How to successfully personalize your SMS campaigns

Considering the average person spends over 3 hours per day on their phone, it’s no surprise that SMS marketing is on the rise. In fact, the entire SMS marketing industry has a projected CAGR of over 20% and is expected to grow to $12.6B by the end of 2025.

That’s just on the business side. The reason why SMS marketing is so appealing to merchants is that it works. For one thing, you have a captive audience. Messages on other channels such as email are much easier to delete or ignore, if they’re even seen in the first place. And while paid ads can be more effective if they’re served to the right audience, the overwhelming number of other emails flooding your audience’s inbox can be distracting.  

SMS meanwhile, is a less crowded channel and boasts an impressive conversion rate of 29% across all industries. 

Why is SMS so successful? Because SMS is a ‘hand-raiser’ medium. Your customers have to volunteer their cell phone numbers. And unlike email, where a shopper can create a ‘junk’ account, most people only have one number. So if they’re handing it over, they’re already pretty interested in what you have to say. 

The good news? If you get someone subscribed to your SMS messages, as long as you provide meaningful content, you’ll likely sustain a captive audience.

The challenging news? First, you need to convince shoppers to provide their phone numbers. Incentives, giveaways, and other perks are popular ways to collect new SMS subscribers.

But the bigger challenge is keeping subscribers engaged. That’s what we’re focusing on today: Why personalization needs to be a part of your SMS strategy, and how to do it. 

What it really means when you get a customer’s phone number

If you take nothing else away from this blog, remember this: Your shoppers handed over a pretty critical, personal piece of data when they signed up for SMS messaging.

So naturally, it makes sense to provide some tailored content that makes them feel special. 

Yes, they might have signed up because they wanted to unlock a special bonus. But your job as a marketer now is to surprise and delight them with how great your SMS campaigns actually are.

In fact, 31% of shoppers say they want to receive personalized messaging from brands that send them SMS marketing. And 20% feel like the messages they get right now don’t make them feel ‘special’. 

Not feeling that special something from a brand you entrusted with your phone number? That’s a fast track to unsubscribing.

Understanding your customers and delivering the right messaging to them is the way to take SMS messaging - which already has superpowers of its own - and level it up into a serious success story for your business. 

How to get started with SMS personalization 

There are many different ways to personalize your SMS campaigns. But first, you need to understand who your customers are. 

How to do this? You have two main options. 

The first is to simply ask your customers what they’re interested in. When they sign up for your SMS service, ask them a question or two either online or via SMS. For example, you could ask which types of products or collections they’re most interested in –  such as men’s vs. women’s clothing. Or you could ask which types of content they’d like to receive, like promotional notifications, collection drops, or coveted restocks. 

The second option is to entrust this work to segmentation and smart algorithms. With segmentation, your customers are automatically sorted into different categories based on the rules you set. For example, you might move a customer into the ‘high value, highly loyal’ category once they’ve made more than 2 purchases in a month valued at 50% higher than a typical customer. 

While segmentation identifies customers based on their actual behavior, smart algorithms can also provide a helpful shortcut to understanding what a customer is likely to be interested in. For example, it might determine that customers that spend a lot of time looking at an iPhone are good candidates to also be interested in phone cases or external batteries, based on the data of other shoppers. 

SMS personalization through smart algorithms basically works the same way it will on your site (if you’re using a highly sophisticated personalization tool like LimeSpot, that is). The algorithm  consolidates all customer data to serve up the most relevant recommendations to every shopper - but instead of your site, through SMS. 

SMS Personalization Strategies

Once you’ve figured out audience segments, the next step is to start serving up relevant content to them via SMS. We’ve gathered up four of our favorite ideas for SMS campaigns - but there are dozens of ideas out there. SMS is basically synonymous with any type of email marketing initiative. The difference is just how attention-grabbing it is. 

Strategy 1: The Next Purchase 

Your customer has just hit checkout and bought something - great! But one purchase does not a loyal customer make. Enter SMS. Use the shopper’s most recent purchase data to serve up an SMS product recommendation that perfectly complements what they just bought. New sneakers: How about some shoe cleaning wipes? A mattress? Nothing helps a good night’s sleep like a cushy pillow. 

Pro tip: You can use SMS to alert shoppers on their order status, including shipping updates or tracking details. Tagging personalization onto these alert campaigns is a smart way to grab the attention of shoppers right when they’re most interested in what you have to say.

There’s also the option to time your SMS with a package’s arrival. Once your tracking signals a package has safely arrived, send a quick ‘thanks for shopping with us’ message, coupled with an idea of what they might want to browse next. 

Strategy 2: The Winback

According to Klayvio, abandoned cart emails can recoup up to 3% - 14% of sales that might otherwise be lost. That makes abandoned cart SMS messages a no-brainer. Keep in mind that shoppers do need to provide consent for you to message them; just getting their phone number at checkout (before they abandon their cart) isn’t enough to count as consent. 

But if you do have a shopper’s phone number, particularly if they’re a returning customer, it’s not a bad idea to send them a friendly nudge back to their cart to complete a transaction. As always, promotions are a great way to close those sales. But even just reminding shoppers of an item in their cart, or a new arrival they might want to add to that abandoned cart, can be a great, personalized way to get them to take a second look and actually hit ‘buy’. 

Strategy 3: The Celebration 

Your best customers, you know, the ones willing to give you their mobile phone numbers, are deserving of a little extra love. Take every meaningful occasion to celebrate them and you’ll only build loyalty. 

Birthday celebrations are one of the most common milestones, but there are a few additional data points you could be leveraging. For example, when a customer hits the anniversary of their first-ever purchase with you, or the day they set up their account. Or you could shout out when they’ve hit a milestone in their customer loyalty status.

Of course, these celebration messages are made even more special when they include a piece of personalized content that makes the shopper feel special. Including product recommendations that are relevant to their existing shopping behavior is key. After a year of buying yoga gear from a fitness store, your customer is more likely to click on a new yoga mat you’re recommending than, say, hiking boots. Data-driven personalized SMS recommendations can automatically pull in a perfect idea to help your customers feel recognized in more ways than one.

Strategy 4: The Launch

SMS messages are the modern-day equivalent of ‘Extra! Extra!’ If you want your customers to read all about it (or at least, browse) then sending them an SMS message to highlight new product or collection drops is a great way to pump up the excitement. 

One way to make this strategy even better? Highlight the item in that new drop a customer is most likely to be interested in buying, using, you guessed it, smart algorithms. By pinpointing the exact pair of shoes, sweaters, or handbags  that are in line with their fashion style, you’re more likely to turn heads and drive clicks (and ideally, conversions). 

Selecting an SMS personalization tool

By now, we’ll bet your brain is buzzing with tons of ideas on how you can use SMS to your advantage to generate engagement , and more importantly, orders. The final step is to select an SMS personalization tool. 

Here are five things you’ll want to look out for in an SMS personalization tool:

  1. Uses data-driven intelligence: Smart algorithms are the most efficient way to offer 1:1 personalization at scale. They can detect behavioral data patterns and leverage them to serve up the most relevant product ideas to every shopper that’s in your SMS campaigns.
  2. Connects to major SMS platforms: Make sure your personalization tool links up to the major SMS players out there. LimeSpot’s SMS personalization is compatible with Attentive, Klaviyo, Yotpo, and Postscript. 
  3. Offers multiple promotion types: One promotion doesn’t fit every customer or campaign. Your SMS personalization tool should let you choose between multiple offers like upsell, cross-sell, or frequently bought together.
  4. Allows for manual overrides: Sometimes you’ve got a specific thing you want to push. Make sure your SMS personalization provider lets you select an exact product to promote or a particular collection to pull products from.
  5. Does more than just SMS: We’re not the biggest fans of one-trick ponies over here. Ideally, your SMS personalization tool can be used to enhance the shopping experience beyond just SMS. Think: Your email marketing or your website. 

Looking for SMS personalization? Look no further than LimeSpot. Trusted by thousands of growing brands, LimeSpot’s fully-featured personalization platform includes tailored recommendations that can be inserted in SMS campaigns, as well as on your website and via email. Connect with our sales team to learn more about how LimeSpot can level up your personalization strategy across every channel, including SMS!

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