Promoting coupons and exclusive offers is a valuable marketing strategy in ecommerce. For retailers, it inspires customers to take action. For customers, they feel delighted by the special attention or deal, which often saves them money and is top of mind when making a purchase decision.

With SMS being so widespread today, and even a preferred communication channel for some, it's essential to use promotions strategically and sparingly to maximize ROI and avoid training your customers to only purchase with a coupon. Let's dive into best-practice strategies.

Questions to ask yourself as you plan your campaign calendar:

  • Do I have an equal balance between content vs. promotion?
  • Am I running too many promotions? How much is too much?
  • Am I inadvertently training my customers to wait to buy cheaper?
  • Are my messages relevant, timely, and valuable?

Your success plan is a balanced SMS marketing calendar. One that leans into acquisition with a compelling incentive to bolster list growth then rotates between promotional and non-promotional messages to tap into all marketers have to give.

Acquisition & Welcome

Coupons within your SMS acquisition strategies drive success. In fact, including an offer with signing up consistently outperforms messages without an offer, sometimes even doubling acquisition rates.

  • Coupons are a great way to get as many customers subscribed to your list as possible.
  • They help counterbalance the critical (and sometimes timely) explicit opt-in per SMS compliance rules.  Find those rules here.

But don't give away too much! You can still protect margin by delivering a coupon that only works with a purchase of a certain threshold or provides extra perks like free shipping or a gift with purchase.

Once subscribed, lean on the initial coupon offer to nurture them through your Welcome Series. Within the Welcome Series messages that promote your brand story and differentiators, target non-purchasers with the initial sign-up coupon. Include the coupon expiration date alongside the coupon code itself.

Tip: It's recommended to send a dynamic code to avoid a static code ending up on a third-party site that anyone can use. Also, consider sending the code only to first-time subscribers to make their sign-up and opt-in more compelling and prevent gaming. Listrak's SMS platform automatically looks for current subscription status and the system sends an 'Existing Subscriber' text (generic copy to confirm their subscription without giving them another coupon) to anyone who's already subscribed.

Engagement & Retention

As your list grows, build out your SMS marketing calendar with diversified message content by mixing promotional and non-promotional messages. This will avoid training customers to wait for a coupon to purchase or, even worse, come to expect offers in all your messages.

SMS has always communicated "sales and urgency" and still should, but think about taking this a step further with mobile-attributed content – content targeted only to your SMS subscribers. Offer early access to sales and events, exclusive products and freebies, downloadable content, and more. This can be a promotional strategy that doesn't cut into your bottom line.


Mix in product-focused messages, such as product launch announcements, lifestyle content, how-to resources, and more. These messages allow customers to engage with your brand beyond purchasing and help deepen the discovery of your portfolio.

Remember, coupons and offers will always ignite interest and get even the least-engaged contacts to perk-up again, but make sure you balance those with non-promotional messages to maximize your ROI.

Learn more about Listrak’s SMS here.

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