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Using the Benchmark API & Autoresponders as an Onboarding System

Using the Benchmark API & Autoresponders as an Onboarding System

Beyond • November 28, 2011

Ez Texting is a web-based SMS Marketing service. Our business is actually very similar to Benchmark, except we do for text messaging what they do for email. Like most SaaS offerings, our customers sign up on their own. We don’t have an old fashioned sales team. What we do have is a team of Community Managers who help our customers get the most out of our service. We had a few goals in mind when we ramped up our customer onboarding efforts: Let every person who signs up for a free trial know that our Community Managers are there to help them get started, not sell them something. Let those people know that we have a wealth of SMS Marketing resources that distills six years of experience advising customers into really useful advice for beginners. Track the effectiveness of the emails that we planned on sending. Where We Were We’ve always sent Welcome emails that a new customer receives as soon as they create an account. Welcome emails do a good job of getting people started; they initiate contact and give an overview of some quick ways to try out Ez Texting. The problem was that email communication (aside from newsletters) ceased after this initial email. We knew there was a place for more information, delivered in small doses. The small doses part is important – no one reads endless emails, so we didn’t want to just shove everything into a welcome email. We decided that four to five emails would be needed, spread out over the course of a month. The first thing we did was spec out an onboarding system that would work through our own backend system. After talking those specs over with our Lead Developer we realized that this project was not going to be the best allocation of our developer’s time. Further, functions such as delivery, click and open tracking went from “essential” to “nice-to-have” to “perhaps in a future iteration.” Clearly we needed another solution. This is the point where we turned to Benchmark, who we were already using for our email newsletters. What We Decided to Do After talking things over with a few people at Ez Texting, we realized that we could use Benchmark’s autoresponder feature to send a series of timed emails. That solved half of the problem; getting our new customers’ email addresses into the system was the other half, and that’s where the API came into play. The process we set up probably isn’t exactly what Benchmark had in mind when they designed their autoresponder feature, but it’s worked flawlessly for us. When a user creates an account, our system calls Benchmark’s API in the background. The user’s email address is loaded into our Onboarding Email List. We still send our Welcome email, but after 24 hours, the autoresponder sequence kicks in. The new email address that was added via API is sent its first onboarding email. And then, over the course of the month, a few more follow. Aside from saving countless development hours (writing the emails took longer than doing the API integration), we simply can do more by using Benchmark than if we were to send the emails on our own. Changing timing, changing messages and headlines as needed, testing rich layouts - those are all things that would have been a pain, if not impossible, in the system we had intended to build ourselves. But of course there’s a lot more. The Results We had four goals, and we accomplished all of them. The first goal is a bit abstract but we are doing a much better job now of letting signups know that real human beings are here at Ez Texting, waiting to help them. Open and Click tracking, along with our internal analytics, confirm that we’ve achieved our second goal – pointing out the guides, articles, videos and webinars that are freely available to help new signups get the most of their Ez Texting account. Tracking the effectiveness of the emails is where Benchmark’s web app shines for this project. It’s all there, from a high-level overview of messages sent and read in the entire series, down to click stats that we can tie to a particular customer. Again, none of this information would be available if we had built this out on our own. Down the Road As great as onboarding has performed for us, we know there is more that we can be doing. We’re fanatic A/B testers here, but the email subject lines and contents are something we have not tried to improve just yet. After collecting a few months\' worth of data we’re in position to do this. Beyond that, we need to keep some secrets to ourselves. Have questions? Our Marketing Director is happy to answer your questions in the comments, or you can find him on Twitter at @JoshText.


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Using Text Messaging to Integrate Your Email and Social Marketing

Using Text Messaging to Integrate Your Email and Social Marketing

Beyond • March 10, 2011

Time is a small business owner’s most precious commodity. If you had the time to do everything you wanted to do to further your business you would – but let’s face it – the things at the bottom of your to-do lists have a habit of falling off the page. Marketing is often the biggest casualty. Ten years ago you did things like direct mail pieces, real world signage and directory listings. Today? You’ve got a website to keep up to date, email marketing lists you keep in touch with, a blog you regularly post to, a Facebook Page to maintain and perhaps a Twitter account so you can tweet to your followers. And you still have to run your business. When people throw around terms like social media marketing you start to wonder what the ROI is and whether all of this effort is actually worth your time. The Text Is the Glue If you’re reading this, you’re already a Benchmark customer, so you know the value of email marketing. You may not be able to quantify the value of your website if your business is of the brick-and-mortar sort, but you know you need a web presence. But the blog, Facebook and Twitter – that’s where the picture starts to get fuzzy and the to-dos start falling off the page. So that really leaves us with two questions: 1) Is \"social media marketing\" worth your time? 2) Is there a way to get more out of your social and email marketing efforts? At Ez Texting we like to say that text message marketing is the glue that ties together all of your marketing efforts. Let’s quickly define some key terms and then we’ll look at the ways that text messaging amplifies everything you’re already doing without adding another burden on your time. SMS = Short Message Service = Text Messaging. Last year Americans sent more than one trillion text messages. Text messaging’s fundamental 160 character limitation is what makes it so popular – text messages force you to get to the point. Text Message Marketing is exactly what it sounds like: using text messages to market to your customers. Short codes are five or six digit numbers that can send and receive text messages. Leasing a short code is far too expensive for most small businesses, so we allow our customers to share our short code. Keywords are what a consumer texts to a short code to interact with your business. Let’s look at a restaurant called Joe’s Pizza to see how this works. Two things happen when a consumer texts Joe\'s to 313131, which is Ez Texting’s shared short code. You can try this right now with your own phone. Within a few seconds our service automatically sends out a custom response: Joes Pizza: U R now a preferred txt member! Show this for 20% off your next order. 4 help reply HELP. Reply STOP joes 2 Optout That customer’s phone number is added to Joe’s Pizza’s text messaging list. So how do you actually get your customers to text your keyword to a short code? By placing your \"call to action\" wherever you are. We encourage our clients to keep their call to action clear, concise and incentivized: Text Joes to 313131 to get 20% off your next order and join our text list. That call to action is the glue that will bring all of your other marketing efforts together. Your Email Marketing List You want to do everything you can to grow your email marketing list. Benchmark already gives you signup forms for your website. You may also be collecting email addresses manually and uploading them. Text messaging is another way to build your email list. Last year, one of our clients, the tour director of a record label, ran his first text message marketing campaign. At every show he encouraged the audience to text his keyword and email address to our short code. When an audience member did, they received a text message containing a link to an MP3 of one of the band’s unreleased tracks. A few weeks ago, the band was getting ready to go back on the road and there were tickets to sell. The tour director sent an email newsletter letting the band’s fans know that tickets for new shows were available. Most nights sold out before the band ever hit the road. Your Facebook Page If you already have a Facebook page, you’re probably between one of two extremes: either someone convinced you that you just had to have a Facebook page but you’re not quite sure what to do with it… or you’re drowning in your Facebook page spending hours engaged with your customers. In either scenario you most likely cannot quantify how Facebook is actually adding to your bottom line. If you’re at the extreme end, even if you know it is adding to the bottom line, you might be wondering if the time is worth that benefit. Text messaging allows you to passively increase what you get out of your Facebook page. Hundreds of our clients occasionally post a status update with their text message list’s call to action. Many more use our Facebook Widget, which adds a custom text messaging signup tab. I’m not encouraging you to look at your Facebook page as a static tool to collect phone numbers. You should engage your customers - but you cannot be there 24 hours a day. And that’s where text messaging can take over. Twitter More than a few books and guides have been written about the best ways that your business can use Twitter to engage current and potential customers. If you’re tweeting and texting, tell the world about your text messaging list. A tweet is limited to 140 characters. A text is limited to 160 characters. That’s not a coincidence. Twitter’s character constraint leaves you with two options when you have a marketing message you want to get out there: write something really short or write something a bit longer and link to a website. If you’re the owner of Joe’s Pizza, you have a third option: you can tweet that clear, concise, incentivized call to action we mentioned: Text Joes to 313131 to get 20% off your next order and join our text list. I wanted to show you how to use text messaging to get more out of our your email, web and social marketing efforts, but text messaging works great in traditional media as well. TV, Radio, Billboards, Magazine Ads, Window Signage – if you’re looking you’ll notice that big and small businesses alike are encouraging customers to text with them. The great thing about text message marketing is that any business owner can do it, quickly and cost-effectively. There are great agencies that work with Fortune 500 companies to build multi-million dollar campaigns. At Ez Texting we provide an easy-to-use web service that allows you to build your own text messaging campaigns for as little as $10 per month.


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