Bookmark this guide for using SMS to connect the dots between your digital and physical experiences.
Your customers don’t think of shopping in-store or online as an either/or choice. They use both at different points in their journey to make their experience as convenient as possible.
This is especially true during the holiday season. Many consumers will be combining their tried-and-true in-store holiday shopping habits with their newer digital ones to find the best deals, discover new products, and make sure their holiday shopping is a success.
That means you’re tasked with creating a holistic hybrid marketing strategy that engages consumers no matter how they’re shopping, or where they are in their journey. Keep reading to get our top tips for using SMS as part of your hybrid strategy this season.
What is hybrid marketing?
If your brand has both a physical and e-commerce presence, you know how tricky it can be to strike the right balance between the two. How do you create a cohesive experience so your customer feels like they’re getting the best of your brand no matter where they’re engaging with you?
A strong hybrid marketing strategy meets your audience where they are to deliver personalized experiences. It combines the best of your online and offline shopping options to make it as convenient as possible for consumers.
Hybrid marketing isn’t just about offering shoppers different ways to engage with you, though—whether that’s in person, via email and SMS, or on social media. It’s about tailoring your messages for each of those channels, so every interaction feels thoughtful, purposeful, and authentic to your brand.
No matter how they choose to shop with you—whether they drop by your store to buy an item they found on your Instagram, or they want to try on a product in person before ordering it online—chances are they have their phones with them. SMS should be the connective thread for your holistic hybrid marketing strategy.
Drive SMS sign-ups online and offline
The more subscribers you have, the bigger your opportunity is to drive conversions. And by encouraging sign-ups online and in-store, you’re doubling your audience of potential subscribers. Here’s how you can grow your list across your digital and physical touchpoints before you start executing your holiday campaign.
Create your online list growth strategy
Convert high-intent browsers into subscribers by adding sign-up units to your digital marketing channels—including your website, email and loyalty programs, social media, and more.
Launch sign-up units on your mobile and desktop websites
Your mobile and desktop sites should be the foundation of your SMS list growth strategy. You’re already driving traffic to your site using organic and paid marketing. Make the most of those efforts by turning those browsers into subscribers with an on-site sign-up unit.
Encourage opt-ins with incentives
The most effective SMS sign-up units incentivize shoppers with a discount, but you can also encourage them to sign up by positioning your program as a VIP community. Let them know they’ll get access to exclusive offers and experiences when they opt in.
No matter which incentive you choose, a thoughtful welcome message will help you drive revenue. Make it as easy as possible for subscribers to start shopping by including Attentive’s auto-apply URL so their welcome offer is automatically applied at checkout.
SMS Pro Tip: During peak sales periods (like Cyber Week), personalize your sign-up units with your site-wide offers or perks.
Convert social followers into SMS subscribers
Your social followers want to know the latest from your brand. Use your social media to tease upcoming collections, collaborations, or sales. Then invite followers to sign up for texts to be the first to know when they’re available. Create a segment of these subscribers and give them exclusive first access.
Grow your email and SMS lists together
You can grow your email and SMS lists at the same time using Attentive’s 2-in-1 sign-up units, which prompt shoppers to share their email address and phone number with you in one easy flow.
Use email as a springboard for SMS list growth
You probably already have an engaged audience of email subscribers. Convert them into SMS subscribers by promoting your text message marketing program in your email newsletters and e-blasts.
This is a great opportunity to build loyalty by giving your already-engaged audience an opportunity to get more exclusive offers, behind-the-scenes content, and in-person experiences.
Make the most out of your paid media efforts
Use paid media to promote your SMS program—you’ll gain new subscribers and maximize your ROI. You’ll be able to directly engage with visitors throughout the holiday season, rather than just reaching them during a specific promotion period.
This segment of subscribers may not be as familiar with your brand, so consider nurturing them with content and perks until they make their first purchase.
Create your offline list growth strategy
Online sign-up units are a great way to drive SMS opt-ins, but they’re not the only way you can grow your list. Promote your SMS program offline, too, and capture subscribers when they’re most engaged.
Drive sign-ups in-store
Strategic in-store signage can grab shoppers’ attention while they’re browsing. Here are a few of our top tips:
- Use eye-catching signage throughout your sales floor, inviting shoppers to opt in with a branded Text-to-Join (TTJ) keyword.
- Draw window shoppers into your store with an exclusive offer or perk for signing up (like a gift with purchase) they can redeem at checkout.
- Promote your SMS program inside your dressing rooms, inviting shoppers to sign up to learn about new products and offers.
- Incentivize sign-ups at checkout by offering new subscribers a dollar- or percentage-off discount. In your welcome message, let new subscribers know they can simply show the text to the store associate to take advantage of the deal.
Promote your SMS program on your packaging and direct mail
Add a QR code linking to an SMS sign-up landing page on your brand’s packaging and shipping materials. You can also create a card that sales associates can easily drop into shopping bags, helping you keep in touch with customers after they’ve left your store.
Consider adding a QR code or TTJ call to action in your direct mail, including catalogs and postcards. Be sure to incentivize sign-ups with an exclusive perk, and include the appropriate legal language so subscribers have all the information they need.
Make a good first impression
Use your SMS welcome message to put your best foot forward and share what makes your brand special. You can highlight how your products are made, your brand’s purpose, or deliver an offer.
SMS Pro Tip: Always include a link back to your website so subscribers can shop right away or find their nearest location.
Drive e-commerce revenue
It's important that your online and in-store experiences feel cohesive. SMS marketing is a great channel to connect your digital and physical touchpoints. You’re able to deliver the best of in-store shopping—including personalized recommendations and 1:1 conversations—and facilitate convenient e-commerce experiences.
Recommend new favorites
The in-store experience naturally lends itself to product discovery by introducing shoppers to new products and real-time recommendations from associates. Recreate that frictionless experience by sending subscribers a series of gift guides. Invite them to reply with a keyword related to their preferences (like hiking gear or running accessories), and deliver a recommendation tailored to their response.
SMS Pro Tip: Encourage shoppers to increase their order size with a bundle offer (like $15 off a purchase of $100+).
Encourage repeat visits
Keep shoppers coming back to your website every day (and encourage repeat purchases) with a “12 Days of Deals” campaign.
How it works: Text subscribers each day of the campaign, highlighting the latest offer. Consider inviting subscribers to reply with a keyword (e.g. HOLIDAY) to opt into the campaign. You’ll be able to increase ROI by targeting your most engaged subscribers, and avoid fatiguing subscribers who may prefer receiving fewer messages.
SMS Pro Tip: Save yourself some time by scheduling each text message ahead of time. That way, you’ll be able to sit back and watch the revenue roll in.
Create a sense of urgency
Use SMS to build excitement around exclusive collaborations and collections. Invite your SMS subscribers to pre-order or shop before anyone else. Include a GIF or image showcasing the items to give them a sneak peek before they shop.
SMS is also a perfect channel for sharing time-sensitive updates. Let subscribers know about flash sales and limited-time offers. Be sure to send a follow-up “final hours” text message to subscribers who haven’t shopped the deals yet to drive last-minute traffic.
Help subscribers check off their holiday gifting list
Share your brand’s personalization options—like monogramming or custom color combinations—with subscribers so they can add a special touch to their gifts. If your brand doesn’t offer discounts, consider incentivizing shoppers with complimentary gift wrapping or engraving.
Bring high-intent shoppers back to your website
Consumers tend to shop around to find the best deals during the holiday season. This means they’re more likely to leave your site before they make a purchase. Triggered text messages can help you bring them back and recover otherwise lost revenue:
- Send a browse abandonment reminder to show subscribers what they’re missing out on, and encourage them to shop before your most popular items sell out.
- Send an abandoned cart message to remind subscribers about what they’ve left behind. Personalize these messages with the name and a picture of the item, or incentivize shoppers with free shipping or curbside pick-up.
SMS Pro Tip: Suppress browse and cart abandonment reminders for out-of-stock items. Instead, recommend a similar product they would enjoy.
Increase engagement post-purchase
The conversation doesn’t need to end after the customer clicks “buy.” Send a triggered post-purchase text message to ask your customers to leave a review or tag your brand in their social media posts.
If a subscriber hasn’t made a second purchase within a given time frame, follow up with an email with product recommendations. If they still haven’t made a purchase a month later, follow up with a “win-back” text message, offering them a perk like free shipping or a percentage-off discount.
SMS Pro Tip: Once a subscriber checks out, invite them to sign up for transactional text message updates so they can track their purchase with real-time updates.
Encourage in-store purchases
During the holidays, drive foot traffic to your physical stores with engaging text messages. Segmentation is the key to bringing subscribers in-store. Use first-party data to segment your audience based on their location, inviting them to take advantage of special offers in person. You can also include a link with directions to easily get to their nearest location.
Promote BOPIS and curbside pick-up
Text subscribers to promote your buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pick-up options so they can choose the shopping experience that’s most convenient for them. Consider incentivizing orders with an offer they can use on their next order.
Offer in-store only perks
Shoppers may not want to visit your store multiple times in one week. Instead, increase their in-store order value by offering SMS subscribers bundle deals (like spend $100, get $15 off) they can redeem at checkout.
Keep shoppers coming back with a post-purchase message. You can share a gift card or coupon they can use for their next in-store purchase.
Create in-store VIP experiences
Your SMS subscribers are some of your most loyal customers. Reward them with exclusive experiences and perks to encourage them to visit your store.
Offer subscribers first access to special events
Let your SMS subscribers be the first to sign up for special in-store events and pop-ups—including collaboration launches or complimentary consultations. Invite them to buy tickets before anyone else, and send a follow-up text to subscribers who haven’t reserved their spot yet.
Send a secret code
Give subscribers the VIP treatment by sending them a secret code they can redeem for a surprise in-store perk. You can use this fun promotion to gain new subscribers, too. Tease the offer with in-store signage that prompts shoppers to sign up for texts using a TTJ keyword. Include the secret code in their welcome message so they can take advantage of it right away.
Amplify your digital channels with SMS
During the holidays, your SMS program shouldn’t work in a silo. Instead, it should be connected to your other channels and integrated into your overall marketing strategy to help you increase performance.
Sync your data to personalize messages across channels
Connect the dots between your digital channels by integrating your SMS program with your ESP, loyalty program, and CRM. Once your data is integrated, you can begin orchestrating messages across your channels. You can also build custom segments to target messages to shoppers who are subscribed to multiple channels.
Build segments based on engagement
If a subscriber is interacting with you on another channel—such as email, your loyalty program, paid ads, and social media—personalize your messages to recognize that engagement. For example, send subscribers who are opted into your loyalty program messages about new rewards and exclusive offers. Send subscribers who aren’t signed up yet an invitation to join and start taking advantage of perks.
You can also target messages based on where subscribers are in the shopping funnel. For example, send an incentive to subscribers who recently signed up for texts via paid ads to encourage them to make their first purchase.
Pair email and SMS to drive action
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: email and SMS are one of the most iconic duos. Building a messaging strategy that takes advantage of each channel’s unique benefits will help you drive conversions and create a cohesive experience.
Because SMS marketing is so immediate, it’s great for in-the-moment reminders or time-sensitive offers. Email is great for longer-form visual storytelling, making it the perfect channel to highlight the story behind new products and best sellers.
You can also use email and SMS together during promotional periods to make sure you never miss an opportunity to engage shoppers. Drive immediate traffic by first sending subscribers a text message announcing the sale. Then, send an email to those who haven’t purchased yet once the sale is in full swing. Don’t forget to encourage last-minute shoppers to complete their orders with a “final hours” text message.
This strategy works for abandoned cart reminders, too. Send a text message 30 minutes after a shopper abandons their cart. If they still haven’t purchased after four hours, send an email reminding them of what they left behind.
Nurture brand loyalists
Create segments of your most loyal SMS subscribers, whether they’re part of your loyalty program or are considered a “VIP” based on spend or previous engagement. Then, reward those subscribers with exclusive perks, including:
- Behind-the-scenes looks at products and collections on your blog
- Invitations to members-only events, from Instagram Lives to exclusive after-hours shopping events
Target subscribers when they’re most engaged
Capture shoppers’ attention with a triggered post-purchase message sharing educational content. Once the shopper has received their purchase and has had time to enjoy it, invite them to leave a review on your brand’s website or tag you on Instagram with pictures of their product.
Help hybrid shoppers choose their own adventure with SMS marketing
Whether your subscribers complete their holiday shopping in-store, online (or a combination of both), having an SMS marketing strategy that supports hybrid shopping journeys will be key to achieving your goals this season.
Looking for more holiday education and inspiration? Explore our Holiday Marketing Reboot for SMS tips and examples, interviews with leading marketers, an SMS template discovery quiz, and more.