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The Role of SMS in Building Consumer Loyalty Programmes

The drive to earn and retain consumer loyalty is big business in the UK. Increasingly, companies are grasping the important role SMS text messaging can play in this.

Not so long ago, retailers and consumer service sectors focused on creating databases of customer email addresses. They crossed their fingers that spam filters and bounce backs wouldn’t completely devalue any resulting loyalty email campaigns or promotions.

The ability to be able to send out newsletters, offers, promotions and reward scheme information to consumers via email was seen as the pinnacle of responsive and effective marketing.

Now, it’s customers’ mobile phone numbers that are gold dust. The most forward-looking companies are developing systems to encourage customers to opt-in. Then, they are structuring SMS campaigns to build loyalty and reap maximum commercial advantage from it.

According to Mobile Marketing Watch, text messages are opened 98% of the time. Compare this to the open rate for emails, which is around 20%. It shows the potential is huge.

Selling the advantages to customers

People love bargains. In the age of austerity, everyone is constantly alert to ways to save a few pennies, pick up a free trial, or get their hands on a discount. Ironically, those same people are probably the ones willingly investing in the latest mobile devices without a second thought.

If your company can convince them that their phone is the key to receiving intel and offers “just for them”, the opt-in rates could be substantial. Other ways to sell it include the absence of coupons and other stages to go through to access special deals. Alongside bargain hunting, other driving forces in modern consumerism include ease and speed. Having things packaged up and simplified is often greatly appreciated.

In fact, you may find selling the idea of opting into a loyalty scheme via mobile phone numbers is easier than you have previously considered. In a US survey of 3,500 internet users, 48% said they preferred to receive loyalty programme messages via SMS. Email was in second place with 22%, followed by app notifications at 20%.

Once you have opt-in from customers

When your customers willingly offer up their mobile number and opt to receive updates from you, that in itself is an indicator of customer loyalty. From there, the emphasis needs to be on retaining that loyalty. And of course, creating opportunities to sell more of your products, and more often. SMS text messaging makes this incredibly straightforward.

Your SMS service can be integrated with your existing software and online processing system, including your customer database, website and billing and delivery systems. The possibilities are endless. You will be able to pull off and group together target audiences based on buying patterns, geography and a host of other fields. Each can receive a tailored SMS message with their own offer, greatly increasing the response when compared to generic emails.

Instant attention

Around 91% of adults admit that their mobile phone is either in their hand or within easy reach throughout the day. They look at text messages within minutes of them arriving. In fact, a study carried out by the eWeek news service found that over one-third of business professionals admitted they find it hard to resist responding to a text, and that 10 minutes was their upper limit.

If that same information is sent via email, the delay before they go into their inbox to check emails would be considerably longer. Emails no longer enjoy the same implied urgency (in both reading and response) as texts. Also, the email inboxes of your average consumer are swamped and recipients are both weary and wary of sales communications that arrive that way.

Information sent as a text message is far more compelling, unmissable and personal, and therefore often stimulates an instant response. They will click through to the offer or website by instinct as much as intent.

With SMS, short is sweet

Another advantage SMS services offer to businesses seeking to build and maintain consumer loyalty is that they satisfy the public craving for brevity. Another side-effect of the UK’s tsunami of consumer marketing is that people are tired of sifting through large amounts of marketing fluff.

Whatever the product or service you are trying to sell, the buying public want an answer to one simple question “What’s in it for me?” Get that message across with the minimum of fuss, and consumers will be appreciative, not irritated.

With SMS business text messaging, you are limited to 160 characters (or 456 with fastsms). This means content creation must be focused and succinct. We covered content in an earlier blog so check that out for helpful tips on making your SMS messages work.

Gathering consumer intel

Content is vital to any successful loyalty campaign, but so is customer intel. SMS marketing and messaging within consumer loyalty campaigns doesn’t just work in conjunction with your databases and existing software (such as eCommerce). It can also help to inform them.

The right SMS provider can show you how to extract information from your customers’ response patterns. What worked best? Did reactions vary according to key demographics or within consumer sub-sets?

SMS text messaging can even be used for surveys and to request direct feedback. This is linked to consumer perception about how far their loyalty can be stretched. Compared to an email asking for survey responses, a simple click through SMS may well seem far more convenient and less time-consuming.

Relationship marketing

Modern technology, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all incredibly exciting marketing tools to build connections between companies and their consumers. However, they all still rely on one thing – relationships.

When you have corralled a consumer, who is not only willing to buy from you but is also willing to opt-in to an SMS loyalty programme, you have a golden communications tool. Through SMS you can build a personal relationship with them.

Some of your SMS loyalty scheme messages could simply be showing how much you appreciate your customers. Or could be designed to illustrate how keen you are to keep them individually informed, to show you care.

Within the fertile ground created by this SMS loyalty programme, when you do send out sales promotions and offers to customers, you can be sure they will take notice.

To explore how to use SMS services for your consumer loyalty initiatives, and get results, contact Fastsms today.

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