November 2012

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November 29, 2012

Supporting SMS Marketing with Facebook

Entry By Jason Brick

1354205771_facebookSynergy is when two efforts or effects combine to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. In marketing, this happens most often when you use multiple channels to deliver the same message. Done right, it can create a feedback loop of publicity far greater than what two media modes would have accomplished individually.

Facebook (Social Media Marketing) and SMS Marketing are two modes born to create this kind of synergy, since they serve similar audiences and thrive with the same kind of short-form message. Keep a few things in mind to maximize the benefits for both your campaigns. 

Don't rebroadcast the same message on both channels. This mistake will lead subscribers to believe they only need to subscribe to one channel. Instead, put unique content on both.

Do tease content between channels. For example, you can put a promotional video on your Facebook feed, and then send an SMS broadcast with a link. Be sure to go both directions, so you harvest subscribers from both bases. 

Don't only broadcast advertising. This might be tempting since you're putting out more effort on both fronts, but customers are more likely to unsubscribe from advertising-only channels. Make sure you include funny, informative and topical posts along with your shameless self-promotion. Otherwise, those who follow you on both channels with get bored twice as fast. 

Do hold cross-platform contests. Send an SMS coupon to people who participate in a Facebook contest, or hold a text message poll to decide on a detail of your Facebook page design. The more involvement you get between both forms, the better. 

Don't stop at just the two modes. Include a link to your Facebook page and your SMS call to action on your website, in your print advertising, and on all of your takeaway collateral. The problem with focusing on Facebook and SMS is that the communities are aware of each other. Reaching out to more traditional media will bring in even more fresh faces. 

Do check your Facebook and web presence on mobile devices before you go live with anything. Linking from an SMS broadcast means people will look at your Facebook posts on a phone. They need to like what they see. 

Readers, do you have any experience here as a marketer or as a consumer? Tell us about it in the comments below. What's the worst, or the best, thing you've seen along these lines?

November 28, 2012

Inbox API Code Samples Now Available In 6 Languages

New-api-code-samplesA few weeks ago, we launched our new Inbox APIs, along with PHP code samples. For a quick referesher: It's important to note that these new Inbox APIs should not be confused with our existing Incomming Messaging APIs. These new Inbox APIs are meant to allow you to manage the contents of your Inbox without logging into the Ez Texting web app.

At the time we said we'd have more code samples in a few weeks, and we're glad to announce that those code samples are now available! Check them out now:

Note! If you're already using our code samples in any other language than PHP, we've updated the shared library used by Contacts, Groups and now Inbox/Folders. Please note this if you download the zip of the library and the samples.

November 27, 2012

6 Tips to Maximize Your Time This Holiday Season

Entry By Jason Brick

The holidays are a time crunch even for people who aren't running a business. When you add being responsible for the biggest retail season of the year, it's amazing any of us survive to see the New Year. This holiday season, do yourself and those around you a favor by using some or all of these tricks to maximize your holiday schedule for better productivity and lower stress.

Longines pocket watch
  1. Get Up One Hour Earlier You'll feel a little rocky the first few days, but this hour of extra productive time can help you clear a major task or a bunch of minor errands off your docket, allowing you to start the day with momentum and enthusiasm. If you keep it up, you'll find yourself able to get to bed on time...and end up getting more sleep than if you set your alarm for the regular time. 
  2. Practice Saying "No" 'Tis the season to over-commit. You'll be asked to parties, begged to run errands, tasked with participating in community events. Give yourself permission to take on only the items that will truly improve your holiday experience. Remember: saying "no" to something you don't want is saying "yes" to something else you find more important. 
  3. Schedule "You Time" Get to the gym. Go on a date with your spouse or family. Take ten minutes to relax and breathe. Get a haircut or a manicure. Time to refresh pays off in productivity later down the line, but it's often the first to go when the schedule gets tight. Write it in your calendar, in pen.
  4. Combine Errands From last-minute gifts to picking up the turkey for a feast, errands are just part of the holiday routine. You can cut your errand time in half by planning your tasks and combining them strategically. Bonus points for listening to podcasts or a good audio book while you're out and about. 
  5. Cybershop Shopping online takes less than ten percent of the time it takes to shop in a physical store, once you take into account drive time, parking, dealing with crowds and waiting in line. The prices are usually better online, too. Challenge yourself this year to see how much of your shopping you can do from your desk. 
  6. Overestimate Your Schedule When things get tight, it's tempting to try shoehorning tasks into your schedule so you can do everything you think you have to do. If one runs long, you end up with a cascading series of late arrivals and overruns. Instead, schedule 125% to 150% of the time you think a task will take. If nothing goes wrong, you have bonus time to take care of those little things that add up every day. 

November 20, 2012

The Best Holiday Season Ever: Week 8

Entry By Jason Brick

We're in the final stretch, our last week of preparation for Black Friday...this Friday. Although you've missed most of the action if you're tuning in this week, take a look at the whole series to help you get ready for next year. If you've been with us the whole time, congratulations! With a bit of luck, your hard work is going to pay off with the best retail season of your business's life. 

Black-friday-profits

This week combines your final exam with graduation. You have just one thing to do this week: Your Big, Bad Black Friday Bonanza. But the action doesn't start on Friday. Although every business and situation demands its own schedule, you'll do well if you stick to these basic guidelines. Now is time to stage everything for the action later in the week. Find time to take care or all of the following little tasks:

  • Catch up on any cleaning that fell by the wayside in past weeks
  • Confirm with every member of your staff they they understand their schedule and duties, and can commit to fulfilling them. 
  • Do whatever is necessary to ensure that any items you've ordered from suppliers will arrive on time. 
  • Schedule text messages reminding winners of your contests and all elite team members of your early bird sale for Wednesday night. 
  • Schedule text messages each day this week, each of which includes a countdown reminder (just 76 hours until...) and a teaser for one of the great specials you'll be running on Black Friday.

Tuesday

Finalize your schedule for Wednesday night and Friday. Wednesday, you'll be running a one-to-two hour exclusive early bird event for your winners, elite team, and guests. Determine the best time according to your industry and area. For example, a retail shop might stay open an hour late, while a restaurant might hold an exclusive mean during the lunch rush. 

For Friday, you'll want to follow the lead of your competition. If the other sporting goods store in town opens at 5:00, open at 4:50. If the bar across the street runs happy hour until 8:00, run yours until 9:00.

Tuesday shouldn't be the first day you think about the schedule. Now is the time to confirm the final details, nothing more. 

Wednesday

Run your early-bird special, and support it with text and social media reminders before and during the event. Bonus points for door prizes, time-sensitive extra discounts and anything else to get people as excited as possible. If you run out of stock during this sale, feel free to sleep in on Friday. You've earned it. 

Thursday

Take the day off. Hug your family. Watch the game. 

Friday

Run your sale. By now, you and your staff should be mostly ready. You've planned your work...now work your plan. If business every starts to flag, send a text broadcast offering a limited deal for people who show up in the next hour. Use that instantaneous communication to keep people coming in all day long. 

But that's not all! Black Friday is the beginning of the holiday retail season. With such a powerful start, what plans do you have to ride the momentum all the way to 2013? Tell us about it in the comments. 

November 16, 2012

Get Your Free Copy Of Our SMS Marketing eBook In Any Format Now!

A few months ago we released our eBook, SMS Marketing For Small Businesses, exclusively for Kindle. Since then hundreds of people have read the book and learned the basics (and beyond of SMS Marketing).

Ebook

Today we're excited to announce that our eBook is now available for FREE for every popular eReader on the market.* We've also provided the eBook in PDF format if you want to download and read it on your computer:

* Amazon currently requires us to charge 99 cents for the Kindle edition. We're doing everything we can to get that price down to zero. In the meantime you can grab a free .mobi version at SmashWords and email it to your Kindle.

November 14, 2012

The Best Holiday Season Ever: Week 7

Entry By Jason Brick

We're in the home stretch. Just two more weeks of work and events until Black Friday has come and gone again. For those of you joining us for the first time, read weeks one through six of our Small Business Holiday Marketing series. It's a bit late to get full benefit, but you'll find a few ideas you can still take action on. 

This week, you'll feel a bit like a racer lining up on the blocks. You'll finish the last of the warm-ups and start getting ready for the big event. To that effect, we'll focus our energy on three things:

  1. Collectors Series, Week Two
  2. Clearance Event
  3. Changing Your Front Area

With those done, you'll have everything in place to go hard during next week's sales. 

Holiday-marketing-home-stretch

Collector's Series, Week Two

Last week, you sent a series of small discounts and offered a wider discount for people who came in with multiple coupons. This week, you'll go one further. Send three more messages out, sending each on every media platform you use. Again, these will be small deals like a minor discount or free drink with a meal. The difference will be in the value of collecting. Any customer who uses all three deals this week gets admission to next week's Black Friday sales. People who come in several times this week are folks you can pre-frame for big sales and your best deals. Make sure they know they get to bring some friends to that early admission.

Clearance Event

This one's simple. Remember in previous weeks when you went through your front and back areas, identifying items that aren't moving. If you haven't already identified the items that will make the best loss-leaders for next week, do that now and set them aside. Everything else goes on display at the front of your store, offered at as steep a discount as you can offer without experiencing physical pain. Everybody who buys anything also gets a ticket for early admission to your Black Friday event. 

Changing the Front Area

Do this later in the week, after consumers have bought most of your clearance items. Now is the time to rearrange your displays -- and even your furniture -- to make the shop ready for Black Friday. You'll know better than us marketing experts about how best to arrange your shop for a major sale. Just do it this week when you have time to make adjustments. Don't wait until the last minute.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Out of curiosity, how do our retailers balance the Black Friday thing with time for family during this holiday season? Tell us about it in the comments below...

November 12, 2012

7 Top Business Blogs to Inspire and Inform You

Entry By Jason Brick

When you're part of a big company's machine, you have a boss who brings news, information and new ideas your way on a regular basis. When you run your own small business, it's up to you to keep your tools sharp by finding that information yourself. Since we live in an age of outsourcing, it's completely kosher to outsource your research to professional business bloggers. Try out a few of the below to add to your daily reading. We've included some well known names along with some gems you might have missed! 

Top-business-blogs

  1. Stever Robbins
    Also known as the Get It Done Guy of podcast fame, Stever is all about personal productivity, communication and organization. If your business -- or your work flow -- needs some help at the process level, Stever offers some of the best advice on the web. 
  2. Seth Godin
    Rule one of Internet success: be Seth Godin. Rule two of Internet success: read Seth's blog. Rule three: don't imitate Seth's methods. He's one of those celebrities who gets away with breaking the rules because his following has reached critical mass. Do as the man says, not as he does. 
  3. Tom Peters
    Tom's a consultant who gives away much of his knowledge for free in his blog posts. Subscribe for great applications of classic concepts, along with actionable advice for common problems.
  4. The Blog Tyrant
    Whether you're creating blogs for passive income or using a blog to funnel leads into your sales system, you have to know the best tricks for bringing traffic to your site. Blog Tyrant stays on top of this ever-changing world and gives you the short version.
  5. Brain Food
    SEO guru John Ellis doesn't post more than a few times a month, but what he does post is bleeding edge Internet marketing technique. When other businesses panicked because of Google's search algorithm changes, Ellis already knew what to do about it. 
  6. All Things Workplace
    If you're a technician running your own shop, you never got the management and leadership training that's at least half of the secret to small business success. Steve Roesler's blog can give you that training you missed out on while you were becoming the best at what you do. 
  7. The Ez Texting Blog
    Okay, we're bragging just a little. But the blog you're reading right now updates regularly with technology news, small business tips, and ideas for stretching your marketing dollar. It's not our fault we're charming and beautiful, too. 

Readers, any blogs we missed? Tell us about your favorite reading in the comments.

November 09, 2012

Engage Your Subscribers With Text Message Drip Campaigns

We've been rolling out a lot of great features lately, but we think Drip Campaigns is one that many of you are most excited about.

Drip Campaigns are like email autoresponders – they allow you to automatically send a timed series of text messages to a Group of Contacts. The messages are sent to anyone who joins a Group that is connected to that campaign. While you don't need a Keyword for a Drip Campaign, most people connect a Drip Campaign to a Group which you can join via a Keyword.

Drip-ez

If you want to watch a video overview of Drip Campaigns, head over to YouTube.

Want to learn even more? You can read our extensive article covering the ins and outs of Drip Campaigns at the Knowledgebase.

November 06, 2012

New Inbox Management APIs Available

When we upgraded your Inbox to include Folders last week - we actually did a whole lot more work behind the scenes. Why? To let you manage your Inbox (and of course your new Folders) using our REST API. It's important to note that these new Inbox APIs should not be confused with our existing Incomming Messaging APIs. These new Inbox APIs are meant to allow you to manage the contents of your Inbox without logging into the Ez Texting web app. The New APIs allow you to:

Check them out in the REST API Docs.

Looking for Code Samples? We've got them available in PHP over at GitHub. We'll be posting them to the Ez Texting Developer Center in all of the usual languages as soon as we can.

Learn more about our SMS API at the Developer Center.

The Best Holiday Season Ever: Week 6

Entry By Jason Brick
Click here to catch up with weeks one through five. We're about three-quarters done, but that doesn't mean you can't get good value from following the rest of the series.

The Finish Line


It's time to get serious
this week as we round the last corner and see the finish line ahead. If you've been keeping up, you now have a solid list of new subscribers and a customer base that's already used to participating and being involved with your brand. It's time to start capitalizing on that involvement to make everybody excited about what comes next. We'll do that with three pieces:

  1. Collector Series Week One
  2. Social Media Poll
  3. Deep Clean Front Area 

Collector Series

This week, put out four posts with small-scale deals, using different media for each one. A restaurant might drop a 10% o ff lunch coupon via SMS, a free drink on Facebook, a happy hour special on Twitter and a deal on Pinterest. There's one catch. In addition to the individual deals, offer a larger deal for people who come in with multiple coupons. Maybe an extra appetizer, or a free T-shirt. This rewards people for engaging with all your marketing feeds, and encourages people to subscribe to multiple lists. 

Social Media Poll

Use Facebook for this one, but announce it via an SMS broadcast. The idea is simple. Find out what kind of Black Friday deals your customers would like to see most. Run two to three instances of the poll, narrowing down options each time. A sporting goods store might run the poll like this:

  • Poll 1: What category of gear would you most like to see on ubersale this season? High school sports, Water gear, Winter clothes or High-ticket items?
  • Poll 2: Folks want to see high-ticket items on sale this se ason. What price point are you thinking you'll have for your most expensive holiday purchase? $50 to $100, $100 to $200, $200 to $500, over $500?
  • Poll 3: Most people chose the $200 to $500 category. What would excite you most? Some $600 to $800 items brought down to $500, or $500 items brought to the $300 level?

By the end of the week, your most engaged and enthusiastic customers will have told you exactly how to win their business on Black Friday.

Deep Clean Front Area

Close early one night in the middle of the week and clean the ever-loving bejeezus out of every area your customers might see. Scrub walls. Paint scuffs. Throw out those little piles of accumulated detritus. While you're at it, pull merchandise that's been sitting around unmoved for a few weeks. Set them aside for prizes and giveaways for next week.

Can we ask a favor? We can tell by the huge number of social shares that you're getting value out of this seri es. Could a few of you leave a comment to tell us what we're doing well and what you'd like to see different? It will help us close this series with the biggest possible bang. Thanks.