Retailers have used SMS marketing for several years, but the promotional method is always evolving. SMS marketing is another term for text message marketing. When applied to the retail sector, the possibilities are virtually endless. People are accustomed to both receiving and sending texts, so using them to engage with retail brands should come naturally to your target audience.
Let's look at four SMS marketing trends and how to take advantage of them:
1. Purchasing Swipe-to-Text Snapchat Ads
Snapchat recently launched a new ad format in the United States that enables swipe-to-call or swipe-to-text functionality. The company brought it to the Middle Eastern market, then introduced it to the U.S. a couple of months later.
Other kinds of swipe ads usually open a mobile browser window and prompt a person to download an app or visit a website. However, asking a person to text a business could get them connected with it faster.
If this advertising method sounds appealing, think about calls to action that make sense for your brand and fit the reasons people frequently send text messages. For example, you might urge people to text to sign up for your newsletter so that they can learn about new products or discounts before others.
2. Helping Credit Card Holders Shop
A recent survey found that 58 percent of customers mentioned mobile payments as the most essential kind of shopping technology to improve retail experiences. Paying with a mobile phone means that people don't need to carry around cards that they risk losing or accidentally leaving at cash registers.
Nordstrom decided to combine mobile payments with text message marketing. It has a specific text number for Nordstrom Card Services and, when people use it, they can request a QR code that allows shopping with a Nordstrom-branded credit or debit card without physically possessing that payment method. The QR code works for 24 hours after receipt, and people must show their IDs at checkout.
This SMS marketing method capitalizes on convenience by emphasizing that people can shop by displaying their mobile phone screens that show the QR codes. If you opt to use this method, the first step is to speak to your merchant services provider and iron out the logistics of creating the codes.
Next, consider what other services you might offer through the text number. For example, Nordstrom lets customers check their rewards balances or pay their credit card bills with it.
3. Offering Contests to Text Subscribers
Retailers often use text messages is to get customers' attention. Statistics show that text messages have a 96 percent open rate and that most people read them within three minutes of receipt. American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) decided to appeal to its customers with a campaign that gave text message subscribers the chance to get a discount or win a prize daily for 12 days. The biggest prize offered was $10,000.
AEO's director of marketing said that nearly 60 percent of people engaged with the prize pages within minutes after getting the text message. Remember, your message must give recipients a reason to want to look at the content. People taking part in AEOs' campaign knew they would receive a discount each day, and they might win something.
The element of surprise paid off for AEO, and it could work for your brand, too. When coming up with incentives, think about what your audience wants most. With the right strategy, this type of text message marketing won't be a letdown for them.
4. Educating People Through Text Messages
Another compelling SMS marketing trend to consider involves using text messages to inform people, an approach often used by startups to build brand recognition in a crowded marketplace.
For example, Judy is a new company that sells disaster preparedness kits. People can text their readiness questions to experts and have them answered in real time. They can also get text messages from Judy that tell them the disasters most likely to happen in their areas of the country.
CARIUMA is a sneaker brand that keeps people in the loop by telling them that products are back in stock or available in a different color. Getting those tidbits of information could cause a person to promptly make a purchase when they might have otherwise waited or not bought anything at all.
As you test this approach, come up with several kinds of educational details you could provide for customers that they would genuinely want to know.
The examples of information sent by Judy and CARIUMA showcase smart SMS marketing because the educational information sent aligns with the brands' overall messaging. Moreover, the uses here could both directly spur purchases, a result you should aim for.
Understand Your Customers Before Using Text Message Marketing
After reading these trends and examples, you might find yourself wondering, "What is SMS marketing's role in my plans?" The answer differs for every retail business. However, the better you know your customers, the easier it will be to determine how to use text message marketing successfully.
Kayla Matthews writes about artificial intelligence, the cloud and retail technology. You can also find her work on The Week, WIRED, Digital Trends, MarketingDive and Contently, or check out her personal tech blog.
Related story: 4 Reasons Artificial Intelligence is the Future of Retail