SMS marketing

The humble SMS might seem as dated as the fax machine. But this simple technology can give you a winning advantage in to today’s tough e-commerce world. Why? Because today’s buyer is more demanding than ever. They want a shopping experience that’s smooth, hassle free and provides prompt resolutions to their problems. SMS services help you to meet these expectations and deliver exceptional experiences that keep customers coming back.

Here are five reasons why SMS needs to be in your e-commerce arsenal this year:

1. On a level playing field, SMS gives you the edge

Whether you’re a global conglomerate or a plucky startup, the e-commerce world is getting tougher all the time. The old barriers are falling fast. Buying power and distribution are no longer the decisive advantages they once were. New technologies and opportunities are fast making price and product commoditized.

The raising and leveling of the playing field means you need to find other ways to differentiate yourself. SMS can give you the edge by providing additional services, such as delivery updates, product onboarding services and on the spot customer service, which improve the customer experience and make buying from you a pleasure.

2. Satisfy today’s experience orientated customer

In a world of near limitless choice, to keep customers coming back you’re going to need to offer more than a slick e-commerce platform and an interesting blog.

Delivering an exceptional experience is what today’s customer demands:

A customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related. (Bain & Co.)
55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. (Defaqto Research)
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. (McKinsey)

The focus on exceptional customer experiences has begun. Now and into the future, it’s the online retailers offering an added value, kink free purchase that will gain a bigger slice of pie.

Prompt SMS updates and support can help build the smooth purchasing journey customers now demand and will look forward to taking again.

3. Far higher open rates than email

Typically, the customer experience is handled by email. This is understandable – it’s low cost and it can be run on autopilot. But there’s a problem. Most of these emails aren’t being opened, let alone read or responded to.

According to MailChimp, a mere 17.35% of e-commerce emails get opened and just 3% are clicked through. So while it’s cheap, email’s success at delivering a superior customer experience is hampered by saturated inboxes, zealous junk filters and apathy among today’s buyers. You need to find a better way of communicating with them that’s more practical on a mobile device.

Thanks to the delivery ping, SMS has a near perfect open rate of 98%. What’s more, messages are on average opened within 90 seconds, compared to 90 minutes with email. This makes SMS the ideal channel for sending time sensitive notifications about delivery and near instantaneous answers to customer questions. SMS provides problem resolution at speeds with which email can’t compete.

4. SMS is multifunctional and lower cost

Along with sky high open rates, SMS offers many benefits:

Customer service – 2-way SMS messaging allows customers to have conversations with your customer service team in a similar way to live chat but without needing internet coverage.

Automated – Customers can update their preferences and account information with a single SMS.

Fewer delivery problems – The high open rates for SMS ensures virtually all your customers know exactly when their order will arrive unlike easily missed emails, slashing the cost of non-deliveries.

Always on – There will be times when customers don’t have internet coverage or will have switched it off to conserve their battery. SMS sidesteps these problems as it doesn’t require WiFi, 4G or even 3G to deliver your messages.

Follow up sales – Having gained their approval with helpful and timely updates on delivery, customers are open to receiving coupons and promotional messages by SMS which they’ll more likely use thanks to higher open rates.

Feedback and competitions – SMS can be used to survey customers and run competitions at live events that increase engagement and interaction.

More than a third of visits to e-commerce sites are now on mobile devices (phones and tablets), up from 3.4% in 2010. This is another reason why SMS fits the e-commerce experience like a glove.

5. Your competitors may already be using it

It may have be over two decades old, but organisations are still finding clever new ways of using SMS to enhance the e-commerce experience:

Security – With its near perfect open rate, SMS is the perfect channel for sending one time pin codes. Already used by many banks, using SMS for first time or unusual logins reassures customers and provides an added layer of security against hackers. SMS is also perfect for sending security alerts if there is a breach and to ask customers to update their passwords.

Updating preferences – MultiChoice uses SMS to allow subscribers to manage their satellite TV accounts and resolve customer issues on autopilot. Similarly, it can be used to allow customers to update their preferences and get onboarding instructions for your products.

Promotions – Brands including Harley Davidson and Dunkin Donuts have enjoyed huge success running SMS competitions. You can also use SMS to run time limited promotions, quizzes and other competitions that draw people to your website.

Product information – SMS is the perfect channel for sending wishlist price drop alerts and on the spot instructions. These can be automated or routed via customer services for fast two way conversations with high resolution rates.

How can you harness SMS in your customer experience?

As these five reasons show, SMS is a cost effective and multifunctional tool that can give you the edge in providing the exceptional experiences customers now demand.

So consider how you can use SMS to deliver prompt responses to questions, timely notifications and run promotions that take advantage of its near perfect open rates and convenience on people’s cellphones.

You can find out more about how you can use SMS to overcome 5 key e-commerce challenges in Clickatell’s new white paper. It explains how SMS can improve retention and win the war for customer loyalty in 2015 and beyond. Clickatell is the provider of the world’s largest SMS gateway, which enables more than 15,000 businesses to engage with a potential audience of 6 billion mobile phone users in over 220 countries with the power of SMS.