How to Build a Retail Mobile Marketing Strategy
Retail SMS marketing, or text messaging, is the perfect way to connect with customers at every stage of their purchasing journey. At a time when customer experience is on the mind of every marketer, text messaging builds cost-effective experiences that drive repeat business. From offering 1:1 customer service, to providing rich media experiences that create loyal, repeat brand engagement and drive sales, SMS marketing delivers.
How to Use SMS Marketing for Retail
The basics of text marketing for retailers is pretty simple to grasp. A retailer creates an account with a service provider, uploads their contacts, and, when ready, composes and sends a bulk SMS promotion.
By sorting customers into groups, the retailer sends relevant marketing messages only to customers who fit certain profiles. For example, if the retailer has a new location opening across town, they will save money (and drive higher engagement) by only announcing the store opening to customers who live in the area, rather than to their entire database of contacts.
Once the text has been sent, the retailer can monitor the success of the campaign via their chosen texting platform. Many text marketing platforms provide reports indicating specific metrics, such as the number of click-throughs the campaign has received, opens, and spikes in engagement. With this information, the retailer can continually fine-tune and optimize their text marketing campaign according to the data.
Applying what you already know about your customers and your retail operations will help you determine the most effective combination of tactics to use for SMS marketing for your retail business.
The most successful retail SMS tactics include:
- Acquiring new customers by providing shoppers with a Keyword paired with a short code to help grow your list.
- Increasing repeat business by providing SMS subscribers with follow-up information on new products or upcoming sales and services.
- Helping (and delighting) customers by texting order and delivery updates or letting them know when a popular item is back in stock.
- Providing two-way customer service by responding to customer questions in real time.
SMS Marketing Strategies for Retail
First, define your SMS marketing strategy. Laying this foundation before jumping into tactics is the most efficient and cost-effective way to align your business objectives with your operational team’s capabilities.
Define Company Objectives
All retail marketing strategies should align to business goals.
Make sure to work with the leadership team to confirm the company's direction. For instance, leadership may want to grow market share in a certain geographic region or a particular demographic, build anticipation for a new product line or store opening, or play a long game by increasing brand awareness rather than focusing on quick sales.
Confirming company objectives ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction to increase impact through every phase of the business.
Identify Your Target Market
If you don't understand your customers how can you show them how your product or service will impact their lives? Unless you're Walmart or Amazon, you can't just say everybody wants your stuff. If you've never done it before, or if it's been a couple of years, revisit your target persona profile.
- Who are they? Estimate demographic info.
- What are their expressed and unexpressed needs and desires? These are often psychological or emotional.
- Where do they spend time? This could be in-person or online.
- How will your products help them? Think in terms of “before and after” states.
Pick the Best Marketing Channels
Once you've identified your target consumers, think through how they'd like to communicate. Keep in mind that consumer habits change over time — and that change is happening more quickly than ever. Don't assume that the channels you used two years ago are still as effective today.
- Are they constantly on their phones?
- Do they use text messaging a lot?
- Do they attend conferences you could sponsor?
- Which social channels do they engage on?
- Do they attend local meetups or eat at particular restaurants?
Remember, it’s best not to have a one-channel mind about marketing. Most great retail marketing strategies employ multiple marketing channels to reach their customers. Think through which combination of channels will be most effective and pick primary and supporting channels.
Now it's time to brainstorm campaigns. Think about your target market. What are their psychological or emotional needs?
- Do they fear missing out on a great deal?
- Do they need social validation?
- Do they feel better when they've shared an offer with a friend?
- Do they want to feel like a part of an exclusive group?
- Do they respond better to Thank You's rather than a monetary reward?
- Are they optimistic or pessimistic?
- Are they eager to learn new skills?
By identifying the psychological factors which affect their thinking, you can begin to strategize campaigns that will cause them to act.
Now you're in a position to decide what offers or specials to run and what language to use. As an example, you can use this knowledge to offer a loyalty program for consumers who want to feel like part of an exclusive group and fear they'll miss out on a great deal.
List & Gather Needed Marketing Assets
Next, plan out what you'll need to make the campaigns exceptional. Put as much detail into a spreadsheet as you can to ensure that you don't miss anything and budget well. Consider how long the assets will take to complete as you begin planning launch and completion dates.
- Do you need new photography or video?
- Do you need to print new posters or in-store signage?
- Do you need to get an account with a text messaging service provider?
- Do you need a graphic designer to help make the imagery great?
Launch, Analyze Results & Iterate
After you've launched your campaign, it's important to see what works and what doesn't for future campaigns.
To get the most value out of your campaigns, make sure that the marketing channels you use have clear and easy-to-understand reporting capabilities.
Go ahead and make some guesses ahead of time on how much response you think you can get. Think of every retail marketing strategy you develop as a scientific test to learn more about how your customers think. Write out a document with your assumptions and hypotheses about the response, and then use your marketing channel reports to measure the campaigns so that you can be more effective with the next one.
Benefits of SMS Marketing for Retailers
Understanding the benefits of SMS is really just solving a math problem.
SMS vs Email
SMS open rates can be as high as 98%. The average click-through-rate (CTR) for email marketing in 2021 is still around 2-3%. SMS CTRs are closer to 30%. You do the math.
Mobile-First = SMS Engagement
Users live on their phone in 2021 and SMS is their preferred channel. Period.
First-Party Data Rules in 2022
First party data has never been more critical. As a retailer, segmented SMS communications uncover access to your customer’s:
- Location... for sending SMS messages based on geography (or even in-store).
- Behavior... including their interests, purchasing behaviors, and order frequency.
- Order Information... so you can send messages specifically based on their order interest, including reminding them of similar products or when products become available.
- CRM Profile... including their social accounts, account status, or tier and length of time as your customer
Start Your Own Retail SMS Marketing Campaign
The adoption of SMS texting as a preferred channel makes retail SMS marketing a compelling and affordable medium for marketers to consider. A thoughtful SMS retail campaign can differentiate your retail brand and engage the customers you seek.