How Can SMS and Text Messaging Work For Retailers?

There are currently over 5 billion mobile phones in the world, and every one of them can send and receive a text message. This penetration along with the ultra-high read rates of text messages (98% of text messages sent are read, 90% within 10 minutes) presents.

In The UK alone over 265 million text message are sent every day. SMS is simple, reliable and immediate and most importantly at a time when all businesses are watching their bottom line, it is an extremely cost effective way to communicate with your customers.

So how can it work for hard pressed retailers?
A good text messaging marketing campaign is very flexible and can help you generate additional sales and can also help you enhance your customer relationships. So think carefully about what you want to achieve. Text Messaging can be used for sales promotions, as part of a loyalty campaign or customer retention campaign, as an event notification tool or simply as a way to increase brand visibility. SMS also has an immediacy and a personnel element that other forms of direct marketing lack. So as you embark on your SMS marketing campaign try and utilise these unique advantages of SMS to get the most from your campaign and gain the maximum benefit for your business.

Use SMS to Engage Your Customers & Build Your Database
Adding a call to action to existing advertising campaigns is a great way to get customers to join your text messaging program as well as enhancing your relationship with your customer. For example running a mobile competition where customers “Text your answer followed by your name to…” will quickly build up your “mobile club”. You can even automatically send back a Thank You text message to the customer with a promotional offer which will drive further sales e.g. “Thank you for entering. Show this text with your next purchase to get 10% off”. This can also be a great way to shift old/expiring stock e.g. “Thanks for entering. Get 50% off product x when you show this message”.

Convert your Mobile Club into increased Sales
One of the great advantages of a text message marketing campaign is that you will be marketing to customers with a genuine interest in your products and services. It is an extremely targeted form of advertising. There is also an immediacy about SMS that other forms of advertising lack. For example, what other form of advertising can get a promotional offer to thousands of customers that you know have previously purchased from your business in a matter of minutes.
So make use of that power. If you are having a slow day try sending an offer that expires that day e,g, “10% off all purchases of product X before close of business today”. If your business has stock that expires, SMS can be particularly powerful allowing you to create and send an offer in minutes to shift stock that needs to be sold today.

Offer value and make it relevant
When your customers opt-in to your “mobile club” they are entrusting you with their mobile phone number. It is important not to abuse this personnel piece of information. So think about the frequency of the offers you send. Do not bombard your customers with messages and only send a message when you have something worth saying. It is always a good idea to send your mobile club discounts/offers that are not available to customers who are not members of your mobile database. Not only will this encourage customer loyalty it will also help build up your mobile database as other customers hear about the value on offer.

And remember, always let your mobile database know how they can Opt-Out of your text messaging campaign if they so wish.

Use SMS as a customer relationship tool
All good SMS Marketing Services will provide a two-way messaging feature where your customers can send you a text message with comments and feedback. This can provide your customers with a means of contacting you quickly and cost-effectively giving you valuable feedback. Running text poll is an interesting extension of this where you can ask your customers to tell you what they want.

Some Tips For Retailers To Get The Most from SMS
1. Use the unique advantages of SMS – Don’t just use your Text Message Marketing Service to circulate details of existing promotions. Try and offer your “mobile club” something different. This will help generate word-of-mouth about your mobile campaign and will help build customer loyalty.

2. Use SMS as part of your overall marketing strategy – SMS is most effective when integrated into an overall marketing strategy. So why not add a Keyword to existing promotional literature that customers can text to get a special offer SMS message back. Add the keyword to your Facebook page or circulate it via twitter. Add a “Join our Mobile Club” option to your Facebook page. Put details on how to join your mobile club in the signature of e-mails etc. Use SMS to reinforce an existing message. For example, advertising an upcoming event or sale on local radio will be more effective if you follow it up with an SMS reminder to your mobile club on the day of the event.

3. Choose the Right Supplier – There are a number of excellent Text Message Marketing services on the web. Think about what is important to you and choose accordingly. Price is obviously important. Equally important is what tools do they offer to help you build up your mobile database. Also, what is the level of customer service offered; how easy to use is the service and do they offer tools to help you review your campaigns.