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11 posts from February 2012

February 29, 2012

5 Ways Your Sales Team Can Use Text Messaging

Entry By Jason Brick

By now, most business owners at least understand the concept of using SMS marketing to reach potential customers and drive sales. But your customer base is not the only place SMS can generate revenue. Text message broadcasts are also an inexpensive, simple way to communicate with your sales team. Applied well, you can motivate, inform, reward and hector your sales force via text to help them all make more and larger sales.

Text-messaging

  1. Periodic Motivation
    Salespeople out in the field often feel apart from the team back in the office. A few daily messages can help them feel included, motivated and excited about your product. This can be anything from an appropriate quote to telling the team about the amazing sale a colleague just made.
  2. Low-Profile Q & A
    Traditionally, a sales representative who needed a "lifeline" during a sale had to call in. This left customers idling awkwardly as the rep phoned support. Using text back and forth allows your rep to maintain momentum and rapport while getting the answers.
  3. Performance Reporting
    Have your team text in every few hours with sales numbers for the day. Compile them and broadcast the results to spur friendly competition in the field. This also gives you a chance to give extra attention to any member of your sales force who's having a rough morning – providing an opportunity to keep it from turning into a rough day. Compiling those reports at the end of each day also keeps your finger on the pulse of your sales team as a whole.
  4. Flash Sales
    This is similar to the mini coupons and events you already run with your SMS advertising. A "one-hour only" coupon texted to all your representatives gives them a tool for putting buying pressure on potential clients who are still on the fence.
  5. Running Contests
    Your sales force likes feeling involved and listened to as much as your customer base does. The occasional contest can help them feel that way. Sales reps often treat their numbers as a competition, but you can create other contests to build camaraderie. Gather the most hilarious objections, strangest situations or most brilliant lines to save a sale. Give a small, but meaningful prize to the winners.

Experts from Brian Tracy to Zig Ziglar will tell you that communication between your front line and the back office is vital to top performance from your sales team. SMS is one of the fastest, easiest and least expensive ways to keep that communication strong.

February 27, 2012

6 Text Marketing Resolutions for 2012

Entry By Jason Brick

2012Valentine's Day is often unofficially observed as the first day you can ignore your New Year's Resolutions without fear of ridicule. For your text marketing efforts, it means the exact opposite. It's time to renew your commitment to making 2012 the year your text campaign explodes -- and brings your profits along for the ride. 

Whether you've already made these resolutions, or you want to start the "new year" this February, do your best to observe these new rules: 

Resolve to Test More Often

Sending text broadcasts without testing is like cooking a meal without tasting it. You have no idea what the end user will experience. You don't necessarily have to test every broadcast, but testing weekly -- and with every new format -- can keep your quality high.

Resolve to Try New Ideas

Read, listen and look for new ideas you can insert into your text message marketing campaign. As your "body of work" expands, it will get even harder to send out new messages. Your subscribers will get bored. Harvest bumper stickers, t-shirts and your competition to keep your text broadcasts fresh. 

Resolve to Get More Mileage From Proven Techniques

If a message succeeded wildly, duplicate that success by adapting it for a new purpose. Don't just carbon-copy the broadcast. Adjust it to suit the new time frame and to address what's hot at the time. Holiday messages are great for this, since you can "re-skin" the basic concept with the new holiday's features.

Resolve to Systematize Your Text Strategy

Because text messages are brief and informal, many business owners give them only brief and informal attention. The most effective text campaign will require more effort and concentration. If you systematize your broadcasts and schedule real time to work on them, your customers will notice the difference. 

Resolve to Call for Action With Every Text

Social and mobile marketing is all about making your customers feel involved, engaged and part of the "in crowd." There's no easier way to do this than to call for comments, opinions and other responses with each text message. Tie some of these to coupons or offers, even contests, to maximize response rates. 

Resolve to Do More Research

Review the response data for each of your broadcasts. Read about what's hot in mobile and social media. Listen to podcasts and subscribe to the leading blogs on the subject. This not only educates you enough to make the most informed decisions, it can also inspire you with new ideas and approaches to feed your text marketing machine. 

 

February 23, 2012

Explaining Mobile Marketing to The Boss

Entry By Jason Brick

Maybe you're trying to justify your salary as a social and digital marketing provider. Maybe you want to get your boss to add SMS marketing to your existing campaigns. It could be that you're a front-line employee who likes tech, and wants to get in good by introducing an exciting new marketing channel.

Whatever your reasons, eventually you'll need to have a conversation with the boss. How you handle that conversation will help determine whether or not your company adopts the mobile marketing you want – a decision that could affect the life and strength of your workplace.

Explaining-sms-to-the-boss

Step One: Use Analogies
Help your boss understand the basic concept by comparing mobile marketing to something you already use. Direct mail (e or snail) is the most comparable. Stress the positive differences during this explanation. For example "It's like sending snail mail and getting a response the same day."

Step Two: Show Benefits
Explain in detail – using numbers from industry publications whenever possible – how mobile marketing outperforms other marketing options. Cost per impression, for example, is often very low as compared to print and radio advertising. In a coupon-driven industry like food service, coupon response rates are another good statistic. Some sources report as much as a 1000% improvement in coupon usage as compared to newspaper and "clipper" type coupon distribution methods.

Step Three: Avoid Jargon
As with any new technology, the jargon for mobile marketing – SMS, QR codes, opt in – can intimidate the uninitiated. Use plain English to describe what you want to do, and why it matters. For most bosses, a simple definition of the terms – followed by examples – can help make him or her feel involved and intelligent.

Step Four: Have a Plan
"Let's do mobile marketing" is not an effective pitch to the boss. Instead, present a basic start-to-finish plan for a simple, one month campaign. You don't have to do all the work up front, but you should come to the table with an outline of steps. This structure not only makes you look prepared, but also gives you a framework for explaining the individual details of how mobile marketing works.

Step Four: End With a Wow
Finish your explanation by describing a single "killer app" for mobile marketing. Some good candidates include sending out coupons before the dinner rush, QR codes for instant opt-ins, and paperless loyalty cards carried on app phones.

 

Ready to build your pitch? Check out our FREE SMS Marketing Resource Center; we've got guides, articles, explainers and more.

Interesting Infographic On How Small Business Owners Operate

We came across an interesting infographic from the folks at the Intuit Small Business Blog -- it presents some interesting data about the way Samll Business Owners run their business:

Smallbiz

Check out the entire infographic (via Big Picture)

February 22, 2012

Post-Game Analysis: Super Bowl and Social Media

Entry By Jason Brick

The Super Bowl is such a fixture of American life that it may as well be a national holiday. The event affects income streams, work schedules and traffic flow. Many bosses know to expect slightly lower productivity the following Monday.

While this has been true for decades, this year marked a new feature of America's favorite sporting weekend: social media. The NFL and the game's advertisers very consciously courted social media in the run up to the Super Bowl, and the results can inspire your own efforts and give you a sense of the power social media is amassing.

Social media command center

Statistics

  • The event saw the most social media comments of any televised event, generating over 12.2 million comments during and immediately after the game -- nearly four times the 3.1 million comments of the previous record holder.
  • Super Bowl XLVI saw an average of 10,000 game-related tweets per second over the course of the game.
  • The halftime show alone saw over 800,000 comments on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites. This would make the halftime show alone the fourth-most-commented television event of all time.
  • Nearly 1,000,000 social media comments were made about Super Bowl commercials alone -- making them the third-most-commented television event of all time.

The Social Media Command Center
This year, the NFL established a centralized social media effort that delivered 1.8 million impressions daily via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube. These included simple fan messages and likes, as well as logistical help for fans ranging from parking assistance to public service announcements.

Responsiveness 
Social media traffic discussing specifi c Super Bowl ads helped advertisers judge the effectiveness and popularity of their efforts -- which is good, considering the $117,000 per second price tag of game time advertising. Based on the content and volume of traffic, some clear winners appeared:

The most popular ad was the Doritos "Man's Best Friend" spot -- a spot that was selected as a contest winner. The contest itself was a vote held via social media.

H&M's ad featuring David Beckham only in briefs was the most commented-on ad spot, spurring both positive and negative reactions.

Chrysler's "It's Halftime in America" ad was the most popular among men. The Beckham commercial was the most popular among women. Parents preferred CareerBuilder's ad featuring an employee whose co-workers are all chimpanzees.

Overall, the first "Social Media Super Bowl" was a tour de force for this new way of communicating, combining efforts and assessing performance.

February 21, 2012

5 DIY Digital Communication Tools to Highlight Your Cause

Entry By Jason Brick

Even more than a for-profit business, a non-profit cause needs to maximize its reach while minimizing expenses. DIY digital initiatives, because of their scalability, are some of the best ways to achieve this goal. Your organization is probably already using some digital communication tools, but here are others you should consider implementing.

Diy Digital

1. Flash Demonstrations

This is the most visible way to take advantage of mobile media. Using a text message broadcast, you can organize a meeting of followers with short notice and big results. Depending on your goals, the result can range from a simple presentation, to an artistic display, to a full-bore protest. 

2. Send Reports

Informing your contact list about your cause is key to keeping them involved and giving. A regular report citing statistics, recent developments, and progress made on projects, is a necessary part of your website. An occasional announcement, sent via text marketing, can serve as an extra "ping," to keep your cause front of mind.

3. Text-To-Give

A recent UK report found a 15% response rate for text-to-give fundraising efforts. While low compared to other methods, because the costs are small, text-to-give generates strong returns in spite of the low response rate. So, include a text-to-give message in your publicity initiatives, as well as in occasional broadcasts, to maximize the reach of this method. 

4. Go Viral

The power of digital media is in sharing. Encourage your original recipients to share your broadcasts with their network, and to ask their network to help spread the message as well. Remember, impactful and insightful messages are the most likely to get re-broadcast. As for humor, it can get a lot of shares, but may not be appropriate for your cause's message. Always err on the side of caution.

5. Integrate QR

Quick response codes are easy ways for a potential contact to get involved in your cause, and have a "gadget factor" that may draw some early adopters who would otherwise be less attracted to your organization. Plant your QR panel on bumper stickers, paperwork, fliers, print advertising -- even on your T-shirts. The more places that panel pops up, the better your response will be. 

 

Scam Alert

Unfortunately, more than a few scams have used digital media -- and especially text-to-give campaigns -- to draw fraudulent donations. Your organization will see the strongest results if you pair your digital media initiatives with a professional web and physical presence. This can help contacts feel safe about getting involved with and giving to your cause. 

 

February 16, 2012

5 Common Mobile Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Entry By Jason Brick

It's been said the quickest way to ruin a business is to produce good advertising and poor service. In a similar vein, you can scuttle your mobile marketing campaign when you reach people in an ineffective way. Avoid this situation by keeping clear of these five common mobile marketing gaffes.

Mobile Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

1. The Shotgun Approach

Mobile marketing shares a lot with mail -- both email and snail mail -- but it doesn't share everything. A text message is a noticeable interruption, and too many will alienate potential customers. Never send unnecessary messages. Only meaningful, appropriate contact will make the connections you want.

2. No Interaction

The best mobile campaigns elicit immediate responses from the recipient. This is an evolution of the age-old "call to action." Instead of "Act Now!" or "The first 100 callers will receive..." your call to action will be an immediate text message response. Polls, contests, and special deals for bringing in the text, all increase your list's engagement and the investment in your business.

3. Too Much Interaction

One disadvantage of mobile devices is their functionality compared to desktops and laptops. Messages that require navigating complex websites, filling in extensive forms, or downloading brochures, are difficult, annoying, and often expensive, on a mobile device. Keep the limitations of mobile devices in mind when designing your marketing.

4. Ignoring Mobile Device Capabilities

In other ways, mobile devices are like something out of James Bond's "Q" section. They're pocket-portable phones, audio players, video cameras, and audio recorders. Your text message marketing campaign can incorporate these capabilities to best capture the attention of your Send List. Engage them even further by encouraging them to send pictures, video, and audio, as part of the response your message solicits.

5. Not Testing

Never send a mobile broadcast without first testing it against a few trusted advisers -- the worst way to find out about a serious problem is when your customers tell you about it. Form a "beta test" group of loyal customers you can send rough drafts of your newest message. This elite group will help you tailor your work, while simultaneously becoming increasingly invested in and loyal to your brand. 

Time is on your side with mobile marketing. If you do make a mistake, you'll find out in a matter of days or weeks. This keeps you from spending an entire quarter -- or even a year -- on an ineffective advertising message, a situation that's all-too-common in the print and broadcast advertising world.

February 13, 2012

6 Steps to Boost Your Mobile Marketing Results

Entry By Jason Brick

In many industries, if you're not using mobile marketing you're losing market share to competitors who are. In those same industries, just having a mobile marketing campaign isn't enough -- you need a strong campaign using the best tricks and techniques available for this new form of marketing.

Boost-your-mobile-marketing

Consider these six steps to maximize the effectiveness of your mobile marketing:

1. Time Your Broadcasts

Send your text marketing messages when they have the highest likelihood of being read and acted upon. Obviously, this means not broadcasting at 2 a.m., or during Sunday church services. You can also time for the rhythm of your business -- such as a restaurant broadcasting a coupon just before the lunch rush.

2. Have a Mobile-Friendly Website

Your mobile list members might want to check your website for contact information or other details. If your site is hard to navigate on a mobile screen, they could abandon you for one that's easier to use. That's why most major players now have two websites - each specifically designed either for mobile or regular screens.

3. Send Special Offers

Electronic coupons, elite memberships, and mobile loyalty programs, all make your customers feel invested and involved. Your offers come back in the form of more visits and larger purchases at each visit.

4. Create a Dialog

Connection is the "killer app" of 21st century marketing. Polls, contests, and surveys, elicit a response from your broadcast list that makes them feel connected to your business. Capitalize on this by demonstrating that you're listening. For example, act on the results of a poll with a tailor-made special the next week.

5. Optimize Your QR Code

The Quick Response code is that square you see in the corner of new advertising. It's a way for people using mobile phones to opt in to a marketing list with a simple scan. Don't spam your code by being an annoyance to potential customers, but do make it a part of every print advertising message you create - even your menus, price lists and letterhead.

6. Organize Everything

Meticulous attention to detail means a cohesive and effective mobile marketing campaign. Keep a schedule of your broadcasts, tailored to the tempo of the industry, and work ahead so a missed day doesn't throw things off track. Go through your opt-in list regularly, and be conscientious about removing those who opt out. Combine your mobile efforts with other media types for a synergistic campaign.

February 08, 2012

6 Ways To Screw Up Your Mobile Website

Entry By Jason Brick

This post is a follow-up to our previous guide to Mobile SEO & UX. – Ed.

Ten -- okay, maybe 15 years ago -- businesses were scrambling to put up websites. It was becoming clear that competitive businesses needed to establish a presence in this new virtual real estate. 

Mobile Web Mistakes

Today, the same transition is happening with mobile computing and connectivity. Though it hasn't saturated all markets yet, including a mobile website within your company image becomes increasingly more important every month. 

Setting up your mobile website is similar to creating your normal website, with subtle key differences that can make your mobile presence stand out -- as either a winner or a loser. 

1. Forgetting Screen Size

Mobile devices -- even tablets -- have a markedly smaller screen size than desktops and laptops. Bad mobile websites make the screen, and even individual elements, too large for easy viewing and navigation. Users will grow frustrated and browse your competitor. 

2. Too Much Data

With a mobile device, data speeds are lower and data costs are higher. If you pack your page with images, plugins, and even too much information, you can overload the capacity and cash flow of your potential customers. Stick with simple graphics and a clean style. 

3. Unspecific Metadata

Metadata in a web page is the invisible code that makes the site work. In this case, it's vital that your metadata specifies that your mobile content gets displayed on mobile devices. Otherwise, the device could wind up accessing your regular website -- wasting all the time and money you've spent on the mobile design. 

4. Not Thinking Like a Mobile User

The best mobile web pages put the functions users want first, out front. For example, many of your mobile users will access your site for directions and contact information. Your regular page might have that under a "Contact Us" tab over on the right -- a mistake in mobile design.  

5. Desktop Interface Style

Forms are a pain on a mobile device, as are large fields that require interaction at various points on the screen. If your site requires interface -- such as a log-in prompt or order placement -- design it to make it as painless as possible, given the limitations of mobile devices. Similarly, it pays to allow a customer to import information from previous sessions -- for example, allowing them to use payment information they entered earlier using a desktop. 

6. Keeping it Secret

This is perhaps the single most common error companies make when developing their mobile website: they don't tell enough people about it. Mobile sites are not an "if you build it, they will come" proposition. Use all of your existing communication channels to tell people about your new mobile portal.

February 06, 2012

5 SMS Marketing Promotions To Run This Valentine's Day

Entry By Jason Brick

Valentine's Day is one of America's most commercial celebrations. Like Christmas and Halloween, the market offers consumers a chance to spend money on the holiday weeks ahead of the actual date. You can tie your SMS marketing calendar to get in on this sensual spending spree using these text promotion ideas. 

5 SMS Marketing Promotions To Run This Valentines DayTwo For One

This may seem like a romance holiday no-brainer, but you might be surprised how many businesses miss it. Whether you go "buy 2 at 50 percent off" or "buy one, get one" you can capitalize on the couples market that peaks on Valentine's Day.

Joining Forces

Partner with a kid-friendly local businesses and run a combined event, deal or program -- with you serving the parents while your partner serves the kids. Or vice versa, if your business works with children. Married couples want to celebrate, but not all of them can get a sitter on such a peak romantic holiday.

Poetry Contest

Pursue the power of promotional participation by offering a free gift to the best love poem of the day. If you work this for a week surrounding the 14th, you'll reach even the couples that are busy on the holiday itself. Extra points for different kinds of poetry on different days: rhyming couplets, limericks and haiku all fit within the character limitations of SMS.

Singles Celebration

Unless you're rich or very lucky, you've spent at least one Valentine's Day on your own -- and so has almost everybody else. This untapped February market presents an opportunity you can take advantage of through your SMS. Invite a "flash party" before or after your romantic dinner rush, with discounts for coming alone. Include a prize for the best break-up story delivered in 160 characters or less.

Revenge Day

Like a singles celebration on steroids, this plan take the bitterly single and recently detached and treats them like kings and queens. Combine encouraging messages for the brokenhearted with offers to spoil them rotten when they spend money on themselves. This doesn't work so well for romantic eateries, but can really fly with beauty parlors, hair salons and spas.

These ideas aren't just for the U.S. and other countries that celebrate Valentine's Day -- other countries have similar commercial traditions around the same time. In Japan, Valentine's Day is for boyfriends and husbands to spoil their partners. A month later, "White Day" turns the tables and the women lavish attention on the men.