The SMS Marketing Blog

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How SMS Marketing Drives Black Friday Sales

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SMS marketing impacts Black Friday sales in a big way. Since it’s the biggest shopping day of the year and the beginning of holiday shopping activities, marketing campaigns announcing Black Friday sales are everywhere...including on mobile devices. And really, what better way to advertise Black Friday deals and events than with SMS? The vast majority of consumers own mobile devices, which they have turned on (and carry on their person) at all times. Ninety-five percent of marketing messages sent via SMS and MMS are opened, so crafting marketing campaigns around mobile devices makes a whole lot of sense, as many retailers have discovered.

Businesses use SMS to deliver sales alerts to customers, as well as exclusive coupons, video clips, and much more. All help ensure customer loyalty and holiday business; and when the holidays are over, businesses have a whole new database of customers opted-in to loyalty programs. This means alerting customers to sales events and new products all year long.

 

Black Friday: 2012

According to IBM, mobile shopping increased considerably in 2012 compared to 2011, with 24% of customers using a mobile device to visit retailer sites. Some 16% of shoppers used a mobile device to shop in 2011. In 2012 the iPad was the main device utilized for online shopping, followed by the iPhone and the Android. And while shoppers used social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to express gratitude about great deals and sales in 2012, that number decreased from the previous year. Shoppers referred from social networks made up .34% of online sales in 2012, a decrease of over 35% from 2011.

 

Black Friday: 2013

Last year, the amount Black Friday shoppers spent over the two-day Thanksgiving holiday rose 2.3% compared to 2012. Online sales also increased--20% from the previous year on Thanksgiving and 19% on Black Friday. Amazon.com attracted consumers by offering deals and discounts every 10 minutes, while Walmart processed some 10 million register transactions from 6pm to 10pm on that shopping day.

 

Black Friday: This Year

Social media may not play as prevalent a role in consumer shopping this year, however SMS marketing is certainly aiding retailers in their efforts to increase holiday revenue. Whether retailers will choose to implement new SMS strategies during the holiday season has yet to be seen, but one thing’s for certain: mobile marketing allows businesses to alert customers to Black Friday deals quickly, easily, and earlier than ever before. And with a simple click-through of a hyperlink, SMS receivers can make fast and easy mobile purchases. That means bigger sales, satisfied customers, and happier business owners this holiday season with SMS marketing.

Do Mobile Payments Hold the Answer to Small Business Collections?

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Consumerism is changing so fast, trends that seemed to represent the future of commerce a couple of years ago are now old hat. Innovation is outrunning itself. 

Take chip and pin, which once held the promise of becoming a far superior replacement for swiping and signing. When the idea was introduced a decade ago, it was assumed that everyone would be using it by 2014. But then, in 2004, few would have predicted the stratospheric rise of the smartphone. Now mobile payments are threatening to make an anachronism even of plastic credit cards. Chip and PIN has missed it's chance.

If you’re a small business owner, mobile payments might seem like an innovation designed for for big corporations, but if anything, the reverse is true. Big companies can, after all, absorb the cost of bounced checks and delayed payments. It’s the little guy who needs to be on top of his collections process, as a single large late payer could easily put him in the red. 

It’s all about making it easier for the customer to pay. The fewer steps there are in the payment process, the less likely they are to put it off. Mobile payments represent the easiest payment method around. Offer customers the ability to pay using their smartphone and they will likely grab it with both hands.

As we've seen, this shift could spell the end for credit cards. Checks are already on the seriously endangered list. Setting up a mobile payment system for your business puts you ahead of the curve, so why even consider going without one?

Some small businesses will claim the cost of setting up mobile payments is prohibitively expensive. But there is a growing number of affordable options out there, and the more competitive the market becomes, the better it will be for SMBs and startups. 

It’s hard to say which payment method is right for your business. The answer differs according to industry, brand image and turnover. It would be false to say mobile payments – or anything else – holds ‘the answer’ to the collections process, but it certainly makes the process easier for specific kinds of consumer.

You can’t, in the end, force a defaulting customer to pay without going through a lengthy, expensive legal process. But you can make it a lot easier for them to do so. And the fewer barriers to payment there are, the better for everyone. Check out some of the mobile payment options available, and move your collections process into the 21st Century.

6 Thanskgiving Ideas for Restaurants

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Thanksgiving is a tricky time for restaurateurs to negotiate. Many eating establishments simply close for the day, unwilling to compete with the home-cooked fare being prepared in homes across the country. 

For most restaurants, that’s probably a fairly sensible idea. But just because you’re closed doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on the holiday. In fact, by giving your staff the day off and minimizing your overheads, and helping customers prepare for their family Thanksgiving meal, your business could turn a bigger profit closed than open. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some top tips for making the most out of this year’s Turkey Day.

Make Dessert

With so much food to prepare for the big day, the idea of outsourcing some of the culinary responsibility is very appealing. Why not use your expertise to sell desserts or side dishes to customers as a way of relieving the pressure? Take pre-orders so you know exactly how much you need to order, and ask customers to pick their dishes up on Wednesday before 2pm so you can close early, safe in the knowledge you’ve made some extra cash.

Provide Supplies

In the same vein, you can make the most of your unused assets when closed for Thanksgiving. Offer chairs, tables and utensils at knock-down rental prices. Even if you throw in the washing up, your costs will be minimal. 

Offer a Seasonal Incentive

Take a holly leaf out of Christmas’ book and run a promotional schedule that counts down to the big day. Starting the Sunday before Thanksgiving, offer customers a 20% on wine one day, a half-off coupon for entrees the next, and so on up until you close. It’s a good way to generate more business to see you through the Thanksgiving slump.

Christmas Meal Vouchers

With Christmas around the corner, why not tie in your Thanksgiving promotions to the upcoming holiday season? Unlike Thanksgiving, it’s not uncommon for people to eat out on Christmas Day, so offer a deal on the latter that only applies if they buy before the former. Use the opportunity to entice customers to sign up for text alerts – it’s one of the most effective mobile marketing tactics there is.

Takeout Deals the Night Before

Again, you are well-positioned to alleviate the pressure on Thanksgiving cooks by eliminating the need for themcto make dinner the night before. Offer mobile coupons for takeout boxes on Wednesday November 26. Even if you don’t usually offer a takeout service, it’s a winning mobile marketing strategy; you can make a selling point of the service being a one-off, never-to-be-repeated deal.

Close for the entire weekend

Here’s an interesting one. It might seem counter-intuitive to close shop for the days following Thanksgiving, but it can work wonders for staff morale, bringing them back to the restaurant with renewed energy. Remember, most people are thinking about retail - not restaurants - on Black Friday, and between shopping for deals they’re working their way through all the leftovers. Instead of risking a quiet couple of days, close on Friday and Saturday and return with a bang on Sunday for the start of the Christmas craziness.

 

 

 

 

The Weirdest Thanksgiving Marketing Ideas

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If Halloween heralds the start of the Fall/Winter spending bonanza, and Christmas marks the climax, Thanksgiving is the comfortable middle age of the season; it’s not always easy for retailers to capitalize on Turkey Day. Unless you’re in the catering industry, there’s no guarantee of a healthy revenue increase. Halloween has costumes and candy. Christmas has gifts and decorations. Both require lashings of mulled cider and other boozy delights.

Thanksgiving is a comparatively quiet time for consumers, which means you have to get extra creative with your mobile marketing strategy. To help you out, we’ve come up with some truly weird and wonderful ideas to help your business through the holiday with a healthy profit, and set you up for the Yuletide madness that kicks in on Black Friday…

Break a Record

With so many bizarre world records out there, breaking one is not as hard as you might think. If you’re in the footwear retail business, why not try shattering the Guinness World Record for the longest line shoes, which currently stands at 10,513 (heel-to-toe)? After all, you have access to plenty of resources, and you can tie in a giveaway for people who attend the event. For more seasonal records, try plucking three turkeys in less than 11 minutes and 30 seconds, or persuading a willing employee to break the world record for the longest hug (currently standing at 24 hours and 33 minutes). The more relevant to your industry the better, but whatever record you attempt it’s a surefire way to generate free publicity.

Cranberry Bucket Challenge

Riding coat-tail on a wildly successful meme is one way to tap into the online zeitgeist. If you can give it your own twist, even better. Arguably the biggest viral success of 2014, the ice-bucket challenge is so simple it can easily be modified – as Charlie Sheen proved with his version in August. Give it a Thanksgiving spin by encouraging staff and social media followers to dump Cranberry sauce over themselves. It’s messier (and more expensive!) than ice, but it’s also a lot more colorful and crazy. 

Mobile Turkey Hunt

Incentivize your online followers to sign up for mobile alerts by offering a festive bundle of prizes to anyone who can find a stuffed turkey in a major city (stuffed with fabric, that is, not hazelnuts and sage!). Run a 48 hour turkey hunt, and send periodic clues via text message to participants. The first to send in a photo of the bird wins. Not only is it a slightly off-the-wall mobile marketing campaign, it will grow your contact list and set you up for future efforts.

How Clubs & Bars Can Grow Their SMS Lists

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SMS marketing may be a new concept to club and bar owners, however many are finding the dramatic difference this strategy makes in terms of customer satisfaction, revenue and much more. Since text messaging is now one of the most effective forms of marketing available, let’s check out how bar and club owners can grow their SMS lists and therefore their customer base:

 

Focused Campaigns

Focused campaigns directly targeting those interested in your particular bar or club is a strategy that meets the needs of customers. Because of such direct targeting, no resource is wasted and the right messages go to the right consumers. And since SMS marketing lists generally require opting in, you’re assured the messages you send are read by interested customers, some of whom may visit your establishment the day the message is sent.

 

Incentives

Incentives are a huge part of attracting customers, so adding an exclusive coupon code or deal for consumers in text messages is an ideal way to get the positive response you want. Feel free to get as creative as you want, from codes that translate to free drinks to deals that include discounted entry.

 

Blogging

Everyone is blogging these days...including bars and clubs. Use this medium to grow your client base and spread your message. Write about upcoming events and specials, holiday parties, happy hour, and anything else that’s relevant. Include funny images of employees, amusing top 10 lists, and more. Add information about text message opt-ins at the end of each blog and watch your SMS list lengthen.

 

Social Media

Social media tools are yet another effective way of reaching consumers and letting them know about your SMS list(s). Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram...use these tools to let people know why they should join your list and how it will benefit them.

 

Referral Bonuses

Increase your customer base via referral bonuses. Provide existing customers with free food, drinks and other specials for referring friends and family to your business. Not only are you growing your SMS list, you’re also ensuring existing customers remain happy.

 

Wrap-Up

Bar and club owners are utilizing other means to let customers know about SMS lists, such as print media. Advertising in newspapers and magazines are two options, though you may want to go beyond print and use email or other means. Whatever you decide, know that SMS marketing lists are a fantastic way of increasing business as well as brand awareness. 

Why SMS is Perfect for the Hospitality Industry

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Every patron of a hotel or restaurant wants to be entertained, and mobile devices have to get creative in order to enhance a user’s experience. There are a great deal of factors that go into travel planning:  filling in multiple fields for car rentals, flights, and hotels, side as well as the numerous metrics involved on the business end. All in all, there is a whole lot of data to crunch for everyone. That’s where SMS marketing comes in.

The solution is to develop an effective mobile marketing campaign that revolves around three key points: customer service, customer loyalty, and effective mobile integration. By straying away from the necessity to garner future business at the point-of-purchase, hospitality corporations can galvanize their user base by sticking to these key points.

1. Customer Service

Customers want to know that they have access to customer service directly from their mobile devices. By providing text messages that tailor to their guests, the hospitality industry has made some great strides in reaching their customer base. They can provide up-to-date information about on-site events, as well as dining options, facility features, and more. Most importantly, businesses can follow up with their clients’ experience through the incorporation of SMS surveys.

In one terrific example, MGM Mirage has provided great customer service through their mobile marketing platforms. They offer real-time promotions texted to their guests’ phones, in addition to property information and entertainment options for the benefit of the consumer. By tailoring their messages based on their guests’ history, they have served to drive revenue and track the precise desires of their clientele.

Exacting customer service is the front line of a successful mobile marketing campaign, and it goes hand-in-hand with loyalty programs.

2. Customer Loyalty

When a business provides incentives for their clients through loyalty, they serve to garner repeat business from their clientele. By incorporating short codes into the SMS experience, used with VIP or Special membership incentives, businesses can not only gather more information about their customers, but they can enhance their overall experience.

The Hard Rock hotel and restaurant chain has seen a great deal of return customers through their loyalty program. Using an SMS platform, they promote events and products with right-time and right-place offers. In addition, Harrah’s casino has also launched a beta version of their mobile rewards program through their Rio property. Using short codes – like text RIO to 227466 – guests can opt-in to a loyalty program that provides them with one exclusive offer per day for four consecutive days. (Most guests stay at the Rio for four days, hence the number of offers.) Both hospitality companies provide apps for their loyal users to check their rewards points, browse offers, and learn information about the properties as well.

3. Mobile Integration

By integrating multiple mobile platforms into an SMS campaign, hospitality corporations can take advantage of the full potential of mobile users – without forcing them to remain in the SMS platform for more information. In addition to text messaging services, many companies utilize apps, email, and websites, as well as the old-fashioned, personable phone support for their guests. The result is a more effective SMS campaign: where text messaging systems may come up short, the other platforms can pick up the slack.

Eldorado Hotel and Casino has had great success in a multi-platform marketing campaign. Combining social media and email with SMS, Eldorado has improved their customer engagement. They initially target their guest via SMS with special offers at their restaurants and night clubs. The text messages allow users to opt-in to their loyalty programs (text ELDORADO or LEGACY to short code 71266) providing their email addresses as well. This has garnered an extensive SMS and email list for the Eldorado hotel, and has increased their booking and revenue – a direct result of the SMS campaign.

SMS marketing campaigns have seen a great deal of traction in the past couple of years, but many in the hospitality industry seems to have had a difficult time incorporating them into their marketing strategies. It’s time they wake up and recognize: customers want real-time, multi-platform attention in the form of exclusive offers and an enhanced customer experience. An effective SMS campaign can provide the framework for the hospitality industry to increase customer awareness and keep their clients coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Business-to-Business Mobile Marketing Ideas

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B2C mobile marketing ideas are everywhere, but what about B2B marketing options? If you're trying to come up with business-to-business mobile marketing ideas, check out six useful possibilities:

 

1. Add a Mobile Website Focused on B2B

The importance of a mobile website cannot be underestimated, as it’s the foundation for all mobile marketing. Creating one is not difficult, and provides a fantastic option for other companies to learn more about your business. Use a mobile grader tool such as Marketing Grader to find out how well your site is doing and what adjustments, if any, are necessary. Make sure to target business owners by understanding their needs and developing an applicable mobile version of the site.

 

2. Create Specific Banner Ads

Use banner ads to your advantage in more than one way. For example, run a banner ad that creates an email when clicked instead of a web page. Have the email pop up on the user’s mobile device with your sales department’s email address and content reading “Tell me more about order with a 15% discount.” A mobile banner ad targeting various demographics is another option, including those specific to entrepreneurs in certain locations or those workers who only use iOS or Android.

Another mobile banner option is one that adds an event to the user’s calendar. The event is added only if the user clicks the ad.

 

3. Use a Customized App

Have a trade show or similar event coming up? Create a customized app that allows attendees to find your booth(s) or otherwise navigate your event easily. An ideal way to connect with and engage your audience, you’ll impress attendees with your attention to detail and dedication to helping them find the event informative and fun.

 

4. Integrate Social Media 

All social media platforms are “all over” the mobile ‘verse--Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +. Don’t forget about mobile when posting social media updates, as many of your fans and followers are likely reading them from a mobile device. Create posts with time-sensitive exclusive offers, as well as other promotional updates.

 

5. Launch an SMS Campaign 

Why not use SMS to stay in touch with customers? While other avenues are better for general advertising, SMS is ideal for creating specific messages for a highly-targeted group of customers or prospects. Make sure to include clear call-to-actions as well.

 

6. Implement QR Codes

Adding QR codes to collateral is an excellent promotional option for trade shows and other events, as well as general marketing. 

Try these and other B2B marketing ideas and see if business doesn’t improve. 

The Potential of App-to-Person SMS for Mobile Network Operators

App-to-person SMS represents a major revenue opportunity for mobile network operators. Globally, app-to-person messages are expected to hit 2.19 trillion by 2018, generating predicted revenues of $60 billion.

The figures come from wide-ranging research conducted by UK-based industry analysts mobilesquared. They surveyed more than 50 international mobile network operators and made a number of key findings:

  • 32% of mobile network operators have experienced a reduction in person-to-person SMS over the last year
  • 50% have experienced an increase in app-to-person traffic, with a third of those reporting growth of at least 6%
  • 81% cite decreasing revenues from traditional services like P2P text messaging as their primary concern

When it comes to P2P messaging, mobile network operators have long been upping the ante on competitors, with increasingly generous – and in many cases unlimited – SMS bundles on offer as a way of enticing new users. 

They’re no longer just competing with each other. So-called ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are usurping traditional SMS providers as the go-to platforms for interpersonal communication. Half of all mobile network operators who took part in the survey expect to lose at least half of their customers to OTT services by next year. 

But while P2P text messaging is on the wane, business is booming for commercial text messaging companies. Consumers, it seems, are compartmentalizing their personal life, preferring OTT platforms for talking to friends while sticking with traditional SMS to engage with brands.

This is great news for mobile marketing campaign managers and small businesses. With an opt-in model predicated on consent and trust, the mobile marketing industry has managed to skirt the problems faced by their email-marketing forbears. Rather than filtering out all commercial messages as spam, smartphone owners are engaging with businesses via SMS because they want to, not because it’s the only option available to them. 

There’s no such low-hanging fruit for mobile network operators. They must forge relationships with OTTs and provide competitive price points if they want to leverage revenues from app-to-person SMS.