How to Use SMS Text Messaging for Retail Marketing

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So much of retail success comes down to the customer experience. It’s not just about the goods you provide or the service you offer, but about both of those and a whole lot more coming together.

Text messaging (SMS) can be the glue that makes them all stick, and that’s why I’m going to walk you through five ways to use text messaging for retail marketing and sales.

These tips will help you create a fantastic customer experience while increasing your sales and customer loyalty, too!

How does text messaging fit into the customer experience?

People use their smartphones for everything these days, especially shopping.

They pull out their phones to search for stores nearby, to buy things from the comfort of their couch, and even to compare products online while inside a store (which is something about 82% of smartphone owners do).

Smartphone Usage While in Stores

PC: ThinkWithGoogle

There are lots of ways to take advantage of this mobile shopping experience - and I’m going to show you several - but texting is a great fit because there’s no heavy lifting.

You don’t need a developer, designer, or any other tech specialist. You just need a phone number that can receive texts and a few ideas, like the ones I’m about to share with you.

5 Ways to Use SMS Text Messaging for Retail Marketing and Sales

1. Grow your subscriber list (or build a customer loyalty program) with keywords.

You want to grow your list of customers, and you want those customers to shop with you again and again. Keywords are great for this.

What is a keyword? A keyword is a word or phrase you create. When someone texts that word or phrase to your number, two things can happen:

  • You can automatically send them a response, like a coupon code or URL
  • That person will be automatically added to that keyword’s list of subscribers (opt-ins), which you can send texts to at anytime in the future.

So how can you use keywords? One option is to put signs or displays around your store that say:

Text [HOME] to (423) 218-0111 for a 20% discount on [these items]!

When someone texts you the keyword, you automatically send them a coupon to use at checkout. You could send a coupon code or coupon image, and you can use your current business number to make things easy.

Create a Keyword in Text Request

Not only does it drive in-store sales that day, it helps you grow your subscribers list for future promotions (which I'll get to in a moment).

Talk to someone about setting up keywords for your store by visiting our Demo page.

2. Share ideas and recommendations through picture messages.

A lot of people want help deciding what to get.

Will this look alright? Do you have this in a different color? These are common questions people have before they buy, and a picture is worth a thousand words (or more) during your explanations.

Depending on what goods you sell, you can use one of the lines below online, in-store, or even in a conversation you initiate:

Text us a picture of the space, and we'll send you ideas for how to fill it!

Want this in a different color or size? Text a picture of it to (423) 218-0111 to see if we’ve got it!

We price match! Text us a screenshot of the lower price, and we’ll match it. 😁

Richard Branson Customer Experience Quote

People can text you from their couch or in-store, you can send a few ideas back-and-forth, and they can come pick up the items they want in-store (or purchase online).

This is a customer experience retail consumers love.

Related: 15 Unique Conversation Starters to Drive Customer Communications

3. Promote sales and new arrivals with campaigns.

99% of texts are read, usually within a few seconds, so texting subscribers and past customers about current promotions is a fantastic way to increase sales and loyalty.

In fact, this is a great opportunity to text everyone who opted-in through your keywords in point #1.

Let's say you've got a weekend sale going on. You can send a text like:

Happy Labor Day Weekend! We're celebrating by offering 40% off everything in store! Come by Sat-Sun 8a-7p, or shop online at

You will drive traffic and purchases, because you’ll be able to get your message in front of your entire audience instantly.

Talk to someone about setting up campaigns for your store by visiting our Demo page.

4. Provide better customer service faster than competitors through Click-to-Text.

Most local Google searches come from mobile devices, and people would rather text your business than call - especially for customer service questions like:

  • What are your hours?
  • Do you price match?
  • Where’s my package?

These are easy to answer via text, and an option called Click-to-Text lets you add a text messaging option to your Google business listing, website, Adwords ads, and Instagram profile.

Google Business Messaging

(There’s also an SMS chat option, so customers can text you from their desktop or laptop computers, too.)

Related: How to Integrate Click-to-Text with Your Website and More

Anywhere from 50%-75% of local mobile searches turn into in store visits, so this is a great way to drive sales (and outcompete competitors). And after you answer customers’ questions, you can text them to ask for a review.

5. Earn more online reviews (up to 18X more through text than email).

People want to trust your business before they buy from you. The good news is most people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family - you just have to get more online reviews.

Businesses that ask for online reviews report better results through text than through emails or spoken requests. The average click-through rate for texts is also 18X higher than that of emails, which gives you lots of room for improvement.

Text for a Review

So whenever you give a customer a good experience (maybe after you deliver furniture to their home, or help them find that one item they couldn't find anywhere else), send them a text like:

Hey Cheryl, glad to work with you today! Would you please leave us a Google review? It will help us a lot. Thank you!

From there it's simple. When you get more reviews you'll get more customers.

Related: How to Write Professional Text Messages Your Customers Will Love

How do I start texting for retail marketing and sales?

You have two options:

Option 1: Start right now.

Everything mentioned in this article can be done through Text Request. Text Request is an online texting tool. You can create an account and start texting with your current business number by choosing a plan on our Pricing page.

It only takes a moment, and you don’t even have to talk to anyone!

Option 2: Talk to someone first.

If you want to talk through how texting would work for your business, or even see a demo of how Text Request works, just grab a time with one of our experts on our Demo page.

If you have any other questions, you can always text us by clicking the floating message bubble on this page, or visit our Contact page.