Before online shopping became a thing in 1994, shopping from home meant calling a company or mailing an order form for a product advertised in a catalog or on TV. It was more convenient than driving to a store, but orders could take 4-6 weeks to process and ship to the customer.
By today’s standards that seems like an eternity. Online shopping is not only more convenient, customers can choose from a greater selection, compare prices, filter products by category and see customer ratings and reviews. With so much data at our fingertips, and much faster delivery options, it’s no surprise online sales have continued to grow with each passing year.
Online shopping sees an uptick due to the coronavirus
When COVID-19 became a serious public health issue, online shopping took on an even larger role in many households. For a time, it was the only option available for retailers whose brick-and-mortar locations were temporarily closed due to state and local restrictions. And it was a boon for exclusively online sites like Amazon who consumers turned to for everyday essentials.
According to Forbes, the pandemic is profoundly transforming e-commerce. As of April, the U.S. and Canada reported 129% year-over-year growth in online orders and an impressive 146% growth in orders worldwide. And for stores that offer online shopping but in-store pickup, Digital Commerce 360 reported that orders surged 248% at the end of May as restrictions lessened.
Increase online sales with text marketing while social distancing
Social distancing measures have put a dent in traditional summer shopping routines. While some consumers still prefer shopping in person, others may feel it’s not worth the health risk. Whether someone is reluctant to venture into crowded public places or simply prefers to shop online, texting is helping businesses connect with customers in useful ways.
Businesses can use texts for marketing and promotions to drive online traffic, promote sales and provide customer updates, especially for retailers offering curbside pickup where timing when to arrive is important. Texting is also a handy customer service tool that can provide two-way conversations to resolve issues quickly. That’s an improvement over emailing, waiting on hold for customer support or using an online form and possibly waiting up to 24 hours for a reply.
6 ways to use text marketing to increase online sales
In the past, companies used texting primarily for two-factor authentication and promotional messaging. Those methods are effective, but they often rely on one-way communication where consumers can only receive information. Today, businesses are using texting in more ways to connect with consumers before, during and after a sales transaction.
Business texting software allows for conversational texting, which helps strengthen customer relationships. With it, consumers and customer service representatives can carry on a two-way conversation using texts. Continue reading to discover how businesses are using both types of texts to communicate with customers in ways that are convenient and cost-effective.
1. Order and delivery tracking
Using text marketing to send a message with order information ensures that customers will see the message right away. Our 2020 State of Texting report found that unlike email inboxes where messages are generally perceived to be less urgent, when a person receives a text message, they’re likely to read it within minutes. And because text conversations are stored in one place, it’s easy for customers to see a complete text history, from order confirmation to shipping announcements to delivery.
2. Shopping experience updates
Timely updates are crucial for some businesses that offer online ordering, such as restaurants and stores that provide same-day and indoor pickup. Texting software that includes a Templates feature allows businesses to personalize and customize texts to fit the situation. And they can send and receive texts from a computer or mobile device using an intuitive user interface.
3. Abandoned cart reminders
Sometimes consumers are undecided about a purchase. They may leave an item in their online shopping cart for a day or more. Perhaps they want time to think about the product or they were interrupted and abandoned the cart unexpectedly. That’s where text marketing plays an important role.
Regardless of the reason, a business can re-engage the customer with a short text and photo of the item to encourage the consumer to return to the website and finish the transaction. Including a discount or another type of promotional offer may be all it takes to get the consumer to complete their order.
4. Customer support
If a customer has a question about a product they purchased, informing them that they can text your customer service department for assistance may prevent a sale from turning into a return. Promoting your texting capabilities on your website and telephone on-hold message is easy. And not only can it save a sale, it can make the customer very happy. If you have a text-enabled business number, simply advertise “Text or Call” next to that number to spread the word.
5. Payment processing and receipt delivery
Some companies have introduced ways to pay for purchases using texts. It’s a great way to brand your business with a logo while also letting customers rate their experience in the same message.
This new capability will become even more prevalent as RCS (Rich Communication Services) becomes more widely available. You can look for it to include even more features in the future as phone manufacturers, telephone carriers and texting companies come together to improve and increase the ways consumers use texting.
Additionally, offering consumers the option of receiving their receipts by text provides a better customer experience and may help build an opt-in marketing distribution list.
6. Surveys and customer reviews
After a customer has received their online order, a business can use text marketing to send a message and ask the customer to rate their experience or write an online review. The importance of online reviews cannot be overstated. According to Inc.com, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends and 91% of people actually read online reviews before making a purchase.
Keeping the message short, polite and including a link to the review site increases the chances a customer will follow-through on the request. After a review has been provided and it has been read to ensure the customer is satisfied with their purchase, a final text can be sent thanking them for their feedback.
Text marketing adds a new layer of customer service for online shoppers
The coronavirus pandemic has led to social distancing and other public safety measures that have resulted in decreased foot traffic in many stores. However, texting is successfully being used to encourage consumers to shop online. Texts let customers know about new products and special promotions that encourage shoppers to visit websites to take advantage of limited-time offers.
It can also improve customer experiences as consumers (millennials and Gen Z especially) prefer texting over calling customer service numbers. Seventy-six percent of consumers are already receiving texts from businesses, and more consumers wish businesses would text them.
For more information about the benefits of text marketing and adopting business texting, download our Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers e-book. You’ll learn everything you need to know to create a successful business-texting strategy, from texting etiquette and best practices for TCPA compliance to how to market your new texting capabilities to customers and more.