Text Messages: A Key Channel for Engaging and Retaining Customers

by The Kanatrak Team 2019-08-01

Text messages are one of the most under-utilized, yet effective, marketing channels. Find out how to increase customer engagement through text message campaigns.

Bags and cards - sales

Similar to alcohol and tobacco, the cannabis industry faces strict regulations through most advertising and marketing channels. Even in states that have legalized cannabis, it is still up to the federal government to determine what, where and how cannabis brands can advertise. Even with social media channels, cannabis storefronts using platforms such as Facebook or Instagram are at risk of having their accounts closed, as these popular channels often state in their terms of services that accounts cannot be used to promote the use or sale of illegal drugs, regardless of the fact they are operating in a legalized state. However, these marketing challenges have encouraged the birth of new marketing trends and new methods for building customer loyalty around strict regulations. Text messages is a new key channel that cannabis retailers seem to miss.

Why text messages?

Text messages are one of the most under-utilized channels: 89% of customers wish businesses would use messaging services, with 49% of surveyed customers preferring communication through SMS. Despite clear customer preferences for instant messaging channels, less than 30% of consumers in the cannabis industry actually receive and interact with brands through text messaging, revealing a gaping hole in customer engagement strategies

Within 3 minutes of receiving a message, 95% of customers will open and read your message.

Furthermore, customer engagement rates through text messages are substantially higher than that of other channels. Within 3 minutes of sending a message out, 95% of customers will open and read the message. SMS marketing response rates are 8 times higher than that of email marketing, and even more so than that of push notifications which are usually just ignored.

The majority of customers want messaging services with businesses, and studies have shown much higher engagement rates with text messages. With such compelling statistics supporting the use of SMS marketing, it’s honestly mind boggling how this marketing channel remains unused.

Despite the glowing image of an untouched marketing channel, there are still some best practices to keep in mind to ensure the highest customer engagement rates and build customer loyalty. We will cover a handful of simple tips to ensure your customers enjoy - not swipe away - your texts.

Messaging best practices

1. Include a clear message and a call to action

Keep it short and sweet: one text message is 160 characters long. With this space, it’s important to clearly communicate your message and end with a motivating call to action for your customer to act on. For example, a concise, engaging message could look similar to:

Just in -- and you’re the first to know. We’ve got a fresh batch of Lemon Jack. Reserve now before it runs out!

2. Personalize text messages based on categorical interests and purchase history

79% of consumers believe that personalized services from a sales associate is an important factor in determining which store they choose to shop at. A simple way to remind consumers of great personalized service are personalized messages.

CRMs such as Kanatrak record your customer’s interests and purchase history. Knowing this information, you can target your text messages with great precision rather than messaging everyone in your customer base. Highly personalized text messages are more likely to engage the recipient and create a more personalized experience both in-store and out-of-store. For example, someone who regularly purchases vape cartridges and hasn’t been in-store for three months might appreciate a message such as:

We miss you, Dominic! Come restock your favourite vape cartridges this week, and we’ll give you 15% off your purchase!

3. Include the “human factor”

Avoid presenting your storefront as only a store - show your customers that you’re a caring, cannabis enthusiast like them! All interactions between your customer and brand - including long-distance messaging - builds the customer’s perception of your brand and influences their feelings of loyalty. Including a human factor helps build rapport and sets your shop apart from other brands that - outwardly - appear only to focus on sales.

What better way to spend the summer than to wake and bake in the sun? Come celebrate with us at our Smokin’ Summer Sale with BOGO deals across the store!

4. Create value with educational content

Not every text message has to be a blatant marketing effort with discounts and deals. Build trust in your brand by offering valuable tips and tricks to help customers gain more value from your products. For example, customers who bought a flower strain new to your shop might appreciate a text similar to:

Thank you for trying our new edibles! We thought you might enjoy a couple recipes to pair and spice up your eating sesh. [Link recipes here] We hope you enjoy!

5. Stay in compliance

As with any marketing channel, it’s important to be aware and remain in compliance with regulatory practices. You can find a handy guide to SMS marketing regulations here. In a nutshell, these are the bare-bone basics of text message rules to abide by:

  1. Customers must consent to receiving messages. Otherwise, it is considered spam under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
  2. Vendors must provide complete terms and conditions, privacy policy, and opt-out instructions to customers
  3. Remain within the scope of your customer’s interests. If they sign up to hear about concentrates alone, then don’t advertise your new flower strain to them.

So will text messages solve all my marketing problems?

While text messages are certainly a great marketing channel for building customer engagement, it is not the sole solution to all shops’ marketing needs. Text messaging compliments and enhances other customer engagement channels by extending the brand’s reach outside of the physical store. For example, loyalty programs are a time-tested method for building customer loyalty, but customers only engage with the program in-store. By maintaining contact with customers even after they walk out the door, you not only remind your customers of your shop, but also show that you value them as customers.