By Jake Meador | 13 Apr 2020
Repeat customers are the lifeblood of your business. They give you a more stable revenue stream and tend to spend larger amounts on later visits than they did on earlier visits. Learn more about how to drive repeat purchases here.
For this reason, figuring out how to bring people back to your store—and keep them coming back—is essential for the long-term success of your business. And that means figuring out the right marketing channel to best drive repeat purchases is a really important problem for your marketing team to address.
Of the many channels you might use, SMS marketing is one of the best. There are a number of unique benefits SMS offers. Let’s talk about each of them.
We mention this regularly, but it’s worth repeating: SMS simply produces far higher engagement than any other messaging channel.
The baseline requirement here is that customers actually see your message. If a past customer never sees your sale or discount or personalized offer, they cannot take advantage of it. So on the most basic possible standard—will people actually see my message?—texting is a clear winner.
SMS marketing allows you to learn about your customer in two different ways. The first is the way most good marketing channels can teach you about customers: You observe how they interact with your messages and adapt accordingly. In paid search you can do this by watching clicks on your ads and engagement from ad visitors. With email, you can see what subject lines get higher click-through rates.
With SMS, similar principles apply. Do certain phrases get a higher response rate? Are people more likely to open some deal offers than others? If you are monitoring the response to your SMS marketing messages, you can answer those questions.
Additionally, because SMS has a far higher engagement rate than other channels, there is another way you can learn about your customers: You can ask them questions.
Most SMS marketing softwares include an option to send out a poll to your subscribers, for example. So if you wanted to know a bit more about what your customers want, you can just ask them.
Because SMS makes it easier to learn about your audience, it also makes it easier to tailor your message to particular sub-groups amongst your customers.
For example, if you are an outdoors store, you likely have a great deal of seasonality to your business. You sell more camping and BBQ gear in the spring, for example. During the winter, you sell cold-weather clothing, ski gear, ice skates, and so on.
Some of your customers likely frequent the store year-round. But others may like outdoor cooking but have no interest in skiing. Others perhaps enjoy deer hunting—a late fall and early winter activity—but aren’t particularly interested in barbecuing.
As you learn more about individual customers, you can use SMS to reach them at the right time with the right offer. For example, bow hunting season for deer usually starts in September and runs through the end of the year. So perhaps in August you can start sending out SMS messages to customers who have bought deer hunting supplies before advertising camouflage, hunting equipment, and so on.
By getting this kind of granular data about your customers you can send more relevant messages to past shoppers.
Because SMS marketing tends to be more engaging and more personalized, it also can be a more reliable and much faster way to win sales.
For example, if you have a certain line of products that you’d like to get rid of to make room for new inventory, SMS marketing can make that much easier. Identify customers who have bought that item in the past (or similar items) and text them to let you know the item is on sale. If you are an online business or ecommerce business, you can produce sales almost instantaneously using this method.
Even if you are a storefront business that does not ship to customers (and so they cannot buy online), you can still make sales using this method. You might even include a note in the text saying, “mention this text at checkout and receive x,” as an added incentive to get people to the store.
When you have reliable tools, it is easier to be successful as a business. Because SMS works so well it makes your job easier.
The most satisfying businesses to work and shop at are businesses that have actual relationships between the team and the customers. Those relationships take time to develop, of course, but they also take some degree of intentionality. The simple fact of a person shopping regularly at a store won’t guarantee a relationship with the store. There needs to be real knowledge of each other for that to happen. The butcher shop that knows what cut of beef the customer likes to get for special occasions. The auto parts store that knows that the mechanic who buys parts from them is going through a tough time personally. These are the businesses that people like working at and where people like to shop.
Texting is one way you can build those relationships. Why? Well, for all the reasons we’ve already listed. People read texts. You can target text messages to specific audiences. You can use texts to reach people at the right time with the right offer. All of these things can help build a relationship with customers.
Other texting features also support this kind of work: Polls allow you to ask customers what they want from your business or what kind of products they are most interested in. Recurring messages can go out to wish your customers a happy birthday or alert them to an annual sale you offer. The point is that reliable messaging allows you to build relationships with customers, and those will be your most loyal customers by far.