Acquiring new customers is critical to business growth. This post is the second of a three-part series where we’ll show you how to get unknown visitors to opt-in or purchase online. Today, we’ll talk about how to do this by using offline (in-store) methods to funnel new customers to your app and to sign up via SMS.

Drive Mobile Conversions of In-Store Shoppers

If they weren’t a couple of years ago, the online and offline worlds are certainly becoming more blurred with each passing day. The advent of immersive, multi-dimensional technologies like AR/VR and IoT products are all merging what happens in the digital sphere with interactions that happen in the physical world. It’s easy to get caught up in the hoopla surrounding those kind of “bright and shiny” new technologies, but let’s not overlook what’s perhaps the biggest opportunity to link offline with online: mobile.

The reality is that most consumers today prefer to shop online, and online commerce is booming.

So, if you’re a customer-obsessed brand (even if you’re still driving sales in-store), you have to start thinking about how you can not only provide a viable e-commerce-optimized website, but also how you can start funneling traffic and driving conversions from in-store to online.

Augmenting, leveraging, and optimizing your mobile marketing strategy to achieve that is one option that not only works well, but that many brands are already experimenting with — I’ll share a few examples, too. Two ways brands are using mobile to drive new customer acquisition include:

  • Incentivizing brick and mortar shoppers to buy online, and
  • Incentivizing in-store shoppers to download your mobile app
twitter Use #mobile to drive new customer acquisition by incentivizing brick-and-mortar shoppers to sign up via #SMS or download your app CLICK TO TWEET

While we’ll focus on the former, let’s dive into how to achieve results using both of these methods. I also decided to test these tactics myself. So I wandered into the nearest mall, and found a few great examples of retail brands doing some pretty cool things urging in-store shoppers to sign up for SMS updates or download their app.

Converting Anonymous In-Store Shoppers and Website Visitors via SMS

From content consumption to multimedia viewership, and especially m-commerce, there are dozens of data points proving that mobile affinity is on the rise.

More and more people are shopping on their mobile device. Image source: QeRetail via eMarketer

Our mobile devices are attached to our hands, serving as an extension of almost everything we care about. We socialize, find entertainment, and make purchases from our phones… and have them on us at all times.

Consumers also have different preferences on how they want to sign up, opt-in, and purchase from your brand. While some may prefer desktop or email, others may very well prefer mobile — or be willing to take advantage of in-store SMS sign-ups if presented with a relevant offer.

Editor’s note: the purpose of this post is not to suggest that your e-commerce strategy should revolve around mobile or driving mobile conversions for in-store shoppers. It’s simply to share real-world retail examples and offer recommendations on how to incorporate mobile with the in-store experience.

Offer incentives for in-store shoppers to subscribe via SMS

One great way to get more sign-ups is to provide eye-catching signage (usually with a discount code) in your retail stores that encourages shoppers to sign up to receive SMS communications.

Display a discount code for SMS sign-ups within your stores.

Consider these 5 steps (plus examples) to help guide you when thinking about adding this tactic to your repertoire:

① Set up a sign in your brick-and-mortar store with a compelling incentive and call-to-action.

Depending on your strategy, you can offer different kinds of discounts for different programs, specials, sales, and more.

The most popular option today, based on what I was able to discover, seems to be prompting customers to sign up for a credit card in exchange for subscribing via SMS with a short code.

► Example: The Children’s Place

The Children’s Place offers retail shoppers a 30% off discount to apply for their card:

Image source: The Children’s Place, Circle Center Mall, Indianapolis, IN

► Example: Forever 21

Forever 21 offers a discount toward customers’ first regular priced purchase when they apply for its credit card via SMS.

Not only are they incentivizing customers to purchase with the discount, but they’re also getting new customers into their database, and developing a class of ultra-interested, loyal customers as indicated by subscribers’ intent to sign up for a brand credit card.

SMS Discount
Image source: Forever 21, Circle Center Mall, Indianapolis, IN

② Customers that decide to take advantage of the offer will send a text message with the code to the number displayed.

The text message is an indication of interest, and you’ve now begun your relationship with the new contact.

③ An automated response will be sent to the customer, leading to your landing page.

Since this step will be the same for every person that texts the code, it can be automated and uniform.

④ You’ll capture the anonymous shopper’s information as they convert and enter your database

This is where you’ll learn much more about who the new customer is, depending on how much information you want to seek at the entry point on your landing page.

► Example: Forever 21

I followed Forever’s incentive, and went through with texting the code. I got a response, and was able to convert.

Pro Tip: The fulfillment experience is even more important than the offer that piqued my attention. The brand follows through, and I received my automated response immediately, and was able to follow the link and seamlessly complete my registration.

► Example: Lucky Brand

Lucky Brand offers a similar discount code and process:

Luck Brand
Image source: Lucky Brand, Circle Center Mall, Indianapolis, IN

⑤ You can now use pre-defined SMS welcome campaigns to build a relationship.

The final step in this process is really just the beginning. It’s now time to begin a relationship with the new customer, which should be part of your larger acquisition strategy.

Offer special programs (loyalty, rewards) for in-store shoppers to download your app

Depending upon your digital strategy, marketing goals, and customer preferences, you may well prefer to drive customers to your mobile app.

The spike in mobile app downloads correlates with an increase in app revenue. Research shows that app revenue will rise from $69.7 billion in 2015 to $189 billion in 2020.

Torrid and Express, for example, prefer to drive customers to their mobile app for similar rewards and discounts as opposed to SMS.

► Example: Express & Torrid

Whether you decide to push shoppers to your app or to sign up for deals via SMS — or to use a strategic combination of both tactics — depends on your objectives and your customers’ behavior trends and preferences.

In Store App

Bonus Tip: Expanding Your Reach with SMS Online

You can also expand the scope of your communications – and conversion opportunities – with contacts already in your system and unknown web visitors when they’re on your website.

Leveraging your website to provide incentives to purchase can do two things:

  • Help you better understand existing customers (e.g. if known contacts sign up for SMS updates via a form on your website, they have an affinity for mobile and you can start to build a relationship with them via SMS), and
  • Provide another channel (in addition to, say, email acquisition boxes) by which unknown visitors can enter your system/purchase
Display a discount code on your website for customers who sign up to receive SMS offers.

Regardless of which tactic or which combination of mobile-related initiatives you ultimately opt to use, enabling different choices for consumers to share information and buy will spur more purchases, a larger and more engaged database that’s more inclined to buy, and get you closer to becoming truly omnichannel.

Final Thoughts

Converting anonymous in-store shoppers (or unknown website browsers) and boosting app downloads is tough enough. But by providing an option that’s easy and native to today’s digital-savvy, mobile-first consumer population, you’re able to cater to what people naturally love to do — interact on their smartphones.

By thinking a little bit outside of the box, you can use offline interactions to funnel customers to your online communications channels where you have more control over content and communications – turning potentially unknown store browsers to known database contacts for further nurturing.

Wherever shoppers are interacting with you, whether in your store or on your website, providing an option for them to opt-in to SMS communications or download your app is a solid tactic that can truly become one of the more powerful weapons in your digital marketing arsenal.

You can learn more about new customer acquisition and attend the free on-demand webinar, Customer Acquisition: Generating Business After GDPR.

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