In the age of app overload and social media fatigue, one communication channel still reigns supreme for immediacy and impact: SMS. Yes, the humble text message, often relegated to casual updates and pizza alerts, holds a hidden power in the world of customer loyalty.
Did you know? Last year,15 million texts were sent per minute, while nearly 70% of people opening a new message within five minutes of receiving it. While brands often think of SMS as an annoyance to consumers, contrary to popular belief, unsubscribe rates for SMS is less than 5%, compared to email nearly 4x the rate at 20% for unsubscribes each year (Hubspot, 2023).
In primary research conducted by Kobie for a retail brands members, 77% of customers indicated they were open to receiving SMS from brands. Our research also explored the type of content included in the channel, with members preferring transactional (67%) and promotional content (72%) over lifestyle content (22%).
In 2024, as brands seek deeper connections with their audience, SMS is emerging as the secret weapon of mobile engagement.
Why text wins for loyalty?
- Cuts through the noise: In the notification jungle, an SMS stands out like a neon sign. With a 98% open rate (Statista, 2023), it bypasses cluttered inboxes and lands directly in customers’ pockets, demanding attention in a way few other channels can.
- Personalization on steroids: Unlike generic blasts, SMS allows for laser-focused targeting. Imagine sending birthday wishes with exclusive discounts based on purchase history or reminding customers about expiring rewards just in time. This level of one-on-one communication fosters a sense of value and connection that other channels struggle to achieve (Adobe, 2023).
- Instant gratification in your pocket: Need to remind customers about a flash sale? A timely text is all it takes. Want to celebrate their recent purchase with a bonus offer? A quick ping delivers immediate gratification and drives action (Textedly, 2023).
- Two-way conversations, not just broadcasts: SMS isn’t a one-way street. Use it to spark dialogues. Encourage product feedback through polls, run exclusive contests via text-based challenges, or offer customer support through SMS chat. This interactivity builds trust and makes customers feel heard.
- Simplicity and universal reach: Unlike app downloads or specific platforms, SMS works on even the most basic phones and transcends cultural and language barriers. This makes it an ideal tool to reach a wider audience, regardless of their technological savvy.
SMS & Loyalty: A Power Couple:
How can SMS supercharge your existing loyalty program?
- Welcome new members with a personalized text: Introduce them to the program’s benefits, highlight exclusive offers, and spark engagement.
- Trigger timely reminders: Inform members about expiring points, upcoming promotions, and events they can’t miss.
- Celebrate milestones and achievements: Send a congratulatory text when they reach a new tier or redeem a reward. This small gesture shows appreciation and reinforces their commitment.
- Offer exclusive deals and personalized recommendations: Send targeted offers based on their purchase history and preferences, making them feel like valued customers.
- Run interactive campaigns: Host contests, polls, and quizzes via text to boost engagement between transactions and gather valuable zero-party data.
Brand questions we commonly answer are: Should my brand expand to SMS? How does the SMS channel layer into my omni-channel communications plan? What can we test and learn through SMS? How is SMS performing? We can answer these through primary research, communications planning, loyalty customer experience maps and test and learn plans. We believe the experience should be better if you are a member, and that if done correctly, SMS can be a powerful loyalty lever.
Remember, SMS isn’t just about sending texts; it’s about building meaningful connections with your customers. By embracing its immediacy, personalization, and universal reach, you can integrate it seamlessly into your broader mobile engagement strategy. This, in turn, unlocks the true potential of your loyalty program, turning casual customers into loyal advocates who feel valued and engaged.
Kobie primary research study on SMS: January 2024, US Based consumers