What if you could steadily increase your text subscribers into the thousands and tens of thousands and beyond? How would that affect your business and its future growth and profit potential?
You may have heard the old internet adage, “the money is in the list.” This phrase refers to an email marketing list, but since texts are opened by 82.1% of recipients, compared to about 17-25% on average for emails, there is definitely a new premier "list" in town. And there's more than one way to use it to generate customer engagement and sales.
The Benefits of a Large Subscriber List
A robust SMS marketing list is a valuable asset for your small business; it can provide a veritable influx of leads and steady profits if you know how to leverage it correctly.
Text marketing offers so many benefits to growing businesses. Here are a few of the top benefits you can expect:
Have you ever left your house without your phone? It’s not common to be without our phones in our current fast-paced, immediate-gratification world. In fact, many people keep their mobile phones by them 24-7.
Outside of verbal conversations, text messaging is as direct as businesses can get with their customer communication. The messaging is immediate and since recipients carry their phones with them, they will receive the messages more readily than other forms of communication.
Your customers are receiving your messages
Though email is still a powerful way to market to prospects, SMS marketing messages have a much higher open rate at 82 percent. The reason is that most people text daily for personal reasons so you are targeting them where they spend a lot of their time, writing and waiting to receive text messages.
Since 82% of people open text messages, why not use your text marketing campaigns to increase awareness for your brand? Whether you are running a promotion, a special event, or a discount sale, use text messaging to get your messages across to a larger pool of potential buyers.
Photography agency, A&A Video/NICO Photo, uses SMS text messaging to alert its leads as to when they will be attending wedding shows. This further connects the brand with its leads and also keeps it top of mind with potential customers. The brand has received a good response and their business has grown as a result of using SMS marketing.
How to Grow Your List
To receive the many benefits of your text marketing program, you need a sizable list.
The good news is that it’s not that difficult to grow your list if you use the right strategies and take advantage of every opportunity to get your program in front of potential subscribers. And one of the easiest ways to grow your list is to cross-promote and piggyback off your current marketing strategies.
The list below details some ways you can cross-promote your text marketing program.
Integrate your SMS marketing campaign with all of your social marketing profiles. Create calls to action to join your list and post them on each social network. A call to action is simply a message that urges people to take some kind of action.
A call to action for someone to join your text marketing program may look something like this:
Text GETDISCOUNT to 12345 to get $15 off your next purchase!
Images get the most engagement on social media platforms so add your call to action message to an image background and include all pertinent information a subscriber needs to join your text list. Use image-creating programs such as Canva, Pablo, and Picmonkey to easily create professional images. No graphic design experience required.
If you have a landing page (single website page designed for a specific purpose) that promotes your text marketing list, link to your landing page from your social profiles. If you want to create a landing page to promote your text marketing campaign, you can do so easily with a program such as LeadPages.
Email newsletter or emails
If you have an email list and you send regular emails, add a call to action to the bottom of your emails for people to join your text marketing program.
You can also send single emails periodically that only promote your text marketing program. Spread out these promotional text emails so you don’t overwhelm your list with promotions. Sending them once a month is a good place to start as long as you don’t have a lot of other company promotions going on at the same time. Avoid overwhelming your list with multiple promotions.
Provide an incentive or a special deal to subscribers to encourage signups. One strategy is to piggyback these text subscriber incentives with company-wide promotions. Offer text subscribers a better deal than what you are offering everyone else if they join your text marketing program. People love exclusive discounts and these promotions will urge them to take action. Consider running sweepstakes and contests as well since people love the chance to win free gifts.
And wherever you offer an incentive to join your text marketing program, include the benefits subscribers will receive. This will increase conversions.
Add a call to action to your website via a sign-up form. Prompt users to enter their phone number to opt-in. On your sign up form, provide the benefits subscribers can expect when joining your SMS marketing campaign.
Add a call to action on all printed media advertisements, preferably at the top and the bottom for maximum visibility.
TIP: If your advertisement promotes an exclusive offer, it may not be a good strategy to add a call to action for your text marketing campaign so you do not dilute your core advertising message. Otherwise, use every opportunity to increase text subscribers.
If you hold public events, mention your campaign in person. Add calls to action to event flyers and paraphernalia.
Flyers and internal media
Use every square inch of your store to promote your text marketing program. Add calls to action to your checkout process by printing them on paper receipts, on internal flyers or on in-store or external window signage.
Have a clothing store? Add signs to dressing room walls. Run an eatery? Add calls to action to menus and tabletop pamphlets. Promote special in-store discount codes as an incentive for people to become subscribers. Use every opportunity to promote your campaign.
Audio / video media
Run a podcast? Shoot YouTube videos? Add calls to action to your visual and audio media.
If you run radio advertising or podcasts, toward the end of your advertisement, give listeners an incentive and an easy way to subscribe. Use a clever keyword they can remember (ex: RADIODEAL) since they won’t have the message in front of them.
Promote your text marketing campaigns during and at the end of your videos. Use YouTube end screens and cards to add text and clickable spots in your videos.
If you want a more detailed checklist of these categories and where you can add a call to action to grow your text list, download our free text marketing strategies checklist here.
Wait! Before You Begin…
Make every text message work as hard as it can as you grow your list! To do this effectively, before you start promoting your SMS marketing program, read and apply these few tips below:
Practice promotional message consistency. For example, if you are running a 20% off promo for Black Friday and blasting it to your email list, use similar messaging in your texts so users will recognize the promotion wherever you are marketing it. However, avoid using recycled messages for subsequent promotions. Your goal is to make your valued subscribers feel special. So, once Valentine’s Day rolls around, don’t re-hash the same promotional message from Black Friday. Change up your messaging so that it is unique from your last promotion but remains consistent with your business-wide messaging for that specific promotion.
As mentioned before, offering incentives is key to increasing sign ups to your SMS marketing list. Subscribers need to know they will benefit from you sending them periodic text messages. Otherwise, they will not want to be bothered.
Also, create an incentive that provides maximum value. Some companies' incentives include simply getting company updates, but this isn’t always effective unless your updates regularly include incentives.
One other tip is to make your incentive exclusive by offering a special discount or promotion for only your subscribers who sign up. This will increase sign ups because people will feel “special.”
Keep your text message calls to action simple, clear, and to the point. You only have 160 characters to make an impact so make every word count!
Here is an example of a poor call-to-action message along with an improved version.
Example #1: Text DISCOUNT to 12345 to get a 20% off discount in our store
Example #2: Text MYDEAL to 12345 to get 20% off your entire next purchase!
The first example is mediocre as it doesn’t generate excitement and it is rather bland. In the second example, we made the keyword more compelling and personal by using “my” (MYDEAL) and used the word “entire” so recipients know that the discount code can be applied to more than one item (specificity). We also added an exclamation point for emphasis.
Your audience may prefer one text style over another so try different messages and see how each one fares. But, remember to keep the message as specific and clear as possible and include a little excitement if the message calls for it.
With a little strategy and a clear call to action, you can grow your text marketing list and ultimately your business profits. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, take advantage of the marketing strategies you are already using and cross-promote to get more text subscribers. When creating your messaging, remember to provide a simple and specific clear call to action backed by an incentive to increase the chance of signups.
If you want to get started with text marketing or you are looking for a provider that is dedicated to helping you succeed, you can sign up for free here with no long-term commitment required. You will receive 250 free texts a month, one free Ez keyword and unlimited contacts. Take us for a test spin today and get the most out of your text marketing campaign.
You spend so much time trying to bring new customers in the door, whether that door is a real one or the sales page of a website. Once those customers have been with you for a while, it's easy to assume that they'll always come back. However, if you stop paying attention to your customers, they'll stop paying attention to you as well. Text message marketing can be a valuable tool to market for customer retention: here's how to use it well.
1. Make Their Presence an Invitation
Are your customers in your store or on your website? Congratulations: you have customer engagement. Or do you? Enhance your engagement by inviting your customers to connect with you via text. Whether you place an invitation to text on a napkin in a restaurant or you use a social media message to get your customers to text now for a special offer code, you can use text to encourage your customers to opt into further engagement while they're already interacting with your brand.
2. Send Them a Reminder
Have you ever gotten a reminder that you're overdue for an oil change or a medical exam? These key appointments are ones that you might book on a relatively regular basis, but what about other products? You can send out text messages to prompt your customers to visit and buy at certain times of the year or at specific intervals.
Make these reminders valuable. A home supply business in a hurricane-prone area could send out a text reminding customers to get ready and letting them know that there's a discount available on key supplies. Don't be a nag: be a helpful inspiration instead.
3. Make Your Customers' Lives Easier
Modern life is busy, and you want to make your customers' lives easier, not more cluttered. Instead of just providing a reminder, give your customers a reminder with something of value, such as a coupon. For instance, if you have a sale on t-shirts, you could provide a scannable coupon or code that customers can simply show in the store. They don't need to print or remember anything, and you've just made their lives a little easier - and less expensive.
4. If There's a Process, Should You Automate It?
Is your sales process a lengthy one? Perhaps you rely on your customers to sign up and then come back to sign additional forms or to renew a product every year. If you're an insurance agency, bank, or another business that must have customers return to complete a single transaction, you can use text messages to simplify ongoig communications. Focus your attention on providing your customers with a smooth process, valuable information and offers rather than trying to remember to make phone calls, send emails, or remind them with texts.
5. Celebrate Your Customers
Is it your customer's birthday? Are you celebrating a year of your vendor-customer relationship? Use text messages to celebrate your customers and draw them into your store for a discount that's designed just for them.
At EZ Texting, we're here to support your text marketing efforts. Talk with your customers and draw them into your business again and again. Learn more about the ways in which text marketing can invigorate your business and consistently renew your relationships with customers. Want to learn more? Sign up for free today.
If you don't have a website for your business, you might feel paralyzed by the myriad choices available to you. However, delaying your website launch could cost your customers, so it's time to put your fears aside and start building the best possible website for small business marketing.
Review Your Other Literature
A business website should reflect your brand culture and messaging.
Before you build a website, look at the other literature and marketing materials you've used. For instance, maybe you use SMS marketing to connect directly with your customers. What type of language do you use in your texts?
Keep your marketing messages consistent so you don't confuse your customers. If your brochures and emails exude a light, frothy appeal, you don't want to create a buttoned-down, conservative website.
While you might already use other marketing materials, you can't neglect a website. It's often the first point of contact with a customer. Consider hiring a professional to design it, as well. Studies show that when consumers visit websites, 94 percent of them cite design as a major factor in their first impressions.
Choose the Back End Providers
To create a successful website for small business marketing, you need a domain name, content marketing system (CMS), and web host. You can buy your domain at the same time you sign up for a hosting package or perform the two tasks separately.
Once you select and reserve a domain name and sign up for web hosting, decide how you'll build the site. Consider using one of the nine most popular free CMS options so you don't add any other expenses to your overhead. WordPress, in particular, proves easy to use.
Create Your Content
It's time to put words on the page.
An empty website is just as useless as no website at all. You must populate your website's pages with actionable, persuasive content that complements your text marketing while creating a separate touchpoint for your customers and potential customers.
Some of the essential pages to add to a website include the following:
- Home Page: Introduce your brand, products, or services, preferably with images, video, and other graphic media.
- About Page: Let visitors know who you are, what you do, and why you're the best fit for their needs.
- Product/Service Pages: Each product or service you offer deserves its own page. Provide in-depth descriptions of each one as well as appropriate imagery.
- Contact Page: Don't leave your visitors confused about how to get in touch. In addition to the contact page, add your phone number and email address to the top or bottom of every page on your site.
You might also dedicate pages to e-commerce, FAQs, blog articles, and more. Let your website grow organically as you figure out what your customers want and how they use your site.
Small business marketing involves multiple channels, from text marketing to website content. If you're ready to launch a website and use it to promote your SMS texting program, we're here to help. Sign up for free to learn how EZ Texting makes small business marketing a breeze.
It's a simple reminder, but it can feel awkward. What happens when a customer has not paid off their balance owed? When you need to collect money from customers, text messaging can be a pain-free way to connect with and remind them. If you get stressed by the idea of collections, you can simplify your collections process with text messaging.
Automate Your Collections
Are you using the phone to call customers who are late with their payments? Are you trying to track down people whose credit cards have expired, only to leave message after message? Calling people takes staff time, and you want to put that time into improving your business. By sending out automatic and automated text messages, you save the time that you'd otherwise spend creating individual emails or making multiple phone calls. You can set up a payment reminder to occur at specific intervals instead.
Use the Appropriate Technology
The times are changing. Millennials find phone calls disruptive, and they prefer to ignore the phone when at all possible. However, texting is very prevalent, allowing you to reach a large audience. It's personal, but it's not overly intrusive. SMS marketing allows you to reach your customers successfully through the communication method that they use the most.
If your customers are behind on payments, they are even more likely to ignore the phone and delete your emails. However, they don't tend to ignore their text messages. Eighty-two percent of text messages are opened, while only about 20% of emails are opened. Combine your payment reminders with other valuable text message content, such as coupons and targeted sales reminders, and you'll encourage your customers to continue opening your texts and engaging with your business.
Text Messaging Builds a Customer Relationship
Millennials, in particular, value customized service, but all of your customers will appreciate a personal touch, even at collections time. Build a stronger customer relationship with text messages that are friendly, personal, and less intrusive.
Get a High Return on Investment
Sending out a text message or starting an SMS marketing campaign has a low overhead. It's less expensive than having an employee spend hours on the phone making collections calls. While it may not get everyone to come in and pay their overdue bills, neither will phone calls or emails. Text messaging is very convenient for businesses to use, and that campaign will pay for itself easily.
Are you curious to learn how text message marketing can improve your customer relationships and make your business life easier? Try EZTexting and see how it transforms your business: sign up for free today.
We live in a world of instant gratification. Our patience levels have been steadily decreasing with the introduction of new innovations, from microwaves and Starbucks drive-throughs to Amazon Prime one-day shipments and Instant pots.
But even though our patience has been waning, there is an upside. This obsession can empower marketers to take advantage of instant gratification strategies to target and engage with consumers, more specifically mobile users.
People turn to their smartphones for instant gratification. According to a 2014 mobile behavior report, 91% of people check email and 90% check text messages on their smartphones at least once a day.
Marketers have capitalized on this by using email marketing and text marketing to target and engage with consumers, and both strategies are effective. But, not all marketers use both strategies simultaneously.
By integrating your email and text marketing via cross-promotion strategies, you can attract the attention of more people and cast a wider net. The more people you can get to see your messaging, the greater your engagement — which ultimately boosts sales and profits.
The Power of Cross-Promotion
You may have opt-in pages or forms set up on your website to collect email addresses and gain leads and subscribers. This is an effective way to get people connected to you and your products.
Perhaps you sent an email to your subscribers that announced an important message, update, or special promotion. The chances of a large percentage of people seeing that email are slim. Not everyone checks email and open rates on mobile range from 32% all the way down to 1%, depending on the email client. In addition, people have their own preferred method of communication, some prefer email while others prefer text.
To remedy this awareness issue, use your emails to introduce your SMS campaign to get more text subscribers. To do this effectively, offer an incentive to subscribe and promote it via email. Some ideas would be:
- Special free shipping code for one item
- Special discount code for one item
- Enter a sweepstakes or giveaway
In addition to the one-off incentive emails, include a call to action at the bottom of every email for people to join via text. Give subscribers a keyword to use to opt-in with the number (Ex: Text MYDEAL to 73733). Make the keyword easy to remember and descriptive enough so that it peaks interest. You can also create a landing page and gather phone numbers via a form.
Tip: Add the option for people to sign up as a text subscriber in your email opt-in form. Keep it optional but give them the chance. This way, you can get people on to both lists at the same time.
Cross-promotion: Text to email
What if you have text subscribers you want to become email subscribers?
Execute this strategy by sending one or two incentivized text messages to subscribers. Since you only have 160 characters a text to work with, create the first text to generate interest in your email list. Here is an example:
Reply with the word GETMYDEAL to find out how you can join our email list and get 20% off your next order.
Once the recipients reply, send them a second message. Here is an example:
Thanks for your interest! Reply with your email to sign up for our list and get a private 20% off discount code for your next order.
If you have a good relationship with your text subscribers and they are used to hearing from you, send one message instead. This is a shorter, more concise way to get attention as most people will want to take only one step instead of two. Here is an example:
Thanks for being a subscriber! Reply with your email to sign up for our email list and get a private 20% off discount code for your next order.
Remember to follow standard text messaging protocol and also give people a keyword they can text to opt out of your messages.
By adding subscribers to both your email list and your text marketing campaigns, you will be creating more points of connection with your customers. This will get your brand and message in front of more people and help to increase engagement, leads, and sales.
To help you with cross-promotion and reaching more people, we can get you started right away with a free text marketing account. You will get 250 free texts a month, one free EZ keyword, and unlimited contacts. No commitment required. Try it for free now!
Regardless of your experience in business, you need a social media presence. Social media allows you to connect with potential customers, establish your authority in the industry, and improve customer retention all at the same time.
If you're not a social media maven, use these tips to start putting your business on the digital map.
You don't have to join every social network in the world to help your business succeed. In fact, if you're active on too many social platforms, you risk splitting your focus and giving each one halfhearted attention.
Start with one or two of the larger social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. From there, branch out into a couple niche social platforms. These sites aggregate users based on their interests, which could make them more valuable. You'll gain fewer followers, but every person with whom you connect will have a built-in interest in your business.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule exists to prevent spam on social media and to help brands create positive messaging. Though it's not set in stone, it can solidify your reputation on social media and prevent you from alienating your followers.
About 80 percent of your content should focus on educating, inspiring, or entertaining your audience. In other words, it should contain no self-promotion. You could publish how-to tips, give advice, point readers to other people's content, or make an astute observation about the industry.
The other 20 percent can involve marketing your business. Use this content to announce product launches, link to your content outside of the social platform, encourage people to buy your products or services, and let your readers know about upcoming or current promotions.
Publish Valuable Content
You don't have to Tweet every 15 minutes or update your Facebook status twice an hour. In fact, if you only publish when you have something important to say, your audience will trust you to fill their feeds with useful content.
Plus, you can spend more time crafting your social media posts. The content that goes viral typically takes time to create, so don't rush the process. You might discover that thoughtful content spreads much farther and far faster than posts you rattle off in a hurry.
Did you know that three-quarters of Facebook posts contain images? There's a reason for that. Social media posts that contain images get shared more often and call attention to themselves.
That's why billboards work so well. We're automatically drawn to works of art, whether they're photographs, illustrations, or unique typography. You can use this tendency to your advantage.
Join a stock photography website or ask your in-house graphic designer to focus on creating imagery just for social media.
You might not get the hang of social media right away, but soon you'll grow to love it. The more active you become on your chosen social media outlets, the more visible your brand becomes.
You can also use social media to promote your EZ Texting campaign. Whether you're sending out special coupons or letting customers know about recent promotions, sign up for free and start connecting with your audience on a more intimate level.
How can you keep your customers connected to your business?
Finders, keepers: you know that you need to find new customers, but how do you keep them once you've connected with those customers? According to Client Heartbeat, "acquiring new customers can cost as much as five to seven times more than simply retaining existing customers." As a small business owner, you need to safeguard your investment in your customers. What are some techniques that you can use to increase customer retention?
1. Standout Employees
Your employees need to be trained not just to do their jobs but to excel at customer service. What does a well-trained employee know?
- How to ask questions to get information about customers
- How to answer customers' questions
- How to show authentic interest in customers' needs
- How to connect with customers who are upset
- How to interact with customers in person, on the phone, and online, and how these are different
- How to show expertise in an area, not just competency
Not everyone belongs behind a customer service desk or on the floor as a salesperson. Hire people who are naturals at engaging with customers so that you don't need to retrain or reassign grouchy or quiet staff.
2. Develop a Loyalty Program
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, "regulars can be the best word of mouth for your business." Treat your ongoing customers well, and they'll not only return, but they'll also bring their friends. Find out what products your regulars purchase and offer discounts or promotions on those products. Give them access to a loyalty program with exclusive promotions that they'll only receive when they sign up for the program.
3. Build Relationships Online
Social media is a way to cement your ongoing relationships with your customers. If you can get people to follow you on different social media platforms, you can use these venues to make offers, ask questions, and invite your customers to share their experiences. Sharing these experiences online can also connect you to other prospective customers, as customers mention your deals or share your quotes, ideas, and questions with others. Social media is also a way to learn about your customers' values and show how you share those values with your customers.
Connect with your customers through targeted text messaging
4. Develop Strong Communication Methods
How do you talk with your customers? Developing ongoing communication methods is a way to remind customers to return to your business and cement your relationship. It's also a way of becoming a trusted, reliable resource in your customers' lives.
Segmented email lists can help you communicate with a specific sub-group of your customers, offering them news and opportunities that suit their particular needs.
Blog posts connect you to interested customers and help your existing customers understand new issues in your field, establishing your business as an expert.
Did you know that more than 95% of text messages are read within 5 minutes of receipt? This far exceeds the open rate of an email, and you can easily customize and target your text messages as well. Whether you're sending your customers a reminder to complete an order or connecting with them about an upcoming deal, sending your customers a text message can be the convenient reminder that they need to engage with your business.
Are you curious to see how text messages can help you connect with your customers? At EZ Texting, we're here to support your customer relationships. Increase your customer loyalty through text messaging: sign up for free today.
SMS marketing provides numerous benefits for small businesses, including a high open rate and a high conversion rate. You can achieve such good results with text marketing thanks to two major factors:
- Over 90 percent of American adults own an SMS-enabled cell phone
- Most people carry their phones with them at all times
We live in a society where people check their phones hundreds of times a day. The average smartphone user touches their phone 2,617 times per day! A significant portion of the population even wakes up in the middle of the night to check for messages. The always-on society offers benefits for business owners, including the ability to reach out to customers with last-minute deals and receive a positive response.
Mobile users have a close relationship with their phones.
However, it also makes it tempting to respond to this always-on society with constant communication. It is important as a business that you avoid this temptation. Succumbing to the pitfalls, including texting at inconvenient times and oversaturating subscribers with messages, can quickly take a promising campaign and turn it into a bust. Following are some ways to navigate through this always-on society for a stronger SMS marketing campaign.
The number one way to communicate effectively in an always-on society is to set clear boundaries. You and your team need to determine parameters for your campaign that include:
- Appropriate frequency of messages
- Times that are out of bounds
- Types of approved messages
Each company will have its own set of parameters that make sense for their clientele and business. During your initial meetings, discuss parameters with your team and determine what's best. Survey your clients and customers as well, and then monitor your text marketing program analytics. This will help you determine when your parameters work -- and when they might need to be further adjusted. How do you establish boundaries? Start with the following guidelines.
Respect the customer's time
The most important element of any successful texting campaign is respecting the customer's time. Subscribers may wake up in the middle of the night to check messages, but that doesn't mean you should send them messages at this time. Text messaging is a disruptive medium. Most people have an alert for messages received, so they stop what they are doing to check their phone. This alert might also wake people up. Therefore, send your messages during business hours. It is also beneficial to avoid rush hour and other times that might be inconvenient for your subscribers.
It is not just the time of day to consider; you also need to be aware of the day of the week. Some businesses will receive a better response by limiting their messages to weekdays, while other businesses may receive a good response from weekend messages. Determine whether or not your customers interact with your business on the weekend. For example, companies with business clients will probably not see much text message communication on the weekends, since customers are not at work. However, businesses that work directly with customers might see a greater response if they send weekend text messages.
Another important element of respecting customer's time is sending messages that matter. Your messages need to be relevant and offer value to your customers; for example, offers and deals, exclusive information or reminders. Customers should feel like it is worth it to take the minute out of their day to read your text message.
Limit the number of texts you send
Another way to respect your subscribers is to limit the number of texts that you send out. The ideal number will vary depending on your clientele, but two and four texts per month is the average. Avoid bombarding your subscribers with too many messages, as this could cause them to opt our of your campaign.
Although you want to limit the number of texts you send, you also do not want to send out too few messages. Otherwise, people will forget about your campaign -- and possibly your company. Ask your customers how many messages they would like to receive from your business. If you are texting too often, you might start to see an increase in your opt-out rate.
Once you've determined your ideal number of messages, stick with it. Additionally, discuss message volume and frequency in your terms and conditions so that your customers know what to expect.
Adhere to your customer's preferences
Listen to what your customers have to say for a more effective campaign.
When you create a text marketing program to connect with an always-on audience, you want to be sure you follow their preferences. The best way to know what they want is to ask. Find out how many texts they wish to receive, as well as the ideal days of the week and time of day to receive them. Create a survey for subscribers or talk with them one-on-one, depending on the set up at your business.
You might find that you have a wide range of customer preferences. Luckily, it is possible to cater to them all. Simply segment your subscriber list by customer preferences. You can have a group who wants to receive a high volume of texts and another who wish to receive only one or two per month. You can also have a group who wants alerts on the weekend, and another who only wants to hear from you during business hours. The more you adhere to subscriber preferences, the stronger your campaign.
Respect your customer's time through providing high-quality text messages sent at an appropriate time and frequency. You might have to put in some work to find the right numbers for your business, but it will be worth it in the end. Ready to take the next step? Sign up for free and get started with your campaign today.
Offering mobile coupons to your SMS marketing program subscribers is a great way to encourage them to make a purchase. The important thing is to find a coupon that entices them to take action. If you are stuck for ideas, try one of the following common mobile coupon options.
Send your texting campaign subscribers a coupon for a free gift and see your sales go up.
The word "free" is a powerful motivating force. Even free gifts with small monetary values can have a significant impact on a person's decision to buy something from you. That is why it is so common for businesses to offer a free gift, especially one with purchase.
If you do offer a free gift with purchase, make sure that the math makes sense for your products. For example, if you are a business that sells high-end luxury items, then you might be able to give away a free gift valued at $50 on purchases over $200. However, if you are a bookstore, then you might want to give away a free bookmark or book light with a value of under $5 with any purchase of $15 or more.
The most important component of a free gift coupon is that the gift is something that your customers want. The monetary value is not the deciding factor. It is more important that it is something that they might have bought. This makes it feel even more like a deal when they get it for free.
Percentage Off a Purchase
Another common coupon deal is a percentage off of a purchase. This might be a blanket 30 percent off any purchase, or you might decide to make it more specific — such as 30 percent off of purchases of $50 or more. To determine the right amount, you need to know how much you can shave off of the price without sacrificing your profit margin. These types of coupons will bring in more business, which helps your bottom line. However, you do not want to give such a large percentage off that you ultimately lose money.
Conversely, you do not want to have a deal that is so small that people barely see it as worthwhile. Although you might want to save a 50 percent off coupon for certain times of the year when you are trying to clear merchandise, you also do not want to offer customers too little motivation, with just 5 or 10 percent off. Twenty percent is a good starting point for a strong coupon.
It is also beneficial to have an increasing percentage off based on how much people buy. For example, you could have 15 percent off of a purchase of $50 or more, and then have that increase to 25 percent for purchases of $100 or more. This type of coupon rewards customers for spending more money, which makes them feel like they saved more while helping you to make more despite the higher discount.
Dollar Amount Off a Purchase
A similar coupon is a dollar amount off of a purchase rather than a percentage. For example, you could offer $15 off of a $50 purchase. Some customers will see a dollar off as a better deal than a percentage, even though it is almost the same thing. If someone were to spend $50 at your store and get $15 off, it is a 30 percent discount. If they had a 30 percent discount and also spent $50, they would pay the same.
One aspect of this type of coupon that is nice is that the business typically comes out the winner. If someone has a $15 off of $50 coupon, then it is likely they will end up spending much more than just $50. This decreases their savings, but the customer still feels as though they got a deal. Therefore, at the end of the day, you have won in two ways, through a more beneficial customer experience and increased profit.
Move excess inventory with a special exclusive BOGO sale to your texting customers.
Another highly motivating coupon deal is buy-one-get-one or BOGO. This can be BOGO free or BOGO for a certain amount. Although buy-one-get-one-free is the more common deal, it is also possible to have deals such as:
- Buy one get one for $5 (or another amount)
- Buy one get one for half off (or another percentage)
Either way, this deal works well because it motivates the customer to buy more. They only get the discount if they buy in pairs. Therefore, if they want one thing, they will try to find something else to buy to get the discount. It is a great way to help move product at the end of the season while maximizing your profits on the sale.
These are the four most common types of coupons you will see in SMS marketing programs. You can easily take these formulas and create your own spin to it that resonates with your customers and reflects your business identity.
Sign up for free and see how well your customers respond to these mobile coupons.
As someone involved in the marketing process for your small business, you probably hear a lot about how content is king. While this typically relates to longer form content, such as blog posts and whitepapers, shorter form content like text messages is also important to your business. Think of it this way: because you only have 160 characters to work with in a text, every single character that you use matters that much more.
Word Choice Is Essential
Take the time to cultivate strong content when you craft your text messages.
Across all marketing channels, word choice plays a key role in your success. The words you choose can change the tone and message of your content. For your texting campaign, the right words have the potential to affect the outcome of your efforts. After all, you do not have a lot of room to impart your message, so you have to choose the right words from the get-go.
Take for example the following two texts:
- Show this text for a free muffin with coffee purchase.
- Need a pick me up in the morning? Get a free muffin when you purchase a coffee and show this text. Act fast, this deal ends on [date].
They say the same thing. However, the second example has more character to it, so it may garner a better response from your subscribers.
To craft strong text message content, choose active verbs that motivate people to act. Include additional words to create a sense of urgency and make people feel like they are going to miss out on something important. Your message should also adhere to your overall brand tone and voice.
Find Ways to Motivate and Engage
An effective texting campaign drives your customers to take action. It also provides an opportunity to engage with customers. Often, the customer experience matters more than price and other factors when shoppers choose where to do business. Therefore, you want to find ways that enhance the customer experience as well.
How can you achieve this with your texting campaign? By providing the right content. Ultimately, you want to send out content that is:
If you focus on these elements when you develop the content of your text messages, then you will create a stronger campaign that helps you to reach your goals. What are some messages to which customers respond well?
- Appointment reminders
- Coupons and deals
- Event invites
- VIP access
- Customer service inquiries
- Polls and services
Although these types of messages inherently provide value and service to customers, you still want to be careful about what words you use. The right message will go above and beyond to engage with customers and give them what they want and need. However, the wrong word choice and message could lead to a lackluster response, or even worse.
An Important Piece of Your Brand Identity
The content you choose to send in your texting campaign needs to adhere to your brand voice and tone. This is another reason why it is important to focus on what information you provide, words you use, and message you send. Even something as simple as offering a deal or discount can either be dry or infused with your personality. For example:
- Shop our two-for-one sale. Hurry, offer ends on [date]. Click here or show this text in store.
- Time to refresh your wardrobe! Take advantage of our BYGO Free sale for a new style without breaking the bank. Click here or show this text. Ends on [date].
This is another example of how the same underlying meaning can be conveyed in different ways. Infusing your messages with personality helps to cultivate a relationship with your customers and adds another dimension to your brand identity. The content you send matters.
Texting and Content Marketing
Integrate your texting campaign with your other marketing channels for extra benefit.
Although texting in itself may not be considered content marketing, it can be easily integrated with your content marketing efforts. Marketing across channels helps you to cross-promote other content. For example, you can send a text message with a link to your online content. Online content might include a blog post, a whitepaper, a video, a social media post, or some other component of your digital property.
Although cross-promotion can help to increase the engagement with your potential customers, it's important to show some caution as to how often you share your other content via your text messages. Each channel should have its own unique identity. This gives people a reason to follow your business on multiple channels without getting bored.
Therefore, save cross-promotion for the most important digital content that you feel everyone needs to see. You can do the same with your other marketing channels in regards to your texting campaign. Occasionally, let followers of your digital channels know about your texting program through a blog post, a social media post, or some other type of content.
Even though you are only working with 160 characters, do not dismiss the importance of the actual content within your texting campaign messages. It provides additional ways to engage with customers and motivate them to purchase your goods or services. Additionally, your texting content helps you to develop relationships and enhance your brand identity. The words you choose ultimately have a lot of power in your program. So, even in such a short-form medium, content remains king.
Sign up for free and start developing strong texting content that will help you achieve your business goals.
You began an SMS marketing program after hearing about all the lucrative benefits, including a high open rate and an impressive conversion rate. But are you doing all you can to optimize your program and achieve your small business goals?
As with most marketing mediums, you need to make sure to put in some extra effort to get the most out of text marketing. There are a few simple actions you can take to bring your program to the next level.
Making mobile shopping easy
Make it easy for your customers to make a purchase on their phone with a coupon you sent via text.
Many people use their phones as a shopping tool. Nineteen percent of Americans rely on their smartphones to access the internet due to having limited or no internet access at home. Even those who have multiple devices spend time on their phones comparing items and prices and making purchases. Therefore, if you have an online store, whether or not you also have a brick and mortar store, you want to make sure to make mobile shopping easy.
How do you do this? Two ways. First, you want to include a link in the text messages you send that opens relevant page on your website. For example, if you are highlighting a new product that you think your clients might like, include a direct link. If you are sending out a coupon or offer, make it automatically apply so that they do not have to go back and forth between the message and the web page to redeem their offer. Also, simplify the checkout process to minimize abandoned shopping carts.
You might be thinking: "I only have a brick and mortar store, so this does not apply to my business." Well, there are a few things that you can take from this and apply to your texting campaign. You can still share relevant links to your mobile-friendly web page or social media profile to increase engagement with customers. Many people also will search for stores while they are already out and about or look for information online while in a store, so having a mobile-friendly web page is always a good idea, even if you do not offer online shopping.
Leveraging mobile coupons
Many SMS marketing programs include mobile coupons in some form or fashion. They are important motivating factors for customers seeking a good deal. However, it takes more than simply sending out a coupon to harness the power of the texting offer.
Almost 90 percent of mobile coupon users will redeem their coupon for both online and offline shopping. Mobile coupons are easier to use since customers already have their phones with them. When you send a text message offer to your customers, it is the same thing. They will have their phone on them and can simply show the message at checkout or apply it when shopping online, as mentioned above.
However, this only works if it is easy for them to redeem the mobile coupons. Therefore, you must make sure that you reduce the risk that it will be troublesome to redeem. You can do this in a few ways:
- Train your employees
- Communicate with your staff
- Make it easy to scan at checkout or a simple code
- Be sure to code it into your point of sale system
Leveraging mobile coupons is not just about making it easy for customers to redeem them, although that is a major part. It is also about making them an attractive offer. You want to send out something that makes people want to head to your store to redeem it. There are a few common motivators for coupons:
- The right discount or offer
- Limited time
By including all three aspects, you create a coupon that people cannot refuse. Start by coming up with the right offer or discount, such as a gift, a percentage off of the purchase, or some other discount. It is beneficial to rotate your discount type so that people do not get bored.
You also want to make your coupons expire to motivate people to use them right away. In addition to including a due date, pepper your text with language that imparts a sense of urgency. Also, make sure that your coupon is not available on any other channel. You want to give people a reason to join your texting list and remain subscribers. Every coupon should also be unique so that people do not simply feel they can wait to redeem it when it shows up again.
Developing effective SMS marketing content
SMS marketing might rely upon 160 characters per message, but that does not mean that you simply send out a few words without putting any thought into them. It takes some time to develop the right message. Messages should:
- Convey your meaning
- Motivate action
- Engage customers
The right word choices help you to do this while staying within your character limit. Focus on one theme or subject per message to make it easier to craft a short message. Incorporate strong action verbs and include some words that add some urgency, as discussed above.
Get your team together to write relevant and valuable content that converts.
Also, keep your messages interesting for your subscribers. Add some personalization and personality, but always make sure to remain professional and adhere to your brand voice.
To optimize your content, be sure that you create a call-to-action. If your message is simply informational, then there is no reason for your customers to act. However, if you encourage them to take a follow-up action, then it increases engagement and the chance that they will take the next step.
Balancing message timing with an always-on society
People always carry their phones with them, checking them throughout the day. Some people even check their phones throughout the night for messages. As a result, text messages have an incredible 98 percent open rate, and messages are often opened within just a few minutes of receipt. It can be tempting to not worry about when you send your messages since people are going to look at their phones anyway.
However, you still need to respect your clients and their time. Just because they might check their phones in the middle of the night does not mean you should send messages at this time. Find ways to balance your timing with the concept of the always-on society.
To do this, consider the ideal times to send a text to your target demographic. Would they prefer to receive a text in the morning when they are eating breakfast, or would they rather receive marketing texts after work? Are they more responsive to weekday texts or weekend texts? A lot of this depends upon their interaction with your business, so you will have to review your analytics to determine the most effective message timing.
There are a few things that you can do to leverage the constant checking of phones without worrying about sending messages at an inopportune moment. You can share last-minute, limited time offers. For example, restaurants can send out a coupon for lunch just an hour before lunchtime to motivate people to choose their location for lunch that day. Online stores can have a flash sale in the middle of the day. Nightclubs can send out a text early in the evening to drive business when it looks like a slow night.
It might take time for you to find the ideal timing for your text messages. When you test times, always err on the side of respect. Avoid texting too late at night or too early in the morning. Beyond that, you just need to get a sense of your clients' schedules and habits. Then, you can decide the best time to send out messages to leverage a quick response.
Getting to know your customers better
To harness the benefits of SMS marketing, you must know your customers. The best content is highly relevant and of value to the recipient. It needs to be tailored and customized to their preferences and experiences. The only way to do this is to know your customers, their demographics, their habits, and their psychographics.
How do you get all this information? Well, there are a few ways to go about it:
- Conduct market research
- Talk one-on-one with customers
- Run a survey or take polls
- Look at your data collection across platforms
- Create one or more marketing personas based on your clientele
The more information you have about your current and/or prospective clients, the better your text message content will be.
Integrating text marketing across channels
Customers expect a seamless experience across all channels, including texting.
The best way to get the most out of your texting campaign is to make sure that it is part of an omnichannel marketing experience for your customers. Make it easy for people to engage with your business across channels, including email, social media, and texting. Promote your texting program through other platforms, but ensure you're offering original content and offers across channels.
How does this help your texting campaign? The answer is simple. Instead of duplicating your efforts, each marketing effort will complement the other. Sharing unique content across platforms ensures that people will have a reason to engage with your business on more than one channel.
These are just a few ways your small business can harness the lucrative benefits of text message marketing. Before long, you will see your program start to deliver the promised results, bringing you that much closer to achieving your business goals.
Sign up for free and get started on building a strong campaign to boost your business.
U.S. small businesses are thriving!
In fact, 2016 saw an all-time high of over 7.8 million small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. And while each of those businesses may be small, their collective voice -- and the contributions they make -- are enormous. During Small Business Week, we recognize and celebrate those contributions and the passions that drive them.
Small businesses and the communities they serve support each other. Communities clearly benefit from having local businesses that are invested in their wellbeing. And 95% of small businesses generate sales locally, with 60% confirming that selling directly to their communities is a key element to their success. It's win-win.
But no one said it's easy.
There's a lot that keeps small business owners up at night. Amid changing business regulations and rising costs, small businesses -- just like their larger counterparts -- need to consistently:
- Attract new customers,
- Maintain and grow their existing customers, and
- Find and keep strong employees,
...and over half of small business owners indicated that these priorities are major sources of concern. And sleepless nights.
A robust communications strategy is key to conquering each of these.
Prospective customers need to understand the value of a business's products and services; existing customers need to know they're recognized and valued; and employees need to be kept in the loop with clear and transparent messaging.
All of these groups are inundated with daily messaging -- drowning in emails, distracted by phone calls. So how do the best performing small businesses cut through all that noise to really connect with their contacts?
When is the last time you ignored or missed a text message? Exactly. Fully 99% of text messages are opened, compared to 22% of emails. If you're relying on email, you're missing out.
We've got you covered.
While we can't rein in the rising costs of doing business, we can set you up for success with the most cost-effective communications solution available. Want some help getting started? Our team of Client Success Managers can get you on the right path.
Less worry. More sleep.
So join us in celebrating Small Business Week from April 30 to May 6. Share your story! Inspire others! And be sure to check out the U.S. Small Business Administration's free small business-related webinars for helpful insights and tips.
Thank you for all that you do.
Source: The Business Journals' "2017 SMB Insights"
You may be aware that the CTIA recently updated its Short Code Monitoring Handbook. If you’re new to this, here’s a little background…
A Quick Introduction
The CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) is an advocacy group that represents the U.S. wireless communications industry. It develops and publishes guidelines and best practices for text messaging, seeking to ensure that all parties are protected and that text messaging remains one of the most powerful communication channels.
In conjunction with other materials, the CTIA periodically publishes a Short Code Monitoring Handbook. The Handbook outlines usage guidelines that apply to all users of short codes. The 2017 version of the Handbook was released in late March, and includes two notable updates concerning how businesses can promote their text marketing programs:
- The terms and conditions relating to your text marketing program must be present in full below your signup button or call-to-action. Alternatively (and more conveniently), the terms and conditions can be accessed from a link located near your signup button or call-to-action. In the past, marketers were permitted to display their terms and conditions in a pop-up window; this is no longer allowed.
- Instructions for unsubscribing to your text marketing program — sometimes called “STOP instructions” — can be included in your terms and conditions. Previously, STOP instructions were required to be displayed as part of the call-to-action.
For more information, please visit the CTIA website.
Text message marketing adds value to your business and can enhance the overall client experience. A better client experience often leads to an increase in positive word-of-mouth marketing, which can help you connect with new customers. To get the most out of this channel, it's important to be aware of the many different types of messages you can send to your clients.
Reduce no-shows by implementing text message appointment reminders.
If your business offers services to clients, it is likely that you have some type of appointment setup. Although appointments help you structure your schedule so that each client has sufficient time with your staff members, appointments also mean that you are left without business when clients don't show up. Appointment reminders reduce the number of no-shows, especially if you use the right communication channels.
Text messages have a high open rate and are often opened within a few seconds of receipt. This makes them perfect for sharing appointment reminders. You can send your reminders within 24 hours of client appointments, reducing the chance that someone's schedule will change or they will forget. You can also feel confident that your client will see your message. Text message appointment reminders can help you reduce your number of no-shows.
A good customer experience is a key component of your service business. Every interaction your business has with customers should help them in some way. Consider using your texting campaign to send out helpful tips that ultimately improve your customer service capabilities.
The content you share will differ depending on your type of business, but it might include information about your sales, service hours, appointment availability, and other aspects of your business. You can also simply send out helpful hints or tips. For example, salons may share beauty tips and mechanics may share auto maintenance tips.
Offers and deals
Offers and deals are often the first message type that businesses consider when developing a texting campaign. You definitely want to include them in your cache of message types, since 9 out of 10 mobile coupon users redeem their offers. Plus, offers are always a great way to boost business, since people are always looking for a deal.
Just be careful not to send out too many offers and deals. This may reduce the impact of your offers, since people will simply wait to use the next one, or the one after that. Find a balance between too many offers and not enough offers.
Your texting campaign can be used as a way to send basic information to your clients, especially about any events you might be hosting or changes to your business. These might include:
- Exclusive access
- New staff members
- Change in hours
- Opening a new location
- A fundraiser for a charity
- A community event in which you are participating
- Customer appreciation party
A holiday party or other event
You can also consider developing a text-to-win contest for your clients. Simply choose a short code or long code and some contest keywords. Your clients can then send a keyword to your short code or long code to sign up to win something. At the end of the run, you randomly select a winner. For added impact, give everyone some reward for signing up, such as a discount on services or a small free gift.
Polls and Surveys
Text messages are a two-way communication channel, and it is important that you take advantage of that with your texting campaign. This is where polls and surveys come into play. It is easy to run a texting poll. You simply need to send out a question and a list of potential answers. These are keywords that your clients text back to submit their vote. Then, you see which word had the greatest response.
You can use polls as a guide to make changes in your business, or you can simply engage with customers with a fun poll. For times where you need more in-depth answers, it is possible to send out a link to an online survey for your customers to fill out. Just make sure it is mobile friendly.
Let your customers text you with problems or questions to improve your customer service.
Another way to take advantage of the two-way communication component of texting is to use it as a way to handle customer service inquiries. Often, customers prefer to ask questions via text message because it's convenient. Providing this communication option is a proactive way of creating a more positive experience for your customers. This increases the chance of a successful resolution of any issues.
Use these message types to create value for your clients. By doing this, you will create a program that improves the customer experience. Ready to get started? Sign up for free and try out one or more of these type of messages for your texting campaign.
When clients miss an appointment, it costs your company money. You still have to pay for employee and operating costs, but you receive no revenue. Unless you overbook or have sufficient walk-in clients, you will find your revenue consistently taking a hit from too many missed appointments. One of the biggest reasons for no-shows? Clients simply forget about their appointment -- or they forget to reschedule.
By making it easy for clients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments, you not only reduce your number of no-shows but you also improve your customer service. SMS marketing is a simple and cost-effective tool for appointment reminders. Almost everyone carries a cell phone, and most have it with them all the time and check it almost 50 times a day. Plus, text messages have an almost 100 percent open rate.
Your clients can confirm an appointment at any time from anywhere with a text.
When you send appointment reminders via text message, follow a few simple best practices to get the most out of the service.
Simple and Effective
SMS marketing gives you just 160 characters to work with, and this is perfect for an appointment reminder. You simply need to include the following information in your text:
- Reason for appointment
- Location if applicable
- Call to action
The client should already have some basic information about your company, even if they are a first-time visitor. After all, they did book an appointment with you! Therefore, get straight to the point and provide the information needed to remind them about their appointment and then motivate them to confirm it, reschedule it, or cancel it.
Just because your SMS marketing messages are short and simple does not mean they cannot be personal. With an appointment reminder, it is easy to remain brief while imparting a personal touch that corresponds with your brand identity. For example, rather than sending a text that simply says appointment reminder for tomorrow at 5 p.m., you could write something like:
- Hi Mary, This is a reminder for your haircut with Beth on 4/6 at 3 PM. Please text YES to confirm or NO to cancel or call 555-555-5555 to reschedule.
If you were a client, which message would you prefer to see? Remember, every message you send represents your brand. Adding a personal touch demonstrates that you care about each of your clients.
An essential component of the appointment reminder is timing. Send it too early, and you still risk people forgetting and becoming a no-show. Send it too late, and even if they cancel or reschedule, you are left with an open appointment with no client to fill it. The correct timing for your company depends on your services, your clientele, and how quickly you can fill the appointment. However, a good rule of thumb is to send it about 24 hours in advance.
You can play around with the timing to see if it works better to text the morning of the appointment or two days before, or any other schedule. By monitoring your program's analytics, you will see at what time led to the lowest number of missed appointments.
As with any aspect of your company, client preferences need to be front and center with your appointment reminders. Some of your clients might prefer to receive their reminders through email or phone calls, despite the ease of texting. Always cater to their preferences as much as possible.
When a client schedules an appointment, provide a list of options for appointment reminders and other communications they receive from you. For example, a client might check a box to receive text notifications, email notifications, etc. Keep your list organized so that you have a clear understanding of which subscribers receieve which messages, such as appointment reminders and transactional messages, and those who also wish to receive marketing messages.
Easy Confirmations and Rescheduling
Make it simple to confirm, and you will see your number of no-shows go down.
A client-friendly text message appointment reminder program makes it easy for your customers to confirm their appointment -- and to cancel or reschedule. Don't make your customers go out of their way to cancel or reschedule, as this may lead to no-show appointments. Instead, set up a way for them to easily text back to confirm, cancel, or reschedule.
The easiest way to do this is to have your clients text one of three keywords: Yes to confirm, No to cancel, and Reschedule to reschedule. Then, you will be able to check the response and mark it in your appointment book. Some programs will even automatically confirm or cancel the appointments for you. Rescheduling is a little more complicated, but you can still get it handled with an automated service. You just need to have someone monitor your rescheduling texts and either:
- Call, text, or email the client to find a time and date for the new appointment
- Have your clients include their requested new time and date in the initial text. Then, you answer back a confirmation or the need for a new time and date.
How you handle rescheduling is ultimately up to you. You can also just stick with two keywords for confirming and canceling, and then include your number for rescheduling, like the example above.
Appointment reminders are easy to create and implement with your SMS marketing program. Sign up for free and get started with your appointment reminders and other SMS marketing messages.
Communication is key for any business. For those in the service industry, it is essential to develop a strong communication program for your clients. They expect the best from you -- and they will make their decision on whether or not to patronize your business based on their experience with you. Therefore, you want to make the entire experience, from initial contact to follow up, as seamless and client-centric as possible. One way to do this is through SMS marketing and communication.
Why Service Businesses Should Use Texting
Spas, salons, auto repair shops and other businesses in the service industry benefit from texting campaigns.
Several service businesses may benefit from running a texting campaign, including health care practices, auto repair shops, spas, salons and more. Text messages provide an avenue for easy two-way communication between you and your current, future and past clientele that also helps to drive business.
There are a few main reasons why you should implement a texting program:
- Customers want it
- High open rates
- Immediate response
- Simple, yet impactful
Some businesses have resisted using SMS marketing and communications out of fear that potential clients do not want to be contacted by businesses via text message. This is not true. A majority of consumers feel text messages are a great way to communicate with businesses.
SMS marketing statistics do not lie. Texting is a powerful medium with potential for a high impact. Text messages have a 98 percent open rate and are typically opened within just a few minutes of receipt. This allows for an almost immediate reaction from your recipients.
What's more, you do not have to worry about whether or not your clients have access to a text. More people have mobile phones than computers. Even though not everyone has a smartphone, the majority of mobile phones are SMS-enabled. Therefore, you will have a communication channel that includes everyone, with no worry about subscribers missing your messages because they do not have access to email or social media.
Text message marketing is a cost-effective solution that can be used in many different ways. You can use texting to share promotional materials, as a customer service tool, and more. With all of the capabilities of this medium, your service business may be at a loss without it. Service professionals can also use texting to do the following:
- Simplify the customer experience
- Enhance customer service
- Streamline communication
In the service industry, it is essential to create a stellar customer experience that stands out from the competition. Adding SMS marketing to your communications arsenal is a small change with major effects. There are many different ways that you can use it to enhance your service to your customers.
Types of Messages to Send
Now that you know it is a good idea to get started with an SMS marketing program for your service business, it is time to learn more about the types of messages to send. There are a few key categories of messages:
- Offers and deals
- Customer service
- Transactional alerts
- Appointment reminders
- Event reminders
- Polls and surveys
- Contests and games
Offer your customers more than just coupons and deals with your text marketing campaign.
Companies often focus on using texts to share offers and deals with customers. This is because customers respond well to these types of messages. However, you do not want to solely focus your efforts on sending offers and deals; instead, this should be one component of your overall strategy.
In addition to offers and deals, it is beneficial to use text messages as a customer service tool. Customers often prefer contacting businesses through text in order to handle customer service issues. By providing a convenient way for them to get in touch, you simplify the customer experience and lay the groundwork for a more positive encounter. You can also send your customers receipts and other transactional messages through text messages.
Additionally, your texting campaign can be used to send your clients information about your business, such as changes to your office hours. You can also have fun with your messages, sharing polls and surveys to learn more about your customers and their expectations and wants. The only limitation on what type of messages you send out is your creativity. A good rule of thumb to remember: only send things that resonate with your clients so that they remain part of your program.
In addition to the messages you send out to your subscribers, you also can use texting as a marketing tool. Simply add a keyword, your short code and short instructions to your existing advertisements. People carry their phone with them at all times, so no matter where they see your ad, they can send you a text to find out more information about your company.
Benefits of Appointment Reminders
Appointment reminders are one of the more popular text message options for businesses in the service industry. This type of message helps businesses in a few different ways:
- Reduce no-shows
- Improve customer service
- Increase profit potential
When a client misses an appointment, you lose money. This is because you retain your operating cost but will have no source of income for that period of time. Therefore, it is essential to reduce your number of no-shows. One of the biggest reasons that people miss appointments? They forget about them. That is why appointment reminders are so important.
So why should you use an SMS marketing program rather than email or voice calls? Because of the high open rates, and the potential for immediate response. People do not always check their email or listen to voicemail messages. However, they do tend to read their texts, which increases the likelihood that they'll remember their appointment with you.
Consider asking your clients via text message to respond YES to confirm their appointment, or NO to reschedule. This allows you to be more efficient while increasing your profit potential. Your clients will be more likely to keep their appointments, and you won't miss out on business due to no-shows.
When you implement an SMS marketing program, ensure that you remain compliant with communication regulations. As a service professional, it is even more important to adhere to guidelines to maintain a positive client experience.
One of the most important guidelines states that you must obtain written permission to text every person on your subscriber list. You can get this permission through:
- Opt-in texts
- Online forms
- In-person forms
When new clients fill out their paperwork, you have the chance to inquire whether they would like to receive text messages from your business. You can also add a text message CTA to your marketing materials encouraging people to opt-in to find out more about your company. However, you always want to send a confirmation text with program details to ensure that those who've opted-in actually want to sign up. They will need to confirm their opt-in before they can be added to your subscriber list.
Other aspects of compliance include:
- Retaining records for at least four years
- Providing opt-out instructions on a regular basis
- Not sending texts between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the client's time zone
Some service professionals might have to follow certain guidelines specific to their industry. For example, healthcare professionals also must consider certain patient privacy issues and other regulations. Be sure that you are aware of any communication issues that affect your industry.
Keep your customers happy by creating an SMS marketing strategy that follows established best practices.
In addition to specific regulations, there are also some basic best practices that you should follow with your SMS marketing program so that it remains client-focused:
- Limit the number of texts
- Text within appropriate times of day
- Focus on providing value
- Keep your content relevant
- Provide personalized and targeted content
The ideal number of texts you send out will depend on your program and the interest of your clients, but two to four messages per month is typical. Customers like to receive texts from businesses, but they do not like to receive them every day, and definitely not multiple times per day. Review your subscriber lists regularly to see if you are sending too many texts. How will you know? You will see an increase in your opt-outs.
You also want to send messages at appropriate times of the day. Avoid the early morning, rush hour and late at night. Focus on being respectful, and you will find a time that works well. This is another place that your subscriber lists will inform you of any problems.
Text message content also should remain relevant to your audience and provide something of value to them. You might only have 160 characters to convey your message, but that is sufficient to send information that they care about, such as a coupon or appointment reminder. You can also segment your subscriber list into groups based on different demographics and behavior patterns to create personalized messages that are even more relevant to your subscribers.
A good approach is to always put service first and then promote your business. Remember, you are in the business of providing excellent service to your clients, and your text message communications should reflect that. If you take a service first approach, then you will enhance your customer experience and reap the benefits of this lucrative marketing channel.
Sign up for free and start taking advantage of the many benefits of texting for your business.
Neth Williams is the Marketing Manager of Occam DM, where she oversees all the marketing communications of Occam DM.
Occam-dm has over 20 years of customer engagement experience. How much have you seen the field grow and change, in that time? What's remained the same?
Occam- DM has seen a lot of changes in customer engagement. The Internet has changed considerably in recent years. Traditional media has been overtaken by the growing use of social media and digital technologies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other Web platforms. The growing pressure on organisations to improve how they interact and engage with their customers have remained the same, just with added pressure on what digital channels they should use and the issues of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Occam DM works with organizations across the UK to help them tame and collate their data - which is a problem facing a lot of today's digital marketers. What are some of the risks of having untamed data, spread across multiple channels?
We have been working with data and building Single Customer View (SCV) solutions since the early 90’s. This means there isn't much we haven't seen; our people, processes and technology are highly optimized to help marketers achieve their data driven marketing goals by releasing the potential in their customer data. We work across Customer Insight, Campaign Services, Software Consultancy, Marketing Consultancy and Data Platform Migration and Production.
There are loads of risk to using multiple channels, which is why it is good to understand the information you currently hold. One of the main issues faced with businesses currently is the uncertainty of understanding GDPR, and how it effects the data the company holds presently.
A few years ago, everybody was hopping on the app bandwagon as the next big thing. Push notifications were a new and novel way for customer engagement - but over 50% of all iOS users opt out of receiving push notifications, and only 6% of push notifications lead to brand engagement. Why might some marketers want to consider switching their efforts to SMS marketing, for greater customer engagement?
Mobile marketing is becoming increasingly popular because the number of people using their mobile to search for products and services online is becoming greater. SMS service is seen to be more effective than emails, because the tendency to read SMS is becoming greater than reading emails.
SMS marketing is often preferable to other forms of marketing, as it requires users to opt-in to receive SMS updates. What are some different ways sales and marketing teams might entice customers to sign up to receive SMS updates?
Companies may use this to send notification about upcoming sales or events. Clearly the SMS must have one direct message and it should be short, at that. It is very important to have consent from the individual, as stressed by ICO.
One thing that's great about SMS marketing, but also challenging, is the short messages. Can you recommend some methods for a marketing team to squeeze their marketing messages into 160 characters or less?
Messages must be personal, relevant and have a clear call to action. You must spend time on what you want to address and convey before you send it. Making it personal adds that extra little touch, making your customers feel valued. Simply addressing their name in the message is a good start and will get you a better response. You must tell your customers how to respond, including how they get in touch with you. You can also add specific keywords into the content such as ‘Text MORE for more info’. This will indicate the recipient is interested and responsive to your SMS. It is also very important, like emails, to include a way to opt out of receiving SMS messages, e.g. Text OPT OUT to 34721. This will stop you wasting your time and money on individuals that aren’t interested.
Occam DM are experts at targeting and segmenting potential customers. What are some different methods marketers can use to sort their data from other channels to make them more useful for SMS marketing? Where are some places marketers can source that data?
For over 20 years, Occam has delivered marketing technology solutions that turn data into the actionable insights that power better customer experiences.
Through its Single Customer View technology and expert data management services, Occam works with organizations across the UK to tame their data, helping them collate it, improve it and understand it, so they can create customer communications and experiences that are more relevant, more timely and better targeted. Part of the St Ives Group, Occam is one of the UK’s largest customer engagement agencies.
According to Digital Marketing Magazine, people usually respond to text messages within 90 seconds of receiving them. How can a company make use of return texts to further future marketing efforts?
Here's a very interesting article from Laura Varley, written over 3 years ago - technology has advanced immeasurably in that time. Certain companies could benefit from this, especially with the rise of integrated technology like smart phones, that allow you to view anything that your phone receives. She makes a great point about SMS loyalty programs, which I could see this working with superstores, with the right marketing consent from the individual.
This article from A destra.com '10 Innovative Ways To Use SMS Marketing,' is a great read on how to make use of SMS marketing.
One of the reasons SMS marketing is so successful is that everyone is flooded and overwhelmed with marketing messages from all their other channels. Why is it important SMS marketers don't bombard your customers with too many messages? What might be an optimal amount, per week or monthly?
First off, SMS is unique in the sense that many companies don’t utilize this form of marketing, mostly due to costs. The only thing I’d stay clear of is bombarding individuals at the wrong time - no one likes receiving messages at work or first thing in the morning. It is a hard to answer that question without knowing the context. For instance, I can understand if an SMS is sent a day or two before an event, but general product/sales messages should be monthly. The more frequent the SMS are, the more likely the individual will opt out.
Local marketing is increasingly important, as people realize that the Internet can't fulfill all their needs. What are some kinds of local businesses that could benefit from SMS marketing, if they're not using it already? How might non-local businesses still make use of SMS marketing, and in what ways?
Companies that provide a service should utilize SMS, like local sports centers offering specific classes or special events. Then again a great example of SMS marketing is Dominoes, (yes, I am a massive pizza lover.) They produce the right content at the right time, sending special offers on that day- like two for Tuesdays. They are clever about it because they include the location.
Another great example is when the local dentist or doctors send you a SMS reminder of your appointment. Yes, they may not be pushing you to buy anything but they are reducing the time wasted from missed appointments at the same time making you feel valued.
Feeling valued creates good awareness and experience, this links back to Laura’s article about why businesses should use SMS as a customer loyalty offering.
Want to learn firsthand how SMS marketing can grow your business? Sign up for free today!
When social media first hit its stride, marketers became excited about the potential to interact with customers on a more personal level. Plus, they could increase organic traffic through utilizing the social network of customers. The social component of social media remains one of the main selling points of this marketing channel for businesses. Are there ways to gain a similar social benefit from other marketing channels?
With the right strategy, you can create social engagement with your SMS marketing program.
It is possible to run a texting campaign that creates social engagement for your company. However, this is only done if you do more with your message than simply inform companies or provide offers and deals. These types of messages have value; however, they will rarely lead to the same type of social engagement you can get from social media marketing. If you are looking to add some social engagement to your texting campaign, then focus on the following elements.
Polls and Surveys
One way to engage with customers is to run polls and surveys. This increases interaction with customers and makes them feel like you care about what they have to say. The right poll also gives them a level of connection with the company. For example, send out a poll to name a new menu item or product line based on the one with most votes. When customers see the item they chose implemented, they will feel as though they had a role in making it happen.
Polls and surveys do not need to simply help you to better serve your customers, although that is a significant component of their capabilities. They also can help you to facilitate more social interaction with customers. Occasionally, send out a poll to see what people like and dislike. For example, ask for people's favorite superhero or movie. When big events happen, such as the Oscars or the Super Bowl, get people to vote on who they think will win.
This brings the interaction with your company into a more social arena, something that they might talk about with their friends and family. The interaction is not directly tied to your company, but you ultimately benefit from the engagement and customer experience.
Games and Contests
Create games that get people excited so that they tell their friends.
Another way to implement social interaction with your customers is to run games or contests. This works similarly to polls. It is a way to get people to interact with your company that goes beyond simply shopping at your business or using your services. You can even create a game that ultimately provides them with more information about your goods or services.
For example, ask a multiple-choice question about your business or products. People can text in their answer. Then, you respond with the correct answer and some additional information about the product.
Instead of making the game specifically for your company, you can have an on-going trivia game with customers. You can raise the stakes by offering prizes for those who play. People love playing games, and the positive feelings they get from doing well in your quizzes will ultimately be associated with your brand, helping to increase customer loyalty down the line.
The right games or contests also have the potential to be shared with friends and family members, helping you to gain that organic reach that is so promising with social media marketing.
A texting campaign should never be considered as a one-way communication method. Texting is a two-way channel, and you need to be sure that you utilize it as such. Set up some keywords with automatic responses so that people can easily interact with you for additional information. Additionally, have someone monitor the platform and answer any inquiries. People like to use texting as a way to handle customer service issues.
When you implement two-way texting, be sure to:
- Respond quickly
- Be polite
- Remain professional
Depending on your industry, there might be ways to set up a two-way messaging system that answers customers' question about a wide range of topics not directly associated with your business. For example, if you sell computer goods and electronics, then you could operate a troubleshooting texting campaign that helps customers know when they need to get their computers fixed. If you work in the healthcare industry, then customers can text you about certain complaints to know whether or not they need to visit a doctor.
These additional services might not be as fun as a game or contest, but it does provide interactions with your customers that go a long way to building a relationship based on trust and respect. This, in turn, improves their overall experience with your company, which they will tell to their friends and family members. This raises your word of mouth referrals, the ultimate form of marketing.
Texting a Friend
Speaking of word of mouth referrals, another way that a texting campaign can create social engagement for your company is through texting a friend campaigns. One of the benefits of social media marketing is that customers can easily share with their friends and even tag them in a post. This introduces friends to your company, helping to spread the reach of your company.
A texting campaign has the potential to do a similar action through someone forwarding the text to a friend. Most smartphones have the capability to forward texts from one person to the next. This makes it easy for people to share deals, offers, information, contests and other information with their friends. Provide incentives for doing so, and see your texting campaign grow through social networking.
Add some MMS
Media in text messages is another way to increase engagement and shares.
Another way to interact with customers as a way to engage socially is to send them information that is simply fun for them to receive. This would be the equivalent of memes or pictures on social media. You have the capacity to do something similar with MMS messages. MMS stands for multimedia messaging service. With this, you have the capacity to send things like:
- Short videos
- Audio bits
With the right multimedia message, you have the capacity to create a viral text that goes from person to person. It also provides another way to interact with your customers in a more social way, rather than simply always sending them offers and deals about your business. There is one main downside, however: not every phone can handle MMS messaging, so you might lose some of your customers with these type of messages.
There are many ways to create a social engagement with your texting campaign. However, you want to be sure not to oversaturate customers with text messages just because you want to facilitate a relationship. Ultimately, you want to stick to a frequency that keeps with the engagement but also adheres to their preference. This is on top of the deals, offers, event reminders and other information you might text out.
How much of your business is from local consumers? Whether it is a small percentage or a large one, it is important to spend time on creating a dynamite local advertising strategy that stands alone or complements your larger marketing efforts
Text message marketing has many promises and advantages. It is cost-effective, and typically costs just a few cents per message. Additionally, it is versatile and can complement almost any other marketing channel. It has a high open rate and a high conversion rate. Therefore, it is great for businesses small and large with a local or a global reach. To wit, check out our Ez Texting Guide for local advertising with SMS.
Call to Action
Make it easy for people to take action on your local ads.
One of the first places to start when utilizing SMS marketing in your local advertising efforts is using it as a call to action on any of your current advertisements. There is a wide range of options for local advertising:
- Car wraps
- Print ads
- Online ads
- TV/radio spots
- Direct mail
In each of these areas, include a short code and keyword for people to text. Texting CTAs are more effective than many other options. This is because you are making it easy for people to find out more information about your company when they see your ads. Many people are already out and about when they search for restaurants, stores, and other businesses. If they see your ad somewhere, they need to be able to take action without having to remember anything. They need something they can do right away before they forget -- and you lose a potential customer.
The reason that texting works? Potential customers most likely will have their phones on them, so they can simply take them out and text the keyword to get more information about your company, including receiving deals and discounts.
Think Like a Local
Whether you are a local business or have multiple locations, it is important to think like a local when you develop your local advertisements. The same goes for SMS marketing targeted at particular locations. People want to shop locally and help their community. Whether you are a large business or a small one, you want to demonstrate to people why they should choose you over other options. Use your SMS marketing campaign as a way to provide service to your customers that go above and beyond the competition.
An important piece of this? Engage with customers -- and with the community -- through your texting program. To do this, do not simply think of your SMS marketing program as a way to promote your business. Instead, find ways that provide service to your customers and community. You might also find ways to use your texting campaign to foster a community around your place of business. Perhaps you host events or help out local non-profit organizations. This helps you to build a reputation around the community not just as a place of businesses but as a company that really cares about the community.
Group Your Customers
If you have multiple locations, then you have an opportunity to send targeted messages to the demographics within each region of your business. You can customize the texts to each region for a more local effect. To do this, it is important to first group your subscribers by their location. There are a few ways to acquire the information in order to do this:
- Request during opt-in
- Use different opt-in keywords per region
- Integrate information across channels
- Send out a survey
You might choose to implement more than one strategy to ensure that you have the accurate information about your customers so that they receive the messages that apply to them.
In addition to grouping your customers by region, it is also beneficial to group them by other demographics and behavior patterns. The more information you have about your customers, the better you can target messages tailored to their interests for a more effective campaign.
Timing and Frequency
Check your list for any duplicate entries to avoid over-texting customers.
Grouping your subscribers by locations and other data is highly beneficial, but you do run into one potential issue: having customers in more than one group. This might lead to sending them more messages than they wish to receive. Therefore, you want to ensure that you keep track of the amount of message you send customers so that you do not duplicate your messages to one customer.
Similarly, you want to be aware of what time you send customers in your different regions. Always keep in mind the time zone and avoid sending texts too early, too late or during inconvenient times, such as rush hour. If you only have one location, it is still important to choose an appropriate time to send your messages. SMS marketing can be disruptive, so you want to respect your subscribers. This keeps them happy so that they remain on your list.
There are many ways to utilize SMS marketing as a stand-alone advertising channel or as part of a comprehensive local and/or global advertising effort. To get the most out of your local advertising efforts, use texting as a strong CTA and create a personalized message tailored to the needs and wants of your audience so that it provides value.
Sign up for free and get started with your local texting campaign.
When it comes to customer service, people want -- and expect -- businesses to make it easy for them to reach out. About 82 percent of responders of a survey believe that there needs to be an easy way for customers to communicate with businesses. For many, that way is text message marketing. In fact, over half of consumers prefer using text messaging for customer service than other channels. Therefore, it is essential that you include a component of service into your SMS marketing campaign. There are many ways to do so, and a few factors you must include. Alerts and Reminders Some of the easiest forms of customer service messages are alerts and reminders. Businesses in the healthcare or service industry can send out appointment reminders. This not only benefits customers, as they do not forget, but it also helps your bottom line by reducing no-show appointments. Businesses with events, including sales, also benefit from sending out reminders to customers. The beauty of text message marketing is that it is perfect for last-minute reminders. Most people open texts within just a few minutes of receipt. Plus, a whopping 98 percent of texts are actually opened. Therefore, you can almost guarantee that people will see your message, and you can send them closer to the event or appointment to reduce the chance that customers will still forget. Two-Way Communication Text message marketing is not just about sending messages out to customers; it is also a way for customers to send messages to you. This is great for customer service inquiries. People can send a message to a dedicated number with their problem or inquiry. You can have live customer service agents who will discuss the matter via text, responding back and forth until it is resolved. Alternatively, they can send a particular keyword, such as SERVICE, to your number and get an automated response with ways to handle a problem. Customer like the ability to text customers with customer service issues. This is because it can be handled from anywhere. As soon as they realize they need help, they can communicate with you. Customers do not need to be somewhere with internet service. Plus, they typically will have their phone with them. Even if they are busy, they can often send out a text. Chatbots and Automated Messages Many text message marketing platforms integrate automated messages, and some are adding chatbots. This makes it easy to expand your customer service via text. You can set up keywords that match some of the most common inquiries or troubleshooting issues about which customers will contact you. Then, you create an automated response with tips on how to solve it or a link to a website that answers the question. Chatbots can take this a step further. They integrate AI technology so that they can respond to the customer similar to a real person. They can handle customer service through text message without you having to hire customer service agents. Transactional Messages You can also use your text marketing campaign to handle your transactional messages. Rather than sending out an email or have an app with alerts, you simply send out an automated message when someone places an order, something is shipped, or when there is a delivery. One key area of customer service is that you offer choices to customers. Therefore, adding texting for transactional messages gives customers one more preference. Best Practices When you integrate your text message marketing campaign into your customer service department, there are a few key best practices to follow: Ultimately, you want to create something that goes above and beyond to provide service and value to customers. It needs to meet and even exceed the expectations that customers have for optimal customer service. Just because you are using a tool that only involves 160 characters does not mean that you are not able to continue to provide excellent customer service. You just need to adjust how you develop your responses so that they continue to adhere to your brand voice and style while adhering to the parameters of the medium. Sign up for free and get started with a text-based customer service option.
With texts, people can handle customer service issues from anywhere.
Chatbots make it even easier to handle multiple customer service inquiries.
Bear in mind some key factors when implementing your program.
In fact, over half of consumers prefer using text messaging for customer service than other channels. Therefore, it is essential that you include a component of service into your SMS marketing campaign. There are many ways to do so, and a few factors you must include.
Alerts and Reminders
Some of the easiest forms of customer service messages are alerts and reminders. Businesses in the healthcare or service industry can send out appointment reminders. This not only benefits customers, as they do not forget, but it also helps your bottom line by reducing no-show appointments. Businesses with events, including sales, also benefit from sending out reminders to customers.
The beauty of text message marketing is that it is perfect for last-minute reminders. Most people open texts within just a few minutes of receipt. Plus, a whopping 98 percent of texts are actually opened. Therefore, you can almost guarantee that people will see your message, and you can send them closer to the event or appointment to reduce the chance that customers will still forget.
Text message marketing is not just about sending messages out to customers; it is also a way for customers to send messages to you. This is great for customer service inquiries. People can send a message to a dedicated number with their problem or inquiry. You can have live customer service agents who will discuss the matter via text, responding back and forth until it is resolved. Alternatively, they can send a particular keyword, such as SERVICE, to your number and get an automated response with ways to handle a problem.
Customer like the ability to text customers with customer service issues. This is because it can be handled from anywhere. As soon as they realize they need help, they can communicate with you. Customers do not need to be somewhere with internet service. Plus, they typically will have their phone with them. Even if they are busy, they can often send out a text.
Chatbots and Automated Messages
Many text message marketing platforms integrate automated messages, and some are adding chatbots. This makes it easy to expand your customer service via text. You can set up keywords that match some of the most common inquiries or troubleshooting issues about which customers will contact you. Then, you create an automated response with tips on how to solve it or a link to a website that answers the question.
Chatbots can take this a step further. They integrate AI technology so that they can respond to the customer similar to a real person. They can handle customer service through text message without you having to hire customer service agents.
You can also use your text marketing campaign to handle your transactional messages. Rather than sending out an email or have an app with alerts, you simply send out an automated message when someone places an order, something is shipped, or when there is a delivery. One key area of customer service is that you offer choices to customers. Therefore, adding texting for transactional messages gives customers one more preference.
When you integrate your text message marketing campaign into your customer service department, there are a few key best practices to follow:
Ultimately, you want to create something that goes above and beyond to provide service and value to customers. It needs to meet and even exceed the expectations that customers have for optimal customer service.
Just because you are using a tool that only involves 160 characters does not mean that you are not able to continue to provide excellent customer service. You just need to adjust how you develop your responses so that they continue to adhere to your brand voice and style while adhering to the parameters of the medium.
Sign up for free and get started with a text-based customer service option.
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