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How to Activate Predictive Personalization in Text Message Marketing

By Diane Didriche

Text message marketing has an interesting problem.

While it’s an expensive channel, the engagement metrics are incredibly high — boasting up to 10x the click-through-rate of emails — yet conversion rates are low. 

Not only is text messaging an expensive channel, but it’s also a sensitive channel. When a shopper shares their number, whether it’s to a new friend or a brand they love, it means that they trust you with that information to talk to them like the individuals they are.

But this is less of a problem and more of a huge opportunity for retail marketers.

For many retail marketers, mobile isn’t a new channel for connecting with shoppers. In fact, you may already have a mobile program running right now.

But if you want to drive revenue with text message marketing (and up to a 3-5x lift in conversion), you need to activate your retail data — what you know about your shoppers, everything they love about your product catalog and all of the actions they’re taking to engage with your brand. 

To win in text message marketing, you need to activate personalization that doesn’t just keep up with your shoppers, but stays ahead of the curve — with predictive personalization driven by AI.

Artificial intelligence takes all of that data about your shoppers and automates decisions about your shopper’s next move — from what channel they’ll interact on to the exact product they’ll want to see next with the offer that’s most compelling for them. Real-time feedback loops that feed into machine learning continuously adjust campaign elements and move with shoppers’ behavior as it changes over time.

There are four fundamentals of predictive text message marketing for brands that want to stay competitive and drive incremental revenue and it all comes down to the who, where, when and what.

4 Fundamentals of predictive personalization in text message marketing

1. Who with predictive audience segmentation

The first pillar of predictive personalization on mobile is with your audience segments. Segmenting shoppers based on their past purchase behavior can be a powerful strategy, like shoppers who usually purchase men’s t-shirts. But to really get personal with your shoppers, you need to understand where they’re going next and build a strategy there — this way, you’re always targeting high value segments with the campaigns they’re most likely to convert on and keeping an eye on retention and unsubscribe rates for text. There are a few different predictive strategies you can deploy.

  • Knowing which shoppers are higher value over time by segmenting audiences based on their predictive customer lifetime value — but all shoppers behave differently. This calculation should not just include past purchase data, but should generate a prediction based on a multitude of online signals. This way, you’re reaching high-value shoppers on text who are more likely to convert.
  • When you’re evaluating your text message marketing program, you should always be considering how you can protect your bottom line. That means understanding your shoppers’ likelihood to convert for a discount. By predicting which of your shoppers’ are likely to respond to a sale or promotion and only sending those kinds of promotional text messages to those marketers, you can make sure you aren’t giving away dollars to shoppers who don’t need a discount to convert.
  • Since a shoppers’ phone is much more personal than their email inbox, you should be extra sensitive to over-messaging. That means segmenting audiences based on their likelihood to unsubscribe. This added level of sensitivity will ensure that you aren’t risking your shoppers’ phone numbers by sending them too many messages — this way, you can re-engage those shoppers down the line.

2. Where your shoppers are likely to convert across channels

The next piece of the puzzle that artificial intelligence can help solve is which channel to engage your shoppers on. Again, text message is an expensive channel for retail marketers — in order to protect your bottom line, you need to curate each message with care and only send texts to shoppers who will most likely convert on text. By understanding each of your shoppers’ channel preferences, you can coordinate an experience designed to meet them where they are spending time online and likely to buy. As part of that, you should consider the entire journey — not just a one-off interaction. By creating a campaign with touches that span channels, you can optimize your program spend and learn more about how you can nurture each of your shoppers by where they engage.

3. When to get in touch with your shoppers

Predictive personalization is all about the shopper — and no two shoppers are the same. For instance, I’m more likely to open a text message from a brand around noon when I’m taking a lunch break — but my friend is usually going to engage at 5:00PM when she shuts her computer off and relaxes by the TV. This means that you need your technology to understand and optimize the time your shoppers are most likely to engage with your text messages. The right artificial intelligence will continuously be learning about each of your shopper’s engagement and conversion cadences to optimize them continuously and send text messages at exactly the right time.

4. What product your shoppers will love next

Finally (and maybe most importantly), you should leverage predictive personalization to show each of your shoppers their next best purchase on a 1:1 level. By understanding all of the details of your product catalog that your shoppers love and marrying it with everything you know about your shoppers and their behavior, your artificial intelligence should formulate and recommend the next best product for your shoppers. This is that thumb-stopping moment — surfacing products that your shoppers didn’t even know they wanted (and needed) with SMS and MMS. 

Turn your text message marketing problem into a personalized journey with predictive retail AI.

The ability for you to understand what your shopper will want to buy next — and in which context — will determine your success from phone to email. With end-to-end predictive personalization that continuously learns, optimizes and acts, you can take your text message marketing to the next level to make it a conversion engine. 


Diane Didriche

Diane is on the Product Marketing team at Bluecore, bringing Bluecore Mobile™ to market. Diane has 6+ years of experience in product marketing and operations, including prior roles at LiveRamp, and LVMH.

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