Go Mobile And Go Big: Why and How to Implement SMS Marketing Into Your Small Business Marketing Mix
To say the world has gone mobile is an understatement. There are currently more mobile phones than TV sets worldwide, over half of people sleep with their mobile phone in the bed with them, with another half that doesn’t ever turn their phone off.
Right now you are probably thinking, ‘Yeah I know there are a lot of mobile phones out there, but what does that have to do with my small business?’ You see it really doesn’t matter what your business is, there is a way to make mobile marketing work for you. Here is a great article I found on getbusymedia.com –
“Enter SMS Marketing—a new way for businesses and organizations to communicate directly to their customers and members. When taking a look at the numbers, we find that compared to e-mail marketing’s rate of 30-40%, text messages are almost always (98%) opened by their recipients. The logic behind this statistic isn’t hard to produce. More often than not, those of us who use mobile devices usually have our phones within 15 feet of us at all times.”
Justin Reynolds’s Insight: The open and actual read rate on text messages is ridiculous. Think about it – when was the last time you heard your text alert go off that you did go right for your phone and check it? And, to see who sent you the text message you have to read it, so pretty much no matter what, the message eventually gets read, unlike email or direct mail that can just get trashed.
Now think if you happened to be hungry or and trying to figure out where to go for dinner later, and at that moment you get a text message with an offer for your favorite restaurant, which is offering a special discount if you come in for dinner that day. You would at the very least give some thought to going there for dinner. Why? Because you need the service they provide and now you can get it for a discounted price. Now apply that to your business. Think if you sent a message like that to 200 people and only 10% of those people responded and came to your business. That’s 20 customers in the door of your business from one text message! If you could do that anytime you wanted, and imagine if the number was 500 or 1000, or even 10,000 instead of 200. That’s the awesome power of SMS marketing.
You are probably thinking to yourself, ‘that’s all great, but how am I going to get the numbers of my customers?’ Well, there are a number of ways to harvest phone numbers, like these pointed out in this article from marketingprofs.com
“You run a restaurant. Some of your customers travel several miles to visit you, and you’d like them to come more often. You collect their mobile numbers and send them the occasional text message—not too many, maybe one every couple of weeks—telling them about a special offer or your Dish of the Day. You’re an independent financial adviser. You use SMS to quickly notify customers when a great new product comes along. You run a bike shop, selling new bikes, accessories, and spares. You also offer servicing. You text your customers to tell them about new offers, or to tell them that their bike is ready to pick up, or to notify them when their order has come in.”
Justin Reynolds’s insight: These are very standard methods: Use an incentive to like an instant coupon at checkout, table tents if you’re a restaurant, posters in your windows, printed on your receipts, billboards if you have the budget. Be creative and figure out what works best for your business. It’s easier than it might seem.
We have found it works best as they are paying, either online or at the cash register, and simply asking them if they would like to get a 10% discount on what they are buying right then. Give them the short code and keyword to text, and once they do give them the discount. Let them know you will be texting them other great offers once in a while and that’s it, you just collected one number for your list. However, there are other methods to grab customer phone numbers such as the Fivestars POS Relationship Manager or just making a contest out of it. Simply put up a sign that says something like ‘What President is on the $100 Bill? Text your answer to ______ for an instant discount.’ Just be creative. What if you don’t have many customers, what can you do then? In this article, via NewYorkTime.com’s small business section, they talk about different firms you can use that already have built in lists.
“When selecting a service provider, the choice comes down to how much you want to spend and what you need your text-messaging service to do. The simplest and cheapest option is to hire the text-messaging equivalent of the old Valpak mailings. For example, MobiQponsis an iPhone app with a geo-locator that automatically sends people text coupons when they are shopping in the vicinity of participating businesses; New York-focused 8Coupons is a Web-based service that allows users to text themselves the coupons they want.
This approach, which has become increasingly popular with neighborhood boutiques, restaurants and the like, costs as little as several dollars a day. One thing it won’t allow you to do is capture recipients’ cell numbers — arguably the key feature of the most successful text-message marketing campaigns. Another option is the custom approach specialized in by Distributive Networks. This involves registering for your own proprietary “short code,” the technical name for the five- or six-digit phone number that dialers use to access a text marketing campaign.”
Justin Reynolds’s Insight: Make sure you hire a marketer that is using legal ways of getting the numbers on their list. Besides the companies the article recommends, there are bound to be local marketing agencies or freelancers in your town or city that work with other businesses like yours, which have built up a large list of relevant customers and already have permission to text them offers.
Going this route is generally very reasonable as most local SMS marketers will base the rate off of your average sale dollar amount and by the amount of people they can drive in. (For example, if your average sale is $100 and they can drive 50 people to your business, that would mean you could roughly make around $5000, so the might charge you 15 or 20% of that) Come up with a price that is more cost effective than running ads in the paper or radio and with a much higher conversion rate. Always ask for a test or trial-run, and if they perform to expectations and the price is right, hire them. If they perform at least very close to expectations, negotiate the price. If they don’t perform as expected, try the next company or freelancer.
If you go with a local firm and they won’t give you a test run to show you how it works, unless highly recommended by someone you know who has used them in the past, I would pass and try to find someone who does. Any quality SMS company with a good list should be willing to let you see for yourself that their service works. Whether you do it yourself or go with an agency, depending on your time and finances, it’s really not that tough to implement. The services which allow you mass text don’t cost all that much and collecting the phone numbers only takes a few minutes to get started.
However, small business owners’ time is not something we generally have a lot of, so using an agency or a service like Fivestars is a good way to go. The way you get started in SMS is not as important as actually getting started! It’s a mobile world and only growing by the minute. Don’t let your business be the “tape cassette” in an MP3 Market.