Messaging • Last Updated 6/20/2024

Use retail SMS to boost engagement and drive sales

Discover the power of retail SMS to drive customer engagement, improve the shopping experience, and increase sales for your brand.


By Emily Bowen

retail sms graphic

The retail landscape is changing, and customer expectations are higher than ever.

As a retail brand, whether you operate entirely online, have a brick-and-mortar presence, or a combination of both, it's crucial to leverage the latest marketing channels to stay competitive.

Email and social media advertising have taken a hit in their performance, partly because those advertising channels have become saturated.

The average person gets a whopping 121 emails per day.

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One alternative channel is retail SMS (texting), a powerful tool that allows you to create personalized shopping experiences for your customers.

In this article, we'll go deeper into the benefits of retail SMS, discuss personalization strategies, share real-life examples, address compliance concerns, and show you how to get started with SMS.

Why retail SMS is a game-changer for your business

Retail businesses must adapt and innovate to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving marketing and customer engagement landscape. As traditional marketing channels like email and social media become less effective, retailers should seek new ways to capture their audience's attention and foster meaningful connections.

Enter retail SMS: a convenient, game-changing communication tool that allows brands to communicate with customers in a personable, direct way. SMS has many benefits, especially when compared to traditional forms of marketing and communication:

Higher open rates and engagement

SMS boasts a staggering open rate of up to 98%, compared to email's average open rate of around 20%. As a result, customers are more likely to read and engage with text messages, making retail SMS a highly effective way to reach your audience and ensure they see your messages.

Direct, personalized communication

Many businesses communicate with customers via SMS on a one-to-one basis, fostering a sense of personal connection that's often lost in mass marketing campaigns. By leveraging customer data, you can create tailored messages that resonate with your audience and encourage them to engage with your brand.

Instant customer support

SMS enables businesses to provide real-time support and answer customer inquiries promptly. SuperOffice reports that 90% of customers say an instant response is “crucial” or “very important” when they need customer service assistance. Immediate support improves the overall customer experience and helps address any issues or concerns before they escalate, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Increased sales and conversion rates

With SMS campaigns, businesses can send targeted promotions, special offers, and personalized product recommendations directly to their customers' phones. A tailored strategy often results in higher conversion rates and increased sales, as customers are more likely to act on offers specific to their interests and preferences.

Cost-effective marketing solution

SMS is often more cost-effective than traditional marketing channels. With lower costs and higher engagement rates, retail SMS can deliver a strong return on investment, making it a valuable addition to your marketing strategy.

SMS is a practical channel for retail businesses looking to improve customer engagement, enhance communication, and drive sales. Integrating retail SMS into your marketing mix can help you unlock growth opportunities and foster stronger connections with your customers.

In the next section, we'll discuss the importance of regulatory compliance, share tips on personailizeing your messaging, and showcase successful real-life SMS campaign examples. By following these insights and recommendations, you'll be well on your way to driving customer engagement, improving the shopping experience, and increasing your brand’s sales.

Comply with regulations

When using retail SMS, it's crucial to adhere to relevant regulations, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Non-compliance can instantly derail your campaigns, ultimately leading to failure and even loss of revenue. Ensuring compliance protects your business from potential fines and helps maintain positive customer relationships.

Here are some tips for staying compliant:

Always get clear, unmistakable customer consent before sending marketing messages. You can obtain consent through opt-in forms on your website, during checkout, or via a double opt-in SMS message.

Provide opt-out instructions

Include clear opt-out instructions in every marketing message, allowing customers to easily unsubscribe from your SMS list if they choose to.

Respect communication preferences

Ensure you send messages within the frequency and content preferences specified by your customers. Overloading them with messages can lead to frustration and unsubscribes.

Stay up-to-date with regulations

Keep informed about any SMS marketing regulations changes, and adjust your practices accordingly. Awareness of any changes will help you maintain compliance and protect your business from legal issues.

By following these guidelines and staying compliant with relevant regulations, you can create a successful retail SMS marketing strategy that respects your customers' preferences and safeguards your business from potential legal complications. In the next section, we’ll walk you through how to set up a retail SMS campaign.

Personalize messages to drive engagement

After you've made sure your messages are compliant, you can start crafting the fun, personalized copy. Personalization is key to driving higher engagement with SMS marketing. By using customer data, you can craft targeted messages that resonate with individual customers and cater to their specific needs and preferences.

McKinsey found that 72% of customers expect brands to recognize them as individuals and know their interests, and 66% added that personalized messaging keeps them invested in the brand.

Here are three ways to personalize your retail SMS campaigns:

1. Segmentation

Divide your customer base into segments based on factors such as purchase history, location, or demographics. Separating your customers into smaller groups allows you to send tailored offers and recommendations that are more likely to elicit a response.

2. Behavioral triggers

Send SMS messages based on specific customer actions, such as abandoned carts, recent purchases, or browsing history. For example, you can remind customers of items left in their cart and offer a discount to encourage them to complete the purchase.

3. Targeted content

Use dynamic fields to include the customer's name, preferred products, or other personalized information in your SMS messages. Personalized messages can create a stronger connection with your customers and improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Incorporating personalization into your retail SMS campaigns can significantly enhance customer engagement and drive better results. By leveraging segmentation, behavioral triggers, and personalized content, you can create targeted messages that truly resonate with your customers, ultimately leading to increased loyalty and sales.

Get inspired by real-life examples of successful retail SMS campaigns

Numerous retail brands have succeeded with SMS marketing by implementing personalized strategies. While the examples below are enterprise-level retailers, personalization and targeted message copy can also drive results for small businesses.

Gap, a popular apparel store, used retail SMS to send targeted promotions to customers based on their shopping behavior and preferences. Gap saw a significant boost in sales and customer loyalty by sending personalized offers and recommendations.

The electronics giant Best Buy used retail SMS to inform customers about in-store events, sales, and exclusive promotions based on their interests and previous purchases. As a result, the store experienced higher foot traffic and a noticeable increase in sales during these events.

Sephora, a major cosmetics brand, used SMS to send customers personalized product recommendations and reminders based on their browsing and purchase history. This approach led to increased customer engagement and repeat purchases.

These real-life examples of successful retail SMS campaigns from Gap, Best Buy, and Sephora demonstrate the potential of this marketing channel in driving sales, boosting customer loyalty, and enhancing overall customer experience for retail brands.

Getting started with retail SMS

It's time to put these insights into action. Here's how you can implement retail SMS for your business in just four steps:

1. Build your customer list

Collect customer phone numbers through various channels, such as opt-in forms on your website, during the checkout process, or via promotional offers. Always ensure you have the customer's consent before sending SMS messages.

2. Plan your campaigns

Identify your goals and target audience for each SMS campaign. Use segmentation and personalization strategies to create tailored messages that resonate with your customers.

3. Monitor and analyze performance

Track the performance of your SMS campaigns and use data-driven insights to optimize your messages and strategies. Analyze deliverability, open rates, click-through rates, and other relevant metrics to fine-tune your approach and maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns.

4. Leverage automation

Use programmable SMS platforms to automate your SMS campaigns, track conversation data, and create more engaging messages. With automation, you can handle high volumes of SMS messages, allowing you to reach more customers and deliver personalized experiences, whether they shop at your physical store or online.

Follow the steps outlined above to implement retail SMS for your business so that you can reap the benefits: increased customer engagement, loyalty, and sales.

Leverage retail SMS to increase sales and customer satisfaction

Embracing retail SMS marketing is a strategic way to increase customer engagement, improve communication, and drive sales for your retail business. By personalizing your messages, implementing real-life examples, and adhering to compliance regulations, you can create a compelling retail SMS strategy that meets your customers' needs and sets your brand apart from the competition.

If you’re looking for even more strategy tips, check out our guide to building retail communication experiences.

Choosing your retail SMS provider

Selecting a messaging provider can seem challenging, and the outcome impacts the success and ease of your messaging campagins. Here are our top three factors you should consider:

  1. Affordability

Is the service provided by a direct carrier owning their own network or just a reseller of network services? Eliminating the middleman and partnering directly with a carrier could potentially reduce your messaging expenses by as much as 70%.

  1. Aid with regulatory compliance

Understanding the intricacies of messaging regulations can be a tough task, so it's beneficial to choose a provider that integrates compliance and delivery controls, along with enhancements like seamless long message concatenation and management of opt-outs.

  1. Hassle-free setup and premium support

Scaling messaging can be intricate. Your provider should ensure constant support, and there shouldn't be an extra cost for this service. The quality of the support provided is equally important, so go for a provider that consistently earns high praise for their customer service.

Unless you have an extensive team of tech experts, consider a provider that offers a wealth of resources to help you start (like developer documentation, a Slack community, etc.). To make the transition simple, look for a provider that has a streamlined, automated porting process with real-time CSR validation.

And when you're ready to incorporate retail SMS into your marketing mix, Telnyx has the tools and expertise to help you succeed.

Established in 2009 and licensed in over 30 countries, Telnyx delivers superior products and sets industry standards by eliminating the middleman. With a global network, full API support, and a team of programmable SMS experts, Telnyx makes it easy to port your existing numbers and get started sending SMS.

Partner with us to create your optimal communication solution; you’ll get award-winning support, compliance tips, and pricing that’s more affordable than our competitors.

Contact a Telnyx expert today to learn how you can unlock the full potential of retail SMS for your business.

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