How to Build a Retail Marketing Strategy That Really Works

Make the most out of your retail marketing efforts and develop a strategy that drives engagement and increases sales.

Classic retail shop

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Developing a marketing strategy for your retail business is an essential step to creating successful campaigns that attract, engage, and convert your audiences.

Without a plan in place, you’ll likely be sending irrelevant content to your customers, bombarding their inboxes with inconsistent messages, and overall providing a poor customer experience. A successful retail marketing strategy considers who each of your customers are and exactly what content you should be sending to each one.

In this article, we’ll provide you with guidance on the four things you’ll want to do to develop an effective retail marketing strategy and provide you with a few platforms to help get you started managing your campaigns.

Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll take away from this article:

  • The importance of knowing who your customers are and how they shop with your brand
  • How integrating your channels into one comprehensive experience can benefit you
  • How user-generated content can help your retail marketing efforts
  • Why tracking customer data is important
  • Four platforms to help you manage your retail marketing strategy

4 Things That Will Set You Up For An Effective Retail Marketing Strategy

So you’re ready to start taking your retail marketing strategy seriously and looking for new ways to improve your current efforts. If this is the case, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at four things you can do that will help set you up for a successful retail marketing strategy.

From better understanding who your customers are to using their real-time interactions and data to provide them with the most relevant experience — it’s all covered here. After reading this article, you’ll have an action plan for next steps and examples to reference how you can integrate these different elements into your marketing efforts.

1. Know Who Your Customers are, Where Their Shopping, and How They’re Doing It

The very first step to building a successful retail marketing strategy is understanding who your customers are. Without this understanding, you’ll never be able to connect with your audiences on a level that will result in high-performing campaigns.

When it comes to an understanding who your customers are, you’ll need to tap into their previous browsing and shopping behaviors. This will give you the insight you need to start building comprehensive email and business SMS marketing campaigns that result in higher ROI and increased sales.

But it also goes beyond learning what products they’re interested in. You also need to understand how they engage with your brand and what channels they prefer to be connected with you. This can help you determine whether specific customers are more likely to convert via email, SMS, social, or another channel — and then let you focus your time and money there.

So what exactly do you need to know about your customers? There are a few areas to consider here, but these are a few of the most common elements about your customers that you’ll want to understand:

  • Their demographics and personal interests
  • Their likes and dislikes
  • The products they browse or purchase most often
  • The channels they’re engaging with you on
  • The devices they use to communicate with brands they love
  • The in-store locations they shop the most

The more you know about who your audiences are and where they’re engaging most with your content, the better marketing strategy you can develop. Having this insight will be one of the most effective things you can do as a retail business to create highly successful marketing messages.

2. Bring it All Together for One Comprehensive Brand Experience

Once you know who your audiences are and how they’re engaging with your brand, now it’s time to think about how you can bring all this data together to create one comprehensive brand experience.

This means using all of the customer data you’ve compiled to better target audiences based on their personal preferences.

By tapping into your customer data, you can almost pinpoint the crucial moments in the customer’s purchasing journey. This level of understanding will allow you to know what customers are most likely to complete a purchase, when, and through which channel.

Knowing how to reach your customers and at the most opportune moment is a great way to land more sales, but using multiple channels also opens up the door to cross-channel marketing efforts.

Creating a comprehensive, cross-channel marketing strategy will provide you with a variety of benefits, such as:

  • Optimization of the customer journey
  • Increased customer engagement
  • Improving brand awareness to build better customer relationships

Not only is marketing to your customers beneficial to your bottom line, but it’s also something your customers want you to be doing. 72% of consumers say they would rather connect with brands and businesses through multichannel marketing.

SMS and email marketing are two great channels to start with a cross-channel experience. That’s because they are two of the most effective marketing channels, and they work together perfectly.

There are many ways that these two channels can work together, from encouraging customers to subscribe to your SMS messages via email and vice versa to sending product recommendations and abandoned cart campaigns — you can bring it all together with these two channels.

Beyond that, it’s also a great way to build brand awareness. By creating a comprehensive brand experience, a customer will know exactly who you are just from the design and tone of your emails.

The example below is an excellent example of how this can work. Both of these messages are from the same company. By carrying over the same feel in the imagery and the tone of the copy, customers can quickly identify what brand is sending them the message on either channel.

Coss-channel marketing example - Virtus

Cross-channel marketing is a great way to reach your customers on multiple channels and increase sales. But it also presents an opportunity for you to build relationships and improve brand awareness through common elements such as copy and imagery. Image courtesy of Wigzo.

While we’re focusing on SMS and email in this article, you can’t forget about the in-store experience of retail. This is something you’ll want to consider and incorporate as part of your cross-channel experience, and it’s easier than you may think.

The adoption of mobile devices has made creating these cross-channel experiences more accessible than ever.

You can easily send customers near your physical store location an SMS message to encourage them to stop in and check out your new fall line of clothes. Or share an in-store-only coupon with your email subscribers to help increase in-store foot traffic.

The SMS message below is a great example of a message sent from Pizza hut to one of their customers. It encourages the user to share their location to receive special offers that are specific to their location. Since this customer chooses to opt-in, they will now likely receive a text anytime they’re in the particular area with a discount or incentive to stop into the closest Pizza Hut store.


With the help of location tracking, you can easily integrate the in-store experience with your SMS marketing efforts. This will allow you to send messages to customers in close proximity and encourage them to stop in and make a purchase while they’re in the area. Image courtesy of Tatango.

When done right, all of your channels can work together to build a comprehensive brand experience that engages your audiences and improves your campaigns’ success. It might take some time to get there, but the benefits of building a comprehensive cross-channel marketing strategy for your retail business are well worth the effort.

3. Leverage User-Generated Content

User-generated content is the idea of using content created by your customers and not someone who is an official representative of your business. It’s a great way to display your brand and products in a new light that will be more appealing to your audiences.

These are a few benefits you can expect to see when integrating user-generated content into your retail marketing efforts:

  • Humanize your marketing by putting your customers and employees at the front of your brand
  • Build trust through the use of content created by real people
  • Share more authentic content that is generated by real customers, brand fans, or employees
  • Increase ROI with this cost-effective way to generate content

Additionally, using authentic user-generated content can help boost credibility — one of the reasons why 87% of brands are using user-generated content to share genuine content.

While user-generated content is often considered for social media, it’s also a great tool that you can use within your SMS and email marketing strategy.

User-Generated Content and SMS Marketing

There are many different types of user-generated content that you can gather and share with your audiences. That being said, they won’t all work exceptionally well on every channel. For example, you need to keep them relatively short and straightforward when it comes to SMS messages.

Here are the two best types of user-generated content to include in your SMS marketing efforts for the best results:

  • Rating and reviews
  • Images and videos

Now to tap into the ability to send images and videos, you may need to invest in MMS messaging as well — but many platforms and programs allow you to do both from one central location.

The following example is a great example of how user-generated content can be integrated into your SMS messages. While this example isn’t necessarily retail-driven, you can imagine how this could be done to promote one of your top products that your customers rave about.

Before-after fitness success stories

Who doesn’t love a great before and after picture and success story when they need a little motivation on their fitness journey? This is a great way to incorporate user-generated content into your campaigns. This same idea can be carried over to share relevant product recommendations with real user reviews for retail businesses. Image courtesy of Express Text.

When it comes to SMS marketing, it can be a great channel to share user-generated content and gather this type of content to share in future campaigns. It’s an easy channel to ask customers to respond, and you’re much more likely to get a response, considering the response rate for SMS messages is 45%.

User-Generated Content and Email Marketing

Now let’s take a quick dive into how user-generated content can work with your email marketing efforts.

Similar to SMS, there are various benefits that come with integrating user-generated content into your email efforts. From improving authenticity to increasing sales — it all carries over here.

There are a few additional benefits that do standout when it comes to user-generated content within emails, such as:

  • Increasing email engagement rates and encouraging users to take action
  • Converting subscribers into customers and keeping those subscribers opted-in
  • Creating a more personal connection with subscribers

The following email is another great example of how you can incorporate user-generated content into your email marketing efforts.

This brand used real customer reviews about their products to promote those items to their audiences. If the brand also used customer data to determine what customers are most interested in, this email may have been even more effective than it looks at first glance.

Product listing and customer testimonials

Sharing popular products accompanied by real customer reviews and testimonials is a great way to encourage more people to complete a purchase. The majority of your customers take time to read reviews anyhow. Why not put it right in front of them in your emails? Image courtesy of Email Design.

In addition, email provides you with more flexibility to share this content than SMS messages do simply because there’s more room to include copy and imagery within an email.

Some of the most common types of user-generated content you’ll see in emails include:

  • Thematic content
  • User testimonials and reviews
  • Retargeting efforts with actual content for other users
  • Content communities

User-generated content could be the next big breakthrough in your retail marketing strategy. All you need to do is start gathering content from your current customers and then integrating it into your SMS and email marketing efforts.

4. Use Customer Data to Drive More Relevant Marketing Messages

The last thing you’ll want to incorporate in your retail marketing strategy is using real customer data to drive more relevant marketing messages.

You can do this by tracking and understanding customer behaviors on your website and across your marketing channels. Knowing what products they’re interested in or how they’ve engaged with your previous emails and SMS messages will allow you to pinpoint the most relevant content for each user.

Integrating personalization and relevant content into your messages will provide you with higher open and click rates. The open and click rates are 13.1% and 1.9% for messages that are not personalized, while a message that is personalized brings in open and click rates of 19.9% and 2.1%.

Here are a few examples of the types of data you can collect to improve message relevance for your audiences:

  • Previous browsing and shopping behaviors
  • Interactions across other marketing channels
  • Personal demographics and interests
  • Most used devices and channels
  • Active or inactive status to help identify potential customer churn

All of these different data points will allow you to understand your customer on a deeper level and, in turn, provide them with a more customized experience. You can easily integrate this data into your email and SMS marketing campaigns to share product recommendations and relevant content to drive an increase in sales and engagement across your campaigns.

The Tarte email below is a great example of a brand using customer browsing behaviors to retarget them via email. It reminds the customer about the product they were recently browsing and then provides them with other related products that may pique their interest.

Email message according to customer browsing behavior - Tarte example

There are many ways to use customer data to create and send relevant emails to your customers. By tapping into previous browse behaviors, you can easily research products the customer was previously shopping in an effort to bring them back to your site to continue their shopping. Image courtesy of SleekNote.

Another great way to use customer data to send relevant messages that can help increase sales is through cart abandonment campaigns.

Below is an SMS marketing campaign that customers receive after leaving an item in their cart. Not only does it remind the customer about the product with an image, but it also provides an incentive for that customer to come back and complete their purchase.

SMS message based on customer browsing behavior

This is a great example of an abandoned cart SMS message because it’s not only reminding the customer about the products via texting but also including an image to help refresh their memory even more. On top of that, there’s an extra incentive of 10% that might be just what the customer was waiting for to complete their purchase. Image courtesy of Yotpo.

However you choose to do it, tapping into the customer data you have is a great way to reach your audiences with relevant marketing messages that are much more likely to convert. Choosing to integrate this type of content into your retail marketing strategy will be one of the most effective things you can do and directly impact your bottom line.

The 4 Best Retail Marketing Automation Platforms

Now that you know how to build your retail marketing strategy, now it’s time to determine how exactly you plan to implement and manage this strategy. That’s where retail marketing automation platforms come into the picture.

These platforms are tools that are specifically designed for retail businesses looking to make the most out of their marketing capabilities. They can help you manage everything from email and SMS creation to integrating dynamic content and predictive product recommendations to increase sales.

In this section, we’ll take a look at four marketing automation platforms that are great options for retail businesses looking to elevate their marketing strategy. Each of these tools will provide you with the capabilities you need to create engaging content that allows you to connect with your customers.

1. Listrak

If you’re looking for a digital marketing platform for your retail business, then you’ll want to consider Listrak. This tool is designed with retailers in mind and provides everything you’ll need to drive successful email, SMS, and cross-channel marketing campaigns.

Listrak marketing platform

The Listrak digital marketing platform has everything a retail business needs to thrive. This tool can continue to grow with your business, from the basic email and SMS marketing tools to advanced AI and predictive technology. Image courtesy of Listrak.


Email Capabilities

The Listrak platform has all the email marketing tools you need to achieve your retail marketing goals. Whether you’re looking for a way to automate email sending or integrate intelligent triggers and personalization, Listrak has you covered.

Here are just a few of the email marketing capabilities you’ll have access to:

  • A response email designer that makes creating emails simple and allows you to integrate dynamical personalization and predictive content easily
  • An abandonment messaging suite that will help you to turn lost sales into an opportunity to connect with your customers
  • Intelligent trigger campaigns that are automatically generated based on real-time customer behaviors and interactions, including things like welcome series, retention campaigns, price drop alerts, and more

SMS Capabilities

This platform will also allow you to integrate SMS marketing into your campaign mix. With the ability to send, receive, and track text messages — you’ll have everything you need to launch successful SMS campaigns.

Here’s what you can expect from the platform’s SMS capabilities:

  • The ability to send both broadcast and triggered SMS messages to engage with all of your audiences at once or target those who are taking specific actions on your site
  • MMS capabilities that will let you add a little extra something into your text marketing efforts with longer text, images, and gifs
  • Text-to-join acquisition campaigns that make it easy to continue growing your subscriber list with a simple keyword


The Listrak platform has customized pricing based on the needs of your business. Enquire with a representative and let them know if you simply need help creating and sending mobile messages or are in need of something more advanced.

2. Drip

Drip is an email and SMS marketing platform for eCommerce brands looking to continue growing their brand presence and increase sales. With tools like personalization, dynamic content, and automation — Drip can help you reach your customers when and where it’s most relevant.

Drip marketing platform

The Drip marketing platform provides you with everything you need to execute, track, and manage all of your digital marketing needs. By understanding how your campaigns are performing and where you may have additional opportunities, you can do more with your time. Image courtesy of Drip.

Email Capabilities

Drip allows you to send emails to help drive revenue with personalization, dynamic content, and more. This tool will enable you to do everything from scheduling and automating your email sending to driving sales and revenue growth connected to your online store.

Here are just a few of the email marketing capabilities you’ll have access to:

  • Develop personalized, branded emails that convert users with their visual email builder that connects with your store to integrate dynamic content
  • Send behavior-based recommendations to your users to let them know about products they’ll love based on their previous browsing history
  • A/B test messages to understand which drive the most revenue, clicks, opens, and more

SMS Capabilities

This platform also has the SMS marketing capabilities you’ll need to reach your customers on their most-used device. If you’re looking to increase customer engagement, drive sales, or just get the word out about important updates and notifications, it can all be done with Drip.

Here’s what you can expect from the platform’s SMS capabilities:

  • Grow your subscriber base with easy SMS opt-in fields to any Drip form on your website to capture new subscriber data
  • Automate SMS sending to ensure you’re connecting with your audiences consistently
  • Send high-value messages such as time-sensitive offers, holiday promos, VIP campaigns, launch products, and much more


The Drip platform bases pricing on the number of contacts and promotes flexible pricing that can grow with your business. Pricing starts at $19 per month for companies with 1-500 contacts and increases from there. There are customized plans for businesses with more than 150,000 contacts.

3. MoodMail

MoonMail is an all-in-one messaging platform that allows you to manage everything from email, SMS, voice, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and so much more. This is a great platform for developers because it is an open-source tool and has a powerful API.

MoonMail messaging campaign dashboard

Make managing your messaging campaigns simple with an easy-to-use dashboard. You can even test out the program with the demo platform before you decide which platform you want to invest in. Image courtesy of MoonMail.

Email Capabilities

This platform has email marketing tools to simplify your day-to-day marketing processes and help you stay connected with your audiences.

Here are just a few of the email marketing capabilities you’ll have access to:

  • Easily build customized, responsive templates within minutes with the help of their drag and drop editor
  • See real-time analytics to track campaign performance and know exactly how successful each of your campaigns is
  • Send messages at the right time with intelligent send time optimization capabilities

SMS Capabilities

SMS marketing tools come with the package as an all-in-one messaging platform no matter what plan you choose to purchase.

Here’s what you can expect from the platform’s SMS capabilities:

  • Send targeted SMS messages based on customer data and insights
  • Automate message sending and create workflows that move users through their journey without manual intervention


MoonMail has four plan options available for companies looking to use this tool. They include the Lite plan costing $44 per month, the Starter plan costing $186 per month, the Professional plan costing $374 per month, and the Enterprise plan customized for companies that need a high volume plan.

4. MailUp

MailUp is an integrated marketing solution designed to help businesses create quality relationships with their customers and continue to grow. This platform will make reaching your audiences across the globe via email and SMS simple.

MailUp marketing platform

MailUp has everything you need to reach your audiences directly, from email to SMS marketing and everything in between. With the help of this platform, you’ll be able to connect with your audiences on the channel they’re most likely to engage with and improve your customer relationships. Image courtesy of MailUp.

Email Capabilities

MailUp can help you create customized campaigns that have attention-grabbing designs and are optimized for mobile devices. With this platform, you’ll have everything you need to make your emails stand out and get noticed.

Here are just a few of the email marketing capabilities you’ll have access to:

  • Easily send emails to all of your customers with one click, no matter where they’re located across the globe
  • Ensure you’re messages make it to your customers with their high deliverability rates to achieve the best mailing quality
  • Send triggered messages to your audiences based on their browsing and shopping behaviors to improve message relevancy and increase sales

SMS Capabilities

Get your messages read with SMS marketing capabilities that reach your audiences on their most-used device. MailUp allows you to easily connect with audiences everywhere in the world quickly and efficiently.

Here’s what you can expect from the platform’s SMS capabilities:

  • Send up to 200 SMS messages per second all over the world with confirmation of receipt
  • Easily send the right message, to the right customer, at the right time with the help of automation capabilities
  • Gather in-depth stats and reporting with link tracking by campaign or individual recipient to know how each message is performing


MailUp has four plan options available, including the Starter plan starting at $555 per year, the Plus plan starting at $1,204 per year, the Premium plan starting at $2,990 per year, and the Enterprise plan that is customized based on business needs.

Make the Most Out of Your Retail Marketing Strategy

Sometimes, we need to take a step back and look at what we’re currently doing to identify new opportunities. Now’s the perfect time to do this with your retail marketing strategy and begin to implement new innovative ways of connecting with your customers.

So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge? Get started making the most out of your retail marketing strategy today with these tips and platforms.


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