Text messaging, SMS (short message service) for short, is basically the best thing since sliced bread. At least that is what the numbers are showing. According to CTIA about 3.5 billion text messages are sent on a daily basis, 3 times more than were sent in 2007. Text messages have beat out phone calls as the more popular way to relay information, and not only among young people. The numbers show that the biggest increases in usage is in people over the age of 30.
Using text messaging for marketing is still a very new idea according to a marketing group in Melbourne, but it is one that merits exploration and time. Think about how many e-mails are either unread in your inbox or cluttering up your spam folder. Now think about how many unread text messages there are on in your phone. If you want people to read an advert, a text is more likely to be seen than an e-mail.
If you want to use text messages to advertise your business there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
1) Keep it legal. We’re all familiar with spam, and no one wants that kind of garbage sent straight to their cell phone. By hacking into the SMS infrastructure Spammers can send out millions of texts to random phone numbers. This is obviously not the way you want to go about using texts to advertise.
Try one of these approaches instead:
- Register for a “short code,” the 5 or 6 digit number assigned to text messaging campaigns. This takes a little longer (approx. 8 weeks for registration) and is not exactly cost friendly. This is the kind of service the big boys use.
- Small businesses are more likely to turn to companies like HipCricket that let you share a short code. Still, at $800 a month it is a bit of a marketing commitment.
2) Use text messaging to augment your traditional marketing. If you want to advertise using text messaging you’ll want to let your customers know you are running text campaigns. You can include your promotion on cards, in an e-mail, or on a sign at your shop.
3) Get them to give you their number. Getting a cell phone number is no easy task; people guard those almost as protectively as they do their Social Security number. Have a customer survey at the front desk at the office. Ask those who enter to fill it out, cell phone number included.
4) Build your campaign. Sending offers through texts takes time and seeing a response takes time. If you are having a special sale, go ahead and send out a reminder to your customers. Or, you may choose to offer special promotions only through text, with a redemption code they must present upon purchase.
5) Contain yourself. Texts are so easy to send sometimes we can go a little overboard. Make sure you have a good reason to send the SMS and make the message clear, avoiding shorthanded text codes like ‘4U’ and ‘GR8.’
While using SMS as marketing may seem a bit out there for your business, it is definitely an avenue to explore. You may find that while you won’t reach the masses with texts, you will be able to form a closer bond with existing customers and provide them with surprise deals that put you one step ahead of the competition.