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SMS Marketing Trends To Stay Aware Of In 2021

SMS Marketing Trends To Stay Aware Of In 2021

Renata Liubertaitė

Last year’s unfortunate events with the global pandemic have significantly impacted many important areas of our lives. We were forced to move most of the interpersonal communications into the digital world, shop online due to worldwide lockdowns, and, whether consciously or not, increase our screen times as a result.

For businesses, this was an opportunity to rethink how they connect with customers and bring some good old strategies into play. One of them was SMS messages that are steadily regaining their power in this whole digital marketing game.

This post will take a deeper look at the latter and guide you through some emerging SMS marketing trends and predictions for 2021. Feel free to scroll down, have a good read, consider these trends when planning your next marketing campaign, and come back at the end of the year to see how it all turned out. Shall we begin?

SMS marketing - Man texting on his smartphone

A brief overview of e-commerce and m-commerce growth

Although the growth of e-commerce was a known fact before the pandemic already, the global health crisis has set a new pace for the industry. To stay safe, people shifted many of their daily activities online, and shopping was clearly one of them.

Let’s look at this figure. 84% of consumers say that they’ve shopped online since the coronavirus outbreak compared to 65% who have shopped in-store, Shopify reports. Besides, 46% don’t even feel confident shopping in-person anymore, and the vast majority will continue to regularly purchase from e-commerce stores, at least in the upcoming 6 months.

So the changes in customer shopping habits are already happening, yet what’s interesting and important for us here is how many of them use mobile devices for shopping online.

Online sales statistics in the US (SMS marketing trends)

Turns out that by August 2020, 60% of online retail website visits in the US came from mobile devices, resulting in 40% of all online sales. Moreover, the m-commerce numbers are steadily growing and are predicted to amount to $488 billion, or 44% of e-commerce by the end of 2024.

The growth of m-commerce is exactly what should encourage marketers to rethink SMS as a channel that can enable closer and more personal connections with customers. At this point, you might be already wondering, why SMS? How is it better than, for instance, push notification or a good old email?

Let’s go through some texting trends that are already emerging, and try to answer these and some other questions that might have arisen up until now.

1. SMS will continue to grow as an independent marketing channel

SMS marketing trends: SMS will continue to grow

Consumers have already noticed an increase in marketing messages since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Forrester. The same research predicts that the volume of marketing messages will continue to grow by 40% in the upcoming year as well.

Text marketing will likely take a big portion of this number as businesses will keep doing their best to develop closer relationships with their customers. By being such a direct and quite an intimate channel mostly used for personal communication, SMS is looked at differently – with trust and fewer opportunities for spam.

Besides, SMS is still not as widely adopted as some other marketing channels, which makes it easier for businesses that use text marketing to stand out from the crowd. The idea of instant connection is a truly attractive one in today’s competitive environment, not to mention many different use cases of SMS, from updates to promotions, that enable text messages to perfectly work on their own.

2. SMS will be used to boost other marketing channels

Some people work equally great in a team as well as independently – and in a way, SMS is just like them. As mentioned above, it can help you achieve your goals when used alone, yet the brief nature of SMS makes it a great tool for complementing other marketing channels. What does it mean?

SMS marketing trends: SMS message inviting to read a blog post

Being one of the most attention-grabbing marketing tools out there, SMS will be used to improve the performance of other channels that don't work as well as expected.

For instance, if you have been struggling with people opening your email newsletters because they simply get lost in the clutter of your competitor promotions, send an SMS reminder. Since SMS is famous for its 98% open rates, it will likely get read. Catching a subscriber's interest is something you will have to do next to accomplish your goal.

It’s just one of the ways to take advantage of text messages. Expect to see (and add this to your strategy!) more collaborations not only with emails, but also social media, and use it to drive more traffic to your site. Think that your latest blog post could be a valuable read for your customers? Drop them an SMS with a direct link and find out!

3. Automated text messages will keep customers in the loop

Another thing that’s totally changed last year is customer expectations. As a result of so many businesses shifting online, the competition started to grow at an enormous pace, and so did customers’ demand for speed, personalization, and transparency.

What role will SMS play in all this? With the increased workload, businesses now need to keep customers in the loop as efficiently and effectively as possible, and this is where text messaging can help.

Automated text messages will keep customers in the loop

SMS messages can be (and should be) automated to boost customer engagement, keep them updated and informed, and even avoid losing a sale. Doing it all manually requires a lot of time and human resources, and you can’t afford to stay behind just because of this in 2021.

So in the upcoming year, prepare to see and send more of these in a form of a text message:

  • Abandoned carts reminders
  • Appointment reminders
  • Order status updates
  • Confirmations
  • Review requests, etc.

4. SMS will be used for collecting customer feedback

Reviews are a powerful tool in e-commerce and business in general since many shoppers do check them before making a purchase. 88% of them actually rely on other customers’ opinions as much as personal recommendations.

Sending your customers a review request via SMS will not only boost your chances of receiving it but will also show that you care about their experience with your business. Besides, you will be able to showcase the feedback on your store and benefit from it in the future.

SMS message example asking for customer review

Again, to encourage your visitor to buy from you rather than your competitor, you will have to put more work into proving that you are better. Why is SMS the right tool for it in 2021?

  1. More often than not, text messages are opened and read in instead of being ignored for some time and forgotten. Hence, it’s more likely you will get what you want.
  2. Customers are the happiest right after delivery, so taking advantage of high open rates and sending a request for feedback with the delivery notification can instantly get those positive experiences flowing.
  3. Including a review link in a text message is one of the fastest ways for customers to share their experience since it usually takes only one click to reach the selected platform for feedback.

With so many other proposals bombarding our inboxes nowadays, SMS stands strong as a convenient and time-efficient way to exchange messages for both customers and brands.

5. SMS will grow as a customer service channel

SMS marketing trends: SMS will grow as a customer service channel

Thinking about using SMS for customer service shouldn’t be limited to customer support only. Sure, text messaging for business now offers two-way communication that allows real-time interactions, yet there’s much more to it.

The growth of SMS for customer service is closely related to growing customer expectations to get their answers fast. 90% of people actually prefer to receive texts from businesses over phone calls.

Yet it doesn’t mean that the questions must be asked at all – SMS can provide customers with answers ahead of time, thus boosting their experience. For instance, sending a link to a video instruction of how to assemble a new desk with the delivery confirmation can instantly improve customer satisfaction levels.

Not only that. SMS makes it easy to reschedule appointments, track orders, answer common requests, etc. Since the quality of customer service has already become a game-changer, more and more businesses will be implementing various SMS solutions for convenience and better results.

Influencer marketing is still going strong, yet businesses keep looking for new ways to increase its effectiveness. SMS is very likely to become one of them in the upcoming years, and here’s how.

SMS marketing trends: SMS will become more popular among influencers

The main challenge that comes with influencer marketing is calculating the ROI of such campaigns. Companies rely on UTM parameters (but those don’t really provide the full scope of the campaign), views, likes, clicks, or shares that are rather invaluable without more specific action.

SMS will serve two purposes here:

  1. It will make it easier to calculate your ROI.
  2. You will be able to grow your subscriber’s list.

For instance, influencers can share a keyword associated with their name that their followers could send to a phone number to get a discount (another use for automations!). You will be able to track the results from each influencer more effectively and get a new subscriber added to your list.

This way, SMS will also allow you to follow a few more important measurements, such as subscriber growth, redemption rates, or click-through rates (if you aim for that by including relevant links in your text messages). Knowing these, you will be able to improve and continue to grow.

7. More and more industries will adopt SMS messages

If you’ve already built your SMS marketing strategy or are the one getting promotional text messages, it might feel like everyone does so. However, you might be surprised to find out that many businesses still haven’t discovered the benefits that it brings.

Up until now, we already established that this situation is expected to change. Promotional messages will have to share the spotlight with confirmations and updates, and not only from businesses, but institutions across various industries as well.

SMS marketing trends: More and more industries will adopt SMS messages
  • Retail can use SMS for sending coupons and discounts or updating customers during more uncertain times.
  • Banks. SMS can be used for increasing security or informing about incoming/outgoing payments.
  • The travel industry mostly uses text messaging for coupons, reminders, updates, schedule arrangements.
  • Healthcare and beauty industries. The common way to use SMS in both the healthcare and beauty industries is appointment reminders or rescheduling.
  • Hotels can send booking confirmations, updates, and offer to purchase additional services.
  • Restaurants. Besides promotions and coupons, restaurants can also send menu updates or information about special events.
  • Nonprofit organizations often use SMS for raising funds for specific causes and providing interested people with updates.

Will 2021 be the year of text messages?

What unites all of these SMS marketing trends is the brief nature of text messages as a channel and the rising demand for different, more direct, and personal connections. During times of constantly growing e-commerce competition, it’s important to stay visible and have your voice heard.

SMS can serve this purpose just right so businesses that will be willing to add SMS marketing to their strategies in 2021 might experience some positive outcome. If there’s ever been a better time to rethink the benefits of SMS – it’s now.