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Text Message Marketing for Retailers

Everything you need to know about text message marketing for retailers and links to extra resources on specific topics.

Text Message Marketing for Retailers
Text Message Marketing for Retailers

In the last decade, SMS has become an incredibly powerful marketing channel for retailers. So, whether you want to learn the basics of text marketing, shop for a text messaging service, or optimize what you’re already doing, this guide is for you.

Here’s How Retailers Use Text Marketing

Retail text message marketing is precisely what it sounds like–a way to connect with customers at every stage of their purchasing journey using text messages. Retailers use SMS to:

  • Acquire new customers: shoppers interested in your store can text in a keyword to your number and immediately receive a coupon or discount on a product. (A keyword is a word or phrase that people text to your number to sign up for future messages.)
  • Increase repeat business: once you have collected someone’s phone number, you can send them information about new product launches or further discounts.
  • Send transactional messages: you can use SMS to send order updates, organize curbside pickup, and send SMS restock alerts.
  • Provide customer service: retailers can use SMS to respond to customer service questions to drive more revenue.

We’ll cover these use cases in more detail. But first, here’s why retail and e-commerce text message marketing is so effective.

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Why Retail Text Message Marketing Is so Effective

The most successful retailers know that while product and price is important, providing world-class customer experiences is what separates them from the pack.

And to have a memorable customer experience, it needs to be mobile-friendly. That’s because 9 out of 10 consumers want to use text messaging to communicate with brands.

Plus, by integrating mobile communication into your retail store’s communications strategy, you’ll also benefit from text messages:

  • 98% open rates
  • Conversion rates as high as 45%
  • Click-through rates of 36%

The popularity and effectiveness of SMS is just one side of the equation. The other side is the declining performance of other marketing channels:

The main takeaway here is: traditional digital channels are becoming more competitive so it makes sense to turn to one of the few channels that provides consistent results. 

How Retail SMS Works

There are three ways retailers use texting:

  1. Promotional messages like advertising new sales 
  2. Transactional messages like notifications when a new product is in stock
  3. To provide SMS customer service

We’ll outline how all three work and provide links to other useful resources where you can learn more about them.

Promotional Messages

If you want to start sending your customers promotions you’ll need a list of phone numbers. There are many ways that you can build your SMS audience. (You can also upload an existing list by following these steps.)

Arguably the quickest way to do it is by advertising an SMS keyword everywhere you can.

Let’s say you run an outdoor gear retailer called Go Outdoors. Your keyword could be “OUTDOORS.” When a customer texts it to your phone number they’ll receive an automatic response thanking them for subscribing. Here’s an example.

Thanks for your interest in our VIP Go Outdoors text club. We can’t wait to share the best deals with you. As a show of our appreciation, here’s 10% off your next purchase. Just show us this message in store.

If you’re wondering if this works, by providing a complimentary snack as a reward for texting in their keyword, the multi-location car wash Delta Sonic received a bump of nearly 20,000 subscribers

Retailers we work with promote their keywords on their: 

  • Social media channels
  • Website
  • In-store displays
  • Print ads

Once you’ve built a list of subscribers, you can then send:

  • Limited-Time Offers: Send time-sensitive discounts to drive immediate traffic, speed up slow days, and improve sales. For example, Barnyard Dollar Store sends out unique promotions by product category that always contain a promotion end date.
  • Mobile Coupons: Send a campaign with a coupon. You can also use MMS to include an image of your product or a scannable barcode.
  • Seasonal Sales: Tell your customers about seasonal sales. 

Transactional Messages

Transactional text messages refer to texts that are sent to as part of your daily operations. 

You might text someone to confirm an online order, organize a curbside pickup order, or let someone know a product is back in stock.

One of the most popular ways retailers and e-commerce companies use transactional messages is for product updates. These text messages automatically notify first-time or returning shoppers when inventory levels change. 

They also allow customers to sign up to receive alerts when inventory is replenished and keep ongoing conversations alive.

If you want to automate these texts, we recommend you checkout our SMS integrations or our SMS API.

If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of setting up these different transactional SMS just using SimpleTexting, we recommend you check out the following resources:

SMS Customer Service

Study after study has shown that customers don’t want long hold times, slow responses, and confusing email threads. 

It’s why one of our major text marketing trends to watch next year is the rise in text message customer service.

Given that back in 2018, 70% of people chose a ‘message us’ button over a ‘call us’ button on a company website or app, it’s no surprise that more retailers are using SMS to communicate with customers.

The benefit to you is that people open 90% of SMS within 3 minutes, and 45% of text messages receive a response.

The best part is that it’s quick and easy to implement. You can add text messaging to your Google My Business listing or a Click-to-Text button to your website to encourage people to text you. 

All that’s left to do is manage responses from your SMS inbox. Here’s an overview of how ours works.

How to Choose the Best Text Message Marketing Retail Service

At this point, we should state the obvious: we’re a retail texting service. We’ve worked with thousands of retailers to help them text with their customers, but we’re not going to do any hard selling here.

We encourage you to do your research, read plenty of reviews on third-party sites, and sign up for a free trial.

If you’re only starting to research text messaging services, here are some of the boxes you’ll want to tick when choosing one:

  • A lot of text messaging platforms allow you to either text 1-on-1 with customers or send bulk texts. You want a platform like SimpleTexting that will enable you to both. It gives you the flexibility to do everything from promotional blasts to managing curbside pickup.
  • Do you need to integrate with other platforms or send automated text messages? If so, you’ll want a service that offers multiple SMS integrations.
  • Retailers need to be careful of services that limit the number of keywords and contacts they can have. (We don’t.)
  • The ability to manage contact lists by segmenting them into different lists. It’s also important to be able to collect information on your subscribers.

The final consideration is the cost of a retail texting system. The per-message price is a huge factor. It’s also worth understanding if credits rollover from one month to the next.

Retail SMS Samples

Once you’ve chosen a retail texting system, you might suddenly face writer’s block. So, to preempt that, here are nine marketing messages for retailers to help you get started. 
Marge’s Barges: It’s almost boating season, are you prepared? Today only all lifejackets are Buy 1 Get 1 50% off! Show this text at checkout to activate your offer. Ahoy!
Our best-selling bathing suit is back in stock for a limited time! Text us your size and we’ll reply with an invoice and delivery information!
Ted’s Boots & Repair – Mr. Lin: Your boots are repaired and available for pickup anytime 9-6. Thanks for choosing Ted’s!
Richard Ford released his book, and we want members of our text club to have it first. You’re invited to an exclusive midnight release party this Thursday. Show this text at the door for entry.
Thanks for reaching out about dog beds for extra-large dog breeds! All of our XXL beds are 48″Lx30″W and are fit for friends in the 91-110 lbs range!
Thanks for ordering from Bob’s Electronics for pickup. We’ll text when your order is ready. Please park in the curbside area and stay in your car.
It’s arrived! Our newest balm is here. We think you’re going to love it.❤️ Shop it in-store now.
Scratch Records free vintage night! Come out to the shop Feb 21 for light bites from Zeppelin’s and party to the 70’s greatest hits with us. RSVP by responding yes to this text! See ya there
Jules & Smith 20% off everything from our winter collection. End Sun 27th Nov. Shop in store now. Open til 8pm on Thursday.

In general, we recommend the following when texting:

  • Keep it short: Keeping a message as brief as possible allows the recipient to scan it and know exactly what you’re offering.
  • Aim for clarity: While text messages should be short, they shouldn’t be cryptic. Ensure that the text will make sense to the recipient.
  • Make it personal: Use the recipient’s name, location, or area of interest to know that the message is for them.

Here’s the Next Step

That’s it—everything you need to know about retail text marketing in one straightforward guide. The next step is to sign up for a 14-day free trial and try it for yourself. 

If you have more questions, you can also request a demo. Alternatively, you can text or call us at (866) 450-4185 or use the chat at the bottom of your screen.

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