As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, businesses are being hit hard and especially the retail sector. The growth estimate for the retail sector in 2020 is expected to be halved.
Fashion, furniture, and electronics retailers will be hit hardest as consumers’ buying behavior is in favor of stocking up on food and household essentials.
It’s been nearly two months since the government imposed COVID-19 quarantine along with multiple restrictions. This has created a demand for shopping online.
As a result, the government has liberalized certain restrictions considering the deteriorating economic condition and the sufferings of the people.
Using this situation, most of the retailers have already plunged into online marketing strategies to stay connected with the customers.
How to get your retail store back on the right track?
Because of the current economic situation, the growth of online shopping is more in the last 2 months than in the last 2 years.
It is important for retailers to remain connected and communicate with their customers to ensure they can easily access their products and services. But, how to do that is the big question that arises in the minds of the retailers.
Customers have now chilled on email newsletters and online ads. So retailers are looking for new channels to connect with customers where they aren’t sick of hearing from brands.
One such channel which is becoming more popular among retailers is the online text message.
Retailers can use text marketing in a myriad of ways, including conveying about their products and services available during the lockdown, their service timings, and more.
How SMS marketing helps retailers during the COVID-19 crisis?
If you are a retailer and you’ve never heard of text marketing, it is worth taking a look at this article. SMS marketing lets you send multiple broadcasts through text from an online platform.
Two-way online text messages make it easier to engage your customers in a one-on-one conversation.
If you want to send important information about the pandemic, a flash deal, or details on your delivery method, SMS marketing offers a fast and cost-effective solution.
Best practices for text marketing during this crisis
Emotions are running high. Therefore, you must be very careful and consider all the possible consequences of what you deliver through your message.
Everything you do now will be ingrained in the minds of the customers with whom you do your business.
Take time to create a plan about what you are going to communicate through messages and how you are going to do it.
Consider these best practices of text marketing to help your retail brand stay afloat in these uncertain times.
1. Real-time communication is paramount
Communication with your customers should be instant. Sudden breaking news can have a direct impact on your business and interrupt your customers access to your business.
So, be proactive and have your messages drafted and readily available. Such prompt messages sent to the customers will be really appreciated and will build trust in your brand.
2. Keep it positive
This crisis has made people more stressed and scared. Use this as your chance to be a safe haven for your customers. Do not be salesy and focus on positive solutions that can enhance effectiveness.
Share messages about what your business is doing to help them, how much their support means to you, what is your contribution towards the crisis, and more.
List out all your current capabilities that can be of great help or give value to your customers.
For example, send messages like how you are arranging the delivery to the customers while keeping up with the social distancing and cleaning procedures.
This approach can build strong loyalty among your customers.
3. Understand your customers’ concerns
This uncertain situation is evolving rapidly and the demands of the customers are wavering associated with the pandemic.
If you want your business to stay buoyant, you should be able to understand your customers’ concerns.
If you can provide the on-demand item that your customer needs, let them know through your text messages as quickly as possible.
Tailor your messages according to your customers’ needs.
4. Create a proper structure
As already stated, organize your contacts and create a list with whom you need to communicate. Then segment your customers into separate lists.
Next, use simple SMS messages to communicate and avoid vague statements. Avoid sending the same message about the pandemic.
Send a simple yet powerful socially responsible messages that could reward your brand. Have a well-thought-out communication procedure and guidelines.
5. Alleviate Challenges
With the current economic uncertainty and higher chances of recession ahead, it is natural that you want to pinch the pennies anywhere and everywhere you can.
However, in order to slash your expenses, cutting your ties with loyal contractors and service providers can harm your retail business.
Because they are the people who are willing to take on the battle with you and will help you overcome this crisis.
Before deciding to cancel any services, have an open talk with your partner on how to overcome the challenge together.
This assures them that you value their relationship and in turn, they can help you serve your customers better during this quarantine.
6. Focus on Human-centric messages
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the economy and individuals so hard.
As a consequence, human-centric messages are more important for companies.
Especially, retail companies like those distributing grocery retail and other products for which there is an increase in consumption, this approach is crucial.
Remaining sensitive and genuine by incorporating the human element into your text marketing messages can help you achieve your sales target and improve profit.
7. Send palatable promotions
Sending conventional promotions about your flash deals and seasonal offers are considered intrusive during this pandemic. It is better to avoid sending new promotions this time.
Understand your customers’ sufferings and your promotions should reflect that. For example, you can send the locations where you have started the delivery of your products.
Also, send a promotional message stating that a percentage of the sales will be donated for charity purposes. This creates a win-win scenario.
8. Consistency counts
Send out text messages regularly. But do not spam your customers’ inbox with messages. If you have a proper SMS marketing strategy in place, schedule the messages to be sent out to the customers.
You can also draft the messages to be sent at times of emergency and keep it ready.
If you don’t have consistency in your online text message strategy, this is the right time to include it. This means sending text messages on a weekly basis.
To sum up: How to use SMS to reach customers now
Staying connected is more important now to keep your business in the minds of the customers.
With higher open rates and response rates, a text message is considered the ideal way to connect with your customers during this emergency situation.
Consistency, frequency, and accuracy should be the key factors that you should keep in mind while using SMS marketing for your retail business.
This situation won’t last forever, but the way you connect and communicate with customers now may leave a lasting impression that will help build your business after the lockdown.
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I am Susan Raj, Marketing Head of TXTImpact provides Business Text Messaging products for marketing and support customers to increase your client base. Our Enterprise Text Message Marketing Platform designed for your business, allows marketers to communicate and engage customers on the go instantly.