SMS Marketing for Business

4 Tips for Getting to Know Your Customers Better

The better you know your customers, the easier it becomes to predict their behavior, to communicate effectively with them, and to anticipate their needs.

It's sort of like friends and family. If you know someone well, you never have to wonder what she would like as a birthday present or whether you should invite him to an event. You just know.

If you want to develop that level of familiarity with your customers, here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Harness the Power of Touch

SMS marketing

Did you know that human touch fosters trust, community, and loyalty? It's a psychological fact.

When you shake someone's hand, you create an instant connection that you can't manufacture through digital means. This doesn't mean that online marketing is ineffective; it simply means that you can incorporate in-person marketing with your text message marketing campaign.

How do you get close enough to your customers to shake hands?

  • Set up meetings with your clients to brainstorm ideas or go over project specifics.
  • Attend industry events where you can meet more people and get to know them all better.
  • Invite customers to your place of business for lunch & learns and other events.
  • Create customer appreciation days so you can meet at a designated spot.

While in-person communication might seem too time-consuming, you might be surprised by the information you glean from simple conversations. After you chat with a customer, slip away somewhere private and jot down a few notes about what you learned, so you don't forget.

2. Monitor Social Media

Social media monitoring has become an essential tool in any marketer's toolbox. While participating in social media can help you reach customers, monitoring your customers' activity will help you learn more about them.

What articles do they share? Who do they communicate with online? Which social media platforms attract them the most? What language do they use?

You can also use this strategy to monitor brand mentions. If you know your customers are talking about your company, you can glean helpful information from their feedback — even when it isn't directed to you.

3. Collect More Data

SMS marketing

Your text message marketing efforts can help you collect valuable data about your customers. How often do they respond to your messages? Do they follow through with the calls to action you provide?

Collect data through other means, as well, such as website analytics and email marketing. The more information you collect, the better you get to know your customers.

4. Create a Survey

Well-written surveys can gather copious amounts of data from your customers, but only if you encourage recipients to answer the questions honestly. Try creating a survey with open-ended questions instead of those that require simple yes/no responses.

Keep those surveys short and sweet — three to five questions max. You don't want to take up to much of your customers time, but you want real data that you can parse and apply.

Put these four strategies into motion now, so you don't waste another minute in the dark. Once you've collected more data, use it to create a text message marketing campaign that yields positive results. Sign up for free and let EZ Texting do half the work for you!

3 Quick Tips for Keeping Text Marketing List Opt-Outs Low

When someone opts out of your text marketing program, you could potentially lose a customer. You'll no longer communicate with that person via your preferred method, and you therefore risk losing contact entirely.

What's the solution? Give your prospects and customers reasons to stay connected to you via text. Use these three quick tips to discourage text marketing opt-outs and to continue growing your list.

1. Offer the Option to Resubscribe

Text marketing

Who hasn't made a mistake while using a smartphone? (Image via Pixabay)

Smartphones have tiny screens, which automatically makes mistakes more likely. Have you ever typed a key by mistake and failed to realize it? If so, you know that some text marketing opt-outs will happen by accident.

In this case, it makes sense to give them the option to resubscribe. If they accidentally text "N" when they mean "Y," for instance, they can automatically get back in the game and resume receiving your messages.

It's simple to add a few words to the end of each SMS you send your customers:

  • Unsubscribe by mistake? Reply with [keyword].
  • Want back in? Just reply [keyword].
  • We'd love to have you back! To rejoin, reply with [keyword].

You can experiment with different wording options to figure out which works best.

This technique can also work if someone unsubscribes on purpose, then rethinks his or her decision. We all get frustrated with the volume of messages we receive every day, and sometimes we make split-second choices that we later regret. Give your text message marketing subscribers the chance to come back to the fold.

2. Segment By Frequency

We all have different tastes when it comes to marketing consumption. One customer might want to receive a coupon or notification about new sales every day, while another might want to hear from your business just once a week or once per month.

Just as you segment your email marketing list, you can divide up your text marketing list based on the frequency of messages your customers desire. That way, you don't irritate busy consumers with texts they don't want to receive, and you don't lose touch with customers who want to hear from you more often.

Segmenting your list in other ways can also help you stop opt-outs. For instance, you might offer several services to your customers, then create an SMS texting program for each service. Based on the customer's interests, you send messages that are custom-tailored for their needs.

3. Get to the Point

SMS marketing

Don't waste time getting to the point if you want to encourage continued patronage. (Image via Pixabay)

Your target audience has deadlines to meet, children to pick up from school, spouses to touch base with, and friends to meet for coffee. If you waste their time, they'll opt out of your text messaging program without thinking twice.

How do you escape this problem? You get to the point immediately. In the first line of your text message, clearly explain the benefit your customer will derive from reading the rest. Don't waste space with pithy plays on words or funny quips.

For instance, if you're offering a 20 percent discount on all online purchases for the day, you might start your text like this:

  • Today only! 20% off your entire online purchase.
  • Want 20% off our entire stock? It's today only.
  • Get 20% off everything for one day only.

You see the pattern. Lead with the benefit, then follow with any necessary instructions or fine print.

Text message list opt-outs can bring down business, but you might sidestep a few of those opt-outs with the tips above. If you're not getting great results with your current marketing campaign, give EZ Texting a shot. Sign up for free to experience the great results firsthand.

Expert Interview Series: Aaron Shields Of The Cult Branding Company On SMS Marketing And Branding

Aaron Shields—a partner in The Cult Branding Company—is a lecturer, writer, researcher, and strategist that specializes in helping companies create brands that are loved by both customers and employees. 

Cult Branding created and defined the concept of "cult branding", towards the goal of creating the most effective digital marketing strategies. Could you briefly describe what "cult branding" is, and how it can help a marketing strategy? 

Although some of the work we do is related to the digital space, Cult Branding wasn’t created exclusively for it. We look at brands holistically and consider a brand the total impression a customer gets from interacting with a company; every touch point contributes towards creating what the customer perceives the brand to be. Cult Branding is applicable to the digital space but it’s just one among many areas that needs to be considered for creating powerful brands. 

The concept of Cult Branding, however, was born from the digital age. The founder of The Cult Branding Company, BJ Bueno, was involved in internet companies during the dot-com bubble and noticed that most companies failed because they never created loyal customer bases. So, he started looking into brands that had extreme loyalty—what he eventually termed Cult Brands—to understand how their loyalty could be replicated. These are brands like Harley, Star Trek, and Jimmy Buffet that have inserted themselves meaningfully into their customers’ lives in ways few brands have and turned customers into passionate evangelists that couldn’t imagine life without the brand.

Cult Brands tend to command premium prices, their customers can’t imagine buying an alternative, and they have high retention. But, more importantly, they create a mutually beneficial relationship with their customers by using the brand to fulfill the higher level needs in Maslow’s hierarchy—belonging, esteem, beauty, knowledge, and self-actualization.

In studying Cult Brands, we found seven rules they all adhere to:

  1. Differentiate: Customers want to be part of a group that’s different.
  2. Be Courageous: Cult Brand inventors show daring and determination.
  3. Promote A Lifestyle: Cult Brands sell lifestyles.
  4. Listen To Their Customers: Cult Brands genuinely listen to their customers.
  5. Support Customer Communities: Cult Brands always help create and nourish customer communities.
  6. Be Open, Inviting, And Inclusive: Cult Brands are open to anyone that wants to join.
  7. Promote Personal Freedom: Cult Brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies.

These rules can be translated into strategies for companies of all types and sizes—not just ones trying to be the next Cult Brand—that are looking to cultivate increased customer loyalty.

The easiest way for a company to employ Cult Branding is to check their strategies against the seven rules. If the strategy isn’t fulfilling at least one of the rules, chances are it isn’t going to push the customer loyalty needle that far forward.

You've posted several books about digital marketing and branding on your website, including Customers First, discussing how serving your customers is the best form of marketing there is. How can SMS marketing be used in a customer-centric marketing campaign, and why is that important?

None of our books are specifically about digital marketing. But, they are all about building strong brands and organizations, and digital marketing is a very important tool in building strong brands. 

Customers First looks at a lot of the tools we’ve used to help companies build strong brands and how they translate into strategies to retain customers, turn them into evangelists, and attract new customers.

I’m a big fan of Peter Drucker. He really is in the top handful of the all-time-great business thinkers. Drucker knocked it out of the park in The Practice of Management when he wrote: “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.”

If your campaign in any medium isn’t customer-centric these days you’re ultimately going to fail. Customers only want things that are meaningful to them. And, if you’re not offering it, one of your competitors will and you’ll lose. 

Every campaign, whether it’s digital or print, has to talk to someone whether it’s your current customer or a potential customer. You can’t just talk to a statistical average. This seems like an obvious idea but so many campaigns miss the mark because of it: they try talking to everyone and end up saying nothing meaningful to anyone.

Ultimately this gets to the heart of what’s in Customers First: how to truly understand who your customers are and why they do business with you. You’d be surprised how many companies—even ones with big research budgets that should know better—are trying to go after customers that aren’t relevant to their brand.

SMS marketing can be a great customer-centric tool because of how personal it can be. The most successful SMS marketing campaigns have been highly targeted and segmented. Not every message should go to every customer; a message should only go to that segment of customers where it's relevant. SMS easily allows for this type of customization. It also allows for a high degree of personalization with each customer. It’s a potentially powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal. 

 You've also posted about another book, The Power Of Cult Branding, which investigates nine brand case studies and how their marketing and brand increased customer loyalty. What are some ways that SMS marketing could be leveraged for greater customer loyalty and, again, why does that matter in today's eCommerce?

If you’re not building loyalty, you’re eventually going to lose. 

There’s a reason outperforming CEOs are customer-obsessed: there’s no way to win in the long-term if you keep losing customers. 

If you’re thinking of how you can “leverage” a tool like SMS to create loyalty, odds are that you’ve already lost before you started. Leverage implies force and using something to your maximum advantage. Loyalty isn’t created by through one-sided strategies. Loyalty is created through strategies that are mutually beneficial to both you and your customers. 

I know this may seem like an issue of semantics, but it’s an important one, especially considering how often companies end up executing strategies that fail at creating loyalty. It’s exactly this forceful, company-centric—instead of customer-centric—type of attitude that makes loyalty strategies fail: they think about their own benefit before their customers’ benefits. And, that’s not how you create loyalty. 

Instead of thinking about leveraging a medium like SMS marketing, you first need to consider your strategy overall and in what ways it benefits your customers and how it may benefit customer segments differently. Then, think about what channels are best to deliver your message in different ways. 

A multi-channel approach to your strategy is key. The more touch points you can influence in ways that make sense, the greater the chance that you’ll achieve “stickiness” and sales. Oracle did a study that showed that customers are 43% more likely to purchase when mobile offers are part of a unified campaign. 

SMS marketing shouldn’t be treated as its own entity or a side project, which it seems like many businesses do. SMS marketing’s immediacy and personalization capabilities really make it a unique tool that should hold equal footing in a strategy that ultimately gives customers what they really want. 

Single-channel strategies are a thing of the past. 

 The third book you've discussed, Why We Talk by Bolivar J. Bueno, investigates word-of-mouth recommendations, advertising, and marketing. How can SMS marketing be used to generate word-of-mouth referrals? What are some of the main advantages of referrals and connecting with influencers?

Why We Talk holds a special place in my heart. It was the second book we published and it’s what began my career with The Cult Branding Company. BJ and I had been friends for nearly a decade when he convinced me to help him with the research for Why We Talk. I guess the rest is history at this point. 

The main premise of Why We Talk is that you have to give customers something worth talking about. It seems like a simple and obvious idea, but look at most companies’ social media posts and you see how often they try to get customer talk about meaningless things and the customers have no interest in responding.

In Why We Talk, we lay out seven principles that will make people more likely to talk about your brand or product in a positive way: 

  1. The Principle of Integrity: Don’t deceive.
  2. The Principle of Status: People share what makes them look good.
  3. The Principle of Cool: Don’t try to catch a trend; if you’re playing catchup, you’ve already missed it.
  4. The Principle of Groups: You need to influence many small groups to create a movement.
  5. The Principle of Influence: Everyone can be influential, especially on the Internet.
  6. The Principle of Meaning: People talk about what’s meaningful to them.
  7. The Principle of Surprise: People love to share what surprised them; never over-promise and under-deliver.

The unfortunate thing about generating word of mouth to the level that it has influence is that you can’t; you can only create conditions that will make it more likely to happen. The other unfortunate thing is that negative word of mouth is more likely to spread than positive word of mouth, which is why it’s so important to understand your customers and not let them down—never under-deliver. 

A big problem I’ve seen with a lot of campaigns lately is that they’ve become more obsessed with being liked and shared than generating sales; it seems like becoming viral has become more important than contributing to the bottom line. I’m a die-hard David Ogilvy fan—I think Ogilvy On Advertising is still the greatest book ever written on the subject—and agree with him on advertising campaigns: If a campaign doesn’t lead to sales, what was the point aside from the agency wanting to win a Clio?  

If you want an SMS marketing campaign to generate referrals you have to give them something worth talking about. Nobody is going to talk about a 15% discount. It isn’t meaningful. The problem is that there really is no magic formula to get people to talk; you can only create the conditions—by adhering to at least one of the seven principles—to make it more likely to happen. And, what works for one company isn’t going to work for another because their customers are different and have different things that are meaningful to them. 

The term influencer is a bit of a loaded term: everyone can influence someone. It’s true that some people have bigger platforms of influence than others but just because they have a big platform it doesn’t mean that they’ll have any influence on your customers or the ones you’re trying to target. And, you never should pay someone with a big platform of influence that’s not genuinely passionate about your brand to try to use their influence. It violates the first principle: the principle of integrity.

The reason referrals can be powerful is because they have already established trust with people and trust is one of the keys to generating word of mouth. People are more likely to believe someone they trust than someone they don’t; and they’re more likely to believe someone they trust than a company trying to sell them something. 

Gaining trust is really at the heart of a lot of what companies are trying to achieve right now. The biggest buzz word in marketing in 2017 is probably authenticity and trust is one of the key dimensions of authenticity. Genuine referrals from a trusted source have trust already built in and that trust can be transferred onto the company or product. 

 Many major corporations are heavily investing in SMS marketing, including American Express, who created an entire brand, called SmallShop and Small Business Saturday, to take advantage of this digital marketing trend. Why are major corporations so enthusiastic and optimistic about SMS marketing? What need is SMS marketing filling that traditional marketing just can't meet?

 Companies are mostly enthusiastic because of three things:

  1. Reach: SMS marketing messages have much higher open and conversion rates than email will ever achieve. The rates are so high that it’s almost impossible for anyone aware of how high they are to ignore. 
  2. Immediacy: We live in a now culture. And, text messages are the legal crack of the now culture. People have their phones on them almost every hour of the day and almost all texts are opened within a few minutes of being sent. And, with people now accessing the Internet more on mobile devices than any other device, it makes following up on the message not only easy but also natural. 
  3. Cost: Marketers have been burned too many times on expensive campaigns that don’t work. SMS marketing campaigns can be comparatively very cheap so the financial risk is lower.

The thing more marketers should be enthusiastic about is personalization. SMS marketing messages can easily be delivered in ways that are highly personal and influenced by individual customer preferences. Personalized messages are much more effective at conversion than mass-produced messages. 

SMS marketing’s ability to easily combine reach, immediacy, and personalization is what potentially can make it fill needs traditional marketing doesn’t meet. But, just because it has the potential, it doesn’t mean it does all of the time. 

People’s phones are very personal devices. Sending a mass message that isn’t relevant to a particular customer in a text has a much greater risk of having a detrimental effect on that customer than sending it via an email. This is because the SMS message is more likely to be seen, more likely to be intrusive, easier to opt-out from, and the juxtaposition of an unipersonal message on a personal device can be very off-putting. 

But, if you send a very personal, relevant message in a way that it makes it easy to follow up, SMS marketing can be very powerful because it puts the message in front of people on a device they’re already using to make a lot of their purchasing decisions.

In 2006, BMW implemented a SMS marketing campaign, culminating in 30% more conversions at the end of the fiscal year. Why is SMS marketing so effective for conversions?

Let’s break down the 2006 BMW campaign that you referenced because it’s a good illustration of several points I brought up earlier and it gets to the heart of the potential effectiveness of SMS marketing. 

For those readers that might not be familiar with the campaign: In Germany, most new cars need snow tires in October and they’re unlikely to buy them until that month. To get customers to purchase snow tires from a BMW dealer, BMW sent out an MMS campaign to customers in Munich, Germany that purchased cars in the warmer months that year—March through September—as soon as the first snow started to hit. The campaign converted 30.31% of recipients 

So, let’s break down why it was effective:

  1. Relevancy: BMW only sent the MMS to 1200 customers. These were customers that had recently purchased a car in warm months—March through September.. Snow tires were relevant to this segment because they didn’t have snow tires yet. It wouldn’t have been relevant to customers who purchased cars the year before that already owned snow tires. 
  2. Immediacy: They sent the message in October when the first snow hit. The message was sent when the customers needed the tires. If they sent it in the summer telling customer that they would need the tires in a few months, it would likely have fallen flat and people would have forgotten about the message by the time they would need the tires.
  3. Personalization: Each message showed the specific car model and color that that the customer bought with a tire that would look good on the car. In addition, it linked to an app where the customer could view different tires on their car.
  4. Ease Of Use: The MMS included the price of the suggested tire so the customer didn’t have to spend time looking for it. The app made it easy to try out more options and the app made it easy to follow up by including the option to call al local dealer or have a local dealer call the customer. 

SMS marketing is inherently effective at conversion because of its immediacy in relation to how quickly people read text messages and how much they use their phones for purchases and purchase decisions. But, it can only reach its ultimate effectiveness when it hits all the pillars that BMW did. 

 Can you share any advice or recommendations on how to increase conversions using SMS marketing? What are some of the main advantages of SMS marketing, both financially and in terms of brand recognition?

I think I’ve covered a lot of what will increase conversions in this interview so far. But I’d like to bring up two other points that will really allow marketers to maximize the effectiveness of their conversions.

First, make a customer’s choice to opt-in really worth their time. Don’t send them offers that aren’t meaningful; don’t send them offers they can get elsewhere; don’t send them offers at inconvenient times. SMS messages are very intrusive so you have to really make the offer matter if you want to keep them subscribed over the long-term. And, the long-term always should be the goal. 

Second—and this really is one of the keys to effective loyalty programs that so many companies miss—reward the behavior you seek. This is another one of those ideas that seems so obvious but one that so many people miss. I doubt there’s any company whose goal is to sell more printers at 15% off, yet so many companies offer deals and loyalty programs just like that. One of the best examples of an SMS marketing campaign that really took advantage of the idea of rewarding the behavior you seek was the Orange Wednesdays campaign. The campaign ran from 2003 to 2015 and was a partnership between the mobile company Orange and cinemas in the UK. The slow day at cinemas was on a Wednesday, so the campaign ran a two-for-one promotion just on Wednesdays. Cinemas wanted more customers on Wednesdays—not discounted tickets any day of the week—and the promotion helped get them there. 

The main financial appeal I’ve already touched on and is pretty simple: SMS marketing campaigns are relatively cheap. Brand recognition, on the other hand, is much more complex. 

A typical SMS campaign isn’t a great tool for brand recognition. The most successful SMS campaigns have been those where customers already have a high degree of brand recognition. A brand a customer is unaware of is unlikely to generate positive awareness through a text message; it’s more likely to generate annoyance. In places like the United States where opt-in is required before being contacted, generating this type of awareness is really a non-issue since customers are highly unlikely to opt-in to receiving messages from a company they know nothing or little about. 

There is a roundabout way to generate brand awareness through SMS marketing and it’s through getting existing customers talking. And, it’s exactly what Orange did for their own company through Orange Wednesdays. It provided a fun reward for its existing customers that was surprising at the time. It got people talking about the brand enough that it generated increased brand awareness.

It's a common SEO trick to use a branded message in headlines, as a kind of shorthand, to tell a reader what an article is going to be about. How might SMS marketers work branded messages into their SMS marketing, as a way to increase brand awareness and authority?

I can’t imagine why any company would deliver an unbranded message. Communication in any medium that doesn’t make it obvious what the brand is and that doesn’t express itself with the personality of the brand is just bad branding and bad marketing. At the very least—and it really is the very least since the language of the message should be on-brand too—the name of the company should be somewhere in the SMS message. 

So, I’ll take the question from the standpoint of how can you use SMS marketing as a way to increase brand awareness and brand authority.

I think I covered the awareness and recognition issue in the previous question: through generating content that is powerful and meaningful enough to get people to talk about it.

As far as brand authority, the way to develop brand authority isn’t channel-specific, so I’ll address it in the broad sense: Every message you send is either going to increase or decrease your authority; it’s never static. And, one wrong move can decrease your authority much more than one right move can increase it. 

Authority is gained by consistently providing things that are meaningful to your customers and showing them that fulfilling their needs rather than your own bottom line is your primary interest. 

I know this is a hard thing for many companies to grasp: putting customers before the bottom line. But, it really goes back to Drucker’s idea about the purpose of business being to create a customer. If you’re creating and maintaining customers profits follows. And, to create and maintain customers over the long-term, the relationship has to be mutually beneficial. 

I think one of the classic examples of building authority by putting customers first is Gary Vaynerchuk and his Wine Library TV that lasted from 2006 to 2011. He would often give bad reviews of wines his store The Wine Library carried. It made his store a trusted source where customers knew they weren’t going to be bamboozled by a salesperson selling them an inferior wine. 

It’s also one of the things that has made Amazon a go-to destination for consumers: they allow bad reviews of products they sell. 

Another great example is Zappos. If you call them and they’re out of a shoe, they’ll help you find it at a competitor’s store. They want the customer to know that they’ll always be able to get what they want when they contact Zappos.

I know not every marketer is going to be able to convince their company to allow such extreme criticism of their own products or direct sales to competitors. But there are things related to authority that are easy for any company to do through SMS. A dimension of authority is trust and a dimension of trust is caring. And, it’s very easy to show you care. This can be as simple as allowing customers to request notifications when a product ships or is delivered and following through on that request. It shows you care by being aware of customers’ desires to have their lives be easier and more efficient. 

Just like personal relationships, companies that truly care will be in customers’ lives over the long-term and companies that don’t care won’t be.

 With so many unsolicited marketing messages bombarding us, nearly every second of the day, how can the fact that users need to opt-in to receive SMS marketing be leveraged to a marketer's advantage?

Communications being opt-in only is a great thing. It ensures that you’re not wasting money trying to reach people that have no interest in what you’re selling.  

It really would be pointless to have an SMS marketing campaign that wasn’t opt-in. SMS messages are very intrusive: nobody wants to be bothered by something they are almost guaranteed to see but have no interest in.

The flip-side, however, is that consumers are very open to receiving SMS communications that they find valuable from companies that they’re interested in. 

Having customers opt-in also allows you to collect information like how and when they want to be contacted and what name they like to be called. As I mentioned before, personalization is a key to successful SMS marketing and collecting customers’ preferences during the opt-in phase can help you make your messages highly targeted and relevant. 

What are some of the best times and days to send SMS marketing messages, for different types of promotions? What are some different sorts of promotions that are useful for SMS marketing, and why?

There aren’t any times or days that are generally best in a way that would apply to all businesses. The time and day depends on the type of business, type of messaging that is being sent, and the person it is being sent to; this goes back to relevancy. There are, however, some guidelines for sending messages that are relevant to all businesses: 

  1. Don’t send messages at times you would consider intrusive. Don’t send them too early,, too late, or when you might be interrupting someone’s dinner.
  2. Don’t send messages when you aren’t open for business. People should be able to contact you immediately after the message is sent.
  3. Don’t send messages that are too long. You should stop at 160 characters since that is the cutoff for a single message from most carriers. If you go over that, the carrier might break it up in a weird way, the person’s phone could ding several times in an intrusive way, the message might get cut off, and any more than that is really too much for the medium. 
  4. The message should be time sensitive. It should be relevant to something in the immediate future.
  5. Don’t contact them too much. Two to four times a month is a good guideline. Make them count. The only exception is if you’re providing updates they requested for something like a delivery. But, even in that case, make sure the updates matter.
  6. Collect information on how customers like to be contacted when they opt-in. Customers are much better at telling you what times they want to be contacted than anyone else. You don’t have to adhere to this time 100% of the time if the particular message makes another time more relevant, but it gives you a guideline for the majority of your messaging.

The only real guideline for promotions that are best suited to SMS messaging is being time-sensitive. Beyond that, I would be doing a disservice trying to create any hard rules. 

A hallmark of The Cult Branding Company is adapting to the unique needs of the company we’re working with. Each company has unique needs and unique customers that must be considered in the context of every marketing decision. Any consultant that comes in with cookie-cutter ideas about what should and shouldn’t be done isn’t listening properly and will likely do the company a disservice. 

If marketers consider everything I’ve mentioned in this interview and apply those ideas to the unique conditions of their companies, that’s really the only way they can determine what SMS marketing promotions make the most sense for them.

Onward.

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7 Quick Tips for Getting Your Business Found Locally

SEO, content marketing, and text marketing campaigns often leave out one key component of any successful marketing and advertising campaign: locality. If you operate your business within a specific geographic area (versus, for example, nationwide or worldwide), you must find ways to get your business found locally.

Let's run through seven quick methods for reaching local customers.

1. Put Maps Everywhere

These days, you can integrate maps into just about every app, website, or platform, from social media to your business's website. A map doesn't just tell your potential customers where you're located; it also helps them find directions and incorporate your location into their Sunday errands.

Have you ever tried to locate a business with no success? That's a frustration you don't want to impose on your audience.

2. Get Listed in Mobile and Local Directories

Unless you've invented a product or process that blows every other invention out of the water, you have competition. In other words, if someone searches for your business type on Google, they might find your competition first.

That's where mobile and local directories come in handy, from Google My Business to Yelp. Your listing allows customers to view several businesses on the same page and choose one based on the features or qualities they like best.

3. Optimize Your Listings

While you're at it, don't just slap a listing on Yelp and assume the business will come flooding in. Give your business listings as much attention as you would any other form of content marketing.

Optimize the title, description, and keywords for local and more general search. More importantly, return to your listings every few months to update them with new information about products, services, and more.

You can also respond to reviews to improve customer service and to help your business get found locally. The more you engage, the easier you become to find.

4. Use In-Store Signage to Promote Your Business

Marketing

Optimizing your business for local search should also include an in-store campaign. You might post signage, for instance, that encourages customers to sign up for text promotions. Collect email addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information from your customers so you can stay in touch and remind them that you exist.

5. Optimize Social Media

You might already use social media to engage your audience (and, if not, you should), but don't neglect local-centric posts. Consider letting your audience know about upcoming events related to your industry, for instance, such as a Run/Walk event next month. Talk about other businesses in the neighborhood that complement your business so you can work together to build an audience.

6. Bid on Local Keywords for Paid Search and Social

If you participate in paid search and social, don't just bid on keywords related to your industry, products, and services. Look for long-tail variations that include your city, town, or county, depending on where you live.

Not only will you pay less for those types of keywords, but you'll also present your ads to more qualified leads. In other words, a consumer who lives around the block will be more likely to visit your business than one who lives four towns over.

7. Give Neighbor Discounts

Car dealerships often use this strategy. When a customer who lives in the same zip code comes in to shop for a car, they're offered a neighbor discount, which might knock $200 or so off the final cost of the car.

You don't have to sell cars to take advantage of this marketing strategy. Build a community around your business by rewarding customers who shop locally. You'll build good will and get more people through the door.

If you're struggling to build your business locally, you can use the above strategies to rekindle interest in your business. Consider taking them a step further by giving SMS marketing a try. Sign up for free to give EZ Texting a quick spin around the block — you won't be sorry.

How to Add Rocket Fuel to Your Labor Day Promotions

Labor Day is still a couple months away, but that doesn't mean you should wait until the last week of August to prepare your Labor Day promotions. In fact, you might want to start now so you're fully prepared.

Just about every business runs some type of Labor Day sale or promotion. If you want to make the most out of yours, here's how to add a little rocket fuel into the mix.

Push Seasonal Inventory

SMS marketing

The best promotions aren't just about generating revenue (which is great), they're also about getting rid of excess inventory (which is even better). When summer has come to an end, use your Labor Day promotions to push summer inventory that you don't want to store through the winter.

Feature summer products in your text message marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing to encourage sales. A healthy discount helps, especially since most people don't need bathing suits or pool floats in September. Include items for the next season, as well, to encourage upselling.

Add a Secondary Theme

Just because you're staging a Labor Day promotion doesn't mean you have to stick with a single theme. Many businesses find that their sales and promotions work better when they throw in a secondary theme. It helps with content marketing and consumer engagement.

A few ideas for Labor Day secondary themes might include:

  • Picnics and family outings
  • Tailgate parties
  • Back to school

Use that theme to push related items in your inventory. You could even throw in a giveaway related to your theme to draw attention and to rev up your text message marketing campaign. 

Celebrate the Working Wo(man)

SMS marketing

While most of us use Labor Day as an excuse to shop, sell, and revel with friends, it's actually an important day that celebrates the contributions American workers have made to the economy and the country. Why not take advantage of that fact — after all, as a business owner, you're part of that very fabric.

You could run spotlights on your employees, for instance, that highlight their unique skills and contributions to your company. Alternatively, interview workers in your community and tell their stories through your marketing channels. You'll not only get great press for your Labor Day promotions, but you'll also increase brand loyalty.

Add Geographic Elements

If you run a local business, use geographic elements to promote your Labor Day sale. For instance, you could use your text message marketing campaign to let your subscribers know about local events on Labor Day. 

Many businesses run sidewalk sales, participate in community events, and even host their own events in honor of Labor Day. Use geographic keywords in your marketing campaign to generate interest from the right people.

At EZ Texting, we love a good holiday — both for celebrating and for business. If you're ready to give text message marketing a shot, or if you're struggling to implement the right program, sign up for free. You'll be amazed at the simplicity and power we've built into every nook and cranny of our technology.

What is a Drip Campaign?

Just as water drips from a spout and collects in a bucket or pail, content can drip from your company's headquarters and into the minds of consumers. That's a drip campaign.

You can use drip campaigns for email marketing, SMS marketing, and a host of other purposes. But how do you set up an effective drip campaign, no matter your budget or marketing experience?

Understanding a Drip Campaign's Purpose

SMS marketing

When you let water leak out of a faucet, you expect it to collect in a basin. Over time, the basin fills up with water, but it all starts with each individual drip.

In a drip campaign, you follow that same methodology, but with content.

The idea is to use a drip campaign to build momentum with your audience and to usher customers through the sales funnel or cycle. Your audience might be on the fence now, but a few drips later, you might have a customer on the line.

It's also a form of marketing automation. Based on a set of parameters, you decide how often the recipient gets emails, SMS marketing messages, or other communications. Your email service sends out those messages on a set schedule. You don't have to interfere.

Design Your Own Drip Campaign

SMS marketing

Let's say you own a retail store, and you're tired of lackluster sales and poor email open rates. You decide to start an SMS marketing campaign, but you want to use the drip methodology. Here's how it works:

Collect Contact Information

Post signage in your store, send emails to your contact list, and let people know in person about your SMS marketing campaign. Tell them how to sign up, such as by texting a keyword to a specific number. The more people you tell, the larger your list will get.

Establish Triggers

You can customize your drip campaign by setting up triggers. For instance, a customer who signs up while in your store might get different messages than a customer who visits your website and signs up from there. That way, you're targeting your audience with messages that appeal to them, such as in-person versus online shoppers.

Create SMS Messages

Design your content marketing to incentivize an action. For instance, a 20 percent off coupon could easily inspire a potential customer to make a purchase. Other incentives could include a weekly sale item, a gift with purchase, or free shipping. In other words, give your recipients a reason to act on your messages.

Deliver on Promises

In a drip campaign, each message builds on the last. You're creating momentum toward a desired conclusion, such as a major purchase.

This works particularly well if you can upsell to your customers. A prospect buys something small and signs up for your text alerts. Gradually, using a drip campaign, you convince the customer that a higher-end item is worthy of his or her attention.

As long as you deliver on the promises you make, you maintain your brand reputation and instill faith and loyalty in your customers.

Experiment With Different Campaigns

SMS marketing

Some drip campaigns are extremely simple, such as the one above. Each drip comes at a set interval, such as one week apart, as you build toward creating loyal customers.

However, you can also make your drip complex more complex using an if/then strategy, such as the one Joe Stych describes in his piece on drip marketing. For instance, you could decide how to proceed with your messages based on open rates, time on page, and other metrics that you track online.

Whatever the case, drip campaigns work particularly well with SMS marketing because of their simplicity. Consumers are more likely to notice a text message, and it's the ultimate form of permission marketing. To start your own drip campaign today, sign up for free and give EZ Texting a shot.

How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Business

 “Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have.” —Jonah Sachs
Developing a marketing plan can seem scary, especially when you realize that it involves creating a multi-page document filled with specific details about the future of your business. While it might not be as comprehensive as a business plan, it's just as important if you want your company to succeed.

What is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan explains your specific strategies for reaching out to customers, encouraging them to buy your product or service, and retaining existing customers. Each marketing plan will look different based on your business's specific goals and needs, but it might include the following:
  • Email marketing
  • Text marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Paid search
  • Paid social
  • Social media marketing
  • Organic SEO
  • Promotions
  • Physical events
These days, marketing and advertising often get lumped together. For instance, you might pay to boost your social media posts so you get more visibility, so those efforts can fall under either marketing or advertising. If you wish, you can create a separate advertising plan, or you can create a plan that includes both strategies. When you complete your marketing plan, it should include a page for each type of marketing. However, it also needs to address key issues and obstacles you might face, such as:
  • Demographics for your target market
  • Competition analysis
  • Evaluation of existing customer base
  • Industry averages for customer acquisition and retention costs
  • Analysis of existing and future pricing structures
“Clients don’t care about the labor pains; they want to see the baby.” —Tim Williams
It's true that your customers will never see your marketing plan. However, they will see the results of your hard work as you make intimate connections with your audience and help build a community around your company's culture.

How to Start Your Marketing Plan

Text marketingIt all starts with fingers on the keyboard. (Image via Pixabay)
When you're ready to put together your marketing plan, start by asking (and answering) a few critical questions. The more you explore your business, the more effective your marketing plan becomes.

Who Is Your Target Customer?

"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself." —Peter Drucker
Define your buyer personas based on what you already know about your target demographics. How much money does he make? Where does she spend her time? What influences his buying decisions? Where does she work? You can develop multiple buyer personas based on your demographic research. Each time you create new content or send out a marketing message, you can speak directly to one or more of your personas to make a more intense connection.

What Does Your Business Offer That the Competition Does Not?

Analyze your competition meticulously, then make a list of value propositions that your competitors can't meet. For instance, maybe you offer superior quality in terms of materials and manufacturing, or perhaps you provide a guaranteed delivery date for online orders, while your competitors often leave their customers hanging on back orders. Your unique selling propositions (USPs) can help you craft each marketing message so that it distracts consumers from your competitors.

Why Have You Chosen Your Pricing Strategy?

You might decide to sell your product for 20 percent less than your closest competitor because you're targeting a lower-income demographic and you've found a way to manufacture your product less expensively. Alternatively, maybe you're charging 15 percent more than the competition because of superior quality, value-added services, or other benefits. Consider your pricing model, as well. For instance, subscription pricing models have become common in many industries. Will you offer a discount for customers who pay for a certain number of months in advance? Can you offer discounts to certain segments of your audience, such as teachers or military personnel?

Will You Offer Coupons or Other Discounts?

Many businesses thrive on coupons and deep discounts in their stores, while others never offer discounts at all. Both approaches can work, but you must know why you've chosen a particular strategy. For instance, department-store retailers have come under fire for inflated original prices. They rely on their customers to come into the store with 20-percent-off coupons and promises of 50-percent-off products. If you're wary of giving your customers pause, you might want to avoid coupons and sale prices altogether. Just make sure you use discount strategies with purpose.

How Will You Make Your Products or Services Available?

Distribution channels should make up a large part of your marketing plan. Will you sell exclusively online? Do you plan to approach boutique shops in your community? Have you set your sights higher, such as big-box stores? More importantly, how will you communicate your distribution channels to your customers? For example, you could use "online exclusives" as a selling point because of low overhead. Mattress companies, such as Casper and Leesa, have leveraged this marketing approach effectively.

Who Will Participate in Your Marketing Efforts?

Create a chain of command for your marketing plan, and then assign roles to each person on the list. Who will handle social media? Community outreach? Blogging and other content marketing? Who will craft text marketing content and make sure it's delivered to the right audience segments? This is most important for larger companies, but you still need a plan if you're managing a smaller operation. Even if you only assign marketing roles to two people, those employees need to know their responsibilities as well as your expectations.

What Services Will You Use to Spread Your Brand Message?

Numerous services exist to help you reach your customers faster and more efficiently. From text marketing and email marketing to paid search and website analytics, you can find a software or cloud solution for just about any campaign. Make a list of services that might interest you, then learn more about what they offer. How much do they charge? What do you get in exchange for your subscription or payment plan? Remember to read online reviews so you know how other companies view their services.

Will You Attend Industry or Community Events?

Online marketing is often a primary focus for the modern business, but don't discount the value of a friendly smile and a handshake. Getting involved in your community can introduce you to new customers and help you increase brand awareness. You could make a list of industry events in your area. Maybe you'll attend a trade show and rent a booth, or perhaps you can sponsor a local sports team. Get creative with your ideas, then whittle them down to the most promising few.

Will You Limit Your Marketing to a Certain Geographic Area?

You can derive significant benefits from local marketing strategies. For one thing, keywords become less expensive for online advertising and easier to target through organic search when you add a city or even a state to the target keyword. For instance, you'll have millions of competitors for a keyword like "vacuum cleaners." However, if you target a key phrase like "vacuum cleaners in Indianapolis," you might experience better ROI.

What Are Your KPIs?

Creating a marketing plan isn't enough. You need to know which KPIs to track so you know that you're making a difference. For example, let's say you want to gain more organic search traffic. Tracking a KPI like email open rates won't shed any light on your target goal. However, if you track website visitors, length of time on page, and similar metrics, you can work toward increasing organic search traffic.

What Is Your Marketing Budget?

Every business needs a strict marketing budget. You might deviate from it slightly in special circumstances, but spending too little or too much could create serious cash flow problems for your business.

Do You Intend to Hire a Professional?

If you're planning to hire a marketing expert, content marketer, or other professional, work his or her salary or contractor fee into the budget. Additionally, write his or her complete job description and responsibilities in your marketing plan so you can use those details to hire the ideal candidate.

Your Marketing Plan as a Roadmap

Text marketingTry not to get too lost in the noise. Focus on the marketing channels that will produce the best results (Image via Pixabay)

Your marketing strategy will change as your business grows and evolves. You might develop products for different markets, discover new tools, and shift your KPIs. A marketing plan serves as a valuable map for the future, but think of your journey as an impromptu road trip. You might decide to take a detour now and then if the roads look more passable.

"Money coming in says I've made the right marketing decisions." —Adam Osborne

When you change your marketing strategy, update your marketing plan. When you put these changes in writing, you can track your progress and make more adjustments as needed.

An effective marketing strategy is essential in today's hyper-visible world. Text marketing, email marketing, and other strategies can help your brand reach more people, which often equates to more customers. To get started on your own text marketing campaign, give EZ Texting a shot. Sign up for free to experience the benefits of text marketing from day one.

Struggling to make your marketing plan work? We can help! Enter your email below for instant access to our free marketing plan template to create a strong foundation for your marketing strategy. 

Click here to download our marketing plan template! We'd love to hear your feedback on how it works for you!

How to Market Your Business When You're Crunched for Time

You have enough items to fill up your to-do list, and sometimes marketing can feel like a full-time job all on its own. When you're crunched for time, you can market your business using these fast strategies.

Schedule Social Media Posts in Advance

It's crunch time, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Social media can consume hours upon hours of your time, but there are apps to help you control your social media marketing more effectively. Schedule tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram stories, and other social media content up to a month in advance, so you don't have to worry about it on a daily basis.

You can also use these apps to automate your content promotion via social media. Using a template, the service will notify your audience about new content on your blog or other online properties as soon as you hit the "publish" button. Automation makes marketing faster and less cumbersome.

Best Social Media Scheduling Apps

Some of the most well-reviewed social media management apps include Hootsuite, Buffer, and Social Oomph. All three services offer both free and paid versions. Try out the free options to see if they'll work for you before upgrading to a premium account.

Keep in Contact With Customers Via Text

Smartphones have become your customers' constant companions.

You can also automate text message marketing. Customers sign up to get your SMS messages, and you can control when and why they receive notifications from you. Instead of sending out cumbersome emails that may get deleted, let your customers know about sales, promotions, and other exciting events via text.

Text messages are less irritating than emails because they're easier to manage, but they're also harder to ignore. The customer sees the message pop up on his or her screen and can decide to interact with it right then and there. Services like EZ Texting make text message marketing not only quick and easy but also affordable.

Best Ways to Promote Text Message Marketing

Let people know about your text message marketing promotion online as well as in your store, if applicable. You can also mention it as part of your email marketing campaign, or you might even pass out flyers when you meet people at industry events.

Outsource Your Content

Content takes time and energy to create...unless you outsource.

From blog posts and infographics to product descriptions and email messages, content can prove extremely time-consuming. If you outsource these tasks, however, you can focus on other aspects of your business while someone else creates content in the background.

You might hire a media agency, freelancer, or other content marketing company to create your content. Provide as much information about your brand as possible, and assign one of your team members to manage your content marketing.

Best Ways to Manage Outsourced Content

Outsourcing your content marketing can seem scary because you're putting your brand into someone else's hands. To speed up the process and to ensure good results, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Clearly outline your expectations for each piece of content.
  • Provide any relevant information about target keywords, subject matter preferences, and style preferences.
  • Choose a marketing agency that handles everything, from ideation to editing, to reduce its impact on your schedule even further.

From text message marketing to email blasts, your marketing campaign doesn't have to consume every minute of your day. Use the above tips to create a marketing plan that works for you instead of against you. If you haven't tried SMS marketing yet, sign up for free and learn why EZ Texting customers rave about the service's simplicity, affordability, and ROI.

How to Create a Website for Your Business

If you don't have a website for your business, you might feel paralyzed by the myriad choices available to you. However, delaying your website launch could cost your customers, so it's time to put your fears aside and start building the best possible website for small business marketing.

Review Your Other Literature

A business website should reflect your brand culture and messaging.

Before you build a website, look at the other literature and marketing materials you've used. For instance, maybe you use SMS marketing to connect directly with your customers. What type of language do you use in your texts?

Keep your marketing messages consistent so you don't confuse your customers. If your brochures and emails exude a light, frothy appeal, you don't want to create a buttoned-down, conservative website.

While you might already use other marketing materials, you can't neglect a website. It's often the first point of contact with a customer. Consider hiring a professional to design it, as well. Studies show that when consumers visit websites, 94 percent of them cite design as a major factor in their first impressions.

Choose the Back End Providers

To create a successful website for small business marketing, you need a domain name, content marketing system (CMS), and web host. You can buy your domain at the same time you sign up for a hosting package or perform the two tasks separately.

Once you select and reserve a domain name and sign up for web hosting, decide how you'll build the site. Consider using one of the nine most popular free CMS options so you don't add any other expenses to your overhead. WordPress, in particular, proves easy to use.

Create Your Content

It's time to put words on the page.

An empty website is just as useless as no website at all. You must populate your website's pages with actionable, persuasive content that complements your text marketing while creating a separate touchpoint for your customers and potential customers.

Some of the essential pages to add to a website include the following:

  • Home Page: Introduce your brand, products, or services, preferably with images, video, and other graphic media.
  • About Page: Let visitors know who you are, what you do, and why you're the best fit for their needs.
  • Product/Service Pages: Each product or service you offer deserves its own page. Provide in-depth descriptions of each one as well as appropriate imagery.
  • Contact Page: Don't leave your visitors confused about how to get in touch. In addition to the contact page, add your phone number and email address to the top or bottom of every page on your site.

You might also dedicate pages to e-commerce, FAQs, blog articles, and more. Let your website grow organically as you figure out what your customers want and how they use your site.

Small business marketing involves multiple channels, from text marketing to website content. If you're ready to launch a website and use it to promote your SMS texting program, we're here to help. Sign up for free to learn how EZ Texting makes small business marketing a breeze.

4 Quick Tips for Marketing Your Father's Day Promotions

Father's Day is just around the corner, which means that you're facing a unique way to target your customers. Incorporate the following special promotions into your text marketing and content marketing efforts to see massive returns.

1. Share Stories About Fathers

Invite your audience to share their favorite stories about their fathers. They might send them in via social media, blog comments, or a text message marketing campaign, depending on the stories' length and your preferences. Highlight some of the most special submissions you receive on your blog.

Hitting emotional notes with your marketing can help you reach a diverse audience. In addition to sharing stories about fathers, you might send out helpful reminders as part of your SMS marketing campaign so kids don't forget to tell their fathers how much they're loved — and pick out an appropriate gift, of course.

2. Run a Contest

Contests work particularly well with SMS marketing. Participants can text a specific word to the number you're using to enter in the sweepstakes. You might pick a random number out of a digital hat and send the grand prize winner (or however many winners you want) a prize that they can give to their father on Father's Day.

The great thing about contests is that they often spread. Readers share the contest with their friends and loved ones, which means that you get more brand exposure. Even though you have to part with some merchandise without receiving a cash payment, you get compensated in the form of more interest in your company.

3. Write a Gift Guide

Gift guides can work well for Father's Day promotions, but make sure you don't just include your own products. People will share your gift guide more if you spread the love and include links to other products that dads might enjoy — just avoid your direct competitors.

For instance, if you run a tech store, you could list a few gadgets to an online gift guide on your blog, but add a barbecue set from a big box store or a card from Hallmark as part of your suggestions. For even better performance, add a coupon at the end of your gift guide. More people will take advantage of your branded suggestions.

4. Personalize Father's Day Gifts

If possible, offer to personalize gifts that people order for their fathers this year. It could be as simple as a personalized note written on plain cardstock, or you could get fancier by engraving the recipient's name on the product. It depends on the type of business you run.

Adding a personalized note can make the gift feel even more special, and it creates an emotional connection with both the customer and the recipient. You can also charge more for this service to cover your overhead expenses so that it won't cost you anything extra except time.

What are your plans this Father's Day? How will you use SMS marketing to engage fathers, sons, and daughters? If you're not using text marketing yet, sign up for free and test your first campaign over Father's Day weekend.

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