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10 posts from March 2012

March 29, 2012

Everything I Need to Know About SMS Marketing I Learned in Kindergarten

Entry By Jason Brick

Robert Fulghum's book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was first published in 1988. Its meteoric success spawned posters, parodies and a musical—as well as a four-book deal for Fulghum. The title essay applies basic rules of early childhood to everyday adult life.

SMS marketing isn't kindergarten. It's fast-paced, adult, technological and all about return-on-investment. But that doesn't mean you can't improve your campaign by remembering a few of the basic rules from when you were 5 years old.

Kindergarten

Share and Share Alike
Social connections and word-of-mouth are core parts of a successful SMS campaign. Solicit your recipients to share your texts and bring others into the fold. Make it worth their while, with coupon offers for bringing a friend.

Take "No" For an Answer
Don't send messages to people who opt-out of your text message subscription. It's against the law. More importantly, it's bad sales karma—you won't sell to that person anyway, and you’re risking not selling to people he knows.

Dare to Dream
Remember how in kindergarten people always said you could be whatever you wanted? Dare to aim high for the results your SMS campaign will bring you. Use it to reach those goals.

Don't Take What Isn't Yours
Copyright laws apply to text messaging. If you steal an idea, give credit to the originator. Don't use intellectual property in your campaign unless you've received permission from the owner.

Enjoy Art Time
Get creative with your text campaign. The world is full of "Buy One, Get One" virtual coupons. The more you make your message stand out from the others, the better it will perform.

Flush the Toilet and Wash Your Hands
This isn't about your bathroom habits. It's about establishing good hygiene with your day-to-day activities. If you systematize your approach to SMS, you'll never make rookie mistakes like running out of ideas or misreading your performance numbers.

Live a Balanced Life
In kindergarten, you spent a little time each day on reading, counting, playing, art, food and naps. Make your SMS campaign a study in variety by including a wide array of modalities and messages. 

Marketing may be complex, but most of its core truths are surprisingly simple. Observe these lessons from a simpler part of your life, and you'll find your SMS campaign taking off.

March 27, 2012

Viral Ideas: Turning one SMS Idea into Multiple Broadcasts

Entry By Jason Brick

One of the biggest challenges of a robust SMS marketing campaign is coming up with fresh, engaging content day after day, week after week. That's why so many business owners ultimately "farm out" their SMS marketing to an employee or third-party agency. But there's a trick to quality copy that most of the professionals use: recycling. 

Although you should never simply reuse content -- even great content -- it's not difficult to use one successful idea to generate dozens or hundreds of other messages. One way of doing this is the SCAMPER method, a brainstorming tool popular since the late 1970s. Scamper stands for:

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Put to Other Purposes
  • Eliminate
  • Reverse/Rearrange

For each of these points, you can take your original idea and generate related -- but still unique and engaging -- text messages for your SMS campaign. Take, for example, a simple limited time happy hour two-for-one coupon that generated impressive responses.

Scamper-scammperr-bob-erberle-creativity-tools

Substitute - change out happy hour for a slow mealtime, offer 50 percent off of two meals instead of buy one, get one free.

Combine - you could combine the basic idea with an upcoming event, such as the next ball game on cable or an anniversary for your business

Adapt - keeping only the happy hour and limited time concept, you could send a broadcast announcing a couples event, contest or poll for that time period.

Modify - change the way interested subscribers can access the coupon. Where the first round required a text response, this time the discount is for those who bring in the text message and a friend who's never visited your shop.

Put to Other Purposes - if the intent of your first limited time campaign was to draw in customers, make the second all about spreading the word. Make it a contest about who can forward the message to the most friends in the hour immediately after your broadcast.

Eliminate - there's nothing wrong with simplifying an original message. From an already simple happy hour coupon, you can turn it into a two-for-one coupon redeemable any time.

Reverse/Rearrange - swap the key elements to create a coupon that offers happy hour prices any time a customer brings a second person and a copy of the broadcast.

As you can see, the steps of the SCAMPER method overlap, meaning you might come up with very similar ideas from several different elements. That's all right. If you run your best ideas through this brainstorming tactic, you'll have plenty of fodder for your SMS broadcasts even after you've eliminated the duplicate content.

March 24, 2012

What is NFC and What Does it Mean For Your Business

Entry By Simit Patel

One of the ways marketers can stay ahead of the competition in a cost-effective way is by carefully monitoring new consumer technologies. Doing so is generally a way to find the next big marketing channel before everyone else comes in and drives the price up. And over the next few years, one of the hottest technologies to watch will be that of near-field communication (NFC).

Wikipedia provides us with a good definition of NFC:

Near field communication, or NFC, allows for simplified transactions, data exchange, and wireless connections between two devices in close proximity to each other, usually by no more than a few centimeters.

NFC-N-Mark-LogoMarketers should keep their eyes open to see what type of applications this technology ends up facilitating, though the earliest approaches thus far seem to be focused on using NFC as a payment mechanism.

Google Wallet is the most publicized offering that illustrates this capability; it will allow users with NFC-enabled Google phones to simply swipe their phones to make payments and redeem loyalty coupons at merchants with NFC-compliant terminals.

A study by mobile research group Amadeus estimates that 247 million NFC-enabled smartphones will be in use by 2015. Add that Google is seeking to bring this technology to merchants and can do so via its global ad network, and the likelihood of NFC becoming a key technology and a paradigm changer grows considerably.

For businesses, this introduces a few key considerations:

  1. Accepting NFC Payments. If you're in a business that thrives on offering convenience and speed of checkout, or if you are a business prone to overload and so need to focus on getting customers through the checkout lines as fast as possible, planning to accept NFC payments should be a key priority. NFC certainly enables greater speed.
  2. Integrating NFC Payments With Your Marketing Campaigns. Google is planning to enable marketers to build applications that access NFC payment information via an API. In other words, NFC payments will enable marketers to better track and identify customers who give permission to do so; this in turn enables marketers to better identify who their best customers are and how to reach them.

The implications of this are profound, especially for businesses that are already enjoying success with coupon marketing; NFC payments can help you identify which customers are most responsive to coupons, what else they buy, and many possibilities yet to be conceived.

The world of NFC is just getting started. Hopping on the trend early enables marketers to best position themselves ahead of their competitors in this field.

March 23, 2012

Education is the New Ad Copy

Entry By Jason Brick

Here's the problem with traditional ad copy: Consumers are more sophisticated and more bombarded by marketing than at any other time in history. This means your message has to stand out if you want it to even get "on the radar" in your market.

This means stepping back from the usual claims of quality, value and savings. In fact, many consumers consider an advertised claim of these characteristics as prima facie evidence that a product lacks them.

What will make you stand out is opting to skip these overused staples of marketing speak. Instead, leading-edge advertising works to educate readers -- often without making a direct attempt at a sale. Useful, actionable information will draw eyes and attention, and keep customers engaged. When they finally reach a buying decision, your business will be in the front of their minds.

Education is The New Ad Copy

Blogs are the easiest way to make this switch from marketing to education. You're reading one right now. Quality, trustworthy information draws you to this site. You may be in the mood to buy now; you might be in the mood next year. Either way, you're getting solid information right now that might put Ez Texting in your mind when you decide to go pro with your SMS marketing.

Podcasts and Videocasts provide information and entertainment in a more dynamic format than a simple blog. These informational programs are rapidly gobbling up market share previously owned by radio and television. Despite these advantages, they cost a lot more in terms of time and effort than a simple blog post. Another disadvantage is that users listen or watch while not actually on your website. This makes it more difficult for them to convert on the spot from a lead to a customer.

Mobile Apps are the new kid on the marketing block. By building an app for users interested in your product, you can provide education and resources on a level unseen in other modes -- and you can embed more traditional ads into the final product. Like videos, though, apps are more expensive to produce -- and not everybody has a smartphone yet.

SMS/Text Marketing is limited in word count, but you can still educate your subscriber list with a link to more robust content, or a brief "fortune cookie" fact. You can increase engagement and response by requiring activity to get the answer to an intriguing question. For example "How did your senator vote on the appropriations bill? Text WHO to find out."

March 20, 2012

Kicking it Old School: Tying SMS to Print Marketing

Entry By Jason Brick

SMS seems to be the heir apparent for becoming the king of marketing. Between its low cost-per-impression and high response rate, there are few downsides to this new marketing approach. This doesn't mean that you should abandon your other marketing campaigns altogether, though. Like any new friend, SMS marketing adds value to your operation — but you shouldn't let it eclipse your relationship with trusted companions like print marketing. 

Used together, SMS and print marketing efforts can create a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. As you forge your marketing plan for 2012, consider these ways to tie your SMS campaign into your print efforts. 

Old-school

Advertise Your Advertising

Every print promotion you send out should include a short code, keyword or QR code as a call to action. The reach of print is still greater than that of your mobile marketing, and this is a great way to bring new subscribers to your broadcast list. Placing different codes in different ads can help you track which print promotions are the most successful.

Hold a Treasure Hunt

Offer your SMS customers a discount for sending in a photo of one of your print ads. This adds an element of fun while drastically increasing your subscribers' engagement with your brand. You can do this as a long-running coupon, or offer a larger reward to the subscriber who sends the most photos of different print appearances.

Coming Attractions

If you're about to run a new ad or print a new billboard, let your SMS subscribers know it's coming. Hold a countdown as release day approaches. You can even hold a contest or poll as you're planning your next print run, soliciting your best customers to text in ideas.

Don't Duplicate Content

If your print and SMS messages say the same things, your subscribers won't be motivated to look at your print ads, and print consumers won't be motivate d to sign up for your SMS broadcasts. Make each message different, and tailored them for the traits of its specific medium. Even better, have each mode include a teaser that encourages those who see it to check out the other.

Abandon Low-End Print Runs

Although SMS hasn't rendered print ads obsolete, it absolutely outperforms the small ads and coupons you might have previously run in coupon circulars and similar small ads. Instead, use the budget you'd earmarked for that to increase the top range of your print platform. Combine it with SMS to make a bigger, more professional impact.

March 14, 2012

Mobile Synergy: Combining Your Platforms for Improved Connections

Entry By Jason Brick

Synergy is what happens when two or more elements combine to form a total that is greater than the sum of their parts. Like a musical chord, the result is something exponentially more powerful than what any individual note could accomplish.

Synergy

So it is with marketing. The more you combine your different platforms, the better each will perform. Maximize your marketing by obeying these 10 commandments of mobile synergy.

  1. Be aggressive with your keywords and quick response codes. If you put out an ad in any visual media, include these key elements of your mobile SMS marketing.
  2. Give incentives for multi-platform involvement. Send a text broadcast promising a discount to everybody who "likes" your latest Facebook post -- or ask for a text response in your radio ad.
  3. Keep each platform in mind when designing your ads. Internet is different from TV, and both are different from mobile. Just because a message works well on one platform doesn't mean it will rock another.
  4. Target appropriately. In general, TV audiences tend to be older than mobile audiences. Just as you wouldn't place the same ads in Maxim as Scientific American, you don't want to send the right message to the wrong platform.
  5. Use short messages as lures for longer contact. One-line Facebook posts and text messages see more than four times the response as longer messages. Make some of these enticing announcements of videos, updated web pages, podcasts, and other in-depth material.
  6. Optimize your website for mobile and traditional use. If you don't have a mobile-based version of your site, get one. If you do, make sure it's easy to switch between the two, so that users get the best possible experience.
  7. Call on your users to forward texts and re-tweet messages. Cross-modality involvement means greater engagement -- which in turn leads to more customer loyalty and greater front-of-mind awareness.
  8. Make some offers platform-specific, allowing those who use a specific modality to share the deal with friends. This can draw customers on other channels into that platform, increasing your average number of contacts each day.
  9. Test everything. What looks good in an SMS broadcast looks terrible on Facebook. What works on your desktop's 30-inch monitor won't work on an iPhone. Always check everything using the platform it's meant for before going live with any message.
  10. Track and compare platform performance, and make adjustments to your overall marketing plan as different modalities outperform one another.

March 12, 2012

Four Oddly Successful SMS Campaigns

Entry By Jason Brick

Sms-successWhen Nike's Time's Square mobile campaign turned heads, nobody was surprised. After all, Nike is a multinational corporation with a reputation for breaking ground in advertising. When Pizza Hut's iPhone app won awards in 2009, it came as no surprise -- who wouldn't want to order pizza from a smart phone with a few taps?

Other campaigns enjoy success for less obvious reasons, and still others come out on top under circumstances that can only be described as ... odd. Consider these winners from recent years for your education and inspiration:

1. Long Time Dead

An early example of the power of text message marketing, this campaign helped promote the horror movie Long Time Dead. Users texted a question and received a spooky, virtual Ouija-board answer. Friends and potential fans could conduct a "mobile séance," with an average of three contacts and twenty messages per visitor at the height of the campaign.

2. Planet Hollywood Casino

It shouldn't be any real surprise that the luxury Vegas hotel's program got results. Planet Hollywood implemented an SMS campaign that offered a $10 coupon to recipients who responded to the text message. This generated a 70 percent response rate and increased the casino's rewards program membership by over 13 percent. What's odd is the target list. Planet Hollywood is a major resort hotel and casino complex that typically courts high rollers -- and yet this seemingly insignificant offering yielded impressive results.

3. Save Kerala

The Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, India is 116 years old, and was built only to last about 50 years. The population living beneath the dam faces the real risk that the crumbling dam could collapse and devastate the region. In 2011, an activist Facebook page sprang up as an attempt to draw attention and spark change. By December, the page had 14,000 likes and 29,000 fans. Not bad for a grassroots organization. The complexity of political civil engineering means the site has yet to achieve its goal, but the numbers are impressive.

4. The Dockers Shake

Although early mobile adopters often wear Dockers pants, they rarely get excited about them. But in 2009, Dockers released the first "Shakable" ad. When a user shook his phone, a pair of legs (naturally wearing Dockers) performed a series of dance moves. Friends texted each other and shared the app for a 300 percent increase in positive customer impressions on social media platforms.

When you start to feel down about your own SMS efforts, re-read these stories. With the odds against these mobile marketing winners, they came out on top. There's no reason your campaign should be any less successful.

March 06, 2012

How Can Accountants Use Text Message Marketing?

How Can Accountants Use Text Message Marketing? Find out in our guest post over at the Intuit Accountants Central blog.

March 05, 2012

Your Content Board: Generating and Remembering Text Message Marketing Ideas

Entry By Jason Brick

One reason text message marketing is so powerful is that it reaches subscribers with fresh content all the time. The flip side of that coin is that you have to create fresh content all the time. If you become bored with your SMS message, your customers will know -- and you'll know when you feel it at the cash register.

Enter the content board as a solution to this problem. This is a space where you write down, track and expand on your ideas in a framework that helps you access ideas when you need them. In some offices, this is an actual white or blackboard hung on a wall. In others, it's a pocket notebook or notes program on a smartphone or tablet. The form's not as important as the process to which you apply it. Used well, this process can help you generate text message ideas and remember them when it's time to make your next broadcast.

Content-board

Step 1: Brainstorm

The process starts with inventing a fleet of raw ideas for your SMS campaigns. Set aside some dedicated time to write down everything that comes to mind. Note everything, even ideas that feel stupid as you say them out loud. This part of the process is about freeing your mind and making as long a list as possible. Everything goes on the board, with some space around each to make room for step two.

Step 2: Expanding

Start this step by eliminating the obviously unworkable ideas. Although you should keep as many as possible, your brainstorming session will unavoidably generate some inappropriate, impossible or redundant items.

Once you've eliminated those, develop new ideas off each original concept. These can be specializations of a general concept, "piggybacked" ideas from related concepts or combinations of another idea. For example, "Holiday Messages" could generate "Themed Coupons", "Event Announcements" and "Greeting Card" ideas.

Step 3: Refining

By the end of step 2, you'll have the raw seeds for dozens of SMS ideas. Take a handful -- enough to last until your next brainstorming session -- and turn them into actual SMS messages. You'll find that doing this as part of your content board session means you're generating your content when you're most energized and excited about it. 

If you can't do this step right away, don't worry. The other purpose of your content board is to keep those ideas up where you can access them. Come back to the board when you have the time and energy.

Step 4: Broadcasting

The final step is sending out your content to your subscriber list. If you've finished steps one through three, this part is quick and painless. Even if you get caught unprepared at "go time," you can reference your content board to find an easy message to prepare and send out into the world.

March 02, 2012

Consumers Prefer SMS Marketing for Mobile Promotions. Why?

Entry By Jason Brick

As we move through 2012, even more evidence comes to light that says you should be using SMS in your marketing. Consider these figures from a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) study of 1,000 consumers in four different countries.

In the U.S., 33 percent of mobile users prefer SMS marketing to mobile web, apps and voice mail. In Germany, that number is 58 percent. In France, 60 percent of those surveyed prefer SMS. 

Understanding that this is true is one step in mastering mobile marketing. The next step is understanding why. Here are some of the most common replies from respondents to the DMA study and other marketing surveys. 

 

Yes

Small Footprint

SMS is short and sweet, limited to just 160 characters and readable in an instant. As compared to voice mail, apps and traditional media, this means your advertising takes less of your customers' time while still delivering your message.

Recipient-Directed

Unlike radio advertising and similar modes, the recipient gets to choose when and how he interacts with your SMS message. Compared to voice mail - which is often hard to distinguish from a regular phone call - this is more considerate of your customers' schedules.

Accessible Use

Not everybody has an Internet-enabled phone. SMS will reach the customers who have standard cell phones. Although increasingly ignored in the marketing literature, they still outnumber the app phone users.

Low/No Cost

Mobile websites take a lot of data that mobile users pay for. Though some plans will charge a few cents for incoming text messages, the cost for some users is insignificant compared to the costs for accessing a website or downloading an app.

Mobile Compatibility

Mobile web is still fraught with problems. Different screen sizes, programming and browsers mean a site optimized for iPhones might be wonky on an Android - and both are usually designed on a full-size monitor, which causes its own problems. SMS is simple and universally compatible.

"App Fatigue"

More than 100,000 apps were released last month, and the average user has 15 to 48 apps on his mobile device. An offer adding even more saturation to a user's app situation often feels like more trouble than its worth.

The bad news is that 50 percent of respondents to the same study reported they would rather not be contacted by phone at all. However, research on other forms of advertising suggests that consumers dislike bad advertising - the same people who complain about television commercials still show the funniest Super Bowl ads with their friends.

The takeaway: make your SMS marketing excellent. The better you make it, the less your opt-in list will mind - and the more they'll prefer it to other mobile options. Not sure where to get started? Check out our free SMS Marketing Resources Center.