A pullback on consumer spending, high inflation, and an uncertain holiday season. Toss in paid social’s cost and targeting effectiveness being in a state of perpetual fluctuation and retailers find themselves faced with a myriad of challenges in trying to increase sales and maximize return on investment.
To maximize sales and profits, brands need to ensure all marketing channels work together as efficiently as possible, with data from one channel feeding another. This is where opt-in channels become valuable for retailers. Email and SMS marketing are two opt-in channels that tend to have fewer cost fluctuations and are driven by first-party data, making targeting more accurate and their effectiveness more evident.
However, as the economy and consumer shopping habits change, how are consumers responding to these channels and what can brands learn from it?
A new email and SMS marketing report analyzed more than 8 billion e-commerce marketing emails, 43 million SMS messages, and 73 million web push messages sent by Omnisend customers in the first half (H1) of 2022. The results provide a clear direction for how brands can adapt their marketing and increase sales.
Email Marketing: Still Powerful, But it’s Not Created Equal
Email marketing continues to be the centerpiece marketing channel for most brands due to its high engagement, relatively steady cost, and effectiveness at generating sales. For consumers who clicked on a scheduled email campaign, 6.7 percent of them went on to make a purchase. This number soared to 35 percent with automated emails. At worst, email performs well. At best, it performs exceptionally well, especially when compared to paid media channels.
Behavior-based automated messages continue to be the powerhouse behind email marketing’s effectiveness. Through the first half of 2022, automated emails generated 29.1 percent of all email marketing orders but accounted for only 1.75 percent of email sends. Of this, three series of messages generated 88 percent of the automated email orders. They were, in order, cart abandonment, welcome series, and browse abandonment messages.
The reason these messages convert so well is that they're high-intent, meaning they help guide consumers’ shopping journeys at the right time. Brands looking to maximize their email orders need to look no further than optimizing the three highly engaging series of messages.
The report also showed that open rates can’t be a trusted metric on which to make engagement-based decisions. Thanks to the impact of the iOS 15 release, open rates in H1 increased 94 percent year-over-year (YoY).
Overall, with click-to-conversion rates of nearly 7 percent at the low end, relying on email marketing will continue to pay dividends for retailers.
How Consumers Respond to SMS Marketing
Everyone texts, and consumers of all generational cohorts increasingly want brands to text them. In 2020, e-commerce brands sent 376 percent more text messages than the year prior. In 2021, sends increased by another 94 percent. Through the first half of 2022, brands sent 36 percent more SMS than during the same period in 2021.
Brands are also applying the lessons learned with automated emails to their SMS counterparts. Following a year that saw a 258 percent increase in automated SMS, automated sends decreased by 10 percent through H1, but generated 28 percent more orders YoY. Along with the increase in orders, the conversion rate for automated SMS increased by 43 percent and converted nearly 350 percent better than promotional SMS messages.
Like in previous years, expect SMS sends to increase dramatically during the holiday season. This, combined with the increase in conversion performance, means SMS may be the secret weapon for brands not only during the holiday season but year-round.
Retailers should focus on collecting mobile numbers with email addresses, including SMS into automated workflows, and plan their holiday send schedules.
Brands Are Finding Hidden Opportunities With Web Push Messages
Web push messages aren't new but they’re rarely talked about in the same vein as email, SMS and social media. But maybe they should be. Brands sent 34 percent more push messages in the first half of 2022 than they did all of last year, eclipsing 73 million sent. Not only did sends increase, but so did sales from those sends.
Thirty-five percent of consumers who clicked on promotional push notifications and 44 percent who clicked on automated push messages went on to make a purchase. In H1, this activity resulted in 43 percent more orders compared to the same period last year
While push notifications aren’t the glitzy opt-in marketing channel dominating the headlines, having the ability to include them in the same automation workflows as email and SMS can create a more unified, timely and relevant customer journey that results in additional sales.
Web push messages may just be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The question brands should ask themselves is “Do I want to be a wolf or a sheep?”
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Because of email’s longevity, brands too often take it for granted. The early stereotypes of SMS being only for Gen Z need to be forgotten. Instead, brands need to begin adopting the channel and optimizing the messages that consumers are proven to respond to.
As we maneuver through the remainder of the year and into a holiday shopping season coupled with inflation, brands will be fighting for every last dollar. Understanding the channels and messages consumers are interacting with can be the secret advantage to crafting a high-converting, high-ROI marketing strategy for the holidays and beyond.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the director of content at Omnisend, the all-in-one e-commerce marketing automation platform.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the Director of Content at Omnisend. With 15-plus years of experience in email, mobile, and social media marketing, he’s helped over 100 DTC companies around the world, including numerous from the Internet Retailer Top 1000, maximize sales through their email marketing programs. Zakowicz is a frequent speaker at ecommerce events, often shares his ecommerce insights across various industry media outlets, has been retained as an ecommerce expert witness for trial, and is the host of Omnisend’s Cart Insiders Podcast.