Text marketing is one of the most exciting opportunities for businesses in the current direct marketing environment. It takes advantage of the most popular channel of person-to-person communication - SMS messaging - to attract new customers, develop relationships and increase sales.
Unlike most other forms of direct marketing, text message marketing is immediate and intimate. Text marketing messages are delivered to mobile devices almost as soon as they are sent and are read by customers wherever they are, whatever they are doing.
This article explains why text message marketing is so effective for attracting new customers, developing relationships and increasing sales, and explains some of the tools businesses can use to optimize the ROI of their text message marketing campaigns.
A Brief Introduction to Text Marketing by SMS
Text marketing is the act of sending a marketing message by SMS to large groups of customers simultaneously rather than to each customer individually. It has been used for more than a decade by major corporations to engage customers and build brand awareness due the greater reach that SMS messaging has over other forms of communication such as email, Instant Messaging and social media.
Typically, businesses build their text marketing databases by inviting potential customers to text a keyword to a short code number (i.e. text `discount´ to 313131). Once the potential customer texts the keyword and opts into the business´s SMS marketing service, they have given their permission to receive future text marketing messages.
After the initial contact, businesses can contact customers by SMS with details of special offers and promotions, with invitations to join VIP loyalty clubs, or with polls and surveys from which information can be extracted about customers´ preferences and their purchasing intent. With this information, businesses can develop relationships with their customers and increase sales.
Why SMS Marketing is Effective
SMS marketing is effective because, when a customer opts into a business´s SMS marketing service, they are indicating their interest in the business´s goods or services. The customer´s interest may be prompted by an incentive as simple as a free soft drink with their next burger but, once opted in, the business can use this information to incentivize the customer to buy more burgers.
Because 98% of the population has access to a mobile device capable of receiving SMS messages, SMS marketing is a more effective way of distributing discount coupons than printed media, email or social media. People tend to keep their mobile devices within reach at all times, and are less likely to forget their mobile devices when they leave home than they are a coupon cut out of a magazine or sent in an email.
People also tend to share with friends or family promotions they find appealing - or polls and surveys they find entertaining. This means businesses can rapidly expand their SMS marketing databases with a good offer or poll that catches the public´s imagination. Although the same could be argued about social media, research has shown just 29% of Tweets and 12% of Facebook posts are ever read.
How Text Message Marketing Works
In order to send text marketing messages to large groups of customers simultaneously, businesses use a group texting platform. The platform is an online application that is part of the service offered by a group texting provider. Businesses can access the platform from any Internet-enabled device simply by entering their username and password.
Once logged in, the business´s marketing representative uploads the group(s) of customers to whom they want to send a text marketing message, writes the message and either clicks send to dispatch the message immediately, or schedules the message to be sent at a later time when it will attract maximum attention. There are no technical or design skills required.
Once the message has been sent, the group texting platform monitors delivery rates, open rates and spikes in engagement. These analytics can help businesses fine-tune future text message marketing campaigns. The platform also receives any replies to the message and, if a poll or survey has been sent, it collates customers´ responses so that businesses can easily review the results.
Why Divide a Text Marketing Database into Groups?
When customers opt into an SMS marketing service, they are automatically added to the business´s database maintained on the group texting platform. Using keywords and short codes is a very easy way to create a database but, once the database grows in size, it can become difficult to manage if every customer has opted in using the same keyword.
Consequently, many businesses use a selection of keywords to pertain to different goods or services. The platform places each customer into a group according to the keyword they have used, giving businesses the opportunity to target specific promotions to just those customers for whom they are relevant. This process reduces marketing costs and the possibility of customers opting out of an SMS marketing service because they are receiving too many text marketing messages of no interest to them.
The option to use multiple keywords in different text marketing campaigns gives businesses the opportunity to appeal to a wider range of customer interests. Specifically targeted text marketing campaigns help develop the business/customer relationship, while specifically targeted text marketing campaigns with coupons attached help to increase sales. If a promotion is suitable for every customer in a business´s database, simply upload every group when sending the text marketing message.
More about Group Texting Service Providers
Group texting service providers do more than provide access to the platform through which messages are sent. They also supply the keywords and short codes that customers use to initially opt into a business´s SMS marketing service. The service provider can rent multiple keywords if required, and arrange for a businesses to purchase unique vanity short codes, such as 287437 (spells “burger”).
However, not all group texting service providers are the same. As a rule, it is better for businesses to select a service provider that has been in the industry for a long time. This is because the service provider will likely have more experience in dealing with varied types of businesses and be more capable of providing advice and customer support relevant to each business´s individual needs.
It is also important to evaluate the service provider´s platform. Some platforms have comparatively limited functionality or cannot be integrated with popular web apps. Others may not be able to recognize customers who have opted in to an SMS marketing service more than once. This will mean duplicate customers will receive duplicate messages - not only annoying the customer, but running up unnecessary marketing costs for the business.
The Rules and Regulations for SMS Marketing
The rules and regulations for SMS marketing cover issues such as sending messages too frequently (spamming), sending unsolicited messages and protecting personal privacy. Most of the rules and regulations for SMS marketing are contained within the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the Mobile Marketing Association has condensed the relevant ones into their Code of Conduct.
The companies that carry and deliver text marketing messages also have their rules for SMS marketing. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) stipulates what can and cannot be contained within the body of a text marketing message or any attachment. For example, businesses should not endorse illegal drug use or violence, and avoid profanity, pornography and hate speech.
In addition, each group texting service provider also has separate terms and conditions relating to how businesses can use their service. It is important to be familiar with the rules and regulations for SMS marketing and the service provider´s terms and conditions because any breaches may result in a termination of a business´s SMS marketing service, resulting in loss of custom, goodwill and sales.
EZ Texting´s Text Marketing Tools to Help Improve ROI
As mentioned above, not all group texting service providers and their platforms are the same. Each of EZ Texting’s tools to improve ROI is designed for ease of use and to be as effective as possible.
Attracting customers to your business´s SMS marketing service is the cornerstone of successful text marketing campaigns, so - whatever level of service your business subscribes to - you will always get at least one free keyword included in your subscription package plus a shared short code number to use. You can also create free “Click-to-Join” widgets to place on your website and on your Facebook page through our group texting platform, and integrate your text marketing activities with Twitter.
When sending out text marketing messages, you can use the scheduling feature to run drip-fed or recurring campaigns, save sent messages as templates for use again in the future, and personalize your text marketing messages with the recipients´ names to maximize the impact of your message and to develop relationships with your customers. In case you are stuck for ideas, we have included starter templates in our group texting platform to provide a little inspiration.
A QR code builder is also included in our group texting platform along with a link shortener to insert tiny URLs into text marketing messages. Research has shown that 29% of customers opted into an SMS marketing service click on links leading to businesses’ websites. 47% of customers who click through to a business´s website subsequently make a purchase. Naturally, businesses can also attach coupons to their text marketing messages. These typically have a redemption rate of between 30% and 50%.
All incoming messages in response to a text message marketing campaign are free, and you can arrange for these to be forwarded to your mobile device with our automatic text forwarding service (charges apply for text forwarding). EZ Texting can be integrated with a number of popular web apps (SalesForce, AWeber, MailChimp and EventBrite for example), plus we offer REST and HTTP APIs for developers who want to integrate EZ Texting´s group messaging platform into their own applications.
Try Text Message Marketing from EZ Texting for Free
If you feel that text message marketing would be of benefit to your business, why not give it a try for free? Using our “Free & EZ” texting plan, you can send up to 250 text marketing messages a month from our group texting platform without charge, without a contract to sign and without any obligation to upgrade to a higher level of service. We will also include a demo keyword in our offer and let you use a shared short code to help you build your customer database.
For more details about this opportunity - or to find out more about text message marketing and how it can help attract new customers, develop relationships and increase sales - call our team of Client Success Managers today. Our team will discuss your requirements with you, walk you through the registration of your free account and introduce you to our group texting platform. If - once you start using our platform - you encounter any problems, our team are on hand to provide you will all the help and support you need.