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February 16, 2017

Debbie O'Connor of mumstheboss.co.uk on Digital Marketing for Small Business Owners

Debbie O'Connor runs Mum's the Boss, a virtual assistant and digital marketing service that specializes in helping home-based businesses get online. She blogs at www.mumstheboss.co.uk.

We recently asked Debbie for her advice on blogging and digital marketing. Here's what she shared:

Can you tell us about the mission behind Mum's the Boss? What inspired you to start your business?

In 2010, I was working from home, running two MLM businesses in the evenings and weekends. My youngest son started school full time and I realized I had some time in the daytime to do something more.

One of my online contacts, Alli Price, was emigrating back to her native Australia so she sold her U.K. business, Motivating Mum to me and I bought Mum's the Boss in 2012 to add to the mix.

I realized that as an accountant in business, and later as a work-at-home mum, I had a lot of experience to share with home business owners, and as I started blogging I taught myself to do social media from the ground up and loved every bit of it. Before long, people were asking me to help them with digital marketing and so I have moved in that direction in the last year or so.

How has digital marketing evolved since you started your business? What are the biggest changes you've observed?

When I started out blogging you could just about write anything, stuff it with keywords and people would find it and read it. I also made quite a bit of money from publishing sponsored posts on my blog, which were essentially link building for the companies that advertised with me, and not necessarily quality pieces of journalism.

I'm pleased to say that Google have tightened their act up over the past few years. Nowadays you do have to think a lot more carefully about what you write and how you promote it. I don't accept link building type sponsored posts any more - instead I am making money by actively helping people to understand blogging and digital marketing.

The amount of material that is available online is growing every week, so companies have to try a little bit harder now to stand out and be noticed above all the noise.

What are some of the challenges you find home-based business owners face in marketing their businesses?

I think many small business owners are seduced by the idea that you can just put anything on the net, and people will read it and come and buy from you without you having to do much else. When my clients come to me they are often disillusioned that their websites have failed to attract customers to whatever it is that they do, despite their efforts on social media.

The biggest mistake I come across is people just posting up pictures of their products or services with text that basically says "buy me," and making no attempt to inform, educate or build trust with their readers before they try to sell. Digital marketing is quite a complicated process - it takes a bit of time to nurture your followers and turn them into fans, but the effort is well worth while.

It always makes me happy when I am able to improve viewers and customers to a small business website. I put a little bit of SEO effort into the content on a client's website and make the site a bit more attractive to viewers. I give people a bit of training as to what to post, how often and how best to promote it on social media, and then the viewers start to come, and they can hopefully be converted into customers.

Where should home-based business owners start when creating an online marketing strategy? What are the dos and don'ts?

If you are just starting out in business, I would say first of all invest as much as you can into your website. The sort of website which just has six static pages and looks like it was designed in five minutes is unlikely to get much traffic, no matter what you do. As a minimum you should buy a domain name and have somebody set up a self-hosted Wordpress site for you, using an up-to-date theme. This doesn't have to be too expensive, but I recommend people to spend as much as they can afford in this area.

Once you have the website in place you can put in place a strategy of blogging regularly - or at least updating your site with fresh and original content, bearing in mind the keywords that people might be searching for if they want to buy what you are selling.

Then the third strand is promoting your content on social media, choosing the channels where your target market are likely to hang out and which are best for promoting your type of product, and experimenting with different types of posts until you find a mix that people respond to.

What are your favorite digital tools for helping home-based business owners spread the word about their businesses? What have you found to be most useful?

The tools I would not be without in my business are the social media scheduling tools. I use Buffer (which comes in a free version which would suit a small business) and I also use Meet Edgar (a bit more expensive), which builds up a database of your best social media posts and sends them round again at regular intervals. Those two together save me so much time.

For email marketing I use Mail Chimp, which has many tools to help you capture email addresses and nurture your leads until they are ready to buy - that also comes with a free version for small email lists.

And finally I wouldn't be without Evernote, which helps me capture information when I am out and about, whether that be leads, contact details, or just ideas that occur to me when I am not at my desk. It is not a marketing tool as such, but it helps me be the most efficient in my business, and helps me to keep on top of everything.

What are the most cost-effective marketing methods you've found for cash-strapped business owners?

It really depends on what your products are. I have seen some businesses that can generate sufficient sales just from a Facebook page. Other types of business benefit more when the business owner goes out to face-to-face networking groups and makes contact with people. It really depends on your product and the target market of people you are trying to sell to.

At the end of the day it boils down to correctly identifying your target market, finding out where they go when they are looking for infomration, and then meeting them there, whether that is online, in person or in a magazine.

The other cheapest and best strategy is giving your existing customers the means and maybe a small incentive for recommending you to their friends. Word-of-mouth marketing is always the easiest, and a satisfied customer can be a walking billboard for your business at very low cost to you.

What's one piece of advice you'd share with business owners who are intimidated by digital marketing? How can they overcome their fears?

To be honest I find digital marketing a lot less scary than let's say door-to-door sales, which used to be the way many people did business not so long ago. If you compare the two then surely it would be more scary to have to speak to each potential cold lead in person than it is to put stuff out on social media. We are much luckier in the digital age.

If you hate the idea of digital marketing or you just feel nervous about it, then help is always at hand. There are so many people out there now that can help you get set up with digital marketing, either giving you advice to help you do it in the best way for your business, or for a very small outlay, taking it off your hands, so that you can concentrate on the thing that made you start a business in the first place.

Spread the word about your organization. Try ClubTexting for free.

February 03, 2017

Bonnie Harris of Wax Marketing on Integrated Marketing Communications



Bonnie Harris is the founder of Wax Marketing, an integrated marketing communications firm.

We recently asked Bonnie for her insight on integrated marketing for small business owners. Here's what she had to say:

Can you talk about your background in marketing? How has marketing communications evolved since you started your career?

I have worked in marketing, management and sales for the past 25 years. For the past 15 years I have been the President of Wax Marketing, an integrated marketing communications firm that works with mid-sized companies. My work has been focused heavily on the technology, finance and social services industry sectors.

Marketing communications has evolved dramatically over the past two decades, and the past 10 years in particular. The number of marketing channels has exploded, causing a massive shift in the way consumers and businesses create, curate and share information. In addition marketing and technology continue to merge, creating more and more opportunity to uncover and influence the customer behavior directly. We no longer need to rely on demographics to predict that behavior.

What is integrated marketing communications?

Integrated marketing communications is often confused with multichannel marketing, but they are not the same. Integrated marketing communications involves a planned, consistent use of different promotional methods that reinforce each other. The idea that the strategies and tactics within IMC "boost" each other's results is key to understanding its power.

How should brands approach their integrated marketing communications strategy today?

Brands should define their audiences as narrowly as possible, and craft strategies to reach those audiences. Keep in mind that the customer experience is growing more and more self-directed. Brands need to focus on influencing their customers or buyers from one stage of the buying cycle to the next; not merely selling to them.

What are the most common challenges or frustrations your clients face in marketing communications? How do you help them overcome these challenges?

The most common challenge for my clients, being smaller in size, is budget. They simply don't have the massive advertising budgets of the larger brands they may be competing with. This is where IMC is so powerful. Large company organizations are often much too siloed in nature to effectively use integration. Mid-sized companies can often adopt an integrated mindset much more easily. And the results of truly integrated campaigns are typically 100 to 200 percent greater than traditional campaigns, no matter the ad budget. That helps close the gap in terms of mindshare and performance against larger companies.

What should brands be doing today to prepare for the future of how they handle marketing communications?

The best thing they can do is eliminate the silos between marketing, sales, communications and technology. To do that, they need to also eliminate siloed goals among organizations. Adopting a project methodology like Agile for marketing can also be very helpful.

What role should SMS play in marketing strategies today?

SMS is another messaging channel that should be considered if the brand's target audience is a user of that channel.

What best practices would you recommend your clients follow with their SMS strategy? What are the dos and don'ts?

Once again, SMS is another messaging channel. It's important to consider it not just because "everyone says you should" but because your target audience uses it as a way to gather, curate or share information. If you're targeting non-digital natives it may be less important, for example. There are many "do's and don'ts" but the main thing is to make sure you're using SMS because it's an important tool for your customers.

What trends or headlines are you following in the world of digital marketing today? Why do they interest you?

I'm following marketing automation most closely. I think that there are far too many martech tools out there today, and there needs to be some consolidation in order to gain effectiveness within this space. I'm also following virtual reality trends, as I feel this is a huge gamechanger for marketing. I also watch neuromarketing techniques, a quieter sector that's getting better and better at influencing behavior.

What brands do you believe have done an especially outstanding job with their integrated communications strategy? What can we learn from them?

Amazon is a powerhouse, and I've written about them many times on my own blog. They use email marketing as the foundation for an amazingly coordinated marketing engine that is among the most integrated I've seen. The Red Cross has some excellent integration going on, particularly between their communications and development programs. I also like to follow some of the eCommerce smaller companies working in B2B, like Insite Software. Those companies are really integrating field sales into some cool marketing programs that incorporate Account Based Marketing, again to reinforce other promotional methods. You can't forget about sales. It always belongs in the integrated marketing mix if there is a direct sales component to the business!

Help spread the word about your organization via SMS. Try ClubTexting for free.

January 20, 2017

The Case for SMS Marketing Campaigns

Although it might seem as though SMS marketing is a relatively new marketing channel, it has actually existed since the early 2000s. From its onset, many have seen the potential of the medium, yet just as many remain wary of it.


SMS marketing is an effective way to bring in customers.

In the past few decades, a lot has changed in marketing, including the changing emphasis on mobile marketing. What was once used by a few brave leaders is now becoming commonplace. However, there remains some who are still unsure whether it is something worth adopting or simply a passing fad. Some myths remain so entrenched that it is difficult to know the reality surrounding this highly-effective medium. By reviewing a few of these misconceptions, you will discover why so many have adopted it.

A Short History Lesson

Back in the early 2000s, Adage wrote an article about the promise of using SMS for marketing purposes. During this time period, texting was just starting to become widely popular, especially in Asian and European markets. Between 2001 and 2002, there was a surge of over 150 billion more texts sent per year, and in 2003, the first few commercial SMS services started to emerge.

The promise of this new marketing channel was obvious. It was seen as a way to be personal and directly communicate with individuals. Some major brands, including Nike and Coke, became early adopters. However, this marketing forum also saw a huge obstacle due to many carriers, and users, viewing it as spam or a passing fad. It ultimately took a back seat to some of the other marketing channels, such as email and social media.

Many of the benefits -- and concerns -- surrounding text message marketing still stand 15 years after the publication of this article. Despite the Adage writer seeing the benefits of this medium so many years ago, companies still hesitate to adopt it today. If this is you, there is no reason to continue to wait to see whether or not people will adopt SMS marketing. It is a highly relevant marketing channel with many people wanting to communicate with businesses through it. Not convinced? The following should help.




Percent of messages that are spam 1 percent
Conversion rate 32 percent
Open rate 98 percent
Time to read Under three minutes
Consumers who wish to communicate via text with businesses 70 percent
Number of consumers who wish to have SMS customer support 52 percent
Engagement rate 8x that of email


Myth 1: People Interact with Companies on Computers

With the growing importance of the internet, it is essential to have a web presence, including email and websites. In today's market, taking this presence into the mobile space is becoming more important than ever. More people interact with businesses or go online on their mobile devices than a computer, with mobile internet usage making up 70 percent of usage. The numbers are set to only increase, with the number of people preferring to access the internet via a mobile device rather than a computer expected to jump by 28 percent. This makes mobile marketing a priority for businesses, especially since people are looking for a mobile-first solution to their shopping needs.

Another reason SMS marketing has such power: people carry their phones with them everywhere. A significant portion of people who own a cell phone never have it out of reach, and they will check it multiple times per day. When they receive a text message, they open it within just a few minutes. Because more and more people also shop on their phones, they can easily take action on a text coupon by clicking to link and complete a sale.

Myth 2: Customers Do Not Want to Receive Texts from Businesses

A very prominent myth about SMS marketing that still reigns supreme is that customers do not wish to have businesses contact them via texting. However, that is not the case. Around 75 percent of consumers want businesses to communicate with them via text rather than targeted internet ads. In addition to receiving messages from the business, many consumers wish to interact with businesses via text, especially for customer service.


Customers do want to hear from you through text message.

There are many benefits to choosing to interact with consumers via texting. For one, it builds a more intimate relationship with consumers. You are texting with them in the same channel that they typically reserve just for their family and friends. Additionally, spam takes up just 1 percent of messages, so consumers will view each individual message as important.

Additionally, texting is a permission-based medium, which means that you are only communicating with those who wish to hear from your business. This makes the message have that much greater of an impact. When you market to people who already have a positive experience with your company, then they are more likely to take the intended action. This leads to SMS marketing having some of the highest numbers for conversion rates and engagement rate.

Texting has a strong engagement with customers, which helps you to build your business. Many people now shop based on their experiences and engagement with a company, rather than based on price and other factors. By using texting to engage with customers, you will be able to retain them and increase your number of loyal customers.

Myth 3: Only Young People Text

Millennials and Gen Z'ers are famous for their love of texting and mobile devices. This makes SMS marketing an ideal channel for marketing to younger consumers. In fact, 60 percent of Millennials prefer two-way texting, and more than 83 percent open their texts within 90 seconds. However, this is generally an underused medium, as only 60 percent of Millennials receive five or less marketing messages from businesses, and a full 20 percent do not receive any.


It is not just young people who text.

However, Millennials and Gen Z'ers are not the only ones who text, and thereby not the only ones who can benefit from this marketing tools. Baby Boomers and older also text in high numbers. Out of smartphone owners:

  • 100 percent of 18-29 year olds text
  • 98 percent of those aged 30-49 text
  • 92 percent of those over the age of 50 tex

. As you can see, implementing a text program will not eliminate your ability to target older demographics.

Myth 4: Other Marketing Channels Are Better

Many companies simply focus on other marketing channels, feeling that adding SMS marketing does not make sense. They feel that digital marketing, SEO, blogging, social media, and traditional advertisements go a lot further than texting. However, time and time again, SMS marketing has shown it reigns supreme:

These are just a few of the key statistics showing the power that texting has over other marketing channels. Additionally, more than two-thirds of subscribers to mobile marketing have made a purchase due to a relevant message.

SMS marketing is a cost-effective marketing solution that packs a punch. That does not mean it should be your only marketing channel. It works best as an integrated part of a comprehensive marketing campaign that utilizes multi-channels, including:

  • Social media
  • Websites
  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Radio and TV ads
  • Print ads
  • In-store promotions
  • Email newsletters

Every marketing channel has its strengths and weaknesses. However, you would be remiss to reject SMS marketing just because you feel that some of the other marketing channels are better.

Myth 5: It's a Passing Fad

Texting has not yet reached its peak as a marketing channel. It is expected to continue to grow and become an even more vital component of marketing. In the coming years, more automation and chat bots with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence will emerge and integrate with SMS marketing and messaging chat apps. The marketing channel is expected to continue to grow, with no end in sight. Therefore, there is no reason to simply not adopt it, thinking that it is simply a trend that will quickly go away.


Get your team together and start working on a plan for your program.

Now is the perfect time to add texting to your marketing strategy if you have been hesitant. It is continually increasing in its efficacy, and customers are primed to opt-in. Despite its many advantages, few businesses have adopted it, meaning that customers are not overcome by messages. This helps you to cut through the mess and compete, even with the larger corporations that might have more money for marketing and advertising.

SMS marketing has been around for 15 years, and it will be around for decades to come. Rather than believing the myths that continue to circulate around the medium, take advantage of the lucrative benefits of the medium and add it to your marketing campaign today. Get started by trying ClubTexting for free.

December 02, 2016

Using SMS Marketing at Every Point in the Sales Funnel

You probably focus a lot on the sales funnel. You look to find ways to bring more people through it, as well as determine where there might be some hiccups. SMS marketing provides an opportunity to hit potential customers at every aspect of the funnel. It is highly adaptable, so it easily fits into any or all of the efforts you put into creating leads and converting them into customers down the line.

Bringing in Leads


Add texting to all the marketing ideas your team develops.

SMS marketing might be a permission-based marketing tool, but that does not mean it cannot provide assistance at the top of the funnel. It is a highly versatile medium and one of its great potentials is as a powerful call to action. Including a keyword and number to text on existing marketing collateral increases the number of people who act on it. This can help you to reach more people as potential leads to start the journey into your sales funnel.

Nurturing Potential Customers

Once you have people in the funnel, it is time to start nurturing the leads into customers through building a relationship. Having people opt-in to your SMS marketing program provides a way to engage them and keep in touch with them. It is important that you do this wisely.

People are open to receiving texts from brands, but they still expect there to be value in the texts. Take the time to build content of value that speaks to your target audience. This might be in the form of reminders, information about your company, deals, and coupons or helpful information. Be careful not to oversaturate your leads with messages. The best frequency is typically between two and four texts per month, although you might find that your audience prefers more or less frequent texts.

Converting into Action

Once you have built a relationship with your potential customers, it is time to convert them into action. Text marketing programs provide several ways to do this. You can send out offers and deals that inspire customers to act. You can remind customers about exciting events, run contests to increase engagement, or provide other programs that get people interested in your goods or services. Take advantage of the immediacy of texts by sending out timely deals, especially those that quickly expire. This will motivate people to act.

Customer Retention


Texting leads to happy customers that return again and again.

SMS marketing also helps you to retain customers. Not only do you have a way to remain engaged with customers that is more effective than email, since texting has eight times the engagement rate of email, but it also serves as a solid customer service tool. Customer service has become an increasingly important component of sales because people more and more use their emotions to determine where to shop rather than prices. Many customers prefer to deal with customer service issues through text. By offering this, you will create a positive relationship that will translate into customer retention and loyalty.

It is easy to fit SMS marketing into each component of the sales funnel. It provides a versatile and cost-effective way to draw in potential leads, engage with them, convert them, and retain them so that you increase the number of customers and grow your business.

Ready to add this to your sales funnel? Try ClubTexting for free.

November 30, 2016

The Ultimate Guide for Effective Texting Campaigns for Any Holiday

During the winter holiday season, many companies launch strong campaigns to take advantage of the large number of people searching for holiday gifts.

It is also customary to use the excitement about any holiday to advertise a sale or promote goods and services. Think about how Columbus Day has become less about celebrating the discovery of the Americas and more about mattress sales.


Run a texting campaign to take advantage of the holiday shoppers.

Running a texting campaign during this time provides a way to support your overall marketing efforts. The more than $650 billion spent during the winter holidays, including Christmas, makes it the perfect model on which to create holiday promotions throughout the year.

There are several steps to take to create a more effective text marketing campaign that works not just during the winter holiday season but for any of the holidays that take place year round.

What Are Your Goals?

Before you go too far down the rabbit hole of creating a dynamic text marketing campaign for the holidays, it is important to understand your goals. Ask yourself some questions:

    • Do you want to increase profits by a certain percentage or move inventory?

 

    • Is your promotion more about building brand awareness and increasing traffic, whether online or in person?


Having a strong idea of the objective of your efforts helps you to create a stronger plan that will actually meet those goals.

To do this, get your team together for a brainstorming meeting. Ask everyone what they believe the objective and goals of the program are. When going through the different potential goals, make sure to keep SMART in mind:

    • Specific

 

    • Measurable

 

    • Attainable

 

    • Realistic

 

    • Timely


A good example of a goal is to increase holiday sales by 10 percent.

Why Do You Bother With Holiday Marketing?

One place to start is to think about why holiday marketing is important in the first place. People are trained to know that certain holidays are synonymous with deals to buy gifts and personal items:

    • Black Friday

 

    • Cyber Monday

 

    • Labor Day

 

    • Columbus Day


Although this provides an opportunity to promote sales, it also means that you are competing with hundreds of stores in a wide variety of industries.

During the brainstorming session discussed above, ask your team why you are even bothering with holiday marketing. Are you doing it just because it is what is done, or do you have another reason?

Even if your sole reason behind it is because everyone else is doing it does not mean that you will have a lackluster marketing campaign. However, it does mean that you might just be going through the motions if you do not take a moment to focus on creating a dynamite campaign.

When Is the Best Time To Start?

It is not enough to promote your holiday marketing in December. Marketing surveys point out that in October, 26 percent of digital shoppers are already getting an early start on their winter holiday shopping. Almost half start in November. Some people start in September or even earlier!

If you start too late, then you miss out on all of those early shoppers. Therefore, consider running some deals throughout the fall. Or you might simply just start advertising your holiday sales weeks ahead of time so that people can plan accordingly.


Don't be afraid to start your promotion early to catch shoppers.

Early planning is not just about letting your customers know about your sales; it is also ensuring that your company is ready, too. Inform your employees about the sale, making sure that they have all the information necessary to answer questions from customers.

Give yourself plenty of time for creating the marketing material for your promotions so that you can ensure it is perfect. However, finalize the promotion late enough that you can make any last-minute adjustments you need to based on any current events or feedback from customers so that you remain relevant.

For your texting campaign, this early preparation includes the following:
Develop a strong strategy.

    • Determine how often you plan to text customers.

 

    • Consider what types of offers you plan to send out.

 

    • Create a calendar so that the texting offers complement other deals without oversaturating.

 

    • Decide how you plan to promote your text marketing program to increase the number of subscribers.

 

    • You might choose to have a push for subscribers months prior to the big holiday event for greater impact once you launch your holiday texting campaign.

 

    • Choose who will be in charge of reviewing the content and handling any issues that arise.



How Do You Integrate?

Text marketing works a little differently. It is an immediate medium since most messages are opened within just a few minutes of receipt. This makes it a great medium for last-minute deals and reminders about sales. This complements your program, especially if you take the time to integrate your text marketing smartly.

During the initial planning stages for your holiday text marketing program, consider where it fits into the rest of your marketing efforts. A texting campaign complements other channels really well. You can ad it as a call to action on your

    • TV and radio spots,

 

    • print ads,

 

    • digital marketing properties,

 

    • social media accounts

 

    • and more.



This works two-fold: first, you increase the number of subscribers and second, you increase the engagement and success of your other marketing channels.

Taking the time to strategize how you will use your texting program prior to running any of your holiday offers or advertising campaigns helps you to integrate in the best way possible. You can determine where to place your texting campaign in the sales funnel and how to best use it to increase the efficacy of the rest of your marketing efforts, and vice versa.

For example, use texting as a call to action with your print ads that provide early promotion of your holiday deals. Then, text your subscribers reminders about the sales the day before to increase the number of people who participate.

How Do You Promote?

In order to get the most out of your texting campaign -- and your holiday sales -- you need to create increased awareness. To do this, it is necessary to promote your campaigns.

It is even more important that you let people know about your texting campaign early because it is a permission-based medium. This means that you have to have people sign up before you can send them messages.

Many of the traditional forums for promotion also work for your texting campaign:

    • Flyers

 

    • Print ads

 

    • In-store signs

 

    • Digital banners

 

    • Blogs

 

    • Email newsletter mentions

 

    • Social media posts

 

    • Radio and TV spots



Any way that you traditionally announce news to customers will also let them know about your new texting promotion.

However, do not just let them know and expect them to sign up. A common way to do this is exclusive offers and deals, including a special coupon just for signing up. Do this early enough to capitalize on the number of people who sign up when the holidays roll around.

Plus, strategically send messages throughout the year to keep people interested in staying on your list so that you only have to build on it each year, rather than having to rebuild it.

Who Is Your Audience?


Create targeted messages based on your ideal customers.

An effective holiday text marketing campaign always keeps the audience in mind. This is because you want to strive to create content of value each time you send out a text message, especially during the holiday season when people are saturated with marketing messages. Therefore, spend some of your planning stage determining who your audience will be.

To do this, gather as much information as you have about your customers:

    • Shopping data

 

    • Demographics

 

    • Behavior patterns

 

    • Survey results

 

    • Market research


To find this information, it might be necessary to directly ask your subscribers to provide it. Because many people might opt into a text marketing campaign with a simple text, you might not have that much information about them. If that is the case, then you might want to create a persona of your ideal target audience.

You do not have to stick with just one target audience. It is easy to divide your subscribers into lists based on their personal data in order to send personalized, targeted messages. This also enhances the effectiveness of the campaign.

What Offers Should You Use?

Once you have completed the prep work, determining your goals, audience, calendar, integration and other components of the structure of your marketing strategy, you can start focusing on the fun part: the text message content and the offers themselves.

First, consider what type of offer you wish to send, whether a BOGO, a percentage of purchase, dollar amount a price, a free gift with purchase, free shipping or something else. It is most important that you choose something that is attractive while also not hurting your profit margin. For the best impact, create something unique and exclusive, as this further motivates the customer to take advantage of the deal.

The words you use also helps to create the best redemption rate. Choose active verbs and words that impart urgency. For example, Buy Now, Redeem Today, Limited Time Offer, and Click to Activate This Exclusive Deal all motivate customers to take the action you want them to do. Be sure to make it easy for customers to redeem them; otherwise, you will lose out on a lot of sales.

How Do You Stand Out?

Now for the fun part: making your content unique, attractive and fun so that you stand out from the competition. Do not be afraid to include some of the personality of your company in the messages.

One common way to do this is to add some humor into the messages. However, do not become too unprofessional when you do so. Puns and simple, unoffensive jokes are easy ways to get creative without worrying about losing customers.

An example of a Christmas offer with some humor is, "Don't be a Scrooge. Use this 20% off coupon to buy your loved ones gifts. Expires [date]."


Get your team together to brainstorm creative ideas for messages.

One of the reasons to jump onto holidays in terms of marketing is that you can create themed messages. A simple template for dynamic holiday-themed messages that lead to a successful campaign is the following:

    • Character/holiday allusion

 

    • Offer/deal

 

    • Active language

 

    • Urgent/motivating language

 

    • Expiration date

 

    • Company Name

 

    • Stay within the 160 character limit

 

  • The right timing

Use your creativity to decide upon promotions, deals and content that sounds just like your company rather than the same old, boring offers that everyone sends out. This helps you to stand out from hundreds of promotions circulating during the holiday season.

What Is Success?

Before you start sending out your messages, consider how you will measure success. Most texting platforms have analytics that detail the open rate, bounce rate, conversion rate, click-through-rate and other metrics similar to other digital properties.

Look at your starting point and set a realistic finish point that means your program is successful. Reviewing your original goal will help you with this. For example, if you wish to increase profits, then you might focus on the number of conversions your text messages create.

Remember that a strong texting campaign takes some time to build. You might need to do some trial and error, which is why it is best to start your text marketing program long before the holiday season. This gives you time to work out the kinks so that you can take full advantage of the medium when it comes time to promote your sales.

Ready to get started on your holiday texting campaign? Try ClubTexting for free.

November 23, 2016

3 Reasons to Use SMS Marketing This Holiday Season

How important are the final months of the year for your business? If you are like most, they make up a solid percentage of your overall sales. In 2015, the total revenue from holiday sales reached $626.1 billion, which was a 3 percent increase over the year before, according to the National Retail Federation. SMS marketing provides an avenue for marketing your business to help you increase holiday sales and take advantage of these peak shopping months, even if your company is not in the retail industry. Not entirely convinced? The following might help.

Stand Out


There is tough competition during the holidays; stand out by texting.

The winter holiday season is an important time for sales, so most companies put in extra marketing efforts advertising sales so that they will attract customers to their business over the competition. This means that the average customer is flooded with ads from a variety of sources, including emails, social media posts and ads, print ads, radio and TV spots, and mailers. This flood of information makes it really easy for anything you send out to simply get lost in the shuffle.

With SMS marketing, you can stand out from the crowd. Although it is an effective marketing channel, not many companies actually use it. There is also no spam filters on messages, although there are rules defining to whom you can send marketing messages. This means that your messages make it past the massive numbers of messages your customers received and are actually read.

Increase Engagement

Not only do the messages in your SMS marketing program stand out, but they also are actually seen. Text messages have an almost 100 percent open rate, compared to just between 20 and 30 percent for emails. More people see and read SMS messages. This increases the potential number of people who actually take action on your messages. In fact, text messages have a 36 percent click-through rate, compared to just 6 to 7 percent for email. Social media marketing also has a much lower hit rate than a texting campaign.

With an increased engagement, you have a better chance of converting customers. They receive your messages and read them, which already improves the chance they will act. With a strong, motivating message, your customers will take the final step and convert, giving you the sale over your competition.

Reach Customers Anywhere


Texting lets you reach customers anywhere, even when they are already shopping.

Cell phones have become an extension of a person. According to one survey, a high number of people would rather give up a number of things, such as sex, a car, a bed, a vacation or a cup of coffee, than their phone. Most people carry their phones with them everywhere they go. Therefore, with SMS marketing, you have the chance to reach customers anywhere. They will read your message even if they are not connected to the internet. Perhaps they are already out and about doing some holiday shopping when they receive your message. They can take action right away, increasing the chance that they will actually do it.

There are many other reasons to take advantage of SMS marketing this holiday season. Once you have started your campaign, you will not want to stop even after the rush of holiday sales are over. The same benefits that accrue to exceed your goals for the final months of the year will continue to help you to grow your business and reach all your goals.

Ready to get started and improve your business this holiday season? Try ClubTexting for FREE.

October 12, 2016

Thinking of Ending Your Lackluster Text Message Marketing Campaign? Try This First

You started a text message marketing campaign full of hopes that it would provide the many promised benefits to your business. After putting in an extensive amount of time and effort, it does not appear to be working for you. If this sounds like you, you are probably tempted to just stop the campaign and switch your efforts -- and spending -- to something else. However, before you do this, there are some things you can do to turn around your campaign and get the results you want.

Do You Have a Realistic Expectation?


Have your team review your goals and expectations to see if they are realistic.

SMS marketing is a powerful medium, with high open rates and engagement rates. However, it is not a miracle worker. As with any marketing campaign, it takes effort and time to succeed. Therefore, take a quick look at your goals and expectations. Have you given sufficient time for the process to work? You most likely will not see high numbers overnight; most campaigns take a few months to really start to gain momentum.

Also take some time to review your business goals and what you hope to achieve with text message marketing. You might find that your efforts are not in line with your goals. It is also possible that you did not take the time to adequately create clear, defined objectives before you started the campaign. You would not be alone, as over half of marketers run a texting campaign without clear objectives. If this sounds like you, then take some time to develop clear objectives and create a strategy that will help you to meet those. Then, give your campaign some time to grow and meet your new expectations before you give up.

Find the Source of the Problem

Before packing in your text message marketing campaign, take some time to search for the root of the problem. Start by reviewing your metrics, especially the numbers that have made you feel as though it is time to give up. Perhaps your list is not growing or you have low redemption rates for your deals. Once you have narrowed down where your program is faltering, make changes that fix the correlating area of weakness.

For example, if your list is not growing, revamp your promotion strategy. Perhaps you need to promote your texting campaign on social media or add it to your print ads. It might be beneficial to start targeting a different set of customers. For those who feel they are not getting the response they want, consider whether or not the content matches what your customers want. You might also be sending the messages at an inopportune time or at an inconsistent frequency. There are several adjustments you can make to create a stronger campaign that will fix the problem and get you back to where you want to be.

Try a New Type of Message

There might not be any noticeable area in your text message marketing campaign that is the source of the poor response. It might simply be that your customers do not find value in the messages you send, or they might simply be fatigued by the same message every time. That is why it is important to switch up the content of your messages with every text, as well as provide exclusive content.

Take some time to develop and test some new types of message. For example, if you normally send out offers and deals, try sending out a poll or run a text-to-win content. Those who tend to rely on informational messages, try an exclusive flash sale or another offer. It might also help to try a few different messages and see how your customers respond to shape your campaign in the future.

Ask Your Customers What They Want


Ask your customers to review your program and provide some answers.

Another reason your campaign might be faltering is simply that it did not meet your customers' expectations. It is beneficial to take some time to see what your customers think before you completely just give up on texting. Ask your subscribers to fill out a survey to see what type of messages they wish to receive from you. It is also possible to simply send out a quick poll to see whether people are satisfied or not with your texting program. This not only helps you to know how to retool your lagging campaign, but it also provides a way to engage your customers and get them involved. You might also find that your campaign is actually doing much better than you previously thought.

It can feel disheartening to find your text message marketing campaign not succeeding or starting to falter. This leads many to simply stop and move on to another marketing strategy. However, do not give up. Instead, take some time to evaluate your efforts and make some changes to give your campaign another chance to succeed.

Contact us to learn more about what you can do to recharge a lackluster campaign.

October 10, 2016

Why Your Small Business Needs to Adopt SMS Marketing

As a small business, you have to monitor your budget closely to ensure every penny comes with a strong return on investment. SMS marketing provides many benefits that are well worth the investment for any small business. It is a cost-effective solution that has high response rates. As an added benefit, it increases customer engagement, which, in turn, leads to more loyal customers. The following are just a few of the reasons why many small businesses are turning to this highly lucrative marketing channel.

Intimate


Texting helps you build a more intimate relationship with your customers.

One of the best reasons to adopt SMS marketing is that it is a more direct and intimate channel. Almost everyone owns an SMS-enabled phone. Of smartphone users, almost 100 percent use text messages. It is not just Millennials. Baby Boomers and older generations also consistently text. Additionally, texting is not as saturated by promotional messages as email or social media. This means that your text will arrive right next to texts that are mostly from friends and family members, making it possible for customers to unconsciously place you in the same category.

Fast Response

SMS marketing is the perfect medium when you need a fast response. Most people carry their phones with them everywhere and check it over a hundred times in a day. This means that they will see your message quickly and respond just as fast. In fact, the average response rate for texts is just 90 seconds, while the average response rate for email is 90 minutes. Which kind of response would you rather have?

Targeting More Engaged Customers

Text message marketing is an opt-in channel. This means that in order to send messages to your customers, they must sign up for the program. Although this leaves out a fair number of people, it does mean that you are working with more engaged customers at the baseline. Because they have signed up for your SMS marketing campaign, they already have a relationship with your company and wish to know more. This makes it easier to convert them into customers.

High Engagement

If you are looking for a marketing channel with a high engagement rate, then SMS marketing is the right channel for you. It has eight times the engagement rate, along with high click through rates and redemption rates. Customers not only read the texts; they also take action. This leads to a much higher return on your investment.

Stand Out From the Competition


With texting, it is easier to compete with the larger corporations.

As a small business, it is difficult at times to distinguish yourself from your competition, especially the larger corporations. Many large companies have yet to adopt text marketing because they have so many other advertising channels, which means your business stands out when you text.

When you have a small marketing budget, it is harder to develop marketing collateral that really stands out when you are trying to compete against brands with a significantly higher budget than you.

SMS marketing levels the playing field. It is a text-based marketing forum, which means you do not have to worry about developing expensive graphics. It is also short-form content since you only need 160 characters per text. This makes it much less expensive to run a strong texting campaign, especially when you also add in the cost of texting, which is often just pennies per text.

SMS marketing provides a cost-effective solution for small businesses to engage with customers and build their business. If you have not considered adding it to your marketing strategy, then it is time to do so and see how it can provide the boost you've been looking for.

Ready to see how texting will provide a boost to your business? Try ClubTexting for free and experience these benefits for yourself.

October 05, 2016

Bring Business to Your Restaurant with These SMS Marketing Messages

There is a lot of competition among restaurants, so it is important to find ways to reach your potential customers and get them to choose you over the competition. One way to do so is SMS marketing, which has a high engagement rate and is very popular with customers. To take full advantage of this lucrative marketing channel, it is important to find the right messages that resonate with your clientele. If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas, try one or more of the following messages.

Happy Hour Specials


Increase attendance at your Happy Hour with a timely text message.

Happy Hour is a long-standing tradition in the restaurant and bar business. Promote your Happy Hour specials to your SMS marketing subscribers with a text. Text messages are typically opened within just a few minutes of receipt, so you can send the message just a few hours prior to the start of Happy Hour. This provides the idea to people to head to Happy Hour at the end of the workday without time for them to forget or decide upon another venue.

An example of this type of text message is

"Join us for Happy Hour today and get 2 for 1 drinks by showing this text."

Easy Deliver Options

When people are stuck at work all day unable to head to your restaurant for a meal or wish to remain at home for a nice relaxing day in, they will be interested in your delivery options. If your restaurant is equipped to handle delivery, remind your SMS marketing subscribers about your services. Provide a deal just for delivery or highlight your delivery menu. This works really well when sent right near lunch or dinner time to capitalize on an already hungry crowd.

This type of text might look like

"Enjoy a delicious meal without any work on your part with our delivery service. Call or click here to order and get 20 percent off."

You would just include your phone number or a link to your website if you have online ordering enabled. This makes it very easy for people to order as soon as they see the text.

Offers and Deals

Any offer or deal works well for your SMS marketing program. There are special times that it makes sense to promote, such as happy hour or lunchtime specials. However, you always want to provide value to your customers to retain them as subscribers. One way to do this is to send out exclusive coupons for your restaurant through your texting program. For extra motivation, include an expiration date on the coupon so that people feel motivated to take action right away.

An example of a strong coupon is

"After a long day at work, you deserve a treat. Enjoy a free dessert with an entrée purchase after 5 p.m. by showing this text. Deal expires on [date]."

New Menu Poll


Encourage customers to vote on new menu items through text.

Although many restaurants turn to SMS marketing for driving business through specials and coupons, this is only a small part of text message marketing. There are many ways to engage with customers through your texting program. One way to really get customers involved is through sending out a poll. The perfect time to do this is when you plan to make changes to your menu. Ask customers what they would prefer added and provide a few keywords with which they respond to vote. The keyword with the most texts wins. This helps you to continue to provide items on your menu that meet your customers' desires.

An example of this type of text is

"What dessert should we add to the menu? Click here to view the options and text the corresponding keyword to [shortcode] by [date] to vote."

Create a page on your website with pictures and descriptions of the options and the corresponding keyword. Alternatively, you could text something like

"Which type of pie should we add to the menu? Text apple, pumpkin, peach or key lime to vote."

These are just a few examples of texts you can send to your SMS marketing subscribers to drive business to your restaurant. A combination of coupons and offers with texts that engage the customers will help you to get repeat business and turn customers into loyal diners.

Ready to implement a texting program for your restaurant? Try ClubTexting for free to start taking advantage of this powerful marketing channel.

September 30, 2016

Scare Up Some Customers This Halloween With SMS Marketing

Halloween is always a fun time of year where people young and old alike enjoy dressing up and consuming copious amounts of sugar. It is the perfect time for businesses to run promotions or host events. SMS marketing provides the perfect medium for taking advantage of this holiday to connect with customers and drive new business. If you are unsure what type of messages to send out, try one of the following Halloween-themed texts.

Halloween Party RSVP


Make it easy to RSVP to your party with texting.

If your business celebrates Halloween in style every year with a monster-size bash, then leverage your guests to improve your SMS marketing campaign. Ask those who register for your party to sign up for your texting program. On the invitations and flyers, use texting as the call to action. When people want more information, they will text a number and get a response.

It is also possible to use your texting program as a way to get people to RSVP for the party. They simply have to text a keyword and you know they are coming. As a bonus, you get their number to use in various SMS marketing campaigns to get them to patronize your company. Remind your followers about the event via text the day before to improve attendance.

What's Your Favorite Scary Movie?

A holiday like Halloween is perfect for engaging audiences with themed messages, including polls. Ask them to name their favorite scary movie or their favorite monster. There are numerous other holiday-themed polls you can run, including their favorite candy, whether they trick-or-treat, if they like haunted houses, and more.

To run the poll, create a few keywords that match answers to a specific question. Then, text the question and the answers and let your subscribers text the keyword that corresponds to their answer. For example, text "Who scares you the most? Text Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman or Other to vote." For additional engagement, promote the polls in your store, social media posts and digital marketing properties. Engagement increases brand loyalty, which ultimately helps your bottom line.

Don't Get Tricked in This Hunt For Treats

Halloween is known for its candy and treats. Adults and kids love any excuse to indulge. Run a contest with your SMS marketing program to get people involved and engaged with your company. This can be as complex as a scavenger hunt or month-long trivia game. Alternatively, it can simply be a text-to-win contest. Offer a special Halloween-themed grand prize. For additional motivation to play, offer participants some benefit for entering, such as a discount on your products or services.

Exclusive Sale on Costumes, Candy and/or Decorations

There are so many Halloween goodies that people wish to buy, including costumes, candy, and decorations for their houses. More than 157 million Americans celebrate the holiday in some way. The cost can easily add up, with the average person expecting to spend $74 on the holiday. To stay within this budget, many people search for ways to save. Run an exclusive sale through your SMS marketing program that lowers prices on all your Halloween goodies. This will not only drive your business during the holiday, but you will also have more people sign up to your texting program. With regular texting and future offers and deals, you will have more chances to convert them to customers down the line.

Dress Up For a Discount


Provide discounts to customers who come in wearing their costumes.

Encourage your customers to dress up and visit your store to help extend the Halloween fun. Send a text to your subscribers that offers something for free or a huge discount to those who come in on a certain day wearing their costume and showing the text. Many people already have their costumes, so they will easily be able to take advantage of such a sale. This also increases customer engagement for enhanced business opportunities.

There are many ways to take advantage of SMS marketing to drive business this Halloween. Plus, once you have a strong campaign going, it is possible to continue to leverage this beneficial medium to continue to drive business and engage with your customers all year long.

Ready to get your Halloween campaign up and running? Try ClubTexting for free to get started.