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Welcome to the Business Insights Newsletter

A Modern Direct Marketing Technique for your Retail Business

October 12th, 2009

Category: Retail Business Tips

SMS messaging lets you reach your customers in minutes!

SMS messaging lets you reach your customers in minutes!

Direct marketing is all about one-to-one marketing, a “Call to Action” and measuring response. Direct marketing has traditionally used mail, telemarketing, and more recently, email. But one of the latest forms of direct marketing is through the use of mobile phone text messaging.

This type of direct marketing has a number of advantages over older forms including low cost of delivery and very high delivery rate. It can also include more time dependent “Call to Actions”, for example, “Come in for 20 percent off Tomorrow Only”

Who should you be Texting
If you already have a customer loyalty program, then the members of this program will form the core of your text messaging campaigns. You could add to this list by running competitions that require entry by text message, thus enabling you to capture lots of mobile phone numbers to add to your text-messaging database.

It takes much more effort to get new customers than keep the ones you already have. You may have a list from contest entries or loyalty program signups on paper.

However like any direct marketing technique, the more targeted it is, the better it will work.

So rather than sending a text message to everybody on the database advising something like “All stores have 20 percent off Store-wide this Weekend”, it is much more effective to send a message like “Downtown store – 20 Percent off Ladies Shoes this Weekend” to customers that have previously bought ladies shoes from your Downtown store before.

A good Retail Management System like CONTROL will allow you to extract a list of customers that fit the target profile of any marketing campaign you develop.

For the first marketing campaign, you may want to use a small list in order to gauge effectiveness, and to ensure you have enough stock and staff support for the results. Once conversion rates are known, you are ready for larger campaigns.

How to Write your Text Message
Text messaging is more correctly known as SMS messaging, where SMS stands for Short Message Service. In most countries the message is restricted to 160 characters, so you need to carefully construct your message.

If you compose your message in a Word Processor like Word then you can use one of the inbuilt tools to check the character count (select “Word Count” in Microsoft Word for this feature).

Here are a few example messages:

Fine Threads Promo – Free Shirt with Suit Purchase Tuesday 24th – George St & Martin Place

Exclusive Invitation! – Classy Gowns New Seasonal Preview – This Tuesday the 24th – Free Champagne and Hors Doeuvres   – 6 – 9 pm – 303 George St

How do you get your Message Out
There are many companies that will send your message to your chosen list of recipients (try Googling “SMS messaging” or “Bulk SMS” for a staggering list of companies offering this service). The service providers offer a number of ways to use their service, including just sending them the list and the message via a web interface, and they will do the rest.

The service usually includes reports of which numbers had the message successfully delivered to, and which ones failed.

How to get started

1.    Check what lists you have or can build from your Loyalty Program, POS sales and returns records, or competition entries.

2.    Determine how that list can be segmented so it can be used most effectively, remembering that one customer can be placed into multiple target lists.

3.    Check Availability of Stock to be promoted.

4.    Choose a Text Messaging Vendor that provides the type of service you require.

5.    Try the program and plan for success.

6.    Carefully track in-store visits and purchases to get an idea of Conversion Rate – a POS system like CONTROL will help you do that.