Guide to Creating an SMS Welcome Series

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Overview

In a Welcome flow, SMS messages offer you a way to make a more immediate impact on new subscribers. On average, most text messages (~98%) are looked at within 90 seconds. In comparison, only 20% of emails are viewed, and it typically takes between 90 minutes to 3 hours for customers to view said emails. The shorter time frame means you can reach SMS subscribers when their interest in your business is at its peak. It is a great chance to encourage them to move further down the funnel -- driving them from being a subscriber to a customer.

This doesn’t mean your Welcome flow should only include SMS messages. While SMS marketing is on the rise, email remains the more popular channel for receiving marketing correspondence. Therefore, including both SMS messages and emails in your Welcome flow is an effective way to reach most your customer base.

In this article, we go over collecting SMS consent and creating a Welcome flow that includes SMS messages. If you're just getting started with SMS, check out our Getting Started with SMS Handbook

Gathering SMS Subscribers

There are several different ways contacts can subscribe to receive SMS messages from your business. In each of these instances, you'll want to introduce them to your products and brand philosophy. The three key scenarios are as follows:

  • A contact signs up to your SMS list via a click-to-text form
  • A contact signs up via a desktop form that collects both email and phone number
  • An existing email subscriber signs up for SMS

Regardless of which method you use to collect SMS subscribers, it’s important to make sure contacts are fully aware that they are consenting to receive SMS messages from your business. Note that language that only says someone is opting into general marketing (and doesn’t mention SMS) is usually not seen as sufficient, per TCPA guidelines. Check with your legal counsel regarding your SMS marketing opt-in messaging.

Configuring Your SMS Messages

When setting up your welcome series, an important step is configuring the content for your SMS message. Unlike emails, text messages only allow you 160 characters to get your point across. For this reason, it's important to conserve space and be direct. For example, if you're offering a discount in the first message of your SMS welcome series, this is something you'll want to lead with.
Please note that it is not possible to insert unique coupon codes into text messages. If you do want to include a discount, you'll have to use a static code.

You'll also want to ensure that your call to action (CTA) link directs recipients to a relevant page on your website. In a welcome series, this could be the product page for a particular collection or simply a page of your "best sellers." Direct recipients to the page where you think they're most likely to make a purchase.

As with all SMS messages, make sure that recipients know who the message is coming from. The image below shows an example that uses the Organization Prefix, located on the left-hand side of the SMS Preview window.

From a design standpoint, it's not currently possible to include images, gifs, or videos in SMS messages, so your best bet is to keep things simple and to-the-point. Learn more about writing engaging copy for your SMS messages.

Creating Your SMS Welcome Flow

A Welcome flow that includes SMS can consist of only text messages or both email and SMS messages. The sections below run through these two setups, as each provides distinct advantages and you may want to use both.

Create an SMS-Only Welcome Flow

Having an SMS-only welcome series is recommended if you are just collecting phone consent or if you are asking email subscribers to consent to SMS marketing. The reason for this is that previous subscribers would have already gone through your email Welcome flow, and since a profile can’t go through a list-triggered flow more than once, they would not receive the welcome series when they sign up for text messages.

First, head to your Flows tab and click Create Flow in the upper right. Next, click Create from Scratch. You will then be brought to the visual canvas where you can begin building out the details of your flow as follows:

  • Flow Trigger
    Create a metric-triggered flow based on the Consented to receive SMS event.
  • Flow Filters
    Add a flow filter to ensure that the flow does not go to anyone who has been in the flow at any time.

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Next, drag in an SMS message action from the left-hand panel. In this case, there is no need for a time delay since you will likely want your SMS message to go out immediately after someone subscribes.

Please note that if your list is set to double opt-in, which all Klaviyo lists are by default, someone will have to first confirm their subscription by texting "YES" before receiving your welcome flow. 

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If you are using a signup form to collect both emails and phone numbers and already have an email welcome series already running, you will want to exclude SMS subscribers from receiving that welcome series. You can do this by adding a filter to the flow that stipulates What someone has done or not done > Consented to receive SMS > zero times over all time.

This prioritizes your SMS welcome series over your email Welcome flow, though you may choose to keep both running provided they don't contradict one another (e.g., you offer 15% off in email, but 20% off via text).

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Using SMS and Emails in a Welcome Series

If you want to compare SMS and email in a welcome series, or are just starting to collect subscribers, you can create a Welcome flow. Options include creating a Welcome flow using an example in the Flow Library or building one from scratch. If you have a welcome series currently set up, you could also clone that flow and then set it to draft mode. You need to clone the original flow because a profile cannot go through a list-triggered flow twice. If a profile previously signed up for your emails and thus went through the Welcome flow, they wouldn’t go through it again when consenting to SMS marketing.

Create a list-triggered flow based on when someone is added to your Newsletter list. After the trigger, add a Conditional Split that divides recipients by whether they’ve consented to receive SMS or not. Note that if you have already added messages to the flow, the split will automatically move these to the Yes path. For the first message, it is often better to send an SMS. Text messages are viewed more quickly than emails, having an SMS as your first message allows you to establish a near-instantaneous connection with the recipient. 

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Next, drag another Conditional Split condition and place it to be first in the Yes path. Set it to be Random sample with a 50% split. This split allows you to make sure that sending SMS messages is right for your audience. To do so effectively, it’s important to compare their performance against emails for the same group of people (i.e., those who signed up for SMS marketing), as comparing the two messaging channels against all profiles could lead to significantly skewed results.

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If SMS proves to be effective for your business, you can build out your Welcome flow.

SMS Welcome Flow Testing and Best Practices

After your first message in each branch, drag in a time delay. This ensures that any subsequent messages are sent after someone receives the first. Because SMS messages actively ping the recipient's phone, it's important to be cognizant of the time of day you're sending.

You can make sure that you're not sending at an inconvenient time of day by setting the time delay to a specific time of day in the recipient's local timezone. You can also delay until a specific day of the week.

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Make sure not to overload SMS subscribers. A good rule of thumb is to send a maximum of 2-4 SMS messages per month for each recipient.

We recommend adding at least three SMS messages to your SMS welcome series. Since some of the contacts receiving this welcome series will be existing email subscribers, you can leverage information that you already know about them from their email and purchase history to send more relevant texts. You can do this using conditional splits.

Split Based on Repeat vs. First-Time Buyers

If you know someone has been on your email list for a certain amount of time but has never made a purchase, you may want to offer them a discount (or greater discount) in the second or third message of your SMS welcome series. 

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Keep in mind that you will want to create a new static coupon code to include in the message with the higher discount.

Split Based on Purchase History

Splitting your flow based on purchase history is a great way to offer more targeted calls to action in your text messages and, since each text should only have one CTA, make the most of your valuable space. For example, if you know that someone has already bought from a certain collection, you can show them a different CTA. 

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Split Based on Properties About Them

If someone is an existing subscriber, this means they've signed up to hear from you in the past, just not through text. That said, you can still leverage any information you learned about them when they initially signed up or through any subsequent emails they may have received.

For example, let's say that in the first email of your email welcome series, you ask customers to select which category of products they're most interested in. You can then use this information to inform the CTA in your SMS welcome series.

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In this case, it's important to have a default branch in case a subscriber has never indicated an interest in any of the options. In the example above, we're showing our best sellers to those who have never explicitly told us the types of items they're interested in.

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