To Text or Not to Text

With every new technology comes a new means of reaching customers. The U.S. Postal Service provided the platform for direct mail. AOL, Internet Explorer and the like made email marketing campaigns feasible. Over the past few years marketers have begun taking advantage of opportunities that cell phones provide us in the form of text message marketing.

It definitely makes sense, as the vast majority of the population have cell phones and carry them on their person constantly. Many people even keep them on their night stand so that they aren’t more than a few feet away from their phone, even while they sleep. People’s “constant companionship” with their cell phones is just one of several advantages to text campaigns:

  • Reaching people immediately- As people have their phones with them constantly, you can rest assured that they will receive your message shortly after you send it.
  • Avoiding filters- Email filters catch spam, and people have a tendency to throw away “junk mail” even if it is from a source that they are interested in.
  • Reducing overhead- While every campaign is different, in general the cost of text message marketing is relatively low. It is less expensive than TV, radio or print ads making it a potential communication vessel for businesses of all sizes.
  • Getting Customer Opt-in – While many know from personal experience that not all text message campaigns are targeted at customers who intentionally asked to receive the messages, many are. Letting people opt in means that you know you have an attentive audience, which will probably increase ROI on your campaign. Accordingly every campaign has a feature where customers have the ability to opt out of receiving future messages.

Who is it Right For?

Of course anyone selling the services will say that text marketing is a good option for anyone. In reality it is probably better suited to B2C businesses or B2B entities that make regular transactions with their clients. If you only service customers every few months or years—out of necessity for your product–it will probably annoy them to be texted by you. Text message marketing is a great way to share sales, promotions or anything else that a customer might be actively interested in. Businesses from hair salons to cell phone providers have found success using this medium.

Best Practices

As always every form of marketing communications has some standards that should be followed. Remember you want to inform and promote in a way that doesn’t make your customers want to opt out of your plan.

  • Make good offers- Sounds basic but remember, people take their cell phones very seriously; hence some pay hundreds of dollars for them. Respect this by limiting your texts to things they really want to hear. Give away coupons that allow significant savings, or inform them of a new product line in stock that tends to sell out quickly. Don’t tell them that you are open or distribute vague marketing copy via text just because you have the means to.
  • Don’t saturate- Would you want a business to text you every day? Neither do your customers, so resist the urge—no matter how strong it is—to send out more than one or two texts per week. Two should be your limit, lest you annoy those who you want to do business with. Remember—they can opt out at any time, so don’t barrage your customers with marketing messages.
  • Categorize your database- Text message campaigns are rooted in database marketing. Use the information you have in your database (where you store your phone numbers) to break your customers down into subgroups that you can better target. If you know a particular customer always buys product X, then don’t text them about substitute product Y. Their behavior has already told you that they don’t care and have a favorite. However if Product X goes on sale….text away.
  • Use time constraints- Sales and promotions should always have a time limit. This will stimulate the customer to act quickly, which is exactly what you are after.
  • Make the campaign “text specific”- What this means is that you should send out some promotions solely to customers in your texting database. This encourages people to stay on your list and will inspire some to tell others about your campaign.

Text message marketing is just another example of using technology to reach customers. It puts you in touch with them directly in a short amount of time, and if used correctly can sell anything from books to appetizers at restaurants. If you are interested in learning more about how to reach consumers, visit the American Marketing Association of Tampa Bay online. Joining our organization gives you access to events and conversations with other marketing professionals who can help you stay on top of your game.

Sources:

Miami Herald

Opt It

Resource Nation

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6 thoughts on “To Text or Not to Text

  1. Text messaging is a technology I’ve been passionate about for years. Not only because of its ability to help you reach your audience, but also because of the opportunity it creates for your audience to reach you. Organizations who run events and traditional media can use SMS to create an easy call-to-action involving contests, giveaways, coupons, and more. This even works well for B2B companies at tradeshows and other functions where they may have used the old business card fishbowl in the past.

    We recently did a recap of things we learned in 2010 as we helped businesses and non-profits use our SMS marketing software. I hope you find it useful – http://www.jatxt.com/5-things-learned-about-sms-marketing-in-2010/

    1. Hi Justin, thanks for sharing! I’m especially intrigued by this tid-bit from the site you provided:

      “There’s definitely a curiosity factor with text messaging. Some campaigns worked because the instructions were purposely vague and clever.”

      Do you have a campaign example? Seems like an interesting strategy.

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