Retail SMS marketing: Best practices for text message use

Team MessageFlow
15 min
March 13, 2024

One of the biggest advantages of SMS marketing for retailers is that they’re able to cut through the information noise like a sharp knife. Directly reaching customers to prompt desired action, text messages grab recipients’ attention like no other channel. In the melee for the mind of the consumer, automated texts emerge as a powerful weapon, as indicated by the significant rise in the number of SMS campaigns sent worldwide in recent years. Are you a retail marketer? Great! Here’s what you can use texting for, its benefits, and how you can get started with your first campaign.

In this article we discuss:

  • Retail SMS message use cases.

  • Benefits of using SMS marketing in retail.

  • Tips for getting started with your retail store SMS campaign.

Using text messaging in retail

The main purpose of a retail SMS marketing strategy is to engage customers and drive sales. Since customers are so familiar with the channel, texts fits right in at any stage of the customer journey and can perform a number of more specific roles within it.

From attracting new prospects into a brick and mortar store, to generating conversion, to post-sale customer service, ecommerce businesses have multiple use cases for SMS and can reap a number of tangible benefits from implementing a retail text marketing strategy. 

Here’s how retailers use SMS to send important information and achieve a number of important business goals. Consider the following use cases of text messaging for retail marketing.

Getting new customers

So you’ve managed to build a considerable SMS subscriber list willing to receive communication from you? Very well, it’s time to set up and launch a texting campaign designed to create first-time buyers among them.

new customer sms

Special offers and discounts

Considering texts’ near-instant delivery (read about why SMS may be delayed) and direct character, they’re perfect for informing about time-sensitive offers, limited product drops, flash sales, and conveying other communication intended to immediately activate customers.

special offer sms

Transactional notifications

Although marketing and transactional communication is generally treated separately, the division may get a little blurry. Despite being a different type per se, things like order status changes or delivery updates are after all a part of wider marketing efforts and automated SMS act as a handy vessel for this information. 

transactional sms

Customer service via SMS messages

Judging by how prevalent FAQ sections are online, it’s safe to say that many of the customers’ queries are repetitive and relatively easy to address. Retail SMS FAQs can facilitate the process of answering them, and you can also introduce some proactive support measures to help you improve the experience and retain customers. 

customer service sms

New product or service launch

Whenever you expand your range, you want to let your customer know about the latest and greatest offering you have. A properly worded, enticing marketing message can help you get the sales of the new product off the ground. 

new product launch sms

Benefits of SMS marketing for retail industry

There’s something strangely compelling about SMS that makes them highly readable. Maybe it’s because so many of us have turned primarily to any of the OTT communication apps and social media for daily texting. Perhaps this is turning SMS into a channel reserved for particularly important messages that may offer extra value to us. 

Why use SMS to grow your retail store business?

Aside from whether this assumption is true to any extent, there’s a number of good reasons to use SMS marketing for retail anyway.

  • Direct channel with high visibility in the daily deluge of information. Texts are hard to miss and reach their recipients nearly instantly, which makes them particularly useful for time-sensitive communication.  

  • High open rate, especially when compared to some other channels. Perhaps the relative infrequency of texts mentioned in the section’s makes them especially hard to ignore, generating a 98% open rate.

  • High conversion rate, with some reports showing that marketers in retail and ecommerce, on average, generate $71 per every $1 spent on SMS marketing programs. 

  • Ease of creation. All the minimalist format of a text message requires is body copy and an optional link and you’re good to go. 

  • Ease of integration into your existing marketing infrastructure. Using REST API, you can connect an SMS delivery platform with your other tool and feed relevant data into it to make the communication more efficient. 

  • Standing out. With social media, business websites, and Email consistently leading the way among the top digital marketing channels worldwide, SMS allows you to be a little different while maintaining a broad reach.

Best practice recommendations for retail SMS marketing

Aside from having a grander messaging strategy - an idea of what and how you’d like to achieve in the first place, who you’re addressing, use case scenarios, etc., there’s a number of essential steps you’ll need to take in order to start running text message marketing for retail.

Here are best practices to help you get going and maximize the effectiveness of your retail SMS program in 5 steps.

1. Build your SMS list

Before you’ll be able to take advantage of all the benefits the SMS channel offers, you need to build up a list of subscribers, keen on receiving communication from you. Obtaining explicit consent to send SMS is required by law, so you want to make sure you do this the right way.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to go about this in ecommerce is creating a direct opt-in prompt like a pop up box at the end of a checkout, or perhaps even earlier in the funnel, encouraging customers to subscribe while making sure you clearly state the benefit stemming from giving the consent. 

2. Consider multi-channel opt-in

And while you’re at it, trying to get people to opt-in for an SMS program, consider making the consent multi-channel. This will allow you to keep the communication line open via, say, Email marketing, in case someone unsubs from SMS, as well as run cross-channel communication campaigns.

Here are some ideas on how to get text message marketing opt-in:

  • Incentivization - offer a discount or a special deal to those who decide to subscribe to your SMS communication. Provide a clear value statement.

  • SMS contests or giveaways - ran exclusively via texts, with subscription required to participate.

  • Content alerts - highlight the value of timely and relevant information that’s best delivered via texts. Think in terms of ‘don’t miss out / be the first to know / stay informed via instant updates’.

  • Customer loyalty program - make SMS communication an integral part of a loyalty program, where participation equals opt-in. Consider providing an extra reward upon entry.

  • Transparency - clearly state the contents and frequency of the communication the subscriber can expect. Reassure the customer that their privacy will be respected and the content will be personalized and tailored.

3. Pick a platform for text marketing

Once you’ve implemented a mechanism for collecting consent and built up your contacts database, it’s time to launch your campaign. An SMS marketing platform is an essential tool that will facilitate the entire process of efficient delivery of your promotional messages to a large number of customers.

When choosing the platform, look for any specific features your business may need in particular. Pay attention to integrations, scalability capabilities, and the overall tech infrastructure behind it, ensuring secure and reliable delivery of communication.

4. Create and customize your retail text messages

The next step on the way to launching your SMS marketing campaign is the creation of a customized message, with sender ID clearly showing your brand and personalized text, directly addressing the recipient.

Making the message highly relevant by drawing on historic data such as purchase history, wish lists, items in the cart, etc. will make your campaign significantly more efficient. Before you go live, make sure to run a test to ensure that the formatting and spelling are correct, and any links within are working.

5. Run and analyze your SMS campaign

Ok, so your campaign was sent. Naturally, you’ll want to know how well you’ve done, plus you need data to get better in the future, so depending on the specific goals you were aiming for, give it some time and dive into the analytics provided by the SMS platform you chose.

Look at the various metrics to see what’s working, what isn’t, and adjust. The KPIs you may want to pay particular attention to include:

  • Delivery rate - the percentage of all the texts sent that were successfully delivered. Tells you about the EFFICIENCY of your efforts.

  • Open rate - how many recipients opened your message. Tells you about the ENGAGEMENT levels.

  • Click-through rate - how many people clicked the link or took the desired action. Tells you about the EFFICIENCY of your CTA.

  • Opt-out rate - the number of subscribers who decided to leave the list. Tells you about the AUDIENCE HEALTH and ENGAGEMENT.

  • Cost per conversion - the total campaign cost divided by the number of conversions. Tells you about the FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY of your campaign.

Retail text message marketing summed up

An SMS text is a small message that gives a big promise to any retail business looking to grow their revenue and improve customer experience inside and outside the store. To reap the benefits SMS marketing provides, you need a list of contacts willing to receive  communication via text message from you and a reliable and flexible tool that will handle the process of message creation, delivery, and campaign analytics.

Get started with SMS for retail business

Using MessageFlow you can send automated text messages via either the friendly panel or flexible REST API. We utilize certified direct connections with GSM operators in various local markets to deliver texts at a 99.99% rate. 

Our platform provides considerable scalability of campaigns, while offering a maximum message throughput of 6 mln/hour, which allows for timely delivery, no queuing, and minimum errors.

The SMS you send with MessageFlow reach recipients in 3.5 seconds on average, arriving anywhere on the globe. Integrating via API automates the process of sending  text messages, provides a testing environment, and allows you to collect detailed insights.

Get started with SMS for retail with our secure, ISO-compliant text message tool protected by an anti-phishing shield and talk to an SMS communication expert today. Our robust tech infrastructure built over two decades and the team behind it stand ready to support your business.

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