6 Steps to Boost Customer Loyalty Through SMS Marketing

6 Steps to Boost Customer Loyalty Through SMS Marketing

6 Steps to Boost Customer Loyalty Through SMS Marketing

Today’s consumers are less loyal to brands than they used to be. Find out how SMS marketing can improve customer engagement and increase retention.

Brand loyalty isn’t what it used to be. But it’s not because customers don’t want to build relationships with businesses.

What they want is a better customer experience. And for the majority of today’s consumers, a better customer experience begins on their mobile devices.

Among U.S. consumers, smartphones have become the most popular device for shopping online. More than 90 percent of Americans aged 18 to 49 now make purchases on their smartphones. But mobile devices are favored across the customer experience: 60 percent of global shoppers say they prefer to use their phones when engaging with brand loyalty programs.

Brands can’t afford to take customer loyalty for granted. If they do, they run the risk of losing customers, which isn’t hard to do; more than a quarter of all consumers have quit buying from a specific business within the past year. But with a more engaging brand experience on mobile, your business can turn back the tide of declining brand loyalty and give your customer retention rates a much-needed boost.

Through personalized engagement and alignment with your brand’s loyalty program, SMS messaging can foster deeper customer relationships that increase revenue, reduce churn, and convert casual shoppers into loud advocates for your brand.

Brand loyalty isn’t dead. It just needs to be earned.

In six steps, this guide will show you how.

1. Build your SMS loyalty program list

If you develop an SMS marketing strategy that consistently delivers value to subscribers, most of your loyal customers will be eager to keep the conversation going.

But first, you’ve got to get those customers opted-in to receiving messages. 

A. Gather opt-ins from your existing customers

Since you’re building an SMS list among existing customers, you have options regarding how you collect explicit consent for your messaging campaigns. 

Email and social media can be used to promote your new SMS-based loyalty program—and incentives such as a discount code or other gift can sweeten the deal. Likewise, your website can push for opt-ins through a simple pop-up widget where consumers can add their phone numbers. (Make sure all of your promotional content is mobile-friendly since you’re trying to impress customers by offering a better mobile experience.)

Your business can also take advantage of soft opt-in strategies to add current customers to your SMS list. While soft opt-in rules are more nuanced than single and double opt-ins, this tactic can be used to opt-in customers who have given your business their phone number—such as through a lead gen form or an ecommerce checkout process.

You’ll need to update the legal information on these forms and web pages to make sure you’re disclosing your ability to send SMS messages, but it’s worth it because this is an excellent way to accelerate list growth.

B. Remember that customer retention is cheaper than acquisition

Customer loyalty strategies are one of the most cost-effective ways to use your company’s marketing budget—especially when contrasted with the cost of acquiring new customers.

New customer acquisition is six to seven times more expensive than existing customer retention. The probability of a prospective customer purchasing your product or service is significantly lower than that of a repeat customer: only five to 20 percent of prospects, on average, will actually buy, compared to 60 to 70 percent of existing customers.

By using SMS marketing to improve customer loyalty, you can achieve higher customer retention rates that stabilize your revenue generation, helping your business afford marketing strategies aimed at growing your customer base.

2. Enhance the value of loyalty membership

The fundamental goal of a loyalty program is to increase your brand’s average customer lifetime value (LTV). Retention is an important part of this equation, but lifetime spending and, for many businesses, average order value are also focal points of loyalty membership.

You want to keep your customers and encourage them to spend more money with your brand. Monetary rewards, such as escalating discounts and rewards points that can be spent like cash, have long been cornerstones of these loyalty programs. 

However, today’s consumers are increasingly attracted to loyalty membership perks that are non-monetary, such as increased personalization and an improved customer experience. To deliver meaningful value, your business must align your loyalty strategies with the customer audience you’re trying to retain. 

A. Identify the gap between happy customers and loyalists

The design of your SMS-based loyalty strategy should identify and address the roadblocks preventing satisfied customers from increasing their loyalty and progressing to brand advocates. The first part of this evaluation process should identify what your current loyalists love about your brand. From there, you can assess your “less loyal” customers to understand how they could be better served by your business.

You might find, for example, that the monetary benefits of loyalty membership have succeeded in strengthening loyalty among a small segment of your overall customer base. The rest of your customers are likely seeking value elsewhere, such as more frequent communication and brand interaction, personalized recommendations and messaging, or a better mobile experience.

Here are some questions worth asking during this phase:

  • What demographic and/or behavioral trends are common among our non-loyal customers?

  • What loyalty membership benefits do we currently offer? What strategies have we overlooked?

  • Which loyalty benefits can we offer that deliver the highest value at the lowest cost to our business?

B. Create SMS messaging to bridge the loyalty gap

Once you’ve identified possible loyalty strategies to improve customer engagement, you’re ready to develop SMS campaigns that put these new approaches to the test.

Whether you target this messaging to your entire loyalty list or customer segments within a larger audience, experiment with different value propositions and messaging tactics—and monitor campaign performance closely to determine which strategies drive the best engagement from your customers.

3. Optimize the onboarding experience

SMS marketing has a small window of opportunity to demonstrate the value of its messaging. The onboarding or welcoming interactions are your brand’s perfect opportunity to educate subscribers on how to maximize the benefits of their loyalty membership.

Timely, strategic communications are key. Well-designed messaging, combined with trigger-based automation, can solidify SMS subscriptions and create more value for your customers, and therefore, your business.

A. Develop a compelling SMS welcome series

First impressions matter. When new customers opt-in to receive messages, they should enter a pre-designed, personalized onboarding process that welcomes them and demonstrates the value of being a subscriber.

An introductory discount code or other offer is common. You can also explain where they can view loyalty status and rewards online, and encourage them to follow your brand on social media.

Early on, your welcome series should include some sort of a heads up of what they can expect from future text messages: flash sale alerts, personalized offers, early notice of new products, and any other information you’re planning to deliver via SMS. Bird’s Journeys gives customer-focused marketers a way to automate hundreds of messaging series and trigger SMS delivery on an individual schedule for each new sign-up.

B. Use SMS reminders to reinforce the value of loyalty membership

It’s easy for new and existing subscribers alike to lose track of the benefits and offers available to them based on their past purchasing behavior. Lean on automated messaging to send reminders to subscribers when they haven’t redeemed points, vouchers, or other limited-time offers. It’s helpful to them and beneficial for your business, too.

This trigger-based approach to SMS is easy to set up with a tool like Bird, and it enhances the customer experience by personalizing communication and reinforcing the benefits of loyalty membership.

4. Keep members informed and engaged over time

Streamlined onboarding will set up your loyalty program for long-term success. But your SMS strategy must continue to prove its worth to subscribers over time.

Without consistent value creation and engagement, your customer relationships run the risk of growing stagnant, leading to weakened brand loyalty and inevitable customer churn. Once again, trigger-based messaging can facilitate timely customer touchpoints, reminding subscribers of the value of loyalty membership.

A. Deliver real-time reward insights

Trigger-based SMS messages can remind customers of items left in their cart, refer them back to products they recently viewed, and remind them of an online sale that’s about to expire. Bird Connectors can integrate ecommerce tools like Shopify right into your SMS platform to use customer data in your messaging strategy.

Real-time updates about rewards status keep your customers informed; all they have to do is check their messaging history to see where they stand with your brand.

B. Enhance the post-purchase experience

A strong post-purchase experience sets the stage for repeat conversions. Automated post-purchase messages can demonstrate your brand’s commitment to a strong customer experience. 

Post-purchase check-ins, delivery status updates, upselling opportunities, and requests for product reviews all contribute to stronger customer satisfaction. The feedback you collect through these touchpoints can also be used to strengthen your loyalty program and your brand experience.

5. Drive purchases through time-sensitive SMS promotions

SMS-based loyalty should use seasonal shopping events and time-bound offers as an occasion to create ongoing touchpoints with subscribers. These periodic check-ins and promotional messages will often win back quiet customers whose loyalty might have declined in recent months.

Here are two SMS tactics that will get time on your side:

A. Create seasonal SMS campaigns

Plan for spring break, holiday sales, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and other relevant seasonal events in your SMS marketing strategy. 

Bird offers templates to quickly design effective SMS and MMS messages. You can even organize and manage these seasonal efforts alongside other messaging strategies to make sure you’re not spamming your customers. Along with big ecommerce events on the annual calendar, consider seasonal events and opportunities that might be specific to your business.

B. Deliver time-bound offers to SMS subscribers

Flash sales, VIP offers, limited product releases, and special members-only events all can build loyalty through exclusivity. Customers feel valued (and loyal) when they feel like they’re part of something special. 

Even though anyone can join your loyalty program, these time-limited offers and experiences reward your customers for staying connected through SMS.

6. Re-engage lapsed customers through non-monetary value

If customer loyalty is dwindling at your organization, SMS is a route to reconnect and remind them of what they used to love about your business.

Though the SMS-based loyalty strategies above work for most businesses, if they won’t for yours, consider taking a different approach that sets revenue generation efforts to the side in favor of emphasizing brand narratives and personal connection.

Consider this approach:

Foster emotional connection through educational content and brand storytelling

Instead of flash sales and VIP offers, engage your lapsed customer base through messaging that highlights your brand mission and brand values, as well as stories of your brand making a positive difference in the world. 

Redirecting customers to long-form storytelling on your mobile-optimized website can give your brand more space and time to make an impact on your target audience. Test out other messaging strategies to find out what works for your audience: shopping guides, product tutorials, and educational content that addresses common customer pain points. Top SMS marketers craft messages that either prompt action or build brand affinity. Find ways to pull drifting customers back in.

By prioritizing non-promotional interactions with your customers, you can focus on building and strengthening relationships—with the understanding that healthy customer relationships are likely to lead to sales.

Build the brand experience your customers crave

Improved customer loyalty starts with a better approach to customer engagement. SMS marketing isn’t a one-sided channel for blasting promotional texts to your customers: instead, it enables two-way interaction and responsive messaging that fosters deeper customer connections at scale.

Your customers have been clear about what they want: mobile-first experiences, personalized interactions, and consistent engagement from the brands they love. Bird’s SMS Marketing solution can offer all of that and more.

SMS messaging is only one way Bird can support your loyalty strategy. Our all-in-one platform equips your business with powerful tools to create high-quality SMS messages, define and target your customer audience, launch multichannel campaigns, and set up countless automations to manage your segments with ease.

Plus, we offer a global network of carrier connections and built-in security and compliance controls. Bird handles the technical aspects of SMS marketing so your business can focus on building a great customer experience.

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The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.

By clicking "See Bird" you agree to Bird's Privacy Notice.