Untapped and Unfiltered: How to Win 2020 With a Solid SMS Marketing Strategy
Entering the new year, retailers are focused on outperforming competitors and the previous year’s shopper experiences. To maximize marketing spend, retailers need to approach their marketing framework with a cross-channel strategy: beyond tried-and-true email and social towards underutilized channels like push notifications and SMS. I’ll focus on the latter channel in this article.
Ignoring SMS is leaving money on the table. Not only does SMS extend the reach of marketing messages, it increases engagement by connecting with consumers on their most-used devices. Today, about 5 billion people own smartphones. Coupled with text messages having a 98 percent open rate, adopting SMS marketing is a no-brainer.
So, where do you start? Here’s a step-by-step guide to implementing SMS marketing in 2020:
1. Compile a subscriber acquisition plan.
Gain new subscribers with SMS, while collecting crucial data like individual contact information and preferences. The key is to meet your shoppers where they are (in-store or online), and redirect them to SMS.
To avoid overburdening the point of sale, use in-store signage to encourage mobile opt-ins. Online shoppers can subscribe via “tap-to-join” pop-ups. Product packaging and shipping inserts, as well as traditional channels like direct mail and broadcast advertisements, also attract subscribers.
For an easier opt-in experience, provision a short code, a five- or six-digit number to help consumers contact your brand directly via SMS. Plan ahead: approvals last 90 days. Then, combine keywords with your short code to track each campaign and use them for segmentation. For example, track in-store sign-ups to target those shoppers for store events.
2. Create your messaging strategy.
Next, turn your attention towards copy. A great “hack” for SMS is repurposing text from email campaigns, consolidating it into a more SMS-friendly 160 characters. Plus, it curates consistency across your marketing channels.
Consider special promotions and updates for subscribers. Think exclusive access to a flash sale or personalized alerts showing that a previously browsed item is nearly out of stock.
Creative elements are also much easier to implement in SMS vs. email. You can insert pictures or GIFs into MMS messages as opposed to channeling resources behind email and HTML formatting. Illustrate your brand personality, better showcase your products, and engage with shoppers through viral memes and trends.
3. Choose the cadence for your messages.
Frequency is tricky. However, your subscribers value relevant deals and information.
SMS creates urgency among shoppers. Drive immediate traffic to your store by tapping into cultural moments. In fact, during the holidays, the retailers I work with at Listrak saw an unprecedented 3.4X increase in revenue per message sent, compared to return on investment from email alone.
However, be careful. SMS messages are highly regulated. Confer with your legal team and technology provider to adhere to the TCPA, the primary U.S. law governing SMS regulation for businesses. Include an unsubscribe feature to remain TCPA compliant.
Start out sending six SMS messages monthly, and test engagement across different frequencies to determine the best approach.
4. Determine a plan and metrics for an ongoing campaign.
Look ahead to developing a long-term SMS strategy. Establish key performance indicators early on to track overall consumer engagement. Some popular KPIs include: conversion rate, number of page visits, session length, and number of clicks. Ultimately, you want to know how SMS impacts customer lifetime value.
How did you do after your first campaign? Tweak your strategy accordingly. Over time, you may need to change your message frequency, alerts or target audiences.
Of course, nothing is stagnant. As your company evolves, so will your cross-channel marketing strategies. Stay nimble and keep tracking your results. If you follow these steps, you’re sure to stay ahead of your competition. Happy texting!
Ross Kramer is co-founder and CEO of Listrak, a marketing automation platform for retailers.
Related story: Retailers’ Mobile Customer Engagement Mandate for 2020