By Jake Meador | 27 May 2020
Building lasting relationships with customers is hard.
It demands that you do the hard work of first establishing a durable, sustainable business built on providing actual value to your customers.
But that’s just the first part.
You also need to build rapport with customers, consistently offer a great experience, and identify the right tools to maintain contact with them and encourage them to visit your store again.
In this post we want to talk about that final piece: the tools you need to encourage customers to come back.
In particular, we want to talk about some of the techniques you can use with SMS marketing to help encourage customers to come back to your store or website.
Sometimes the reason a person doesn’t come back to your store is annoyingly simple.
It’s not an issue with their last purchase.
It’s not that they no longer need what you sell.
It’s far simpler: They just haven’t thought about you in awhile and haven’t come in.
This is where reminder messages can be very helpful, especially for businesses that will hold goods for a customer or have scheduled services they provide. Reminder text messages are messages you send to a customer reminding them of something having to do with your store. It could be many things.
If you have a bookstore or sporting goods store, you might let customers hold items behind the desk if they call in and make a request to hold the item for them. You can then use SMS to remind them that their item is waiting for them and give them advance warning if you need to return the item to the shelves after a certain amount of time has passed.
Likewise, if you are a mechanic you might use SMS reminders to send out alerts when routine vehicle service is needed—an oil change, tire rotation, etc.
This is a simple way to stay in front of customers. Depending on your business, it may even be a way to put yourself in front of them at the most strategic time possible—when they’re due for some kind of recurring service.
Drip campaigns might seem an odd candidate for driving repeat purchases. Typically we think of a drip campaign—meaning a series of messages slowly sent out to a person over a number of days or weeks—as being more about generating new business. Drip campaigns are especially popular with businesses that sell more expensive products because the drip campaign helps them build trust and familiarity with their prospect.
But drip campaigns can also be a great way to encourage repeat business.
One of the chief reasons people don’t buy often is not because they dislike your business or had a bad experience. Rather, it is simple inertia. We settle into routines and find it comfortable to stay in our routines. Deviating from the routine requires a conscious choice to do something different and because our routines are usually comfortable (that is how they become routine, after all) we are reluctant to make the choice.
A drip campaign can be a good way to help a person who would otherwise be a single-visit customer become a regular. A well-designed campaign will keep you front of mind with the person and help them remember the first time they bought from you.
Suppose you are a restaurant: Maybe that first visit was totally unplanned. The customer happened to be in your neighborhood and came in. Or perhaps dinner plans changed and they ate at your restaurant in order to get a quick dinner. A drip campaign can help you stay on that customer’s radar and encourage them to come back a second time.
You can use the messages you send to offer them a discount if they return or to remind them of an upcoming special deal. By creating a series of simple, valuable short messages, you can help a customer who randomly stumbled into your store one day or came across you online to become a consistent, regular customer.
Scheduling messages can be helpful for driving repeat purchases in a couple different ways, both of which have already been implied earlier in this post.
First, if you are a business that allows customers to hold items at your store until they come in to purchase, scheduled texts can be a great way to remind them to come in. Suppose a customer calls in on Monday and asks you to hold a product for them. If your store offers them three days to come in and pick it up, then you could set up a message to go to their phone on Thursday morning reminding them to pick up their item that day.
Second, if you offer services that people need on a regular basis, such as car maintenance or personal care, such as barbering, you can set up a scheduled message to go out to a person three months after their most recent visit for an oil change. This allows you to send out alerts to your customers when they are due for a service of some kind without requiring you to do anything beyond scheduling the message, which you can do months ahead of time.
The chief limit with text messaging, of course, is that the medium is fairly simple: You have text and… that’s it. No banners, no share buttons, none of the features that you usually think of with marketing messages. To some degree, that may be a feature rather than a bug—the simplicity can be really powerful.
But if you do want more features, MMS is a great option. MMS messages allow you to send a photo with your text message. Obviously this is still limited relative to email or a website. But if you want to do something relatively simple to stand out without giving up all the other benefits of SMS, then MMS messages can be a great option.
Finally, one of the biggest reasons many marketing messages are ignored is because they are not actually relevant to the people receiving them. The best way to make sure that your messages are going to the right people is to break your entire contact list up into smaller segments.
For example, if you own a clothing store, you could segment your list based on past purchases. This way, when you send out a text message advertising a sale on a particular clothing item, you can send it to specifically to people you have reason to think are interested in that item based on past purchases.
This makes your marketing much more focused and efficient because it eliminates a great deal of wasted messages that were being broadcast or sent to people who were never going to buy that product anyway.
SMS marketing is a largely untapped and underutilized marketing channel in many industries. One of the concerns is often with the relative informality of the medium as well as its limited design options. But if you combine the right messaging with the various SMS techniques described in this post, you can use SMS marketing to not only reach new customers, but help one-time customers become more regular visitors. In many cases, turning those single-visit customers into repeat buyers can actually grow your business more than simply growing your total number of customers. Finding effective ways to encourage repeat purchases can be a huge game changer in your business.