8 Examples of Ecommerce Brands Using SMS Marketing to Grow Fast
We compiled a list of some exceptional brands that are taking SMS to the next level by offering more than just simple promotions and support through the channel.
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Even though SMS is still a relatively new channel, many brands are already seeing substantial success with their text marketing programs. And it's not just about driving immediate revenue through full-list discount campaigns (although when used strategically, that can be a solid strategy as well).
The brands that have really figured out how to use SMS as a differentiator, though, have moved beyond the batch-and-blast mindset to incorporate segmentation, personalization, and two-way communication. These brands have ushered in a new way of thinking about SMS. Rather than seeing it as simply an accessory to email, shops are starting to build unique strategies around text.
Just ask nutrition brand 310. After doubling down on email marketing and experiencing substantial revenue growth, they started looking for other methods to reach new customers while also keeping their lean team’s bandwidth in mind.
Enter: SMS marketing.
“We saw immediate results after just a couple of targeted campaigns—[which was] well worth the investment,” said the team.
310 is just one of many ecommerce brands who’ve recognized the value in SMS marketing. The brand now has over 75,000 subscribers and, after starting with a few small promotional campaigns, 310 now sees SMS marketing as a core part of their business.
Their path to SMS is not unique. The standard growth marketing playbook often starts with a brand determining their primary selling channel (direct-to-consumer, through intermediaries, B2B, or wholesale). The business typically then decides which marketing channels to use.
For DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands, those channels may include social media, email, newsletters, or partnerships.
Additionally, B2B brands often consider direct mail, paid advertising, or partnerships.
After they’ve tested and implemented a few channels, they’ll start to look for the next frontier. This is typically where SMS marketing—which allows brands to reach their customers through text messages—comes into play.
After all, it's no secret that people don't always their email every day—let alone the cumbersome “promotions” folder. And the updates to iOS, along with a future cookieless world, make owned marketing that much more crucial.
SMS opens a whole new world of owned marketing for DTC brands:
The average consumer checks their smartphone 96 times per day. That’s a lot of opportunity to get into the minds of your shoppers.
The average SMS open rate is 99%, compared to less than 20% for email.
The response rate of SMS text message marketing is 45%, while email response rates hover at 6%.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to SMS marketing—and there really shouldn’t be, given that every business and customer base is different—there are some trends we’ve discovered. To that end, here are some more brands that have found creative, impactful ways to leverage the SMS channel.
JUDY educates customers about their product.
Good Morning America has touted JUDY as the “the must-have emergency kit to keep you safe during disaster.” This brand brought emergency preparedness kits to the public in late 2019. Outside of providing a neatly (and well-branded) kit of essentials like duct tape, batteries, and flashlights, JUDY also gives customers personalized recommendations and educational content to keep them up-to-speed on all things preparedness.
So, how do they deliver these recommendations? There are a few ways.
Visitors can take a quiz on the JUDY website to figure out which product and plan work best for them. They can also sign up for SMS alerts about emergency information.
This is a beautiful example from JUDY of an SMS capture pop-up.
This popup on JUDY's website enables the brand to collect phone numbers from potential customers while also positioning themselves as a helpful resource.
JUDY also uses SMS to educate customers after they make a purchase.
SMS isn’t just a marketing channel for JUDY—it’s a product feature. By using a communication channel that already feels familiar to customers, JUDY is stepping up and making it easier than ever for shoppers to stay engaged.
Take a look at how JUDY embeds their SMS marketing into their advertising on social media. If you’re considering using SMS as a channel, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you promote it to customers on the channels they're already using their phones to access.
Really innovative brands take customer education one step further by using it to build relationships. This can make a brand even more “sticky,” as the education and expertise they offer might push customers to buy from them—rather than a competitor—in the future.
For example, Equal Parts, a cookware company from Pattern Brands, has a “text-a-chef” program, where customers can use SMS to chat with a chef, ask questions, get recipes, and more.
Pro tip: If you offer subscribers the ability to have one-on-one conversations with your brand, make sure you have the support team bandwidth and integrations with whatever support technology you’re using—whether it’s Intercom, Zendesk, Gorgias, or something else. The last thing you want is to give customers the expectation of a fast, one-on-one conversation, only to leave them waiting on a response for hours (or worse, receiving no response at all.)
Here's another example of a message Equal Parts sent during the COVID-19 pandemic. They acknowledged that people were spending more time at home in their kitchens and reminded subscribers of how they could help.
Here, a subscriber asked Equal Parts a quick question about how to cook green beans. Joan got back replied quickly with an easy recipe.
This level of attention goes beyond any personalization capabilities available through email marketing or social media advertising.
Hydrant gives shoppers an easy way to re-order.
Let’s face it: customers are becoming more and more accustomed to tailored shopping experiences. When it comes to reordering a product, it’s cumbersome to go through the entire checkout process again. Instead, services like Amazon let you re-order directly from your order history. This is a bit easier and reduces purchase friction—thus increasing the likelihood of the customer actually ordering.
Want to take the customer experience a step further? Let your customers re-order via text. Even better—tell them when they may be running low, and remind them that they can re-order simply by replying.
Hydrant—a brand that offers rehydration packets—conveys this information to shoppers on one of the most important pages on their website: the order confirmation page.
After someone completes an order, a simple popup asks the shopper if they want to sign up to be alerted via text when it’s time to reorder.
What an SMS pop-up during checkout can look like. This example is from Hydrant.
Then, depending on the amount ordered, Hydrant will send a friendly, optimally timed text message asking the customer if they want to re-order.
You can see how this method would be much more impactful than email marketing. Rather than being sent to the promotions folder of an email account, the SMS goes right to the user’s text messages. Plus, it is high intent—meaning that it is much less likely to be ignored since it is from a familiar brand.
Going out of the way to be helpful rather than pushy is extremely important when it comes to relationship-building via SMS marketing. You only have one opportunity to impress a customer before they’re given the chance to unsubscribe—so you better make it count.
Pro tip: It requires more than one technology to make SMS re-order fulfillment work. Hydrant’s SMS program is powered by Repeat's Smart Replenishment Program.
GOOD COUNSEL sends personalized product recommendations.
Even the savviest customers sometimes need help determining which products are best for them.
One of the pitfalls of online retail is the lack of a retail assistant to help steer you toward the products you need. That’s where innovative content swoops in for the assist—through photos, video, product descriptions, and more.
GOOD COUNSEL takes it one step further by giving customers the ability to chat with a personal stylist by subscribing to their SMS.
Like the other brands featured in this post, GOOD COUNSEL uses SMS as a core part of their product offering rather than a traditional marketing channel. Shoppers text back and forth with a stylist before receiving recommendations on what clothing to purchase.
Once a customer signs up for a GOOD COUNSEL account, they get a text letting them know what’s next.
From there, the user can chat back and forth with their stylist about recommendations.
GOOD COUNSEL also uses SMS messaging for standard marketing campaigns. They incentivize users to sign up for text alerts through popups and lead captures on their site, and then message them whenever there is a special deal.
Here, GOOD COUNSEL is using a mix of personalized messaging and normal promotions. As a subscription service, their goal is to be as tailored as possible so that customers see the inherent value of a monthly payment.
Super Coffee bridges the brick-and-click gap.
As with any marketing channel, SMS is a great opportunity to showcase your unique brand voice.
Coffee brand Super Coffee has a quirky, informative way of communicating with their customers, and their text message marketing is no different.
The team at Super Coffee also understands the value of merging online and offline shopping. A significant portion of their revenue comes from retail sales in stores like Whole Foods, CVS, Target, and more.
There are a few drawbacks to having third-party stores sell your products—the main one being that you lose out on an important touchpoint with shoppers. When someone purchases your product at a retail location, you typically don’t get any information about their demographics or buying habits. This makes it almost impossible to encourage repeat purchases, because you aren’t collecting any of their contact details (or cookies).
Super Coffee identified an innovative fix for this. On some of their store packaging, they’ve included a phone number shoppers can text to sign up for SMS messaging—and thus, get first access to discounts, product releases, and more.
Last but not least, Super Coffee makes it simple for users to sign up for information (and a discount) via text message right on their website by serving visitors a popup.
NaturAll Club sends test and quiz results.
NaturAll Club knows that every head of hair is different—so why market the same products to everyone?
As an awesome example of ecommerce personalization, shoppers on the NaturAll website have the option to take a short quiz in order to receive tailored product recommendations from a stylist. At the end of the quiz, shoppers are prompted to enter their phone number to start a SMS conversation.
Quizzes are a fun way for shoppers to interact with your brand, and having personalized products that meet the exact needs of your customers helps increase long-term retention and decrease return rates.
Users who decide not to take the quiz are still prompted and incentivized to leave their phone number through a classic popup lead capture form.
Sassy Jones offers personalized recommendations and customer service.
Sassy Jones uses video marketing to the full extent. Whether it’s IGTV, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, or any combination of the three, fans of this brand can expect to get educational, promotional, and fun video content on a daily basis.
When the brand launched on Postscript, they looked to their Facebook page to spread the news far and wide.
The star of the video goes through the process of actually chatting with a customer and making product recommendations.
Taking it a step further and advertising SMS on Facebook is a great way to meet customers where they already are.
The video ends with a screenshot directing customers to how they can text the brand and sign up for SMS notifications.
NanaMacs promotes flash sales and limited-time deals.
Women’s fashion boutique NanaMacs built an online community from the ground up. Known as “VIP Members,” these avid shoppers tune in to almost-daily live streams on Facebook to browse through new products and buy right on their FB feed.
Not only is this a way for the NanaMacs team to keep in touch with customers, but it also helps customers see what the products will actually look like on different body shapes.
Shoppers who sign up for SMS marketing from NanaMacs receive friendly reminders right in their text inbox to let them know when live streams are going to occur.
By using these texts to tease the new products that’ll be available on the live stream, NanaMacs increases attendance even more.
Any business that uses flash sales or limited discounts can benefit from the almost-instantaneous open rates provided by SMS marketing. Users are much more inclined to open a text message immediately when they receive it—whereas with email marketing, a message may sit for a few hours (or days) before the recipient looks at it.
If you want to fully reap the rewards of SMS marketing, consider going beyond using SMS as a traditional marketing channel. Instead, make it part of your core product—whether that's by sending personalized recommendations, providing refill notifications, having 1-on-1 conversations with an expert, or something else.
Learn more about how Postscript can help you make SMS your top revenue channel and install it for free today.
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