Let’s start with a quick survey:
- Have you received an SMS recently from friends or family?
- Have received an SMS from a business, doctor’s appointment or reminder SMS?
- Have you received an SMS to alert you about a bill?
- Have you received dodgy SMS recently….or a message that looked a bit spammy?
So, it’s fair to say you’ve had the good, the bad and the ugly of SMS?
I’m Karl Deitz, and for over 15 years, I’ve crafted and built loyalty experiences across Retail, eCommerce, Financial Services, Not For Profit & Automotive.
There’s no doubt we’re all striving for strong customer relationships. And, given we’re here and talking, we know one of the most effective ways to achieve this is by implementing a loyalty program. One that encourages customer engagement and fosters emotional connections. With a mobile phone constantly at our fingertips, SMS marketing has emerged as a powerful tool for driving customer loyalty and retention.
Why – because we’ve seen it with clients in retail, e-commerce, automotive and real estate. It’s about the meeting of blended mobile technology with consumer behaviour that drives loyalty, engagement and emotion. To keep it easy, I call it LEE.
I talk about LEE with many of my clients and how to build aspects of loyalty, engagement, and emotion into every channel (yes, including SMS), and how to leverage these strategies to improve their customer relationships.
Introducing the LEE approach
SMS marketing has the potential to build loyalty and engage customers in meaningful conversations. By sending tailored messages, businesses can create an emotional bond with customers and encourage them to take action.
So, here’s LEE in action
1. The Power of Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs have been proven to work wonders for customer retention marketing across all industries and especially for retailers. Studies show that a loyal customer’s lifetime value (LTV) is 4x higher than an average customer. Better still, loyal customers will often provide valuable word-of-mouth referrals and tend to make more purchases over time. It’s why keeping your most valuable customers engaged with tailored and personal rewards and incentives based on purchase milestones.
Integrating Mobile Engagement in Loyalty Programs
I’m biased, and I know that SMS offers a cost-effective solution as part of a well-oiled, multi-channel loyalty program. By asking customers to sign up for loyalty programs using their mobile numbers, suddenly, you have a new and more dynamic channel to share special offers, updates, and rewards directly to their phones. This approach has been successfully utilised by many brands you shop with daily. Spoilers, I’m not going to spill the beans on everyone we work with here, but we did see amazing results with one of our favourite fashion retailers.
2. Maximizing Customer Engagement
SMS, alongside your app, eDM, social and re-target marketing enables you to engage with your customers at the right time, with highly personalised and relevant messages. In fact, almost 76% of loyalty members prefer to engage with a brand via SMS. By integrating SMS marketing as part of your loyalty comms strategy, you can curate tailored and personalised experiences that encourage customer engagement and drive repeat purchases.
Time to shine: Using Timeliness and Urgency in SMS Marketing
One of the key advantages of using SMS marketing is the immediacy of delivery and response. Over 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being received, making it an ideal channel for sending time-sensitive promotions, offers, and updates. By capitalising on this sense of urgency, you can motivate customers to engage with their loyalty programs and make new purchases.
But, use this power wisely – because over-use can lead to unsubscribes!
Targeted Marketing Offers
Right time, right channel marketing means you can send targeted offers based on customer preferences and purchase history. For example, brands can schedule eDM and text updates for early access upcoming sales and promotions, as well as send birthday and anniversary codes or vouchers. And, still use the smarts of your paid campaigning with demographic targeting.
3. Deepening Emotional Connections
We all want to be unique; personalisation is crucial in fostering emotional loyalty. Here’s the great news: personalisation is a strong driver of customer retention, enrichment, and advocacy. Sending tailored SMS messages based on loyalty data can help you keep customers engaged throughout their loyalty journey. We’ve seen brands remind shoppers of engagement-based behaviours that earn them points, tease VIP members of upcoming tier upgrades, or invite new members to complete tasks for extra points or rewards.
Enhancing Customer Service through SMS
SMS serves as a very personal method of communication, making it ideal for customer service applications. In fact, studies show that 64% of customers prefer SMS over voice calls when given the choice. Texting allows customers to maintain a record of their conversations and provides a secure, private space for them to express their feedback and complaints.
Tips and Advice
You can use SMS and direct marketing to provide customers with timely advice and helpful tips based on their purchase history and preferences – using your existing content strategy. This content marketing approach helps to develop an emotional bond with customers while showcasing the brand’s personality and commitment to customer satisfaction.
VIP and Loyalty Clubs
One tactic we love is brands who create exclusive VIP and loyalty clubs that significantly boost customer investment and loyalty. By sending SMS-only special offers, and early access to events, you can make your loyal customers feel valued and rewarded for their continued support.
Here’s the 101 on Implementing an Effective SMS Marketing Campaign
A successful SMS marketing campaign requires a combination of relevance, timing, and a clear call to action. Check that messages are concise, up-to-date, and easy to understand. Then you can really maximize the impact of your SMS marketing efforts. Simple, yet strategic timing and simple calls to action can help to drive customer engagement and loyalty.
So, what does that mean for the future of SMS marketing and loyalty programs? It means the nimble and engaging will win.
As mobile technology continues to evolve, SMS marketing and loyalty programs will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in customer retention strategies. By staying ahead of industry trends and adopting best practices, you can use the immense potential of a range of powerful marketing tools.
Karl Deitz’s Expert Loyalty Insights
For a deeper understanding of how to make SMS marketing and loyalty programs work for your business, consider speaking with industry experts like Australian Loyalty Association or the experts here at Tall Bob. Between the team and I, we’ve got years of experience in the field. We can provide valuable insights and practical advice on effectively implementing and managing these marketing strategies to drive customer engagement and retention.
Here’s how to bring it all together
Karl’s Takeaway #1
- Educate & guide your Clients how to Send LESS and send BETTER
- My philosophy is that getting the highest engagement of an audience is far more important than how many messages you can send out. By all means, at the right time, BLAST your database at the final hour for everyone to get the best deal. There’s a time and place for this, but it must be part of a defined & measurable mobile engagement strategy.
Karl’s Takeaway #2
Here’s something to save – The 3 C’s
And, you need to look at all of your communications channel: from email, phone, direct mail, social and mobile to maximise the collective impact. A well-orchestrated customer journey that works together and collects behavioural data can create a high level of segmentation and personalisation for ongoing trust.
Karl’s Takeaway #3
No matter the channel, your best results will come when you educate, thank and respect your customers. It’s important that you don’t always lead with the SALE. Ensure your nurture journey is genuine and customer led across ALL channels, then the SALE will happen & loyalty will deepen.