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31 posts categorized "Retail"

October 20, 2014

How the Right Text Service Can Simplify Your Marketing Strategy

Everyone's glued to their phones these days, and that fact can make your business money. Here's why:

Texts are proven to be the fastest way to get in front of your prospects and customers, since most messages are read within 10 minutes of being received. Now, texting isn't your only marketing option of course, so let's talk through some of the other most common outreach options available:

Three Familiar Ways to Remind Customers You Exist


"Nice to meet you... remember me?"

There's many, many options for reaching out to your prospects and customers these days, and they each have their pros and cons. But do keep in mind that depending on what you're selling, a multi-pronged approach may provide the best results, rather than depending on just one contact method.

Some well known options available to you:

Call Me, Maybe?

Cold calling has worked, and continues to work, to create new customers. But like many things, it's not as easy as it used to be, and you need to be prepared to put in a lot of time working the list and dealing with (often very rude) rejections.

In a nutshell: Cold calling is a tried and true, but slow and expensive way to build a business. Plus it requires a skin as thick as a rhino's.

However, if you're working from a list of warm prospects, or even better calling your customer list, the entire experience can be radically different. In this instance you may find they're delighted to hear from you and make the time to talk to you at length, for the simple reason that by now they're pretty sure you can help them.

And depending on the type of business you're in, actually speaking to your prospects and your customers may be vital for maintaining, and developing, the relationship. You're unlikely to secure a multi-million dollar contract without speaking to your customer, of course!

Snail Mail Gets There in the End

Sometimes getting something physical into the hands of your prospects or customers can really help you stand out from the crowd. Of course whatever you send out will have a lot of competition in the mailbox so don't rest on your laurels just yet. But a few tips for helping your mail get opened, and read, include:

 

    • Hand writing the address.

 

    • Using an actual stamp.

 

    • Sending it in a way that requires a signature. Even potentially using a courier service like Federal Express.

 


Direct mail is generally not a fast nor inexpensive way to contact prospects or customers, but depending how valuable they are to you, getting in front of them in this way may be what it takes to capture their attention, and the sale.

Email Isn't Dead Quite Yet

Email continues to be a fast and cheap way to send out your message. The problem though is that it's less effective than it used to be. Often your email simply gets ignored, or filed away to be read later. Or worst case scenario your email ends up automatically mislabeled and banished to the spam folder.

Of course this is assuming you actually have permission to send the email, by having an existing relationship with the sender in some way, and making it easy for them to unsubscribe. On the other hand, unsolicited email can potentially cause real problems for you (depending how many people you email), and is often best avoided.

All this said, building and regularly contacting the email list you've built of prospects and customers is very worthwhile, but it's important you don't expect miracles from it. The open, read, and response rates used to be incredible, but no longer. These days, if you're looking for almost instant open and read rates, it comes down to...

Nobody Can Resist a Text Message


"Can't... resist... reading... immediately..."

Texts get read and opened almost instantly. Using a texting service to build, manage, and broadcast to your list makes the whole process almost effortless and ensures you stay within the letter of the law.

So it's strongly recommended you get your prospects and customers to give you their mobile number, and their permission for you to stay in touch. Or if you're looking to build your list from people you've had no contact with yet, advertise a way for them to opt-in to your list by giving them something in return. For example:

Text Offer12 to 123456 to get daily discounts direct to your phone!

Texting continues to remain a great way to get your message out almost instantly, and for some offers it may be all you need to do. But, contacting your prospects multiple times, and in multiple ways, may really be required to get the response you're looking for. This is especially true if what you're offering has a complicated sales process (a service for example), a high price point, or both.

And special offers, especially time-limited offers, consistently work fantastically to drive response. But just contacting your list when you want something from them may use up their good will. Keeping your list warm by getting in touch regularly with freebies, news, or other things that may be of value to them can really help increase your response rate when you do want your list to respond.

So whether you're selling low priced items to consumers, or high price-point services to businesses, making texting an ongoing marketing channel for your business can help drive fast response, increase brand awareness in your market, and grow sales.


This article was written by Louis Allport, an experienced marketer who enjoys sharing his experience with other businesses. He lives in the UK and has been marketing and publishing online for over 15 years.

September 16, 2014

The iPhone 6 is Flying off Shelves Before it Hits Them

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This week, Bloomberg reported that pre-orders for the new iPhone 6 topped 4 million within 24 hours of going on sale. Demand is outstripping supply, as the device looks set to be Apple’s biggest smartphone yet – in more ways than one.

The backlog in pre-sales means customers won’t receive their handsets until next month, weeks after they officially go on sale. However, Apple insists devices will be available in store as of September 19; they encouraged customers to arrive early to avoid disappointment. 

This level of excitement is, of course, nothing new when it comes to the iPhone, but there’s an extra frisson thanks to the new, bigger size; the standard version comes with a 4.7 inch display, while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5 inch display (previous iterations of the iPhone have a 4 inch screen). With the proliferation of larger mobile devices like tablets, and Android’s innovation in the larger screen market, consumer demand for bigger devices is high. This surely counts as one of the least predictable trends in mobile devices, where historically the mantra was ‘smaller=better’ – and Apple expect to have record quarters for the next couple of years just for meeting this demand.

So why the move towards larger screens? It’s partly down to improvements in consistently fast data streaming, which has prompted greater demand among mobile consumers for rich content on the move. In tandem with this, social media leaders like Facebook and Twitter are moving towards in-feed promos and video content.

Size isn’t everything, of course. The iPhone 6 is bigger, sure, but it also promises to be better, with a more powerful operating system and crucial hardware additions like Near Field Communication (NFC) for improved ‘tap in’ capabilities. 

There’s also the much-trumpeted HealthKit, which sees Apple jumping on the Quantified Self bandwagon. The software allows users to monitor vital signs and track fitness, and represents Apple’s first major foray into this burgeoning market.

One more thing. Remember the classic glowing Apple logo on the back of Macbooks? Rumor has it that the new phone will carry this retro feature, which will make the nostalgia freaks almost as happy as the techheads when they all finally get their mitts on the iPhone 6.

September 04, 2014

Getting the Most Out of Mobile Coupons

Traditional paper coupons were long favored by businesses, who hoped that their customers would put them to use and drive up sales. The cold reality is that almost 99% of paper coupons are never redeemed. But mobile coupons? They're changing everything.

Mobile coupon users are expected to grow to 53.2 million this year, and with a redemption rate of 10%, you can't afford to ignore the new generation of discount fans. If your business is ready to take their mobile marketing to a new level, here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of mobile coupons.


Send mobile coupons to your customers at the most opportune times and increase sales.

What are Mobile Coupons?

Just to be clear, a mobile coupon is a digital message that is received by a customer through their mobile phone or similar device. By showing the coupon received on their screen, the customer can get a discount when purchasing a product or service. Text messaging is still a very personal form of communicating, which is why over 99% of all messages are opened.

When a customer opts in to your text message database, you are able to reach them with promotional deals at anytime, anywhere. There is no other type of marketing solution that can offer this kind of guarantee and effectiveness.


With an almost 99% open rate, you are almost guaranteed that your customers will open your message.

Ways You Can Use Mobile Coupons

A mobile coupon can encompass a wide range of uses, and there is plenty of room for you to get creative in the process. Most mobile coupon deals cover the traditional types of discounts such as BOGO, percentage or dollar amount off, giveaway entries, and last-minute discounts. Here are a few scenarios where mobile coupons might come into play for your business.

  • You are a new business, or beginning a mobile marketing campaign, and you have no database of customers or prospective customers. You begin advertising a substantial discount on one of your most popular products that customers can receive by texting in a special keyword. You can then take their details in exchange for the coupon, building your database quickly as a result.


  • You own an entertainment business and want to begin branching out to a new demographic of customer. Advertising discounts in areas that the intended demographic frequents or through social media advertising, you can reach those customers and offer free entry or exclusive invites that get them and their friends through the door.


  • Your business already has a substantial database of customers but you are looking to increase sales. By looking at the past purchases of previous customers, you send out coupons for the same or a related product to something they have bought before. Sales increase and customers keep returning.




Mobile coupons couldn't be easier; customers simply show their coupon for a discount.

Mobile Coupons Make Customers Happier

Research has shown that the happiness of customers is directly affected when they receive mobile coupons. During a study with Dr. Paul J. Zak, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, women who were given a coupon off their online grocery shopping bill had significantly higher levels of oxytocin, a decreased level of stress and were 11% happier than those who did not receive a coupon. Take that how you will, but if a mobile coupon can make your customers happier, that will affect their perception of your business as well.

Mobile coupons can help increase your sales, get more people through the door, and create happier and more devoted customers. What have you got to lose?


Jessica Galbraith is a text message lover and full-time writer.

 

May 31, 2014

Dean & Grace Launch Text Ordering for Kids Clothes

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Clothes shopping for kids can be a perilous experience. They either don’t like anything you see, or they don’t want to go in the first place. Dragging the little ones round a mall on a Saturday afternoon can seem like a thankless task that you still end up with a huge bill for. 

Enter Dean & Grace, the boutique kids clothing store that lets you buy threads via text message. The idea is as refreshing and devastatingly simple. The company texts pictures of clothes to parents who have opted in to their SMS list. The image includes a shot of the outfit, a brief description and the size and pricing information. Customers simply reply to the message to place an order. Sign up is free, and can be done via the website, or by texting ‘Joindg’ to 76000.

On signing up, parents select the age, size and gender of their child so they only receive relevant texts. As with any reputable boutique store, supplies are limited – the first respondents get priority on purchasing the items they want. 

The number of texts your receive will vary according to inventory, as well as the size and gender details you submit. Sign up for one child and you’ll get around one text per week (opting out is a simple matter of texting “STOP” at any time).

And the clothes are cool enough even for the most jaded tween, with plenty of cute styles going on, enough to satisfy diverse tastes. In addition to carrying boutique lines from across the globe, Dean & Grace carry classic kids brands including Viva La Fete, Silly Goose, Masala Baby, Toobydoo, Trish Scully and Doodlepants. Sizes range from newborn to size 7. If you want a specific item, you just respond with the keyword “want’ to place a bid”. Shipping is free.

Demand is so high, many customers have been placed on a waitlist, so it’s important to get in early if you want a piece of the action. If you do end up on the waitlist, Dean & Grace will notify you by SMS as soon as a spot becomes available.

Shopping via text message is a thoroughly 21st Century experience. So why not give it a whirl?

 

 

May 08, 2014

Six of the Best: Digital Wallets

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At the end of last year, MobileMarketingWatch predicted 2014 would see $8 billion spent on mobile advertising. According to their prediction, one of the key drivers of this expanding market would be the rise of the ‘digital wallet’.

In an age of widespread smartphone ownership, mobile transactions are the logical continuation of an increasingly cashless society. Convenient, secure and easily tracked, digital payments are now possible via a number of apps:

Google Wallet

Probably the best known digital wallet, Google’s app lets you pay for goods and services by waving or tapping your smartphone across a checkout reader which identifies credit card information linked to your Google account. Right now, it only works in the US with selected merchants, but more companies are adding the technology all the time. It even works with Google Glass

Apple’s Passbook

Apple’s take on the digital wallet was introduced to iOS 6. It relies on scanning 2D barcodes that help you manage anything from movie tickets to loyalty cards and coupons. Again, only a few merchants are accepting this form of transaction right now, and it’s not (yet) possible to sync it with your credit card, but as a convenient way of managing store accounts, Passbook takes some beating.

Square Wallet

The lesser known Square Wallet is available on both iOS and Android. The app links your credit card details to a fairly limited directory of merchants, and uses geo-location technology to charge you when you’re in store. A neat feature is the potential for purchasing in-store gift vouchers that can be sent to other Square Wallet users.

Chirpify

Chirpify turns your social media apps into payment systems using PayPal. It creates listings enabling you to sell items or start a fundraising project on Instagram or Twitter, all managed from a Chirpify dashboard.

Bump Pay

Just like the Bump app that lets you share photos between smartphones, Bump Pay is a free iPhone app that does exactly what it says on the tin: transfers (or ‘bumps’) money from one phone to another using a PayPal account.

Isis

Taking digital payments full circle, Isis comes with its very own cashcard, preloaded with $10. Compatible with NFC-enabled Androids, it lets you manage loyalty cards and redeem offers from selected merchants. Isis is also PIN-protected, and can be remotely frozen if your phone is stolen – perfect for security conscious digital wallet lovers.

 

April 24, 2014

Which Code to Choose: The Short Answer

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One of the first decisions to make when developing a text marketing campaign is whether to use short codes or long codes. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, largely dependent on what type of business you have.

Long codes are attractive to small businesses with limited marketing budgets. Easy and affordable to set up, long codes allow for multiple messages to be sent internationally from one number. For companies outside the United States who need to watch every penny, the long code is an understandably appealing option.

Trouble is, this ease of use can spell disaster when used for commercial purposes. Using long codes over a U.S. carrier network is actually illegal, and organizations that send unsolicited messages to consumers violate the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act). A number of companies are currently facing litigation for such violations.

Legal ramifications notwithstanding, the marketing benefits of long codes are questionable. For one thing, they don’t support videos or pictures and there are severe restrictions on the number of messages that can be sent per second. The bottom line is, long codes are intended for communication between individuals, not businesses and consumers.

Which brings us to short codes. Yes, they can take weeks to be vetted, and they are undoubtedly expensive (with monthly costs averaging around $500), but that’s the price of an effective, legitimate service. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) have implemented rules to protect consumers, namely an obligation to gain permission from each recipient before sending a text message.

Instead of viewing this regulation as inconvenient red tape, look at it from the consumer’s point of view – they don’t want to be hassled with unsolicited commercial messages. Why do something that alienates people from your business? Gaining explicit permission will vastly improve your relationship with users – not to mention keeping you within the bounds of the law!

From a purely marketing perspective, short codes are more memorable, and allow you to send thousands of messages in a second. They can also be used for handling payment services, which will save your business resources in the long run.

Customers prefer them. So do law courts. So do commercial enterprises with an eye for the long-term strategy. With few exceptions, the legitimate, accountable business uses short codes.

 

April 17, 2014

Six of the Best: Mobile Marketing Campaigns

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When devising a text marketing strategy, it makes sense to study successful campaigns pulled off by other companies. Not every tactic will be appropriate for your industry or business, but at least you’ll get an understanding of what works. Let’s take a rundown of our favorite SMS and mobile campaigns from recent years…

McDonalds

The fast food behemoth recently launched a ‘Merry Xmas in the Restaurant’ sweepstakes in Italian outlets. Customers could enter the competition while in a restaurant, and stood to win instant prizes. A classic use of short codes printed on packaging, prizes ranged from free mobile content to free burgers. Within five weeks, a million and a half people had participated in the event.

Heineken

In 2011, Heineken introduced a ‘dual screen’ app that allowed fans to interact during soccer games. Predicting outcomes of set pieces and scorelines, trivia questions about teams - StarPlayer awarded points for them all. They even skirted the tricky issue of fans simply looking up trivia answers online by awarding more points for fast answers. The competitive element of the app ensured it was shared across social media, and Heineken gained huge exposure as a result.

Planet Hollywood

The Las Vegas hotel and casino ran an SMS campaign offering prizes to people who opted in to receive messages and upgraded to an A-List Player’s Club  membership. Prizes included free game credits on the floor. The campaign increased membership by 13%.

Kraft

The food company offered new mobile signups a free sample of instant coffee. The campaign resulted in 400,000 requests for samples, and more than 80,000 mobile message opt-in offers.

Adidas

When Adidas launched their Adizero F50 soccer boots, they had all the components of a winning marketing campaign. Top Argentine footballer Lionel Messi was the face of the promotion, and Penn Station in NYC was to form the centerpiece of a dramatic light show. In order to spread the word, Adidas targeted all mobile users within a 3-mile radius of Penn Station during the run-up to the light show. Their ad linked to a promo video describing the event’s location and time. By using an element of mystery, a free show and a famous face, Adidas attracted thousands of spectators to Penn Station.

Arby’s

In 2012, Arby’s used SMS as part of a campaign to raise awareness about global childhood hunger. They partnered with the ‘No Kid Hungry’ campaign, and encouraged users to opt in to their mobile contact list – all while promoting a good cause.

Text marketing really works for these huge brands – and it can work for you too. Get inspired by these success stories, and start your SMS marketing campaign now!

April 01, 2014

What’s So Great About SMS Marketing?

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In mobile circles, it’s well known that more than nine out of ten text messages are opened and read within minutes of receipt. Numerous studies have corroborated this impressive claim, and yet a number of businesses are still to catch on to the potential benefits of a mobile campaign.

The reasons for this vary. In some cases, businesses simply don’t want to try anything new, whether out of fear or corporate apathy. As in life, people tend to stick to what they know – especially if they are older and more set in their ways.

And yet, there are so many advantages to mobile marketing – when compared with other forms of advertising – that it to ignore it could be putting the future health of your company in serious danger. Here are five reasons mobile should be an essential, central part of your overall a strategy:

  1. It’s fast. A text message can be created, delivered, and read much faster than any other form of marketing. Look at the best Twitter and text campaigns to find out how to create engaging content in less than 160 characters, and remember, when it comes to delivering a punchy, memorable brand message, brevity and levity are your friends. Text has both.
  2. It’s cheap. For a small business, the affordability of SMS is one of the chief appeals. Compared with billboards or radio and television advertising, a text campaign gives you a big reach at a fraction of the cost. 
  3. It’s trackable. Keeping an eye on the success of your campaigns will help you figure out where to focus future budgets. With texting, it’s a whole lot easier to track metrics and create a detailed analysis of each campaign’s performance.
  4. It’s direct. Emails are checked once or twice a day at most, and the majority of commercial missives are filtered in one way or another. Text, on the other hand, is a frequently-checked medium, with many users looking at a message as soon as it has arrived.
  5. It’s interactive. Engaging customers is so easy with SMS. Surveys, polls and questionnaires can be sent to thousands of people at the touch of a button. Not only will texting encourage people to visit your social media pages and website, it can provide your business with crucial data on personal preferences and spending habits.

March 23, 2014

Three of the Most Successful Mobile Marketing Campaigns From Around the World

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If you’re embarking on a new mobile strategy for 2014, it pays to look around at success stories from the world of mobile marketing to see how it’s done. Here, we take a look at three of the most successful mobile marketing campaigns ever conducted!

American Express, Foursquare and Austin,TX

In the summer of 2010, Foursquare and American Express teamed up to devise a mobile marketing strategy that would promote customer loyalty for local businesses. The results were launched in Austin during the Spring of 2011. Some 60 local businesses offered Foursquare users a ‘spend $5, save $5’ reciprocal deal – provided they completed the transaction using an AmEx card. This ‘Loyalty Special’ sent push notifications to participants, informing them that they had successfully redeemed the offer. The beauty of this campaign was the seamlessness of the user experience: the special offer happened at exactly the same time as the sale, without the need for further action, effectively closing the loop between consumers’ online and offline behavior.

Aer Lingus

Irish airline Aer Lingus used to rely solely on emails to inform passengers of any flight delays or cancellations. This was far from perfect, only reaching around 10% of passengers. The carrier’s solution? SMS. Within a month of implementing an SMS communication program, Aer Lingus successfully informed 75% of passengers of a problem with a flight, and have since largely avoided shelling out compensation and fielding tricky complaints. This is a classic example of an indirect mobile marketing solution that worked its magic by improving customer service. Word-of-mouth did the rest.

Orange

A great example of a long-running mobile marketing strategy that’s had consistently high results is the partnership between UK cinemas and communications company Orange. Launched in 2003, ‘Orange Wednesdays’ offers 2-for-1 movie tickets to all customers, every single Wednesday. According to research conducted in 2010, Orange had issued 23.5 million freebies to date. Many customers took advantage of the scheme multiple times, and Orange claims to have generated another three million annual ticket sales for movie theaters. The campaign has been an undisputed success, taking Wednesday attendance figures from the lowest to the highest in a few short years.

So take a leaf out of some of these books when you come to devise a mobile strategy. If you offer something of value, get it to the right audience, and improve your customer service using text message technology, there’s not limit to what you can achieve.

February 20, 2014

How to Make Geo-Targeting Work for You

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Geo-targeting or location-based marketing has fast become one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of retailers. This exciting new technology allows businesses to engage with consumers as soon as they – or to be more precise, their smartphone - enters a geo-fenced area close to a store or restaurant.

In the short time it has been available geo-targeting has proved immensely successful, with 58% of major brands employing some version of geo-location strategies during the first quarter of 2013.

Joe Public loves geo-targeting because it sends them relevant in-store offers only when they can actually use them. Businesses are finding increasingly sophisticated ways to use the technology. Some have begun using micro location-based techniques, whereby customers download an app to receive personalized offers as soon as they set foot in the store.

The benefits are patently obvious, and yet not all businesses suitable for geo-targeting have taken advantage. The technology is complex, and beyond the capacity of many small businesses. But there are a variety of ways to use geo-targeting, some of which are easier to implement than others.

One of the most attractive methods to marketers who don’t want to deal with privacy and legal issues is IP targeting, which identifies users based solely on IP address. There is no opt-in required, since the individual is not personally targeted, just the ISP infrastructure of which they are a part. Similarly, cookies provide a broad brush stroke version of geo-location, though they are notoriously inaccurate, being logged in one location before the user moves somewhere else. WiFi triangulation works in the same way, locating users MAC addresses and nearby wireless hotspots.

All of these geo-targeting methodologies have their perks, chief among them the fact that businesses don’t need to seek consent from their audience. To really get the most out of geo-targeting, however, you need to choose a more effective, precise and, yes, consent-based strategy. Location-as-a-service (LaaS) is a cloud based solution, triangulating users locations using mobile phone towers. Laas requires recipients to opt in, as do location-based proximity networks, which provide one of the most accurate forms of geo-targeting there is, capable of locating users within 200-900 feet of the point of sale. Location-based proximity networks are usually favored by malls and large department stores.

For the average retailer, GPS-powered geo-targeting is by far the best option, providing precision data to within a few feet of the mobile device. In most cases, persuading customers to opt-in to receive location-based offers and discounts via GPS is going to generate the biggest ROI. The only tricky part is convincing customers of the usefulness of the technology, whilst reassuring them that their data will not be used for any other purpose.