Fuel Loyalty Growth and Engagement Using SMS

By: Lindsay Jow


Customer loyalty marketing is a powerful tool to retain and grow your customer base and your business. One of the most critical components of this success is your ability to communicate with your customers when and where your customers prefer.  

The statistics around SMS are compelling. According to Attentive’s 2023 Global State of Conversational Commerce, 73% of marketers surveyed say SMS drives incremental revenue for their business. And 79% of marketers using SMS use it as a retention channel.  

SMS, like email and loyalty is a zero-party data source, allowing you to directly engage and retain a willing audience.  

Building your SMS Program 

To market your SMS program, I recommend creating in-store signage that explains how to join the SMS program to attract new members. You can also create special keywords for specific marketing initiatives and deals you want to promote outside of your regular marketing cadence.  

Make sure to integrate your SMS provider with your loyalty program so that new SMS subscribers are also initiating the process to sign up for the loyalty program and get the full benefits of loyalty to extend the value of SMS.  

When you first launch your SMS program, communicate this new option in your other messaging channels. If you don’t want to send an email purely for this purpose, add a section to other marketing emails announcing this new communication channel option for the first 2-3 months after launching your SMS program.  

Like with any communication channel, permission is critical. SMS as a channel feels even more personal than email, so make sure you take the time to understand laws around messaging and set up your program to comply accordingly. Not only is this important from a legal perspective, it’s also important from a branding perspective to maintain a trustworthy reputation with your customers.  

In order to retain new SMS program subscribers, create automation to ensure they receive more information about the benefits of being part of SMS. This will help reduce the number of people who swiftly unsubscribe from your program after receiving an initial sign-up benefit.  

Finally, set up keywords like HELP to provide an avenue for subscribers to get assistance with the SMS program should they have any questions or issues.  

Managing your SMS Program Long Term 

Beyond the basics of building your initial program, just like with any channel it’s important to prioritize segmenting your audience and personalizing the messages you send. When your SMS program is integrated with your loyalty platform, this becomes a no-brainer to execute upon.  

Take the time to send messages paired with compelling offers like coupon codes or early access to specific menu items to create added value for your customers who are not only part of the loyalty program, but also who have specifically opted into SMS.  

With SMS being one of the most personal communication channels, personalization is key. Consider using customer data to personalize your messages further. Addressing your customers by their name is a great place to start! Beyond personalizing your messages, take advantage of your integrated loyalty program to segment your messages and the offers associated with them based on past purchase behavior and level of engagement to drive better and more efficient results. 

In addition to personalization, another important component to a compelling SMS is the call to action. This is certainly challenging with the limitations on character count for SMS but is worthwhile as SMS is one of the most actionable messaging channels. 

I keep coming back to how personal SMS is, as this plays into every facet of how you manage your program. Moreso than any other communication channel, it’s important to mind your manners with SMS when it comes to timing and frequency of messages. Use caution to avoid sending messages too early or late in the day when the disruption may be more than an inconvenience depending on your customer’s time zone.  

It’s important to also be cognizant of how frequently you send messages. Not only could this induce message fatigue, but it could also lead to a higher opt-out rate for your program, hindering your ability to communicate with valuable customers.  

Finally, like with any marketing program, it’s important to track your ongoing performance and results! Data is a marketer’s best friend. Be sure to monitor key performance metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to refine your strategy as your SMS program grows and evolves.  

Checkout how the Punchh Platform helps brands drive customer acquisition and engagement. Request a personalized demo from a PAR Punchh loyalty expert today!  

  • Lindsay Jow

    Lindsay Jow, affectionately known as Professor Punchh, leads education and enablement initiatives at PAR Punchh. She helps marketers grow their loyalty programs and their marketing prowess through Punchh University, exclusive customer webinars, and more. Lindsay joined the PAR Punchh community in 2018 and has over a decade of experience in advertising and performance marketing, with a degree in advertising from UT Austin. She is based in Austin, TX and also loves to paint, travel, and make fancy popcorn.

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