[GUIDE] Building Customer Loyalty Throughout an Extended BFCM Shopping Season

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SMS Marketing
Published on
Sep 8, 2023
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Elodie Huston
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With customer acquisition getting more expensive—and consumers spreading their purchases out over months—customer loyalty will be the gift that keeps on giving this BFCM shopping season.

Want to get inspired by how other brands have achieved Black Friday and Cyber Monday success with SMS and email? Explore our 2023 BFCM Planner to unlock SMS message templates, a webinar to help you set your BFCM strategy, and more.

The winter holiday shopping season started earlier than ever, kicking off in August for many hoping to spread out purchases and take advantage of early seasonal deals. With an extended shopping season, you can drive repeat purchases before the end of the year. So, how do you capture shoppers’ attention early on and get them to keep coming back through the end of the season (and beyond)? 

Marketers who lean on owned channels—especially SMS and email marketing—to increase loyalty and nurture new customers will come out on top this season. Here’s how to ramp up loyalty this BFCM—and all year round—by tapping into brand voice, storytelling, special perks, and two-way communication.

Why is customer loyalty important?

Loyalty is what transforms your brand from just another company to a part of your customers’ lives. Loyal customers shop more often, spend more money, and stick around longer than one-time purchasers. 

Consumers are eager to be brand loyalists: 74% of global consumers consider themselves “loyal” to at least five brands, and 38% say they would join a loyalty program before they’ve made a purchase. And SMS marketing is a customer loyalty amplifier: 89% of global consumers are likely to become repeat purchasers after signing up for text messages.

“We all know that revenue is king. But that doesn't mean it's the end-all, be-all KPI—especially during Cyber Week. While it's incredibly important to drive revenue, don't neglect the downstream impacts of building loyalty and strengthening your brand overall. After all, when they're ready to spend their holiday gift cards, you want to be the first stop on their list.” 

- Amber Fallon, Sales Engineer at Ometria

Use your brand voice to build loyalty

Being loyal to a brand means so much more to consumers than just signing up for a VIP program. Brand loyalty often feels like a sense of closeness: Consumers feel they know the brand and can engage with relevant, helpful, and personalized experiences that make them want to continue shopping with them over and over again. 

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Color Wow and Reformation

A great way to foster that feeling is by tapping into your brand voice. Brands with strong voices are brands that stand out—consumers appreciate their distinct personality and point of view. Loyal customers are likely familiar with the voice you use across your website, social media, and in-store presence. 

SMS Pro Tip: Skip writer’s block and get your creative juices flowing with Attentive AI™. Using our Magic Message copy assistant, you can generate copy based on top-performing messages our customers have sent, and then update the message with your brand voice and imagery. 

Bringing that voice into your SMS marketing to engage with consumers in a conversational way is a huge cornerstone for building and maintaining loyalty, especially during busy shopping seasons like the winter holidays. You can show subscribers exactly who you are using your perspective and editorial eye in a way that feels direct, helpful, and relevant.

"SMS is our most strategic way of curating the conversational commerce experience for our shoppers. It’s the highest form of personalization and has created an ongoing dialogue with our customers. They become loyal brand advocates because they feel heard by APL."

- NJ Falk, Managing Partner, APL

Let your personality shine

Because SMS is such a direct channel (and one that we use to talk to our friends and family), using a more conversational tone can make your messages feel more personal. That level of familiarity will help subscribers learn more about your brand and become more loyal over time.

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Lunya

You can inject personality into your text messages in a few ways:

  • Infuse triggered browse and cart abandonment reminders with your brand voice, making your brand feel like a helpful shopping companion.
  • Directly address shoppers (using “you”) or use a playful phrase to make quick reminders feel personalized and relevant.
"Our subscribers feel like Skatie is texting them personally. I’m able to use the same voice I use across social media and other channels to make our audience feel like it’s me talking directly to them. When they reply, it feels like a more personal, 1:1 conversation."

- Skatie Noyes, Owner & Designer, Skatie

Images pack a big punch 

73% of consumers think MMS (text messages that include media such as images and GIFs) is a great way for brands to add ‌personality to their messages. 32% of consumers say multimedia messages make them feel more connected to a brand, and 56% say they’re more likely to engage with messages that contain GIFs, images, or emojis. 

So, what types of content are consumers most interested in

  1. Humourous and entertaining messages (such as a well-timed meme, playful emojis, or fun image)
  2. Product photograph 
  3. Product tutorials 

Weaving MMS moments that are authentic to your brand throughout your seasonal SMS calendar will ultimately help you increase the efficacy of your channel. So while carriers don’t allow MMS in some countries yet, if you are in a location where it’s available, that small dash of personalization can have a big impact. Your subscribers will feel more engaged, leading to higher conversion rates and lower opt-outs over time.

SMS Pro Tip: Using Attentive AI’s Magic Message, you can quickly customize images from your product catalog to fit your subscribers’ preferences, a seasonal moment, and more. All you need to do is describe how you want to modify an image, and Attentive AI will take it from there. 

Share your brand story, education, and other helpful content

Loyalty-building SMS examples from MATE the Label

Sending educational content to your SMS subscribers can help them feel more connected to your brand and more informed about what they should purchase first. Educational text messages can highlight

  • The people behind your brand, from execs to designers to customer care reps
  • Your philanthropic mission, such as what you’re doing and why it’s important to the company 
  • Tutorials and best practices, including how to use your products, style an outfit, create the perfect make-up look, etc.

Send recommendations via SMS

This year, consumers are planning to spread their winter holiday purchases out over a few months. This means they're going to be building their shopping list as they buy—giving you an opportunity to drive product discovery to make sure you make their list. 

Because you’ve captured a ton of valuable first- and zero-party data tied to a strong identifier (a phone number), SMS is a great channel to send personalized recommendations

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Clove

You can tailor your messages based on subscribers’ engagement with your channel, products they’ve browsed or purchased, preferences they’ve shared directly with you in SMS conversations, and other interactions they’ve had with your brand. 

You can also use Two-Way Journeys™ to ask them what they’re shopping for or what they’re trying to achieve, and use their responses to personalize future text messages you send to them.

Whether they want to achieve a specific goal, have a positive impact on the environment, embrace their personal style, or make their home more stylish, you can use SMS as an opportunity to share helpful and relevant products.

Build loyalty with triggered flows

Loyalty starts as early as day one. Building triggered flows that feel warm, welcoming, and personalized to let subscribers know that you’re in it for the long haul, and they should be too.

Create a warm welcome with SMS

Your welcome message is the opening line of the conversation. This is a chance to get personal. Address your subscriber by name (you can collect this by adding a Preference Collection step as part of your sign-up unit), and welcome them to your text messaging program. 

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Victoria Beckham Beauty

Your welcome flow is also the perfect chance to tell subscribers what they can expect from their SMS relationship with you, from getting offers and exclusive access to shop sales and new products, to behind-the-scenes looks and invites to events. 

SMS Pro Tip: Building a relationship means you need to go beyond the transactional. Twenty-four hours after a subscriber joins your SMS program, send a triggered message with educational content. You can share information like how your products are crafted, your brand’s values, or how their purchases will make an impact. Include a link back to your brand’s “About” page so they can learn more. 

Make a conversational connection

Add a conversational element to your welcome series to set expectations that your text program is built for back-and-forth interactions. Send a message inviting subscribers to reply with a keyword corresponding to what they’re most interested in—whether that’s sales, branded content, or product releases. You can use those preferences to create segments based on their responses that you can use to personalize future text messages. 

SMS Pro Tip: If a subscriber hasn’t made a purchase three days after they’ve joined your SMS program, send a message inviting them to take a quiz to get personalized recommendations. Demonstrate that you’re here to help, whether it’s with finding their perfect fit or the skincare routine that’s right for them. Plus, you can set this up as a triggered journey, so it'll automatically send to the subscriber if they’ve met the criteria.

Keep the conversation going after they click “buy”

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Olaplex

The conversation doesn’t end when a shopper makes a purchase. In fact, subscribers are most engaged after they’ve made a purchase. This is a perfect time to forge a stronger connection through SMS.

Build a post-purchase series

After the customer purchases, you can send a triggered flow that thanks them for their purchase, links back to educational content about the product, or features inspirational images to help them style the items. If your brand is mission-driven and focused on sustainability or social causes, use this flow to show how their purchase will make an impact.

Ask for a review

Once a subscriber has had time to enjoy their purchase, reach out to ask them to leave a review or tag your account on social media. You can tailor these requests based on their behavior: If they’ve purchased a new product, you may want to incentivize them to leave a review so others can learn more about the item. If they’re a repeat shopper, you might want to invite them to refer a friend for a special offer. 

"I know that, as a consumer, I trust what other customers say about a product more than what the brand says, so it was a no-brainer for us to add them. We saw increased conversation rates on our site, but we also learned that customers who did leave reviews had a higher lifetime value." 

- Cleo von Siebenthal, Director of E-Commerce & Digital Marketing at MATE the Label

Send a special follow-up offer

For subscribers who haven’t made a second purchase within a given period, send them a special offer (like a percentage off or early access to a product drop) to encourage them to buy again. You can position the offer as a “VIP” perk they earned by making their first purchase to surprise and delight.

Increase lifetime value with SMS

It can be difficult to keep subscribers’ attention during the busyness of the winter holiday season. One tool you can use to capture it (and keep it) is personalization. 

According to data from Adobe Commerce, 67% of respondents reported wanting personalized offers based on their individual spending habits, whether shopping in-store or online. Of those who did receive personalized recommendations, 72% said they bought more goods than they originally planned. Content that’s targeted, personalized, and that allows you to send more relevant offers and information is content that will keep shoppers engaged.

"This year, it’s not about offering more promotions. It’s about increasing the effectiveness of what you're already offering. Personalizing your promotions can go a long way. When you launch tentpole discounts, communicate them to your subscribers with relevant products and messaging to engage them." 

- Becki Francis, Director of Strategy, Retail, at Movable Ink

Luckily, consumers are more than willing to share their preferences to receive these valuable recommendations. Over 47% of consumers are willing to share their product preferences in exchange for a personalized recommendation. 

Personalize experiences with conversational quizzes

Loyalty-building SMS examples from johnnie-O

SMS gives you a direct way to help subscribers find their new favorite items. Send a conversational quiz with a series of “If...then” questions (like “Your ideal Friday night is… (A) Going dancing (B) Trying a new restaurant, (C) Visiting an art gallery or seeing a show”). Then, share your recommendations by setting up triggered responses based on which option the subscriber chooses.

Learn more about your subscribers

Ask your subscribers which winter holidays they’re observing, then send them offers and reminders relevant to their selected holidays. 

SMS Pro Tip: You can also use that information to segment them out of irrelevant holidays (and even give them an option to opt out of holidays completely and receive festive deals instead). This approach will ultimately help you save costs and increase the ROI of your campaigns. 

Target messages based on behavioral data

Fine-tune your SMS subscriber lists to make the highest impact on ROI. Build segments that align with your customer funnel that subscribers can graduate into. For example, new subscribers who signed up on your brand’s website (but haven't made a purchase) can be added to a nurture segment that receives offers to encourage them to make their first purchase.

"Meeting the customer where they are in their individual journey has also been a crucial part of our strategy. Everyone wants something different, so we strive to create unique experiences to help each shopper move higher up the funnel. One way we do this is by using conditional branches and custom segments in all of our triggered SMS journeys, which allows us to both reach our marketing goals and build strong relationships with our customers."

- Hayley Squire, Senior Manager, Lifecycle Marketing at LIVELY

Target based on engagement history

You can further tailor your messages by creating a “go-to” segment of subscribers who have clicked on a text within the last two weeks but haven’t made a purchase. Getting hyper-specific increases the likelihood that they’ll convert, which increases your ROI. 

SMS Pro Tip: Automatically re-engage lapsed subscribers triggered winback journeys. You can incentivize these shoppers with an offer (like free shipping) or a product recommendation to encourage them to convert. 

Send recommendations based on past purchases

As they say, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Send personalized recommendations based on past purchases and browsing behavior to increase relevancy and pique interest. 

SMS Pro Tip: If your brand sells high-consideration products, recommend complementary accessories to items your customer has purchased, along with tips on how to style their purchase. If you’re a skincare or beauty brand, you can position the recommendation as a “completion” of a routine or look. 

“We're definitely seeing a higher repeat rate with SMS. Our email database has been built over the last 10 years, so we thought there would be a big discrepancy between its value and the value we would see with SMS. But, because our SMS subscribers are incredibly engaged, we saw immediate and consistent success from the channel. It’s a great tool for driving not only the first purchase, but also the second, and then hopefully third and fourth purchases. The facts are there already.”

- Lucy Kemish, Senior Global CRM Manager, Astrid & Miyu

Create educational moments

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Olive and June

You can create triggered educational “courses” for customers to help them to learn more about how to use your products (for example, a nail polish brand might send a series of texts on how to get the perfect manicure). 

At the end of the course, reward subscribers’ attention with a bundle deal to purchase the items they learned about.

Treat your VIP customers like… well, VIPs

SMS is one of the most effective ways to engage with your VIP customers. They go above and beyond to stay loyal to your brand, and you can recognize that with personalized perks, exclusive offers, and under-wraps event invites.

Grow your referral program

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Cariuma

43% of global consumers say earning and redeeming loyalty perks would encourage them to spend more with a brand. 

SMS subscribers are often your most-engaged customers—and your biggest fans. Use SMS to ask them to refer a friend to shop or join your rewards program. Then reward them like a VIP: thank them with a dollar-off discount (or bonus loyalty points) for every referral they convert. You can even work this into your triggered post-purchase flow. 

Further incentivize purchases by offering double loyalty points during a certain time period, and promote it via SMS. Send a complementary text to subscribers who haven’t joined your loyalty program yet, and present an offer for joining. 

Share surprise perks

Use text message marketing to deliver gamified experiences that make subscribers feel appreciated and engaged: 

  • “Spin-to-Win” style games are a great excuse to offer small yet exclusive perks, like a sample size of a new product, free shipping, or a free gift with purchase
  • Sweepstake-style games are slightly higher stakes, but offering subscribers the exclusive chance to opt-in can make them feel extra special

SMS Pro Tip: Offer your most loyal subscribers one surprise “perk” per month. Set up a triggered flow to deliver offers like a bundle deal, free gifts with purchase, or a percentage off once a month. Subscribers will be eager to discover each monthly offer. 

“Tap into your biggest advocates—including employees, store associates, and VIP customers—to drive conversions with exclusive offers that can be shared with a limited number of friends and family during the holiday season. You can incentivize these brand advocates with exclusive discounts, free expedited shipping, experiences, or even charitable donations. Use Attentive to market these exclusive offers to your SMS subscribers.”

- Ana Suro, Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Extole 

Offer exclusive event access

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Farmacy Beauty

There’s nothing like a one-to-one invite to make subscribers feel like insiders. Invite subscribers to in-person and virtual events your brand is hosting by sending them a personalized message and engage with them in real time leading up to the event. 

Turn event invites into an experience by sending exclusive offers and content before and after the event. If your brand is online-only, you can give subscribers special access to video tutorials and other educational content. 

Show your loyalty with a “Friends and Family” sale

Give your most engaged subscribers—those who’ve made a certain number of purchases or spent a given amount of money—exclusive access to a “Friends and Family” sale. Let them know their access is VIP-only, and include a secret code to redeem at checkout.‍

Marketing content with a cause

While lots of communication takes place over the winter holiday shopping season, cause-related marketing doesn’t need to take a backseat. In fact, you can use SMS marketing to highlight all the great work your brand is doing to give back—and show shoppers how they’re helping contribute to that work.

Discover shared values with subscribers

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Every Man Jack

82% of shoppers say they want to shop from companies that share their own values. They’re willing to back that up with their wallets, too: Global consumers are four times more likely to purchase from a company whose values align with their own, and are 4.5 times more likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family. 

If your brand is mission-driven—or even if you’re dedicated to cause marketing—share editorial content with subscribers that highlights the causes your brand supports. You can also communicate how your brand is directly making a difference—whether it’s creating sustainable products, supporting organizations, or championing diversity internally—and how that work affects individuals, too.

Highlight sustainability in browse or cart abandonment messages

If your brand is dedicated to sustainability, communicate that through your triggered messages. Browse or cart abandonment messages can reassure shoppers about the environmental impact of their purchase. For example, you can highlight how your product materials are sourced and crafted, or share more about how purchases make an impact (like if you’re planting a tree in honor of every purchase). 

Educate subscribers about your cause

Loyalty-building SMS examples from The Inkey List and Olly

Environmentally-conscious shoppers are often focused on finding sustainable shipping options. Sending an educational text message highlighting how your products are packaged and shipped can show that you prioritize sustainability. 

SMS Pro Tip: Use educational text messages to mention what you’re doing to reduce your brand’s broader carbon footprint. Social impact-minded subscribers will appreciate it.

"Subscribers want to hear about your community and how you thrive within it—include messages in your program that highlight your culture and what you stand for." 

- Griffin Thall, CEO & Co-Founder of Pura Vida Bracelets

Prioritize inclusivity all year

Sending MMS is an opportunity to show a diverse range of models your subscribers can see themselves in. Whether you’re showcasing cosmetics or clothing, use GIFs that feature models of different racial and religious backgrounds, gender identities, body types, ages, and abilities. 

Help subscribers get involved

For many, the winter holidays are a time to give back. Let subscribers know about upcoming volunteer opportunities in their communities, or share virtual ways they can give back, like charities or community funds. 

SMS Pro Tip: Encourage your subscribers to text you about how they got involved, and offer a surprise perk as a “thank you.”

Invite subscribers to help out

Are you joining an event that benefits a cause your brand believes in? Let subscribers know why the cause is important to your brand, and invite them to take part. You can thank attendees with a follow-up message that offers a surprise percentage-off their next purchase, or let them know a specific portion of their purchase will be donated to the cause.

"Text messaging is a highly personal channel. It’s a natural fit for sharing more on sustainability with our subscribers and getting our mobile audience more invested in living their most sustainable life. Whether we’re educating subscribers about how our products are crafted or how they can create small, eco-friendly habits that have a big impact, SMS is one of the channels we rely on to help our customers get even more involved."

- Jennifer Chiang, Head of Email and Retention Marketing at Cariuma

Show how your brand is making an impact

Loyalty-building SMS examples from Cariuma

For products and collections you create in partnership with cause-driven organizations, educate subscribers with an SMS campaign. Explain the meaning behind the collection, and how the proceeds will be put to use. You can also highlight the partner organization’s work to give subscribers a clear picture of how their purchases will make an impact.

Share a link to your impact report

Publish a report on the influence of your philanthropic initiatives, and share it with the people who support your mission. Putting your audience’s purchases into a philanthropic context helps your brand connect with subscribers over your shared passions, helping to build loyalty in an authentic way.

Engaged subscribers are loyal subscribers

Whether you’re sharing exclusive offers, reaching out with educational and cause-related content, or using SMS to get to know your subscribers better, there are endless ways to increase loyalty with the right text message marketing strategies. 

The effort you put into nurturing your customers and driving loyalty leading up to the winter holidays will pay off year-round. So it's not just about getting people to buy and driving revenue during this important shopping season—it's about keeping those people around after the peak spending period is over.

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