10 SMS Marketing Best Practices for Ecommerce

The Rules + 15 Examples to Send, Sell & Succeed with Confidence

The idea of SMS is great. The results, even better …

Higher onsite conversion rates. More new customers. Better retention and increased lifetime value. (To name just a few.)

The application, however, can be intimidating. Even a little scary.

Despite being a must-have for growing stores, very few DTC owners and operators know the “rules” of text-message marketing. And we don’t just mean SMS legislation nor how to avoid the dreaded s**** word — spam.

Thankfully, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

To help your texts succeed, we’ve assembled 10 SMS marketing best practices with 15 ecommerce examples:
  1. Grow Your SMS Subscriber List
  2. Welcome Opt-Ins Immediately
  3. Segment Your Target Audiences
  4. Automate Everything You Can
  5. Get Your Text Timing Just Right
  6. Watch Your Message Frequency
  7. Think: Conversations + Content
  8. Be Branded But Also Be a Human
  9. Align Your SMS & Email Marketing
  10. Test, Measure, Optimize (Repeat)

Grab the 10 best practices along with all 15 examples in one download.

No time to read? Then don’t!

Let our team of experts implement the rules for you. Book a demo to get your fully-managed program running in 48 hours.

SMS Marketing for Ecommerce Guide, Strategies & Examples

1. Grow Your SMS Subscriber List

Sounds obvious, right? It’s not.

Capturing first-party mobile opt-in is like hitting the marketing communication jackpot. The sooner you grow your lists, the faster you’ll see the impact of SMS marketing on your ecommerce business.

Text subscribers tend to be high-intent shoppers. The personal nature of SMS combined with direct-message inbox delivery is the duo responsible for its success.

‍Enable SMS Opt-In at Checkout

Target high-intent visitors at checkout with this native Shopify feature. (It’ll take you just a few minutes to turn on.)

Enable SMS Marketing at Shopify Checkout

Convert More with Pop-Ups

Your biggest and best SMS list growth results will come from setting up (and optimizing) three types of pop-ups — each designed to meet visitors natively.

Pop-Up Type 1: Desktop Email then SMS
Desktop Email and SMS Opt-In
Pop-Up Type 2: Mobile Email then SMS
SMS and Email Mobile Pop-ups
Pop-Up Type 3: Mobile SMS Only (Two-Tap)
Text Messaging & Marketing Statistics
Tips to get the most out of your pop-ups:

Build Your SMS List Off-Site

Take your subscription methods beyond your website with opt-in keywords and links.

SMS Keyword for Text-In Subscriptions

Keywords are quick to set up and are best used successfully in three ways.

  1. When you can’t capture phone numbers digitally: Like brick-and-mortar or in-store ads or out-of-home (OOO)
  2. On social media: During giveaways and influencer or micro-influencer content
  3. In social ads: Great for conversions there’s no need to click away from the ad
SMS Keyword Opt-In Tool
SMS Subscription Links for Social Stories and Posts

SMS subscriptions offer an easy way to opt-in via Instagram Stories and other social platforms as they require only two actions from a mobile phone:

  1. Tapping the link creates a pre-filled text message
  2. Clicking the send button opts them in
Social Media Link Opt-In
Ensure you get consent, use disclaimers, and stick to the ‘rules’

You need expressed consent from your subscribers before sending them SMS messages. This means that your customers opted-in (by choice) and agreed to receive promotional texts from your business.

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) governs through two main laws: the TCPA and the CAN-SPAM Act. SMS also has a set of principles called CTIA Guidelines — implemented by a trade association representing the wireless communications industry in the United States.

You need to follow the rules to be compliant. Luckily, any SMS platform worth your investment will have built-in features — such as keyword unsubscribe — to take care of the ins and outs.

SMS opt-in compliance

2. Welcome Opt-Ins Immediately

These automated messages are triggered immediately after sign-up — the perfect opportunity to greet and engage with your subscribers right away. You can also send any additional info you couldn’t fit into your pop-up along with any opt-in incentive codes.

A sequence of 3–5 texts does the job best — each with conditional splits to exclude anyone who’s made a purchase or has an item in their cart:

  1. Immediate‍: Deliver the discount or incentive you promised onsite
  1. Delay 1 day: Send a contact card to improve branding and deliverability
  1. Delay 2–3 days: Feature a best-selling product + the original discount
  1. Delay 5 days (optional): Introduce your brand, values, or founder’s story
  1. Delay 7 days (optional): Address common objection or answer an FAQ
Welcome flow SMS campaign builder

3. Segment Your Target Audiences

Personalized messages are the key to great customer experiences. The best SMS marketing results come from campaigns that are tailored (or triggered) at different stages of your customer’s journeys.

This can easily be achieved through segmentation of your contact list. Your SMS platform should have the capabilities to help you set these up using automation so your segments will scale.

Some key segments to create and test:

SMS subscriber audience segmentation

4. Automate Everything You Can

SMS automation saves you time and generates revenue on autopilot. These flows should be the bread and butter of your SMS marketing strategy.

Triggered by customers’ actions and segmented through engagement data, automated flows offer personalized experiences throughout the customer journey.

Five flows will cover all the most important bases.
1
Welcome Flow

Greet and engage with your subscribers immediately after opt-in with first-purchase incentives, contact cards, brand stories + more

Welcome Flow with SMS contact card
2
Abandoned cart and browse recovery

Get your high-intent shoppers back to your store to seal the deal with discounts, deals, or checkout support.

Abandoned Cart SMS message
3
Personalized receipts and fulfillment

Keep customers in the know and up to date with an automatic order confirmation and shipping + fulfillment notifications.

SMS Ecommerce order fulfillment. png
4
Post-Purchase for related products

Send customers relevant campaigns with product suggestions and special offers that correlate to previous purchases.

Replenishment with Time-Delays SMS Example
5
Replenishment with time-delays

Based on typical usage, remind customers to stock back up and re-order their favorite products before they run out.

Time-based repurchase SMS message

5. Get Your Text Timing Just Right

The success of your text message marketing campaigns often depends on the mood of your subscribers, which is often contingent on the timing of your message.

Don’t send a deal past midnight or an early morning text in the middle of rush hour.  Your customer is far less likely to engage with the message or check out your promotion if they’re distracted — no matter how good the deal is.

‍Always keep your audience in mind. And remember time zones.

If you’re talking to new mothers … we’re pretty sure early dinner-time texts won’t go down well. If you’re offering a time-sensitive coffee discount, don’t do it at 11 am after most people have already had their cuppa Joe (get them before).

Coffee Time based SMS discount

6. Watch Your Message Frequency

This is one of the most important considerations for SMS marketing as it deals with the dreaded s*** word: Spam. The top issue with frequency? Under-sending!

(You guessed over-sending, right?)

The truth is, people who opt-in to your texts want to hear from you. That’s why it’s so effective. They expect real value from the most intimate B2C channel.

The occasional, generic text often feels more like spam than consistent, personalized, and relevant campaigns.

But what is the right number to start with?

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule; it’s all about your audience engagement.

Start slow with one or two campaigns a week + automations. Then follow your customer’s lead to decide the frequency. You’ll quickly notice the trends by watching the click-throughs, sales, and opt-out rates — don’t worry, you won’t get too many of these.

7. Think: Conversation + Content

Ditch one-way, no-reply channels and autoresponders. There’s so much hidden value for you and your customers in two-way communication using SMS.

From a support perspective, customers will have a direct line with your brand that will be treated with immediacy. They’ll be able to ask questions, give feedback, and request help.

From a business perspective, you can create data-gathering, content-driven conversations. Delight your customers and prime them for your conversion-focused campaigns with …

This engagement will build stronger relationships and make your customers feel heard (leading to better open rates). And give you the opportunity to learn what works, what doesn’t, and where you can grow as a business.

Two-way SMS support conversation

8. Be Branded But Also Be a Human

The personal nature of text messages is a big factor in its marketing success. But this success relies on creating a human-centric approach to your SMS campaigns.

It’s tough but vital to strike a balance between brand representation and creating text campaigns for “humans.”

SMS contact card

9. Align Your SMS & Email Marketing

Well-crafted ecommerce marketing strategies use multiple methods to communicate the right message via the right channel. This makes it important to select tools that integrate with each other and with your ecommerce platform.

Email marketing and SMS are a powerful duo. Align them throughout the customer journey.

Create your digital marketing strategy by identifying where each channel adds the most value. Start by capturing both email and SMS opt-ins.

Then, map out your campaigns.

Use SMS to send time-sensitive deals, direct offers, fulfillment alerts, and automations like abandoned carts. Use email for longer-form content: Guides, how-tos, brand storytelling, etc.

For instance, if you’re hosting a sale in conjunction with an event or holiday your audience cares about:

SMS vs Email Use Case

SMS kick-off (left); long-form email (middle); abandonment text (right)

Avoid content overlapping — don’t create text message versions of your email marketing campaigns. It’s a waste of your marketing efforts and your subscribers will notice.

10. Test, Measure & Optimize (Repeat)

SMS marketing campaigns shouldn’t be “set it and forget.” Even automations need optimizing.

‍There’s a lot to learn from how your text message performs. Check your campaign results often and keep an eye on business-critical metrics:

Once a month — or, at least, once a quarter — pull back from the trees to examine the forest; big-picture measurements like …

SMS Attributed revenue dashboard and analytics

Skip the SMS Marketing Anxiety

Many (or even most) ecommerce store owners hesitate with SMS because they’re worried about spamming customers … and best practice guides like this one feel intimidating.

The reality is they’re missing out.

In our mobile-first world, SMS will set you apart. It’s direct so cuts through the notification clutter, it’s personal enough to be read (almost) every single time, and it’s relevant enough to result in high sales conversions.

Don’t let the fear of “new” stop you from utilizing the most intimate, sales-driving B2C channel.

Get the full guide. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll see results.

Or … let us do it all for you. From growing your list with better onsite capture, to setting up your automations to unleashing tactical campaigns.

Book a 30-minute call and we’ll get you up and running in 48 hours.

No payments, no commitment.

Download 10 SMS Marketing Best Practices for Ecommerce

Rules + 15 Examples to Send, Sell & Success with Confidence!

Thank you! Check your email for confirmation.