The key to a successful business is not just being able to bring in new customers, but being able to retain customers and get them to come back frequently. One of the most effective ways to keep your customers coming back again and again is by communicating with them on-the-go via text message (also known as SMS – short message service).
According to Techipedia, 98% of text messages sent are opened, and 83% of them are opened within 3 minutes. This means the overwhelming majority of your promotional text messages will be seen by your customers, increasing the likelihood they’ll respond with their patronage. While this is great news, this also means that you have to be extremely thoughtful and intentional about the content of your business’s text messages. If you don’t get your messaging right, you’ll have customers unsubscribing to your most valuable marketing communication tool.
Before you click send on a promotional text message to your customers, make sure you run through this checklist of dos and don’ts.
Send text promotion at a relevant time
It’s easy for me to ignore (and later forget) a free ice cream promotional text message that’s sent to me at 8 am. Why? Because I, like most people, don’t eat ice cream for breakfast.* Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think of when they’re most likely to respond to your message based on the product or services you offer.
Are you a coffee shop? Send your message around 7 am to remind them to stop by your place before they head into work. Are you a clothing store? Send your message earlier in the morning on Saturday asking them to stop by your weekend sale. Are you a nightclub or bar? Send a message early evening when your customers are starting to make plans for the night.
*If you do in fact eat ice cream for breakfast, no judgment here. You do you.
Customize promotion to your audience & make it feel exclusive
The more customized your message is to your audience, the better. For instance, if you received a text message promotion about women’s designer jeans, but you’re a male, you would probably immediately reply “STOP” to prevent from getting more irrelevant texts to your mobile. If you’re able to target specific people in your customer database, like ‘students’ in the example in infographic above, and craft your wording specifically to them, they’re more likely to respond and visit your business.
To drive even more in-store foot-traffic from your text message promotion, make your promo offer an exclusive deal. For instance, make it for students only — “Student special! Bring your college ID today and get a free pastry with your coffee.” — or for your loyalty rewards members only — “As a VIP customer, come in today with your rewards card today and get 25% of your purchase!”
Include your business name in the message
This may seem obvious, but always make sure your business name is listed in your promotional text message. Customers probably won’t recognize the phone number your text message is being sent from, so if you don’t include your business name, they won’t know where to redeem your awesome text message deal. If you have enough characters left in your text message, it’s also good to include your street address.
Make your offer enticing, but don’t add spammy marketing hype
The whole reason you’re sending a text message promotion in the first place is because you want customers to come in and spend money at your store. So to ensure people walk in your door, you have to make your promotional offer enticing. Be sure to do the math before you offer something extreme like a free appetizer or 50% off. Ideally you offer a deal that requires a specific purchase along with it to ensure your promotion is profitable. Want to know what exactly customers find enticing? Here’s a list of the most redeemed promotions via text message or email.
As tempting as it may be, never send a text message promotional deal if it’s already something available daily at your business. For instance, if you offer free flavor add-ons to your soft drinks everyday, don’t send a promotional text message with “Come in today and get free flavor add-ons!” because your customers will immediately see through it and unsubscribe.
Also, avoid using all caps, multiple exclamation points, and excessive use of the word ‘free’ (ex/ SPECIAL DEAL!!!! FREE FREE FREE!!!). These types of messages with spammy marketing hype are quickly reported as spam or junk, and could get you into trouble with your phone carrier! Be sure to use these copywriting tools to help craft your content.
Include an urgent call-to-action at the end of your message
A call-to-action is a phrase or sentence that tells your audience specifically what you want them to do. The most effective calls-to-action are easy to understand and motivate customers by allowing them to quickly know the step(s) they need to take to get the deal you are offering. Some examples are “Visit us today,” “Show your student ID to the cashier at checkout,” “Click here to claim your coupon,” “Our sale ends at 10pm, so stop by before it’s too late.”
To get customers to visit your business faster, create a sense of urgency. Do this by including an expiration date and time, use words and phrases like now, hurry, and don’t miss out, and if possible, include a limit on how many special deal items/services are available or in-stock —“The first 30 car washes of the day get $5 off, so get here quick!”
Check for spelling and grammar errors & don’t use slang
This may seem obvious as well, but triple check for spelling and grammar errors. Mistakes like these lower your business’s credibility and have the appearance of spam. Avoid slang terms so that everyone who views your promotional text messages can easily understand your call to action.
Keep your message short and to the point
Remember, you only have so many characters to get your customers back into your business! Keep your message short and sweet, avoiding any extraneous details. Do this by crafting your text message promotion using this simple structure:
- What is the promotion
- Who is the promotion for
- What does the customer need to do to get the promotion
- When does the promotion expire
By going through this checklist, your text message promotions will be more effective — increasing your in-store foot traffic and daily revenue. Have any other text message tips that have been effective for your small business? Share in the comments!