How to Drive Immediate Sales with Flash SMS Promotions

How to Drive Immediate Sales with Flash SMS Promotions

How to Drive Immediate Sales with Flash SMS Promotions

This guide delivers a tactical, step-by-step breakdown of how to build and launch a successful SMS flash sale.

Everyone’s heard of flash sales, but owners of e-commerce brands may not be harnessing their full power without an SMS strategy.

Why? In short, because the data doesn’t lie. According to 2022 analytics:


  • E-commerce brands worldwide sent 62.3% more SMS campaigns than the previous year

  • This spike in SMS campaign sends led to a 23.8% growth in overall orders

  • E-commerce SMS marketing messages delivered a 10.66% conversion rate

Given these insights, it’s not a shock to see mobile e-commerce sales projected to top $700 billion, a major surge from the $362 billion it clocked in 2021. As online shopping and building lifelong brand relationships become more entrenched in the world of smartphones, taking advantage of SMS marketing tactics is a crucial part of driving increases in digital sales.



This guide will give you the tools you need to execute SMS flash sale promotions effectively. By implementing strategies that translate flash sales’ psychological appeal into techniques that entice consumers to buy, you’ll be able to elevate your immediate sales via SMS marketing campaigns in no time.

Read on for the first part of our journey—some critical context around how flash sales work and why they’re a perfect match for the SMS channel.

The science behind why flash sales are so effective

Unlike many other sales and marketing tactics in the digital age, flash sales haven’t seen a lot of structural change in recent years. The reason for this is simple: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The best evidence of SMS flash sales’ ability to outperform other communication channels is Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) deals. By pushing the right emotional buttons, exclusive promotions are deployed yearly to impressive effect. On Shopify’s e-commerce platform, online sales during this make-it-or-break-it stretch of the fiscal year topped $7.5 billion in 2022, a 19% increase YoY increase.

This section provides a rundown of the psychology behind flash sales and why they’re successful, as well as insight into the vitality of SMS marketing as a vehicle for these promotions.


Flash sales: Behind its psychological appeal

From a revenue perspective, the goal of flash sales is always the same: move a pre-determined quantity of products, typically sold at heavily discounted prices, in a short time. Unlike traditional e-commerce sales that run for extended periods, flash sales are designed to maximize their impact by leaning on tried-and-true emotional triggers to encourage consumers to buy immediately.


These internal cues create what is commonly referred to as Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). To raise the stakes to the point where consumers feel the pull of FOMO, retailers must:


  • Communicate product scarcity

  • Create a sense of urgency

  • Convince buyers to act immediately


We’ll touch on each of these elements in more detail later in this guide, but, in a nutshell, combining these three techniques makes for a simple but devastatingly effective formula. 


With so much competition for consumer attention and dollars processed at checkout, e-commerce brands are continually ratcheting up the intensity of their flash sales. One of the ways they’re accomplishing this is through precision-based SMS messaging campaigns.



Why SMS is crucial to increasing flash sale revenue 

A brief online search for recent SMS messaging data tells the story of a channel on a steep rise to the top of the marketing food chain.

According to 2023 data on US-based consumers:


  • SMS delivers an average open rate of 98%, nearly five times that of email (20%)

  • The average SMS response time is 3 minutes, sixty times email’s rate (90 minutes)

  • 48% of customers prefer communication from businesses to come from text messages


Unlike emails, SMS messages don’t get lost in the day-to-day inbox clutter most people contend with. They pop up directly on the recipient's phone screen, making them hard to miss. SMS also allows for better message personalization, which can boost end-user engagement, conversion rates, and the consumer experience as a whole.



With powerful, all-in-one platforms like Bird, getting started is quick, easy, and affordable. Fewer expenses upfront mean larger profit margins for each flash sale campaign or product line.

The 3 key characteristics of an SMS flash sale

Next, let’s take an expanded look at the key characteristics of a flash sale and how those components work together to help attain sales objectives.


Limited product quantity: get it before it’s gone

Arguably the most important piece of information to convey during a flash sale is the limited product quantity. By using scarcity as the marketing promotion’s fulcrum, customers are urged to act quickly or miss out on an unmissable deal. It’s the ultimate “ticking clock” mechanism for marketing and sales.

In his popular book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” author Robert Cialdini adds that “[the] feeling of being in competition for scarce resources has powerfully motivating properties.”

Clearly communicating limited product availability in your flash SMS promotions can be an instant driver of immediate sales, regardless of industry.


Deep discounts: the art of the deal

Another defining feature of a typical flash sale is offering deep discounts to consumers. These price reductions must be substantial to have any effect, with many e-commerce retailers opting for discounts in the 50% to 70% off range, especially during the peak holiday shopping season.

However, to find that sweet spot with a high-performing discount, there are many smaller details to consider, including:

  • Do you provide discount codes or automatic price reductions?

  • Do you tier discounts by spending thresholds?

  • Do you base discounts on subscription or buyer activity?

The answer to these questions won’t be the same from business to business. You must know your target audience and what offer will be the most attractive to them. Once you strike that balance, you’re another step closer to seeing your sales conversions and clickthrough rates (CTRs) go through the roof.


Exclusive access: providing the VIP treatment

The concept of exclusivity is another pillar of flash sales. It’s the idea that the limited quantity and discount are only available to a select few people, which raises the stakes even further on the consumer side. It’s a win-win-win scenario. Companies reward customers for their loyalty, which makes them feel valued, leading to repeat purchases and a stronger brand bond over time. 



Per McKinsey, 62% of consumers spend more on a brand once they’re part of a paid loyalty program. Buyers are also twice as likely to buy as part of a paid loyalty program versus one that’s free to join.

In short, using SMS to deliver a VIP offer or experience to your target audience can have an enormous impact on sales while also enhancing customer engagement in the process. It’s not just what you offer—it’s how you offer it.

The 5 biggest benefits of SMS flash sales

Deploying this type of promotion regularly also does wonders for building brand awareness, growing your organic customer base, and raising your profile as a trusted marketplace entity.

Here are the five biggest benefits businesses can derive from SMS flash sale promotions:


More excitement around your brand

When it comes to specialized SMS marketing promotions, generating online buzz is a significant piece of the puzzle. It’s the reason many companies, from large corporations to small businesses, optimize their message delivery times for high-engagement windows, like 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The more eyes on your sale, the better.

Once flash sales acquire an identity of their own within the scope of a business’s operations, they can pick up serious momentum in a hurry. Amazon Prime Days has become one of the standard-bearers in this department, with the first Prime Day of 2023 going down in the history books as the biggest sales day in the company’s history. All told, Prime members saved a reported $2.5 billion through discounts.


Irresistible offers that entice new customers to buy from you

While flash sales can be a great way to invigorate a customer base, it’s an equally effective tool for drumming up new business. The lure of deep discounts, combined with the short timeframe to capitalize on the opportunity, is the combination that pushes a lot of indecisive buyers to convert.

Data from 2020 shows that Millennials (89%) and Gen Xers (86%) say they’d make a first-time purchase from a brand because of a discount. There’s also the residual effects of the rush most consumers get from acting on flash sale deals. Per a 2022 RetailMeNot study, 66% of consumers say discounts make them feel smarter. Flattery, it seems, can also grow an engaged client list.



Boosted loyalty and brand awareness

When executed well, SMS flash promotions can deepen your existing customer loyalty, reflected in metrics like member program registrations or subscription upgrades from free to paid. A lower price point opens the door to relationships that can last years and be worth thousands of dollars.

It’s not like consumers are opposed to spending more and earning points or discounts with various brands—the average US consumer belongs to over 16 such loyalty programs. However, that doesn’t guarantee long-term loyalty, with 31% of consumers saying expensive fees are the top reason they’d cancel a membership.


Better inventory management

Managing your e-commerce inventory can be a huge challenge, especially as many businesses contend with international shipping, third-party logistics, and other operational concerns. It can lead to a frustrating customer experience, with 34% of businesses admitting to unintentionally selling an unavailable product.

SMS-driven flash sales can reverse that trend. These promotions provide a mechanism for companies to move older stock and make way for new product lines quicker than they would outside a sales cycle. The act of doing so ensures they maintain a fresh, appealing product range while also reducing costs that come with hanging on to excess inventory.


Increased revenue and wider reach 

Last but not least, there’s the main reason any flash sale sees the light of day: the revenue boost. A simple enough statement, but the real secret sauce lies in reaching consumers where they are, which, as 2022 BFCM data, is on mobile.

Per Shopify:

  • Mobile accounted for 73% of all merchant sales

  • Total merchant sales hit $7.5 billion in 2022

  • Messaging automation can help achieve 26%+ CTRs.


It’s also one example out of thousands worldwide. Regardless of the brand, region, or digital platform, consumers love taking advantage of flash sales, and SMS is a primary channel to encourage buying activity.

Read on to discover our shortlist of the most effective flash sale techniques you can implement for your next promotion.

How to prepare for a flash sale

Now it’s time to actually go out and execute an SMS campaign that drives additional revenue. Are you prepared? This part of the guide has you covered when it comes to putting together a clear, actionable plan. 


Using the right campaign-sending tool

Before you hit send on an SMS campaign, ask yourself: Do I have the best campaign-sending tool at my disposal?

High-performing SMS messaging platforms should allow you to:

  • Send bulk marketing messages efficiently

  • Reach your audience regardless of region

  • Offer time-saving automation tools

  • Ensure regulatory compliance across the board

  • Make content personalization quick and easy

Without all those capabilities at your fingertips, your SMS flash sale campaign could fail to meet internal expectations, despite your best intentions. In such a crucial sales situation, you need a reliable SMS solution, such as MessageBird, at your side at all times. That way, your SMS success rate isn’t left up to chance.


Choose the right goals, KPIs, and metrics

The overarching goal of your SMS flash sale shouldn’t be as simple as “make more money.” The sentiment is true enough, but how will you get there? What strategies will you rely on to reach and convert as many customers as possible?

The answer to those questions will depend on your organization’s reality regarding marketing and SMS budget, bandwidth, sales history, revenue projections, and more. Whatever the case may be, your campaign goals should help you:

  • Drive immediate sales (i.e., not sales six months or more down the road)

  • Attract a specific number of new clients

  • Achieve a certain amount of upsell revenue to current customers

  • Boost consumer loyalty in your brand 

  • Manage your inventory by liquidating quantities of old stock

Once your goals are set, you can connect the dots outlined in this guide to solidify your KPIs and metrics for the flash sale campaign. Examples of these include:


  • Attracting new customers by offering deeper discounts on top products

  • Increasing customer loyalty by opening early access to new or paid subscribers

  • Driving immediate sales with short checkout windows (e.g., 12 or 24 hours)


Make sure your decision-making is driven by data instead of guesswork. Analyze metrics like sales conversions, CTRs, and engagement rates to inform a pre-sale baseline and what revenue jumps you should strive for. These insights will prove invaluable to your promotion and streamline the execution process.

4 must-use flash sale techniques for businesses

Launching a successful flash sale requires more than just a computer, an internet connection, and products to sell. It goes beyond choosing the right communication platform for all your messaging needs, like Bird. You need to use the right techniques at the right time to bring it all together.

Let’s walk you through the four must-use tactics for flash sale promotions.


Get creative with your limited-time discounts

When you build a countdown clock into the sales cycle, the sense of urgency automatically goes up. It forces consumers to commit and leans into the psychological pleasure one gets from impulse buying. However, as good as that formula is, some companies get even more creative (and you should, too).

For example, the UK clothing retailer HYPE has previously taken a unique approach to flash sales by offering discounts on a sliding scale based on how fast checkouts are processed. The first 25 people to make a purchase are rewarded with 50% off the total price; the next 50 people get 35% off, and so on. Lesser-utilized techniques like this can generate even more buzz for your flash sale.


Double the fun with buy-one-get-one offers

Buy-one-get-one (BOGO) sales are another successful flash sale technique. In a BOGO sale, customers who buy one product get a second product for free or at a discounted price. The BOGO mechanism entices buyers to check out with more than they originally planned and helps retailers sell older stock as part of a bundle.




Many retailers offer BOGO links or discount codes exclusively to customers who’ve opted into SMS messages, making the channel a primary engagement and sales conversion source. Those considering buying the product eventually may be more likely to add it to their cart as part of the deal.


Give exclusive early access to deals or products 

Tiered access starting points are an easy way to up sales by way of clients feeling valued, smarter, or more special than the average person. The anticipation of knowing you’ll be in the group who gets initial access to an unmissable deal creates excitement around the campaign and your brand in general.


SMS is a terrific delivery system for this technique, particularly when it’s combined with other best practices mentioned in this guide. Exclusive early-bird access for just a few hours? That’s a great starting point. Early, limited access for new membership program subscribers as a welcome gift? Now you’re talking.


Build flash sales around holidays or events

This technique sounds self-evident, but the concept goes beyond the two or three tentpole holiday events that probably popped into your brain after reading the header. The truth is flash sales have so much more potential than simply being a “me too” sale event for Christmas, Boxing Day, BFCM, and so on.


Communicating “alternative” flash sale events for other religious holidays, as an example, could put your brand in a different category in the minds of consumers too. More inclusive and frequent opportunities to save big on new or popular products show your business cares and puts its clients first, a stance that can go a long way in crowded digital marketplaces.

Next, let’s talk about building the best flash sale game plan—one that sets you up for success right from the start.

Flash sales are just the beginning

With so much built-in engagement possibility, merchants can leverage SMS to drive gigantic sales increases through proven tactics like product scarcity framing, BOGO offers, and access tiers that create a sense of urgency.

No matter what road you take with your SMS flash sale campaign, you deserve the best partner supporting you along the way, and that’s where MessageBird comes in. As a recognized global SMS provider, customers like Uber, Google, and Facebook love our SMS solution because it delivers:

  • Direct relationships to over 270 carriers for enhanced reliability

  • Optimized delivery rates that regularly exceed 99%

  • Extensive security expertise, including ISO 27001 and SOC2 Type II certifications

  • Unparalleled scalability with over 16 billion messages sent in under 2.5 seconds 

  • Exceptional technical support that provides your team access to a team of seasoned experts


If you’re looking to scale your next SMS flash sale, MessageBird is an easy choice. Book a personalized demo and an audit of your SMS program.

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

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

Your new standard in Marketing, Payments & Sales. It's Bird

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