29 SMS Marketing Tips We Learned During Our Commerce Club Show on Clubhouse

On February 18, we spoke with 6 experts about best practices for SMS marketing. Here's what we learned.

Tina Donati
March 10, 2021

On February 18, our team spoke with David Hoos, Eli Weiss, Val Geisler, Jason Wong, Taran Ghatrora and Nichole Powell about how DTC brands are driving better results with SMS.

This was during a live Commerce Club event on Clubhouse, called Commerce Conversations. We learned so much from this discussion, and we wanted to share all those insights with you!

Here are 29 tips on how brands can use SMS marketing to drive more revenue and engagement from their customers.


Featured guests from the show

  • Jason Wong, Founder of Doe Lashes
  • David Hoos, Marketing Director at Conversmart 
  • Eli Weiss, Director of Customer Experience at OliPop
  • Val Geisler, Customer Evagelist at Klaviyo
  • Taran Ghatrora, Co-founder and CEO of Blume
  • Nichole Powell, Founder and CEO of Kinfield


Treating SMS as a one-on-one communication channel

  • Many brands use SMS to send discounts and promotions, but for a lot of consumers that messaging doesn't appeal to them โ€” it can feel spammy. 
  • There's an opportunity to treat SMS as a channel where brands can have direct one-on-one communication with their most loyal customers. 
  • SMS offers a much higher degree of intimacy with the ability to interact with loyal and connected customers. Brands should think of it as the most intimate way a brand can connect. 
  • Put yourself in the customer's shoes to consider what sort of messages you would want to receive from your most-loved brands, and plan your strategy around that and your goals. 

Building an SMS-focused community 

  • SMS is a great channel for building an intimate community because you can make it more exclusive. A few ways brands are succeeding with intimate SMS communities is by offering early access to items, sending personalized messages from the brand's SEO, responding to SMS messages and more. 
  • Use SMS to share your brand's message and goals. As one example, a brand that offers a give-back component to a charity can send a feel-good text message after a customer has placed an order to share more information about the charity they've contributed to.

Approaching a brand that's hesitant to send SMS

  • If you're having hesitations about SMS, it's important to test it before you decide it's not right for your brand. Just like any new strategy, you have to think about how you're going to approach it and test it a few ways to find out how it works for you.
  • With SMS, one path is using it as a discount channel, and another path is the unique content path where you engage with your audience with personalized one-on-one communication. To discover your best approach, test both for a certain period of time and watch your engagement. 
  • Whether it's social, email or SMS, you have to decide how you're going to approach it and then test, and you can always decide you're not going to do it anymore if you find it's not working.

Collecting SMS opt-ins 

  • How you collect SMS opt-ins should reflect how you plan to use your SMS channel. Understand your goals before doing anything.
  • There are a variety of ways you can collect SMS opt-ins, including inviting your current email subscribers, putting pop-ups on your website, adding a checkbox on your check out page, sharing it on social media, etc. 
  • Keep your list clean by segmenting customers. You can have a list of your most-engaged customers, customers that are opted in to both email and SMS, etc. 
  • If you're going to take the path of using SMS to share unique content, you'll likely have better engagement rates if you invite your most-engaged subscribers only to offer a really special way for your brand to connect with them.
  • If you're using SMS to send discounts at people in various forms, including your SMS opt-in at your checkout or as a pop-up on the site will be a better approach. 

Treating people as humans and following restrictions 

  • Just like any new channel, there are less laws and restrictions in place when people first discover and start using it. Right now, this is how SMS is.
  • At one point, email was a new channel of communicating as well, and it got used improperly and was abused โ€” hindering the customer experience. Eventually, laws were made to tell people how to treat others as human beings on email. 
  • Right now, SMS doesn't have those same restrictions. As marketers, it's important to be careful not to abuse your SMS channel.
  • If brands can build engagement and show people that it's an okay channel to connect with brands then SMS will have better results and engagement for everyone. 
  • Don't be afraid to provide those meaningful experiences through SMS even though it's currently unregulated. Follow best practices and consider how you'd want brand to engage with your on SMS, and then just provide a truly meaningful experience with great content. 

Providing value to customers on SMS

  • When building an SMS strategy, you should consider first and foremost how you will use it to provide value to your audience. 
  • As you continue to test and learn from the ways you engage with customers over SMS, you will start to understand the best way to provide that value.
  • Keep your lists segmented so that you remember why people signed up for SMS in the first place. Then, you can ensure you're only sending messages that matter to the end-user.
  • Understand your brand's core values or guiding principles, and reflect that on your SMS channel. If your goal with SMS isn't to sell, then you shouldn't be sending spammy messages that do just that. Stay focused on your values in order to provide the best value to customers.

How email and SMS work together 

  • A lot brands will use email and SMS the exact same way, and they'll send the same messaging across both platforms. This results in customers unsubscribing from both channels because the message falls flat. 
  • What you send on email versus SMS should depend on how you prioritize the two channels. They can interplay and relate to each other, but you shouldn't duplicate the same message to your customers on both. As an example, you could send an abandoned cart message on email first and send the second follow up on SMS. 

Choosing your SMS platform

  • Rather than focusing on the platform you choose, it's more important to focus on how you're growing your subscriber base.
  • Most SMS platforms offer the same features, so if you're noticing lower engagement rates, there is usually another factor involved rather than it being the platform itself. 
  • A few reasons your engagement rates could be lower are due to not sending relevant content to your subscribers or collecting the wrong kind of subscribers. Ask yourself if your website is getting relevant traffic, who's subscribing, what your goals of using SMS are and how often you plan to engage with those customers. 
  • It's not only about how you're collecting the subscribers, but also the content you send as well. Depending on what you're sending, people also could choose not to engage because they aren't getting a unique experience on SMS compared to what's already being offered on your website or in email. As an example, don't offer the same 20% off discount on SMS that's already being offered on your website. 


About Commerce Club: 

Commerce Club was co-founded by Matt Schlicht and Ben Parr. Both Matt and Ben are also the co-founders of Octane AI, a company that gives Shopify brands the ability to offer conversational commerce to customers on their sites; an experience replicating an in-store consultation and leading to curated product recommendations. 

Commerce Club shows are hosted on Clubhouse. There are a variety of weekly shows that dive into successful brands, ecommerce strategies and more. If you're interested in learning about upcoming shows and getting show notes, articles and transcripts. Head to joincommerceclub.com to sign up for the newsletter. 

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