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It’s time to get your SMS campaigns ready for holiday season 2015

Halloween isn’t even here yet, but the holiday shopping season is looming for retailers. In fact, it’s already here.

A recent report, 2015 Holiday Insights Guide for Retailers: Strategies for a Successful Holiday Season, produced by Retailmenot.com revealed consumers begin shopping for the holiday even before November 1st. And then it really takes off after Halloween.

In the image you’ll see the obvious peaks on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you won’t see the peak after Christmas for Boxing Day because this data is for the US. They have a surge in sales after Christmas, but usually not as big as the UK (You can see a similar chart for UK online only sales in an IBM report I’ll discuss in a later section.).

And it looks like the UK might be following the trend shown above more anyway, because according to Barclaycard, Black Friday was the biggest shopping day in the UK last year. And predictions say this year sales will top £1B just on that one day. But I’m digressing.

The report also says that “Shopper interest in deals increases 20% on November 1st.” That’s right around the corner.

How to get in front of customers now

Mobile is growing fast, everyone knows that. But mobile isn’t the whole story. According to the Fifth Annual UK Online Retail Christmas Readiness Report produced by IBM, mobile is a major factor, but desktops still play a large part too.

Smartphones and tablets drive the largest percentage of website traffic, but purchases are still made mostly from a desktop. This echoes similar data from the Retailmenot.com report which covers in-store sales too.

Still, year over year, mobile usage is up and is expected to continue. Shoppers are using their mobiles while shopping for research or browsing deals while in physical retail shops.

Both reports suggest the use of an always-on, multichannel approach to marketing this holiday season. It’s the best way to maximise time with consumers as they move from one device to the next (and store to store).

Adding SMS marketing

Given the part mobiles are playing in the shopping experience, it’s a must to have an SMS component to your marketing. Imagine someone in a competitor’s store looking at their mobile to see if they can get a better deal on a pair of shoes (or TV, or scarf – whatever it is). Just then, your SMS message reaches your customer (because they are on your marketing list) with a special offer better than the one they are currently considering. Next thing you know, they’re in your store buying those shoes.

Of course it isn’t possible to ensure such precise timing for every message. But if you get in front of your customers early – starting now – and let them know they can expect great offers from you they might just wait to see what you send. Or better yet, start sending them offers now.

Retailmenot reported that about 50% of shoppers had finished all their shopping before the end of November, or even Black Friday. SMS marketing is a great way to get in front of those customers often, but in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them. Your message is there when they get to the store and are ready to buy (simply look at their messages and use the coupon code).

Because SMS messages have such a high open and read rate, they are hugelyt complementary to other forms of marketing that are less direct, such as email, in store advertising, or social media. SMS marketing is one important piece of the “always-on” approach.

So where do you begin?

The IBM report says to start by understanding your customers. Now is the time they want deals, but what deals do they want most? Are they waiting for the large discounts usually seen on Black Friday for specific items (“60% off TVs, one day only!”), or do they want a coupon good off everything they purchase? Or are they looking for experiences rather than discounts? Or discounts for experiences?

Plan out the offers that make sense for your customers and that fit into your current plans for holiday marketing. As I said before, SMS should complement the other methods, not confuse or compete.

Using a platform like fastsms, you can schedule your offers to go out at set times, taking the day to day management out of the picture. After that you can monitor redemptions and adjust if you need to as time goes on.

If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to using SMS marketing, download our Free Account. Or if you have questions, feel free to contact us via Live Chat or email and we’ll be happy to help you.

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