SMS Text Marketing Blog

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 13:27 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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. 

Free Gift 

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.

BOGO

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.

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 14:55 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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: 

  • Valuable
  • Relevant 
  • Customer-centric

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.

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 09:02 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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
  • Exclusivity 

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.

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:53 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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?

Text messaging.

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"
Tue, 04/18/2017 - 12:20 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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.

The Updates
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 11:24 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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.

Appointment Reminders


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.

Helpful Tips

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.

Event Information

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: 

  • Sales
  • 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
     

Contests

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.

Customer Service 

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.

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 11:07 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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: 

  • Date 
  • Time 
  • 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.

Personal 

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.

Timing

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.

Client Preferences

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.

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 09:57 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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
  • Inclusive
  • Versatile
  • Simple, yet impactful
  • Cost-effective 


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
  • Information 
  • 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. 

Compliance 

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.

Best Practices

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.

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 10:41 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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! 

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 11:22 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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. 

Two-Way Texting 

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: 

  • Photos
  • Short videos
  • Gifs
  • Memes
  • 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.

 

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 10:01 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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
. One essential component of any strong local advertising arsenal is SMS marketing.

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:

  • Posters
  • Car wraps
  • Flyers
  • Print ads
  • Online ads
  • Billboards
  • 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.

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:29 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

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.


With texts, people can handle customer service issues from anywhere.

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


Chatbots make it even easier to handle multiple customer service inquiries.

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


Bear in mind some key factors when implementing your program.

When you integrate your text message marketing campaign into your customer service department, there are a few key best practices to follow:

  • Offer choices
  • Service first
  • Think like a customer
  • Make it easy
  • Remain professional
  • Do not go over 160 characters
  • Provide value
  • Integrate across channels

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.

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:26 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

SMS marketing is poised to have one of its best years. Many marketing experts are projecting record years for texting adoption, and they predict by 2025, about half of text messages will be from businesses to consumers. So now is the perfect time to adopt texting, if you have not done so already.

As with any marketing strategy, there are constant changes that need to be adopted into the campaign strategies over time. This year is no different. So, what should you expect to see emerging as the top strategies for 2017 in text message marketing? Read on to find out, as well as some tips on how to incorporate them.

Customer Service: People are turning increasingly to texting for customer service solutions.

Automation: Chatbots and AI tech will change the way we use automated messages.

Social engagement: Texting is poised to pass social media for some aspects of marketing. Find ways to integrate the two channels.

Local advertising: Texting works very well for local advertising solutions.

Mobile first: More people are turning to their mobile devices to access the internet. Discover how texting fits in.

Multi-channel marketing: Develop a seamless integration of all your marketing platforms, including texting, for an enhanced user experience.

Time-Tested strategies: Just because there are changes doesn't mean you need to completely give up everything you've done before.

 
Customer Service

Customer service has already been an important component of any SMS marketing strategy. There are many ways to implement it:

  • In store keywords for help
  • Two-way communication via text
  • Inquiries and requests handled via text
  • Transactional messages
  • Better engagement and customer experience


Texting gives you a great way to provide superior customer service.

If you do not have some level of customer service in your SMS marketing strategy, 2017 is the year to do so. The majority of customers want to utilize this platform as a way to engage with businesses and handle customer service issues, including troubleshooting problems or asking questions.

When developing your customer service strategy, keep your focus on the customer experience. You want to make it easy for customers to interact with you, whether they have a simple question or a larger problem. It should be a positive experience so that the customer walks away feeling satisfied.

Ready to take your customer service strategy to the next level? Look for chatbots to make their way to the testing environment in the near future. Chat bots utilize artificial intelligence to interact with customers in a way similar to another person. They can handle many different components of customer service:

Inquiries

 

  • Handling problems
  • Providing solutions
  • Assisting with sales
  • Setting up appointments
  • Handling payments
  • Automation

    Another emerging trend for SMS marketing is automation. You already have some automation in your texting campaign, namely the response messages to your keywords. There are many ways to include automation into your campaign:

    • Chatbots
    • Customer service
    • Keyword response
    • Drip campaigns
    • Scheduled campaigns
    • Birthday/anniversary messages
    • Repeat campaigns
    • Follow up messages

    What type of automation strategy do you have in place for your campaign? To take full advantage of your campaign, it is best to have more than your confirmation message after someone sends a keyword to opt-in to your program.

    When you create your automation strategy, you will incorporate similar concepts to any marketing strategy:

    • Develop an objective
    • Focus on targeted content
    • Schedule timely messages

    The beauty with automation is that you can set it up once and then it can keep one part of your program going for a long period of time. It is perfect for drip campaigns since it will continue to hit leads at certain times to keep them engaged and interested, moving them forward towards conversion and repeat business.

    Social Engagement

    Another important strategy to include with your SMS marketing program is incorporating social engagement. People more and more turn toward text messaging as a way to communicate with friends, family members, businesses and many other people. You want to infuse your campaign with parts of this social component to reach your customers on a more intimate level.

    Text messaging is innately more intimate since you are sending messages to people on their cell phones in a similar manner to their friends and family. Just like social media marketing promises the ability to have your information right next to that of your customers' social network on their feeds, you have a similar place in their message inbox.


    Bring social interaction into your texting campaigns.

    Therefore, you want to take advantage of this situation for more social engagement. Now, it is unlikely that you will interact with every texting subscriber on a one-to-one basis. However, you can leverage your content to have a more friendly and intimate feel to it to get people to start seeing your brand as their friend.

    Additionally, you can utilize your social media profiles to support your texting program and vice versa. This also helps you to cross promote your channels and hit people on multiple levels through different channels.

    When you create more social engagement messages with your texting campaign strategy, there are some key rules you should follow:

    • Remain professional
    • Infuse some humor
    • Avoid text speak and abbreviations
    • Connect emotionally
    • Provide value
    • Remain relevant
    • Personalize messages

    Your social content in your texting campaign will be similar to that in your social media posts. You will find ways to connect with customers beyond simply selling them something or providing values and deals. However, ultimately you will remain a professional business that simply relates on a more personal level.

    Local Advertisement

    SMS marketing provides a key component to local advertising efforts. If you have not yet taken advantage of this component of your program, then be sure to do so. Promote your business in your local newspaper, on community radio, with geo-targeted ads and more. Include texting as your call to action. Then, when customers see the ads, they can text a keyword to opt in and receive more information about your business.

    This works very well for when people are already out shopping or looking for a restaurant. When they see your information, they can act and get an immediate response. Even if they are already in your store, they can take advantage of an offer for signing up for your texting program.

    This not only improves your overall business, it also gains you a larger following. Once you have people subscribed to your text marketing messages, then you have a chance to continually engage with them until they become repeat customers.

    Mobile-First

    A key marketing strategy for 2017 is to take a mobile-first approach. Mobile devices are quickly surpassing computers as they way that people engage with the internet, including searching for businesses and shopping. Therefore, you need to not just have a mobile-friendly platform but one that has a mobile-first concept.

    Your SMS marketing program fits well into this mobile-first strategy. People will have their phones with them at all times, so they can easily opt-in to your campaign and take action when they get your message. Additionally, they can redeem coupons in-store more easily, since they already will have their phone.

    To prepare for a full mobile-first strategy, you also need to make your website mobile friendly. Then, when you send out links to your texting campaign, any landing pages are already mobile friendly for a seamless transition from text to online shopping.

    Multi-Channel Marketing

    Speaking of seamlessly transitioning platforms, another key marketing strategy for 2017 is that you have a true omni or multi-channel marketing experience for customers. This means that they can go from one platform and/or device to another with ease. If they have looked at buying an item on their phone and then visit your site a few hours later on their tablet, your site remembers and retains the items in their cart.

    So, how dos your texting campaign fit into this multi-channel marketing strategy? Well, it is one platform among many through which you interact with customers. You need to incorporate the data from this channel with the data you have from your other channels. This provides you with a fuller picture of each customer. Plus, you avoid oversaturating the customers with interactions because you can easily keep track of when they received messages from you across different platforms.

    Time-Tested Strategies


    When incorporating these new strategies, don't forget the time-tested ones.

    Although there are many key changes to marketing strategies for 2017, there are still some time-tested SMS marketing strategies that you should keep in place for the coming year:

    • Customer first approach
    • Provide value
    • Offer incentives
    • Remain respectful
    • Limit your messages to 2 to 4 per month
    • Be timely
    • Personalize your messages
    • Choose the right keyword
    • Create a strong CTA

    This might seem like a lot of strategies that you need to utilize for your program. Just remember, ultimately you will create a program that fits the breadth of what you need to do while also engaging with your clientele. You might take aspects of each of these strategies to develop a strong and dynamic texting campaign that helps you achieve your business goals.

    Ready to give it a go? Sign up for free.

  • Fri, 02/17/2017 - 10:28 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

    Fergal Glynn is responsible for all of Docurated's pipeline generation initiatives including marketing, sales development, strategy, awareness, demand generation, and driving growth.

    To start, can you talk a bit about what Docurated is and does, and what attracted you to become their VP or marketing?

    Docurated helps customers see and understand everything about their content. Our products are transforming how people and companies use and interact with content. From CRM to email to documents to meetings, Docurated maps the relationships between people and information, and acts as the intelligent fabric delivering personal and contextual content for every knowledge worker.

    In the Introductory Video For Docurated, your Co-Founder and COO speaks the memorable lines, "No one needs 20 more file-sharing solution. What we need is one great idea." First of all, what separates Docurated from the many content management environments out there? And, just as importantly, how do you convince customers that Docurated will solve their data dilemmas?

    Docurated is the only solution in this space that provides complete content activity and user coverage across all the time. Docurated acts as an intelligence layer that sits over all existing content stores providing users with a single access point to all content and activity data.

    Along those lines, what ARE some of the most common problems facing business owners, marketers, and sales teams that you work with?
     

    • Can't find relevant content.
    • No insight or visibility into how content gets used in the field.
    • No analytics on how content impacted a sales opportunity.
    • No single source of truth for enterprise content.
    • Marketing has no way of pushing relevant content to reps.
    •  

    Prior to Docurated, you were head marketer for both Veracode - automated applicated security software; BlueNote Networks - real-time interactive business communications, both of which are pretty solidly B2B solutions. How did you get started as a B2B marketer, and why did you take it so strongly? How are you able to both understand and solve the problems facing marketers and sales teams?

    With a background in software engineering and product management, I moved over to Marketing because I wanted to be more involved in the decisions that drive company strategy. Working with great people at Veracode and Docurated certainly helped me grow as a marketer. At Veracode I built the company's inside sales function so that certainly gave me some valuable insights into the issues sales and marketing teams face.

    Another trend in your marketing experience is working across platforms, incorporating data from all of an enterprise's channels into one solution. First of all, when did you first notice the need for such a service? And how far has that industry come since you first started working with data and multiple channels?

    It is hard not to notice the need for a solution like Docurated. At pretty much every place I've worked so much time was wasted with people searching for and recreating lost content. I think the issues Docurated solves are still very relevant. Content is at the heart of everything Sales and Marketing do and any solution that drives efficiencies and increased effectiveness is going to have a major impact.

    One reason platforms like Docurated exist is so many people are so overwhelmed with the amount of data they receive in any given day, from so many different platforms. Checking e-mail feels like a chore, and a drain of time and energy. With that in mind, what marketing techniques do you tend to prefer, and why?

    I'm a believer in an account-based marketing model where each account is marketed to individually. Prospects demand personalization today. If you present materials that are irrelevant to their needs you will not get very far.

    SMS marketing is still an overlooked option, in today's marketing schema, although that's quickly turning around. SMS messages have an open rate of an impressive 77%, according to business2community.com, and while e-mail open rates vary by industry, they averaged around 20% for 2016. What are some reasons why SMS marketing has such an unusually high open rate?

    I think you touched on it in the question. SMS still gets overlooked so it is a channel that doesn't have as much noise as email for example.

    One thing that's so useful about SMS marketing is it's not invasive, requiring customers to opt-in to receive alerts. How important is this likely to be, this year and beyond?

    Vital. Customers only want to receive info relevant to them. Once they're opted in, you can start to incorporate SMS into your marketing strategy.

    Many SMS marketing campaigns use a mobile keyword to receive a promotion of some kind. How might these keywords, when used in conjunction with a marketing database, help customers to segment themselves? Why is segmenting one's audience so essential for truly effective sales and marketing, these days?

    It all goes back to the amount of info customers are bombarded with today. If it's not relevant they will ignore the email, SMS, etc. By segmenting your database, you can adapt your message and keep it targeted to each segment of your database.

    At this point, there's nearly as many cell-phone subscriptions as there are humans - currently around 6.8 billion according to Quartz.com, and they're on their person at almost all the time. Keeping that in mind, how can a company incorporate SMS marketing into all of their other marketing efforts, maybe using targeting, location specific messages, audience segmentation, etc.?

    Exactly yes all of the above. Again, it all goes back to personalization and relevance. Targeting, location-specific messaging, and segmentation are all techniques that should be incorporated into campaigns.

    Want to learn how SMS Marketing can help your business grow? Sign up for free today!

    Mon, 02/06/2017 - 11:15 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

    You've sent out your first marketing message and it's a success. What about your second, or third, or fourth, or hundredth?

    A truly effective SMS marketing campaign has the potential to not just drive business the first time you use it, but also throughout the life of the campaign. This is known as the repeatability of a marketing effort.


    With the right campaign, you will see your results occur again and again.

    It does not have to be an ongoing mountain of effort in order to achieve repeatability. In fact, it is quite easy with SMS marketing to continually reproduce similar results. This, in turn, leads to repeat business, which is one step closer to the coveted loyal customers.

    Repeatability in the Sales Funnel

    The first place to develop repeatability is in your lead generation and conversion steps of the sales funnel. You want to build a promotional campaign that continually creates new leads. Then, you want to have automated initial touch points with customers that take them to the next point in your funnel. Once you have a continual chain of leads and conversions, then it is time to also look to your process for retaining customers and driving repeat business.

    SMS and Continued Lead Generation

    SMS marketing is a permission-based medium. However, this does not mean that it does not have a place in lead generation. Texting is a powerful call to action. It can be placed on any marketing or advertising collateral. This gives your existing marketing efforts more power to generate leads. When potential customers see your ad, they can take immediate action by texting the keyword. This provides you with their information, and they have now subscribed to your text marketing program.

    To take full advantage of the continued lead generation promise of texting CTA, it is essential that you develop a strong CTA. For texting, the keyword plays a significant role. You want something that is:

    • Short
    • Easy
    • Memorable

    Developing a strong CTA provides the foundation for a continual lead generation. Add this to an attention-grabbing advertisement, and you will see a more effective program.

    SMS and Customer Retention

    Once way to convert leads and retain customers is to create regular touch points with your customers. The best way to do this is with continual interaction and engagement. SMS marketing provides a great platform through which to do this. To get the most out of it, you want to be sure that all messages are targeted to the customer and his or her position in the sales funnel. Additionally, the messages need to be unique to the medium and provide value to the customer.

    Types of Campaigns to Drive Repeatability


    Focus on developing campaigns that pave the way for repeat success.

    There are some specific types of SMS marketing campaigns that provide an avenue for driving repeatability. These include:

     

    Drip Campaigns A series of texts sent at different times to guide customers through the sales funnel.
    Coupons Coupons drive business and motivate customers to remain part of your messaging program.
    Cross-Channel Cross-channel integration provides an outlet for multiple touch points and engagement with customers.
    Recurring Campaigns Scheduled messages so you never forget to interact with a group of customers.
    Loyalty Messages Messages sent to particular groups as rewards for their loyal patronage and to motivate them to remain customers.

    At the end of the day, the most important aspect of repeatability with marketing efforts is that you have multiple ways to engage with customers and keep them within the sales funnel or as loyal customers. Developing a strong SMS marketing program that sends out regular messages reinforces your relationship with your customers. IT provides a way to engage with them. There are a few best practices to bear in mind:

    • Do not oversaturate customers -- limit to roughly two to four per month
    • Value first -- send content that customers want
    • Send at the right time -- be respectful

    There are many different types of campaigns you might wish to run. However, the same concepts can be used to do it. With SMS marketing, you have the potential for a powerful marketing program. It also is highly engaging, with roughly eight times the engagement rate of email. Therefore, it is even more important that you set the foundation so that you continually see gains and successfully achieve repeatability in your program.

    Sign up for free and see what you can achieve with your text marketing campaign.

    Mon, 02/06/2017 - 11:11 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

    You've probably heard a lot about the benefits of SMS marketing over the past few years. There are numerous statistics that try to sway you to adopt this marketing program. But, what can you really expect to see as results after running an effective texting campaign?

     

    Open Rate 98 percent for texts versus 22 percent for email
    Increased conversions 32 percent conversion rate
    Improved customer service Over half of customers want to text for customer service
    Easily assess your ad success Use texts as a CTA to assess your ads

    What Makes an Effective Campaign?

    Before learning more about what you can expect, a brief reminder of what exactly makes an effective marketing campaign:

    • Content of value
    • Targeted messages
    • The right audience
    • The right offer or deal
    • Timing
    • Frequency

    Start by building a solid foundation that sets the state for each component. Then, you will have dynamite content that predisposes you to achieve the amazing results offered by text message marketing.

    Higher Open Rate Than Email


    Customers open texts at a much higher rate than email.

    You might not achieve the 98 percent open rate proclaimed, since this is an average rate based on a study. However, you will see a much higher open rate than your email marketing programs, and it is possible to get numbers up in the 90 percents. Compare that to the average email newsletter, which has an open rate around 22 percent. This is significantly lower than the potential for SMS marketing.

    Not only does texting have a high open rate, but it also tends to have a response time of just 90 seconds! Compare that to email, which has an average response rate of 90 minutes. If you want to make sure that customers see and act on a message, forget email. Texting is what you want.

    Increased Conversions

    Text message marketing has the potential to increase your conversions. It has an impressive 32 percent conversion rate. Compare this to the click through rate in email, which is an average of about three percent. What does this mean? It means that by sending out text messages to your customers, you have a higher chance of getting them to take whatever action you want. This might be to redeem a coupon or click a link or sign up for something.

    Another reason that you can expect increased conversions from your texting campaign is that you are reaching an audience that is already highly engaged. Text message marketing is a permission-based medium. Therefore, the people who sign up to receive your messages want to hear from you. Unlike email marketing, people are still very choosy about which businesses they provide their cell phone numbers to for texting campaigns. Therefore, they already have a significant interest in your company when they sign up. That makes it much easier to convert them through your program.

    This also makes it much easier to create a marketing program that targets a particular audience. Personalized, targeted marketing messages enhance the success rate even further.

    Improved Customer Service

    Consumers want to hear from businesses through text messages. Additionally, a majority wants to have any customer service completed through text. By providing the service, you already start to improve your customer relations.

    People shop more and more based on their experience and emotions. Therefore, the more you build your customer relations, the better service you provide. This develops more positive experiences for customers, which in turn leads to them choosing your business over others more often. Over time, they become loyal customers.

    Know The Success of Your Ads


    A texting campaign helps you judge the efficacy of you ads.

    Another result you can expect from a highly effective SMS marketing campaign is to know how well your ads succeeded. Texting is easy to add as a call to action across all marketing mediums. This not only gives your customers an actionable response that is easy to do from anywhere, but it also gives you an easy way to measure how well audiences responded to a particular ad.

    Although this is beneficial all the time, it is especially helpful if you plan to test a few ads. You can use different keywords on each ad and then see which one gets the most opt-ins. Alternatively, you have the potential to see which efforts are working the best for your entire marketing campaign, including print ads, TV and radio spots, digital marketing and more. Simply measure which ads received the most opt-ins by using different keywords. If you notice that certain ads are not getting people to act, then simply investigate to see if there are ways to change it or if you should just scrap that type of advertising.

    With an effective ad campaign, it is possible to experience many of these results. With such amazing statistics, it might be tempting to simply forgo your other marketing channels. However, texting works best as one part of an integrated, multi-channel marketing strategy.

    Sign up for free and see what results you can achieve with your texting campaign.

    Mon, 02/06/2017 - 11:08 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

    There has never been a better time to add SMS marketing to your marketing strategy. In addition to high open rates and high conversion rates, this marketing channel has a wide reach. As such, you have the potential to increase your pool of potential customers and ultimately convert them into not just one-time customers but loyal ones.

     

    Wide reach Most people own SMS-enabled phones
    More effective promotions People carry phones with them, so they can instantly react to your ads
    High open rate People actually read your messages

    Most People Have Phones

    One main reason that SMS marketing has such a high reach is simply that most people have SMS-enabled cell phones. Approximately 92 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone. This is higher than the 68 percent who own a smartphone and 73 percent who own a computer. That means that messages sent out through text have a higher chance of reaching people than using messages that can only be accessed through the internet or computers, such as email, social media or mobile apps.


    People across all demographics own a phone and text.

    Of course, just because people own a cell phone does not mean that they text. However, the numbers for texting are pretty amazing, too. Out of smartphone owners:

    • 100 percent of 18-29 year olds text
    • 98 percent of 30-49 year olds text
    • 92 percent of those over 50 text

    This means that you have a very wide pool of potential people with which to send your text messages, upon their signing up for your program.

    More Effective Promotions

    Although it is easy to be ready to text everyone to get as wide a reach as possible, there is one caveat: you must have written permission to text people. However, there is an easy way to get over this stipulation: get people to sign up to your campaign.

    This might seem a bit like a catch-22; thankfully, it is easy to promote your texting campaign. Simply add it to the marketing efforts you already do as a call to action. A texting call to action is a highly effective one. Most people carry their phones with them at all times. A person might see your ad in several places:

    • Billboard
    • Flyer
    • Poster
    • Car wrap
    • TV spot
    • Magazine
    • Radio ad

    Then, they can take action by texting a keyword to the number you provide in the CTA.

    Consider the potential with the combination of the reach of these advertising mediums and the ubiquity of texting and cell phones. For example, you might have a billboard seen by tens of thousands of people. With the right call to action, you have the potential to effectively convert more of those viewers than without.

    As people view your poster or other advertising, they might become interested. However, if they have to email, call, visit in person or go online, you will lose a significant number of potential customers. This is because before they can take action, they need to get to a location in which they can do so.

    With a texting CTA, you remove this step that opens up the potential for forgetting or no longer feeling motivated. Instead, people have their phone with them and can simply text the keyword right then and there when they feel the peak motivation to do so.


    As soon as someone sees your ad on TV, they can take action.

    This not only increases the reach and efficacy of your current advertising efforts, but it also increases the number of people who subscribe to your marketing campaign. After they send the initial text, send a confirmation text so that they can sign up to be part of your campaign.

    High Open Rates

    Now that you have a solid number of people signed up for your SMS marketing program, you still have the chance to have a higher reach than other channels, such as email or social media marketing. This is because people actually open texts, with the average open rate at 98 percent. Compare that to roughly 22 percent for email newsletters and you will see how each text you send out has a much better reach than email. Social media marketing has also seen a dive in its ability to reach an audience.

    With these three legs, your SMS marketing campaign has the capacity to have a substantial reach. Not only does it have the capacity to reach a wider potential pool of people, it also more effectively connects with the customer already following you. This, in turn, helps you to have a more effective campaign so that you reach your goals.

    Ready to get started and see how wide a reach you can acheive with texting? Sign up for free.

    Wed, 02/01/2017 - 12:19 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

    There are many components that come together to create an effective SMS marketing campaign. However, it is easy to put them into three main categories: reach, results, and repeatability.

     

    Reach The size of your pool of potential customers.
    Results The effectiveness of any campaign.
    Repeatability Ability to reach the same results over and over again.

    These three R's come together to create a solid foundation on which to build your entire campaign. By focusing on these three elements and their various associated ones, you will be able to institute a strong campaign that brings you the returns you want.

    Reach


    TV ads have a wide reach. SMS marketing increases their efficacy.

    With any marketing tool, the reach plays an important component. This is the number of people you will hit with any particular advertisement or marketing effort. For some mediums, this number can be quite large. For example, when you run an ad on TV or post a billboard, then you will reach a wide number of consumers. It is important to remember that your reach does not always include the quality of potential leads.

    For example, broad advertisements like billboards and TV and radio spots have a high number of viewers, thereby they have a wide reach and pool of potential customers. However, many people who view these ads are not highly engaged. This reduces the percentage of potential leads you receive from the ad, reducing the return on investment.

    This is, in large part, because there is no real target towards a particular demographic, niche, or otherwise interested audience. Targeted ads online and on social media networks can have a wide reach while also being more effective because they hit more interested parties. This can lead to more people engaging with your customers.

    Therefore, when you consider the reach of a particular marketing campaign, it is important to consider not just the number of people who will see it, but the percentage that are viable leads. It is also important to consider ways to increase the efficacy of an ad that does have a wide reach, such as a billboard or TV spot.

    When you add in SMS marketing, you have the potential to greatly increase the number reached through these ads. This is because you can use texting as a call to action on these ads. Then, people who are interested have something they can do to engage with your company, increasing the impact of the ad.

    SMS marketing also has its own reach in two different ways:

    • People who see the promotion
    • Subscribers of your program

    When you first implement an SMS marketing campaign, it is important to promote it to engage a wide audience of potential customers. Then, you can amass subscribers who you regularly text. This helps to convert potential leads into customers, and one-time customers into regular ones, ultimately creating more loyal customers. Therefore, your texting campaign will have a reach that equals the number of subscribers. However, you also have the potential to widen the reach through promoting your campaign through different channels and/or adding it as a call to action on your current campaigns.

    Results


    Your team can review your analytics to see the results of the campaign.

    Another important component of any SMS marketing campaign is the results. There are many metrics you might utilize to determine the results of your campaign, including:

    • Opt-in rate
    • Opt-out rate
    • Conversion rate
    • Click through rate
    • Redemption rate

    These numbers give you insight into the results of your campaign. However, there is much more that can be combined to determine if something got you the results you wanted.

    First, you have to have an objective or goal in mind. This is not just for your overall campaign, but each message sent out should have some type of meaning behind it. This might include:

    • Gain subscribers
    • Boost sales
    • Promote a new product
    • Increase awareness of your business
    • Engage with customers

    The objective of your message will determine which metrics to closely review. Then, you can determine whether or not you reached your goals.

    It is also important to compare each message with previous messages to see if you are gaining traction in your campaign. This also informs you whether or not a particular message type was effective. Additional information you might glean from reviewing your data include:

    • It was sent at the right time
    • It was sent on the right day of the week
    • You are using the right frequency of messages
    • The coupon type was desirable
    • The content was valuable

    With this information, you can continue to change your program so that it becomes more effective and provides better results. By routinely checking your analytics and comparing it, you also get an idea of how your program is moving, including whether you are continuing to see growth or if you have reached a plateau.

    When you see that you are not getting the results you want, then it is time to find ways to create messages that resonate stronger with your followers. You ultimately want something that is of value that motivates them to take the intended action. Places that can be tweaked to increase your results include:

    • Content
    • Word choice
    • Coupon selection
    • Personalization and targeted audience
    • Call to action

    Each of these elements takes your program to the next level. By reviewing the content and word choice, you can determine whether or not it was something that evoked emotion and motivated your consumers to take action. Perhaps you used a coupon that did not seem enticing enough to take advantage of it. You might also have used a coupon or deal that you used on another channel or a previous text message. This could make people bored with the program or simply unmotivated to take action right away.

    You also want to ensure each message includes:

    • Resonance
    • Relevancy
    • Value
    • Emotion
    • Motivation
    • Creativity
    • Exclusivity
    • Uniqueness

    It is important to continue to provide unique and exclusive content of value that motivates the customer to take the action desired. It should resonate with your customer and be relevant to them. One of the best ways to do this is to create personalized, targeted messages based on people's demographics, shopping patterns and other data you have.

    Repeatability


    Can you continue to have the same results with each message?

    The final R of effective SMS marketing is repeatability. This means you can continue to get the same results over and over again. However, it does not mean that you are simply sending out the same content and expecting to have the same return. It is about building a strong foundation so that your program works as expected.

    There are a few key elements of a strong foundation for your SMS marketing program:

    • Clear objective or purpose
    • Target audience
    • Cohesive brand voice
    • Difference or uniqueness
    • Value and relevancy
    • Plan of action

    When you develop your SMS marketing program, it is essential that you create some framework for each element of your program. This should be something that spells out your strategy for the overall program and each individual text so that anyone could come in and develop a text that adheres to your campaign. You probably developed something like this for your other advertising campaigns, such as content marketing guidelines that detailed the best practices for writing your blog and website content. Your texting guidelines should include:

    • The best practices
    • Target audience(s)
    • Brand voice
    • Most relevant coupons
    • General template for your messages

    You might find that you have other elements you wish to include in your guidelines to help you and your team continually develop messages that create a cohesive and strong campaign.

    By having a foundation in place, it is easy to develop messages that repeat your success without actually just sending the same exact message every time. You will have rules to follow that will help you to achieve repeatability. You might find that it is easy to create multiple messages off of a simple template that covers what you need. This might be something like:

    • Attention grabbing statement
    • Deal or coupon details
    • Expiration date
    • Call to action

    With an example text following this template being:

    "Don't miss out on the best deals of the season. Click here to get an extra 20 percent off clearance items. Act now before it expires on [date]."

    Reach. Results. Repeatability. These three R's of effective SMS marketing come together to ensure that you have a strong campaign that will build your business and help you reach not just the goals of your campaign but also your general business goals. Although there are many components to pay attention to, by focusing on these three R's, you will have a solid start to building a strong campaign.

    Do you have your foundation built and are ready to start? Sign up for free and kick off your first campaign.

    Mon, 01/30/2017 - 12:02 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

    Todd William is the founder and CEO of Reputation Rhino and has over 15 years of experience providing a wide range of legal and strategic advisory services to Fortune 500 companies and financial institutions. Todd advises individuals and companies on online reputation management, public relations and digital marketing strategies.

    What have been some of the most significant changes you've seen with reputation management over the past several years?

    Reputation Management has gotten harder, takes longer and is more expensive. In the beginning, a few exact-match domains, a press release and a few social profiles and you could own Page 1 in two or three months. Now you need high authority content, strong links, powerful profiles and a little luck.

    You have experience working with Fortune 500 companies, as well as small- to mid-sized businesses. What are some things you've learned, working with global corporations, that also applies to smaller companies, in regards to reputation management?

    Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a startup in your parents' garage, reputation matters. Large companies have resources -- financial resources and human resources-- that small companies often lack. It is a blessing because a larger company can afford public relations and crisis communications professionals, lawyers, advertising/marketing agencies and other talent to help shape the conversation about a brand. It also means you have a larger target on your back.

    One important lesson that can apply to smaller companies is the importance of monitoring the conversations about your brand online. You don't need to be obsessive, but you do need to be aware. Larger companies also tend to be conservative in how they respond to issues, knowing that any response will likely be analyzed and evaluated by a wide audience. This tempers a knee-jerk reaction that can turn a small problem into a big problem.

    Responding quickly is one of the most important things, in regards to addressing negative opinions of a company or brand. Can you recommend any particularly useful resources or methods for social listening, to see what people are saying about a company, so they can respond as quickly as possible? What's an ideal turnaround time for responding?

    There are great listening tools out there. Ranging from premium services like Sysomos to more affordable social media monitoring solutions like Hootsuite. Ideally, a company will try and respond in 60 minutes or less to urgent issues. 24 hours or less seems reasonable for ordinary queries.

    Getting positive online reviews is one of the solutions you offer your clients. Can you recommend a few tactics to help encourage customers to leave positive online reviews for a business or service?

    We don't exactly "get positive reviews" for our clients, but we do help our clients earn them by tracking and monitoring online reviews, responding to their customers in real-time, resolving issues quickly and converting negative experiences to positive experiences. It is also appropriate for companies to do a little introspection where there are recurring issues like shipping delays, product failures and other service issues that seem to keep popping up in negative reviews. The best way to get positive reviews is to run a customer-centered business and instill those values from the top-down.

    Text message marketing is getting to be more and more prevalent as a viable marketing strategy. What are some reasons why SMS marketing is getting to be so popular, currently?

    We are on our cell phones from the moment we wake up in the morning until we fall asleep, text messages connect us wherever we are.

    According to Mobile Marketing Watch, text messages have an open rate of 98%, versus 20% with email marketing. Why is text message marketing so effective at getting people to read? Can you offer any advice on writing SMS messages that people will be eager to open?

    Text messages tend to be short and to the point, marketing emails tend to be long, rambling and "salesy". I would recommend putting yourself in the shoes of your target customer when writing an SMS message, what does he or she want and how does your product or service fulfill that need and how can you communicate that message in a couple of sentences or less. Offering a special discount is also helpful.

    SMS marketing also has a response rate of 45%, versus 6% with email marketing. What are some things marketers can do, to make the most of this higher response rate? Why is engagement so popular, for truly effective marketing?

    Ask a question, solicit feedback, these are ways to promote and get the most of engagement.

    Millennials are particularly prone to texting, sending an average of 67 text messages a day, according to Business Insider. What are a few ways marketers can optimize their SMS content for millennials, without being too obvious?

    Authentic, organic content is most appealing to millennials. I would try to avoid selling and focus instead on content millennials may want to read and share.

    SMS marketing is especially effective for local marketing. What are a few different SMS marketing strategies a company can use, to reach their local audience? Why is local search so important for marketing, these days?

    Whether we are choosing a dry cleaners or a diner for dinner, we shop local. Messaging that is local is more personal and more effective.

    Can you offer a few suggestions on how to get customers to opt in to receive SMS marketing? How is consensual marketing so much more effective than unsolicited messages, in a world where we're constantly being inundated with advertising?

    The time will come where filters and spam blockers will limit SMS text messages to all but opt-in subscribers, just like what happened to email. Forward-thinking companies will try and develop their lists to anticipate this and focus on quality (opt-in subscribers) versus quantity.

    Want to learn more about SMS Marketing, and how it can help your business? Sign up for free immediately!

    Mon, 01/30/2017 - 11:54 — EZ Texting, a CallFire Company

    One important thing to make sure you have when you start your text marketing program is permission from all of your subscribers. The law requires that you have written permission to send marketing text messages to your customers. It is easy to get the permission; you simply need to have customers sign up via some type of online or paper form or opt-in via text message. This builds a foundation for your successful texting campaign
    .

    There are many ways to motivate customers to opt-in to your SMS marketing campaign. To generate more opt-ins, utilize several mediums to reach a much wider pool of potential subscribers.

    Signage and Flyers


    Add more subscribers by placing information in store.

    One of the easiest places to include information about your texting program is your signage on your store front. You can also include similar information on anything else you hang in, hand out, or place around your business, including:

    • Posters
    • Flyers
    • Table cloths
    • Menus

    It does not take much space to include a keyword, number and brief explanation of the program on advertising properties you already have. When people see these ads, they can easily reach for their phones and opt in.

    When you include information about your texting program on your signs, posters, flyers and similar marketing collateral, choose the keyword you use wisely. You want to use something that enhances the advertisement itself for an added effect. For example, if you run a café, then use a keyword that reinforces the idea that you have great coffee, such as GREATBREW.

    Emails

    Your email newsletters also provide a nice avenue for promoting your text marketing program and bringing in more subscribers. At the bottom of your email, include information about your campaign, including directions for how to opt-in. Alternatively, include a link where people can sign up for the campaign through an online form.

    Your email newsletters go to people who are already receiving something from you, so they are more likely to sign up for another program as well.

    Website and Social Media

    In addition to your email campaigns, your other digital properties also provide a space for bringing in more subscribers to your program. On your website, include a widget where people can easily sign up for the texting program. You can also have banners that have the information for opting in, including a keyword and short code.

    Your social media profiles can also include the information for opting in. It is also beneficial to occasionally directly promote the program to your social media followers through a targeted post. Your social media followers are already interested in knowing more about your company and remaining engaged, making them an attentive audience for getting them to follow you through another medium, such as your texting program.

    Business Cards

    When you are at networking events, trade shows and other places for meeting people, handing out business cards is an easy way to provide potential customers with all the information they need to find your business and remain in touch. This should also include information about your texting program. They will most likely have their phones with them when they receive their card, so they will easily be able to opt into the texting program right away.

    Register Receipts

    What information do you include on your register receipts? If you only have the name and address of the business and the transaction, then you are missing an opportunity to promote your marketing properties, including your text marketing program.

    At the bottom of the receipt, include a line about how to opt-in. Then, after customers have had a positive experience at your company and are disposed to following you, they will see the information and opt-in.

    Print and Other Ads


    Add information about your program on all your billboards and posters.

    It is not just flyers and signage that offer space for promoting your texting program. There are other common advertisement places that prime space for a texting call to action. These include:

    • Print ads
    • Billboards
    • Bus ads
    • Truck/car wraps

    You can use texting as the call to action on these ads, increasing the efficacy of the ads as well as adding more people to your subscriber list. Texting is a strong call to action, especially since people have their phones with them at all times. No matter where they see your ad, they will easily be able to respond by texting a keyword to opt in.

    Radio and TV Spots

    In addition to print ads, it is also beneficial to use a texting call to action for radio and TV spots. Because these ads go out to a much larger radius of potential customers, it also increases the chance that you will grow your subscriber list exponentially.

    Add Some Motivation

    When you include information about your texting program on one or more of these places, it is beneficial to include some motivation to increase the chance of people choosing to opt-in. An easy way to do this is to reward people with an offer or deal of some type just for signing up.

    When they sign up for the program by texting a keyword or filling out an online form, respond with a confirmation text. After they have confirmed they wish to sign up, then send them the text with the coupon or deal. This also ensures that you have the permission from the customers to text them.

    These are some of the most common places for promoting a text marketing campaign to build a larger and stronger subscriber list. The nicest part is that most of these channels you already own and regularly use, making it easy and cost-effective way to promote your program. As an added benefit, using texting as a call to action increases the efficacy of many of these ads, helping you to get the most out of your marketing and advertising efforts.

    Ready to start your program? Sign up for free and start today.