Reach Out to Your Customers with SMS Marketing

by Caitlin Moriarity

SMS marketing means sending text messages to your customers. It's an affordable and effective strategy to reach your small business customers wherever they are. Here are tips for using SMS marketing in your business.

cell phone with text message bubbles
Image source: BigStockPhoto.com

Reach into your pocket or purse. You’ve got a cell phone, right? So does 85 percent of the American population. Why not send your marketing messages right to their cell phones?

Mobile apps are a popular option these days. But phones with different operating systems need different apps. So you’d need to create an iPhone app, an Android app, a Blackberry app, a Windows phone app, etc. And that can get time-consuming and expensive.

But almost every cell phone can receive text messages, and most cell phone plans included unlimited texts. So SMS (short message service) marketing is an option you may want to look into for your small business.

An Affordable Option

Mobile marketing providers offer flexible plans and pricing for businesses of all sizes. For example, SMS marketing provider SnapGiant offers a flat monthly subscription of $19.95, plus $24 per month for 500 outgoing texts (4.8 cents per SMS message), with free inbound texts. Businesses can scale their plans all the way up to 25,000 outgoing texts. Or Tatango, a SMS provider that uses a different model – if you sign up for one of their plans, texts are unlimited, but Tatango charges by the size of your customer base. You can send unlimited monthly SMS marketing messages to up to 250 customers for $24 a month, 500 customers for $49 a month, etc.



Build a List

SMS marketing providers, though, won’t source cell phone numbers for you (although they will manage and add to your list under specific circumstances, more on that later). You have to provide those numbers yourself. And it’s bad idea to simply look for cell phone numbers and build a list that way. First of all, it’s pretty skeezy, and second, SMS marketing messages are required to have an unsubscribe option, the same as marketing emails. You want to create an opt-in list, so that you know your potential customers are already open to hearing your message. Use your marketing in other channels -- such as print ads and social media -- to help build your list, by asking customers to text a keyword to a short code to receive a special offer.

RELATED: 3 Ways to Build a Text Message List

Keywords and Short Codes

You’ve seen these before. You’re watching TV and on a commercial you see someone ask you to “Text KITTY to 12345 to receive this free cat toy.” In this example, “KITTY” is the keyword, and “12345” is the short code. When you sign up with a mobile marketing provider, your business will be assigned a short code. And when you run an SMS marketing campaign through a mobile marketing provider, each individual campaign will have its own keyword. Once a customer texts that keyword to that short code, they have indicated their willingness to join your list, and your mobile marketing provider will take that cell phone number and add it to your company’s SMS list.

Keep Messages Short

Once you’ve created your list of cell phone numbers, you can send SMS marketing messages out to them. Since text messages are limited to 160 characters, you need to keep your SMS marketing messages short and relevant. Good ideas for small businesses are special limited-time coupons and promotions such as:

  • Secret daily lunch specials at a cafe
  • Buy a pedicure get a manicure free at a nail salon
  • 25 percent off computer repair if you mention the secret word when you book an appointment
  • A free 1-hour consultation with a tax expert

These are just suggestions. You can think up your own promotion to offer your customers via SMS marketing messages. Get creative and have fun with it.

Copyright 2012, Attard Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission.

Caitlin Moriarity is a member of the millennial generation and a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. Visit her website at www.caitlinmoriarity.com.

 
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