‘Email has become so cluttered’: Why DTC brands plan to use texting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year

The header image features an open laptop with an envelope on the screen and an alert bubble signaling a new email.

This week, email inboxes will be flooded with marketing messages from brands advertising their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Some startups, having anticipated that it’ll be more difficult to capture consumer attention via email, are adding texting to the mix to make sure their marketing messages stand out this week.

Over the last 18 months or so, marketers for direct-to-consumer brands have been actively prioritizing capturing customers’ phone numbers to build out lists to send out marketing messages via texts, according to media buyers, who say the channel is still nascent, but growing rapidly. 

“It’s definitely different this year,” said Katya Constantine, CEO of performance marketing agency Digishop Girl, adding that roughly 70% of her clients now use SMS marketing. “Paid digital is becoming more expensive and brands are looking for new ways to reach customers without paying as much. There’s also a lot of noise in email and not as much engagement. SMS offers a place to reach customers that isn’t as busy.”

Some startups have been taking advantage of texting as an acquisition channel for the last year. Others have been preparing for the holiday competition and prepping texting strategies. In recent months, some startups have made building out their texting lists a priority, according to media buyers, running giveaways to gather customer phone numbers ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This week, those start ups will use those lists to tout their deals over text as well as email; for many brands texting is an extension of their email strategy. 

For example, direct-to-consumer brands like Judy (a disaster preparedness brand) and Lively (an undergarments brand), among others, plan to send out text messages to alert customers of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.  

“Text messaging continues to be something that’s growing, and a channel that we’ll be leaning into more heavily this year,” said Michelle Cordeiro Grant, CEO of Lively, adding that the company will use it for Black Friday again this year. “We started it last year, and it was amazing, because people are definitely going to be on their phones more than their desktop.” 

Lively sends out between two to three texts a week to new text subscribers and views the channel as similar to that of email as it sends out texts about new campaigns and new products as well as messages about products customers have considered but not purchased. “We basically believe that email has become so cluttered and crazy, that text is a new way to cut through [that] clutter and communicate,” said Corderio Grant. “We make sure that we keep it tight and don’t over communicate on text.” 

At the beginning of each sale this coming weekend, Judy will send out text messages to customers letting them know the sales have kicked off. It will then send out another text before the sales are over to the subscribers who didn’t click on the initial link. Using text messaging “pays off immensely,” according to Nik Sharma, CEO of Sharma Brands and investor and advisor to Judy, as the click-through-rate is “around 70% and conversion rate is usually north of 25%.” 

Marketers and media buyers say they are careful not to communicate too frequently with customers via text message as it’s a more personal channel — and doing so is more likely to lead to someone unsubscribing. 

Still, as more brands start to use texting as a marketing channel it’s easier for more brands to do so, said Chris Toy, the CEO and co-founder of MarketerHire, adding that he expects the rise in texting to continue this year. 

“There’s safety in numbers,” said Toy. “You don’t want to be the only brand texting deals. As more DTC brands are comfortable with it it’s easier to get away with texting someone to buy something now. Still, the biggest tipping point with SMS marketing is still to come but it’s on an upwards tip. It’ll probably be even bigger next year.”

Anna Hensel contributed reporting to this story.


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