Smartphone text messaging (or in tech terms, SMS) is one of the easiest ways for retailers to stay in contact with and engage their customers. After all, what other advertising medium do people carry around with them and check 160 times a day?. It’s also one of the most effective for time-sensitive messaging—90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes.

With SMS marketing, you can notify subscribers of sales, new products, special offers and more. The trick is to make your texts timely and relevant to the customer. I can’t emphasize that enough. While 85% of customers prefer to receive a text message over a call or email, no one likes a bunch of junk texts pinging away on their phone all day or having to scroll through endless texts they have no interest in. Imagine getting this one on your  cell phone at 10 minutes to midnight:

 

As with any marketing tactic, understanding exactly who your customer is, what they’re likely to purchase from you and when, and what motivates them to do so is critical. Once people have opted in to receive text messages from you, here are three creative ways to use SMS messaging in your retail marketing strategy.

Seasonality

Seasonal text messaging campaigns are a great way to ensure you’re offering your products during a time when people are likely to buy them. Holidays, turns of season, graduation, the first snowfall—figure out how your products apply seasonally and what you want to feature, and determine whether you’re driving them to a physical shop or an online store. Then start reeling them in with the appropriate offers. For party stores and those who sell outdoor gear, this is a pretty obvious one, but any type of shop can align text marketing to seasonality. Auto parts stores could offer % off windshield wipers, free tire checks or snow chain discounts. Skincare purveyors might offer specials on specific formulations for dry, hot, cold or humid weather. Those that sell retail displays might reach out to customers when they are refreshing the look of their shops for winter, spring, summer or fall. Beer-making equipment vendors may text market in anticipation of football season. The list is endless.

 

Events

This is an example of strike-while-the-iron-is hot SMS marketing. As with seasonality, there is always some type of event you can tie a text marketing campaign to, no matter what you sell or how far away the event is located. You may not live in Indianapolis, but if you service vehicles in any way—painting, repairs, detailing—the Indy 500 is a natural.  If you sell horse tack and related products, you could text message °›market around equine events, FFA shows, rodeos, the summer Olympics, etc. Television shows and movie premiers. Local festivals. College and pro sports. Elections. So many options. Mobile coupons are perfect for SMS marketing around event. Those delivered via text message drive high levels of purchases and urgency, with 25% redemption within three days and 60% redemption within one week.

 

Budget cycles

For anyone who sells products to companies (B2B businesses) or government agencies, understanding how their budgets and budget cycles work can be a goldmine. Think of schools, for example. It’s easy to find out the first day of school, and for public schools, the budget and spending priorities for the upcoming school year. With those dates in mind, you could execute a well-timed text messaging campaign around products or services that help them organize the classroom, enhance the performance space, tidy up the science labs, etc. Larger companies often do a “budget flush” at the end of the calendar or fiscal year to ensure they spend what they were allocated. Put yourself in their shoes and sell them something useful—or something they didn’t even know they needed.

SMS text messaging is highly effective, but remember to use it judiciously—too many messages too often can be a turnoff—and only with subscribers who have opted to receive text messages from you. If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of SMS marketing, ManyChat can guide you through building SMS lists, engaging subscribers and making sales. Their user community can also teach you how to integrate it successfully with other tools and platforms you may already use, such as Facebook, Instagram and Shopify. Incorporate SMS text messaging into your marketing mix and see what this relatively inexpensive tactic can do for your bottom line.

Categories: Marketing Training

Ray Ko

Ray Ko has been creating effective visual merchandising and interior design strategies for retailers for more than 20 years. Today, he is the senior ecommerce manager for shopPOPdisplays, a leading designer and manufacturer of stock and custom acrylic product.

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