Almost every major brand has experimented with SMS marketing services. Some programs have been wildly fruitful while others were abandoned after only a few months. Having seen both small and large retailers implement successful mobile marketing programs, there is little doubt that SMS can drive customer engagement and increase revenue.
For retailers who are venturing into SMS marketing for the first time, contemplating resurrecting a previously discarded program, or want to re-invigorate an existing SMS initiative, there are many best practices. Following are six proven retailer strategies that have generated redemption rates of 10-plus % for their SMS marketing programs (compared to 2-4% for email programs) and inspired tens of thousands of customers to sign up to an SMS marketing list per day.
Reward Your Customers
The best time to collect demographic data about a customer is when they sign up for your SMS marketing program. Information such as address, zip code, and purchase preferences is critical to creating a stronger connection between you and your customer.
Tip: Sweeten the deal with a generous welcome offer for joining your SMS marketing program and providing valuable personal data. “Twenty percent off your next purchase” is a nice way to say thank you. When you deliver a generous welcome offer, consider using one-time-use mobile coupons. Single use offers let you track coupon usage (opened, viewed and redeemed) and ensure the coupon will only be used once, eliminating fraud and liability concerns.
Create a Sense of Urgency
One way to create a sense of urgency is to deliver a limited-time offer. For example, “10% off all merchandise this Thursday through Saturday only.”
Tip: Send a reminder message the day before the offer expires. For a short-lived offer (three days or less) the best time to deliver a single reminder is the morning of the last day (“Hurry in, 10% off ends today”). For promotion periods of five to 14 days, a reminder message delivered one to three days prior to the end of the campaign is sufficient. Remember that the reminder message should be helpful, not intrusive or nagging.
You’ve got their first name, last name, birthday, and zip code. Now use them!
Tip: Zip code allows you to personalize by location (“John! In celebration of the Dallas Cowboys 28-7 win, get $7 back for every $28 u spend. Good till game time”). Collecting their birthdate allows you to both send age appropriate marketing communications as well as a personalized birthday offer. For example, using the word “SNAP” in a text message is meaningless to a baby boomer, but has meaning to a millennial.
Use Digital Marketing to Build Your List
Placing a prominent link to your opt-in form on your home page is a good start.
Tip: What’s better? Not naming the link “Sign up here for SMS updates.” Let your customers feel like they’re joining an exclusive club. The link should read like something people would want to join. Why make it about updates when you can invite people to join your “Insiders Circle,” “Aficionado Society” or “Mobile Fan Club” instead?
Educate In-store Staff
Your sales staff is the front line in customer relations. Inform them about the SMS marketing program. When knowledgeable, they can readily promote the program driving hundreds, and even thousands, of sign-ups per day.
Tip: Strategically place program and promotion information in your stores. For example, when a customer shops at Benjamin Moore and enquires about joining Benjamin Moore’s Inner Circle, the store associate could extoll the benefits of becoming a member and hand the customer a card instructing them to text in the keyword “HOLIDAY” to the retailer’s shortcode to receive a mobile coupon for 5% off on all purchases made that day.
Leverage Existing Marketing
You’re promoting your SMS marketing program using in-store signage: “Become a Member of Benjamin Moore’s Inner Circle for exclusive offers and early access to new products.” Is this enough?
Tip: Boost your signups by getting the word out by including calls-to-action in all of your existing marketing channels. In addition to in store, create a campaign for your email marketing list, post to your social media properties, develop radio and TV advertisements, and most certainly place a link on your home page. The more places you include a call to action, the higher your enrollment rate.