Imagine receiving each of the text messages below. Which one are you more likely to act upon. $1 off your favorite sandwich today. Be a “hero”, share this with a friend and they get $1 off too. Call me today to get 10% off your house painting. Free M&M’s with the purchase of any movie ticket and popcorn. Ok so that last one was for me. Hey, I’d go to that theater nearly every week during the summer blockbuster season for that offer. Chocolate aside, unless you are specifically looking to get your house painted, the $1 off a sandwich is going to get you every time. Here’s the thing. Business owners are always looking for the best marketing tactic to reach their customers. However, marketing methods that work well for one company may have significantly different results for another organization. You need to think about: Who is your target market - do they want to receive offers this way? What offer you are sending them? Timing of text message Text message marketing has had its share of challenges as well. I remember my first spam message – it was from a big box electronic store. I did not run right out and purchase the latest gaming system. After all they weren’t offering chocolates or a sandwich. There was also that lawsuit scare a couple of years ago. There was the guy who filed for patent in the 90’s for sending text messages with links to a website. What foresight right? Personally I’m waiting for the individualized marketing to hit. If you watch the show Almost Human, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t watch the show Almost Human, well we can discuss that another time. Here are some of the pros and cons of text message marketing. Pros: Cheap form of marketing Typically pay .002 to .08 cents a text Can schedule or send out a message in real time You can control the message and change it at any time Have different lists for targeting different customers Generally acted upon quickly Trackable Cons: Can take a while to build a list Subscription or licensing fee for the platform you use You need really strong offers to keep your subscribers Be prepared to spend time testing your offer to see what works Competing with others who may have a better offer at the same time Vanity numbers are expensive Generally speaking, restaurants and retail stores are going to do better with this form of marketing to generate more immediate sales. Other types of text messaging campaigns include: Appointment Reminders (salons, dentist, oil change, etc) Cancellation notices to try and fill an empty spot Event notices One other thing to note is to check out several providers before you get started. There are many resellers of other platforms. You’ll get a better deal if you can go to the source instead of through a reseller. If you are unsure of who’s who, just do an online search on that short code and see what comes up. The short code is the number you text to opt-in. Bottom line is you really need to decide what the goal of the campaign is. If it is to generate sales, you must have a compelling offer to get your customers to opt-in. If it is for branding or just another avenue of communicating with your customers it can be a cost effective way to reach them. Be sure to do your due diligence with different platforms and what they each have to offer.
Experian recently published research proving that an email marketing message that is shared within the social networking sphere delivers approximately five times as many forwards than a campaign email that features a single Forward To A Friend link. A surprising 2010 survey of major chain retailers in the United Kingdom showed that fully one third of all their email campaigns failed to include even a single link to social media sites, and 89% did not include links to a blog! In order to maximize the results from your social media and viral marketing strategies, and to avoid falling into the same traps as some really huge companies that should know better, here are the top ten steps to gaining social media success. Integrate a prominent and visible Forward To A Friend link in your campaign emails. An astounding 64% of the surveyed retailers failed to do so. Don’t expect that your prospects will utilize the Forward control on their email clients, as this redirection may create problems in rendering and viewing the email, and you won’t be able to precisely track who received the forwarded message and what aspect of it interested them. Make sure that the forwarded email is clearly identified as arriving from the referrer so that the recipient doesn’t interpret it to be spam: the friend’s name must be shown either in the From or the Subject line. Implement a Referring Message in the forwarded email such as “Janice Smith thought you might really like this offer.” Include a Sign Up link on all of your campaigns’ emails so that the Friends Of Friends can fill out a form that will add them to your permission based email newsletter database. Your potential referrers must be vividly aware that forwarding this email to their friends is not going to automatically include the friend to an unrequested mailing list or capture their personal data. Learn the preferred social networks that your prospects and your target market utilize so that you don’t link your emails to LinkedIn when your customers hang out on Facebook. If you don’t know where your customers are, ask them: A brief online survey will reveal extremely valuable data about their favorite social networks. Categorize the various groups (or “tribes”) that constitute your market, and make the effort to learn what motivates and differentiates them. The short survey just mentioned can open up a world of tribal understanding. Once you have learned the motivators, segment your email content based on these tribal structures that are both compelling and also specifically intended to maximize the level of social network sharing. Remember that relevance is the number one factor in determining whether an email gets socially shared or not. Design your email templates around a prominent link to your subscription page to assist new recipients in registering for your newsletters. Do everything possible to assuage their wariness of signing up by portraying the subscription content as informative, entertaining and relevant… and not a life sentence to the spamitentiary. If you don’t have a blog, get one. If you don’t have a Facebook Fan Page, build one. Don’t make the mistakes that some major retailers are committing: Embrace social media to the fullest extent in every aspect of your email campaigns right now and watch your bottom line spike upwards!
Microsoft\'s Windows Live Mail SmartScreen ratings are now being at least partially determined by a panel of actual users. If even a small number of these users perceive your email marketing message as spam, your entire program could be canned. There are ways, however, to improve your odds. A World-Class Cheat Many years ago when broadcast television was still a major force and Nielsen ratings alone determined the expenditure of billions of dollars, a Los Angeles television station got caught with its hand in the cookie jar. It seems that a particularly devilish programming director figured out the best way to boost his station\'s ratings was to air a special series of news reports during Sweeps Week: about Nielsen families! Of course the Nielsen families tuned in to watch reports about themselves and the station\'s ratings skyrocketed. Thumbs Up Or Down On Millions Of Messages Although the media world has changed since then, plus ça change... The practice of basing wide audience patterns on very small allegedly representative samplings is being still implemented today. Microsoft has set up their Windows Live Sender Reputation Panelists to classify over a quarter of a million email marketing messages per day as to whether they are junk or not. As in any focus group tyranny where a tiny statistical sampling has enormous ramifications, the future prospects of an entire organization end up being determined by a handful of anonymous average Joes, the mood they\'re in, and what side of the bed they got out of that morning. Joe\'s girlfriend dumped him last night? Your entire email marketing program gets dumped today. The System Can\'t Be Gamed. Right? Microsoft claims that this independent input into their SmartScreen ratings is not skewable and of course they\'re wrong. Software monoliths have always been at the mercy of the junior sized ankle biters who conduct devastating hit and run guerilla attacks against their \"unbreakables.\" Place yourself in the \"creative\" mindset of that L.A. program director and you\'ll come up with many ways to appeal to these \"impartial\" panelists, albeit in a black-hat and fully unethical manner. Legitimate Ways To Maximize Your Odds There are \"legitimate\" ways to if not outright game the panel, at least improve your chances of getting lovelorn Joe from dumping your whole program in the spam heap. Permission Reminding - Joe has a life (or did anyway) so he may not be immediately aware of how he opted-in, by an email subscription form, print or store response, etc. Your message should reinforce the fact that it is permissioned right up top and emphatically. Brand Recognition - Joe has to be aware of your brand, so make sure he can recognize it at a glance. Get around image suppression by featuring your brand name prominently even in the From and Subject line if you possibly can. Respect Joe - Keying your message to Joe\'s demographics and past behavior will build relevance into your thumbs up rate. Joe is less likely to toss your message if it refers to a service or product line he has already shown interest in, and if it is presented in a way that is respectful of his demographic and sensibilities. Screaming, flashing, dancing \"BUY NOW!!!\" exhortations will grease your slide to the spam can. Panelist Appeal Is Good Practice Anyway As it turns out the basic white-hat ways to help your messages pass through the SmartScreen gauntlet are the same ones that will ensure success for any email marketing program. Apply them across the board and you won\'t have to resort to black-hatting Microsoft\'s panel.