Scaling Up Retail RD Services through Bulk Text Messaging
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Scale up. It's an important phrase as you consider the impact and return-on-investment of retail health and wellness programs. Retail dietitians who are a team of one or a member of a small team likely think about scale up frequently as it relates to program development and shopper reach.
Many technologies exist to help RDs make programs scalable. E-newsletters, social media, blog posts -- they all provide ways to engage a broader audience of your company's shoppers. The challenge is that you are somewhat shooting in the dark in these mediums, creating content that appeals to a broad set of your shopper base. Even if you have shopper insight data to drive content direction, it's difficult to individualize or personalize content using these technologies.
While personalization with the ability to scale up programs may seem like an oxymoron, bulk text message systems may provide the solution for RDs looking to meet shoppers' individualized needs while creating programs for their company that reach a higher percentage of consumers. Traditionally used with marketing campaigns and by teachers, bulk text message systems are quickly being adopted in health education.
For a variety of reasons, bulk text messaging programs are ideal for retail healthy living programs. Within these programs you can build groups. For example, if you have multiple weight loss groups occurring at the same time or a diabetes group separate from a gluten free group, you can set up each group separately and target text messages directly to their specific needs. You can send reminders about classes, daily recipes or meal solutions that align with the focus of the group, or motivational messages. If you repeat programs throughout the year, text messages can be automated to be sent on specific dates, allowing you to very easily reach multitudes of people.
Because individuals subscribe to text message systems, you can ask filter questions to assign them to a group behind the scenes. In this way, you can tailor bulk texts that are meaningful to all members of this group. For example, if someone indicates he/she rarely cooks, you can target this individual with healthier grab-and-go options in your store. Or if moms are focused on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, you can send out texts when the newest crop of a seasonal produce item arrives in the store.
Many of the text messaging programs on the market today allow you to do voting and polling, and also have geotracking options, allowing you to send shoppers text messages when they are near your store. These systems also allow you to provide real time updates to shoppers, such as when a new better-for-you product hits your shelves or you're launching a new nutrition program the shopper may find interesting.
Text messaging programs are a time-saving way for retail RDs to expand their reach, and at the same time, let each customer feel as though they are getting personalized attention from you. There are fees associated with using these programs, but the ROI can be impactful when the systems are used to their full advantage.