SMS Marketing 20212021 is the year of ecommerce SMS

With ecommerce businesses expected to reach $4.9 trillion in 2021 and the ever-increasing amount of purchases being made on mobile devices, SMS marketing is a trend you can’t ignore in 2021. Used in the beginning to gain a competitive edge over other ecommerce businesses, SMS marketing campaigns are now essential ecommerce business communications. In other words, it’s a trend to keep up with.

At Recapture, we’ve been working with ecommerce brands to implement SMS in their overall marketing strategy and the results speak for themselves. 

Ecommerce stores that use SMS marketing have found SMS campaigns result in increased customer engagement compared to other forms of communication such as Facebook Messenger or email marketing. In particular, Messenger has seen a decrease in performance due to Facebook adding more restrictions about what types of messages can be sent.

One reason we encourage businesses to use SMS marketing is the ability to directly communicate with customers. Instead of your messages going to a busy inbox or email folder, customers will see your messages in their SMS app. SMS messages easily reach users and this ease of access is one of the main things that directly contribute to the success of SMS marketing.

Ecommerce SMS performance in 2020

Why is SMS such a great channel for ecommerce brands? Here are some of the stats that show why SMS marketing can be such a game-changer.

  • 76% of consumers report having received a business SMS on their mobile device.
  • 67% of people prefer receiving business messages in the form of SMS instead of email or call.
  • Many different industries have realized the importance of SMS marketing and made it a part of their strategy with the use rate being 73% in the real estate industry, 65% in the agriculture industry, and 63% in the entertainment industry.
  • The engagement rate for SMS has proved to be 6 to 8 times higher than that of email marketing.
  • Younger generations (millennials and Gen Z) prefer to use SMS over email

Ecommerce SMS trends for 2021

Ever since its inception, SMS marketing has grown in popularity. This is because of the high engagement and conversion rate it offers. Ecommerce businesses are increasingly realizing the importance of SMS marketing and trying to use it along with other communication channels. Here are some ecommerce SMS trends that are likely to occur in 2021.

Trend #1: SMS becomes the primary communication channel for ecommerce brands

According to a study, 67% of people would prefer to get customer service in the form of text messages rather than voice calls or any other channel. With 74% of people leaving no unread texts and only four percent of people who have seven or more unread texts, the use of mobile devices has only increased over time ecommerce business owners are rapidly adopting the practice of SMS marketing as it increases the chances of customer engagement.

In addition to using the now old methods of marketing like TV commercials, social media ads, and email lists, businesses will be turning towards and rapidly adopting SMS as their primary communication channel. SMS, as a primary means of reaching out, will not only provide more convenience to the mobile phone users but will also provide the business owners a much higher CTR thus making customer acquisition easier.

Trend #2: More focus on automation

A good marketing campaign is not just one that gives you a higher conversion rate, it’s also one that’s efficient and easily manageable. This is the reason why one of the upcoming trends in SMS marketing is automation. Most brands already leverage automation for their SMS campaigns, but the trend focuses more on how SMS automation is changing in 2021. Things like pre-baked templates, workflows, and performance monitoring are changing how brands see results with SMS. 

Trend #3: SMS will outperform email campaigns

Having a much higher engagement rate than emails, SMS will outperform email campaigns as a marketing tool. What gives SMS an upper hand is that the open rate of SMS is far greater than that of email campaigns. With higher open rates comes higher engagement and chances to convert a sale.

Trend #4: But combining email with SMS will be a high-performing channel

While it is true that SMS is likely to outperform email campaigns due to the higher CTR and conversion rate it provides, there are still some things for which email is more well-suited. SMS is better for short-form messages but when it comes to long-form copy and image-heavy content email marketing is definitely a more effective choice.

SMS is great for short messages because you get straight to the point with your messages. Promoting a sale? Link a customer directly to the product’s page and they can easily make a purchase.

A smart approach to use to have marketing success in 2021 would be to use email to build a connection with the subscribers and to use SMS as a reminder of that connection. Moreover, emails can be used to acquire the phone number of a subscriber who’d be interested in being included in the SMS subscriber list and vice versa. If utilized in the right way, a combination of SMS and email marketing will form a high-performing channel.

How good is it? Here are some stats about omnichannel engagement:

  • Engagement rate: 18.96% on omnichannel vs 5.4% on single-channel
  • Purchase frequency: 250% higher on omnichannel vs single-channel
  • Average order value: 13% more per order on omnichannel vs single-channel
  • Customer retention rates: 90% higher for omnichannel vs single-channel

Trend #5: More personalization

Humanizing a brand plays a very important role in both, customer engagement and customer retention. Human beings have a need to relate and the more personalized the ecommerce marketing strategy is the more chances it has of being successful.

Customer marketing is saturated with generic messages. Personalization breaks through the noise. Merchants who use more deeply personal campaigns that connect to their audiences are doing better than those who are using generically worded emails. 

Brands who take the time to personalize their content with more than just the customer’s name using techniques like brand-specific humor, pre-answering common questions usually asked in support channels and talking about the customer’s shared interests with the brand result in campaigns being anywhere from 100-250% more effective (in conversion rates, open rates, and recovery amounts) based on Recapture’s data.

The number one mistake we’ve noticed is that anyone who sends “same old same old” messages gets subpar results, but those who take the time to connect with their audience, provide value and use bridging language (e.g. humor that relates to their demographic) outperform significantly.

Trend #6: More transactional conversations will be handled via SMS

While SMS automation has made things so much easier than they used to be, more customer service is likely to be handled via SMS in 2021. Although the most common use of SMS messages is to send shipping details, order status updates, and order confirmations to buyers, 2021 is going to witness a number of other customer services being handled via SMS. These include:

  • Reply-to-buy
  • Delivery updates & confirmations
  • Personalized product recommendations

Just like customers are offered a choice to subscribe to an email list, an increasing number of ecommerce business owners are now moving towards developing an SMS list for their customers. By inviting customers to become subscribers, businesses will offer services like sale notifications, special offers, and reminders for online shoppers to get back to their abandoned carts.


We’ll say it again: 2021 is the year that SMS becomes the primary communication channel for ecommerce brands. Email marketing still has its place, but SMS is now the go-to-channel for brands looking to grow, particularly in the DTC space and younger brands. The key to success lies in combining different channels and making the best use of all of them. 

In order to build a successful SMS campaign, it’s important for business owners to learn about all the available resources that they can utilize to make their campaign a success. These resources can include different channels of communication (email, phone calls, SMS) and different services that help with customer acquisition and retention thus creating a successful marketing campaign.

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