SMS has been the world’s quickest growing communication channel for a long time now. In response, cutting-edge retailers, such as Shopify, have been steadily leveraging SMS marketing as a customer communication tool, whether for converting email-to-sms marketing campaigns, delivery updates, or even internal communications.

The pandemic has resulted in a meteoric push to digital communication, with 97 percent of Australian companies stating that the pandemic sped up their digital transformation a great deal, whereby it seemed like most of our interactions are through devices these days. Retailers that were already using SMS marketing methods with success, have been able to achieve some stability, and even success, this year.

But as we look to a brighter 2021, the retailers that were slow to the mark, or perhaps rushed their SMS-marketing deployment, must ensure they understand the benefits clearly, and use it effectively, so that revenue is maximised, and long term relationships are built with customers rather than broken. 

A leap to digital 

With COVID-19 forcing traditional brick-and-mortar stores to close their doors, Australian consumers have quickly adapted to online shopping as the primary means of connecting and engaging with their favourite retailers. 

Simple, reliable and effective SMS marketing has found a good home in retail in recent years, and there are many benefits of SMS marketing spanning the entire marketing funnel. Aussie brands, like aussieBums, use SMS marketing as a way to engage customers higher in the funnel, nurturing these relationships through to the customer acquisition stage, encouraging repeat purchases and ultimately increasing customer loyalty. 

Additionally, SMS marketing in ecommerce is increasingly being used to promote loyalty programs, coupons and discounts, and even sharing product updates and new arrivals. Retailers, like Adore Beauty and ecommerce giant, The Iconic, have embraced SMS marketing to offer special deals directly to customers, particularly during the recent Black Friday sales. Coupled with email marketing, SMS marketing is an effective way to reach customers in real-time to offer personalised communication. 

Data, data and more data

With any new technology, there are newfound risks to manage. Retailers using SMS marketing for the first time may find the ecosystem complex initially, and if not careful, mistakes can be made, such as communicating to the wrong customers at the wrong time.

An effective way to avoid this critical mistake is to ensure customer data is accurate and current. The acquisition of Segment by Twilio will allow developers and retailers to unify consumer data across every customer touchpoint to improve data hygiene and enable businesses to unlock the power of their customers’ data. 

Providing superior customer service

As more retailers turn to online, the use of technology for creating engaging and exceptional customer experience has never been more important 

If we’ve learned anything about customers in 2020, it’s that more than ever, they’re demanding hyper-personalised experiences through all the interactions they have with a retailer. One way retailers can execute this is by setting up hyper-targeted customer segments using data from whatever ecommerce storefront their businesses are using. By leveraging this and sending text messages to the customer base, retailers will be able to collect useful insight—like your customer’s birthday—that can be used to incorporate additional personalisation to your SMS marketing tactics. 

There’s no denying that for a marketer, entrepreneur, or store owner, SMS can be a tricky channel to navigate. Yet done right, the use of text messaging is quickly emerging as one of the best and most reliable ways to successfully communicate with customers. 

Kristen Pimpini is country director for Australia and New Zealand at Twilio