MMS Marketing of Basic Piece with a waving GIF to grab attention

People now prefer SMS over calls whereas B2B companies still love emails. 

  • Key sectors include healthcare (55%), banking/finance (46%), and e-commerce/retail (45.9%).
  • 64% wanting more texts from businesses.
  • 60.8% prefer SMS for customer service.
  • Only 47% of brands used text messaging for customer communication (2022 Essendex and PwC study).

2. Exploring the advantages of SMS Marketing

SMS marketing benefits are multiple for e-commerce brands seeking direct and effective communication with their audience. Let's delve into the advantages that make SMS marketing a compelling strategy for your marketing efforts. 

2.1 Instantaneous reach

SMS messages demonstrate higher deliverability rates, with most messages being opened within three minutes. Additionally, they are less prone to being marked as spam compared to emails. 

Here's a tip from Klaviyo, one of the leading marketing automated platforms for emails and SMS marketing: 
Short messages (under 50 characters) get higher click rates (about 12%). But, be aware, that longer messages (over 150 characters) may see diminishing returns. So, if you have something important to say, a longer SMS can still work. In other words, the shorter the better! 

Source: Klaviyo 

2.2 Ridiculously high open rates and click-through rates 

One of the remarkable features of SMS marketing is its astonishingly high open rates. 

On average, the open rate for emails is 20% and the click-through rate is 2%, whereas the open rate for SMS is 98% and the click-through rate is 36%. Source: Layerise

This high engagement level ensures that businesses can effectively convey their message and capture the attention of their target audience.

2.3 Direct and personalised

SMS allows for direct, one-to-one communication, enabling e-commerce brands to tailor messages to individual preferences for a more personalised touch.

💡 In a study by Attentive on how consumers wanted to interact with brands, 81.2% of consumers opted into at least one brand’s SMS program to benefit from an enhanced shopping experience. 

They mentioned the following reasons:

  • Discover deals and new products
  • Curated shopping experience
  • Limited-time release and launches
  • Restock messages
  • Personalised responses to questions
  • Connection to brand

2.4 Proven ability to sell

Beyond creating awareness, SMS marketing has a proven track record of driving sales. 

With the right call-to-action and enticing offers, e-commerce businesses can push customers to make immediate purchases. 

Whether it's a limited-time discount or an exclusive deal, SMS marketing has the power to convert leads into sales effectively.

According to a report by Insider Intelligence, companies often achieve a 10x to 20x return on investment through SMS marketing.

3. Weighing the disadvantages of SMS marketing

While SMS marketing campaigns have their strengths, it's essential to be aware of potential drawbacks. Let's examine the disadvantages that e-commerce brands should consider when incorporating SMS marketing into their strategy.

3.1 Opt-in requirements

E-commerce companies must obtain explicit consent from recipients, and this opt-in process may limit the size of your SMS subscriber list.

3.2 Characters limitations 

A single SMS message is limited to 160 characters.

It necessitates concise content and limits the amount of information that can be conveyed.

3.3 Potential for intrusiveness

Poorly timed or overly frequent messages can be perceived as intrusive, leading to a negative impact on customer relationships.

3.4 Limited content type

The simplicity of SMS restricts the types of content that can be shared compared to more multimedia-rich channels.

4. 5 proven strategies to grow your SMS list

Before you start sending out SMS campaigns, you first need to put together a healthy subscriber base. This is a crucial step! 

The ultimate checklist for SMS marketing best practices: 

  • Always ask permission to opt-in: Secure explicit consent before sending marketing texts to subscribers, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.
  • Opt-out transparency: Provide a clear "STOP" option for subscribers to easily opt-out, preserving SMS deliverability.
  • Incentivise subscription: Offer value such as exclusive discounts or timely updates to make the subscription worthwhile.
  • Respect timing: Send messages during appropriate hours, avoiding disruptions, like marketing texts at 3 a.m.

The best results are usually seen when creating multiple places for customers to opt-in, and diversifying options for customers.

4.1 Checkout collection

Perhaps, the easiest and most natural way to start collecting subscribers is right at the checkout section of your online store. 

At the moment of purchase, your customers are more likely to agree to sign up for text marketing updates from you, since they’ve already got familiar with your brand and products. On average, 45% of your customers who have come this far will opt in at checkout.

Chaination checkout

4.2 Email subscribers

Another easy way to build a list is simply to convert an existing email subscriber list by introducing a dynamic button to sign up for SMS within your emails. You have to be clear here, both in the visibility of this option in your email and in what you will message to people. You can also consider a collection in a welcome series or post-purchase flow (wink wink 😉).

For example, Soylent encourages its email subscribers to register for SMS alerts, ensuring they're the first to be informed when new flavours are released.

4.3 Website pop-ups

You can also enable desktop and mobile collection pop-ups. They are easy to set up, responsive, highly effective and a crucial part of every brand’s efforts to grow its list of subscribers. It’s really important to test pop-ups over time (with different messaging, images and styles). These work best when incentivising signup with a discount or an exclusive offer.

Skims website popups for SMS
Source: Tatango

4.4 Gamification elements

Introduce gamification elements to your SMS sign-up process. For example, users could earn points, and badges, or unlock special perks by referring friends to subscribe. This turns the sign-up process into a more enjoyable and rewarding experience.

SMS Gamified quiz for Groove Life
Source: Attentive

4.5 QR codes

QR codes are perfect for brands looking to expand their base using offline media channels. They can be used anywhere (such as: in print media or as posters at store windows in shopping malls, billboards and more). For best results, use them with incentive-based campaigns like a giveaway or early access to a new collection, to draw even more attention.

Source: Textline

5. 8 SMS marketing message types for your next campaign 

Explore a diverse range of SMS marketing message types to elevate your next campaign. From engaging welcome series that create impactful first impressions to strategically crafted abandoned cart messages that recover potential sales, there are versatile approaches.

5.1 Welcome series

Make a lasting first impression. Greet new subscribers with a warm welcome, introducing your brand and offering incentives like gift vouchers or discounts to turn them into customers.

5.2 Abandoned cart

Combat high cart abandonment rates by reaching out 30-60 minutes after abandonment. Offer incentives like free shipping to recover sales, embedding it in the abandoned cart URL for convenience.

💡 Cool example to follow:

Alkaline Herb Shop x Yotpo 

Alkaline Herb Shop, a budget-friendly supplement brand, aimed to enhance customer engagement by integrating Yotpo SMS alongside email. Teaming up with Hawke Media, they achieved remarkable results, including a 160x ROI, 20% monthly revenue growth through SMS, and recovery of 33% of abandoned carts via SMS messages.


5.3 Post-purchase

Capitalise on a new customer's momentum. Encourage additional sales by offering complementary products. Express gratitude, request reviews, and promote loyalty programs to enhance customer engagement.

5.4. Loyalty offers

Retarget inactive customers with cost-effective text messages. Implement win-back automation 30 and 60 days post-purchase, offering incentives to encourage repeat purchases. Provide meaningful reasons for contact, such as new collections or intriguing updates.

5.5. New order confirmation

Quickly confirm purchases, sending order IDs via text for a seamless customer experience.

5.6 Shipping confirmation

Immediately inform customers when orders are shipped, providing tracking IDs and order status links.

5.7 Order delivered feedback

Demonstrate post-sale care by seeking feedback on the customer experience.

In summary, SMS marketing is vital for e-commerce in 2024. 

With email saturation, SMS offers direct and effective communication, boasting high open rates (98%) and proven sales impact. 

Despite drawbacks, building a robust subscriber base using the tips provided is key. Diverse message types further enhance its effectiveness. 

In essence, SMS marketing is a dynamic tool for e-commerce brands in the competitive digital landscape of 2024.

Now, you only have to decide and select the best SMS marketing platform based on your needs! 

Frequently asked questions
Everything you need to know.
What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing involves sending promotional messages to a target audience via text messages. It's a direct and immediate communication channel that businesses use to engage customers effectively.

Why SMS is better than email marketing?

SMS is often more effective than email due to its higher open rates, immediacy, and minimal chances of being flagged as spam. It provides a direct and impactful channel for businesses to engage with their audience.

Is SMS marketing good?

Absolutely. SMS marketing is highly effective due to its impressive open rates, immediate delivery, and direct connection with the audience. It's an invaluable tool for businesses aiming to enhance customer engagement.

What is an SMS strategy?

An SMS strategy outlines how a business plans to use text messaging for marketing purposes. It includes defining goals, target audience, message content, timing, and methods for measuring success.

Who needs SMS marketing?

Any business aiming for direct and effective communication with its audience can benefit from SMS marketing. It's particularly useful for promotions, time-sensitive offers, and building customer loyalty through personalised messages.

How to automate SMS marketing?

To automate SMS marketing, choose a reliable platform, create targeted campaigns, schedule messages, and use automation features. Set up triggers based on user interactions to streamline the process and enhance efficiency.

What is SMS in direct marketing?

In direct marketing, SMS refers to sending promotional messages directly to consumers' mobile devices. It's a targeted and immediate approach that allows businesses to engage with their audience personally.

Is email or SMS marketing more effective?

While both have merits, SMS marketing often boasts a higher open rate (98%) compared to emails (around 20%). SMS's immediacy and directness can lead to more impactful engagement.