Trends indicate that this holiday season will be the biggest one yet in terms of online purchasing and sales. Approximately 29% of US consumers plan to spend more on holiday shopping than they did last year. Nearly ⅓ of consumers plan to buy more gifts because they’ll be seeing family and friends this season.

And consumers plan to start their holiday shopping earlier in the season than last year as well. With these factors in mind, retailers simply can’t afford to ignore texting as a marketing channel in their holiday marketing strategy this year. In this article, we will cover ten ideas to drive traffic (and sales) this holiday season.


Grow your SMS subscriber list this holiday season

If you already have a large list of SMS marketing subscribers, you’re in a good position to drive holiday sales and foot traffic with SMS marketing. But if you haven’t had a chance to build your SMS subscriber list yet, the holidays are a great time to get started. 

Why? According to trends, (and as we’ve indicated), local retailers will likely be seeing significantly higher traffic over the holiday season—both at their physical locations and online. This allows you to grow your list quickly, especially if you include relevant subscriber incentives in your holiday marketing campaigns. Higher traffic, as well as well-timed, relevant incentives, can fuel your SMS marketing channel by growing it even faster and extending your reach through the holiday season.

The key is to integrate opt-in entry points at every possible step of the customer journey. There are a number of touchpoints along your customer journey where collecting an opt-in is natural and even expected. If you take advantage of them, the list will build itself.


Idea #1. Utilize existing digital touchpoints as opt-in methods

It’s important to receive opt-ins at multiple entry points so you are consistently growing your contact list and your ability to nurture those contacts into transactions. The following touchpoints can be utilized at any point in the year to build your holiday marketing opt-in list. To start, consider the following customer touchpoints:

  • Point of sale or transaction
  • Website Chat
  • Online Sign-Up Pages or Forms
  • Website Banners, Pop-ups, and Prompts

To learn more about effective customer touchpoint opt-ins, check out The Ultimate Guide to SMS Marketing.


Idea #2. Leverage email and social to capture opt-ins

Don’t forget—leveraging existing marketing channels to cast a wider net can be an SMS opt-in acquisition strategy gold mine for your holiday marketing strategy. If you can take advantage of your current marketing channels to reach consumers, you can gather more opt-ins by using the communication strategies customers are already used to.


Many organizations are already doing email marketing and have large email marketing lists. Enter: large opportunity. You can convert your email marketing contacts into SMS marketing opt-ins by sending an email blast prompting people to opt-in to promotional texts. Typically, this is facilitated by a URL link to the online sign-up page, which can live in either the email copy or in your signature. 

Hello [Name], 

Thank you for your continued business. Don’t miss out on our upcoming holiday promotions! Click here to opt-in to exclusive text promos and save 10% on your next purchase! 💸💸

SMS Holiday Text

Social Media. 

Facebook and Instagram are other effective avenues to socialize an online sign-up form. Create a social post with a URL, QR code, or keyword to capture opt-ins through those channels. 

It’s the holiday season! And you don’t want to miss Boulio’s annual exclusive flash sale on Luxury Scent Sets (we’ve sold out in 10 min 3 years in a row! ✨) Opt-in to receive updates and other exclusive offers here! 🥧🧁

Holiday Social Media


Idea #3. Capture opt-ins from in-store holiday shoppers

Don’t forget to take advantage of your regular foot traffic to grow your opt-in list this holiday season. These days, collecting face-to-face is one of the most effective and personal ways to expand your reach. 

Sign-up station or kiosk. 

Setting up a sign-up station or kiosk (a mobile device with the opt-in form open) can be highly effective at the point of checkout or sale. An online sign-up form that can be displayed on a tablet, smartphone, computer, or laptop is also a great way to collect sign-ups.

kiosk SMS Marketing opt in


QR codes. 

Display QR codes around the store on a digital display like a TV, computer, or monitor. QR codes are a great way to present your sign-up forms on digital signage. You can also present them via product packaging, business cards, stickers, and cash register stands or physical check-out locations. With this method, all your customers have to do is scan the QR code with their smartphone camera and get redirected to your opt-in signup form.

Holiday QR Codes

Textable keyword. 

Another effective method for collecting opt-ins from prospects and customers is establishing a textable “keyword.” This form of opt-in doesn’t rely on having an online sign-up page to be set up. But it requires a business to offer a keyword like “Subscribe” which can be texted to a business’s number to opt-in. A textable keyword—much like a QR code—can be printed or displayed digitally alongside appropriate consent language.

Textable Keyword

Idea #4. Optimize conversions for the holiday shopping season

Woman smiling at holiday gift

Now that we’ve covered touchpoints, it’s time to optimize conversion from your sign-up forms. Many local businesses find they are able to collect more SMS opt-ins through offers and incentives, especially holiday offers. The goal is to make these sign-up forms as enticing as possible—providing value up-front in exchange for customers’ permission to market to them. Consider the following marketing efforts to optimize conversions:

VIP Member program: 

No one wants to miss the boat! Offering VIP status for opting in can significantly increase membership.  

Never miss another exclusive offer! Opt-in to our VIP program to get our best holiday offers sent straight to your phone!

VIP Member Program


Incentivized Opt-in offer: 

Giving direct incentives involves offering a specific discount, offer, or maybe even a free gift if a consumer signs up for promos—and it does the trick. 

“Unlock 15% of your order when you sign up for promotional texts” 

“Take $10 off your first purchase.” 

“Get a free gift with your next purchase over $100.”

Incentivized Opt-in Offer


Contests and giveaways are also excellent ways to create value from the get-go and help customers feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal. 

Opt-in for a chance to win our new 70-inch plasma screen TV!

Holiday Giveaways


Drive traffic to your store and website with promotional campaigns

Now that you’ve collected your opt-ins, how do you actually use text to drive people to your store or website for a successful holiday marketing campaign? Consider the following ideas: 

retail store during holidays

Idea #5. Invite shoppers to special in-store events

Get into the holiday spirit and spread that holiday cheer by throwing a holiday event in your store. This can look like a family movie night or a night with Santa. You could even partner with a local organization to throw a fundraiser event. Post about these events on social media and send a message to your opt-in list as well.

Idea #6. Offer an in-store coupon

This could be the form of a Black Friday or a holiday warehouse sale. A coupon or discount that can only be redeemed in-store. This will help boost sales and build brand awareness too.

Idea #7. Advertise seasonal promotions

Don’t wait until the holiday season begins to let customers know about holiday marketing campaigns. Send SMS marketing messages to your opt-in list (or your VIP list if you have one) to let them know about upcoming sales.

Idea #8. Advertise BOPIS, curbside pickup, and other in-store services

Customer preferences changed a lot in 2020 and a lot of those preferences aren’t going away any time soon. Many customers still prefer to have contactless shopping through buy-online-pay-instore, curbside pickup, and mobile payments (which we will talk about below). Make sure your customers and future customers know about the services you offer by sending the info out through SMS.

It’s important to remember that your mobile marketing strategy should be integrated with your marketing mix as an amplifier to your current efforts. Add SMS as an additional channel to your planned holiday promotions by simply converting the promotion into a short, textable message. (Need more holiday marketing tips? Check out our next article for great examples.)

Create experiences customers love: two-way texting

Idea #9. Personalize your SMS marketing campaigns

You can make your customers feel like “silver & gold” by handling concerns in a timely and personalized manner with a one-to-one text conversation. This will nurture the relationship and make them more likely to visit your store. How can you translate that same personalization to larger SMS marketing campaigns?

Tracking key behaviors to allow segmentation

If you track previous purchases, you can send targeted campaigns offering promotions of items that are relevant to customers’ history with you. Perhaps you’ve noticed that customers who’ve spent in the past year are more likely to come into your jewelry store for a Christmas gift. Or that customers who come in on Labor Day are likely to make repeat purchases on Black Friday.

All of this can be used to your advantage in planning your campaigns. Other key behaviors to track include website history, customer journey, frequent actions, and product use. 

Some common, high-impact examples of segmentation in campaigns might include using: 

  • Purchase or review recency as an indicator of positive engagement with your brand 
  • Response to past sales as an indicator of interest in similar sales
  • Type of item or service purchased as an indicator of interest in similar offerings

In segmenting your audience, you will be able to create top-notch experiences that are personalized as well. Your messages should include the local touch that customers love. Did you know that local businesses have a remarkable opportunity to reach their consumers’ text message inboxes more often than major chains and ecommerce players?

Consumers report being 21% more likely to opt-in to local businesses’ SMS marketing lists than major chain or big-box businesses and 45% more likely than online or ecommerce businesses. And 74% of consumers report that they would be more likely to text with a local business if they knew a real person was going to receive and respond to their message. 

Bottom line? In sending holiday messages, make sure your messages feel intimate and personal, with attention to past interests and relevance.

bike store

Idea #10. Close the deal—conveniently: SMS payments

Did you know that a quarter of customers will abandon a transaction if their preferred payment methods aren’t offered? Customers are increasingly preferring digital payment options—including website payments, mobile wallets, direct pay platforms, and text links. 

Consumers expect a seamless, secure, and convenient payment experience that meets them where they are. And that means texting. 

With the right tools, you can even send a purchase link to collect payments directly through an SMS campaign, attached within your promo. This gives your customers the convenience they want and helps you get paid faster.

Choose a top-tier SMS provider

Not all SMS providers are built equally. How do you choose? There are a few elements to consider.

  • Opt-ins. Your platform should provide you the ability to effectively maximize the number of opt-ins you collect throughout the holiday season. This includes offering a number of touchpoints through which you can quickly and easily collect opt-ins and the tools to manage them well.
  • Revenue. Your platform should help you drive more revenue by increasing efficiency, communication, and visibility. It should increase convenience for you and your customers by allowing you to process payments through text links. This specific feature significantly increases sales and decreases collection time. 
  • Customer Experience. Ultimately, your messaging platform should offer an elevated customer experience. It should help your customers feel like they are getting 1:1 attention from you and like they are on the showroom floor too, no matter where they are.

For more information on how to choose the right SMS provider, check out “Choosing an SMS Marketing Solution” in The Ultimate Guide to SMS Marketing

See the next article in this series for examples of great retail opt-in methods and SMS campaigns from real customers. And while you’re at it, check out our Holiday Texting Kit!

Podium helps you connect every touchpoint in your customer journey through text—allowing for the most seamless, convenient, and optimized customer experience and text marketing possible. Get started free here.

Key Sources

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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