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Start delighting your customers with SMS this holiday season

This post is part of a five part series about what smart retail marketers are doing this holiday season to not only increase sales, but also strengthen customer relationships. Want all the info in one place? Download our eBook: The Retailer’s Ultimate Guide to Holiday Marketing, or get a teaser with our Slideshare deck:

There's a lot for digital marketers to like about text messaging, or SMS, this holiday season. Consider the stats: 90 percent of promotional texts are opened by their recipients, most within three minutes or less. Stacked up against email marketing, research shows that texts can be eight times more effective at engaging customers. This makes text messaging a highly effective tool for getting customers' attention at the most opportune moments.

Even so, SMS marketing is extremely hard to get right. For starters, consumers must first opt in to receive messages from marketers. Even then, one off-putting message can alienate a subscriber for good. The immediacy and the intimacy of SMS can be both a blessing and a curse. The bar for marketers to deliver text messages that are extremely targeted, very relevant and valuable for the customer is high. Those that misstep risk losing a customer for good.

Here's four ways you can begin implementing SMS marketing - whether it's during the holiday season or beyond:

  1. Get smart about sign-up incentives. Use in-store signage and QR codes to drive customers to sign up for SMS notifications. After customers scan a QR code, ask for permission to communicate with them via text messaging. Offering incentives such as coupons and exclusive products can help lock in new sign-ups.
  2. Let customers dictate their messaging. Let subscribers pick what kind of information they receive via text and when. Newegg, a supplier of computer hardware, gives customers the choice of signing up for two types of alerts – "Daily Shell Shocker" and "Mobile Insider Deals" – both of which offer deals or other specials. The big difference between these alerts is frequency. By allowing customers to choose what type of content to receive and when, retailers improve engagement and, ultimately, sales.
  3. Tap into SMS coupons. Get a coupon when you check out from the grocery store and it's likely to end up in the trash within the hour; SMS coupons, on the other hand, hold far more potential for digital marketers long-term. According to a recent survey by RadiumOne, 42 percent of customers say they prefer receiving coupons via SMS. It's important for retailers to remind customers that they can receive coupons and loyalty cards via SMS. One popular service is Passbook, which aggregates a user's coupons, gift cards and event tickets – and can deliver them via SMS.
  4. Turn text alerts into a competitive advantage. Savvy retailers like Amazon keep customers apprised of an order’s shipping status. These SMS alerts satisfy demanding customers and can reduce call-center costs. Brands that deliver on the promise of holiday delivery build loyalty. For example, Schwan’s, the online grocery service, sends SMS notifications to opted-in customers as a reminder about when their food delivery will arrive at their home. Schwan's expects this program to be especially important during the holidays when its customers will be entertaining more than ever while still juggling their busy schedules.

To learn more tips and tricks for your holiday marketing in 2013, check out our eBook or on-demand webcast about how to get bigger results this holiday season.

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