A Look at How Retailers are Using SMS to Alter the Path to Purchase

OpenMarket – July 7, 2016

SMS Screenshot

SMS started out as a two-way communication tool that allowed friends and family members to engage each other in timely and personal ways. However, fast forward a few decades and businesses are now using SMS to alter the consumer path to purchase.

Altering the Path to Purchase

The consumer path to purchase is very intimate and fluid. There is no single path and each customer has his or her own preferences, interests, and pace. However, as mobile devices – and smartphones in particular – have become more ubiquitous, the path to purchase has abruptly changed.

This shift towards a common technology has also created some consistency. For the first time, brands have a way to target a large portion of the marketplace amidst fragmented technologies and devices.

Brands can now reach customers, regardless of where they are, using text messaging. Mobile phones are always nearby and the convenience of SMS makes it possible for messages to be sent at any time.

6 Ways to Use SMS as a Sales Tool

For businesses, the key is to recognize the value of SMS, and to start using it as a tool for connecting with customers at timely points in the path to purchase.

Here are a handful of relevant tips and strategies:

  1. Send Out Mobile Coupons

With the pervasiveness of bargain shopping and the popularity of coupon deal sites, it makes sense that businesses would use SMS to send out mobile coupons. Thousands of companies are using this strategy, including big names like 7-Eleven, Applebee’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Burger King, Great Clips, and Office Depot.

“What you want is to make your brand experience easy for customers,” says SMS expert Armen Matosyan. “Tucking a wad of coupons into a wallet isn’t handy, no matter how much money they save. If your customer can keep all of their coupons in a convenient place such as the phone always tucked in their back pocket, they’re more likely to use them.”

In order to extract any value from SMS coupons, make sure they’re worth the customer’s time. An offer to save $1 or 10% off may not be enough. Think bigger and encourage them to make larger purchases. For example, $25 off $100 is something that’s worthwhile for both the customer and the business.

  1. Advertise Flash Sales

The great thing about SMS is that you can reach customers, regardless of location. Unlike a print advertisement, radio spot, or billboard, text messages can be received at home, on the road, at the office, or anywhere in between. This makes it the perfect option for advertising flash sales.

For brick and mortar retailers, sending out flash sale announcements is a great way to drive foot traffic on a slow day. Something like “stop by before 5pm today to receive this BOGO offer” can be effective. The same rings true for ecommerce. SMS is great for increasing urgency.

  1. Incorporate Automation

Businesses don’t always have time to manually respond to messages that customers send; however, you definitely don’t want to ignore their communication attempts. This is where SMS automation can be valuable.

With SMS automation, you can essentially set up a streamlined customer service channel that requires very little input from your side. Today’s major airlines are known for this. They allow customers to send texts and the SMS platform then responds based on keywords and specific customer actions.

  1. Conduct SMS Polls

SMS is a powerful tool for gaining feedback and learning more about what drives your customers through the sales funnel. Occasionally, you may want to send out brief polls and surveys to get a better gauge of what’s happening. Using this information, you can then improve the customer’s path to purchase in the future.

  1. Send out Reminders

For service businesses, SMS is a fantastic tool for reminding customers about upcoming events or appointments. You can set up a system that automatically sends out SMS reminders when specific time requirements are meant. For example, a dentist may send out a text the day before a teeth cleaning appointment to tell the patient what time to arrive.

Not only are these gentle reminders considered helpful, but they also decrease the likelihood of having no-shows. In these situations, SMS is directly responsible for keeping customers on the path to purchase.

  1. Re-engage with Offers

Do you have customers that have been dormant for a while? One of the biggest struggles with re-engaging old customers is knowing what’s appropriate. For example, how frequently and when should you contact them? What should you say? How do you bring them back into the fold? While SMS doesn’t necessarily provide simple answers to these questions, it does provide a convenient method for making contact.

SMS is considered very personal and boasts extremely high open rates. This makes it the perfect channel for re-engaging. If a customer isn’t moved to action by a strategically designed text messaging campaign, then they probably aren’t coming back.

Contact OpenMarket to Learn More

In today’s marketplace, few things are as important as developing a strategy for your mobile communications. Customers are constantly on the go and you can’t rely on old strategies like email marketing, desktop paid search ads, snail mail, or even TV commercials and radio spots. The only way to consistently reach the modern shopper is through their mobile device. Specifically, this means utilizing SMS.

SMS has a whopping 98 percent open rate (with click-through-rates regularly in the 30-40 percent range). By comparison, email only has open rates in the 20-30 percent range. In other words, going with SMS is a no-brainer.

At OpenMarket, we are fully committed to providing our clients with state of the art SMS messaging solutions that are both secure and reliable. If you’re looking for an SMS provider that offers global reach, powerful features, and around the clock support, then you’ve come to the right place. Contact us today and we’d be happy to discuss your mobile messaging options in more detail.




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