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SMS marketing for retail: Tips and examples for success

Alia Paavola
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In the booming age of ecommerce, retailers must find clever ways to gain and keep customers' attention. That’s why more retailers have turned to SMS marketing in the last few years. 

SMS marketing for retail is a powerful and creative tool that helps boost sales, modernize customer service, and increase foot traffic. But how?

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of using retail SMS, how to get started with SMS marketing for retail, and share examples of real-life SMS marketing campaigns.

Benefits of SMS marketing for retail

Retail businesses will see several benefits from using SMS in their marketing campaigns. Here are a handful of benefits to know:

  • Higher open rates. The average open rate for SMS messages is 98 percent. This is more than four times the open rate of email messages. Since SMS messages are delivered right to your customers’ phones, they are enticing to read.

  • Rock-solid conversion rates. Effective SMS campaigns can generate a six times higher order rate than email marketing.

  • Boost click-through rates. The average click-through rate for marketing texts ranges from 20 percent to 30 percent. For email marketing, the rate is between 3 percent to 5 percent.

  • Instant delivery. Text messages are sent, delivered, and read quickly. Research suggests that most texts are read within five minutes of receipt. This makes text marketing great for time-sensitive messages.

  • Seamless integrations. SMS platforms can easily integrate with your existing marketing tools. This allows retailers to sync data between platforms and create an omnichannel strategy.

  • Improved customer engagement. The reality is text messaging is a highly engaging messaging channel. In fact, texts have a 45 percent response rate. This makes it an excellent channel for soliciting customer feedback and engaging in two-way conversations. 

How to use SMS marketing for retail and solve common challenges

By driving sales and engaging the customer base, text message marketing can help retail stores overcome some of the top challenges they’re facing. Let’s look at several common ways SMS can help retailers.

Reduce excess inventory

  • Flash sale. Run a flash sale text campaign to create a sense of urgency, encouraging them to purchase products and clear out inventory.
  • Discounts. Share limited-time discounts or promotions on slow-moving or excess inventory.
  • Personalized offers. Implement SMS campaigns to communicate with loyal customers, providing them with personalized offers and incentives to purchase products that are nearing expiration or seasonal items.
  • Event. Promote an in-store event to clear inventory on the shelves.

Limit out-of-stock frustration

  • Low inventory warning. Let customers know a particular product is running low so they can purchase it before it’s completely sold out.
  • Back-in-stock alert. Alert customers who have expressed interest in specific products or have joined a waitlist when those items are back in stock.
  • Product alternatives. Inform customers about alternative product options when a specific item is out of stock, ensuring they can still make a purchase and avoid frustration.
  • Pre-order opportunities. Inform customers about upcoming product releases or pre-order opportunities, allowing them to secure their desired items in advance.

Boost sales

  • Coupons or discount codes. Share a discount coupon or code that customers can use in stores.
  • Product launch. Let customers know when a new product will be available in stores and create excitement. Share a lookbook or catalog via SMS to generate interest from your contacts.
  • In-store sales. Run special sales throughout the year, especially during the holidays. Black Friday text marketing is a great way to increase foot traffic and incentivize sales.

Improve customer satisfaction

  • SMS satisfaction surveys. Send a survey via text to better understand your customer satisfaction levels and identify areas of improvement.
  • Brand surveys. You could also send customers a survey to understand their likes, interests, and what products they want to see more of at your retail store.
  • Order updates. Keep customers in the loop about their purchases and orders. Share when an order is ready for pickup and if there are any delays or changes they need to know about.
  • Customer support. Use SMS to proactively address customer concerns or inquiries, providing prompt and personalized support to enhance their overall experience.

Retain more customers

  • SMS loyalty program. Create an SMS loyalty program, where customers receive exclusive offers, rewards, or points for their purchases, encouraging repeat business and fostering customer loyalty. 
  • Personalized content. Send personalized text messages on customers' birthdays or anniversaries, offering special discounts or rewards as a token of appreciation.
  • Re-engagement campaigns. Use SMS to re-engage inactive or dormant customers by sending targeted offers or reminders to reignite their interest in your brand.

8 examples of SMS marketing for retail

Let’s look at several real-life examples of retail text message marketing from brands across the U.S.

Customer support

In the following text message example, you’ll see a two-way conversation with Miss Ruby Bridal Shop. The customer texts a question, and the bridal shop replies via text. This is a convenient way for the brand to communicate with customers without picking up the phone. This is an excellent way to improve customer service.

wo-way text example from Miss Ruby Bridal Shop.
Two-way text example from Miss Ruby Bridal Shop.

Flash sale

Aerie shares a flash sale on a clothing collection in this marketing text message. This encourages customers to buy in a 24-hour time frame. This will help the retailer clear inventory. 

A flash sale text marketing example from Aerie 
A flash sale text marketing example from Aerie.

Product launch

Retail store Aerie promotes a new clothing item via text message. This text message encourages customers to buy the new sweatshirt on sale. 

A product launch marketing text from Aerie.
A product launch marketing text from Aerie.

Another product launch example comes from Outdoor Voices. The outdoor clothing brand alerts customers to a new product with a photo and text. It lets customers know they can purchase the new product in stores or online. 

Product launch SMS marketing example from Outdoor Voices.
Product launch SMS marketing example from Outdoor Voices.

Anticipating product launch

In this retail marketing text example, Alphalete works to create excitement for a new product line. The company shares a lookbook with customers to browse ahead of time.

Alphalete creates excitement about a new product via text.
Alphalete creates excitement about a new product via text.

Event and loyalty promotion 

Von Maur incentivizes reward members to shop online or head into stores to purchase with this marketing message. The retailer offers loyal customers double points on all purchases, earning them more discounts and free items.

A loyalty program marketing text from Von Maur
A loyalty program marketing text from Von Maur.

Order update

Albertsons, a supermarket chain, provides customers with order updates via text message. In this particular text message, the grocer lets customers know their order is ready for pickup and how they can check in early.

An SMS order update from Albertsons.
An SMS order update from Albertsons.

Time-sensitive alert

In this text message, High Brow Boutique shares that its phones are down. It’s a time-sensitive alert sent to all customers so they know that they may not answer or reply right away.

A text message alert from High Brow Boutique.
A text message alert from High Brow Boutique.

Need more inspo? Check out these 21 SMS marketing campaign ideas!

How to get started with retail text message marketing

It’s easy to get started with retail SMS marketing. Here are the key steps to execute your first campaign.

1. Establish your SMS marketing strategy. The first step is to create an SMS marketing strategy for your retail store. This includes determining your goals, buyer personas, and use case.

Get Textline’s all-encompassing guide that walks through the 12 steps to create a winning SMS marketing strategy.  

SMS marketing guide graphic.

2. Pick the right SMS marketing platform. Choose an SMS marketing software provider that fits your business needs and budget. To help you decide, look at each provider’s features, pricing structure, and integrations. You can also look for reputation, scalability, and technical support offered. SMS platforms like Textline make it easy to send marketing texts with features like mass texting, automated SMS, and a HubSpot integration.

3. Build your SMS contact list. The next step is to generate an SMS subscriber list. This is also known as getting explicit opt-in or consent to text. One common way to get this opt-in is by asking for a phone number and consent to send exclusive discounts at checkout. Remember, these opt-ins are required by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

4. Create your messages. It’s time to let your creativity shine. The next step is to craft your marketing text message. It’s best practice to send a test message to yourself to review formatting, spelling, and your call to action. 

5. Send your retail text message. Finally, it’s time to send your marketing text to your target audience. After sending a few marketing texts, you can collect data like open rates and optimize your messaging.

Shoot for perfection: Check out these SMS marketing tips to help you every step of the way.

Grow your retail store with SMS marketing by Textline

By harnessing the potential of SMS marketing, retailers can overcome common challenges, boost sales, and foster long-term customer loyalty.

Are you ready to grow revenue and improve customer communication outside and inside your store? Textline’s SMS platform makes it simple to get started with retail text message marketing. Whether you want to reach many customers at once or engage in meaningful two-way conversations, Textline has the tools retailers need. Sign up for a free 14-day trial and see results firsthand.

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