Transforming Brick-and-Mortar Visitors into Digital Customers with SMS Opt-Ins

Jennie Lewis Sr Manager, Customer Insights

When it comes to SMS marketing it’s essential to understand the best ways to give your customers a clear experience that feels on-brand—and boosts sales. This is especially essential for brick-and-mortar brands like retailers and restaurants. 

Two major components of that experience are awareness (letting your customers know that SMS is an option) and onboarding (getting the opt-in). 

I recently visited a pharmacy chain store and was asked if I would like to opt in to receive their text messages. I spent the next few minutes trying to complete the opt-in process, which wasn’t exactly smooth. After trying to navigate multiple required steps, duplicate confirmation screens and a three-minute interruption while checking out, it was easy to see how most customers might give up at any point during the process. 

It doesn’t have to be this hard. And the upside is huge: motivating customers to receive SMS messages while they’re in your space can create more opportunities to get to know them, spark loyalty and encourage additional sales — both digital and in-person.

So how can brands take advantage of their foot traffic to motivate customers to connect on via SMS? 

First, make sure it’s incredibly simple to sign up. Set up your SMS opt-in to allow customers to: 

  1. Text a short code or a keyword to a number to opt in
  2. Use interactive QR codes that automatically compose an opt-in message and make opt-in a breeze. 

1) Spark SMS Interest with Signage and Calls to Action in the Store 

The moment customers enter the store, they should see reminders of the benefits of signing up for SMS promotions. Use signs, fliers and posters that feature positive messages showing how easy it is to register and start enjoying the perks: describe program benefits, registration instructions and easy-to-remember steps. 

While customers are waiting in line to check out, be sure to remind them to sign up and opt in. Leaving printed info cards near the checkout area also gives customers a chance to learn more and opt in later. 

2) Make Use of the Register Experience

When customers reach the register, sales associates can help them opt in by keeping the process clear and simple. Let the customer self-serve their opt-in on a pin pad, entering and confirming their own phone number, rather than continuing the opt-in process on the register. 

When integrated with your point of sale (POS) system, Airship technology will send a confirmation message to the consumer to confirm their opt-in. There’s no need to require the double opt-in confirmation at the register, which will let the sales associates focus on the transaction taking place. 

3) Remind Customers of Opt-in Keywords or QR Codes on Mailers and Receipts

Brands have lots of opportunities to remind customers about the value of opting in. Consider adding opt-in instructions to: 

  • Direct mail fliers
  • Package inserts
  • Instructions
  • Credit card statements
  • Receipts
  • and more! 

This gives your customers time and opportunity to sign up before or after visiting your store. 

Test out multiple keywords and codes to test out which one is the most effective. You could even incentivize sales associates to drive opt-ins by giving them unique keywords. 

Don’t Forget About Other Digital Channels, Too

In short, keep the SMS registration process simple and stress-free while keeping the customer’s checkout experience smooth and easy. Show them reminders while they’re in line and allow them to enter their number and the register and finish the process with Airship technology. Positive, clear communication will keep them coming back. 

You’re not limited to brick-and-mortar experiences to get SMS opt-ins. Email is a great way to let your customers know about text messages, and SMS works really well when combined with other channels such as your app or mobile wallets. You can learn more about SMS Power combos in this webinar and for more SMS inspiration, download our free SMS playbook to see examples of how you can use SMS marketing to wow your customers at every moment of the customer lifecycle. 


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