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We Spoke With 7 Marketers About How They’re Using SMS Marketing In 2021

Text message marketing has been around for years but it’s now experiencing a renaissance. We spoke with seven marketers to learn how they’re using text messaging in 2021.

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SMS marketing is growing in popularity: 20% more texts were sent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020 than were sent in the entire month of November 2019.

In 2021, Forrester Research predicts that consumers will get even more texts as brands work to develop more direct relationships with customers amid the pandemic and economic fallout.

These reports and statistics provide a 10,000 foot view of what’s happening. 

But if you’re someone actually tasked with developing a text message marketing strategy, they don’t paint a picture of how brands are using SMS. 

Sure, there are tons of SMS marketing examples out there. The problem is they’re often from several years old and feature household name brands.

So in an effort to highlight text message marketing trends in 2021 and give you concrete examples of the kinds of messages businesses like yours are sending, we spoke with seven marketers in the thick of it.

1. Focus On Loyal Customers

According to Intercom, customer retention is the new conversion. 

In a world where the cost of acquiring new customers is on the rise, it’s a smart choice to focus your marketing on those who already have a relationship with your brand.

It’s why the e-commerce brand INTO THE AM sends text messages to only their most loyal customers. 

To do this, they created a VIP customer segment that includes anyone who has purchased a specific amount, ordered from their brand a certain number of times, or purchased frequently in the past few months. 

Since these are loyal customers, they like to include “Early access!” or “Just for you” within their text messages copy so it feels exclusive. 

"Our texts to VIP customers consistently have a higher click-thru rate and conversion rate since they are highly engaged and loyal."
Brian Lim
Brian Lim

CEO

2. Make It Humorous With GIFs and Memes

New View Roofing uses texting for sales. When a lead goes cold, they don’t follow up with the standard “is there anything we can do for you” message. Instead, they turn to memes and gifs to keep it light hearted while getting the point across.

"It’s lighthearted and it’s a different approach and usually it’s just enough to make the phone ring or start a text conversation that typically ends in an appointment being set."
Burton Hughes
Burton Hughes

Project Manager

3. Use Text Messages to Recover Abandoned Carts

Direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand, Noémie, uses SMS marketing to remind potential customers that they’ve left items in their online shopping carts, which often inspires them to complete their sale. 

Their approach to their abandoned cart texts is to include a deal with a quick expiration.  According to CEO Yuvi Alpert it, “encourages shoppers to treat themselves in the spur of the moment”.

4. Include Non-Promotional Content

Music Minds is a music publication that features the latest music news, album reviews and releases, music events, and exclusive Q&A with musicians.

They try to keep their text messages fun and ensure that they’re providing their audience with something valuable. 

With that in mind, they usually only send text messages with discounts and important news. Occasionally, though, they’ll do something a little more interesting.

One campaign they ran for engagement was titled “Show Us the Sound That Moves You.”

They asked users to submit a short video of them playing an instrument or singing–no matter how badly.

"We were doing it as a contest and ended up getting a lot of amazing submissions! While there was nothing to convert there, it helped cultivate goodwill."
Adam Chase

President

5. Get Valuable Feedback and Make Your Customers’ Lives Easier

Obánj is a luxury jewelry company where members can borrow Dior, YSL, Gucci, and more for a monthly membership as low as $29/month.

The use of text messages to reach their customers came about organically. They started by reaching out to a few members for feedback on their experience and how they could improve. 

This led to in-depth and honest conversations about the difficulties they face during the pandemic and what little things the brand could do to help them feel a sense of normalcy.

They’re also in the process of launching options for their members to select their jewelry pieces through text. Customers won’t even need to go to their website, but can instead text a number or a screenshot of the pieces from a collection they would like to borrow next.

"We want to make the process of selecting and switching out jewelry pieces much easier for our customers–while increasing customer engagement with our brand. We are also looking to see if this process can then be translated to make onboarding new customers easier too."
Niya Panamdanam
Niya Panamdanam

CTO

6. Get the Timing of Your Messages Right

Jake Hill runs DebtHammer, a personal finance publication with more than 2,000 articles and tools that aim to help people make better financial decisions.

He uses texting to alert customers to new offers and strategies they can use to reduce their debt. One of the things they like to do is send their texts a little later in the day than most companies would. 

“Most people are able to keep their minds busy during the day, pushing everything else back until the evening or night once they’re done with work. That’s when the stressful thoughts creep in, and when people need a helping hand.”

To this end, one of their campaigns went out with the text: “Don’t let debt keep you up at night. Take our 5-minute debt assessment and get a restful night’s sleep for once.”

"I believe this one performed well because it’s a universal feeling. Who hasn’t laid awake at night, thinking about money issues?"
Jake Hill
Jake Hill

CEO

7. Personalized Text Messages

The Big Phone Store is a site that buys and sells used phones. It puts them in a unique position in which they know what phones their customers own and therefore, what phone they’ll be receiving the text message on.

The idea behind their campaigns is to monitor the price of the phone someone purchased from them. If it reaches a peak it hasn’t reached before, they’ll send a text to that customer that opted-in letting them know the phone they’re using is currently worth more than ever before.

The goal is to attract as many customers as possible to sell their device back to them so that they can refurbish it and sell it again. 

While it obviously benefits them, it also benefits the customer by allowing them to get as much money as possible for their device.

Connecting the Dots

SMS marketing has gone beyond blasting text messages to everyone and calling it a day.

As more marketers compete for their audience’s SMS inbox, devising strategies and tactics that make you stand out is paramount.

In 2021, it’ll pay to think outside the box.

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