If you’re still on the fence about mobile marketing, look around. Whether you’re reading this article at work, on the bus, in a coffee shop, or on an airplane, you’ll probably see all the heads around you bent toward a phone. Even if you’re alone, there’s a chance it’s YOU reading this on mobile.
Mobile marketing isn’t a novel idea, and it can mean a lot of things — optimizing web pages and emails for mobile or building branded apps, for example — but one of the biggest opportunities in mobile right now is SMS (text message) marketing.
The numbers don’t lie. Ninety percent of all SMS messages are read within three minutes of being received. The open rate for SMS messages is 98 percent, compared to an average of 22 percent for mobile. And mobile offers are redeemed 10 times more frequently than print offers. This all makes good sense, considering SMS messages are the top way we communicate with friends and family, that email is often a combined home for work and personal messages, and that our mobile phones are with us everywhere we go.
SMS is simply the way we prefer to receive information and the way in which we receive it most quickly. And that fact is exactly why retailers must be combining their POS software with SMS marketing.
There are many ways in which the integration of POS and SMS marketing can benefit a retailer. Here are the top five:
1. SMS takes POS loyalty programs to the next level.
Retailers have long known that loyalty programs encourage continuous patronage and drive growth. But punch cards, email rewards, and direct mail often get lost (or tossed) in the clutter of our daily lives. This not only decreases the number of customers using your loyalty program but causes frustration with customer thinking, “I know I put that somewhere!” Integrating your POS with SMS marketing allows you to take your loyalty programs mobile so that rewards go where your customers go. Customers receive a reminder that they have a reward in store, driving foot traffic. Retail staff can also check if customers have a reward at checkout and encourage them to bring it up on mobile — a surprise savings that improves customer relations and drives loyalty.
2. SMS is timely.
With location-enabled mobile marketing, you can track when your customers are in or near a retail location and send a timely SMS offer to drive demand. A customer who was only browsing or who wasn’t even stopping in suddenly has an extra incentive to purchase. Two-thirds of consumers report that they’ve made a purchase as a result of a highly relevant mobile offer.
3. SMS and POS together improve data tracking.
You can attach specific promo codes to every SMS offer and integrate with your POS data so you have a better grasp on which offers are working and which are not. Emails with promo codes are trackable, as are email clickthrough rates, depending on where each link leads. In other words, SMS marketing makes it easier to drive product demand and store traffic, and to attribute that traffic to specific campaigns within your POS system.
4. SMS integrates with your inventory management.
If you want to drive sales of a specific product that’s overstocked, integrating your POS inventory management systems with SMS alerts makes it possible to provide customers with item-specific offers on mobile. Similarly, you can track which items customers have purchased in the past and create alerts when inventory on those items drops to drive urgency.
5. SMS maximizes customer convenience.
A good customer experience is all about providing options — meeting your customers where they shop with a multi-channel experience that feels seamless. With SMS integrated with your POS software, you can maximize convenience with layaway updates, shipping updates, and email receipts that make it easier to track spending and do returns. Compared with other marketing tools like digital ads that customers are finding invasive and trying to block, 70 percent of customers found mobile notifications (including location-based notifications) to be helpful.
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Great POS software is at the center of any successful retail operation—both on the internal and customer-facing sides. But if your POS isn’t working with a mobile first approach, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to better understand, cater to, and connect with your customers.
Taylor Burke is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com. She’s a marketer, storyteller, and techie who loves to learn about and cover marketing, sales, customer loyalty, and other industry topics.