Recovering Lost Ecommerce Sales with Abandoned Cart SMS Text Messages

May 12, 2020

If only there was a way to get 90% of your abandoned cart messages opened within just three minutes of delivery. Wait, there is. 

Last month, we looked at multi-channel abandoned cart tools that don’t require email – recognizing that while email is a powerful tool for recovering abandoned customers, it shouldn’t be your only tool. We touched upon the power of SMS and web push notifications for reminding, re-engaging, returning, and recovering customers lost through abandonment. 

This month, we’re delving deeper, with this guide to implementing an automated SMS recovery campaign and maximizing its effectiveness to squeeze even more conversions out of your gone but not forgotten website visitors. 

Back to Basics: What Are Abandoned Cart SMS Text Messages?

SMS stands for short message service, and it’s a 160 alpha-numeric message sent between mobile devices over a cellular network. In other words, it’s a text message on a mobile phone. 

Automated SMS text messages are sent automatically by an SMS remarketing platform, at the time you need them sent. For cart abandonment recovery, this involves sending up to three text messages based on the time abandonment activity occurred, much like your existing email recovery campaign

SMS text messages are a highly effective, yet often overlooked, customer recovery channel because:

It’s where your audience is

Your potential customers are on their phones for an average of 5.4 hours a day – in fact, it could have been an alert on a customer’s phone that distracted them from their shopping basket. SMS recovery messages enable you to meet your audience on a platform they’re already holding in their hand, increasing the likelihood of your message being seen, opened, and read. 

It’s where your audience is shopping

Mobile commerce is forecast to reach 45% of the total US ecommerce market by 2020. Not only do SMS messages allow you to meet customers on a device they’re using throughout the day, but they also allow you to reach customers on a platform they’re increasingly using for online shopping. 

They’re personal

Text messages are one-to-one conversations that occur in a place primarily reserved for family and friends – making them highly personal. An SMS allows you to establish a personal connection by association and build trust and familiarity far quicker than you can in the email inbox. 

They capture attention

Capturing attention in the email inbox is challenging, even with a winning abandoned cart subject line. In contrast, SMS messages come with a unique alert that notifies the recipient about your message and results in a 90% open rate within three minutes of receipt

They’re simple

SMS messages are limited to 160 characters, which forces you to craft clear, concise, and actionable messages that are easily understood and acted upon by your audience. 

They’re cost-effective 

With high open rates, little time involvement, low delivery costs, and exceptional conversion rates, SMS messages deliver a phenomenal return on investment. 

Customers love them

Finally, your customers love SMS messages. More than half of consumers prefer text messages, and 75% want businesses to send text messages with special offers in them. 

Together, these benefits make SMS messages a powerful tool for reaching hot leads and recovering abandoned carts. 

How to Set Up An Automated SMS Text Messaging Campaign

Now that you know the benefits of SMS text messages, let’s explain how to implement an automated SMS abandoned cart campaign for your store. 

Acquiring telephone numbers

To send a text message, you need a mobile phone number to send it to. If you read our guide to on-site campaigns for capturing ecommerce leads, you’ll already know the best website tactics for obtaining contact information, such as live chat and real-time site-wide capture. 

What’s important is that you tweak your on-site tactics to include a telephone number field alongside an active opt-in tickbox. This ensures that your SMS recovery messages are legally compliant and only going to customers interested in hearing from you. 

Automating messages

To automate SMS messages, your SMS remarketing software should have the following features:

  • Cart abandonment functionality – the ability to trigger an initial text message following abandonment activity on your website, and schedule two follow-up messages. 
  • Send from brand – the option to add your brand name into the “from” field on a customer’s phone, rather than an unknown telephone number. 
  • Personalization tags – functionality to insert personalized information. 
  • Link shortener – a shortened, custom tracking link that allows you to make the most of your 160-characters while monitoring click through rates.  
  • Reporting and tracking – tools to monitor SMS activity, including open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. 

Scheduling messages

It’s good practice to schedule your SMS messages around your email campaigns, to ensure that your recovery tactics complement one another without frustrating your customers. 

You can achieve this in two ways. First, ensure that your messages use a similar cadence and tone to your recovery emails. Second, offset the timing of your SMS messages from your recovery emails; you’re aiming for a steady stream of communication over the week following abandonment, not several messages on the same day.

How to Recover Cart Abandonment with Automated SMS Text Messaging Campaign – Best Practice Tips

Once you’re set up with an opt-in telephone number field and a tool to automate your recovery SMS messages, you just need to perfect those 160 characters. These are our top best practice SMS message tips for recovering abandoned carts:

1. Send from your brand

Setting your SMS recovery tool to send messages from your brand name (rather than a telephone number) has two main advantages. First, it prevents the recipient from labeling your message as spam because it came from an unknown number. Secondly, it triggers brand recognition, making your message more likely to be opened because the customer remembers your name from their website visit. 

Using “Hey it’s _______” at the start of your very first text message will often ensure that the recipients device will present the message as having come from your brand.

2.Lead with personalization

Personalization grabs attention by activating the brain and triggering recognition. You can achieve this by opening your message with the customer’s name – a simple yet effective way to engage attention and establish familiarity. 

Or you can include information relevant to the customer’s website visit so that you can take them back to the shopping state of mind and reignite interest. 

3. Trigger action

One hundred and sixty characters isn’t a lot, so you need to make your unique proposition as clear and actionable as possible. Much like abandoned cart emails, the following psychological triggers work well at re-engaging interest and recovering customers back to your website:

  • Help or reminder – offering customers help with their purchase or reminding them about their website visit. 

Hi Sam, 

Did you need any help picking your next pair of headphones? Click the link to speak to one of our audio experts about any questions you have. [LINK]

  • Discount – providing a discount relevant to the customer’s visit. 

Hey Sam, 

We saw you looking – how about 10% off a $100 spend to help you decide. Use code 10OFF at checkout! [LINK]

  • Scarcity – encouraging loss aversion by highlighting limited stock availability. 

Sam – there are only two pairs of those headphones left. 

Checkout with this link before you lose out. [LINK]

  • Urgency – prompting quick action by time-limiting offers or the holding of basket contents. 

Hey Sam, 

Did you forget something? Your shopping cart has almost expired – checkout with the code SHIP10 to receive free shipping. Today only! [LINK]

Don’t forget to close with a strong CTA, telling your customer what to do next. 

4. Use a shortened link

A shortened link gives your customer a quick and easy way back to your website, while also saving you essential characters to use in your messaging. 

CartStack’s SMS Recovery Campaigns have a built-in link shortener to automatically transform your CTA into a shortened custom link!

It’s a good idea to use a link that redirects the customer to a relevant landing page, or the customer’s shopping basket. Sending them back to the beginning of their shopping journey isn’t helpful and will likely cause re-abandonment. 

5. Include an opt-out

Finally, don’t be unfair. Not everyone wants to hear from you in their SMS inbox, and that’s ok. Give people an easy way to opt-out from your SMS messages by including an unsubscribe link or a STOP keyword. 

Not only does this stop you from frustrating customers, but it also ensures that your time and money is only spent on customers who have the potential to be re-engaged. 

Final Thoughts: Abandoned Cart SMS vs. Email

So who wins the fight between abandoned cart SMS and abandoned cart emails? 

It’s no contest – because you should be using both. Abandoned cart SMS and emails form part of a multi-channel abandoned cart recovery strategy that allows you to reach your shoppers in multiple places, and engage with them on their terms.

At CartStack, our multi-channel abandoned cart recovery solution means that you don’t have to choose between recovery tools. You can access and manage emails, SMS messages, and web push notifications from one platform to squeeze the most conversions possible out of your existing website traffic.