October 3, 2023
Reading Time: 4 minutes
First impressions mean everything in marketing. When a campaign hits that sweet spot between virality and effectiveness, it’s almost like finding the secret ingredient that makes your dish Top Chef-worthy. This ingredient could be as simple as an MMS image that shows the product in a perfect light, or a timely joke that capitalizes on a social media trend.
On the flip side, when a campaign fails, the results can permeate through your community – depending on the level of disaster, it could even be the butt of a joke for gossiping marketers. Blurry stock photo made it past QA? A broken link? A typo!?
Your brand’s first interaction with a potential customer is the crux of your relationship with them. Think of it as the welcome handshake, the tantalizing appetizer, or the opening line of a movie. You should analyze it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it’s perfect, because there are no take-backs.
Having sent millions of text messages, we’ve seen our share of welcome series’ pitfalls and wins. We recently took a look at data from the last 12 months with the goal of understanding how soon a purchase occurs after a subscription. By gathering this information, we want to show shops where in the buyer’s journey they should place the most emphasis on building effective messaging.
Here’s the tl;dr:
Overall 30% of subscribers convert to customers within 90 days of signup with the bulk of that — nearly 22% — occurring within the first day.
There is variation across shop categories and shops. The biggest difference was within that ever-so-important 1-day subscriber window.
Focusing on 1 day conversion, the rough benchmark is < 10% = Room for improvement, < 20% = Intermediate, and ≥ 20% = which means you’re on par with Textpert level marketing conversions.
(Note: You can use the shop level cohort report to better understand how your shop stacks up.)
Our findings show that 30% of new subscribers placed their first order within 90 days of signup, with 22% of subscribers placing an order within 24 hours. From there the order rate drops dramatically and tapers off.
With this data, we now have insight into the behavior of new subscribers. It also suggests that subscribers are most likely to buy quickly following signup, so it’s crucial to develop a top-notch welcome strategy to maximize ROI.
Now that we know when most post-subscription purchases occur, let’s dive into how we can reap the benefits of that short time window.
We’ll analyze two periods of time, provide insights into shopper behavior, and make recommendations for you to add into your campaigns during the:
First 24 hours of subscription
First 90 days of subscription
The First 24 Hours: What To Include in a Welcome Series
This is your chance to make a good impression, capitalize on their interest, and achieve maximum order value. This time period is your make-or-break moment to secure a sale.
A shopper is typically incentivized somehow to sign up for text message marketing. (That is, unless they’re a devout fan of your brand – which is certainly something to strive towards!)
They’ve found your shop through advertising, whether it’s word of mouth, an on-site pop-up, paid ads, social media, a brick-and-mortar store, or something else. If you haven’t yet analyzed where your shoppers are coming from, take a look! Your Shopify dashboard has all the data you need.
After subscribing to SMS, a shopper will get their first taste of your brand voice. Because text messages are so unique, this is a perfect time to test out a super personal and casual convo with a new subscriber.
It goes without saying that the first few messages you send to a potential customer are crucial. Make sure you’re checking all these boxes:
Your Welcome Series Checklist
Don’t forget to include the below in your first 1-2 messages to someone after they subscribe.
1. Introduce your store. Whether it’s in the opening line of the message, in the MMS graphic, or at the end, make sure the subscriber knows what you're all about and what they can expect from your texts in the future. Consider a contact card in that first welcome message, encouraging them to save you as a contact (since you’re friends now!)
2. A/B test an offer. If you used an offer to acquire the new subscriber (i.e. a 10% off their first order popup) then this is a great time to remind them to use that offer. But consider testing two different pathways for new subscribers: one that tries to hook them with a reminder about the existing offer and one that tries to gleam more information from them with a Keyword response, asking for more information about what they’d like
3. Remind them why they signed up. Your SMS subscribers are an elite group – make sure they know that. List out all the things they’ll receive by being a subscribers, from early access to sales to sneak peeks at product drops.
4. Include an opt-out. This is a no-brainer for compliance.
By including the above items into your first few messages to a subscriber, you’ll be on your way to maximizing returns. But what about after those 24 hours? It’s not time to pump the brakes yet.
The Follow-Through: 90 Days After Subscribing
While 22% of subscribers make their purchase within 24 hours, there’s still plenty of opportunity to earn their business for the first three months after they subscribe.
Following those three months, it becomes significantly harder to keep the subscriber engaged. But fear not: we’ve identified new methods to win back potential business at any stage in the customer lifecycle.
Bear in mind that a lot of the best practices in the above section also apply to the entire lifetime of a campaign. What works for one time frame typically works for another, if you tweak it slightly.
Of course, if you sell products that include a lot of customization or a longer average time to buy, this 90 day window is perfect for making sure their needs are addressed and questions are answered.
Inside a Subscriber’s Mind
At this point, the shopper is familiar with your brand because they’ve received your top-notch welcome messages. Now it’s time to build a relationship.
Don’t forget: Make sure you set up a cancellation trigger so that once a subscriber purchases, they aren't still getting those reminders to buy within that welcome flow.
If a subscriber hasn’t purchased and is within the 90-day window, follow these best practices:
Your 90-Day Checklist (With 4 SMS Examples)
1. Announce upcoming offers. This could be a BFCM sale, anniversary sale, or limited-edition drop. Go even further to make the message tailored to SMS – remind them that they’re learning about this sale because they’re a subscriber.
2. Create urgency. If a product is running low on inventory or getting discontinued, send them a gentle reminder. If a sale has just been extended, mention that too. Free gift to the first 50 orders that day? Shout it from the rooftops.
3. Make it personal. If you collect custom properties like birth month or favorite color, send them something special.
4. Send a meaningful opt-out option. This can be controversial and tricky, but it’s a very human approach. Towards the end of the 90 days, reiterate why they’re subscribed and ask them if they’d like to opt-out or temporarily pause messages. This gives the shopper control over the experience, and reminds them that you’re not here to crowd their text inbox. Keep in mind that you should still be including how to opt out (ie: STOP to stop) at least once a month in the US. The requirements on how often you need to include opt out language varies by country (and in some cases by state like New Jersey).
Above And Beyond: Other Creative Ways to Maximize the 90-Day Window
After you nail down the above guidelines, don’t be afraid to experiment. With A/B testing and quick ROI measurement, you can easily see if a new approach massively succeeds or flops.
Here are a few starter ideas for your shop:
Offer to answer questions. This is crucial for shops with a higher AOV, longer buying cycle or products that might require a ton of education – think couches, supplements or pizza ovens. Here, you can sprinkle your customer support magic and give the shopper a tailored experience that answers any lingering questions they have. We’ve seen a lot of success with this using SMS Sales, but you can also DIY with some more personalized Browse Abandonment or Abandon Cart automations that target non-customers.
Get personal. We love a humble founder. Don’t forget to send something personalized from your brand, be it a simple hello from the CEO or the office pup.
Start a conversation. If you have the support and people-power here, ask the subscriber about their day. Figure out how they like their coffee, and then send them a gift card to a local shop. Challenge the subscriber to send a picture of their dog, and write a haiku about it. If you know their birthday, send them a horoscope. Have fun with conversational commerce. And lean into a service that can do this for you, like SMS Sales.
After you hit ‘publish’ on your campaigns, make sure you set up a time to monitor results and iterate if needed. Depending on the volume of messages, this could be as simple as a 15-minute check at the end of each day.
One of the beauties of SMS marketing is the ability to quickly see impact and change your approach as needed.
Want to make sure you're set up for success beyond the welcome series? Chat with us and we'll get you ready for BFCM and beyond.
After working at an ecommerce brand straight out of college, Corinne made the roundabout journey to leading content at BigCommerce, afterwards joining the Postscript team in March of 2020. When she's not researching and writing about all-things-ecommerce, she's exploring Austin, enjoying time with her kiddo, and not waiting for the dough to chill before putting it in the oven.