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February 05, 2016

Expert Interview Series: Natascha Thomson About Mass Text Messaging Dos and Don'ts



Are you trying to market your brand to a mass audience?

What strategies have you tried? Did you know that you can send targeted messages via text - custom tailored for the person you're trying to reach?

Natascha Thomson is the CEO of MarketingXLerator, a marketing consultancy with a focus on social media. She consults with small and large clients including SAP, Polycom, SLAP Company, LookingGlass and HR Strategies.

She recently caught up with us to share her insight on the dos and don'ts of mass texting. Read on:

Define mass texting.

Mass texting simply means that a text message is sent by one entity to a group comprised of multiple individuals. The word "mass" in commercial use generally implies at least hundreds if not thousands of recipients. It also often carries a negative connotation as it conjures up the image of spam.

But spam messages are not defined by the size of the list of recipients but by a lack of targeting of the message to the individual recipient. Herein lies the challenge of mass anything: the message either has to be equally relevant to all recipients (homogenous audience) or individually customizable. Both are possible.

What are some dos for mass texting?

1. Know your audience. Messages need to be relevant and sent at the appropriate time(s) and frequency. Otherwise it's just spam.

2. Earn and nurture your audience's trust. Especially on mobile devices, consumers feel that you are making a very personal "connection" with them in their "real" ad hoc lives. Irrelevant messages make you seem like an intruder and recipients will quickly opt out.

3. ALWAYS have a Call-To-Action (CTA). Your text message has to make it crystal clear what's in it for the recipient. A typical CTA is to ask the recipient to send a keyword to opt in to your contact list. For in-store offers, the CTA could be "show this text for a discount."

4. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). This is the best strategy. In the brevity of 160 characters, use crisp, clear and unambiguous language and a simple CTA.

5. Measure and fine-tune. Define metrics that allow you to track your progress and fine-tune your texting and integrated marketing campaigns. Think big picture.

What are the "don'ts" for mass texting?

1. Be relevant. NEVER, and I mean NEVER, send a text message to somebody who is not clearly in your target audience for the message. Just because they opted in does not entitle you to send them irrelevant information.

2. Don't break the law. FCC rules protect consumers under the TCP and CAN-SPAM Acts. Commercial text messages can only be sent to a mobile device if the user has opted in, IN WRITING.

3. Never send anonymous messages. Make it clear in the message signature who you are and how to opt out.

4. Avoid abbreviations or lingo if you are not 100 percent sure your audience is familiar with them. Otherwise you might create confusion and frustration.

5. Don't be careless with your list. Protecting your clients' data and privacy needs to be your key concern. In the age of cyber crimes, hackers will exploit any security weakness, which can cost you customers, your reputation and revenue.

How can businesses use mass texts to their benefit?

Text messaging is just one avenue to reach a target audience, don't let it be your only one. Text messaging should be part of an integrated marketing strategy that also includes traditional online and offline channels like email and events, as well as social media.

Which integrated marketing strategy is right for you is strongly dependent on your objectives, your target audience, and your resources. Know your target audience intimately, including where and when they like to receive information and in what formats. The more relevant you can make your message, the bigger your chances for conversion and subsequent ROI.

Follow Natascha Thomson on Twitter.

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January 15, 2016

Expert Interview Series: Matt Sicotte About Creating a Mobile Website for Your Group, Club, or Organization



It's more critical than ever these days to have a mobile-friendly site as a majority of the population uses mobile devices to browse the internet rather than desktops or laptops, says Matt Sicotte, CEO of SimpleMobileSites.com.

We recently checked in with Matt to learn how organizations can make their sites more mobile friendly. Here's what he had to say:

What are the major differences between mobile and traditional websites?

The major differences are that a mobile website utilizes the functionality of the mobile device, such as "tap to call," "tap to text," "tap to map," as well as easier ways to make purchases with payment processing integration for certain banks and credit card companies.

How can organizations make their sites mobile friendly? What are some best practices?

There are many tools (software platforms) that will take an existing traditional website and create a mobile-friendly version that will redirect a mobile user, too, when viewed on a mobile device.

Make sure that when creating a mobile-friendly version of your website, you check to see that it works on most major mobile devices, as well as that it integrates seamlessly with the functionality of those devices, such as maps, SMS, messaging, payments and calling.

What are the most common mistakes or oversights you observe on supposedly mobile-friendly sites?

1. Font sizing (difficult to read on a small screen)

2. The content from the traditional website is removed from the mobile version (lack of continuity between websites)

3. Functionality with the mobile device

4. Placement of crucial info, such as contact, location(s), hours of operation near the top of the mobile-friendly website on all pages

What are some of your biggest pet peeves when visiting a website via a mobile device?

That the most important information for a mobile user is NOT easily available, such as contact info, location(s), hours of operation. I suggest this info be near the top of the mobile-friendly version and available on all the pages of the website.

What are some of your favorite tools for making a site be more mobile-friendly?

DudaMobile has some really cools tools to help make an existing website mobile.

What brands or groups have been especially innovative on their mobile sites? What can we learn from them?

  • Panago.com has one of the most innovative and easiest ways to order food to be delivered to your door via your mobile device.

 

  • Monoprice.com and Vadara.ca utilize the power of easily being able to find contact info on their mobile-friendly website

 

  • Groupon.com makes it easy to browse and purchase via their mobile-friendly website.



Connect with SimpleMobileSites on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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January 08, 2016

When to Use Emojis in Your Text Message Marketing Campaign

What started out as simple combinations of punctuation marks has evolved into an entirely new language commonly known as emojis. While it may take some users a little longer before they can take messages with smileys and hand gesture icons seriously, there's no arguing that emojis are a method of communication that's here to stay.

When it comes to using emojis in business correspondence or text message marketing campaigns, there's a fine line between appearing as a sixth grader snickering behind a smart phone and a smart and trendy businessperson sharing a fun message. Here are some things to keep in mind if you're thinking of using emojis in your text message marketing efforts, to be sure you send the right message.


Use the right emojis for your text message marketing campaign.

Keep the Campaign Light

Emojis are cartoons by nature and work best if you remember to keep your message light and fun. If you really have to dig deep to find an appropriate emoji for your campaign, it's possible that your message is just too serious a topic for emojis. Party: yes. Funeral: definitely not. If you can't find an appropriate emoji to use in your text message marketing campaign, save them for another, more lively and ubeat marketing effort.

Avoid Using Too Many Emoji

If you've ever received a message full of emojis, you're likely familiar with how difficult it can be to decipher the message. Using too many emojis or sending messages that are only emojis can leave your recipients confused and wondering if a middle schooler has hacked your account. You want your message to be fun and hip, but you don't want your readers giving up and deleting it because they can't figure out what 25 slices of pizza and 15 pandas should mean.


Don't leave your customers confused.

Keep Messages Brief

Using emojis can help to keep your messages brief and engaging. For instance, if you plan to invite your guests to a sports-themed party at your pub, you can choose to share a brief message, plus the appropriate emojis related to sports and partying. This can help you stay within the 160 character limit for text messages, while keeping things fun and light -- the kind of feelings you want to convey if you're planning a party.

Send a Clear Message

It's important when considering emojis for your text message marketing campaign that you use the appropriate ones to convey clear messages. This might take some research if you're experimenting beyond the party hat and happy faced smiley but will be worth it when you don't have to answer replies asking what exactly your intention was when you sent the eggplant emoji. If there's a chance that your message might be misunderstood or taken the wrong way, you might want to reconsider whether you absolutely need to include an emoji in your text.

Whether or not you choose to use emojis in your marketing efforts depends upon the type of message you want to send to your customers. But one thing is for sure: emojis or not, text message marketing can help your business in a variety of ways. Are you ready to get started with your first campaign? Try ClubTexting for free today!

 

December 19, 2015

The Top 5 Ways to Use Group Texting to Boost Holiday Business

The holidays are just around the corner, and for many businesses, this time period represents the bulk of their sales for the entire year. The highest average monthly retail sales tend to be in November and December as people hit the holiday sales and buy presents. Having a good holiday season is important for the health of your business. By using group texting, you can engage with your potential customers and boost your holiday business.


Santa's not the only one who can send out holiday greetings and gifts through text.

Text to Win Contests

One way to get into the holiday spirit and engage your customers is to run a holiday-themed text to win contest. This type of contest is simple to run and easy for your customers to enter. If you offer an attractive grand prize or something small just for entering, such as a special coupon, then people will be more likely to participate and subscribe to your SMS marketing list for future campaigns. Once they have the coupon, they will be motivated to shop for gifts in your store or business.

Special Sales

Sales and discounts drive the holiday shopping, which is why Black Friday deals start earlier and earlier every year. You can take advantage of people's desire to save big in the holiday season by sending out special sales that are exclusive to your text message subscribers. In the weeks leading up to the holiday shopping period, it is beneficial to promote your group texting program, promising special exclusive sales and deals for subscribers.

Last Minute Discounts

Group texting is an immediate marketing channel. Most people open their texts within just a few minutes of receipt, which makes it the perfect forum for sending out last minute discounts and flash sales. It is best to send out your message a few hours before the sale begins to ensure people have time to prepare. The more limited-time the offer, the more motivated people will be to take action right away.

After Christmas Sales

The holiday season does not have to end once Christmas passes. Many smart shoppers wait for the after Christmas sales to do their shopping to take advantage of better deals. With group texting, you can promote your after Christmas sales and boost business by offering an exclusive coupon.

Create a Marketing CTA Related to Your Texting Program


When your team develops your holiday marketing flyers, incorporate a text CTA.

One way to extend the reach of your holiday marketing efforts is to include information about your group texting program in your call to action on your marketing collateral. A short CTA easily fits on posters, flyers, television ads, print ads, and more, because you simply need to include a keyword and short code. Not only will this help you attract more business around the holidays, it will also help to grow your mobile subscriber list.

There are many other ways to incorporate group texting into your holiday marketing strategy. A creative campaign can help you get the attention of last-minute shoppers and boost your business during this important season. Ready to run your holiday campaign? Try ClubTexting for free today!

December 04, 2015

Why Integrating your Text Message and Social Media Marketing Makes Sense

Do your social media followers know that you're using text messaging to engage with customers? If not, it is time to tell them! Your social media followers already have a positive opinion of your company and want to remain in contact. That makes them the perfect target audience for your text marketing campaign. Integrating your social media and SMS marketing campaigns provides you many benefits, helping to capitalize on the lucrative advantages of both mediums.

Target an Attentive Audience


Your followers and subscribers already have a positive relationship with you.

Social media followers and text message subscribers are attentive audiences for your marketing efforts. They have already indicated an interest in your business. They generally have a positive feeling toward your company and plan to visit it in the future. This means they may also be willing to sign up to communicate with you in another way, whether that is email newsletters, social media following, or text message marketing. You can promote your text message program to your social media followers and vice versa to expand the reach of both efforts.

Increase Customer Engagement

Having a large number of followers on social media may seem like the ideal goal, but the real prize is having a significant amount of engaged followers. These are the people that interact with your posts -- commenting, liking, or sharing with their followers. You may have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of followers, but if they do not engage with your posts, then you have gained little.

You can increase the level of interaction by integrating your social media and text marketing campaigns. For instance, you can run a text to win competition, asking your followers to text a particular keyword for the chance to win. Alternatively, you can use your text marketing list to promote your social media campaigns and get people to actively engage online. For example, you can text your subscribers and ask them to like and share a post for a chance to win something.

Similar but Different Messages


Your social media and text message offers should be unique to the particular medium.

Integrating your social media and text marketing campaigns helps you to grow your reach and engage with customers. However, it is important that you still maintain the two channels as unique marketing forums. In order to benefit from both, your customers must want to sign up for both. This means that they need to see the value in following you on social media and signing up to receive text messages.

You can create unique value by sending similar but different messages through the various channels. It is also helpful to offer different categories of messages across the different channels. For example, you could reserve your mobile program for offers and your social media accounts for news or tips. This provides you with extra space to reach the same people without over-saturating them with messages from one source.

A strong marketing plan integrates multiple marketing channels so that you benefit from their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. If you haven't integrated your mobile program with your social media, it may be time to start. Contact us today to get started!

December 02, 2015

The Top 5 Reasons to Add Texting to Your Customer Service Program

Good customer service is vital to your company's success. People shop with their emotions, and poor customer service is one of the top reasons they choose to go to another business. There are many different tools you can use to build a strong customer service program. One cost-effective option is to use a texting service to improve communication with your customers. Some companies hesitate to incorporate texting into their customer service program, but they are missing out on the following benefits.

It Is The Popular Option For Customer Service


Many customers would rather text than speak to an agent on the phone.

Recent data shows that a large portion of customers, 64 percent, would rather use text messages than make a call to communicate customer service issues. That percentage increases to 77 percent for those between the ages of 18 and 34. By offering a communication channel that people want, you already set yourself up for a more favorable customer service experience, which in turn results in a more positive feeling towards your company. Your texting service can also serve as a two-way communication channel so that your customer service agents can hold a conversation with a customer.

It is Easily Accessible from Anywhere

The beauty of texting is that customers can communicate wherever they are. If they have an issue with your products or services or need information about a transaction or appointment, they can do so instantaneously. Most people have their phones with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As soon as the thought occurs to them, they can contact you, even if they are in the middle of something. Furthermore, if they do have to wait on a response, they are not tied to a phone or computer. They can go to work, exercise, watch TV, play with their family, or go out with friends without the fear of missing the response.

You Can Set up Auto-Responses

With a texting service, you can easily set up auto-responses to help your customer receive the information they need. Although not all inquiries or other customer service issues can be handled this way, answers to frequently asked questions can be sent via auto-response. This helps you to automatically respond to the issue quickly.

Relieve Customers of Frustrating Wait Times

One of the most frustrating aspects of customer service is waiting on hold. By using a texting service, you can reduce customer wait times. Instead of sitting on hold for several minutes, your customers can text and receive a response almost right away. Even if it takes your agents awhile to be able to contact them with the information, the customers are free to go about their business while waiting. This helps alleviate customer frustration. If customers experience issues but receive excellent customer service, they may be more willing to continue to shop with you.

Customers Read Texts


People actually read their texts.

Another reason that you should incorporate texting to your customer service program is that customers actually read text messages. Text messages have a whopping 98 percent open rate, and the vast majority of texts are opened within mere minutes. This allows you to feel confident that your customers are receiving your messages.

Text messaging may not be the customer service channel of choice for every customer, but a large majority would prefer to have it as an option. By using texts to communicate with your customers, you can improve your customer service program and boost your business. If you're ready to get started, try ClubTexting for free today.

November 14, 2015

Weird and Wonderful Thanksgiving Marketing Ideas

 

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Halloween is done and dusted and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means we’re heading towards the biggest spending bonanza of the year. In theory, it should be easy for retailers to capitalize. Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide opportunities for huge sales spikes, as shoppers start buying gifts for the end-of-year holiday season. 

But Thanksgiving itself - and the days leading up to it - are a comparatively quiet time for businesses. Unless you’re in the food business, there are no guarantees of boosted profits, which means you have to get creative with your mobile marketing tactics. To help you, here are some off-kilter ideas to help you stand out from the crowd:

 

Break a Record

There are so many strange and surreal world records out there, it’s not as hard to break one as you might think. In 2008, National Geographic Kids magazine set the record for the longest chain of shoes ever laid out, with 10,513 items of footwear, heel to toe. Doesn’t sound too hard to beat does it? Or, how about attempting to beat the record for most star jumps in a minute (which currently stands at 61). Get your customers involved with an SMS campaign - if they can beat the record and send you the video proof, offer a prize giveaway. Whatever record you (or your customers) go for, try to keep it industry relevant. 

 

Cranberry Bucket Challenge

The ice bucket challenge is a bit 2014, so why not update it with a turkey twist? Because they come with pre-made brand recognition, such memetic juggernauts are crying out for a decent spin, so why not get your staff and social media followers to tip Cranberry sauce over their heads. Messier and more expensive than ice? Certainly. But wilder and wackier too. A colorful, sticky mess like this could really get you some attention online - you might even approach the scale of the frozen water viral phenomenon that inspired it.

 

Mobile Treasure Hunt

Give your online followers an incentive to sign up for mobile alerts by offering a whole bunch of festive prizes to anyone who can find a Thanksgiving-themed plushie around any major city you can get it to. A stuffed turkey - stuffed, that is, with fabric, not sage and nuts - is the obvious choice. Set a 48 hour time limit for your turkey hunt, and run it all via mobile communications. Send occasional, cryptic text message clues, making them easier as time goes on without anybody finding the turkey.

November 02, 2015

Making Mobile Marketing Tactics More Effective

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Mobile marketing is hot marketing. It’s so hot that companies are springing up daily to jump on the mobile marketing train. Marketing teams from big firms can’t always keep up with the every-changing mobile marketing strategies, which include mobile apps, text messages, SEO content, and other solutions. Specialized marketing agencies are taking over and filling in where in-house departments are lacking. All of this means we’re seeing new, innovative, and fresh approaches to mobile marketing that stem from each marketing agency’s attempts to one-up the other.  

In the ultra-competitive mobile marketing niche, we’re watching strategies and trends in the making, many of which come from a sense of urgency and most from a desire for growth in our changing times. With all of the new mobile marketing tactics, how do we know what really works? What’s the best way to gain new clients and customers via mobile marketing? Is there a best way?

Let’s take a look at some of the facts and data:

 

Social Media 

Social media is the most widely used mobile marketing technique. But, it’s still only used by 14.8 percent of mobile marketers. Clearly, social media marketing is a must in a comprehensive marketing plan, but it should not be the only solution you’re using. 

It’s going to take more than just getting social to reel in new users and customers. Mobile app marketing needs to include other channels like video ads, banner ads, and other marketing strategies. Remember, 85.2 percent of the time social media is not the most effective means of gaining users.

 

Digital Ad Spend 

VentureBeat surveyed 731 mobile developers, with more than a billion users among them, to find out how one can get the best mobile users. It analyzed data and created a chart that broke up mobile marketing tactics into 16 user acquisition channels. Social media marketing, as we’ve stated, came in first in terms of usage at 14.8 percent. Of the 16 channels, 8 can be executed without paid ads.

This means that about 50.8 percent of marketers say non-paid tactics are their most effective when user acquisition is the goal. A bit more than half of the marketing developers queried prefer strategies like ASO, incentivized installs, PR, email, web organic search, in-app tactics, and offer walls. For mobile marketing tactics that are effective, you don’t need to go the paid spend route. Paid can help fuel growth, and it’s desirable as a core focus. But, it’s not the only solution and it should be used along with other mobile marketing solutions.

 

Old-School Mobile Marketing Tactics Are Reemerging

As marketing techniques shift to mobile, we see old tactics reemerge as the new way to gain users. The past repeats itself as marketers strive for balance between what worked brilliantly before and the new-fangled strategies that teams feel compelled to jump on. What is the best tactic? It’s most likely a mix of old and new. What will make the difference in user acquisition from one company to the next? The business that has its marketing strategies down to a science will win. 

September 04, 2015

Give Your Fall Marketing Strategy a Seasonal Twist

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The shifting seasons provide an opportunity to regroup and re-evaluate, and perhaps come up with new marketing ideas to take advantage of changing consumer habits. Fall is especially important, as it represents the final approach to the all-important Yuletide shopping season. To give your mobile marketing strategy a new edge this Fall, consider trying some of these seasonal approaches:

 

1) Saving and Spending

An increasing number of canny shoppers are getting the bulk of their Christmas spending out of the way by Halloween. They’re looking around for early promotions and special offers to help save money. Target those consumers who won’t buy a thing until they see a deal. No need to mention Christmas - you can tie promotions in to Thanksgiving season, the ideal time for ‘Buy One, Get One’ offers.

 

2) Sports

Most of the major sports seasons begin during Fall, providing a good opportunity for marketers to capitalize. Get involved with a local team, either through sponsorship or a more indirect partnership. Remember, SMS polls are great for engaging your user base. Send surveys out to your mobile messaging contacts, asking them who their favorite college and pro teams are. Youth sports are a good avenue for marketing, and are more accessible to small businesses than national teams.

 

3) Focus on the Main Events

The two key holidays in Fall are Halloween and Thanksgiving. Keep an eye out for opportunities to promote your business using the language and themes of these two very different occasions. You might push ‘frighteningly low prices’ around Halloween, and push a message of gratitude to your customers during Thanksgiving. For the latter. why not send out cards to your loyal customers?

 

4) Don’t Forget the Smaller Ones

There are loads of lesser known holidays taking place throughout Fall: Grandparent’s Day (Sep 13th), Columbus Day (Oct 12th), Boss’s Day (Oct 16th), Daylight Savings (Nov 1st), Veterans Day (Nov 11th), First Day of Fall (Sep 23rd), and Small Business Saturday (Nov 29th). If you have an international audience, you can delight them with your knowledge of local holidays and surprise them themed offers. Give some love to Day of the Dead (same day as Halloween) in order to reach Hispanic shoppers, or have a Scottish-themed quiz on social media for St. Andrew’s Day (Nov 30th). Quick, one-day-only deals are easy to promote and won’t tie you into spending too many marketing dollars on something that isn’t working.

 

5) Tis the Season

Fall colors and images are pleasing to the eye. Browns and oranges, falling blossoms, piles of leaves, pumpkins, crafts, candy - the icons associated with the season are instantly recognizable. Keep these concepts in mind when re-vamping your website and social media pages during the run up to Christmas. 

Take advantage of the shift in seasons to shift your focus. Move away from summery themes toward a cozier, more contemplative autumnal vibe, make some timely special offers that put you ahead of the end-of-year commercial curve, and watch your Fall revenues blossom!

August 03, 2015

4 Mobile Marketing Tactics to Avoid

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When something becomes as ubiquitous as mobile marketing, the issue of repetition and predictability rears its head. One of the cornerstone’s of any successful marketing strategy is originality. So how can you avoid using the same old practices as your competitors? To stand out from the crowd, avoid these over-used - or just plain wrong - mobile marketing tactics like the plague:

 

1) Mobile Exclusivity

We love mobile marketing. We think it’s the most important element of a modern marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean it should be used to the exclusion of other approaches. Open your mind beyond getting that coveted home screen app spot and you’re more likely to achieve that very goal. Encourage users to engage with you in other ways first. Social media is a good way to start a conversation and develop your brand image in a way that pays off in the long-term. Once you’ve secured a reputation, it’ll be that much easier to achieve your mobile-centric ambitions.

 

2) Assumption of Intent

Just because someone is walking past a restaurant doesn’t mean they are hungry. Marketers, amped up by the possibilities of geo-targeting technology, often make the mistake of assuming that customers who can be reached should be reached. A good understanding of user intent - based on data, not assumption - will help you provide a better experience.

 

3) Channel-Specific Databases

Often, marketer’s instincts tell them to organize their customer data by the channel through which it was collected. But lumping mobile users or desktop user together doesn’t give you much insight when you consider that most people will use both channels at various times. Instead, create singular customer profiles using data from all channels. 

 

4) Poor Timing

So you’ve got the right message for the right audience. Job done right? Wrong. ‘Choosing your moment’ is one of the most overlooked mobile marketing tactics, but it’s absolutely essential to get it right. This is especially true for brands who serve a wide audience spread across different time zones. Stagger your text messages to arrive at the most convenient - or least inconvenient - moment. Research has shown that early afternoon text messages, sent between 1-3pm, are the most well received. And don’t send them too frequently. In most cases, two notifications per month from any one brand should be a maximum.