How To Optimize SMS Marketing for eCommerce

While it's easy to send a mass text message to all of your customers announcing a sale, this article suggests actionable tips on how you can optimize your SMS campaign by personalizing it.

How many of you read all your emails and achieve “inbox zero?” Now, how many of you read all your texts? Exactly. As studies show, hardly anyone achieves inbox zero with emails, but text messages have an open rate of a whopping 98%.

This is the power of SMS text marketing; a more personal and effective channel to communicate with your ecommerce customers. While emails have been long associated with the sentiment of “I’ll get to them eventually,” texts still have a sense of immediacy and importance that your brand can tap into.

And fear not, marketers. As surprising as it may be, the modern customer wants to receive SMS messages from brands as a primary form of communication. 52% of consumers prefer text conversations with support reps, and 62% of consumers believe businesses should use SMS messaging even more than they already do.

Far from being a nuisance, savvy online shoppers prefer the quick back-and-forth of text messages, and the easy access to exploding promotional offers.

But that doesn’t mean brands know the optimal way to utilize SMS messages. And a few bad texts will have your business end up just like an old ex of theirs: blocked and ignored.

The cardinal sin of SMS marketing

The biggest failure when it comes to text messages from a company is not utilizing the medium for what it was meant for: personalized messages.

Again, texts are much more personal than email. So when your customer receives a promotional text that reads like an impersonal email, that’s when your team will see decreasing engagement rates. Personalization is key.

Keeping this in mind lends itself to good SMS marketing habits:

  • Don’t send too many texts. A slew of random offers and announcements makes it feel less personal.
  • Don’t text at odd hours of the night. Know when your customer is most likely to be receptive. Usually, this means mid-morning and early afternoon in their personal time zone.
  • And most importantly, don’t send offers and incentives that they don’t care about.

Let’s dig in a bit more into that last point.

Keep clienteling in mind

Clienteling is how a modern brand caters to each customer on a personal level. It’s the polar opposite of blanket-level customer service. Think of it as treating each customer as if they have a 1-on-1 appointment with your sales associate in-store. Getting to know their likes and dislikes and showing them the right products for them is how to provide clienteling.

A good SMS marketing campaign feels like a virtual clienteling experience. Each text should be aligned directly with the customer’s history and profile in your CRM. By looking into their previous purchase history, what they’ve browsed on your ecommerce store, and promotional offers they have redeemed; your marketing and sales team can craft the right SMS messages that have a high likelihood of resonating with them and spurring them to action.

Of course, doing this for each customer when your brand may have a large base can be impossible without the right tools. That’s where a powerful segmentation feature in your CRM can be combined with grouped SMS messages to make this much easier on even smaller teams.


For example, Endear’s Campaigns let marketing teams filter their customers by the products they have purchased, their order history, their last purchase, by their subscriptions, and basic profile information such as location, gender, and more.

By creating tight groups of similar profiles using these filters, your team can send out highly targeted and, more importantly, highly relevant marketing text messages to specific segments of your customer base.

For example, you could create an SMS campaign for the segment of your audience that has purchased a green spring dress in the last 90 days in a certain zip code near one of your retail locations. Then, text them a promo for matching green sandals. This level of personalized messaging is the type of virtual clienteling your brand can offer with the right data.

Think outside the text

Text messaging is sort of a misnomer these days. After all, nearly all texting apps can handle images, GIFs, and links. Your SMS marketing campaigns should take full advantage of this, and a great way to do it is to text your customers a personalized, curated visual catalog.

At Endear, we’ve created Shoppable Stories that are a visual way to send personalized product recommendations through text messages. Not only do Shoppable Stories render your products in a dynamic and high quality format, but can be directly integrated into SMS messages (as well as email) to show off your products right on a customer’s mobile device.

The best part is that these Stories are actionable right from their phones. Your customer can click on a product they like and make a purchase from your ecommerce store right then and there.

Remember, you’ve spent time and effort segmenting your audience and personalizing the products that best appeal to each group. It would be a shame to send out low-res images or just a block of text notifying them of a sale. Keep that visual shopping experience at the core of your virtual clienteling experience through your SMS marketing.

SMS over social media

We’ve seen our clients get more interested in SMS marketing due to the fickle nature of the social media landscape. Facebook doesn’t reach younger generations. Instagram is crowded and less reliable to advertising since Apple had to tone down its 3rd party data tracking. Tik Tok… no one really knows what to do with Tik Tok.

Shoppable Stories is an example of a visual app that lives right on your ecommerce platform like Shopify, which bypasses the need for 3rd party data and lets your brand send personalized Stories directly to each customer. And because it’s through SMS, this marketing channel isn’t going anywhere; so far, text messaging has preceded and outlasted every social media platform that’s been invented.

More and more brands are coming around to a sharpened SMS marketing strategy. Yet as we mentioned last time, only 13% of SMBs are using text messages with their customers. That means it’s still relatively early for your brand to leap over your competition by getting a great SMS strategy in place for the ecommerce side of your business.