Text Message Marketing
Text Messaging is a well established means of communication and growing exponentially and is the newest and closest thing to immediate contact in the digital marketing world and holds the possibility for a guaranteed read.
Text messaging, also called SMS (for short message service), has exploded worldwide. According to CTIA, the wireless industry trade group, 3.5 billion SMS messages are sent and received every day. Surpassing the number of cell phone calls, SMS has increased 300% since 2007 and the age group found with the greatest portion of increase is those above 30 years old.
Regulation has helped keep the SMS arena basically free of spam and not overcrowded. People are with their phones everyday all day long. Explaining why 97% of all SMS marketing messages are opened, 83% within one hour, according to the latest research. So when you want someone to see your message, send by text.
Publicity covering the use of SMS for marketing is beginning to grow and gain attention of sports teams to increase ticket sales, health clubs use it to give trial gym passes, restaurants and retailers are catching on.
Here are some beginning thoughts:
1. Illegal text message marketing services are available, do not use them.
Ever get a text from a company you never heard of? You may think your stuck with them but even if you do not text stop back to remove your number, they do not send you anything again. Here is the mystery. They are illegal spammers breaking into the phone structure to steal millions of numbers. Congress is proposing stiff penalties for SMS spamming plus the vast majority of those types of messages will never even get through. The carriers will stop them quickly as well.
2. Here are some options:
How much do you want to spend on the service? Remember the packs of coupons sent in the mail? Here is a digital example, MobiQponsis an iPhone app with a GPS type locator automatically activates text coupons when shopping in the vicinity of participating businesses. Any business with a web based service to communicate with the app allows the phone to receive selected coupons.
This approach costs as little as several dollars a day and works well for neighborhood based enterprises. The service will not allow the company to capture the phone number, the key to the power of SMS marketing.
Another specialized option is the custom approach offered by Distributive Networks. They can help register 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.
Here you can choose a vanity short code like OBAMA (62262), and you have free rein over the type of standardized personal information you can solicit from callers. At least eight weeks for registration is required to be processed plus thousands of dollars in licensing, activation and hosting fees.
A lot of small businesses start with an off-the-shelf service agency like Mobile Commons (another firm with deep roots in Democratic political organizing) or HipCricket (many of whose earliest clients were radio stations) where you share a short code. Depending on whether you also hire an interactive agency to shape your marketing strategy, you may be able to get started for as little as $800 a month.
If you can not take the time and expense for a unique short code you may find an agency with the code and service in place and create your private keyword. As your subscribers text the keyword to your agency’s short code the system will capture and keep all numbers in your account.
3. Text marketing can be combined with advertising:
You need a way to get people’s attention to have any chance of getting their phone number. Think about what you already have or do for exposure. A restaurant may have tabletops or you have a highly trafficked web site, or are running billboards or radio spots, those are all good places add information about your text campaign.”
4. It is better to give than to receive:
People carefully guard their cell number, considered to be very private. You must have a plan to change the mind of those who opt into your program, from you are going to waste my time and cost me money, to; you are offering me to be part of an exclusive group with offers or information only for me.
Free stuff also helps. We plan to offer a drawing plus give-aways for anyone who opts in and becomes a subscriber. Users who text in to register will receive regular alerts about new releases and sales on products. Experience by many businesses thus far show subscribers are willing to be contacted by companies they want to hear from.
5. Do not plan on a one hit effort:
Business must be about long-term relationship building than the quick hit. The company short code or keyword should become an important part of the company’s branding — etched into store windows, posted in rest rooms and on the web site. The first few coupon offers serve mainly to build the database of phone numbers on file. Then, when it is time for a huge promotion lines may extend out the front door, people who are willing subscribers.
6. Show restraint and respect:
If you plan to text your customers more than five times a month, you better have a really great reason. It may be a good idea to say how many texts are planned for a given period of time; this can be placed on the web site or the mobile optimized web page. When writing the short code or keyword do not use quotation marks, they will type it that way. Use language plain and concise without any slang.
Text message marketing is following the way of the cell phone, huge growth and an incredible edge in the marketplace for small business. Right now vast opportunity is beginning to emerge, for users and agency providers. This will offer the usual advantage to whoever starts early and builds the base before everyone wants to do the same. Cell phone users have the last say for who can contact them and may decide a certain number of their favorite businesses are the limit.
The link above opens a top ten web site for comparing these types of marketing agencies. I think they have six on there for now.