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.
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.