top of page
Worker with Ladder

SMS Marketing & WhatsApp
(discover the importance of SMS and Whatsapp in your online marketing strategy)

When we think of marketing campaigns, the first thing that comes to mind are emails (broadcasts, promotional campaigns or offers...). This is a direct consequence of the strategies used by other companies and which we receive passively as potential customers. And as we already know, e-mails are a very powerful means of communication and can help us get up to 70% of our entire billing (see lesson on EMAIL MARKETING).

 

However, what we may not yet know is that there is an additional tool that has the same potential as email, although its use is somewhat different. We are talking about SMS campaigns and WhatsApp Business. We will analyse both tools, each with its own peculiarities, advantages and disadvantages. But first, let's say that one of the reasons why it is important to use these platforms is that today more than 80 per cent of traffic is mobile, which means that we have to find out how to make the most of it.



 

WHATSAPP BUSINESS

Regarding the potential of WhatsApp Business, we can look at an important fact: when finalising an order on the checkout page or purchasing a service, a customer always has to leave some information to send the purchased product or for information, among which we have your phone number (clearly asking for permission to use it).

Sometimes we won't get lucky and they will put their landline number, but every day more and more people stop using landlines for mobile phones and now we find that the vast majority of the population has this application (example: Italy has +60% of its population using WhatsApp - 90% if we go on the population that buys online).

This is important data because it indicates the strength of this medium; in other words: 9 out of 10 customers will have WhatsApp, and you can use it for your marketing strategy.

Before we look in detail at how and when to use it, we will say a couple of general things about WhatsApp Business:

  • It is free: no payment plan is needed for what we want to do

  • It has its own application: which allows you to download it without messing up your personal WhatsApp (in case you have not yet decided to have a line just for your business, because you are at an early stage)

  • It has its own web version, very convenient when you need to manage several messages at the same time

  • You can configure automatic messages/welcome messages

  • It allows you to upload your own product catalogue with all the relevant information and a direct link to your website for purchasing (it does not yet allow you to buy directly in Italy, but this mode has already been active since August 2022 in India, the main market for the application in terms of number of users; this means that within a couple of years at most we will most likely be able to checkout directly here, so having it ready would be a great competitive advantage)

  • It allows you to assign a different label to each number or contact, which will be useful when we do our campaigns (explanation below). At the moment, we recommend that you only use two types of labels: one for contacts who have not yet purchased and who write to you to ask you something; another for customers who have already placed an order. As for this last label, once we start having several contacts, it would be a good idea to divide it between normal customers and VIP customers (those who place orders that are 2 times the average order value, for example). These are things that if we do them from the beginning, then we can always use them to create increasingly customised campaigns or messages.

 

Coming back to us, we recommend its use at two specific times:

After receipt of an order (only valid if you have a product shop): this is an easier strategy to implement when we do not yet have a large volume; in other words, it is not a scalable strategy, unless we have a person dedicated exclusively to customer service and who could also carry out this activity. Similarly, it could be very useful in the low volume seasons and during the first months of creating and developing your online business (you can decide yourself at any time whether to apply it or not, depending on the time available to you) and it has a good return at 0 cost. In any case we recommend it for all shops until you reach at least 10k billing per month (at the end of this paragraph we will tell you a little trick to use it even after you have reached the 10k per month goal).

 

The concept is very simple. Once the order has been received, we send a WhatsApp message to the customer, thanking him for his trust in our product and in us, telling him that we are always at his disposal and that, for this, it would be better if he saved us among his contacts (this is a very important detail, because if he does not save you among his WhatsApp contacts, he will not receive our group messages (point explained later). Once we get him to respond, it is our ability as a seller that will enable us to make a second sale. Normally the customer responds by saying that he is very enthusiastic about your order and is looking forward to receiving the product. This is where you have to act: it depends a lot on the type of product we are selling, but a good way is to give suggestions on how he could best match our products, or tell him something about his story (3-4 generic messages are enough) (I won't deny it, you have to know how to sell yourself well, but if you have your own business you know how to do it. ..); and when we see that the customer continues to respond, then we can 'bait the hook' and tell him that many customers usually accompany the same product he bought, with another one available in your shop, or that others usually take both to get the perfect combination. 

You show him the product by sending him a photo and a direct link and wait for his response. And if you see that he is interested, it's time to 'go even more direct': tell him that, if he is interested, you can give him an extra 10% discount code and that, if he orders the same day, you will be able to send it to him together with the first product, so the customer will receive both at the same time.

As you can see, these are just a few messages and may waste you a maximum of 5 minutes of your time, but they will be 5 precious minutes and will only benefit you:

  • The customer will notice a more personal contact and will always appreciate it, because they are used to automated BOTs that do not work; with you instead they will feel part of something, which makes a difference in the medium and long term when it comes to BRAND AWARENESS.

  • The customer will feel more confident in his purchase, because he knows that he can contact you with any questions and that a real person will answer them, which increases his confidence in the product and the brand.

  • You will have the opportunity, at no cost, to make an up-sell (between 10% and 20% of customers end up placing another order) and save on shipping costs, because this way you will make a single shipment, which is more convenient than when the customer calls you after a week asking for another product; translated: more turnover, but above all more margin for you. 

  • To accompany specific email campaigns: like SMS campaigns, WhatsApp should also be used very sparingly, to avoid the customer associating it with mass advertising. For this reason, we only recommend it to accompany very specific campaigns. We could say that if SMS can be used between three and four times a year, WhatsApp can be used once every two months.

 

Ideally, we should use this application for promotions that last over time (e.g. summer and winter sales, Easter, as well as special promotions that last a week); this is because in the space of a week we can send, say, about 3 emails, one on Tuesday, another on Friday and a last one on Sunday. And WhatsApp can help us on Saturdays to communicate with all the contacts we have and remind them that we have a promotion or offer that expires the next day and that for more information they should read the email sent the day before. This way we will be sure that the offer reaches as many ears as possible, even those people who have been busy and have not had time to read the email.

The way we do this is by going to the top right bar and clicking on New Broadcast and adding all the contacts we have (currently only available in the mobile version and not on the web) (see image below ).

WhatsApp Business allows you to create lists of up to 256 people, but I recommend that you do this in groups of 30-40 contacts to avoid later on, within the same group, too many people marking it as spam and blocking the message for everyone (I indicate below where to create the group for sending the broadcast). Also, another good thing would be to send it with a 5-minute difference between one group and the next (again, for the same reason: we don't want WhatsApp to take away a valuable conversion medium from our store).

 

EXTRA TRICK*: add a known contact (and who has previously saved our number) in each broadcast group you create and ask them to reply to the message you send; this way WhatsApp will see that this message is not SPAM and will give more authority to all your subsequent messages (same principle as we suggest for emails).

 

 

 

As a general rule of thumb, remember that WhatsApp messages have an 80-90% open rate, although it is true that this figure depends very much on the contacts who have saved you on their mobile phone or interacted with you (because remember that if they have not previously saved or replied to one of your messages, they will probably not even receive the message, because it will be automatically blocked; hence the importance of sending a post-order message, because when they reply to you they are basically telling WhatsApp that your contact is real and they will continue to receive your future messages).

 

Always remember one thing: these WhatsApp campaigns never replace email campaigns; they only accompany them to increase the open rate.

And one more thing... it's free... everything discussed so far is totally FREE, so you must take advantage of it.

EXTRA TRUCK*: Do you remember how I used to tell you to write to your customers via WhatsApp after an order, but maybe after 10k monthly billing will no longer be possible? Well, that's true, but there is no need to stop altogether. What we recommend is to keep doing it even after you have reached your goal, but more selectively. HOW? Easy: write to customers with high tickets (if your average order is 50€, you can write to customers who order over 100€). This will make them feel special, increase their trust and they will look for you more for future orders, asking for discounts or simply for advice that only you can give them, and always with a personal touch. If you have doubts about this, consider one very simple thing: if before each order you had the possibility to contact your customers directly, talk to them in person or by phone and explain why they should choose your product, your conversion rate would not be 1-2%, but would easily reach 20-30%. Clearly with an online shop we cannot achieve this, but we can increase the perceived value of our brand by the customer.

 

EXTRA TRUCK**: As I have already explained throughout this document, WhatsApp allows us to convey to our potential customer or client, a feeling of closeness to the brand. This is the main objective of BRAND AWARENESS. So when you send messages (with the exception of campaigns created with broadcast groups), use informal language and possibly voice messages. The person listening to you will see it as if you were talking to a trusted friend and this will make them put a face (in this case a voice) to your name and know that there is a real person on the other end, which gives value to the whole pre-post-purchase process. The same principle can be applied by making calls to resolve concerns. If a customer contacts you with a problem and, instead of writing to him, you call him, a relationship is established that will automatically result in a loyal customer.

P.S. Clearly, if your company sells prestigious or very high-ticket services (such as legal advice or the sale of luxury products), the customer will expect a different type of treatment, so you can follow the advice of audio messages, but do so in a formal and more professional language that suits your business.

SMS

SMS differs from WhatsApp in one simple but relevant feature:

SMS is pay-as-you-go: we use ACUMBAMAIL (I'll leave you the link to sign up: https://acumbamail.com/?refered=121163 ) (I quote the price of a 1600 SMS recharge below). It is one of the cheapest on the market, it has perfect deliverability, you can pay for monthly packages, but also for individual SMS packages; the only downside is that the price per SMS does not change much even if you buy large packages: it is around EUR 0.055, so you can do your own maths. Also, consider that the SMS text is normally quite short (1 SMS should be able to contain up to 150 characters). This is, in my opinion, the least pleasant part when thinking about an SMS campaign, but don't get discouraged, because the benefits come afterwards too...

 

If you use Klaviyo as your recommended email marketing platform, you can download your list with names and phone numbers directly from there via a csv and upload it directly to Acumbamail to create your list there.

To do this, you need to go to List & Segment (in Klaviyo), select the list you need, go to Manage Segment and press Export Segment to CSV


 

 

 

Once you reach the other screen, you will have to remove the Email sign (because it is not necessary for SMS), and mark Name and Phone Number.

Finally, press the START EXPORT button and in no time you will have your file ready for cleaning (see Extra Tip).

 

 

EXTRA Trick: Regarding the application you use (Acumbamail), remember that international SMSs (outside the European 1 area) are double-paying and that the message you send will be in one language, so when you upload the list to the platform, make sure you clean it up thoroughly, filtering by the prefix of each number, so you can be sure it will only be delivered to numbers that can understand the message (and that cost normal). At the same time, remove all landline numbers from this list, as you will spend money on the SMS, but it will never be delivered, as it only works with mobile phones.

 

EXTRA TRICK**: When deciding on the balance to be uploaded to the platform (how much to spend), remember that you have to cover all the contacts you have with a mobile phone number, i.e. it is a good idea to prepare the list in advance and then top up the balance to send SMS.

Also, two SMS per campaign would be best (it is true that this is a medium that we will only use in 3-4 campaigns per year, so there is nothing wrong with insisting a little when using them).

And don't forget to launch a test campaign before the actual campaign. If it's your first time using the application, they will definitely have to run some tests that may cause your SMS campaign to be interrupted for 48 hours. Therefore, don't wait until the last minute to prepare your campaign, and before that, plan a test campaign that you will only send to two contacts and check that everything works properly and see how the message is delivered and how it looks on a mobile and you can make any changes.


 

As I mentioned a few lines earlier, this tool also has noteworthy advantages (if it did not, we would not put it here as a strategy):

In contrast to email, which is delivered to 20-30% of your engagement list (which on average will represent almost half of your total contacts - translated into numbers: 20-30% of 50% of the total = between 10-15% of your total contacts), SMS is delivered to literally all of your contacts: in our experience, 98% of SMS are delivered correctly, and almost all of these people end up reading the message within the first hour, In other words, it is a way to remind the customer that they have an offer pending and send them the landing page link to where you want them to arrive to see the offer.

An SMS campaign can have a ROAS of up to X10 (which means that for every €100 spent on SMS, you can earn up to €1,000 - these figures can be even higher during strong campaigns such as Black Friday or thematic campaigns specific to your shop).

The use of SMS has less competition than the use of email; because everyone does email campaigns, but very few dare to use SMS (at least for now, but this trend will certainly change in the coming years).

Let us now see how to prepare our SMS campaign in detail.

The most important thing is that we must always remember that this type of campaign never goes it alone, but is always part of a multi-channel concept that has been the basis of marketing in recent years. Therefore, we will only prepare them during other e-mail campaigns.

As far as the message is concerned, we have already said that it must be very short, otherwise we will spend twice as much and, apart from that, it is always better if only one SMS reaches the customer. With Acumbamail we can use dynamic codes to introduce the name of the brand and the customer and the unsubscribe link (the name makes it a more personalised message and will have less chance of being considered SPAM by the customer). In addition, if we have the number it means, in general, that they already know us, and will react positively to having received a message from us (it will not be like when we receive a message from a shop or organisation we don't know and immediately send it to the bin).

The actual text must be very concise (I will leave you 3 examples that always work):

 

"<<Name>>, it's the last day of our offer. Don't miss it + direct link to the offer"

"Will you really be the only one not to take advantage, <<name>> + direct link to the offer?"

"It's now or never, <<name + direct link to the offer>>"

 

As you can see, the most important thing in all SMS is the direct link to the offer, so there must always be a real, direct landing page so that the customer can make the purchase without having to read the full offer by email.

 

EXTRA TIP: One of the problems with SMS campaigns is that the application does not allow you to track the results directly, but there are ways you can help:

Create links with UTM (so later you can see with Google Analytics which sales come directly from the SMS link)

Open Google Analytics within the first hour of sending the SMS (because on average almost all SMSs are opened within the first hour - in fact, unlike emails, which we usually send in the morning, with SMSs it is always convenient to send them at times when the customer is most likely to be at home, e.g. around 8pm) and see how traffic increases during this period.

bottom of page