First there was the mailbox. Then houses had phones installed and answering machines came into being. Then we all hopped on computers and our in-boxes filled up. The ways for businesses to reach customers, both invited and uninvited, have changed as our lifestyles have changed. And now we carry our mailboxes, answering machines and computers in our pockets and purses.
The SMS Way
New research shows that 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone. Further, mobile research indicates that 90 percent of people read a text message within the first three minutes of receiving it. There is arguably no better way to get in touch with people than SMS messaging. And companies are turning to text for all sorts of reasons: alerts from airlines regarding travel, trivia questions from Starbucks and sweepstakes from Abercrombie to win clothing.
Two Rules of Texting and Marketing: Respect and Respond
Yes, we wander around with phones in pockets, sit them close by at mealtimes, place them by our beds at night. That does not mean all customers encourage SMS communication. Ask permission before establishing a text database. Find out what customers want to be notified about. Maintain various lists based on customer preference. And always offer an opt-out option. Additionally, know the regulations surrounding SMS marketing, including the ins and outs of the Spam Act.
Chances are you know your best customers. A pizza shop owner should know the regular who likes extra-extra mushrooms on his pizza; a bookstore owner ought to know when a particular reader gets excited over her favorite author's new release. Why not establish a texting relationship to offer pizza discounts or new title releases? If you're a pottery studio, let your customers know when a new demonstration is scheduled.
But realize that the text relationship is a conversation. Once you engage, have a plan in place to continue conversation. Answer quickly. If you don't hold up your end of the conversation, you risk losing the contact.
Should You Get Started?
Any marketing effort is usually punctuated with a call-to-action. New merchandise has arrived, come shop! New classes available, sign up! Studies do show, however, for e-commerce sites, the conversion from browsing to add-to-cart is lower for smartphones than desktops. Seventy-five percent of purchases still come from desktops versus 15 percent on a phone so far in 2015. That is up from 9 percent last year. Consider carefully the action you are urging compared to the tendencies of technology users.
There are many text message marketing firms that can manage text campaigns, provide reporting and tracking statistics, organize contact lists and offer support and expertise. Looking for a text message marketing service? Read a top-ten review of the best companies out there now.
Does your small business plan on implementing a text marketing strategy, or does it already?