Using An SMS Loyalty Program

Using An SMS Loyalty Program

Customer loyalty programs are a smart way to cater to your most important customers - the ones who consistently spend their money at your business. Such programs, when used effectively, can also take a customer who didn't used to be loyal to your brand and make it so they shop exclusively with you in order to reap the benefits of savings, promotions, and discounts. SMS (short message service) is the perfect for promoting loyalty programs for your brand.

With the world "going mobile" and desktop activities migrating increasingly towards phones, all aspects of marketing have had to adapt. According to research that says 91% of smartphone owners have their device within arm's reach 24/7, you will need to reach your customers on their mobiles.

How can your business capitalize on marketing trends and gain customer loyalty with SMS? Here are some tips:

Be compliant

First, you need to make sure that you're complying with federal laws. A lot of businesses can get over-eager to expand their customer base with SMS by sending messages to every cell phone number they come across. That's actually illegal and some companies have been sued over such practices. You're only allowed to send messages to customers who have consented to receive messages from you (opt in).

So how do you get people to opt in?

You need to let customers know about your new SMS loyalty program. And there are lots of great ways to do that:

  • Advertise it on your other marketing platforms. Tell your customers about your new SMS program on your newsletter, email, social media, leaflets, in-store signage, print media, radio, television, and any other marketing method you use. Make sure to give them explicit instructions on how to opt in. Starbucks ran a very successful SMS campaign during the summer with their Frappuccino promotion they advertised on Facebook and Twitter. Customers were asked to "Text WOOHOO to 22122 to get the best of Frappuccino fun on your mobile." Those who opted in got 6 promotional messages per month.
  • Give things away. Who doesn't like free stuff? So why not give away some free merchandise in order to get people to up? Advertise a free consultation, pair of sunglasses, t-shirt, soft drink, lipstick, or whatever you're selling to get people to join your loyalty program.
  • Run a sweepstakes. Or get their eyes set on a bigger prize by running an SMS opt in sweepstakes. Giving away something with a greater value means that only one person will win, but many people will sign up for the chance to win. Chipotle Mexican Grill recently ran a highly successful text-to-win campaign to boost their SMS base and sales. The prize was a trip to Denver for AT&T Major League Soccer All-Star Week.

Ok, so you got them to opt in. Now what?

Once opted in, how do you keep them from opting out?

  • Offer unique deals and services. If you advertise the same deals on social media, email, SMS, radio, and television, chances are your text message customers might not stick around that long. If they can have access to these deals without signing up to SMS, then what's the point of staying in your loyalty program? Send them special rewards that are only available to SMS customers. This makes them feel like they're getting VIP treatment and also gives them more incentive to take advantage of the exclusive offers you send them.
  • Send appointment reminders and updates. Customers appreciate appointment reminders. Who couldn't use a little help keeping on top of their schedules? If you run a service or appointment-based business, these types of messages can not only cut down on no-shows, it also offers customers a valuable and helpful service. This Kumon Study Centre, a math and English study program with various centers in the UK, uses texting to communicate to parents about last-minute changes in appointments and opening hours and claims it has helped their business.
  • Send targeted messages. By analyzing purchase history and customer behavior you can send them messages that target their preferences. For example, if a customer tends to visit one of your locations and buys protein shakes every visit, you can send them a targeted discount: "Hi Karen, We thought you'd appreciate a 15% discount on your next protein shake at our Larkspur gym." Offering customers deals on something you know they like is a good way to retain their loyalty.

SMS can be a powerful tool for enhancing your relationship with your customer base. Targeted messages, exclusive deals, and helpful reminders can all improve your customer satisfaction. And satisfied customers equal loyal customers.

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