Webinar On-Demand: 5 Best Practices for Increasing Holiday Sales and Customer Engagement with Text Message Marketing

TapOnIt, the leading visual SMS and multi-image MMS vendor, held a live event hosted by Sara Castillo, TapOnIt’s Co-Founder and President, covering the five best text marketing practices you can easily implement so that your brand can increase sales and customer engagement during the 2023 holidays. Watch the replay of the webinar or read a summary below. Let’s jump in!

We’re going to talk through 5 things today that you should be doing or paying attention to when it comes to increasing holiday sales and engagement through text:

  1. Implementing an effective Welcome Campaign
  2. Making sure you are thinking about your market & audience habits
  3. How to reach new customers by incentivizing referrals
  4. Getting creative with unique engagement & personalized content
  5. Having a clear and easy next step to conversion

1. Implement an Effective Welcome Campaign

What happens once someone signs up for your text messages? What experience are they having? They just gave you their cell phone number, which is a very personal piece of information, so make sure you’re giving them a great first impression, otherwise you run the risk of them opting out, or not being engaged until the next time you send a standard text campaign. 

Whether they join through your website pop-up, which is going to be your most successful way to get opt-ins, or if they join through a landing page or QR code, you want to engage your new subscribers right away.

Implement an Effective Welcome Text Campaign

Send things like a “thanks for joining” message, new subscriber discounts, and your contact card to set expectations for your text club. You can even set up creative welcome flows for different seasons, holidays, or promotions you have going on. For example, an exclusive Black Friday welcome campaign is a fun and unique user experience to drive opt-ins and engagement! 

Speaking of black friday…Putting an exclusive offer into your welcome campaign is a great way to incentivize signs up and track ROI…Offering something like 10% off your purchase when you sign up for texts is a great way to draw in new subscribers. Then, once they join, they can automatically receive their discount code.

A recent study shows that, on average, text messages with coupons have a nearly 4x higher conversion rate than those without them. So you can push those purchases by including something special. 

You should also be sure to send a contact card at the end of your welcome campaign so your subscribers can save your business name and logo. That way, when you send a text they know it’s coming from your brand, and it’s an extremely beneficial way to stay top of mind, your texts are searchable, and it can keep your texts from being filtered out into a promotional inbox. And most importantly, it gets your logo in their text inbox…think of how impactful that can be! Every time they are scrolling through their texts to find someone, they see your logo.  That’s great top-of-mind awareness!

2. Know Your Market + Audience Habits

I’ve signed up for so many different text clubs, and it’s crazy to me how many brands are missing the mark when it comes to this. Their texts look and sound nothing like the rest of their marketing and content. I won’t name names…but some really trendy, large luxury brands send texts that look so boring that I don’t even care what the message says and don’t even recognize that the text came from them.

This is such an easy thing to implement, and in order for your text campaigns to be successful, you need to make sure that your voice and branding through text are the same voice you use throughout all of your marketing in order to maintain authenticity. Your audience signed up for your texts because they love your brand, so make sure you are coming at them with the same content, verbiage, and tone that got them there in the first place.

Emojis, images, gifs, bolded and italicized fancy font, and frequency of text campaigns are all details that you should think of before you hit send. 

I know that might sound like a lot of work, but you’ve likely already created content for email, social media, etc., that can be adjusted a bit to go out in a text. You can also work ahead by setting up campaigns in advance.  

Last week, we had a conversation with one of our clients, Krystal, the fast food chain, and we were talking with Magie, who manages their text marketing, about her plans for September and she pulled up her campaign drafts and shared that she already had everything set up for the entire month. I asked her how she could work that far ahead. She said that she looks at the plan for email and social and crafts the messages from there. We also asked her how long it took, and she said, “ummmmm, like an hour?!” which is exactly how it should be! 

It doesn’t take long to get everything set up once you get the hang of things! It’s easy to set up drafts of your campaigns which helps you stay organized and work ahead, while being able to make last minute changes if needed before sending out the campaign.

Know Your Market & Audience Habits

Building off of that, let’s talk about content relevancy and timing. The goal here is to align your campaigns with when your audience is most likely to engage. Think of those pivotal moments such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Prime Day, and the days leading up to the holidays – they’re crucial for your strategy.

Like I said earlier, Amazon Prime Day was the 2nd week of October, so it will probably be around then this year too. Since they are trying to get ahead of the normal holiday shopping frenzy, you should too.

So, here’s the text strategy: As soon as Prime Day is announced, send out your text campaigns right before, during, and after. This approach capitalizes on your audience’s anticipation, encouraging them to explore what you have to offer before they get swept up in Amazon’s deals. But be sure to provide a compelling reason for them to choose you. Whether it’s a special discount, products they can only get from your brand, or reminding them to shop small, it’s a great way to engage with your customers and drive more opt-ins!

Crafting a robust plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is equally important. Treat your SMS subscribers like your VIP customers. So, if you plan on doing a Black Friday Cyber Monday sale that is applicable to all customers, open the sale to your SMS subscribers early. Send a text saying “early access” with a special code different than what you will use when you release the sale to everyone. This will make your subscribers feel special and will push them to buy early since they have access to all of your inventory before everyone else gets it. You could also tease this early access sale beforehand to increase opt-ins. Using messaging on your websites, social, etc that says something like “Sign up for text messages to get early access to all holiday sales!”. Just make sure to send a text on the day the sale is released to everyone, reminding your SMS subscribers that if they didnt shop during early access, they better shop now to take advantage of the sale.

Product Bundle Sales

A discount strategy that works really well is product bundles. It allows you to do much more with your existing stock, and customers feel like they’re getting a super unique and special discount. For example: Instead of buying just one eyeshadow during a single purchase, your customer can be given an option to buy an eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick as a bundle, making them purchase more than one product which in turn increases your average order value. Some bundles you could do are holiday-specific product bundles, mix-and-match bundles, or mini-sized bundles that are perfect for stocking stuffers.

Something else to keep in mind is the way you market your discounts. Easy to remember numbers tend to perform better. Having something like “33% off 3 items or more” is a memorable and unique discount. Mentioning the unit cost for consumables is also a great idea. If your vitamin container is $15, it sounds more affordable if you mention “less than $1 per day”.

As the holiday season draws closer, sending texts emphasizing shipping deadlines for timely deliveries so their orders arrive in time can drive quick conversions. Additionally, offering free shipping during this period can be a factor that helps people decide to shop with your brand over another.

Timely Shipping Texts

When it comes to what sort of texts to send out during these vital times, yes of course discounts and coupons are going to go over well, but it doesn’t only have to be focused on those things. You can push content like new products, restocked inventory, special holiday hours, upcoming events, style blogs, decorating tips, and one of my favorites–holiday gift guides.

The best part about including multiple pieces of content in a single text, which is something that is unique to TapOnIt, is that different things will resonate with different people. One person may care more about a discount for themself, while another person cares more about gift ideas, so they both will be able to find something from your text to engage with.

When it comes to when to send text campaigns, there really isn’t a proven day or time that works better than another because it varies based on your audience, but just think logically when sending out texts makes the most sense, and don’t forget about quiet hours between 9 pm and 8 am. Don’t be afraid to send multiple campaigns about the same topic. Maybe you use it to create a sense of urgency, and the first text says, “first 300 people to purchase receive a free gift,” then send a second text the next day that says, “only 100 left, shop now,” and then send a final text that says “last chance, shop before they’re all gone.” It will make them rush to purchase, and it makes it sound like you’re moving inventory. 

The last thing to consider is who you’re sending to. It may make sense to segment some of your campaigns to specific audiences. The more data you’ve collected about your audience, the more personalized and relevant you can get with the content you send to them.

Text message location targeting

A great example of this is utilizing location. If you’re a multi-location brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce store, if you collect your subscriber’s zip codes when they join, you can segment your list and send different content based on where they live. For example, if someone lives in Florida, it might not make sense to advertise winter jackets to them. Or if one of your locations is doing a special sale that other locations aren’t, you can send a campaign to people within a radius of zip codes around the location. 

Every text marketing provider is different, though, and some might have additional ways to segment subscribers based on demographics and preferences, like TapOnIt’s Content Hub. Check-in with your provider to see if this is a feature you have access to so you can further personalize your texts and drive even more effective campaigns.

3. Reach New Customers by Incentivizing Referrals

We all know how powerful word-of-mouth and customer testimonials can be. When your audience helps spread the word about your business and products, it’s authentic, cost-effective, and doesn’t require much effort from your team. Let’s take that a step further and talk about what we like to call “word of thumb.” which basically means getting people to spread the word about your business digitally.

So, how do you make this happen? It’s all about giving them a reason to share. Encourage your fans by offering rewards like giveaways, special discounts, gift cards, or bonus offers that they can unlock when they share with their friends.

Incentivize Text Message Referrals

As your current customers and fans essentially become brand ambassadors or micro-influencers, great things happen. Not only do you create a community of like-minded shoppers, but your reach also expands without any extra costs or effort from you. This mix of engagement and rewards is the key to growing naturally in the digital age.

Sweepstakes are an especially fantastic way to grow and encourage sharing. Giving away some sort of prize incentivizes people to join and then encourages referrals by offering more entries when they share with their friends. Your prize doesn’t have to be over the top – something like a gift card or a sought-after item works well. You can also try the selfie sweepstakes option to get some user-generated content from your fans, where their entry includes a photo. This is also a fun way to play into the holiday season and run a themed giveaway like: “Text us your best Christmas pet photos for a chance to win”, or “Enter to Win a Festive Product Bundle,” “12 Days of Giveaways”, “Holiday Experiences,” or even “Charitable Givebacks.” Overall, it’s a great way to grow your database and boost audience engagement because everyone loves a chance to win something big or small.

SMS Sweepstakes

4. Get Creative with Unique Engagement & Personalized Content

Customers who experience personalized engagement with a brand are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to them and act as a promoter to non-customers. So make sure to take this opportunity to really engage with your audience creatively and personally! 

One super simple way is to add a subscriber’s name to your text message. Instantly, it feels like the sender knows you, right? It’s like a virtual handshake that makes you perk up and pay attention. Adding their name to a text message creates an immediate sense of connection and familiarity. It’s like a tailor-made experience in a one-size-fits-all world.

Get Creative with Unique Engagement and personalized text content

As I mentioned earlier, utilizing multi-image MMS helps show off your brand in a more vibrant, visual way, and in reality, it’s the easiest way to be creative in your text messages, so we recommend ALWAYS using MMS!! It drives way more conversions. Our studies show that a text message with 3 images has a 45% higher CTR than just a text-only SMS! Plus, they also have the lowest opt-out rate at just 0.06%.

So, making your text messages more visually appealing doesn’t just look better, but it helps drive actual revenue. The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words. When people get a text message with images, it will resonate with them more. Most businesses are focusing on just SMS in their text strategy, and at the end of the day, it’s pretty boring. If you want me to buy something from your new holiday line, show it to me, don’t just tell me about it. You would not post on social media without images. Why would you send out a text without them?

SMS vs MMS text threads

Yes, MMS is a little more expensive than just sending SMS, but the conversions make it worth it. TapOnIt’s platform allows you to include up to 9 images or a GIF, up to 5,000 characters, unlimited emojis, bolded and italicized font, and links, and it won’t be broken up and charged in segments. It will all be sent, delivered, and charged as 1 MMS message. Every vendor does it differently, though, so make sure you pay attention to how you’re being charged, so you can budget accordingly.

Something else to consider when wanting personalized engagement is ensuring you have automated triggers set. This is vital for helping save potentially lost sales and is triggered based on individual user actions. One of the most common triggers for online shopping is abandoned cart messages. Studies show that customers abandon over 77% of digital carts. That’s a lot of potentially lost revenue!

Triggered SMS

With an abandoned cart trigger, if someone puts something in their cart and then does not continue to checkout, you can automatically trigger a text message reminding them they left something in their cart and include the image of that product, so it’s not just  “Hey, you left something in your cart,” but actually “here is the adorable product you liked enough to put in your cart in the first place, you should click here and buy it!”

Studies show that sending a message within an hour of cart abandonment resulted in a 20.3% conversion rate. Think about what an extra 20% in sales will do to your bottom line…And I would highly recommend including some discount code if they complete their purchase by a certain date to create a sense of urgency and another reason to make the purchase right now.

Another interesting statistic about online shoppers is that 55% of shoppers abandon carts due to unexpected fees or shipping. So, if someone abandons a cart, set up a trigger to send them a free shipping coupon, and the chances of them deciding to complete the purchase are pretty high. You’ve probably seen the memes where it says, “I put $200 worth of stuff in my cart, go to buy it, and it tells me $8.99 for shipping. Nope, no way, click out.” It’s pretty silly, but we have all done it!

Abandoned Cart MMS

Offering real-time, 1:1 conversational messaging is another great way to have more personal engagement with your audience. If someone texts in a question, you can text them back with the answer they’re looking for, which is extremely beneficial for a good customer service experience. A question about a product or service could be holding them back from purchasing, so a quick real-time conversation could help increase sales. It depends on your platform, but we offer the ability to have automatic canned responses for frequently asked questions and the ability to set active hours so that 1:1 conversations don’t strain your team. Conversational messaging is also useful for wholesale businesses communicating with your retailers.

You can send out texts about new products, restocks, or promotions and have someone respond back if they want to place an order.

Another fun trend we’re seeing right now is using this feature as a poll or survey to get user feedback. So you could use it to ask ahead of time which products interest them the most or ask who they still need to shop for before the holidays.

Conversational Text Messaging

5. Have a Clear + Easy Next Step to Conversion

Make sure that whatever your text message is promoting the customer can easily take the next step towards conversion. Whether it is reading a blog, buying a specific product, or leaving a review, always include a link that takes them directly to what you want them to do next. Do not make it difficult for the customer to find the content you sent them. Also, if you can, automatically add the discount to their cart using a UTM so they don’t have to memorize a coupon code. Remember to use your link shortener to make the URLs in your text message trackable so you can see your CTRs.

If your text campaign promotes more than one piece of content, link them to your Content Hub! It houses all of the content you’ve sent out strictly through text, in chronological order, making it easy to find what interested them from your text. If you do have more than one piece of content in your text, it does not make sense just to send customers to the homepage of your site, where they have to navigate all around your website. As consumers, we have very short attention spans. So, make it easy for them to find exactly what you want them to see. Then, you can easily track engagement on each piece of content to see what your customers are clicking on and engaging with, and you can focus on what’s performing the best.

Content Hub for easy SMS conversion

Conclusion: Elevating Your Holiday Text Marketing Game

We hope this information helps lay the foundation for a transformative holiday sales strategy for your brand. By crafting effective welcome campaigns, aligning with your audience’s habits, incentivizing referrals, embracing creativity and personalization, and ensuring seamless navigation to conversion, you can tap into the full potential of text marketing to enhance customer engagement and boost sales.

If you’d like to talk further about your plans and goals,  and what might work best for your business,  you can schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us, where we can chat through some ideas and strategies based on our experiences, on how to make the most of this busy season and really enhance your customer engagement while also increasing sales!

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