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Using SMS and short code marketing to drive traffic to retail locations

August 29, 2012

SMS is no doubt one of the best mediums that marketers can use to drive in-store foot traffic, as well as keep an ongoing dialogue with consumers.

What is great about the channel is that marketers are not only reaching consumers with smartphones, but feature phones as well. When used correctly, SMS can become the right tactic for marketers.

“First off, marketers need to understand the rules regarding text messaging programs,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket.

“Of course, they cannot just buy a list and spam everyone,” he said. “Unless they want to read a 160-page guide developed by the MMA and carriers – and who doesn’t – newbies should consult with experienced mobile providers who can guide them through the process that begins with obtaining a short code and ends with a value exchange with mobile subscribers.

“Even before that happens, marketers should set clear objectives and ensure that SMS is the right tactic.”

Driving foot traffic
SMS is critical for marketers looking to drive in-store traffic.

By opting mobile users into VIP clubs, retailers have the ability to bring people into a store with the lure of previews, offers and celebrity appearances.

“If you send those kind of messages via email, people may show up in 2016 – or never,” Mr. Hasen said.

“The SMS advantages involve reach, immediacy and permission,” he said. “There is no doubt that mobile commerce is aided by text campaigns that give consumers what they want, when they want it.

“Retailers looking to move product quickly have the ability to reach out to an opted-in member who will be most receptive and likely to buy.”

There are several steps marketers must take to create a successful SMS and MMS campaign that drives high return on investment.

It is important for marketers to determine their goals and objectives.

The first step any marketer must take is to select the key goals and objectives they want to achieve through SMS.

“Is your goal to increase conversion in-store?” said James Citron, CEO of Mogreet. “Are you trying to build a loyalty club?

“For many mobile commerce marketers, the goal is both,” he said.

Secondly, marketers should determine their incentive – what will drive their audience to participate and text-in?

Lastly, companies should also select engaging content. The better the content, the higher the response rate.

“SMS and MMS marketing drives in-store traffic through relevance, immediacy and localization.” Mr. Citron said.

“Text messages’ naturally high open rates mean it has the ability to drive immediate action by recipients,” he said. “Smart mobile marketers create time-based SMS and MMS messaging marketing programs, delivering messages at times during the day most relevant for the consumer to open the message and, if the content is compelling enough, buy the product.

“The more relevant and compelling the SMS message is, the more likely a consumer is to take advantage of it – a compelling promotion such as a coupon code redeemable in-store delivered to the right customer base results in higher in-store traffic.”

Evolution of mcommerce
Mobile commerce is quickly becoming a significant driver of commerce revenue for retailers – ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent of all digital commerce depending on the retailer.

SMS and MMS is the simplest and most intuitive way to drive increased mcommerce revenue through targeted promotions, creating a two-way conversation with your customers and ultimately, creating a long-term relationship with your audience through mobile messaging.

“As smartphone penetration in the U.S continues to grow, and as mobile devices become integral to the research/purchase funnel, retailers have to ramp up their mobile efforts – create user friendly mobile sites, build and activate SMS/MMS databases, design QR codes that do more than share existing Web content, utilizing multichannel marketing techniques such as the social sharing of MMS messages,” Mr. Citron said.

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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