Winning Customer Loyalty with SMS Marketing

4 min readAug 21, 2019

By Jonathan Rueda, Product Specialist at Airship

Congratulations! Your loyalty program is growing with new members! Now, how do you keep them engaged and active? Or make more purchases? Or sign up for your marketing channels?

Bringing in a new customer is one challenge, but creating a long-lasting relationship with a loyal customer is another game entirely. To win this game, your brand will need to take advantage of multiple channels, from email to mobile wallets to web notifications, to make sure you are offering the best customer experience possible.

SMS, because of its mobile nature and immediacy of message delivery, can serve as an excellent support channel for loyalty programs. Whether it’s points balance updates, order notifications or promotions, SMS can be used to keep your loyalty members engaged, informed and participating in your loyalty program.

Need an example or two? Here are a few of the use cases we’re seeing from customers when it comes to leveraging SMS to support your loyalty programs.

Making Enrollment Easier with SMS

Putting a customer on the spot to register for a loyalty program can be pretty daunting or inconvenient. Imagine wanting to sign up for a loyalty program at a hotel check-in but having to take the time to rattle off your personal information with people behind you in line. That might make you think signing up isn’t worth the hassle. Luckily, SMS can be a huge help for scenarios like this.

Providing a s imple short code on a sign at check out or point-of-sale can offer a much lower barrier of entry for new loyalty sign-ups. You can offer a join keyword like “join” or “rewards” for a user to text in to sign up. Once they join with the keyword, you could respond with a welcome message that includes a URL for that user to later complete their profile either online or in the app.

You could also deliver a mobile wallet version of the customer’s loyalty card to use at their next visit. This can be especially helpful for those customers that want to be part of your loyalty program but may not be ready to download your app. Providing a great experience via SMS and Mobile Wallet can be a great introduction to the digital version of your brand and can act as an “on ramp” to your mobile app.

Widen Your Promotional Campaigns Net with SMS

SMS is a great channel to send and support promotional content such as offers, holiday sales and events. You can use SMS to send messages to keep your customers engaged and drive in-store traffic or add SMS to your other marketing campaigns to increase your visibility and opportunities for engagement.

Keywords can also play a big role in SMS promotional campaigns as you can set up different “opt-in” or campaign categories. For example, for brands that sell products or services in multiple categories, you could provide category-specific keywords, such as “fashion” or “home.” Then, if you’re running a sale for jeans but not outdoor furniture, you can target the appropriate audience.

The same holds true for different campaign types like weekly sales or user-specific offers. Or, if you’re having a week of Black Friday deals but don’t want to overwhelm customers who might not be interested, you could create a keyword specifically for that campaign. Lastly, we’ve had a few customers who have wanted to set up store-specific keywords so that they can track the number of loyalty sign-ups from specific stores to use as a measuring tool for store performance.

Strategically Orchestrate Your Transactional Messages

Transactional messages are extremely important to your customers and getting your customers the information they need in real-time is what makes or breaks a great customer experience. However, sending an email, SMS, push, AND a web notification for an order confirmation might be overkill for some customers, pushing them to opt-out.

Using Airship’s orchestration capabilities you can make sure the right message is getting to the right customer at the right time every time. Whether it’s your team setting a priority order for channels, or giving customers the ability to curate their experience via something like a preference center, Airship can help you strategically orchestrate your messages, and your customers will thank you for that.

One more thing to mention and that is Airship’s Inbound Message (MO) Handling via Webhook. This feature will forward the SMS inbound content (keyword or combination of keyword and additional text) directly to your brand’s backend system, allowing the system to programmatically process the content and curate a custom response. This can be used to support sophisticated use cases, such as returning dynamic values like loyalty points balances or user-specific offers/coupons. It could also be used to collect email addresses via SMS.

Do More with SMS

SMS marketing can be used for more than just fostering loyalty, and Airship has the tools you can use to create and send powerful text messages. You can use our link shortener to save your limited characters for your message or link tracker to measure engagement. If you’re sending a Mobile Wallet item like a loyalty card or coupon, our Adaptive Links will handle device detection to create either the Apple Wallet version (iOS) or Google Pay (Android) without you having to know what type of device the customer has ahead of sending.

Whether used alone or in combination with other marketing channels, SMS can be the best tool in your martech stack to engage with your loyal customers. Let us know how we can help you put together an SMS marketing strategy that will wow your customers.

Originally published at




Urban Airship is now Airship! Leading brands trust us to help them achieve digital growth. We make mobile moments magic.