So far this year, we’ve made our predictions for new trends, rounded up 2023 compliance news and considerations, and looked at the latest Listrak dashboard to review your cross-channel program performance. It seems fitting to put it all together in a blueprint for SMS program success in 2023!

SMS continues to be a top-contributing channel with open message rates as high as 98%, creating significant opportunities for retailers without or with smaller programs today. So it’s now time to accelerate acquisition, automation, personalization, conversations, and cross-channel orchestration to take advantage of all this channel offers.

Encourage Acquisition Across The Customer Journey

Compelling and clear Calls To Action to join your SMS program are critical, as consent to opt-in must be explicit per compliance rules – No scraping for phone numbers, implying opt-in or buying lists for this channel. But in 2023, you can’t rely on single strategies, like a popup, to reach your list growth goals and fuel your program. To accelerate as much as possible, you need multiple subscription points across your owned channels throughout the customer journey.

Building an engaged, cross-channel list for both email and SMS earns you more valuable contacts in the long run. So position both email opt-in and SMS opt-in through Two-Step popups, within forms and Preference Centers, and via the opposite channel, among others. New opportunities for 2023 include influencer marketing and livestream commerce, where you can use unique keywords to identify acquisition sources for new contacts and measure the success of your affiliates.

Meet Your Subscribers Where They Are Through Automation

Listrak’s decades of digital marketing experience and data have proven that targeted, automated campaigns consistently outperform one-time broadcasts. Meeting customers where they are in the customer journey with automated text campaigns are also highly compelling, with these campaigns earning some of the highest engagement metrics in the channel. In our 2022 SMS Benchmark Report, Listrak clients’ text Welcome Series campaigns earned an average 15% Click-Through Rate and 22% Conversion Rate, and Shopping Cart Abandonment campaigns achieved an average 10% Click-Through Rate and 12% Conversion Rate. Compare this to the broadcast average 6% Click-Through Rate and 3% Conversion Rate, and it’s a no-brainer. (Broadcasts are still crucial for both ongoing engagement and compliance, but you’re leaving revenue on the table without targeted automated campaigns also in place.)

These types of messages can and should be sent at as many touchpoints as possible, from time of initial acquisition with a Welcome Series to intent-based campaigns with Browse Abandonment and Shopping Cart Abandonment, to product alerts with Back In Stock, Low Inventory, and Price Drop, and finally purchase-based outreach with Post Purchase and Transactional.

Automated Transactional campaigns have become table stakes for SMS programs as consumers now expect this type of communication. Sending order status updates every step of the way keeps your customer informed, reduces the number of inbound calls to Customer Service, and nicely tees up subsequent purchases. Messages are short and sweet, with a clickable link to manage orders, complementing transactional emails with full order details.

Work Smarter, Not Harder, With Dynamic Personalization

Full-list broadcasts should be sent twice weekly and on key shopping days for consistent communication with your subscribers, but messages in between should go to smaller groups for maximum ROI potential. Since we know that targeted automation, by and large outperforms one-time text broadcasts, there are opportunities to take similar concepts into your day-to-day SMS campaign calendar through activity-based segmentation and first-party data.

Activity-based segmentation is recommended, as the 80/20 rule generally applies to an SMS program’s subscriber list: 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of the most engaged customers. So your most active subscribers (clicking, browsing, purchasing) should receive the most broadcasts, while the least active should only receive the standard calendar frequency. We recommend segmenting your total list size into mutually exclusive audiences that use Last Click Date and Last Order Date and the same lookback window, like Last 30 Days, to ensure that contacts can only exist in one of those segments at a time and can move dynamically upon activity without you having to manage anything.

Additional opportunities for segmentation include leaning into purchase-based audiences. These are helpful for messages promoting new collections, giving early access, and showcasing exclusive products (among others) to again maximize ROI without having to send them to everyone and giving your best customers some extra love. This, helps influence and reinforce brand loyalty and lifetime value.

Connect Directly With Customers Through Conversations

Mobile marketing is very conversational, and Two-Way SMS Conversations allow you to individually connect with your customers and subscribers via text. Whether managing through the Listrak platform or with your customer service support software integrated via API, your team can address inbound questions, concerns, and feedback in-channel. Like with Transactional messaging, consumers are beginning to expect to hear from their favorite brands via text if they ask a question or interact with their campaigns.

Additionally, you can use this type of communication to collect more first-party data and insights through Info Campaigns and Data Acquisition Campaigns. These messages are set up to deliver specific responses to prompts set by the marketer, and some use cases include asking a customer what they’re shopping for, their zip code, or even quiz-like questions to recommend products best suited for their needs. These campaigns allow you to deliver highly relevant and personalized messages to engaged contacts, and responses can help inform your messaging calendar, demand planning, and more.

Coordinate Email And SMS Efforts Together

As we’ve mentioned, your most valuable contacts are those that subscribe to and engage with your email and SMS programs – We’ve seen as much as 30% higher lifetime value from contacts subscribed to a retailer’s omnichannel programs. This can bring overlap in your messaging volume, so cross-channel orchestration tools like Listrak’s Journey Hub allow you to coordinate efforts so that you’re sending the right message at the right time to the right audience in the right channel.

This doesn’t mean pulling back on volume in one channel if messages from one start to outperform the other. But instead using activity-based segmentation to send more messages in the channels your contacts prefer and reinforce your brand stories across both. For example: When launching a new collection of products, you should send sneak peeks and early access to the most engaged email and SMS audiences. Then when the collection is live, an announcement to both complete lists. Then, when inventory starts running low, a reminder to recent clickers in each channel who haven’t purchased. And, of course, when they inevitably purchase, they should receive an order confirmation and thank you across both channels (based on what they’re subscribed to). If a contact isn’t clicking in one channel, they won’t receive the corresponding activity-based messaging. And if they’re clicking and connecting across both, you can set channel priorities to send more from one over the other.

In Conclusion

As SMS continues to accelerate in retail with more adoption across brands, more consumers wanting messaging, and more innovation, it’s critical to plan strategies that touch each step of your customer journey via text. 

Always prioritize list growth, leverage automation to meet your subscribers where they’re at, use personalization for compelling messaging, be prepared to converse with your customers directly, and ensure email and SMS efforts align together! 

Get Started/ Have Additional Questions?

Reach all your Mobile Marketing goals and evolve your program into a top revenue-contributing channel in 2023. For more information and assistance, contact your Account Manager or get started with Listrak’s SMS.

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