You hear more and more buzz about mobile these days. Text message (also called SMS) marketing — is an exciting technology and can be used by small businesses in a number of creative and effective ways.
Restaurants and retailers can use it to offer discounts or “mobile coupons” — or to notify subscribers about last-minute sales or in-store events. SMS can be used for customer surveys, polls and “text to win” contests, or as an automated appointment reminder system. This last feature is particularly handy for busy medical practices, spas and salons.
While the particulars will vary depending on the type of business and the goal of the campaign, it is vital that you always adhere to the following best practices. Think about all the spammy text messages you’ve received and resented — you don’t want to be perceived as an SMS spammer!
- Only send text messages to people who “opt in” to receive them, and always give them a way to “opt out.” There are many ways to build a subscriber list including displaying an announcement near your cash register or point-of-sale, adding a sign-up form from your website or blog, or including an “opt-in” message in your traditional print marketing materials. Make sure you send messages only to those who’ve given you permission to contact them this way, and always include a clear way for them to remove themselves from the list. Panoptic’s mobile marketing system includes an “opt-out” message automatically, so you never have to worry about forgetting this important step.
- Remember that it’s all about the customer. Your clients signed up to receive text messages from you because they are interested in what you have to offer in the first place! Consider how you attained the customer and how you interact with them in the real world. You can use text messaging to schedule and confirm appointments or reservations or reward subscribers with communications that are relevant and timely and exclusive to subscribers — “mobile members only” perks or sales. Depending on the industry you’re in, you might find a little something to offer customers for free — free stuff is a great motivator for all types of customers!
- Have a plan. As with other marketing campaigns, include a clear “call to action” in your text message. You have a limited amount of screen real estate to work with so you need to make your point concisely. Personalization is great (and Panoptic’s system allows you to customize your texts). Something like, “Hi Megan! Come to our private sale this Tues from 11am-2pm. Show this text to get an extra 20% off” includes a call to action that is clearly defined and easily accomplished.
Another great thing about text message marketing: once consumers subscribe, they are added to your mobile contact database so that you can market to them later by sending additional promo updates. Depending on how your build your subscriber list, you can segment future campaigns to target and reach the right person with the right information. In terms of reach and response, mobile far outperforms email marketing. 97% of text messages are opened; 83% are opened within an hour. Here are more interesting facts about the explosive growth of SMS marketing, via ThinkMarketing.org.