Text messaging is personal. A customer’s texts or WhatsApp messages are their own private space. Usually reserved for friends, family, or close acquaintances. You might, therefore, wonder how this can be an effective marketing channel. Wouldn’t the customers just be annoyed that you’ve invaded their private world?
Fortunately, that’s not the case. When dealt with carefully, conversational text marketing can be extremely effective and lucrative. Customers who engage tend to already be loyal and excited by the brand and don’t see it as an invasion, but more as an enhancement of their customer experience. These customers are already on their phones using mobile apps hundreds of times a day, they hear from their friends, so why wouldn’t they want to hear from brands that they already love?
The key element is to get the tone right. Conversational texting isn’t for everyone. Think about your audience, consider if this is something that they’d likely engage with, and build from there. Running a retirement law firm? You might think twice before launching a conversational texting promotion campaign. Building a fashion campaign aimed at early 20-somethings? This might be your biggest acquisition channel.
The way that the world communicates has changed drastically over the last decade. Where people were previously reliant on phone calls and email, more and more people (especially those in younger generations) are looking for more instant, short-form communication. Millennials and Gen Z like to text. There’s no hiding from that fact, and when it’s seen as one of the most engaging forms of brand communication, why would you hide from it?
Conversational text campaigns break down some barriers of formality and create a more relaxed relationship between brand and consumer. It offers a form of instant communication, through a platform that the customer is comfortable with and offers an opportunity for questions and a more personalized customer experience.
It’s also one of the lowest-cost forms of customer communication that can offer a great return on investment, especially when one considers the implementation of abandoned carts or upselling workflows.
Personalized, direct communication is becoming the norm within eCommerce. Gone are the days when customers would arrive on a website, have a browse and simply make a purchase. They want to know more, get to know a brand, ask questions and get quick answers.
Conversational texting is a superb way to achieve this customer expectation. There are endless ways to leverage this tool, the following methods should be seen as a baseline to build on. You, the business, understand what your customers want to learn and how they want to learn it.
It’s a big deal when someone finally decides to purchase from you. In fact, research shows that the average person goes through 8 different touchpoints before converting to a sale. So why not celebrate that fact by giving them a hearty welcome after their first purchase?
A quick message can welcome them to your brand’s community, share important information, and maybe even a blog article outlining hints and tips about the product that they’ve just purchased. However you do it, be sure to personalize the message.
New product launches are a perfect use case for eCommerce conversational texting. New product emails come and go, and are largely ignored, but a message from your brand that includes a link to the new product is likely to be opened.
The bane of eCommerce companies, the abandoned cart. There’s little more that is as frustrating as seeing a number of carts abandoned right before checkout. Following up via email is one way that eCommerce brands have leveraged for a number of years but conversational texting is a new way to recover abandoned carts.
It’s a far more informal, less sales-y version of recovery, as long as you approach it the right way. You could write a message that casually reminds them that there’s something in their cart, this helps the forgetful amongst us. Another option would be to just straight up ask them what stopped them from completing their purchase. Was it the price? The shipping? It might not immediately get them to complete their purchase but you’ll have some interesting feedback.
A quick, short-term offer works perfectly in tandem with conversational texting. Let’s say that you’re running a flash 30% off for the next 3 days. Send that by email and they might miss it for a few days and the opportunity is gone. Send it by text and they’re far more likely to not only see it but also act on it.
If you’re running multiple channels to draw traffic to your flash sale, make sure to tailor the coupon you’re using in messaging so that you can see how effective the campaign has been. A code such as SMSDEAL30 will make it clear that the user received their discount via text.
Typically up-selling and cross-selling were reserved for on website and at checkout positions where you could show the customer other products just as they were about to purchase. You can now casually send a message with personalized recommendations. These are great after purchase but can also be based on what they add to their cart (if they haven’t checked out). “Hey there, we couldn’t help but notice you were thinking about buying x. Just so you know y works perfectly with them. Check them out [link].”
One of the main things that customers miss from visiting physical stores is the employees who are able to recommend products and share knowledge. Customers value the opinion of the professionals that they’re buying from. Conversational texting provides an opportunity to be a helpful store assistant in their pocket. Consider the customer’s previous purchases and send recommendations based on that. Did they buy from a specific line that now offers new products? Let them know! This relevant and valuable message isn’t seen as a sale pitch, but more as a helping hand.
People are busy, people are forgetful. Life sometimes just gets in the way but that’s no reason to give up on your customers. A reminder email can feel a bit formal, and is often marked as unread and added to the to-do list. A more relaxed message can act as a gentle nudge that x or y needs to be actioned. SMS or WhatsApp is just better than email in this situation. Particularly helpful for events, upcoming promotions, or if you’re running webinars, etc.
Building your conversational texting skills will hugely level up your SMS marketing ability. Remember that people want to feel like they’re having actual conversations with a real person, not dealing with a corporate bot. Get the feel and tone of the conversation right and you’ll see communication with customers increase, leading to a rise in sales.
Building up your audience takes time and effort. When you reach the point where you have a large number of people in your community the admin that goes alongside it increases too. Sending a simple message can take hours of selection, filtering, and manual copying and pasting. Thankfully, there’s an option to avoid all of this manual, time-consuming effort.
Investing in a tool that automates conversational text is a no-brainer for those who are genuinely focused on this marketing technique. Tools such as Zoko work on scale to not only deliver messages but also deliver impressive analytical data about your campaigns.
Let’s take Zoko as an example. With Zoko you’re able to create marketing templates, build lists of contacts and automate their sending. Beyond simple messaging, you’re also able to leverage powerful eCommerce tools such as taking orders via WhatsApp. There are also powerful workflows for issues such as abandoned carts that have been proven to lead to positive recoveries.
Other options include:
It’s important to note that WhatsApp or SMS messaging is a far more personal option versus email. WhatsApp and SMS messaging feel like a direct conversation, as that’s what the apps and messaging styles are typically used for. Talking with friends, and family, arranging plans and having informal conversations. It is, therefore, incredibly important that you give people the option to opt-out of your marketing.
Many businesses provide this option at the end of their messages including a sentence such as “To stop receiving these marketing messages reply STOP”. If you’re using automation software such as those mentioned above, there might be the option to receive these messages and automatically remove the user from your lists.
At first, and especially those who are being cold messaged, people won't have your number saved. They won’t actually know at a glance who the message is from. In a world where scam emails and messages are a daily occurrence, you need to add a level of reassurance to the recipient.
SMS messaging was created to save people time and to send short, quick messages. The word is right there in the title, Short Message Service. It is a fair rule in creating marketing copy that the more concise and clear you can be the better. Keep your messages short, ideally within the 160-character limit, and your users will thank you. Not least because they’ll have read your message before their attention span runs out.
Personalization goes a long way in marketing. People like to feel that they’re being marketed to directly rather than just another number in a spreadsheet. It could be as simple as using their name but a more impressive method of personalization is to leverage consumer data that you hold on them to personalize their experience.
Has your customer recently purchased a particular product? Follow up and ask them if they’ve enjoyed it. If they have, suggest they have a look at product x, y, or z.
Did they try and order an item but you’d run out of stock? Message them to say it’s available now.
Including personalization fits with the marketing style, people expect SMS and WhatsApp to be personal as that’s what the forms of communication are typically used for, personal messages.
There’s a saying, “You can have too much of a good thing” and with SMS/WhatsApp messaging it’s absolutely true. It might feel great to launch your first campaign and to receive your first responses. Try not to get too carried away and immediately launch another campaign, the last thing you want is for people to begin thinking that you’re spamming them.
We can’t go so far as to give you specific text messaging amounts or guidelines, but a good rule is to only send them when necessary. If you’ve not really got anything to say but want a boost in traffic then don’t send a message. If you have an exciting new product that has come to market and you think your audience would genuinely like to know about it, send a message!
Be wary of the time you’re sending it too. Middle of a Saturday night messages will not be as successful as messages that are sent at sociable hours.
Conversational texting isn’t for every eCommerce business owner. It takes thought and consideration, as well as the right audience. Remember that this is communication on a personal level, therefore personalization is key, treat the customers as the individuals that they are.