Text Marketing Helps Brick-and-Mortar Brands Reimagine Digital Interactions
Marketers are facing two transformative forces.
Collecting first-party data has become an urgent priority as brands seek new ways to identify and connect with consumers thanks to moves against third-party cookies and mobile device identifiers.
And with COVID cases continuing to wax and wane and wax again, many consumers now prefer to engage digitally with grocery, retail, and quick-serve restaurant (QSR) brands including online ordering and customer service. Buying online and picking up at the store (BOPIS) remains hugely popular. Chipotle says half of its orders are now digital and is opening branches that are remote ordering/pickup only.
As a result marketers are racing to update their technology stack to catch up to consumer expectations.
But digital ordering and communications via websites tend to be cumbersome due to cobbled together point-of-sale (POS) and online ordering solutions. App retention has proven challenging, with 95 percent of apps abandoned within 90 days of being downloaded. And push notifications? As much as 60 percent of consumers have them turned off. Meanwhile, email inboxes are flooded and too slow for timely receipt of promotional offers or for the back-and-forth of ordering. The question, then, is how do retail and restaurant brands adapt quickly to meet consumer expectations for real time digital interaction?
Taking Control of Digital Relationships
Despite its popularity with consumers, the one channel that marketers have been slow to adopt is text messaging. While business use grew 20 percent as a result of the pandemic, only 3 percent of registered businesses worldwide are using text messaging to communicate and transact with customers.
Which is surprising given its natural fit for business-to-consumer communications. There’s no app to download. The text messaging app is natively installed on mobile phones and is used more often than any other app. A whopping 98 percent of text messages are opened and the typical text message is read in 90 seconds (compared to 90 minutes for email).
Brick-and-mortar brands that have implemented text messaging as part of their technology stack are finding its two-way communication greatly improves the online ordering and pickup experiences. Imagine the ease of texting your order to a restaurant? Or when you arrive to pick up food, text “HERE,” and your order can be immediately delivered to your car.
Consumers are far more likely to opt in for promotions via text. A simple five-digit shortcode is all it takes to opt in. Brands can confirm opt-in with the user to guard against accusations of spamming, and a brand’s texting platform can be integrated with POS, loyalty, email, and social media efforts, in order to ensure marketing and fulfillment campaigns are personalized and integrated for the best consumer experience.
More than half of consumers want a text relationship with their favorite brands so that they can receive promotional offers via text.
And text messaging can drive participation in a brand’s other digital channels: 72 percent of consumers confirm that they would be more likely to sign up for a loyalty club through text message.
And of course, there’s a bottom-line payoff for brick-and-mortar retailers to build their own media channel using text messaging. In Mobivity’s 2021 Restaurant Text Marketing Benchmarks Report, we found that text marketing subscribers visit stores 44 percent more frequently than nonsubscribers. And once a consumer joins a restaurant’s text messaging program, the guest’s spending increases 23 percent. Measured over six months, a text subscriber can be valued at $12.15 on average in incremental revenue.
Personalized, Consent-Based One-to-One Interaction
Text marketing also helps solve for the other big transformative impact, helping brands transition to marketing built around consent-based, first-party data. It’s the fastest, least-friction path to building a first-party digital audience of engaged consumers.
And first-party data is critical because of the phaseout of third-party cookies and mobile device identifiers. Although Google has postponed the death date for its support of third-party cookies, the end is coming, and Apple has already begun forcing consumers to proactively opt in to share device location (and 95 percent of consumers are choosing not to). On top of that many state-driven privacy laws are becoming the norm for a broad, consent-based umbrella of standards governing the utilization of user data.
This Multichannel World
To be clear, the case for text messaging doesn’t discount the value of other channels. Websites, apps, and email are all part of the mix. But consumers are married to their phones and to text messaging, and they are increasingly having text-messaging-based conversations with brands they enjoy.
Marketers can’t afford to force any channel on users, but today’s multichannel consumers now see text messaging as a grown-up channel for marketing and commerce, giving every smartphone-owning user a direct line to ordering and offers.
Chuck Moxley is senior vice president of marketing at Mobivity. He is a marketing leader with 25-plus years of experience developing innovative marketing programs for dozens of B2B/SaaS companies and consumer brands. Moxley is one of the nation’s leading experts on the convergence of technology and marketing and co-author of Audience of One, a book on breakthrough marketing strategies to change consumer behavior and drive revenue.