5 Tips for Using Text Messages to Engage Holiday Shoppers
The holidays are a feverish time of year for shoppers and retailers alike, and there’s more competition than ever for consumers’ attention. That’s why retailers must market smarter, not harder. Yet many are missing a vital opportunity to attract and engage shoppers. Research shows that 78 percent of people are more likely to visit a store as a result of a text message promotion or mobile alert, and 62 percent of people will make a purchase if they receive a notification or offer on their mobile devices while in-store.
This seemingly simple marketing tactic clearly has a significant impact on a retailer's bottom line, especially over the next month while the stakes are the highest. But before retailers start to blast text messages to every person in the area, it’s important to understand how to make best use of this channel to engage shoppers. Consider these five tips:
1. Use text messages to augment multichannel holiday campaigns. In order to maximize the effectiveness both of text messaging and of the broader communication strategy that it fits into, retailers should better integrate texts into their overall holiday marketing campaigns. For example, offer consumers a way to sign up for mobile coupons in an email blast that's already scheduled to go out. Or allow consumers to enter holiday-themed contests via text message or social media. Additionally, make sure that customers can sign up for loyalty programs through text messages. According to Digital Marketing Magazine, 90 percent of consumers who have signed up for a text-driven loyalty program feel it’s been valuable.
2. Personalize, personalize, personalize. Consumers are bombarded with more marketing messages during the holiday season than any other time of year. Your message will be lost in the crowd unless it's tailored to the individual. Additionally, your customers will be more likely to resent the intrusion of any text message that's not personalized and immediately relevant, as it's arguably the most personal channel. Mobile devices provide a direct and constant customer connection, and text messages have a 98 percent open rate.
3. Think beyond coupons. Mobile coupons are an essential, effective use of communication, however, marketers are missing an opportunity if they stop there. By restricting mobile engagement to coupons, you’re only as good as your best Black Friday discount. Marketers should leverage text messaging to initiate two-way communication and develop deeper relationships — during the holidays and beyond. For example, customers can text in ideas for a new color or name of a favorite product. Perhaps Starbucks would have benefited from some text message crowdsourcing when it designed their holiday cup! Furthermore, companies can enable customers to earn loyalty points when they take a short text message survey. Brick-and-mortar retailers can also reduce the impact of showrooming by enabling customers to text for product information or ordering. Each of these initiatives invites much deeper engagement and loyalty than sending coupons only.
4. Meet your customers where they are. A savvy mobile marketing strategy means communicating with shoppers at a time and place when the message is immediately actionable. Recent Mobile Marketing Association research shows that using creative that features location messaging and proximity targeting can drive a 40 percent increase in consumer engagement. Marrying location data and holiday messaging is essential to real-time marketing. Retailers can take advantage of text messaging by sharing product information, reviews or coupons based on products right in front of consumers when they walk into a store. Sixty-two percent of consumers would be likely to adopt in-store mobile notifications or offers that were based on the department in which they were shopping.
5. Remain compliant. Retailers must ensure that holiday marketing campaigns remain compliant, sending text messages only to those individuals who have fully opted in to receiving communication through that channel. This also means offering a clear method for shoppers to opt out if they no longer wish to receive text messages. For retailers with an international presence, it's important to work with a messaging partner that understands the regulatory environment in each individual market.
Retailers can't afford to forgo mobile marketing. As the holiday shopping season progresses, they must examine their mobile communication and ensure they're not missing opportunities to connect with shoppers and craft a positive customer experience, whether in-store or online.
Rob Malcolm is the senior vice president of corporate development at Mblox, a provider of mobile marketing solutions that help brands reach customers via SMS campaigns and push notifications.