Attracting New Customers With SMS Marketing

How text marketing can help you with customer acquisition.

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Attracting new customers with SMS marketing is easy — or is it? Many (other) bulk texting service providers will tell you all you have to do is set up a bulk texting account, advertise a special offer that people can only respond to by SMS, and the new customers will come rolling in. If it were that easy, everybody would be attracting new customers with SMS marketing. But they´re not.

The reasons why everybody is not attracting new customers with SMS marketing are varied. Some companies do not engage in B2C marketing. Others have a business profile that would not be compatible with bulk texting, or products that would not be appropriate for a mass market. For some businesses, their target audience might consider SMS marketing too invasive.

However, the most common reason for businesses failing to acquire new customers with text message marketing is that they are repeating the most commonly made mistakes — mistakes that we will illustrate throughout this article. First, an explanation of how attracting new customers with SMS marketing is supposed to work.

How to Acquire New Customers with Text Message Marketing

VIP Program Text Message

The first step of what many (other) bulk texting service providers tell you about attracting new customers with SMS marketing is correct. You have to set up a bulk texting account. Once you have an established database of customers, you will be able to connect with your existing customers through the bulk texting account with promotions, surveys and loyalty programs. But for now we are just focusing on how to acquire new customers with text message marketing.

In order to acquire new customers with text message marketing, you generally have to offer an incentive for them to send you an SMS message and opt into your text marketing service. This is often in the form of advertising a special offer that people can only respond to by SMS, and usually involves inviting consumers to text a “keyword” to a “short code” in return for a coupon or special offer. When consumers respond to your advertisement, they receive a coupon, redeem the coupon, and become a new customer.

You have probably seen many examples of how companies acquire new customers with text message marketing using this method. This method works well provided that you have an easy-to-remember keyword, an easy-to-remember short code, and that the instructions are clear. Here is an example of one of the most famous commonly-made mistakes where the company failed to make the instructions clear. It comes from a source you would think should know better:

In 2011, Pepsi Max ran a “Field of Dreams” competition in which the winner was invited with ten of their friends to play a six-innings baseball game against a team of MLB legends. In order to opt-into the competition, consumers were invited to text “PEPSIMAX” to 710710. Unfortunately, many people sent their text with the quotation marks included and their entries never registered. Not only was this bad PR for the company, but it also denied Pepsi Max the opportunity to maximize its marketing database.

More About Keywords and Short Codes

Activate Keyword Screenshot

Keywords and short codes have to be instantly memorable. Potential customers may be passing a billboard in a car when they notice your advertisement, or may hear it on the radio when they do not have their cellphones on hand. Research has shown that people will forget or confuse difficult keywords and short codes within five seconds. Consequently the best keywords to use are short, familiar, and only use the twenty-six letters in the alphabet (no numbers or special characters).

Businesses have a choice over the short codes they can use. They can either use the shared short code allocated to them by their service provider or pay extra for a dedicated short code. Here at EZ Texting, our most commonly-used short code is 858585. It is easy to remember and serves most of our clients well. However, sharing a short code limits what keywords are available to you, because other shared short code clients may already be using them.

Rarely is this a problem. There are enough words in the English language to communicate a special deal in more than one way. However, if the unavailability of specific keywords will affect your ability to acquire new customers with text message marketing, it may be to your advantage to pay extra for a dedicated short code - preferably a “vanity” dedicated short code to ensure it is memorable, rather than a random dedicated short code that can be any combination of five or six digits.

Where to Advertise Your Keywords and Short Codes

Web Sign Up Form

If you are trying to acquire new customers with text message marketing, your keywords and short codes should be advertised everywhere. Businesses that have a brick-and-mortar premises should advertise their keywords and short codes inside and outside of their premises. “In-store, on-demand coupons” have a redemption rate of between 70% and 80% - nearly twice the redemption rate of “out-of-store” coupons, and up to eight times the redemption rate of coupons attached to emails.

That´s not to say you should ignore email as an advertising medium. By adding your keyword and short code to your email signature you will attract email recipients to your SMS marketing service. You can attract further sign-ups by adding “Click-to-Join” widgets to your website and advise followers of your SMS marketing service via any social media channels you use. If you are advertising in print, on the radio or on TV, adding a keyword call-to-action is a great way to leverage your existing marketing spend.

Attracting new customers with SMS marketing can be easy, but text message marketing should be part of an integrated marketing strategy to get the best results. SMS marketing allows you to bridge multiple communications channels and, as your database of customers grows, you will be able to identify the sources of your new customers and increase your resources in those areas.

More Tips for Attracting New Customers with SMS Marketing

Discount Keyword Text Message

We mentioned earlier about using keywords that are short, familiar, and only use the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, but it is also important to choose which keywords you use carefully. If, for example, you are a beauty salon advertising a discount on “Trim Tuesday” over the radio, you should not use the keyword HAIR. This could be misspelled as HARE or misheard as HERE, HEAR or even HOYA depending on your accent. The same would apply to any word that is frequently misspelled.

You also need to be careful about some vanity dedicated short codes. It may be cool to have a numeric sequence that spells out the name of your business, but there may be other interpretations of that same numeric sequence. For example, if you own the Shintu Health and Fitness Center, the numeric sequence 744688 spells the word SHINTU on a cellphone keypad. However, the numeric sequence 744688 can also spell PIGOUT - not such a great idea for a health and fitness center.

The final tip for attracting new customers with SMS marketing is to keep monitoring your responses, review your spikes in engagement and your churn rate (the percentage at which customers opt out of your service). Then adjust your text message marketing campaign as necessary. It could be that a different keyword would help you acquire new customers with text message marketing. It may be your choice of short code, or you may have to change your incentive for attracting new customers with SMS marketing.