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How retailers should best use SMS in mobile marketing

How retailers should best  use SMS in mobile marketing

By Llew Claasen, VP of Marketing, Clickatell.

Text messaging can be used by retailers of all shapes and sizes for effective marketing, sales and customer service this festive season.

One thing all mobile phones have in common, irrespective of make, model or super smart capabilities, is text messaging. There are more than 5 billion mobile phones in the world now and each one can send and receive 160 characters of basic text. This creates an exciting opportunity for retailers to implement a simple and cost-effective customer relationship management (CRM) solution.

Text messaging is a simple and convenient communication channel that anyone with a mobile phone can use. It provides “just-in-time” information for consumers that are always on the move, does not require any special software or connections and is easy to use.

Create More Customer Engagement Opportunities

Retailers can create further opportunities to interact with sales leads this festive season by using existing advertising channels to get people to join their text messaging program. Adding in an incentive to join the program will make it even more effective.

It is already possible to see live examples in the mainstream media, including call to actions such as: ’Tis the season to be Jolly! Text to win…”, “Text your name and…”, “Text for Super Festive Savers!”.

The benefit to retailers is that those prospects with an interest in their product or service, brand or industry will respond. This provides a qualified audience and increases sales potential.

Convert Customer Engagement into Sales

Text messaging also provides retailers with the opportunity to “push” valuable information almost instantaneously to customers this holiday season. “Get more this holiday with 25% off when you present this coupon.

Offer valid until Dec 31st…” is an example of a promotional coupon that offers an incentive to customers that have already expressed an interest in the product, product category or business to make a first purchase. Similar message types include discount offers, text-based vouchers and other promotional communication.

An increased rate of success can be achieved when retailers target customers more accurately by using historical purchase data to understand purchase habits and interests.

Retailers can continue a dialogue with consumers by texting new offers several months after they have purchased products, for example “10% off guitar strings” several months after a customer bought an instrument. Customers, in turn, will receive information about the products that they are interested in, increasing their brand affinity and likelihood of purchasing in the immediate future.

Due to the personal relationship consumers have with their mobile devices, it is important to remember that a good relationship can easily turn sour if customers are bombarded with messages, even if they relate to a product or product category in which they have previously expressed an interest.

When deciding on text messaging frequency, retailers should consider many factors, including the frequency of exposure to their brand advertising on other media, the maturity and sophistication of their customers and the market overall and the brand affinity of their customer base.

Once the text message campaign has been sent, should it exhibit high opt-out rates, the retailer should test reducing either the frequency or reconsidering the message content. Conversely, campaigns that do not have high opt-out rates may indicate that frequency of such messages can be increased.

Provide Customer Care Services

In today’s fast pace world, the average consumers expects thing to “just work” and for the retailer to deal any problems immediately.

Fortunately, another key feature of text messaging is its two-way messaging capability that allows retailers and customers to get in touch with each other when the need arises, irrespective of their locations.

When used in this way, text messaging is both cost-effective and is delivered by a technology that can either be easily integrated with existing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone call-in systems, or replace them entirely with a text-based customer chat service.

This functionality can be extended further to gather customer opinions or levels of satisfaction with polls and questionnaires.

Retailers that aim to provide customer service via text messaging can announce the availability of the service to new opt-in customers with a simple text message soon after a purchase.

A message thanking the consumer for their business and reminding them that 24/7 assistance is available is an inexpensive and convenient customer service channel, which can be access by customers any time and any where.

Retailers that implement text messaging programs will increase their potential to acquire and retain customers this festive season. This communication channel is undeniably easy-to-use, convenient, cost-effective and already widely used to create value for retailers.

For more practical ideas on how to use text messaging in retail, see Clickatell's guide on "How to Use Mobile Messaging in Retail".

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