SMS Marketing: Why It’s Better Than Email Marketing for Shopify Stores

Email isn’t going to cut it anymore. Here’s why your Shopify store should start using SMS marketing today.

Looking to build viewership for your Shopify store? You have likely already tried a number of avenues, like social media advertising, banner ads, or email campaigns. It’s time to try the one marketing channel that stands out from the rest: SMS marketing.

Short Service Message marketing, or SMS marketing, uses the ever expanding world of smartphones to send carefully crafted messages to a very specific, targeted audience. Also referred to as text marketing, SMS marketing is permission-based, meaning that your customers can subscribe (opt-in) or unsubscribe (opt-out) at any time. This is not dissimilar to email marketing, in which customers are able to choose whether or not they receive messages from your Shopify store. This is important to note because if done wisely, SMS marketing can be extremely lucrative, but if performed incorrectly, SMS marketing can feel very invasive (more on that later!).

Shopify marketing is about showing your customers the right messages, at the right time, in the right place — nowadays, that means in their smartphones. Your customers are using their phones more than ever, and this should be used to your advantage. Consider these statistics:

  • 90% of smartphone users text on a daily basis.
  • The average American smartphone user’s daily screen time has increased by almost 50% from 2019 to 2021.
  • 78% of smartphone users say that texting is the most frequent activity they do on their phones.

Without a doubt, your customers are texting. Because texting has become one of the most — if not the most — prevalent modes of communication in recent years, it should not be ignored in your Shopify store’s marketing strategy.

Still not totally sold on the idea of texting your customers? Here are some of the best reasons to implement SMS marketing and if SMS marketing is better than email marketing. Spoiler alert: it is!

Though texting may seem like a more impersonal mode of communication — at least, when compared to talking in person or on the phone — the relationship a consumer has with their smartphone is very personal. The virtual world people create within their smartphones is completely personalized to each individual user: wallpapers; apps; news feeds; but most importantly, the people they allow into that space.

You don’t give random strangers your phone number, do you? Neither do your customers.

That’s why it’s such a big deal that SMS marketing is permission-based. Customers have deliberately chosen to give your Shopify store permission to text them. This means that you, as a corporate brand, have been allowed into their personal — albeit virtual — space. This permission should not be taken lightly, as it means that your texts will appear between message threads from their friends and families. Due to this, even when using a no-reply text sender, SMS marketing is an intimate, direct line between your Shopify store and your client.

However, this permission can also be revoked at any given time. It’s actually illegal to not allow customers to opt-out of SMS marketing texts, at least in the United States. This is why your Shopify store needs to realize that it is a privilege, not a right, to use SMS marketing. Don’t spam your customers with too-frequent or unnecessary texts that don’t feel useful, otherwise they will be likely to opt-out of your messages.

Why this makes SMS marketing better than email marketing:

Email is a relatively impersonal mode of communication. In the early days of email, it was actually pretty personal — your email address was something you only gave out to family, friends, and coworkers — until advertisers began to realize how lucrative email could be. By the time texting rolled around, consumers were eager to jump from email to an easier way to communicate.

Nowadays, the modern consumer typically has multiple email addresses and a litany of companies in their inbox sending them an innumerable amount of advertising emails. In fact, many working professionals, on average, receive 121 emails a day — advertising or otherwise. Based on sheer numbers alone, it is difficult to stand out with email marketing alone, making your Shopify store just another voice in the crowd.

With SMS marketing, you are able to reach your customers in a meaningful, real way and cut through the cacophony.

The reason that texting has become one of the most popular methods of communication in the world is very, very simple: it’s easy and fast. Texts were designed to be short messages that are exchanged between parties quickly, without any of the wait expected with emails, phone calls, or in-person meetings.

Creating an SMS marketing campaign is remarkably simple because they typically are text only — best practice is to keep SMS marketing texts under 160 characters — they are short, to the point, and do not require any extra bells and whistles like templates or graphics. Even better, SMS marketing messages arrive in your customer’s message inbox in mere moments, giving them a sense of immediacy that is not as effective in an email.

To capitalize on this urgency, your Shopify store can offer your customers time-sensitive incentives that must be acted upon quickly in order to redeem, such as coupon codes, surveys, and discounts. You can even try something out of the box, like a “raffle” where customers respond to the text in order to be entered in a competition for an even larger discount!

Hot tip: you can even offer specific discounts or offers to only the customers who have subscribed to your Shopify store’s SMS messages, thus using multiple powerful marketing techniques that capitalize on the consumer’s psychological needs.

For the customers that have already subscribed to your Shopify store’s texts, they will enjoy the exclusivity of these deals, feeling like they are a part of an “insider” group. The customers that are not already subscribed to your SMS marketing messages will hear about the deals your Shopify offers within them (you should advertise this on your website or within emails) and experience FOMO, also known as the “fear of missing out”, and subscribe to your store’s texts so they won’t be excluded from the next deal!

Why this makes SMS marketing better than email marketing:

Email is not designed to be an instant messaging platform. Though many users have their emails sent directly to their phones, emails are not considered to be as important as text messages — SMS marketing texts have a whopping 98% open rate, whereas emails have an average open rate of only 20%.

The reason for this staggering difference in open rates is simple: texts are considered urgent, emails are not.

SMS marketing best practice recommends that all texts sent to customers are 160 characters or less. Though this may seem stifling, SMS marketing’s short and sweet nature means that it allows a much larger degree of customization for Shopify stores who want to create more personalized campaigns and messages for their target demographics.

Most ecommerce stores have “lists” within their target demographics that each of their customers (and potential customers!) fall within in order to better tailor their marketing strategies to guide each customer along their buying journey.

Because SMS is a less intensive type of marketing, it is easy for you to send a number of texts to different customers depending on what step of their buying journey they are on. For example, you might send a “forgetting something?” text to a customer who abandoned their cart on your Shopify store. All of this can be done without much extra effort on your (or your marketing team’s) part — all you need to do is create a strong call to action, or CTA, and press send — without the need for extra, costly additions like templates or graphics.

Why this makes SMS marketing better than email marketing:

Typically, email marketing is carefully crafted to appeal to the largest number of people. This results in content that is more general, rather than personal, meaning that it may not connect with all of your Shopify store’s customers in a meaningful way.

While your Shopify store can schedule different emails for multiple client lists (this can be helpful if you have a broad demographic that breaks off into smaller, more niche demographics), it is typically not financially sustainable to create different emails for multiple campaigns, especially for small businesses and start-ups — that’s more money you will have to spend paying graphic designers, copywriters, and coders.

On the other hand, you can send highly customized and personalized SMS marketing messages to different lists, without the need to spend extra money or time on design or coding. All you need is a good idea and someone who can double check to make sure that there are no spelling mistakes in the text messages!

SMS marketing is the easiest marketing channel to start, run, and track.

SMS marketing may seem like a daunting new task, but in all reality, it is the easiest of all other marketing channels. If you have a phone and a list of your customer’s phone numbers, you could potentially start right now! That being, texting customers yourself is not necessarily the best idea — especially if you have more than ten customers.

You should consider investing in an SMS marketing platform for your Shopify store, like Klaviyo, Postscript, TextMagic, or other services that will fit your needs. SMS marketing platforms allow you to create and send multiple text message campaigns and automations through their systems, instead of through your own phone. Because SMS marketing is permission-based, you will be able to recognize exactly who is receiving your Shopify store’s messages — either the specific customer or branches of your target demographic — and with the help of an SMS marketing platform, you can analyze precise data about your customers’ interaction with the messages (open rate, if they have opted-out after a specific message, etc.), purchase history, and specialized background. All of these things give you a better idea of how to entice your customers.

Why this makes SMS marketing better than email marketing:

Unlike SMS marketing, email marketing requires a bit more finesse. Due to the precedents set by the hundreds of other companies in their “promotions” inbox, consumers have a high standard and expect aesthetically pleasing graphics, high quality images, and a litany of links in the emails they will receive from your Shopify store.

On the other hand, SMS marketing is (once again!) short and sweet. Shoot customers a simple text and a link to sale, and your Shopify store is good to go. No need for fanfare — what you see is what you get.

As far as consumer data goes, there are plenty of platforms that can help you retrieve most of the same specialized information. However, it is not quite as easy, and you may not get all of the data you need to craft an effective marketing campaign due to two reasons:

  1. Your Shopify store will have to expend much-needed funds and time crafting specialized marketing tactics to create the intricate email campaigns that can actually generate customer interaction.
  2. As mentioned before, many consumers have multiple email addresses making it difficult to expunge important customer backgrounds. Signing up for an email address doesn’t require much personal information at all. Plus, if your Shopify store’s customers are anything like us, they probably have a separate email address that they specifically use to send to brands in order to receive the perks that come with being subscribed to their newsletters — meaning that they likely created the account using bare-bones or falsified personal information.

Smartphone communication and data plans require a bit more information from their users, and unless a consumer is using a burner phone, they have to divulge specific and entirely correct personal details to their cell phone provider. Fortunately for your Shopify store, most of this data (in addition to their shopping habits, purchase history, message open rates, and interests) can be examined with an SMS marketing platform, giving you important insight into who your customers are and how to make a sale.

To put it plainly, email has lost the public’s favor, especially with younger consumers. Nowadays, people are living and working through their smartphones, checking their texts far more than they check their email inboxes. If you want to build a loyal, responsive customer base for your Shopify store, it’s time to ease up on the email campaigns and start texting your customers instead.

Posted by
John From Jotting

Shopify developer, SEO expert, and Social Media marketer who has been in ecommerce game for over 4 years. I've worked on 100's of Shopify ecommcerce stores, understanding each store owners SEO, product, and marketing needs.