Is Your SMS Marketing Keeping Customers Loyal by Being Fun?
When you think about your SMS marketing campaigns would you label them as fun? Is there any aspect of your SMS marketing or loyalty program that you think customers would call fun?
If so, you’re going to love what you read in this blog. If not, then you need to read this blog. It turns out that a little bit of fun and games can keep your customers more engaged – and more loyal.
The value of loyalty programmes
These days consumers have more choice than ever before. Before they buy, they search their mobile for better deals. They may just research and buy online without ever going into a store. And if you do something they don’t like, well, they’re just as happy buying from your competition.
One way to combat this take-you-or-leave-you attitude is to offer a loyalty program. According to a recent report by Technology Advice, “up to 70 percent of your company’s total sales volume could come from as little as 15 percent of your most loyal customers. Additionally, retaining your current customers can cost 5 to 10 times less than acquiring new customers.”
But chances are your competition is offering a loyalty program too. If you’re really going to gain a customer’s loyalty you’ll need to do something different, something that gets your customers engaged.
Make it a game
“Gamification” means making some aspect of your mobile or SMS marketing like a game (it applies to anything you can turn into a game actually). In recent years, everything from beer sales to employee orientation has been gamified.
Why? Because people love games. It gets them involved, keeps them involved, and very often results in higher profits or better performance for the companies that use it. It’s become a huge industry, but you don’t necessarily need to get that serious about it (or invest huge sums in a gaming platform).
If you already run an SMS loyalty program, all you need to do is think beyond points and discount coupons. What that means really depends on what your business does and your customers.
One case study of a gamified marketing campaign is from Heineken. They actually created a game for customers to download. The game, called Star Player, let customers guess on the outcome of various points in a Champions League football match. Users were awarded points based on their activity and accuracy.
The goal was to get people to pay attention to Heineken, who was a premier sponsor of the competition. They believed a game would be more effective in getting people talking about the company than simply showing their logo on the TV screen. And they were right. The company was mentioned 78% more often than other league sponsors on social media.
This example obviously didn’t use SMS messages. But you could do something similar using SMS without the expense of creating your own game. If you’re a sports company, you could have people vote on the outcome of games by texting in the respective team names. Or they could guess at the what the final scores would be.
Retail businesses could run a campaign asking customers to text in a hidden keyword found in your TV adverts, on your website or in store. I remember one magazine my mother used to get asked viewers to find hidden images on the pages. People then would send in the page numbers where they found the images and those that got it right were entered to win a prize. But instead of asking people to send the guesses by post, you could have them send the answers via SMS.
You could really do anything as long as it was relevant to you and your customers.
How to use SMS messages for gamified loyalty programmes
Most mobile marketing campaigns involve bulk SMS. That is, they are sending a message out to hundreds or thousands of phone numbers. It could be pretty intimidating to try to run a regular campaign let alone one that you’ve gamified. But it can be relatively easy, if you prepare ahead of time.
If you’re using a service like fastsms, you can tag messages as you receive them which makes it easier to sort through the “entries” into your campaign. So in this way it would work just like a normal SMS marketing campaign, even though it might feel more complicated because it’s a game too.
There are different ways to run the game which would affect how you manage the replies, or entries you get. If it’s a one-off then you can select the winners based on the replies you’ve received right inside NetMessenger (our web-based SMS service). If you want to run a cumulative game where points collect, then you might want to download the messages offline so you can sort and manage them (to make sure points are allocated to people correctly).
You could also use our API to integrate directly with your software (or even something like Excel) to keep track of the customers, their entries and their points. Using that same API you could also feed messages back into our system to let people know how many points they have.
The mention of APIs and integration might make some marketers tremble, but we offer full support to anyone integrating into our system and have designed it to be very easy for any developer to use. And if you are using bulk SMS, a small investment integrating into the SMS system is well worth the time saved doing that work manually with thousands of messages.
So start thinking about how you can turn your next SMS marketing campaign into a game. Brainstorm some ideas and maybe even survey your customers to understand their interests better. And if you have any questions on how to keep track of messages in our system, please contact us. We’re happy to help you have some fun.
The first thing to remember is that legally, you must give the customer the chance to both opt-in and opt-out of your SMS campaign - but the good news is people are happy to opt-in - 49% of them according to a 2014 survey. So all you need to do is stay compliant and follow some basic guidelines to grow your list.
As SMS boasts a 95% open rate, it makes sense to ensure you can utilise this channel with your entire target audience. Read our tips on building SMS recipient lists.
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