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How to Leverage SMS Marketing for the Holiday Season

SMS marketing is growing in popularity and has shown remarkable results for eCommerce merchants implementing it effectively as a part of their marketing efforts. As the holiday season approaches, there is a corresponding rise in demand for online shopping and merchants are optimising their marketing efforts to capitalise on the holiday shopping season. Regardless of the time left before holidays, implementing and optimising SMS marketing can drive long-term customer acquisition and retention.

‘The Key to Mastering eCommerce in 2022 & Beyond’ Webinar Series presented by 18th DigiTech, Adobe, and Starshipit continued with Episode 5. Titled ‘Why a Holistic Omnichannel Marketing Strategy is Crucial for Holiday Success’, the episode discussed ways to implement SMS marketing for the holiday season. Featured speakers in Episode 5 are Navin Jain, Strategic Account Executive, SMS Klaviyo, Sofia Newcombe, Partnerships Executive Starshipit, and Tanuj Rastogi, Founder 18th DigiTech.

Read on for highlights from Episode 5 on how you can leverage SMS marketing for the holiday season.

Why Launch SMS Marketing?

SMS Marketing

Merchants that add SMS marketing to their accounts increase revenue by 12 percent within the first 30 days, showing a significant uptick in revenue very quickly, shared Navin Jain. 

One of the reasons why SMS marketing is working so well is because there is so much noise with how many emails are being sent out.

“When I look at my email inbox in the morning I have probably 60-70 emails there. It’s just way too many for me to understand and even the ones that I engage with often, there’s still so many of them,” said Navin.

One of the reasons why it’s really important to leverage SMS for the holidays is because you need to cut through that noise. Everyone is going to be sending out emails. Your competitors may be leveraging SMS, so if they’re already exploring that field, you need to be there as well. If they’re not, SMS marketing gives you a huge competitive advantage to be able to make sure that you connect with your subscribers in a meaningful manner.

Very few of us have an unlimited budget to spend during the holidays. If customers are going through all the emails that they’ve gotten, they may say I’m going to buy from this brand, I’m going to buy from this merchant.

By the time they get to yours, customers may think that they wish they could, but they don’t have the budget for it. Whereas, if you’re sending SMS marketing, you’re getting through first, so you’re prioritised over the other brands that are there. That’s one of the reasons why every brand should look to leverage SMS marketing for the holiday season. 

If a customer receives 60-70 marketing emails, there is likely no way they can buy from more than even 10 of the brands because of budget constraints. By the time they reach email 30-40, customers would likely have already made up their mind about the products and brands they want to buy from. If a customer gets an SMS, their attention goes to the merchant straight away.

Since there is a cost to SMS, you have an advantage as well when compared to your competitors who are not using SMS marketing due to the potential costs.

Implementing SMS Marketing

Navin shared a personal tip for SMS marketing, “If you’re running a promotion for black Friday, cyber Monday, the holidays, Christmas, whatever it might be and you’re sending out a week or two week promotion. Instead of sending a text message out to everyone, what if you sent an email out to everyone on your list? Then you can create a segment of everyone who you have SMS consent for and did not open or engage with that email and send that specific group a text message. “

Instead of sending out to 100,000, maybe you send to 70,000 and because you’re saving those sends, the ROI on your SMS channel is so much more it will allow you to further invest in a channel that you will see much higher conversion rates on. There are a lot of ways that you can incentivise your email list to turn into SMS subscribers.

A lot of brands are concerned about not having a full-blown strategy and want it to be perfect.

“Sometimes done is better than perfect. With the holidays your brand has done such good work, you’re going to be driving so much traffic to your website. You are absolutely going to be doing a disservice if you’re not at least collecting SMS consent and just have a simple welcome flow on,” said Navin.

“One of the most important things is just to turn SMS on,” he emphasised.

SMS Marketing Platform

If you’re going to be running a promotion for the holidays, send a text message out earlier than you would send the email. It helps with the exclusivity, it’s almost like a shock factor to these subscribers and you get ahead of them getting content or marketing messages from some of the other brands that are there.

Some brands who are starting their promotions for a holiday on Friday, begin sending out promotional messages on SMS from Monday itself. This puts them ahead of brands who send out messages on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These brands are deciding to get out a week early and get to the subscribers before the noise.

Sofia seconded, saying “just use SMS. Start using texts as part of the delivery notifications.”

Types of SMSs to Send

SMS Marketing Types

Potentially the best SMS that you could send is the one you don’t have to send. If someone is engaging with email content which is less expensive, why send them a text message. However, if you want to increase engagement, sales, and retention, SMS messages are a great option. Any type of SMS you send should be personalised and sent to suitable subscribers based on customer segmentation for maximum results.

Here are the top types of SMS’ to send:

1. Notifications

SMS Notifications

Delivery notifications are the one time that a customer really wants to hear from you. A recent study said more than two-thirds of consumers believe that delivery updates are the most effective type of SMS message. So, when a customer is looking for this tracking information, they aren’t just looking for the tracking updates but they’re looking for the experience of buying online and the experience of buying from you as a retailer in particular.

From a marketing perspective, you can really use these messages to connect them back to the brand. Especially during the holidays where retailers are acquiring new customers who might be brand new to shopping online or new to shopping from your brand. That first experience can really impact whether they will buy again.

2. Content

SMS Content

Sharing content with your subscribers is an effective way of building that relationship between you and your subscribers. Based on your niche, you can create custom messages that go beyond direct notifications and promotional messages. Common ideas are offering tips and suggestions that go along with your product. Positive and useful messages are likely to be shared by your subscribers, further increasing their engagement and expanding your reach.

Sending SMS messages at regular intervals is a better option than sending high volume blast messages during promotions. If you offer useful content through your SMS messages, you can increase the positive response of customers. With a predictable schedule that doesn’t overwhelm subscribers, you can build anticipation amongst your subscribers for receiving that text from you. A strong relationship and trust can then be leveraged whenever you want to send promotions.

3. Promotions

The end-goal of most customer communications is to increase sales. Promotional SMS messages are a common target for merchants, and can directly offer customers discounts and deals.

There are certain brands and merchants that either don’t have the margins to discount, or they don’t want to. That’s completely fine, you don’t have to just discount. A lot of brands that grow their SMS subscriber list really quickly are using exclusivity as a way to entice subscribers to give their phone number and consent.

For example, be the first to know about the new product that we drop or be the first to know about the holiday special. If you have a promotion scheme running from Friday, you can send a text to your subscribers on Monday and send an email out to everyone on Tuesday, creating exclusivity.

A tactic used by some brands is to offer quick giveaways. For example, some cosmetic brands offer deals such as sign up for SMS and get a tester. This works great because not only does the brand get the phone number and consent of the subscriber, but the subscriber also gets the product. They see how well it works and then tend to buy an even larger cart.

When to Launch SMS Marketing for the Holiday Season

As soon as possible.

A lot of brands feel that they are too close to the holidays and won’t be able to get a suitable setup ready in time, and they won’t be able to use the setup as effectively as they want. However, that can be a huge missed opportunity.

Every merchant’s website traffic likely spikes during the holidays. If that’s going to happen it is an excellent time to grow your SMS list.

“I don’t think that we need to focus on building out 10 or 15 different automations, journeys, flows, whatever you want to call it around SMS marketing. Keep it really simple. Just add consent at checkout on your website, add a signup form to collect SMS subscribers, and just turn on the welcome flow at a minimum,” said Navin.

“Do that immediately, and you’ll be able to start collecting SMS subscriber you can then use for the holidays, but more importantly you can build this list to nurture and engage with them post holidays,” he added.

SMS Subscriber

The best brands that are using SMS marketing are slowly building up their subscriber base. The holidays are really important, but more than using the holidays for driving sales, it’s important to drive list acquisition and lead generation. Using newly acquired subscribers helps the best brands continue to grow their business in the months following the holiday season.

Instead of having hockey stick spikes in sales during the holidays, the goal is to level the impact out to keep growing continuously.

During the holidays, brands can increase the number of promotional messages sent as long as subscribers are still targeted in a meaningful manner.

“From a supply chain perspective, a lot of brands have said that they would rather space out their holiday orders than take them all during a four-day period,” said Navin.

By giving access to holiday promotions and codes ahead of time to subscribers, merchants can better manage logistics. Using unique coupon codes and not generic ones prevents them from being sold on sites like WikiBuy or Honey.


SMS Marketing Tactic

Online shopping is no longer restricted only to websites, and with SMS marketing, you can reach your customers faster and more effectively. By providing them with an additional interaction interface, you can build a long lasting relationship with customers, encouraging them to return to your brand with loyalty. The holiday season brings a massive increase in shopping customers, and SMS marketing can be a useful tactic that gives your brand an edge.

For the best results from SMS marketing for the holiday season and beyond, integrating SMS messages into your overall marketing system is important. A cohesive approach provides customers with a unified omnichannel sales experience. At 18th DigiTech we offer end-to-end eCommerce solutions along with targeted eCommerce digital marketing services. Reach out to us today to improve your existing eCommerce website, launch a new online store, or implement customised digital marketing for your brand.