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Ashley Furniture generates $85,438 in sales via mobile coupons

Ashley Furniture HomeStores generated $138,460 from a recent four-day "Secret Sale" advertised through an SMS and email campaign.

A whopping $85,438 was attributed to text messages. To quickly build its database, Ashley Furniture ran contests such as a free gas giveaway and a $500 weekly shopping spree, both encouraging users to opt into an SMS database for future offers.

"A few months ago, the corporate marketing folks began telling us about text message marketing and sharing some success stories," said Charlie Malouf, co-owner and chief operating officer of Ashley Furniture of Charlotte, NC.

"At first I was pretty skeptical, because I thought text message marketing in the way that it was described to be was just annoying spam," he said. "I did not realize it was all permission-based. That's when my interest increased in this medium.

"I am still surprised that the text message marketing efforts performed so much better than the email marketing offer we had."

The promotion was the latest in a string of campaigns by the independently-owned eight-store chain, which exclusively sells the Ashley Furniture brand in the Carolinas. Email was also part of the marketing mix.

The furniture retailer promoted a four-day Secret Sale, which ran July 10-14.

Executives at the chain used contact information collected via prior marketing campaigns, sending digital coupons through SMS and email to customers who wanted to receive special offer messages.

Ashley Furniture sent 34,743 messages in all -- 6,000 texts and 28,743 emails -- on the morning of the first day of the sale. The chain generated a total revenue of $138,460 in four days.

MobileStorm powered this campaign and ties the success to the fact that digital marketing campaigns that include a solid tie across different message types -- SMS, email and RSS -- perform even more strongly than single-medium campaigns.

The campaign was so successful that for every dollar spent, the furniture chain generated approximately $122 with mobileStorm SMS and about $76 with mobileStorm email.

The retailer was able to track the conversion rate of each coupon sent out and could see which were most frequently redeemed.

"Interestingly, this Secret Sale was promoted only by SMS and email," said Eydie Cubarrubia, marketing communications manager at mobileStorm, Los Angeles.

"However, in the past Ashley advertised short codes to prompt people to text in -- and with the mobile storm platform, the retailer could see which ads - which television stations, radio stations and newspapers - got the most response," she said.

The tough economy prompted executives at Ashley Furniture to find new and effective ways to reach consumers to both encourage them to spend and make sure they spend at Ashley Furniture shops.

Newspaper advertising, traditionally one of the retailer's main marketing channels, no longer offered the results it once did.

The mobileStorm 4.0 digital platform offered Ashley Furniture management and tracking of the coupons.

The American Idol TV show, Las Vegas' MGM Grand Hotel and The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino are all using MobileStorm 4.0 to conduct their digital marketing campaigns (see story).

Companies can use the application as their own point-of-sale system or can integrate in an existing POS framework.

The coupon management functionality can create various types of discount, such as flat dollar-amount, percentage or total items purchased.

Clients can also develop tiered discounts, giving customers more offers for higher purchase amounts or total products, such as 25 percent off for $100 and 30 percent off for $200.

Existing customer IDs/SKUs can also be integrated into the discount structure to offer VIP customers higher discounts or special offers.

Once coupons are created and integrated, clients can then send them to their target audience via any mobileStorm digital messaging channel.

Total usage restrictions are also possible, both in terms of total coupons distributed as well as redemption limitations per customer.

Ashley Furniture was so impressed with the results mobile brought that it plans to continue with SMS promos.

"What's next for us is to continue to reach our prospects via text message marketing," Mr. Malouf said. "We sent out an effort in August again.

"We will also look to do business with our consumers using this method of communications," he said. "I'm a mobile marketing fan."