SMS Marketing Podcast: How to build a list of SMS subscribers for your brand texting campaigns

SMS Marketing Podcast

It’s business as usual, but Drew and Nate take the podcast remote as the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the greater Seattle region grows. In this episode Drew and Nate outline strategies to gain/grow a list of SMS subscribers. Robust brand texting platforms such as Chatitive allow their customers the opportunity to collect phone numbers at check out, through more traditional channels like email, as well as tapping your affiliate program to opt in mobile users.

Drew:
Hello and welcome to another episode of Left on Read. My name is Drew and on the phone with me, I have Nate Odell.


Nate:
Hey Drew.


Drew:
Hey, so we are remote this week being in Seattle, we thought that it might be best to avoid contact with the outside world. So we are conducting business as usual, but from the safety of our homes amid the fear of a pandemic.


Nate:
Yeah, well we’re taking every necessary precaution and not only being, you know, good citizens, but also ensuring the safety of, of our employees and our customers. By you know, taking advantage of technology and continuing business as usual but doing it remotely. And for those of you that are listening from afar Chatitive is headquartered in Seattle and we’re sort of in the midst of, you know, the early outbreak of the coronavirus. And so we’re taking a very, you know, well thought through and data-driven precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. But, you know, I was joking as Drew mentioned and sort of business as usual for us.


Drew:
Yeah. I want to start by doing some housekeeping. As usual, you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Spotify. You can access episodes the entire catalog at chatitive.buzzsprout.com. Our last episode was about creating real conversations with your customers over the SMS channel and going beyond wanting to get promotions and one way text and truly fostering a two way communication channel with your customers. Today’s topic is going to be on list building or classic acquisition use cases. Say you’re new to the channel or you are, you are looking to scale your current efforts on the SMS channel. This podcast will go into the different ways here at Chatitive that we believe are effective. And excuse me, the ways that you can take advantage of these acquisition plays with it platform like Chatitive. And with that, I would like to start, Nate. Building a list can [inaudible] it can seem daunting, don’t you think?


Nate:
Yeah, very much so. I think you know, it’s part of growing your business. You can’t just be focused entirely on reselling your existing customers. So it’s certainly the ultimate goal is maintaining lifetime value with every customer that you have. But you also want to continue to add to that base. And doing that for mobile messaging can be inherently challenging at first. But if you think through sort of your use cases and you think through you know, what your customers prefer in terms of engagement, then it becomes, you know, pretty easy to sort of identify areas where you can successfully acquire net new mobile customers. But then also prioritize that list. We’ll start with things that are going to be the most impactful for your business, but then, you know, be open to testing other methods and other opportunities to acquire mobile customers no matter the medium.


Drew:
Yeah. And I think a good place to start is obviously using your existing shopping cart on your website and that’s just basically putting an option for your customers to input their phone number and then a button on the side of or under that, that explains that they are agreeing to sign up to receive marketing messages from your brand.


Nate:
Yeah, that’s a great one. It’s pretty lightweight in terms of implementation. So, you know, again, you want to, you want to be very specific and communicate with your customers and give them the option by checking a box on the cart, you know, check a process. But you also need to be very explicit in terms of sharing with them what they are opting into. Like, it’s not enough to just say, you know, we’re going to occasionally send you texts alerts based on the products you buy from us that won’t that won’t inherently derive or sort of ensure compliance for marketing messages. So, you know, there’s, there’s an implementation practice there, which is very easy to do. There’s also a compliance element. We need to make sure that you’re communicating clearly with customers that they will expect to get both notification type text messages on orders in addition to future promotions that you may want to send to them.


Drew:
Yeah. And I think that there are easy ways to do that or entice your customers to do that. And one of the, one of the classic ones is to just create immediate membership value or create sort of make the channel exclusive, make it an exclusive thing that they are joining. And an example would be to offer a discount on a future purchase or offer a free item with their next order. Anything that would entice them to actually subscribe to the channel no matter where you are trying to acquire that mobile user at.


Nate:
Yeah, it’s a good point. I think that, you know, increasingly consumers are expecting, you know, more engagement with brands, with the brands that they buy products from. They’re expecting you know, personalization. In, in a mobile type of format and and you know, text messaging is the perfect medium to facilitate that.


Drew:
Yeah, that is a great point. And there’s, you can do this, you can do this in any sort of way. So let’s go through some scenarios where maybe you have a thousand subscribers, but your stated goal is that by the end of the year you want to get up to a hundred thousand SMS subscribers and start sending messages at scale and truly creating a two way conversational experience along the way. I think that in addition to giving them the option to opt-in before marketing messages at, at checkout, another way would be to familiarize your email list with the fact that there is a, another way to contact your brand and, and actually communicate with it rather than rather than getting promotions from a do not reply email address.


Nate:
Yeah. That one, you know, email depending on where you are in terms of your, your belief on the long term viability of marketing technologies and whether or not email fits into that. I think there’s many, many out there, including myself, that believe that email is experiencing a slow decline, that will inevitably be taken over by more interactive engagement channels such as you know, texting and SMS and MMS even, you know, the emerging RCS, Rich Communication Services that are coming out. But for most brands, you know, your subscriber list has been, you know, built on, on email as the email addresses, sort of the, the thing to, to, you know, broadcast a message to, but to your point drew, like that’s the perfect channel to incentivize, those users, those email subscribers that you don’t already have mobile email or sorry, mobile numbers for, incentivize them to with an offer, right? Giving them 10% off gives them, you know, a free sticker in their, in their cart checkout or you know, some sort of freebie. Give them the opportunity to give you, you know, really good feedback. There’s lots of different ways that you can intentionally slow customers down when they’re ready to migrate over to text messaging or just make the jump right away. And for a lot of brands, they have millions you know, hundreds of thousands to millions of email subscribers. Ultimately, you want to get as many of those onto mobile messaging because it’s, you know, it’s a faster path to communicating with your customers and asking them precisely what they, what their likes or dislikes are. At any given point. And you know, we’ve, you guys have heard me rant about this on previous podcasts where, you know, I get 50 emails in a month from the same brand and I’m like, what do I like? This is crazy. How many of these emails do they have to send before either I get fed up and unsubscribe or what I do now is I just, you know, let them all and I delete them because I don’t know which offer I should go with. Like, you know, using email. It’s just the ultimate great way to start migrating your customers onto something that’s more modern.


Drew:
Yeah, that’s a great point. I think that when I bring that up to some customers, sometimes they sort of do a double take and they go, but you’re telling me to abandon email. But until you are reaching a certain level of sophistication with SMS, you’re still going to have to rely on your email to build lists in this sort of way. And I think that if the stated goal is to create a better brand experience, then migrating your email list over to SMS is actually the perfect way to acquire those mobile subscribers.


Nate:
Yeah, I agree. I was just on a call with a customer the other day and they’re a retail clothing eCommerce business, they’re Shopify customers. And they have roughly 88,000 text messages or, you know, mobile numbers as subscribers. And they’re, they’re sending and they’re not doing anything with those mobile SMS subscribers yet, but they’re they’re sending like 600,000 emails a month and and they can drastically reduce the volume of emails that they send per month by moving customers over to SMS, which has a much higher open rate for the clothing and apparel vertical industry within, within eCommerce. They see superior open rates, you’re getting more eyeballs on your messages, number one. Number two, you typically conversion rates can run, you know, anywhere from 25 to 30% versus, you know, at bat, like, you know, maybe three or 4% on email. Um and then, you know, lastly, it’s like super time-sensitive. So in this perspective this particular example gives me the customer sends, you know, sort of monthly offers where they have a new product release or new clothing release and they have limited quantities of that particular item. And they send these sort of timed emails out and what we, when we showed them what they could do with SMS in terms of, you know, scheduling it in the same way, but doing it so that it’s mobile first, which more and more, especially rising generations are, are mobile first. It’s the best way to get timely messages to people. And it sucks when you want to buy that hot release specialty item. And, and you missed it cause it’s sitting in your, you know, your promotions tab within your Gmail account and it’s very brief, you know, 10,000 other emails. So it’s just a fantastic medium to communicate with customers. And you’re right, like there’s not going to be this sort of binary shift that happens from email directly over to SMS. For a period of time you’re going to want to do both. What I’m advocating is that the results that you’re going to see for us at mass far exceed what you’re, what you’re currently getting with email. So why wouldn’t you do that?


Drew:
Yeah, exactly. I think you’re right on there. Then, moving past email, I think another good way to do that is offer text opt-ins as part of your affiliate program. So that would be, and we’ve, we’ve seen success with this sort of use case at Chatitive and that’s putting a number in an affiliate advertising on an affiliate website that is optimized for mobile, meaning that we can create an advertisement that allows mobile users to opt into your program through an affiliate play and that would open up their native messaging app, and populate a message and all they would have to do is hit send. And that’s an opt in and a new subscriber to list, which to me is, especially in verticals such as travel or beverages or subscription based services is a very compelling way to not only market to and advertise to your customers, but also grow another dynamic marketing channel. And so what are your thoughts on that, Nate?


Nate:
Yeah. Again, you know, I think the benefit of the art of mobile messaging for acquisition use cases, for net new customer acquisition use cases can be applicable anywhere and everywhere how you market, right? So in the case of affiliate marketing, it’s a great example because your affiliate marketers are really an extension of your marketing organization. And for a lot of businesses, it’s a very, very effective approach. And incentivizing, you know, if you could find a way to not only incentivize your affiliates to acquire more customers, even better but you know, again, it’s all about identifying the things that are the most impactful for you as a business. And then layering on SMS as the call to action for those different areas of marketing. Whether that’s, you know, social media or affiliate marketing, like running creative ads through affiliate marketing partnerships as a call to action to, you know, go to a form and put in your mobile number to get some sort of offer for your products. Or it could be as simple as, you know, just texting keywords that you’ve identified for that particular campaign. You know, there’s just a whole bunch of creative ways that you can use the things you’re already doing today to drive people to your landing page, the website to put in their mobile number and to then receive an offer. So it’s all sort of, you really, you know, going back to what I was saying earlier. Take a holistic view and identify, okay, where could we do this? Like, you know, we talked to some customers that have been excited about launching TV ads where they, you know, promote their shortcut to acquire net new customers to in store signage. And then down to the sort of digital fundamentals that we’ve already talked about. So like, take a list of view and then say, okay, practically what are the areas that drive the most acquisition for us today? And if you’re using email as the sort of call to action to do that why not do SMS at the same time? Right? Give customers the choice. And I think you’d be surprised to find or learn what outcomes you see from that?


Drew:
Yeah. Well I did actually want to get to that and I think that. This will be a good place to end on if we know that the ROI from SMS marketing and text message marketing is significantly higher than email. And what it comes down to is the first sort of metric that both SMS and email are graded on. And that is open rate. And the open rate to a text message from companies is typically around 95%. So if you can get and scale your subscriber list on SMS, that means that you’re a going to be spending less to acquire more customers and you’re going to be spending less to realize a horror, a higher ROI, and an increase in your total revenue, which to me, as somebody who sits outside of marketing but looks in and sees an opportunity to shake the space up is incredible.


Drew:
And it, the best way to do that is with a platform like Chatitive that doesn’t treat the channel like it is email that is two-way, that is conversational, that is context aware. Excuse me. And that is intent driven. I think that, you know, in your example you were talking earlier about having a brand sending over 600,000 emails. There is a point in time where that brand only had to send uh, let’s say even half of that to realize that ROI. I think that you’re seeing an over abundance of marketing emails that are saturated, that is contributing to the factors that are leading well, which is one of the factors that are leading to the obsolescence of email marketing. And, the desire for consumers to find more personalized ways to interact with your brand.


Nate:
Yeah, frankly you gotta just ask yourself and ask your customers and look at the data and see if you’re satisfied with email or for not only broader mobile communication, but for customer acquisition. You’re going to always find there’s going to be a subset of your customers or future customers that prefer email over text message. You know, it’s just always going to be the rule. But I think you’ll be increasingly surprised to see that more and more consumers, especially in the rising generations really don’t pay attention to email that much, number one. And number two: they’re, you know, they’re brought up in a mobile first world. Three, they’re messaging native. Brand loyalty matters immensely to rising generations and they seek very intimate relationships and experiences with brands. And mobile messaging is like the, at the intersection of those emerging trends. And, and, and frankly, email is, and so this is a great time to experiment with SMS as a point for customer acquisition. It’s easy to track, it’s easy to implement and you can test it across all the different marketing activities that you’re already doing today.


Drew:
Yeah, great stuff.


Drew:
This episode of Left on Read was about list building and acquisition use cases for your e-commerce brand or Shopify store. You can subscribe to our podcast wherever you are listening natively. And you can also visit us at chatitive.buzzsprout.com. You can find more information on successful text message marketing and acquisition use cases and best practices at our blog. That’s chatitive.com/blog. I wanted to just quickly say that we are going to be moving forward with this sort of format for I would say about a month until we feel like it’s responsible for us to start doing it in person again. Next episode will be about RCS. We’ve alluded to it in a couple of episodes now, and I am really excited to sort of get into the, get into the weeds, because I believe that vendors like Chatitive are perfectly positioned to take on the challenges and succeed in that space when it does become widely available to all carriers toward, I would say, middle to end of this year. Thanks. This was Left on Read.

 

Conversational Messaging Evangelist at Chatitive