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Unprepared Ep 37 - Personalizing Your SMS Marketing with Elena Kostova


  • [00:00] - Intro
  • [00:19] - What is SMS?
  • [03:15] - The best practices for using SMS 
  • [05:29] - What makes SMS different
  • [06:24] - Where to find Elena
  • [07:11] - Sponsor: Rewind


  • Elena Kostova’s LindkedIn: https://nl.linkedin.com/in/elena-kostova-b895b184
  • SMSBump website: https://smsbump.com/

Key Points:

  • Mobile commerce is doing great and merchants are to use SMS as their marketing channel. 
  • The great thing about SMS is that it's personal and has a great open and conversion rate.
  • Marketers are using conversational commerce or are starting to adopt a personalized approach when it comes to their SMS.
  • Conversational commerce is about trying to make a sale through conversation that are often adapted by chatbots like Facebook bots or mobile pop-ups and SMS. 
  • There was a big shift from mass messaging to personal messaging. Marketers now use narrow segmentation, careful targeting, and bigger variety in the messages for consumers.
  • SMS can have a conversational flow by asking your customer’s preferences based on their interest, characteristics, and even gender.
  • SMS Bump tries to push merchants to ask personalized and directed questions so they can make relevant offers and to ensure that the message is converting the customers. 
  • Promotional ads can be seen in Viber and other communication channels that's why marketers should be careful with SMS. 
  • The key to not over messaging your customers is segmentation. 
  • If you message your clients in SMS as frequently as you do in email and other channels, it may ruin your chances of converting them.
  • Treat SMS as a channel that you use to text your ex-boyfriend or someone you like. Don't want to be spammy and just be really natural. Text them only when you have something meaningful to say. 
  • Messaging your customers every once or twice a month is enough especially when you have the right offer. 


Chase Clymer  

Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Unprepared. I'm your host Chase. Clymer. And today we welcome to the show Elena from SMS Bump. How are you doing today?

Elena Kostova  

Hi, I'm doing great. How about you?

Chase Clymer  

I'm doing fantastic. Like I said earlier, just producing a bunch of content today for some reason. But let's get into it. So, without further ado, what's new with SMS?

Elena Kostova  

So a lot of great things have been happening in the SMS world. Recently, and especially in the last, I would say, six months, we see with the current change, and with mobile commerce exploding, more and more merchants are actually starting to adopt SMS as a channel.

And I think one of the greatest things of SMS as a channel is that it has great open rates, it has great conversion, and it's really personally direct. So a lot of people just want to jump on the bandwagon. 

The new thing I would say is a big shift towards mass messaging to personalized messaging. So to really know segmentation, for careful targeting, and trying to show bigger variety in the messages for the customers. 

And I can see this also in industry trends. A lot of our competitors, and ourselves as well, are starting to adopt a really personalized approach to SMS marketing. 

So having conversational flows, which feeds you ask questions, and then you offer the customers really personalized offers, tailored to their interests, their size, and so forth, are having really deep segment segmentation, like offering people things based on what they like, what they dislike, or their personal characteristics, even what's their gender.

This is, I think, the biggest trends right now in SMS marketing, in terms of app development, but also in terms of what companies and merchants are striving to achieve. 

The other really big thing [with] what's happening right now in SMS marketing is the shift to conversational commerce. Conversational commerce from someone who, I'm not sure everyone is familiar with the term, is basically trying to make a sale by conversations. 

And this is something that chatbots are currently adopting like the Facebook bots, and also even the mobile pop-ups that you have with the in-app with the app installed and also with SMS.

So what we are trying to achieve is we try to push merchants to ask personalized and directed questions to the customer, so they can send them really relevant offers [and] make sure that their mixer at the end of the day is converting. 

And I can see that everyone in the industry has adopted that thing and I'm really hopeful that in the next half a year or even one year, we're gonna see a huge leap in that direction.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I have interviewed quite a few people in the SMS space recently, and what I'm seeing trends with every app, it doesn't matter who it is, you know, competitors, etc.

The number one thing is like don't over message your customers and getting into the segmentation of it is the key to doing that. Because if you're hitting your customers with your SMS communication with the same frequency as emails, you're more than likely going to just ruin that list, I guess.

Elena Kostova  

Yeah, exactly. Actually, this is really interesting. And I think it's really for me, how I...because personally I'm also a marketer. And how I see SMS is a channel that has the opportunity to avoid all the mistakes being done by the other channels. Because what we're seeing right now is this over spam of customers with promotional messages with ads. 

People are even starting to place as in their communication apps like Viber. I think we'll see that soon also in WhatsApp so I think there's such a huge over promotion everywhere in so many channels that we have to be really careful with not over spamming them. 

So definitely yes, to be honest, they always say customers are, treat SMS as a channel if you're texting your ex-boyfriend or someone you like. You know, don't want to be spammy. You want to be really natural and you want to text them only when you have something meaningful to say. 

I think that's...the beauty of SMS is brief, it's direct, and it allows you to, you know, not to remind about your business every other day, but just once or twice a month might be enough. Especially when you have the right offer.

Chase Clymer  

I think that piece of advice, don't message people, treat SMS as if you're texting an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, that is so on point, that is so key. That's gonna be the best takeaway of the show. So just thank you for sharing that. That's going to help people understand when they should be messaging, like, is it that important?

Elena Kostova  

Yeah, exactly. I think what also a lot of people are kind of, not really confused, but I think how they try to treat marketing as a channel is the same way to do email. And I think that the sales are just really different. 

With email, we have long communication, you have the ability to show your brand in front of the customer, tell a bigger story, [and] introduce yourself. It's about the creativity and the beautiful way you message and being, you know, really creative at the end of the day. 

Whereas with SMS is, it's all about being really brief. It's also like point people with a straight call to action. You want them...you have two seconds of their attention and you want to tell them what was the goal of that message. 

You want them to sell...to buy something, you want to remind them about something, or even maybe you want to see how they're doing. You just have two, really three seconds to win their attention. In other words, win them or lose them.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, no, that's great advice. So if people want to learn more about SMS Bump, or ask you questions about how to better their SMS strategy, how do they get ahold of you? And how do they learn about the product?

Elena Kostova  

Oh, they can, of course, smsbump.com. And also if they want, if it's a question about the app or something, we have a live chat, which is 24/7. 

If they want to connect with me personally and talk with me more about SMS marketing, and if they just need some advice or some tips on their SMS marketing strategy, I'm also glad to help. They can just email me at elena@smsbump.com. And I think those are the channels they can reach us. 

Chase Clymer  

Awesome, thank you so much for coming on.

Elena Kostova  

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. Have a great day. Bye!

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