When it comes to the world of brick-and-mortar retail shopping, Walmart stands alone as the global gold standard. In fact, with over 2.2 million employees worldwide and roughly $485.7 billion in annual sales, it’s hard to find another retailer that even comes close to stepping into the shadow of Sam Walton’s entrepreneurial masterpiece.
Even though the scale of Walmart’s retail prominence is well-known, you might not realize that this organization is also a leader in developing SMS marketing best practices and pushing the envelope of this communications channel. To help your brand follow in the footsteps of Walmart and truly build a lasting bond with its text-based following, here’s a look at how this retail giant continues to generate an impact via SMS outreach.
Mastering the Basics
The best place to start delving into Walmart’s mastery of the SMS world, according to Mickey Alan Khan of Mobile Marketer, is by looking at how this global powerhouse dominates the fundamentals of SMS marketing. In particular, we’re talking about smart, short, and poignant SMS offers and deals.
From covering limited time sales on cereal and soft drinks to spotlighting other everyday items, Khan notes that Walmart’s standard SMS content keys in on the most active and highly sought after general goods within its product catalog. Additionally, these texts focus on highlighting the deal – and relevant opt-out info – as swiftly and concisely as possible.
In other words, if your brand wants to text with customers like Walmart does, it’s time to set aside the “fluff” content and build lean, straightforward SMS messages.
Going Beyond SMS Offers and Coupons
Of course, any brand can run a halfway decent SMS campaign based around discounts and deals. Rising above these basic concepts and generating value in the same way as Walmart requires going beyond the bare minimum for your audience of mobile followers.
Specifically, Chain Store Age’s Dan Slavin points to this retail leader’s advanced SMS campaign tools as a prime example of this idea in action. To help customers stay on schedule and add a little convenience to the shopping experience, the team behind Walmart’s SMS operations offer up text-based receipt confirmations, product info, and even prescription refill reminders.
Slavin goes on to explain that Walmart has also augmented its SMS operations to tap into the rising trend of mobile retail apps. Sending the word “APP” to an in-store short code provides the consumer with a text-based link that helps this individual download the Walmart mobile app from the appropriate app store.
Even if your organization doesn’t cover these same services and products, the message here is still pretty clear: Going beyond the SMS marketing basics and adding extra utility to the customer experience is a great way to hit it off big with your contact list membership.
Exploring the Integrated In-Store Experience
In terms of pushing the borders of SMS marketing’s capabilities, the results of a competition held at the end of 2015 by WalmartLabs can give you a great idea of what to expect for the future of this outreach process. As Brielle Jaekel of Mobile Commerce Daily reports, this exercise by Walmart’s specialized marketing division culminated in a new SMS-based system that gives mobile phone users the ability to message an in-store number and receive product information and aisle locations.
Going a step further, the winning prototype also allows customers to connect with in-store associates and seek out additional information and assistance. Jaekel notes that this “full service” approach accommodates both smartphone users and the surprising amount of customers – particularly in the older demographics – that still use standard mobile phones.
Even though this system is still in development, the implications are far reaching and impactful for brands that wish to push the borders of SMS marketing. Should Walmart succeed in deploying this advanced infrastructure, the expectations of consumers from around the globe could shift dramatically toward these features as a sort of “baseline” for the customer experience.
Naturally, trying to keep up with this sort of innovation, especially if you are newer entrant to the SMS landscape, isn’t exactly feasible – or even reasonable depending on the size and scope of your organization. However, embracing the gold standard set by Walmart and building toward a strong SMS presence is a powerful first step. The only question left to answer now is if your brand is ready to commit to this path and follow in the footsteps of one of the SMS marketing world’s titans.