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90% of Shoppers Interested in Getting Texts From Your Brand

As the pandemic lifted e-commerce over the past year, mobile sales rose as well.

In August, mobile accounted for 40 percent of all sales, according to Adobe Analytics, placing the segment on track to contribute more than 50 percent of online spend by September 2022. Research from Coresight Research further supports the premise that the bump in mobile sales won’t simply disappear when the pandemic does, with as many as 58 percent of consumers saying last year they expect to retain new mobile shopping behaviors over the long term.

Data presented by text message marketing platform Attentive Tuesday provide further evidence of the shifting e-commerce landscape. In a December survey, 56.7 percent of respondents told Attentive they shopped primarily using mobile devices, compared to 6.7 percent who said the same of desktops, while 36.7 percent reported using mobile and desktop devices equally.

One way retailers have attempted to grow mobile spending has been through text message advertising campaigns.

Speaking at the National Retail Federation’s virtual conference, Attentive CEO and co-founder Brian Long said consumer willingness to engage with brands over text message has boomed recently, growing from around 60 percent a few years ago to “well over 90 percent” now. Over half of respondents said they were more interested in receiving messages than they were one year ago, he added.

Increased interest in SMS engagement has the potential to positively impact return on investment. According to Long, Attentive sees about 10 times more revenue per message than email. “The reason is pretty clear,” he said. “When you get a text message, you read almost every message, whereas with email, there may be a lot of messages that are not read.”

John Starke, vice president of business development at Attentive partner Zulily, described earning customer trust as one of the e-commerce company’s fundamental goals. Consequently, he said transparency and direct conversation are critically important in Zulily’s SMS programs. “We’re always iterating to ensure that we’re serving up a quality product that [the consumer] wants, and communicating and managing her expectations on SMS to ensure that we don’t lose her throughout the shopping journey,” he said.

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Starke, who touted average click-through rates of 25 percent and 17 percent for trigger and campaign messages, respectively, also stressed the educational role of SMS marketing. Early indicators, he said, show members are signing up before having made a purchase.

“We know that our most valuable customers learn to love our shopping experience before they transact,” Starke said. “We see SMS as a channel to educate, onboard and drive member-customer conversion.”

Advice for taking on SMS marketing

For those just getting into SMS marketing, Long advised taking a diversified approach to building up the subscriber list, including by drawing on mobile platforms, as well as desktop, social and in-store. Taking a portfolio approach can be “the difference between a successful and unsuccessful program,” he said.

Once a company kicks off its text marketing program, Long said the key is to optimize. “Whether that’s AB testing or changing different ways for the signup pathways, the different types of interactivity points,” he continued. “Every little change that gets you another five to 10 percent is going to compound and then all of a sudden, your program is doing three to four times better.”

Text marketing, Long warned, is very different from other channels in its mindset, voice and interactivity. Even between retailers, strategy varies, Long said. “We’ve worked with a lot of sites, but every site is different and you got to tweak it to make sure that it’s the right flow for your consumer so that it’s an added value to them.”