The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Building an Effective Drip Campaign

Depositphotos_9984605_xs

Connecting with customers can be difficult in an age of technology, when consumers are being bombarded by advertising from all directions. Due to such high spam rates, the effectiveness of email marketing and snail mail advertising has dropped significantly. That’s why marketing these days takes repetition, repetition, repetition. By creating a good drip campaign, you can raise the chances that a prospect will not only open your marketing message but ultimately invest in an ongoing relationship with the brand.

A drip campaign is a time-released set of automated messages via either email or text marketing. These messages are cued by certain triggers, from click-throughs and sign-ups, to a series of messages sent out according to a scheduled calendar. Drip campaigns are designed with one purpose in mind – to pique the interest of potential customers over continued engagement. Here are some great ideas when it comes to an effective drip campaign:

  • Be Clear on the Conversion

When setting up a drip campaign, always be clear on exactly what you would like from the customer. Is the end goal to receive a purchase, a sign-up, or a referral? Create a clear conversion goal for the campaign and an extremely coherent pathway for the customer to get there. Make sure the call-to-action is concise and simple, and the conversion process is as easy as can be. If customers don’t quickly understand what to do next and how to do it…they probably won’t do anything!

  • Strengthen the relationship

Think about how to build better relationships with customers. Personalized messages can go a long way when it comes to strengthening customer relations. Address clients by name, and send messages from a personal account whenever possible (rather than from an obviously automated one). In addition, be sure to send customer greetings on special holidays and birthdays. Consumers appreciate attention to detail and feel connected to brands that address them personally.

  • Provide value

Customers must see the benefit in engaging with a brand. Every email or text message should contain content that clients find useful. Include links to engaging articles and blogs, announce exciting events, comment on current trends, or offer them participation at upcoming webinars. Sending customers special or exclusive offers is perhaps the best way to provide value in a drip campaign.

  • Automate with excellence

Be choosy when it comes to message automation. Make sure the email or text marketing service you choose meets all of your brand’s needs. The auto-responder should have follow-up capabilities, exhaustive analysis of metrics, and matchless reliability. Don’t waste your time with second-rate services, as there are several reliable and affordable marketing companies to choose from.

With drip campaign best practices in your marketing arsenal, you are bound to gain some traction with current and prospective clients. Start planning and testing a drip campaign for your business to stand out above the milieu of advertising spam.

Are You Talking to Me? Tailoring Messages to Different Customers

 

When creating text messages for customer engagement, it is essential to create messages that will resonate with clients not just financially but emotionally. This can be a difficult task: nearly every customer wants something different, and they all want to feel special. By tailoring text messages to individuals, however, businesses have a better shot at attracting new customers while keeping existing clients satisfied.

The process of tailoring messages is called list segmentation. Basically, list segmentation entails dividing clients into separate groups based on any number of factors. Each group should will common elements by which they’re filtered, such as: age, location, behavior, or history with the company. All of these commonalities give companies an idea of how to market to these groups, thereby allowing marketers to create unique messages for each group in order to hit home with customers.

Here are a few ideas as to how to properly segment lists for more personalized engagement:

1)     Separate prospects from current customers

Current customers do not want to be treated as prospects, and with good reason. Existing customers may be upset if they see an introductory deal that is better than the one they were originally offered. The two groups should be addressed and rewarded differently. First-time offer deals go to new clients, while special VIP loyalty discounts go to existing customers.

2)     Cater to your biggest clients

Create a segment for the big spenders, particularly if they are purchasing ten times more than the average customer. Decide on particular metrics to determine at which point a customer becomes a “big spender” and be sure to add them to this segment. Develop messages that will reciprocate their loyalty: give them platinum status that includes perks like gifts or free shipping. Listen carefully to the needs of these clients, and show them special appreciation.

3)     Resurrect relationships with inactive clients

Be aware of which Customers have fallen off the grid and haven’t engaged with or purchased from the brand for at least 6 months. In this segment, create a special message to lure these one-time clients into a brand-new relationship. Invent a reactivation campaign that will incentivize these specific clients to reactivate their relationship with the company.

4)     Pay attention to demographics

Analyze zip codes, gender, age, occupation, and other important demographic factors. With this information, segment clients into specific groups (i.e. old versus young; high-income versus low-income; etc.). Utilize programs that can help to insert the right information into text messages, which adhere to the demographics of each segment. This is very important: a business who addresses a text to the wrong demographic could quickly start to lose some customers; while companies who target particular demographics with extremely relevant offers and information will increase engagement.

5)     Pay attention to habits and behavior

Segment clients by spending habits, and continue to offer them relevant follow-up deals or upsell items. Also, segment lists according to click-through habits, separating out clients by the particular messages and links that appeal to them. By segmenting customers according to purchasing and traffic data, businesses can convert sales more often and continue to track their successes.

Update your segments frequently, as user data continuously changes and brand messaging is always evolving. Consider which campaigns are superior to others, and track new ones to make sure your segmenting is valid and effective. In the end, list segmentation is critical for successful advertising through text or any other form of mass communication, and marketers can expect great returns from a well-segmented mass marketing strategy.

SMS Marketing for Web-Only Businesses

Depositphotos_8435570_xs

The most traditional way to interact with customers is of course to talk with them face-to-face. Second is to communicate with them via voice phone calls. But what if you don’t maintain these capacities due to the nature of your business? Many online brands today simply don’t have the infrastructure for live agents, or a brick-and-mortar location where they can foster live customer engagement. Luckily, this age of technology has opened a lot of doors for small businesses in the form of SMS marketing.

By engaging customers over their text messaging apps, customers have absolute freedom. They aren’t bothered by telesales reps, nor do they have to visit a store to learn about the latest deal. They can choose to open and read text message at their leisure. And with more than a 97% open rate, smart business owners are taking advantage of text marketing—the simplest and most effective form of mobile communication for customer interaction.

Call-to-Action

When connecting with customers through SMS, remember to always emphasize a concise and appealing call-to-action. Letting them know who you are, why you’re contacting them, and what’s in it for the customer is tough to do in such a short message…and that’s why text message marketing is a bit of an art form. A/B test your messages; discover which words and phrases hit home and which ones don’t create traction.

VIP Treatment

Another critical piece is to make customers feel as though they are part of a special club or VIP group. Receiving exclusive offers will develop brand loyalty, as well as continued excitement around opting in to your text marketing list. Offering promotional codes and coupons can be very effective in converting mobile users into new and repeat customers, and loyalty programs are a good follow up to such promotions. Think of some free or discounted items loyal customers might enjoy as a reward for their participation.

Event Marketing

Reminding customers about upcoming events also works well via SMS messages. Oftentimes, readers will overlook an email with the exact same content as a text message. Due to the exorbitant amount of spam that customers find in their inboxes, they are less likely to open many of their emails. So next time, text them event invites, and you just might find turnout numbers increasing dramatically.

Surveys and Feedback

Finally, offering your customers a way to provide feedback is very effective in text messages. Surveys these days need to be kept short, and a text message survey is the perfect feedback tool. It’s cheaper and more effective than other forms of survey solicitation, as brands will often receive an immediate response to the message. Simply ask a couple question via text (instead of in a lofty email or phone call), and your customers may be happy to oblige. Surveys are especially effective when offering a reward for participation.

In utilizing these simple techniques for your web-based business, you’re likely to see the benefits of SMS marketing campaigns immediately. Everyone is using their phone to text these days – shouldn’t your business be taking advantage of a well-executed SMS campaign? Once you implement text message marketing into your overall customer engagement strategy, customers will be able to communicate more seamlessly with your company, and for a fraction of the cost of other marketing programs.

Appeals Court: Mobile Agency Served-up Taco Bell Spam

Depositphotos_23918423_xs

Recently a federal appellate court ruled that Taco Bell isn’t responsible for the text messages that a marketing agency blasted out to consumers. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California trial judge’s ruling that the company shouldn’t be responsible for the marketing campaign of an outside agency. In other words, consumers will have a difficult time suing advertisers in the future (as opposed to the agencies that handle their marketing).

The agency in question, called ESW Partners, was hired by a dozen Taco Bell franchise owners in the greater Chicago area. A branch of ESW Partners, called Ipsh (now known as The Marketing Arm), was slated to handle a mobile advertising campaign for the franchise owners. The text message campaign, executed back in 2005, consisted of a promotion of new products including Chicken and Steak Nachos Bell Grande. The text asked for local residents to vote on which variety they preferred.

Because the recipients of the texts did not opt-in to receive these text messages, such an act could be considered illegal under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiff Tracie Thomas sued to that effect: she stated that this campaign violated the text-spam law, further claiming that Taco Bell used automatic telephone dialing systems to send messages to mobiles without the consent of the consumer.

The truth of the matter: the judge and the appellate court ruled that Taco Bell Corporation had nothing to do with the affair.  In a statement during the appellate court case, Taco Bell’s representatives argued that it “had no role in the decision to distribute the message by way of a blast text or that it ever reviewed any proposed text message, or even knew about the outgoing text message component of the local promotion.”

There is no word on whether the agency was sued by Thomas, but all marketers should consider this a wake-up call.

Mobile marketers must carefully examine their campaigns. Give attention to the laws regarding text message marketing campaigns. Make certain that every consumer has opted-in, providing permission for text ads (through a web form, for example). Exacting language must be provided for the consumer, outlining precisely what they are signing up for. Aid should be provided regarding the terms and privacy. And, as always, consumers must be allowed to opt-out at any time.

Be a smart mobile marketer: always follow the best practices for text message and SMS marketing, and protect yourself from future lawsuits. For more information on regulations and best practices, visit http://www.fcc.gov

How to Say Sorry After a Text Fail

  Depositphotos_14153870_xs

Text message fails are so common in the business world there’s a website devoted to cataloguing them. Unlike other workplace errors, which usually don’t spread beyond the safe confines of the office, a mistake-laden text blast is sent to customers, with potentially disastrous consequences for your brand image. 

Luckily, members of the public are, for the most part, likely to see the funny side - as long as we’re talking about an unfortunate autocorrect or some other minor error, and not personal insults or sharing of sensitive data! In most cases, then, there is a way back.

A big part of your recovery lies in the apology you issue after an SMS marketing fail. The way you go about apologizing can cast you in a positive light. The best case scenario is that public opinion of your company will actually improve (although we wouldn’t suggest sending an error-strewn text message just to test this theory!). So you’ve messed up and sent an erroneous SMS to thousands of customers. Here’s how to apologize:

React Quickly

You know how it goes. You make a big mistake - one that everybody will soon know about – and you freeze. Except for the back of your neck, which burns. All you can do is close your eyes and pray that when you open them you’ll have travelled back in time. The paralysis brought about by guilt and fear is of no use to anybody, so instead of waiting around for stuff to hit the fan, you need to immediately own your error. Go directly to your boss and break the news before they find out about it from someone else.

Be Honest

Squirming around for a way to downplay a mistake is uncomfortable for everyone. Don’t do it. Admit exactly what happened so you can strategize the best plan of action. Don’t be tempted to drip feed your coworkers in the hope your mistake will seem less serious. It won’t – it’ll just look like you’ve made a series of errors and then tried to sweep them under the carpet. 

Face the Music

In most cases, you will need to issue an apology to the recipients of the erroneous text. Yes, this is embarrassing in itself, but it has to be done – and quickly. Have a creative meeting and craft a humble, humorous apology that will appeal to your audience’s better nature. Depending on the scale of the error, you may need to offer some kind of promo code or discount. This will usually do the trick of getting people back onside. Your budget will take a hit, but it’s worth it to retain those all important contacts. 

Have Faith

Don’t dwell on the mistake. If you allow it to distract you, it will only set you back. Don’t let one error define you.

Own It

That said, it’s worth following your apology SMS up with a reference to the mistake on Twitter or social media. If it was relatively funny, and threatens to be shared by outsiders, you should pre-empt this and talk about it yourself. Own It lest it Owns You.

Mistakes happen on the way to success. Learning how to deal with them via sincerity, humility, humor and efficiency will turn a stressful situation into a bona fide learning curve.

 

How to Create a Low Cost Loyalty Scheme with SMS

Depositphotos_12210180_xs

Customer loyalty programs are one of the most effective drivers of sales. Few would disagree with that. But some businesses remain reticent to develop mobile marketing tactics that they believe – wrongly – are prohibitively expensive to set up.

This misconception is a hangover from the age of traditional advertising channels like television and radio, which have historically charged high premiums for ad space. Even with space bought and paid for, a compelling creative campaign from an agency could easily set you back $25,000. Add to that the hit taken by the loyalty promotion itself – be it coupons or other freebies – and a loyalty scheme could easily run into six figures. 

A mobile marketing campaign – and in particular an SMS messaging campaign – needn’t be in the same ballpark to be effective. In fact, small businesses on limited budgets can drive real growth with a modest, localized text message campaign. There are a few key steps to take if you’re looking to set up a low cost loyalty scheme. Let’s take a closer look…

Building a Database

One of the primary functions of a good mobile marketing campaign is to grow your user list. But you can make huge strides towards this goal before even engaging with the online world. Start in the right place by developing ads specifically for in-store visitors. Encourage them to sign up to receive future SMS messages (and the promise of rewards) – you might be surprised how many contacts you can build just from walk-in traffic.

Post-Click Experience

For a loyalty scheme to provide a decent ROI, you need to ensure it generates a healthy level of conversions. That means providing a great user experience from the moment they click on your ad. There are a number of ways to do this. You could direct users straight to a landing page or, if you have the budget, your mobile app. But if money is tight, there is still a lot you can do. Offer a survey or quiz, or another form of engaging content that will keep consumers’ eyes focused on you. Above all, offer an incentive for opting in. Sign-up discounts work well, and give new users the chance to sample your product without investing too much themselves. 

Ad Buys

There are basically two kinds of mobile ad networks: blind and premium. A blind network gives you little in the way of transparency in terms of where the ads appear – but that’s mitigated by the low cost of the campaign. Premium networks are more expensive, but they allow you to target your ads at apps more appropriate for your brand.

The key to executing a successful mobile marketing campaign is starting small but diverse in order to find out what works for your company. Try a few different approaches, track the success of each, and begin to focus only on the most rewarding strategies. True brand loyalty is a slow-burner: throw tonnes of cash and little thought at the task and your audience will see straight through it. It may well work for some, but others will be turned off. Start small, experiment, and you’ll soon carve out a space all of your own.

Germany Harnessing 'Silent Texts' to Locate Cell Phones

Depositphotos_20820165_xs

In Germany, police and intelligence agencies have been using ‘silent’ SMS messages to locate cell phones without their owners’ knowledge. Details of the covert practice emerged after a parliamentarian expressed alarm at the escalation of secret text dispatches; the government responded with an admission that 125,000 such messages were sent during the first six months of 2013 alone. That number has increased this year, with 150,000 silent SMS messages sent between January and June. 

The text messages are not displayed on cell phones, but when sent en masse to a single device, can be used to precisely locate the user and observe their movements within a network. Parliamentary approval is required before each individual can be tracked.

But Andrej Hunko of the Left party raised alarm at what he termed ‘spy-SMS’ messages, prompting the government to reveal the number of German residents who had been targeted by the dispatches. According to the figures, domestic intelligence agency VfS had sent nearly 53,000 secret texts during the first half of 2014. Federal police had sent almost 69,000, and the Federal Criminal Office – Germany’s investigative police – had sent more than 34,000. The figures did not include silent text messages sent by foreign intelligence agents, customs officials or the army’s intelligence service.

However, the government did disclose details about surveillance, admitting that the Federal Criminal Office – or BKA – had eavesdropped on 704 separate calls, emails or text messages during 2014 so far.

The international community has expressed some surprise about the revelations, especially in light of the recent scandal regarding U.S. surveillance of world leaders. Surveillance is understandably a very sensitive issue in Germany, and many feel government has acted hypocritically with the use of clandestine SMS tracking technology. We await the full figures for 2014 with interest…

Mortgages Go Mobile

Depositphotos_6547862_xs

The mortgage lending market is updating the way it does business. Primarily a person-to-person industry, mortgage lenders typically meet with customers directly to offer a variety of packages suitable for their clients. With the influx of mobile users in the past decade, however, the big players in this business are readying to go mobile.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 90% of U.S. adults carry a cellphone. In addition, the report shows that 58% of Americans carry a smartphone, 42% own a tablet, and 32% have an e-reader. These numbers show that, in this nation alone, owning a mobile device has become a standard. Mortgage lending corporations have begun to roll out marketing campaigns based on these numbers, creating mobile apps and kiosks to change the way they have historically addressed their clientele.

In Wisconsin, a company called Waterstone Mortgage has been one of these pioneers. They have developed a digital platform entitled Mortgage Agility, which allows potential borrowers to apply for loans using their smartphones. The app features the ability to take pictures of the potential clients’ documents, thereby speeding up the approval process. Waterstone’s offices in Florida have started to employ Mortgage Agility, and they are already seeing great results: not only are customers’ information collected in an orderly fashion, but they are able to move into a closing position with greater speed and ease.

Another digital platform, called Apex, has been unveiled by FBC Mortgage LLC. This technology comes to customers as a kiosk located at FBC Mortgage storefronts. Apex allows potential borrowers to streamline the approval process, allowing clients to determine if they are eligible for a loan in less than ten minutes. The technology then sends a correspondence letter to the individual immediately after the pre-approval process.

It is true that the mortgage lending industry has a history of doing business the old-fashioned way. When it comes to loans, it is important that all of a customer’s information is protected and handled with care. But the face-to-face practice of lending requires a great deal of a given client’s time (as well as the lender’s time). Nowadays, Americans use mobile technologies for anything from online purchases and video games, to text messaging and information gathering – and the mortgage lending industry must not lose sight of this. By developing strategies for the lending market that incorporate a mobile user’s smartphone (or an appropriate digital platform), their customers will appreciate the ease-of-use and expediency of mobile technologies.