MMS Marketing for Business

Expert Interview Series: Stefan Kolle of Futurelab On Improving the Customer's Experience

Stefan Kolle is the co-founder and managing director of Futurelab, a customer centricity and customer experience specialist consultancy working with some of the world's biggest brands to increase customer loyalty and profits. We recently spoke with Stefan about how companies everywhere can improve their customer experience.

Customer experience

Tell us a bit about your background. Why are you so passionate about improving the customer experience?

I started off in financial services, and also started in internet business quite early as well. And even in 1994-95, it was clear that the internet provided incredible opportunities to ‘"do the right thing" for the customer. But most companies weren’t doing it; they fell in love with the technology and forgot about the customer. And when I was in venture capital and incubation, I saw one business plan after the other with stellar growth predictions without once explaining how their new idea would really improve the experience or the life of the customer. And then they failed to fulfill their predictions…

Then I went on to become the CEO of a car insurance company in Eastern Europe. And when I realized that our claims' verifications cost was higher than the actual claims paid out, I decided to go what is now called "lean" - in other words, drop everything that doesn’t add value to the customer.

When we started Futurelab, we initially were a marketing innovation company. Our aim was to help companies be more efficient and effective in their marketing. We basically stopped annoying their customers with pointless marketing and started adding value to their lives by understanding their true needs. We soon found that to be able to do that, we needed to change the whole company into a customer-centric organization. And that’s basically what we have been doing for the past 12 years: helping companies develop profitable customer experiences and strategies.

Since you have developed businesses in 13 countries, could you tell us if there are any differences among nations in how companies view and approach their customer experience?

At the end of the day, I think it is mostly a question of how well developed the whole field of customer strategy is in a country. For instance, the UK is ahead of the pack in Europe, but maybe simply because they are more likely to pick up on general management trends in the Anglo-Saxon world. In Germany, the main focus is on quality of products, which is of course a good thing, but companies tend to overlook the fact that perfect engineering does not yet make a perfect experience. But this is starting to change fast.

Northern European countries like the Netherlands and Scandinavia are also quick to pick up Anglo-Saxon trends, and they tend to be extremely pragmatic. Southern European companies tend to be very hierarchical, so it depends to a big extent on the customer focus of the CEO as to how they fare. 

What are some ways to get the employees of a company to become more customer-centric?

What we need is cash, culture, and KPIs. 

Cash – we need a business case to show to everyone in the company how happy customers that recommend you increase revenue and profit massively. 

Culture – we need to stimulate a customer-centric culture, where every employee can do what they instinctively feel to be the right thing for the customer. But none of this is happening without...

KPIs – if we don’t change the KPIs of the company, we will not see any change in the behavior of the people. Change is hard enough to drive, but we will never achieve change by expecting people to act against their own interest. They get rewarded based on KPIs, so unless we change those KPIs to reflect the needs of the customers, nothing happens.

On the other hand, if we show to the employees why it’s a good idea, and then get out of the way and let them do what is right for the customer, we are well on our way to become customer-centric.

How can upper management of a large corporation encourage innovation throughout all departments of the company?

In the end, the simplest way is to empower your frontline staff. They know what is right, and if you give them the confidence to try out new things (and support them if mistakes are made), they will start innovating by themselves. And the best thing upper management can do is "walk the talk" by demonstrating customer innovation daily, showing support for those that try and fail, and spotlighting those people who created great new customer experiences. 

One of our customers has made it a simple KPI: "Do three new customer things on a monthly basis’." It's deliberately vaguely formulated; some people make three calls, others invent three new policies. And it works! Employees love it because they can make customer centricity fit their own schedule.

When it comes to legacy industries like finance and insurance, what are some strategies for innovating the customer experience?

On the one hand, financial services are the industries where the lean principle (as it is really intended) can lead to the quickest wins. There are an awful lot of procedures and processes that do not add value for the customer (and often not for the company either), so these should be scrapped. The same goes for the KPIs that don’t add value for the customer.

Fintech is a perfect example. Thousands of startups are trying to shake up these industries, but most of the time they are focusing entirely on great new technologies while forgetting entirely about the actual needs of the customer. That is why most of them fail.

So, we need to go back to basics. We must design a proper customer journey (based on a true understanding of customers needs), focus on your own people (happy employees make happy customers!), and show how an outstanding customer experience is the way to profit optimization through increased loyalty and word of mouth.

How can a company use SMS text messaging to enhance and improve the customer experience?

Communication is key in a good customer experience. Having a thin but ultimately reactive channel available for timely, precise, and concise messaging is invaluable. It can be an essential part of your multichannel communication strategy.  Therefore, SMS messages are a great tool when used in the right way.

What we have seen consistently over the years in many industries and regions is that generally, customers like to be communicated to more than most executives think. However, the key is relevance. And SMS text messaging is perhaps the best channel to get relevant, trigger-based, time-sensitive messages out to the customer. 

We emphasize that multichannel service is not about forcing the customer to use "new" channels, but instead finally allowing the personalization that we have been looking for, for so many years. So SMS, with the potential for immediate information exchange, is a great tool.

When reaching out to your customers via text message, what are some tips to keep in mind in order to maximize their engagement and loyalty?

It is essential to not just use SMS as a standalone channel. It must be part of your overall customer journey-based communications planning. 

Think through the whole communications journey your customer goes through with you. At what moments do he or she need a verbose interaction, maybe even something personal, and when does a short but clear message really drive the relationship forward? When is there a need for more communications, and when should there maybe be less? 

Also realize that you have many different customers to deal with, like the one who would love to have 10 messages a day from you and others where two per year might already border on intrusion. So create a storyboard for each of your customer personas, and ensure you have a comprehensive communication plan that fits the desires and needs of that client. This will mean more human and long form communication for some customers, and a short and to the point (i.e. SMS-driven) approach for others.

Exactly how customer-centric will companies have to be in the future if they wish to be successful? 

Simply put, customer centricity is becoming the new core strategy, and customer experience is becoming the new marketing. And if nothing else, as the rising tide lifts all boats, the customers' expectations are rising consistently. So to even stay equal to your competition, you will have to up your game considerably. If you don’t, you will go the way of the dinosaurs very quickly.

But, let's be fair. How can understanding your customers better - and thereby being able to deliver better value to them, make them more loyal, and increase your profits - ever be a bad thing?

See how SMS messaging can help improve your customers' experiences. Sign up with EZ Texting for free today!

Improving Healthcare Communications in 3 Simple Steps

Whether you run a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital, communication is critical not only for patient health but also for the health of your organization. Healthcare communications can dramatically improve the way your staff works together and functions as a unit. If you're not pleased with your communication methods, here are three ways to improve them right now.

Encourage Healthcare Providers to Use Group Text

Group text messages can help healthcare providers communicate no matter how far away they are from each other physically. They can consult on shared patients, ask quick questions, and feel more in control over their environments.

It's easier to send a group text when you need several staff members to know something than to fire off emails or call each person individually. Plus, text messages tend to get read faster than emails, instant messages, and other forms of communication.

Hold Regular Meetings to Check In With Staff

While technology can serve a valuable role in keeping your healthcare staff connected, personal communication can prove just as necessary. Holding regular staff meetings allows healthcare professionals to sit down with one another face-to-face and to build rapport.

Meetings don't have to take up too much time. Medical facilities tend to be fast-paced, and many providers face time-sensitive patient issues. A quick meeting once a week, however, allows anyone to voice concerns, ask questions, or update everyone else.

Use EHRs to Boost Communications Between Providers and With Patients

In combination with group text, electronic health records (EHRs), can bring your medical practice into the 21st century. EHRs are easier, more effective, safer, and more reliable than paper files. Providers can access their patient data, notes, tests, charts, and other information from their tablet or laptop computers. Nurses don't have to fetch bulky files when bringing a patient in for an examination.

Some EHRs feature instant messaging services, but group text can make the process even more productive. Providers might carry their smartphones everywhere, but they don't always have their tablets and computers, so time-sensitive information should go out in a group text, while other communications can take place within the EHR.

Assemble Consistent Care Teams

Patients and providers often feel safer and more in control when they work with the same people every day. A consistent care team can provide better communications with patients and with each other, and the entire process becomes more relaxed and efficient.

Additionally, it's important to stress communications with patients as well as with other members of the care team. In many healthcare settings, patients do not feel informed about their health, which can break down communications and leave questions unanswered.

Regardless of the type of medical practice, group text, EHRs, consistent care teams, and regular meetings can all contribute to improved healthcare communications. If you're ready to take your healthcare staff to the next level, sign up for free and take advantage of group text functionality.

What Highly Successful Small Business Owners Do Differently

Have you ever wondered why some entrepreneurs seem to strike gold the moment they start a business, while others struggle to keep their burgeoning startups afloat? Maybe some small business owners just behave differently. They've discovered the secret sauce for successful entrepreneurship.

Let's take a look at some of the qualities that highly successful small business owners possess.

Thinking (and Dreaming) Big

SMS marketing

Writing for The HartfordView on Inc., Kelly Spors sites "dreaming big" as the number-one behavior that sets successful entrepreneurs apart from their less successful counterparts. Spors interviewed business expert Anita Campbell for the article, who notes that business owners need to be able to develop a strong vision and to know, with absolute certainty, that they will succeed in their goals.

In other words, if you want your business to grow, you must create lofty goals. Don't settle for mere success; shoot for the stars as you build your startup from the ground up and turn your small business into a smashing success.

Embracing the Best Technology

SMS marketing

Technology is available in spades these days, but not every solution works for every business. If you can identify the technology that will help you reach new customers, increase sales, and transform your customers into brand ambassadors, you'll quickly experience benefits.

For instance, mass texting has become a preferable alternative to email marketing campaigns. You can use it in conjunction with other marketing and advertising efforts, such as direct mail and paid social, but mass texting puts your brand right in front of your customers. Best of all, each text makes an instant connection with the people who matter most.

Building Better Teams

Leaders don't work alone. They need teams to support them, to provide the skills that they don't possess, and to build a small business from the ground up. Without the right team, your business can't stay afloat.

Think about the activities that dominate your day. What if you had to run your small business by yourself? You'd never sleep, eat, or see your family.

The most successful business owners know how to hand-pick teams for each candidate's skills, talents, and background. Furthermore, they understand that they must delegate tasks to the right people. Your team can also help you reach more people in the community and spread your brand message farther than you could do on your own.

Embracing Flexibility

When you're building a small business, things will go wrong. You'll lose a big account, make a social media faux pax, hire the wrong people, and experience drops in revenue. Mistakes are unavoidable.

Prevention isn't always the best medicine. If you're prepared to pivot when you face a unique challenge, you'll have the flexibility necessary to overcome challenges and to persevere despite the problems you face. Highly successful small business owners don't hedge their bets. They take risks and then deal with the fallout if necessary.

Building a successful small business takes courage, flexibility, a strong team, advanced technology, and a clear vision of the future. Without those assets, you're unlikely to join the ranks of the most successful entrepreneurs. To ensure that you reach as many of your prospective customers as possible, implement a mass texting campaign today. Not sure where to start? EZ texting can help.

Sign up for free and take advantage of one of the easiest, but most powerful, technological solutions on the market today.

The EZ Guide to Developing an Outbound Marketing Strategy

Inbound marketing has dominated headlines for the last few years, but does that mean outbound marketing is dead?

Not at all.

Like all absolutes, you can't trust that one marketing strategy reigns supreme over all the others. In fact, diversifying your marketing efforts can actually improve ROI and help you reach more customers.

Outbound Vs. Inbound Marketing

Think of outbound marketing as an opportunity to connect with consumers in a big way. Traditional examples include television and radio advertisements, but mass texting, mass emails, direct mail, and other strategies also fall under the outbound umbrella.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, works like a magnet. It's designed to bring customers to the brand rather than the other way around. It includes interacting with customers on social media, asking customers to provide their contact information, creating landing pages on websites, and more.

Obviously, you can't attract all potential customers via inbound strategies. Some of your customers might never use social media, read your blog, or opt into a funneled email strategy. You need outbound to balance the scales.

To give you a better idea of the comparisons here, let's look at how businesses have used both inbound and outbound marketing successfully.

Inbound Marketing Example: Crazy Egg

Helmed by world-class entrepreneur and marketing expert Neil Patel, Crazy Egg uses predominately inbound marketing to attract new customers and to reach people online. This much is obvious from the moment you visit the company's website.

Immediately, you're asked to input your website's URL to see a heat map that can help you better organize your landing pages, home page, or other website properties.

If you scroll down the page, you'll see a video that describes how Crazy Egg works as well as key information about its features and an invitation to try a free 30-day trial. The company attempts to collect your email address, as well.

Outbound Marketing Example: Budweiser

If there's one company that knows how to engage its customers in an outbound capacity, it's Budweiser. When you visit the brewery's home page, you immediately get invited to watch the company's most recent ads.

In other words, Budweiser wants you to observe crafted, meticulously scripted advertisements that you might otherwise see on television while watching your favorite docu-series.

In 2017, Budweiser paid an estimated $10 million for the pleasure of seeing its ads run during the coveted Super Bowl. That's another example of outbound marketing that can reach thousands or even millions of people.

Outbound Marketing Tactics

If you want to take advantage of outbound marketing for your brand, you can choose from several tactics that have worked for years. You'll also find a few new options that rely just as heavily on technology as their inbound counterparts.

In other words, outbound is neither dead nor outclassed. It's simply a different way to reach your audience.

Want to know more? Input your info below to see 12 different outbound marketing tactics that you can use to supercharge your marketing campaign!

Mass Texting

Mass texting

Most of your customers have smartphones, and they're likely attached to those phones 24 hours a day. You can use that to your advantage in your outbound marketing strategy by incorporating mass texting.

A mass texting campaign lets your customers opt-in to receive communications about upcoming events, sales, promotions, and coupons. You can even personalize the messages if you want, and if your business targets multiple types of consumers, segmenting your audience can make mass texting even more effective.

Use an SMS marketing campaign to take advantage of both in-store and online purchases that your subscribers might not have otherwise made. You'll remain foremost in your customers' minds when they decide they want to make a purchase, which can help you beat out your competitors.

Direct Mail Marketing

Use a direct mail marketing campaign (either via email or post) to bring your customers new information about your business and to announce yourself to people who might not have heard of you. While direct mail marketing might not fall under the inbound umbrella, it can prove extremely effective.

Have you ever received a postcard or other missive in the mail and realized you needed something from the business that sent it? This type of interaction happens millions of times a month all over the world, so why not get yourself a piece of that pie?

Consider using direct mail marketing to announce a grand opening, send paper or electronic coupons to customers, reconnect with people who have bought from you before, and to get your products in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Postcards aren't the only option. You could also send catalogs, fliers, and other types of mailings.

Email Marketing

You can categorize email marketing as either inbound or outbound, depending on how you use it. In outbound email marketing, you're sending messages to targeted consumers who have not opted to receive communications from you.

Let's say that you're running a B2B marketing campaign. You search for businesses online that might need your products or services, snag the email addresses of decision makers at those companies, and send them a highly targeted, personalized email to inquire about their need for your own business.

You have to be careful when wording your email to avoid violating spam laws. Always give the recipient the option to decline future correspondence, and try to add some personalized language about that company's culture, products, services, and other qualities.

Pay-Per-Click  (PPC) Advertising

You can use PPC advertising in several different ways, such as through AdWords (paid search) or on social media. Essentially, you post an advertisement through the network, and when someone clicks on one of your ads, you have to pay for it.

While this might sound like a giant money pit, many businesses have experienced impressive ROI through PPC campaigns. To get the most bang for your buck, focus on long-tail keywords during the bidding process and make sure you define your audience. You don't want advertisements to appear in front of consumers who have no need for your company's deliverables.

Commercials

You'll spend more money on commercials than you would on email or direct marketing or even on PPC advertising. However, it's worth the ad spend if you can reach more people with your brand message.

There's a reason companies still advertise their services on television and the radio. If they didn't experience positive ROI from the process, they would stop paying for ad spots.

However, if you're going to create a commercial, go the professional route. Have it shot, edited, and improved upon before you let it go live. You may turn off customers if you produce a cheap, home-movie-style commercial that paints an unprofessional picture of your business.

Live Events

Sometimes, there's no better marketing strategy than getting boots on the ground, shaking hands, and trading smiles with potential customers. Live events, from trade shows to conferences, give you a chance to step out from behind the keyboard and meet prospective customers or clients in person.

You don't even have to spend too much money. If a booth or table isn't in the budget, simply attend the event as a spectator. When you meet new people, pass over a shiny new business card and give your 30-second elevator pitch. You never know when those chance encounters will turn into business relationships.

Cold Calling

Telemarketing has gotten a bad rap over the last decade or so, but it works. If you can create a cold-calling campaign that doesn't irritate your prospects and that targets people who might have a genuine interest in your business, you might generate healthy ROI.

Like mass texting and email marketing, cold calling only works if you're brief, to the point, and direct. Don't waste anyone's time. Let the person on the other end of the line know why you're calling and how, specifically, you can help him or her solve a problem.

Newspaper Advertisements

Yes, people still read newspapers. In fact, they're most likely to buy newspapers on Sundays, when many publications run extensive advertisements and sales pages.

If you don't want to take out an ad, consider publishing a sale for your business. Newspaper advertisements generally work best for local businesses, so you can find customers that won't see your business from the street.

Branded Products

When you visit trade shows and other events, don't forget to bring a bag of swag. Pens, mugs, USB drives, and other items can be branded with your company name and logo. Pass them out like candy to gain instant exposure.

Maybe the person who takes the pen isn't interested in your business, but what if he pulls it out to sign a document or receipt, and someone asks about it? You never know when branded products will fall into the perfect hands, even if the actual customer is a few times removed from the initial connection.

Websites

It's true that your website can constitute a form of inbound marketing, but it also works in an outbound capacity. When you create content, you optimize it for SEO and hope that people find it through organic search traffic. As long as you provide a compelling reason to stay, you can reach new customers.

Chat bots offer an excellent outbound marketing tactic. They communicate directly with the site visitor, which makes them invaluable for forging new connections. 

Conclusion

As you can see, outbound marketing is still alive and well — you see examples of it every single day. If you're not getting the right results from inbound efforts, you might throw in a few outbound strategies to up your game.

For instance, you can sign up for EZ Texting for free right now. Take advantage of mass texting so you can grow your audience and increase your brand visibility.

3 Ways to Get Involved in Your Community (And Meet More Customers)

Marketing can sometimes feel like a solitary pursuit, no matter the size of your business. It can also become focused solely online, as though people only exist on the other side of various screens. Getting involved with your community might help provide a new perspective, shake up your business SMS marketing campaign, and introduce you to new customers.

Give Speeches

MMS marketing

Most companies belong to industries that have trade associations, conventions, conferences, and other events. While simply attending community or industry events can help you meet more customers, speaking at them makes you even more visible.

Whether your speech lasts five minutes or two hours, it can have a positive impact on the audience. Use it to introduce something your business does to improve the community or the industry, or to describe an innovative process you've developed.

If you're thinking about speaking at an event, rehearse your speech dozens of times before the event. If you can give your speech without note cards or a written document, you'll come across as more professional and approachable.

If the event allows you to use slides or hand out literature, make your business SMS campaign center stage. Let people know how they can receive text messages from your company so you can connect with them after the event.

Pro Tip for Speeches

Start your speech by connecting with your audience. You don't have to tell a joke if it doesn't fit naturally with the subject matter, but you might tell an anecdote to which your audience will relate. If you make that connection, you'll hold their attention throughout your talk.

Volunteer as a Group

MMS marketing

Someone in your community could use your help.

Volunteerism can elevate your company in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), but it also can help you meet customers. From other volunteers to the organization itself, you make your business more visible to the public.

Ask your entire company to participate. You might all meet one Saturday every month for a couple hours to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, thrift store, or other nonprofit. Use it for team building as well as for connecting with prospective customers.

Always bring your business card with information about your company on it. Include your contact information as well as instructions for receiving SMS alerts from your firm.

Pro Tip for Volunteering

More of your staff might participate in volunteerism if you let them have a say in the cause. Take a survey or poll, for instance, and choose the cause about which most of your staff feels passionate. Alternatively, if you have a small business, consider alternating who chooses the cause every week or month.

Start a Scholarship Fund

MMS Marketing

You can derive three specific benefits from starting a scholarship fund:

  • Talent: Help create the next generation of talent that might contribute to your company's success.
  • Community: Show that you're willing to help young people get their education, which could earn your company good will and help you meet more customers.
  • Visibility: People talk about scholarship funds. Your brand visibility might spike as a result.

Consider creating a scholarship fund that's specific to your business or industry. For instance, if you run a retail clothing store, you might start a scholarship for future fashion designers, buyers, or small business owners.

Pro Tip for Scholarship Funds

Hold a formal ceremony when you award the scholarship each year. It's yet another way to reach out to your community, to celebrate young talent, and to meet more customers.

In business, SMS marketing and other forms of digital marketing have become the norm. However, the benefits of online campaigns don't negate the advantages of getting involved in your community. Sign up for free to take advantage of EZ Texting's SMS marketing services while you reach out to people in the real world.

4 Best Strategies for Successful MMS & SMS Marketing

Marketing outreach revolves around four main elements: promotion, engagement, alerts, and reminders. SMS marketing is no different in this respect than other marketing channels. Therefore, when you develop your strategy for MMS marketing, it is important to keep these four ideas in mind.


Get your team together and build a strong foundation based on these principles.

You might decide that your texting program will focus on one area, while other marketing channels will focus on others. Alternatively, you might decide to use all four in your texting campaign for a more diverse program.

No matter how you use it, it important to bear in mind certain SMS marketing best practices to get the most out of the program. It is likewise important to understand the nuances of each of the four elements so you can expertly use them.

Promotion

Promotion is the way that you advertise your products and services to potential customers. It is about spreading the word about your company and increasing brand awareness and recognition. It is often the top part of the sales funnel, where you are taking in as many potential people as possible to eventually convert them into a customer.

There are many ways to utilize SMS marketing for promotion, but one of the best ways to use SMS marketing in your promotional efforts is as a call to action.

Any strong piece of marketing or advertising material requires a good call to action. This should be something that motivates the person to act while also being easy to get them to take immediate action.

You lose a significant amount of the power of advertising if it requires a person to have to remember to take the action at a later time. That is where SMS marketing really demonstrates its power.

It is easy to include your MMS marketing program on any existing piece of marketing collateral:
  • Radio or TV spots

  • Billboards

  • Print ads

  • Flyers

  • Digital properties

  • Social media accounts

  • Email
You simply add a keyword and shortcode. Around 90 percent of people carry their cell phones with them at all times, so they can take action right away, increasing the efficacy of your marketing. Adding some incentive, such as an offer, increases the motivation for people to take the action.

This not only helps to strengthen the efficacy of your marketing materials, thereby increasing your brand awareness and pool of potential customers, but it also helps to increase the number of potential subscribers. Then, you have a pool of interested people to use the second element of a texting campaign: engagement.

Promotion combines well with other elements of marketing. You might use a texting program to send new product alerts, offers and deals, and other messages that promote a certain event, service or products

Promotion: Best Practices

When you use texting as a call to action, there are a few SMS marketing best practices to follow. First, add some terms and conditions when possible that are easy to understand. You want to let people know that they are signing up for a regular marketing program when they text the keyword.

This is easily done with a confirmation email that auto-responds when a person texts in the keyword. In this confirmation email, include some brief terms and conditions and a link to more information. Ask them to reply to confirm their opt-in to the program.


The great thing about texting is that people can take action from anywhere.

An example might be "Text CONFIRM to join our texting program or STOP to opt-out. Click here for terms and conditions [with link]."

Also, when you create a call to action, you want to use the right language to get people to take action. This typically includes strong motivational language. This works no matter where you include a call to action, including on any future texts in your texting program.

It is best to use action verbs along with some adverbs that create a sense of urgency. This should be done in as concise a manner as possible since you only have 160 characters.

A good example of a strong call to action that can be used to get people to join your program is "Text [Keyword] to [shortcode] to join our list and receive exclusive deals and offers. Get 20 percent off for texting today."

Engagement

The second main element of MMS marketing is engagement. Customer engagement has become an essential component of business because more and more customers choose where they buy products based on their experience of that business. They rely more on emotional reasoning rather than logical reasoning (such as price or location).

This makes it even more important to create excellent customer service and find ways to continually engage with customers.

SMS marketing is a great way to engage with customers. In fact, it has a higher engagement rate than email and other forums. There are several types of messages that you might send to garner more customer engagement:
  • Surveys

  • Polls

  • Contests

  • Information and tips

  • Exclusive news

  • Customer service messages

  • Offers and deals
Each of these avenues of engagement provides something different for customers. Surveys and polls let customers tell you what they think. Contests are always fun and increase the number of people who choose to opt-in since customers love to win new things. Many customers will wish to learn information and tips, especially if it is exclusive news about your company, products or services.

Offering customers service via text improves your service to your customers since it is easy for them to contact you with questions or problems from anywhere at any time.

Some of the most common message types are offers and deals. These get people to come in and shop at your business, but you want to always mix up your offers so that they are not the same basic offer every time. This reduces the impact of your offers since people know they can use them at any time.

Engagement Best Practices

Many companies choose to use several of these forms in order to keep customers excited about their program, rather than deciding to opt out because they tire of the same, boring messages over and over again. The important consideration in terms of engagement messages is that you create content of value for your customers.

There are several ways to determine what your customers might want from your program:
  • Perform market research

  • Review the demographics

  • Directly ask customers through a poll or survey
Many companies find it beneficial to create a persona based on their target audience that is created through looking at shopping behaviors, demographics, and psychosocial characteristics. You might have more than one of these personas. Then, create messages that are attractive to your target audience.

If you have more than one ideal customer persona, divide your subscriber list into groups based on their various characteristics and then send personalized targeted messages. This increases the efficacy and engagement of your program.

Although it is tempting to send out several messages to really take advantage of the benefits of customer engagement. However, people do not appreciate being inundated with text messages, even though they do wish to hear from companies via text. This means you need to find the right frequency of texts for your program to get the peak success rates.

If you text too little, then customers will forget about your program or decide to opt out. Alternatively, if you text too often, then customers will get annoyed and opt out.

Most companies find that texting between two and four times per month is ideal, but you might need to poll your customers and perform some testing to determine the ideal frequency for you.

Timing is also important, especially for offers and deals. You want to provide customers sufficient time to use the deal, but you also want to create some urgency. Because most people open texts within a few minutes of receipt, it is the perfect medium for flash sales and limited time coupons.

Alerts


Send out texts to let people know about emergency situations.

Another common type of MMS marketing messages is alerts:
  • Emergency alerts

  • Alerts about events

  • Transactional messages
Educational institutions find SMS marketing a great way to alert their students, faculty, and staff of any activities on campus, including any emergencies that might arise. You might also use this to alert your staff to any emergency situations.

Because most people open text messages and have their phones on them, you can feel confident that they have read the message. That is why it is so great to use texting for important information, like emergency alerts.

Many customers prefer using texting for transactional messages. This might be for when they have bought something, it has shipped, it is ready to be picked up, or any other message that you might normally send via email or mail.

When it comes to alerts, there are not too many unique best practices. You want to avoid sending them more often than you need to do, and you want to be careful about the timing. Emergency alerts might be fine to send outside of business hours, but any other messages should be sent during the day at convenient times that are not disruptive to the customer.

Reminders

Reminders are similar to alerts in that they send specific information to your customers. Their purpose is to simply remind customers about something they already know about. For businesses that sell products or offer services, this might be reminders about sales or events in store. Businesses with many events might also use it to send a last-minute reminder about events to boost attendance.

Medical professionals, service-oriented businesses, and other appointment-based business find that sending appointment reminders via text leads to fewer no-show appointments, reducing the financial loss when that happens.

When you send appointment reminders, you want to find the right time. It should be close enough that people do not forget, otherwise, you have missed the purpose of the reminder. However, you want to provide sufficient time to let the person alert you if they need to change the appointment.

Most people send out reminders about 24 hours ahead of time, but you might choose to send them closer to the time. The same SMS marketing best practices apply to event reminders as well.

General SMS Marketing Best Practices

The above discussed certain best practices for each of the central elements of marketing. There are some additional ones that should be used for every single text you send out, no matter the intention behind it.


Make sure to get permission before you start texting customers.

First and foremost, always get permission from your subscribers, especially if you plan to send marketing messages. This ensures that you remain in compliance with texting guidelines and rules.

If you send out several types of messages, such as reminders, transactional messages, and marketing messages, then you will need to have permission to send all three types of messages. You cannot assume that someone who signed up for reminders will also want to receive your marketing messages.

Make it clear to them what the program will provide, and then adhere to this contract. Also, make it easy to opt out. Keep track of all opt ins and opt outs in case you need to review it at some point.

MMS marketing is a unique channel that needs to be utilized as such. Do not simply reproduce the same content to send to your subscribers. Remember that several of them will follow you on social media, regularly read your blog, receive your emails and otherwise engage with you through several channels.

Therefore, they will have no incentive to join your texting campaign if it does not have its own unique enticement. This might be special offers and deals, exclusive information, early access to sales or other motivations for joining.

Ready to get started with your text message marketing campaign? Sign up for free.

How Real Estate Agents Can Use MMS for Marketing

Like any smart salesperson, a real estate agent needs to understand the latest tools of the trade in order to expand his or her network of potential customers. One of the latest trends in mobile marketing involves incorporating multimedia messaging services (MMS) into your strategy. The bigger and stronger brother of SMS marketing, multimedia messages enables you to send different types of media through direct text, including brilliant images and videos.

To add flavor to your existing mobile marketing campaign, realtors should incorporate MMS into their strategies. MMS offers many advantages and makes the customer experience that much more engaging. Here are several ways realtors can use MMS in their marketing strategies:

 

Promote Cross Marketing Efforts With Printed Signs

To give potential homebuyers sneak peeks into the homes they’re interested in purchasing, realtors can put a “text HOUSE16 to 99453 for more information” tag on their printed signs. Whenever prospective buyers text, they will receive MMS messages with interior images of the house and websites containing more info about the listings, all without having to type in long URL addresses or navigate entire websites. 

 

Prize Incentives

Engage your customers by utilizing the power of prizes. Folks love free stuff, and it gives them an instant incentive to participate in your MMS contest. MMS also adds allure – you can text images of the prize to encourage more people to respond.

 

Promos and Discounts

Follow the lead of restaurateurs and offer coupons and promos in your strategy. Be sure to provide a call to action and specific date when the offer is valid in your promotion to ensure consumers will take the bait. You can offer food from local eateries, home décor items, gift cards, and more!

You can also steer customers to go to your social media pages and website for more information via a link in the MMS text. This way, you’ll be helping to push traffic to your pages.

 

Keep Them in the Loop

MMS allows you to expand the length of texts you send out. It’s not limited to 140 characters like traditional SMS texting. This helps you to share more content with your customers. Share home improvements, new listings that just came on the market, pictures of the neighborhood and all of the amenities, upcoming neighborhood events, and much more.

 

Get Them to Vote

When customers are asked for their opinions, you’re sure to get a lot of responses. Include images of your services or listings that they can vote on to solidify brand awareness. Make up keywords for consumers to respond with, and reward those who voted with appealing prizes.

 

Mobile marketing for realtors, such as MMS, creates an entirely new avenue through which you can attract potential clients. Use the tips above to get the best benefits of MMS.

 

 

How to Use MMS Marketing to Promote Your Community Theater

Need to generate buzz for your upcoming community theater production? Do so with MMS marketing for community theater. MMS marketing for small businesses is helping many a company gain the attention it wants, thanks to consumers reading text messages almost immediately after receiving them among other benefits. Review a few options for using MMS marketing in community theater promotion efforts and see if they don’t make a considerable difference.

Discounted Show Tickets

Add texting opt-in information to all advertisements—flyers, billboards, print ads, etc.—and stress that anyone who signs up for your text list will receive discounts to shows. Offer discounts to every show of the season if it is within your budget, or select shows only. If promoting the latter, let consumers know they can choose which shows they want discounted tickets for.

VIP Party Access

Run contests through your MMS marketing campaign that result in VIP access to post-show parties. People never tire of backstage passes, so make it easy for them with a campaign that grants access to the first 10 or 20 subscribers who respond to the message. Note that the backstage pass includes free food and drinks, as people never get sick of those things, either!

Show Updates

Keep your subscriber list updated about your company’s latest shows via SMS. Inform them of show dates and times, any featured performers appearing in the production, and anything else that is relevant.

Contests

Alert subscribers to upcoming contests via MMS, and send images of the prizes. Run any type of contest you like, such as a costume contest where participants send in photos dressed as their favorite characters from the show season. Prizes can include vouchers for free drinks and snacks at show concession stands, the aforementioned discounted show tickets, and more.

Videos

Get your subscribers excited about an upcoming production by sending links to video clips of dress rehearsals. Show your subscribers why they must attend the show by including snippets of songs if applicable and the best scenes from the production. Think of the videos as your very own trailers that pique viewer interest and encourage them to learn more.

Donation Appreciation

Send texts with links to donation web pages. Go a step further by announcing that your company will recognize those who donated the most at your next show or community event. Reward them with special show packages that include ticket discounts and other perks for the duration of the season.

Fundraisers and Parties

Make performances at fundraising events and similar parties work better for you by handing out flyers at the end of the song/scene that feature texting opt-in information. If you have a booth at the fundraising event, include a code or old-fashioned sign-up sheet that encourages attendees to subscribe to your text alerts and subsequently learn about exclusive offers.

Take full advantage of MMS marketing for community theater to increase show season awareness, audience numbers, and ticket sales. Text messaging is an inexpensive yet highly effective way to improve business.

MMS Marketing Campaigns

MMS marketing campaigns are a fantastic way to get your marketing message heard above the noise of other direct marketing channels. They have all the benefits of plain text group messaging - an extended reach, immediate delivery, high open rates, quick responses, etc. - and, with the addition of image, audio and video files, MMS marketing campaigns can have a much greater impact on your customers.

If you are already using a group messaging platform to engage with your customers via plain text, setting up MMS marketing campaigns is easy. Simply change the type of message you would like to send from “SMS Message” to “MMS Message”, upload your image, audio or video file, compose a message to accompany the file (if you’d like), and click send. Within minutes your customers will be receiving and reading your MMS message wherever they are, whatever they are doing.

Unlike plain text group messaging, MMS marketing campaigns allow you to write up to 1,600 characters of text. This gives you the opportunity to expand on the message you want to communicate and avoids the scenario in which the 160 character limit of plain text restricts the impact of your message. Image, audio and video files can be up to 500Kb in size - sufficient for a thirty-second audio or video file.

Six Creative MMS Marketing Campaigns

Wondering how to make the best possible use of MMS marketing campaigns. Get any inspiration you need by reviewing six of the most creative MMS marketing campaigns from the last few years. Learn how the following brands set themselves apart from their competition via MMS marketing and see if you come up with a few outstanding ideas of your own.

Julep

The makeup company launched a mobile marketing campaign that resulted in a database of more than 5,000 subscribers within the first 24 hours. Julep enticed opt-ins by creating a highly appealing text offer that provided customers with 50 percent off of their next nail polish purchases. The ‘Julep Mobile Insider Club’ was promoted by sending emails to the existing subscriber database and posting about the campaign on social media outlets. One promotion about their new Kai nail polish color resulted in a 34.23 percent click-through rate and a 17.44 percent purchase conversion rate.

BMW

This famous luxury car brand encouraged consumers to invest in expensive winter tires by creating a campaign that reminded them how such tires are essential for safety, as winter tires offer much better tread on snowy, icy roads. BMW sent personalized MMS messages to its subscriber list that focused on what those individuals’ vehicles needed specifically, resulting in a 30 percent conversion rate from 1,200 messages.

American Eagle Outfitters

Clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters’ creative MMS marketing campaign is all about announcing upcoming sales, including holiday sales and flash sales for clearance items. Promo codes are frequently included with messages, and are tracked at Point of Sale and linked to the mobile-friendly website.

National Wholesale Liquidators

National Wholesale Liquidators offered consumers who opted in to their mobile marketing campaign $5 off any purchase of $25 or more. The campaign was advertised through online, in-store, and print advertising channels, resulting in a database of 50,000 mobile phone numbers. It was subsequently found that customers who opted in to the campaign spent 80 percent more than those who were not part of said campaign.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut aims to help answer the age-old question, “What are we having for dinner?” The fast food chain sends mobile messages to customers with rumbling stomachs that feature promotions and coupons to encourage pizza as the answer to the dinner query. The campaign increased foot traffic as well as online order numbers.

Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware continually strives to increase customer engagement in a variety of mobile-tastic ways. For example, it offers coupons through its microsite, and uses barcodes and promo codes to increase trackable offer numbers. It also allows customers to save their offers for later use via SMS, email, or Passbook. Continually providing a variety of excellent offers in combination with in-store signs that promote opting-in has resulted in the numbers the hardware store desires.

Find Out More about MMS Messaging from EZ Texting

If you have any questions about MMS messaging, or would like to know more about the benefits of MMS marketing campaigns, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of Client Success Managers has more than a decade of experience assisting businesses in creating innovative MMS marketing campaigns and, with our help, you can be sure to create the maximum impact from MMS messaging.

Ignorance of the Difference Between SMS and MMS Could Cost You Big


The Samsung Galaxy S4 is less than two years old, but it’s not equipped to send emojis without first converting them into picture messages - costing unwitting senders hundreds on their phone bills. Older handsets - including the Galaxy S, S2 and S3 - are also thought to be affected. 

Picture messages are also known as MMS messages, and can cost up to three times more than an SMS. Once upon a time, the high cost was somewhat justified, as MMS was the only way for people to exchange rich content between phones. Now, with a slew of apps designed to send and receive rich data (often, as with WhatsApp, for free) the MMS is anachronistic. 

A recent article in the Daily Record reported the case of a woman from Airdrie, Scotland, who ran up a £1,200 bill in just four months after sending emoticons that automatically converted to emojis which, in turn, were sent as MMS messages.  

Similar reports have appeared on internet forums, with many claiming their iPhones are affected by the problem. HTC phones are also affected, but they at least send a warning message to users that the SMS they think they’re about to send is in fact an MMS.  

UK mobile phone network provider O2 have been quick to point the finger at manufacturers, saying the issue is ‘down to the handset and not as a result of the O2 network or the settings used for the O2 service.’

O2 also said that some apps - including Facebook - that integrate a contact list from the handset may result in MMS charges as well. People are advised to disable integration between such apps and their contact list. 

There’s still no complete picture regarding which handsets are affected, but Samsung told moneysavingexpert.com that every device launched since April 2014 has a default setting classifying emojis as SMS and not MMS. For the Galaxy S4 and earlier devices, emojis will continue to be converted from SMS into MMS. Apple has declined to comment on the susceptibility of their handsets to the problem. 

The problem is one of transparancy. Are operators doing enough to inform their customers how their pricing structures work? That remains to be seen. According to Ofcom, the UK’s communications watchdog, 4% of people said they had received a high bill caused by unexpected charges for emojis, but it’s likely to have affected significantly more. Like the SMS-MMS conversion itself, not everyone will have noticed. Take a careful look at your next bill to see if you’re being charged for a service you didn’t know you were using. If it was not made clear to you when you sent the message that it was converting it to an MMS, it’s well worth complaining.

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