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Personalized, Timely Messages Can Help Retailers ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday Season 

Rising interest rates and fears of a recession have put a chill on many retailers’ holiday sales forecasts. Most forecasters are expecting a muted shopping season, with Deloitte predicting retail sales between Black Friday and the end of the year to increase just 4% to 6% over 2021 spending levels, which grew more than 14% over 2020’s numbers.

With polls showing that more than half (52%) of consumers expect to struggle to stay within their budget for holiday gifts, retailers are exploring creative strategies to get their attention earlier than usual. Savvy bargain shoppers are expected to start hitting the malls as early as October, meaning retailers need to set those strategies in motion now.

From early discounts to expanded loyalty programs, it is critical for retailers to communicate why shoppers should spend their holiday dollars with them versus the competition. This requires an omnichannel approach to their holiday marketing campaigns.

Proven Effective 

Text messages have a nearly universal open rate of 98%. No other channel is as guaranteed to be seen by a customer. Texts also are available 24/7 — it’s rare to find someone walking around without a smartphone in 2022. Texts allow retailers to reach out to consumers while they are out and about, possibly even shopping for an item they could provide, and truly “meet them in the moment.”

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SMS text messaging also has been proven to increase sales. More than three-quarters (77%) of marketers using text messages to send promotions or special offers reported increased revenue, much higher than the 23% of marketers that reported increased sales without using text messaging.

Conversation vs. Broadcast

Loyal consumers are the most likely to opt in to receive SMS messages from a brand. One-way broadcasts from a retailer can inform them of new products and the latest promotions while a two-way conversation between the brand and the consumer is a much more valuable exchange. Brands that build profiles of their frequent shoppers can leverage information about previous purchases or other activity and target a consumer through text or another preferred channel. 

This type of “conversational marketing” deepens the personal connection to an otherwise sterile digital interaction. For example, John has bought his brother new cycling gear as a holiday gift for the past five years from Ride or Die, his local bicycle shop. Ride or Die knows this about John from its profile on him and sends a text message in early November about a promotion for regular customers that gives them early access to new holiday gear, with a 10% discount for orders placed before Thanksgiving. The text message includes a link to a “secret sale” website for preferred customers.

Exchanges like this have become table stakes for retailers. Our recent survey found that 78% of consumers said that their customer experience expectations rose during the pandemic. Other research supports this, showing that the vast majority of consumers (90%) expect an “immediate response” when contacting customer support. Two-way conversational marketing is one way to meet these heightened expectations.

Never too Early

According to our survey, more than three-quarters of all respondents said that SMS was better at driving results than any other channel. As retailers prepare for their holiday sales and promotions, SMS can significantly increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. And given the macroeconomic factors impacting this make-or-break sales cycle, communicating the information consumers want, in a timely and effective way, will determine the winners of this holiday season.


As SVP of Marketing, Laura Apel leads Mitto’s global marketing operations. With a background in journalism and more than six years within the CPaaS industry, her focus is on increasing the visibility of Mitto’s industry expertise and differentiated technology through strategic brand messaging and communications.

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