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A Beginner's Guide to SMS Remarketing

In this article we look at SMS remarketing, with some examples and stats from brand campaigns. 
Cart abandonment emails work by reminding shoppers of the contents of their abandoned carts, and the same principle can work using cart abandonment SMS messages.
Users who have recently left the site without completing a purchase can be targeted with messaging encouraging to return to the site. With so many people now wedded to their mobile devices, an SMS message can drive an immediate response from users.
The immediacy of SMS is key here. Messages are opened on average within 90 seconds, compared to 90 minutes for email. SMS has an open rate of 98% with 90% of messages opened within three minutes.
This makes SMS a powerful and highly responsive channel, and we’ve seen it outperform email in terms of click through rates (CTR).

How Does SMS Remarketing Work?

Much like cart abandonment email, SMS remarketing uses a site visitor’s contact details to send them a message a short time after they have abandoned a possible purchase.

Visitors can be sent a personalised message with specific product information, and a unique URL to send them back to their shopping cart, or any other page on site.
If retailers have a compatible app, then deeplinks can be used to send shoppers to the relevant mobile app for a better shopping experience.
SMS can also be used for post-purchase messaging to improve customer retention rates. These messages include:

  • Thanking your customers for a recent purchase.
  • Sending a survey to gather some feedback on a recent purchase.
  • Providing product recommendations to drive further purchases.

Why Mobile Matters

The increased use of mobile is a key factor behind the effectiveness of SMS remarketing. People take them everywhere. Indeed, somewhere up to 75% even use their smartphones in the bathroom.
SMS offers a more immediate way to reconnect with customers, simply because they’re likely to see text messages more quickly than emails.
In addition, people are now much more likely to make a purchase from their phones. With mobile retail apps and sites optimized for mobile users, it needn’t be a struggle to buy via mobile.
Mobile now takes a greater share of online traffic and sales than ever before. Stats from Christmas 2016 show that mobile and tablet combined accounted for half of all retail traffic.

SMS Remarketing in Action

SaleCycle has used SMS with several clients, and we’ve seen click through rates in excess of those for email (36% vs 3.2%) as well as higher conversion rates.
For example, we worked with Firefly, a subsidiary of Malaysian Airlines, on an SMS remarketing campaign. We even won an award for this campaign.
Firefly was looking for a more immediate way of communicating with visitors who abandonment flight bookings. In some cases, flights abandoned were due to leave within days, so speed of response was a key factor.
Firefly saw its first recovered sale from only the fourth SMS message sent out, and after six weeks SaleCycle had sent approximately 8,000 remarketing SMS messages achieving a click-through rate of 15%.
The conversion rate (from send) was an impressive 4.5%, much higher than overall conversion rates for the travel sector.
Thorpe Park also used SMS to deliver messages to visitors 30 minutes after abandoning a booking. These messages were personalized and contained a shortened URL to take the customer back to the booking.

The results speak for themselves. 32% of SMS recipients clicked on the messages, and almost 7% returned to complete their purchase. 
Overall the campaign drove a 5% increase in Thorpe Park’s online sales.

In Summary

SMS remarketing offers a more immediate method of (re)connecting with visitors who abandon bookings or purchases.
People are happy to use their mobiles to respond to remarketing messaging. Indeed, some stats suggest that people would be willing to receive more marketing via SMS.
Though the message goes straight to the user’s mobile screen, it isn’t intrusive. People can choose whether or not to respond to messaging without having to expend too much time or effort.
And, as the results from SMS remarketing demonstrate, it’s an effective tactic.

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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.

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