Using Mobile for Retail Marketing

Of all the businesses affected by the economic downturn, retailers have likely suffered the greatest losses. Declines in expendable income have resulted in a loss of sales for non-essential purchases. Retailers that have survived the last few years need new ways to reach customers and climb back to financial stability. Mobile marketing is one of the most affordable and cost-effective tools available. For $100 or less, you can have a simple mobile text (sms) program operating within a day, a program that is powerful, flexible, and provides trackability.

The infrastructure of an sms program is minimal. It requires that you sign up your business for a delivery program, and an avenue for customers to opt into your program. Customer opt-in occurs either via direct text message (for example, “Text ‘Faboffers’ to 88222.”), your business website, or through a Quick Response (QR) code scanned by the customer’s mobile device. The programs can be very simple, or can request more detailed information from a subscriber, such as gender, age range, zip code. This data can be prove invaluable in enabling you to refine your messages and track your program’s effectiveness.

The most costly aspect of managing a text message marketing program is time. A good text messaging program should be integrated into and coordinated with traditional marketing. This requires advance planning and set-up; indeed, text messages can be configured for delivery weeks – even months – in advance. However, text messages are far more flexible than traditional marketing when it comes to last-minute reminders and unexpected opportunities and events; and with their high open rate (94%, compared to 35% for e-mail), there is a much greater chance people will see your message.

While we think of these programs as being simple, short texts, there are actually a number of options available. Premium messaging allows for voice or video recordings, images, links to featured products and specials, polling options and loyalty programs. An exciting option is mobile couponing, a service that creates either a text or image coupon coded individually for each recipient. When a customer redeems the coupon, the unique code allows the retailer to assess the effectiveness of the campaign, as well as identifying which customers are responding to their messaging. While images do increase the cost of a message, they can be more effective than simple text. Furthermore, they allow you to reward regular customers with special offers. The use of messaging is limited only by your imagination, but it starts with the infrastructure and the ability to build a distribution list.

To build that list, many merchants provide incentives for customers who sign up for their message program. ‘Chance to Win When You Opt-In’ campaigns, or immediate special offers or discounts are some common examples. On-the-spot sign ups can be procured at the point of purchase using a tablet device with a registration form. For street traffic, a retailer can promote their program with signage and a QR code that links directly to a mobile version sign-up page (when linking to online content, it is strongly recommended that pages are displayed in a mobile-friendly format with click navigation and no need for pinch to zoom). Print ads and flyers should include opt-in codes and/or a scannable QR code. Again, integrating traditional and mobile efforts is key.

Using messaging as a mobile marketing option for a retail business can be cost-effective and can provide an immediate and trackable return on investment. Messages are viewed by the most targeted of audiences – customers that have expressly allowed personal access to them through their smartphone or tablet. Compare this with a broad spectrum campaign like a newspaper ad where there is no guarantee that an advertisement is seen by anyone who cares. Examine and evaluate the costs and returns on current promotional efforts and decide what makes the most sense for investment of limited marketing dollars. Investing in a balance of traditional (print/radio) and non-traditional (mobile/messaging) marketing supports new customer acquisition as well as repeat business and customer loyalty.

Central NY Mobile Marketing provides messaging programs for businesses with options for guidance and support to develop and implement campaigns. We also provide website development services and conversion of business websites to mobile format. Administrator training in the use of all our products is included in every contract. For more information, visit the website at or contact Susan O’Handley, Central NY Mobile Marketing at 607-643-5680 or by email at