We’ve all gotten that highly-impactful text or email from a company that instantly pulls us in and persuades us to engage. But what makes certain forms of communication significantly more enticing than others?
When it comes to Shopify subscription brands, communication carries a lot of weight. Because of the nature of subscriptions, long-term relationships matter — and the way you market to your subscribers is central to this dynamic. eCommerce businesses that strategically utilize text and email to engage their audience see some impressive results, and there’s no harm in peeking over their shoulders to get some stellar marketing campaign ideas to implement. To help you strengthen your efforts, we’re outlining email and SMS marketing strategies that will boost your customer engagement, increase your LTV, and scale your subscription business.
Email and SMS marketing often get bucketed together. But it’s important to recognize that these are two separate channels and you'll want different strategies for each (though the strategies can and should complement one another).
In 2022, eCommerce businesses increased their YOY usage of email marketing by 42% and increased their SMS marketing by 62%. These forms of marketing are clearly attractive for a variety of reasons — and many brands are left wondering which is better for growing their business.
While they each offer different opportunities, perhaps it’s more helpful to think of email versus SMS like you’d think of choosing between fruits and vegetables. There are many different reasons to reach for either, and they have their own unique perks — but ultimately, they’re arguably at their best when paired together in a well-dressed spinach and strawberry salad.
That being said, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks that come with each, especially since there’s no one-size-fits-all method that will work for every single business. Understanding these pros and cons can help you create the most impactful strategy specifically tailored to your Shopify brand.
Now that we’ve outlined the pros and cons of both email marketing and SMS marketing, let’s talk about the best ways to leverage them separately and together to build your subscription business.
This is a general note for anything your brand writes: keep a consistent brand voice. Think of your brand as a person. You should have a personality, clear opinions, and a certain style of speaking. Research shows that consistent presentations of brands have helped to increase revenue by 33 percent.
It’s a good idea to be mindful of your tone both in email and text communications — as consumers like to be able to recognize brands and get a clear sense of their style, especially subscription brands that they plan to interact with indefinitely.
As a subscription business, engaging your consumers is a top priority. One great way to engage your audience is to remind them they have full control over their subscriptions and empower them to exercise that control. This is an area where your email and SMS strategy can work really well together.
For example, you can send out an email campaign to outline all of the ways your subscribers can engage with their subscriptions. Make sure they know if you have a loyalty program, referral rewards, or new products that they (as subscribers) have exclusive access to. Be sure to prominently feature a link to their customer account portal.
Then, in tandem with this messaging, send your subscribers a text reminder when their next shipment is on its way — and allow them to skip by simply replying in the thread as a way to hammer home the flexibility of your subscription offering and make engagement as seamless as possible.
Leveraging integrations such as Smartrr + Postscript’s allows you to have this kind of direct SMS communication with customers when their next subscription order is coming. Plus, while you have your consumers’ attention, you can further engage them by bringing them back into their customer account portal experience with a direct link to update payment, redeem loyalty points, swap an item, and more.
While your email strategy serves as a way to increase awareness and educate, your text strategy illustrates a real-time implementation of the perks previously outlined in the email — all in an effort to elevate your subscriber’s experience and boost their engagement.
Knowing who to message (as well as when and how) are all core parts of an effective strategy. And the best part is you can once again play to the strengths of both email and SMS marketing to access their full collaborative potential.
Some of the prime consumers to target are first-purchase customers as well as repeat buyers who have yet to subscribe. In both instances, we recommend a quick and friendly text follow-up thanking them for their purchase. Include a tracking link or any shipping information as well as a reminder of the perks they’d get if they subscribed. You can even toss in an additional discount to further incentivize a sign-up.
Then, if they do subscribe, that’s a prime opportunity to trigger a welcome series email — which you can easily do with an email marketing platform like Klaviyo. Unlike the brief and urgent nature of a text, an automated email flow is your chance to take your time and really introduce your brand to your new subscriber. Let them know what to expect from your subscription offering as well as any programs or perks they might not be aware of yet. Be sure to make it personal and inviting. First impressions matter, especially for the start of what will hopefully be a long-term relationship.
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In order to reap the full benefits of email and SMS marketing, it’s important to diversify the messaging that you’re sending out. If you couldn’t already tell from our prior tips, we’re a big believer that SMS isn’t just for promos.
While you’re a bit more limited when it comes to text, there are still a variety of SMS strategies to try out — like:
As for emails, there are more creative routes to take. Here are just some email marketing strategy examples that you could implement:
One of the best ways to understand how powerful effective marketing can be is to see it out in the wild.
We’ve seen a range of Shopify brands elevating their communications in noteworthy and creative ways.
Here are just a few of our favorites.
Avaline’s Subscription-Forward Email
For a more classic, straightforward, to-the-point email example, we look to Avaline, an organically-farmed wine brand. The team does an excellent job clearly promoting the benefits of their subscription offering.
Let’s take a look at what’s working well:
All of these strategies help Avaline drive toward this email’s main goal: acquiring more subscribers. Clean, clear, simple.
When we talk about a strong SMS presence, that doesn’t have to mean you are always the one to make contact with your subscribers. Since texting typically centers on shorter, faster communication, some brands are opting to lean on it as a method of inviting consumers to start the dialogue.
We’re seeing some of our clients leverage texting in an exciting way, which winds up being key to building long-lasting relationships with their subscribers while building community. And they’re doing it in a way that invites subscribers to initiate the conversation.
The Knowledgeable Gardening Experts: Pot Gang’s “Potline”
Pot Gang is a UK-based gardening subscription brand. Unlike drinking wine, gardening can (and often does) have a learning curve to it — and Pot Gang has a built-in feature that directly addresses any growing pains. Enter the Potline.
Subscribers can reach out via the Potline (AKA WhatsApp) to receive gardening support any day of the week. That means if anyone is struggling to keep their new herb plant alive, they have a direct and trustworthy resource to get helpful advice.
This component works wonders to transform consumers into a true community. By building trust one seed at a time, Pot Gang works to establish authentic relationships with their audience — so much so that whenever anyone has a question about gardening in general, they’ll likely think of Pot Gang as a resource. This is an incredibly unique way for a brand to establish itself as an authority in any given vertical.
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All in all, both SMS and email marketing can work wonders for your eCommerce business — especially when they’re used together. Looking to other successful brands as well as implementing general best practices are a great place to start in order to deepen your customer engagement and give your brand a boost overall.