SMS Strategies

SMS Segmentation: Creating Your Strategy

targeting image
Published
Jun 23, 2021
Written by
Mike Greene
Mike is a Senior Product Marketing Manager. He spends his logged off hours adventuring with his dog and exploring his newly found interest in red wine.

Personalizing your text messages is key to delivering content that resonates with your subscribers—and meets their expectations.

Have you ever struggled to find the perfect birthday gift for someone? Even the most easy going friend or family member has their own unique preferences. And if it’s someone on the choosier side? You can agonize over your decision for days.

You want your gift to be something they’ll enjoy, that aligns with their interests and personal taste. You want to make sure it’s something they’ll actually use or that makes sense for their lifestyle. But most of all, you want them to know you put real thought into their gift to show how much you appreciate them.

Your SMS subscribers expect the same treatment. That’s why text messages that are tailored to their wants and needs are more likely to inspire action and drive incremental revenue.

We’ve written about segmentation best practices (check it out if you haven’t already). In this post, we’re taking a deep dive into how to build a sophisticated SMS marketing segmentation strategy (with those best practices in mind), including:

  • Understanding how your subscribers engage with your SMS content
  • Personalizing your text messages based on subscriber behaviors
  • Exploring the different behaviors and conditions available to build a more targeted audience  

Establishing your targeting strategy

Before you start segmenting your audience, it’s important to understand how the frequency and types of one-time marketing messages—also known as campaign messages—impact engagement and performance. Start by making sure you’re sending the right number of messages to your entire subscriber list. We recommend sending 8-10 text messages per month to maximize revenue per send.

Send messages for different marketing “events”—such as special promotions or new product announcements—to better understand which types of messages generate the most subscriber engagement.

campaign messaging special promotion


Evaluate how your subscribers respond to the cadence and content of your campaign messages by analyzing click, conversion, and opt-out rates. Use these insights to determine how often you should send your subscribers messages and which types drive the best results. Your goal over time should be to customize these messages to appeal to specific audience segments—such as your most engaged SMS subscribers—instead of sending the same messages to everyone.

Our recent consumer survey results show how important personalization is to consumers. While text messages featuring multimedia are more likely to encourage shoppers to make a purchase, 33% of consumers said they have no preference regarding media as long as the content is relevant to them.

Triggered messages are another great way to start personalizing your SMS program. They’re automatically personalized based on a subscriber’s actions. For example, abandoned cart reminders are sent after a subscriber has left something in their online shopping cart. And automatically welcoming new SMS subscribers allows you to introduce them to your SMS marketing program and deliver their sign-up incentives.

Triggered welcome message


You have plenty of opportunities to test what works best with your subscribers in both triggered and campaign messages. You can A/B test copy variations, emoji usage, or other content strategies to see which texts perform best. Remember to run multiple A/B tests in order to gather enough data to deliver a statistically significant result. These tests will serve as the foundation of your future segmentation and personalization strategies. 

Strategy in action

Footwear brand BEEK sends their subscribers multiple text messages per week about new products, promotions, and bestsellers. They also use triggered messages to engage their subscribers based on actions they’ve taken, including browse abandonment reminders that highlight their free shipping and hassle-free return policy and post-purchase messages that encourage customers to write reviews of items they’ve purchased.

BEEK text message example


When we launched SMS, the positive impact on our business was immediate. Our customers really responded well, and it’s now our highest-converting marketing channel month over month.

– Kenna Florie, Co-Founder, BEEK

With a 48.1% conversion rate, BEEK’s triggered messages allow the brand to automatically drive incremental revenue. Text messages sent via Attentive account for approximately 20% of BEEK’s total revenue, helping the brand achieve a 345x ROI.

Developing your targeting strategy

Once you’ve established a campaign messaging cadence and triggered messaging strategy tailored to your audience, work to personalize your messages using audience segmentation.

Segment builder


With Attentive’s Segment Builder, you can create dynamic audiences based on subscriber data you’re actively capturing, such as actions, preferences, locations, and more. These segments update in real-time for more effective, relevant SMS targeting.

Segmenting messages based on subscriber preferences creates more personalized experiences for your customers—meaning they’re more likely to be interested in what you’re saying. Create segments based on purchase history, using transactional data to develop profiles for subscribers who either have or haven’t made a purchase over a certain time period. Recommend items based on what subscribers purchased most recently to drive upsells or cross-sells. Use time-sensitive discounts or positive reviews of your best-selling products to target subscribers who haven’t made a purchase recently.

Create segments based on past message engagement. How you define “engaged” should be specific to your brand and goals, but a common benchmark is any subscriber who’s clicked on at least one text message from your brand within the last two to four weeks. Prioritize sending your biggest revenue-driving text messages to subscribers who are actively opening and clicking your text messages. Develop win-back campaigns for unengaged subscribers that are designed to pique their interest, such as special offers or content related to new product launches.

Geo location targeting


Create segments based on geographic location. This is especially useful for targeting weather-related or location-specific events, such as promoting new swimwear items to subscribers in warmer climates or inviting subscribers in specific zip codes to attend new store openings or other in-person events. Make sure your messages are as relevant as possible to where your subscribers live and their access to your products and services.

Use your audience segments to support key marketing events, tailoring your messaging to appeal to different groups based on their unique characteristics and interests.

Strategy in action

Lifestyle brand Izzy & Liv uses Attentive’s Segment Builder to segment their subscribers based on purchase history and past message engagement. They customize content for subscribers who failed to convert after a specific campaign message and provide discounts to subscribers who clicked on a message but didn’t make a purchase.

Izzy & Live text message example


This is a great way to drive conversions from subscribers who are engaged enough with our channel to click, but might need the extra push or reminder to make a purchase.

- Nicole Brown, Founder & CEO, Izzy & Liv


Izzy & Liv’s segmentation strategy helps the brand achieve a 28.5% average conversion rate across all text messages, generating a 33.4x+ ROI.

Unifying your targeting strategy

After you’ve personalized your text messages using audience segmentation, you should determine how your segmentation strategy can be used to reward and retain your most valuable subscribers. Use subscriber data to identify your best customers, and develop messaging that will build long-term loyalty and maximize revenue growth.


Create segments that subscribers can “unlock” by taking certain actions, such as “VIPs” who have spent a certain amount of money with your brand over a specific time period. Use total number of purchases, purchase frequency, and total spend to help develop your VIP segment and spotlight the subscribers who are your biggest brand fans and most likely to convert.

VIP segmentation


Keep your VIP subscribers engaged by consistently recognizing their support of your brand and rewarding them with valuable content, such as exclusive discounts or early access to new products.

If you want to leverage an existing marketing segmentation strategy, you can upload phone numbers into Attentive that are cross-matched to your program’s SMS subscribers and will help ensure orchestration across all marketing channels. Only use lists you own and in which subscribers have given their permission to be opted in to your program. This, along with Attentive’s built-in compliance tools, will help make sure you’re compliant with industry regulations.

You can also upload data via technology integrations, allowing you to align customer profiles from your brand’s marketing ecosystem with Attentive, using a mutual data point to map back to. Use data from your e-commerce platform—such as lifetime spend, order count, and marketing opt-in status—to help create segments. Share and synchronize data with your CRM, CDP, CSP, and ESP to both support SMS targeting, and ensure your outreach on other digital marketing channels is as personalized as possible.

Strategy in action

Beauty brand Mented Cosmetics uses Attentive’s Segment Builder to develop VIP segments based on subscribers who have spent a set dollar amount. The brand rewards their VIPs by giving them early access to new products and providing bonus offers, such as free shipping with their orders.

Mented text message example


I wanted to personalize our subscribers’ experience to give them the attention they deserve.”

– Chandra Cooks, Head of Marketing, Mented Cosmetics


By targeting their VIP segment, Mented connects with their most engaged audience and achieves a 3x increase in click-through rate and a 2x increase in conversion rate compared to non-VIP subscribers.

Personalized text messages are far more likely to engage your subscribers and increase incremental revenue. Tailor your messaging to your target audience to drive the best results.

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