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10 Tips for Creating an SMS Loyalty Program Customers Love

Feb 2, 2021

Nothing is more valuable to your company than a loyal customer. Devoted customers purchase consistently, refer new business and post positive reviews online. While it takes time to earn customers’ trust, the investment is worth it to gain their brand advocacy. One of the most effective ways to do that is with SMS loyalty programs.

Like most marketing strategies, the key is to connect your brand with the right people at the right time and in the right way. SMS has been taking the marketing world by storm thanks to its high deliverability and open rates, ease of implementation and customer engagement.

Ready to power up your text-based loyalty program? Keep reading and learn how to create an SMS loyalty program your customers will love. 

Get more text marketing tips in our 2021 SMS Marketing Guide

1. Ask Permission Before You Text

Nothing turns people away from your brand faster than receiving unsolicited texts. Per TCPA rules, you must attain express written consent from consumers before contacting them via SMS text. Texting consumers without their authorization can incur fines ranging from $500 to $1,500 per incident.

Give customers an easy way to opt in to your SMS messages, highlighting exclusive offers like discount codes and sale notifications. The more customers understand what’s in it for them, the more likely they’ll be to opt in.

2. Choose a Creative Name for Your Loyalty Program

As the song goes, “Let’s give them something to talk about!” You want to inspire customers to chat about your text-based loyalty program. One of the easiest ways to do that is to choose a creative name that reflects your brand and your program’s value to them.  

Your mobile loyalty program name should be short and easy to remember while also impactful and relevant. Think of Petco’s “Pals Rewards.” For your business, maybe it’s a “Fit Crew” text message loyalty program at a gym, “Bright Smile” group for a dentist’s office or “Market Insights Program” at a financial firm.

3. Determine What Rewards You Will Offer

You must define what you will offer customers before you ever ask them to opt in. “Free” and “freemium” offers crowd the media landscape, so customers are naturally wary of them. 

The more you can position your text-based loyalty program as a benefit to your customers, the better! Lead with exactly what they can expect from a rewards standpoint, and be upfront and transparent about any specific terms or conditions.

4. Offer an Incentive for Joining Your Text-Based Loyalty Program

Sometimes customers need an extra nudge to join your SMS loyalty program. Describe what specialty offers you will give them for signing up, whether it’s an additional percentage off your product, a free trial or another high-value item. 

Consider offering something that doesn’t have direct monetary value but is enticing, like giving them first notice of sales or new product releases.

5. Follow SMS Best Practices

Staying TCPA-compliant isn’t the only rule you need to follow. Here are a few other best practices to heed:

  • Define what your program promises at opt-in
  • Give a thoughtful purpose to each message with a compelling call-to-action
  • Make opt-outs easy 
  • Enable two-way texting 
  • Measure your results for continuous improvement

Remember, SMS loyalty programs are designed to benefit returning customers, not new ones. Make sure to keep your messaging and tactics focused on building and deepening engagement with your existing customer base.

6. Promote Your SMS Loyalty Program Everywhere

Your loyalty program is taking place over SMS, but you need to tell customers everywhere about it! Think of it as developing a separate sales funnel for your text message marketing program. How are you going to take people through the funnel to sign up? How and where will you build awareness, foster consideration and ultimately get them to subscribe? 

Here are some loyalty program promotion ideas:

  • Talk to current customers about it 
  • Display POS information in your retail store (if applicable) 
  • Send out an email blast 
  • Post to your social media channels 
  • Host a contest with a free prize 
  • Mention it at the end of a webinar

Be creative. Think about how and when your message will resonate best with repeat customers seeking more engagement with your brand. 

7. Decide on Text Frequency

Make sure your SMS frequency matches your brand, customer preferences and marketing initiatives. Texting every day might cause a significant number of opt-outs from people who are annoyed that your messages are crowding out texts from family and friends. 

But if you’re sending out a few texts a month giving them early access to sales and personal savings codes, they will likely be much more open to them. Decide what is right for your customers and brand. Talk with your customers or send feedback surveys (perhaps even over SMS), asking them to determine the communication frequency they prefer.

8. Get Creative

One of SMS and MMS’s most fun elements is the ability they offer to flex your creative muscles. While MMS allows more visual options (like images, GIFs, etc.), SMS still lets you get creative. 

Experiment with fun, personalized tones and messaging. While this might seem too informal for your other brand communications, you’re chatting with your engaged customers now on their phones. You can talk to them with a lot more personality than you might in other marketing channels.

9. Create Opportunities for Customer Engagement 

With SMS marketing, the opportunities for customer engagement are virtually limitless. From polls and trivia to personalized texts, the sky’s the limit! 

Consider sending out a poll for the featured coffee beverage of the month. Or reward the first 50 people who respond with the correct answer to a trivia question with a coupon code or prize. You can also send personalized texts and offers for customers’ birthdays and holidays. There isn’t a better way to get hyper-personalized messages straight to the customer, especially with the extraordinarily high conversion rates SMS offers. 

10. Always Track Your Results

As fun as it is to start engaging your customers through SMS, make sure you don’t skip over setting up KPIs and measurement tools. 

Knowing how successful your campaigns are will give you proof points that will fund future SMS marketing efforts and promotions. 

Here are some top SMS marketing KPIs to track: 

  • Subscriber Growth Rate
  • List Size
  • Click-Through Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Attrition Rate
  • Response Rate
  • Acquisition Cost per Subscriber
  • Return on Investment

Create Loyalty Text Messages With Textedly

Now that you understand how to create an effective SMS loyalty program — as well as how to follow SMS etiquette and compliance in every SMS campaign — you’re ready to get started! 

Textedly is a leading SMS marketing platform that provides simple SMS and MMS solutions for businesses. Try out an SMS loyalty program for yourself today -- no strings attached!

Begin here with a free 14-day trial of Textedly.