December 2012

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December 28, 2012

A Year Of Mobile Marketing: 2012

Entry By Jason Brick

As the year comes to a close, it's a good idea to rethink your marketing efforts and analyze trends to determine what will make for the best possible 2013. While you're doing this, take a look at these statistics from this past year in new media. If 2012 wasn't the year mobile took over, there's a good chance 2013 will be.

Chichen Itza's Kukulcan Temple

Starting Strong
Christmas season saw more mobile devices sold than laptop or desktop computers. Just when your company was getting used to effective website marketing, you now need to retool to become mobile-friendly if you want to serve the majority of potential customers. 

As the year began, more people worldwide owned a mobile device -- mostly cell phones -- than owned land line phones, automobile sand toothbrushes. In the US, 47% of the total mobile audience used apps and mobile browsers, meaning half of the users had smart phones or tablets.

The Power of Mobile
According to a University of Southern California report, as of November 2012...

  • 1.08 billion smart phones were in active use worldwide.
  • 3.05 mobile phones can receive SMS broadcast advertising.
  • 73 billion views on YouTube.com came from mobile devices this year. That's 200 million every day.
  • Twitter reported that half of its access in 2012 came from mobile devices. Facebook found approximately 1/3 of its 700 million users did the same.

Knowing Your Audience
Besides the growing power of mobile, other statistics from this year give valuable insight into what mobile uses look like.

  • 20% of customers now practice "showrooming," the technique of entering a store to examine a product, then finding the best price on line via mobile, according to Forrester Research.
  • The most active group in mobile media are women between 35 and 54 years old.
  • 29 percent of mobile users report being willing to scan a tag to get access to a mobile-based coupon or deal, reports Microsoft Tag. If you have an online store, your mobile-coupon could reach 290 million open customers.
  • Nielsen reports the three best industries for mobile coupons are grocery stores, department stores and clothing stores.
  • A 2012 mobile survey found men more likely to use mobile coupons than women.

One final statistic that shows the growing power of mobile usage this year. According to Yahoo! analysis, 86 percent of mobile users do so while watching television. And you know when they're doing that -- during the ad breaks.

December 24, 2012

Check Out Our 2012 Mobile Year In Review

Our 2011 Mobile Review was one of the most popular features we've ever published, so we knew we had to follow up with something even better this year. We think you'll enjoy our recap for this year: 18 Mobile Stories That Mattered In 2012.

2012-mobile-review

We break down the 18 most important stories that shaped the mobile world in 2012, from the Apple Maps fiasco to the explosion of mobile ad revenue (even at now-public Facebook!). Check out the 18 Mobile Stories That Mattered In 2012 now.

December 21, 2012

How To Use The Suggestive Selling Technique This Holiday Season

Entry By Jason Brick

For most retail shops, and even some restaurants, the holiday season is your anchor in the storm of business success. The better your income in December, the better your entire following year. Suggestive selling -- whether it's impulse buys at the register or package deals to inflate each ticket -- is a key to getting the most money for the least effort. It's worthwhile to remember -- and train your staff to remember -- some dos and don'ts of the suggestive sale technique.

Kenya Electricity Corporation Suggestion Box

Do create packages of related items, such as a console game and extra controllers or a wine and appetizer pairing with an entree. Pairings that make sense feel more like service than like obvious sales.

Don't suggest more than one option. A yes or no is quick, easy, and usually a yes. Asking for a last-minute decision can alienate.

Do make the offer sound like advice. "Our white wine and tapas appetizers go great with that, and they're on special today" beats "Would you like to add today's special to that entree for just..."

Don't argue, become pushy, or act disappointed if a customer says no. That's a great way to lose that individual's next sales.

Do put signs around your store listing item bundles and suggestive sale offers. This orients customers so they're not surprised by the questions once they get to the register.

Don't offer so many suggestive sale items that it confuses your staff. Keep things simple, and quiz your people on the offerings until they can guide customers to them without hesitation or thought.

Do keep a supply of your most popular suggestive sale items at each cash register. Customers are much less likely to buy if they have to leave the counter to get additional items.

Don't ignore gift cards as an impulse buy. "How about a gift card for your (secretary/officemate/kid's girlfriend)" can feel like a present all of its own to the right harried holiday shopper.

Do remember that this is selling. It works best when you ask with eye contact, a friendly smile and a confident voice. Don't even bother unless the customer is already having a peak shopping experience.

Any holiday veterans out there have a success story to tell? Share your experience in the comments.

December 18, 2012

3 Great New Year's Themed SMS Text Message Coupon Ideas

Entry By Jason Brick

As 2013 approaches, everybody everywhere will be thinking and talking about the New Year. New Year’s parties. New Year's resolutions. New Year’s cocktails. New Year’s cartoons and specials. All the New Year’s hype doesn't mean your marketing should avoid the topic in your SMS offers for the weeks on both sides of the day...but it does mean you need to go the extra mile to make yours stand out in the sea of holiday greetings.

Celebration in the ‘Big Apple’: SMP hosts trip to Times Square for New Year’s

Try one or more of these SMS couponing ideas to help ring in the season with the best revenue possible.

  1. First Customer/Last Customer Deals
    Whatever your last day of business for 2012 is, announce that morning that the last sale you ring up will be at a 25% or greater discount. Tease out reminders over the course of the day to keep interest going. Do the same for your first day of business for 2013, with a similar discount for the first customer of the new year. Announce this the day before for a strong opening morning. This contest can be especially fun if your business stays open past midnight, with the two winners buying back-to-back.
  2. New Year Trivia Contest
    For the five days on either side of the new year, run a daily trivia contest about 2012 statistics related to your business. An ethnic restaurant could ask about news events from its country of origin, while a sporting goods store might run questions about the Olympic games. Every winner gets a coupon.
  3. The Obligatory Photo Contest
    New  Years is a time to get crazy, even if your particular celebration style doesn't include excessive alcohol. Find a theme related to your business and have participants send in photos taken between 12:01 on the 31st and Midnight. Your particular contest will depend a lot on the kind of business you run. A day care might go for cutest party outfit, while a bar could run one for skimpiest costume party getup.

Keep on giving with a resolution tracking contest. Get participants to commit to their goal...losing a pound a week, swearing off cigarettes, getting a 3.5 GPA or better at school…pretty much anything. As each person falls off the resolution wagon, update participants of how many people are left. The winner gets a significant prize in the form of a free gift or mega-coupon.

As the day approaches, what are your resolutions for the New Year? How can the team here at Ez Texting help you reach them?

December 11, 2012

Integrate Your AWeber Account For Seamless Email And SMS Marketing

AWeber SMS Marketing IntegrationWhen we rolled out our Integrations feature back in October we told you that more integrations would be on the way - and today we're excited to announce the next one - AWeber. If your unfamiliar with AWeber (we doubt you are, but go with us here), they are one of the most popular, easy to use email marketing services in the US...which made them a no-brainer when it came to creating our next integration.

Setting up the AWeber integration is extremely easy. Login to your Ez Texting account, click Integrations under the Advanced Features menu, and when that page loads you'll be able to add a new AWeber connection. After you've authorized the Ez Texting application you'll choose the lists you'd like to sync from and the Ez Texting Groups to add those contacts to. As with all of our integrations, you can sync manually or have us update the sync whenever you login to your account.

Aweber-sync
Login now - or see all of our web app integrations.

December 10, 2012

5 Christmas-Themed Text Message Coupons

Entry By Jason Brick

With everything else going on during the holiday retail rush, it can be hard to find time to come up with SMS Marketing content for December. Fear not, dear readers, the Ez Texting Blog is here to help. Whether you use one idea, all the ideas, or springboard off of them for your own content, Merry Christmas. 

Christmas-sms-coupons

  1. Stocking Stuffer Super Sale
    For suggestive selling at its finest, offer a variety of coupons for low-ticket items that offer a discount with the purchase of larger merchandise. This could take the form of a 5% off per $10 value of other items, a buy-one-get-one deal, or packaging accessories for your big sellers. Add a time-limit to create a rush for a single slow afternoon.
  2. The Twelve Days of _________
    This one is practically cheating, giving you twelve coupons from one basic idea. Start a countdown to a specific date -- Christmas, the solstice, the new year, your last day open before closing for your own holiday, whatever. Each day, place a discount on a single item that's either high-margin or moving too slowly. When you announce an item, include a teaser for the next day's sale. 
  3. Photo Contest Extravaganza
    Folks love their holiday photos, so celebrate that with a series of photo contests, giving the top ten participants a special discount or freebie. If you have a screen in your shop, consider putting up a slideshow of winning images to play throughout the month. Some ideas for photo contests include:
    • Best tree
    • Most exhausted face after shopping
    • Ugliest gift wrap
    • Nicest holiday feast
    • Cutest stockings
  4. Christmas Poem Contest
    Encourage your people to get creative by announcing a series of poem contests on your social media platform. Once or twice a week, send out a single word: the type of poem this contest is about (for example, " Haiku" or "Dirty Limerick"). Print or write out the best results, along with whatever prize you've decided the winners have earned. 
  5. Worst Day/Best Day Giveaway
    The holiday season gives us all some of the warmest and fuzziest memories of the year, and some of our most stressful experiences. Set aside a handful of low-cost, slow-moving items as giveaway prizes and award them to folks who give you the best and worst stories of the holiday season.

Readers, what was your most successful holiday SMS plan ever? What new ideas do you have for this year? Share with us in the comments and have a great holiday season. 

December 06, 2012

Supporting SMS Marketing With LinkedIn

Entry By Jason Brick

Linkedin-smsLinkedIn is in many ways the RC Cola of social media. It lacks the deep market penetration of the Coke and Pepsi of the social media landscape, Facebook and Twitter, but it hangs in there and everybody knows what it is. Like other social media options, LinkedIn is a low-cost way to get great returns for your marketing dollar. Also like other social media, it's really easy to use LinkedIn incorrectly. One way to do it right is to combine your LinkedIn presence with your SMS marketing campaign. Here are 5 easy steps to make that easier.

  1. Harvest Your Most Professional Posts on Other Sites It's okay -- even expected -- that you'll recycle content between LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Twitter. The only caveat is that LinkedIn remains the most professionally oriented of the social media big boys. The funny meme that everybody loved on Facebook last week? It's not appropriate here. Find a dozen or so highly professional posts and re-use them on LinkedIn.
  2. Create a Group Make a discussion group centered around your LinkedIn account. If you don't know how, the tutorial page makes it easy. Announce the next meeting using your SMS broadcasts -- then send out the question for discussion on SMS about an hour before the meeting starts. This brings more people to the table, and will stimulate a better discussion once things are underway.
  3. Cross-Pollinate Aggressively At least every other week, invite SMS subscribers to find you on LinkedIn, and LinkedIn contacts to subscribe to your text broadcasts. This works best if you add an incentive each time, such as a discount or giveaway for anybody who signs up or brings a friend. 
  4. Combine Efforts Your LinkedIn contacts will be mostly customers, but will include other business owners and similar colleagues. A few of these will be willing to cross-promote with you. You can work together for a combined set of SMS announcements, or simply "guest post" for each other in your text broadcasts and LinkedIn accounts. Either way, you'll both get access to a new pool of potential subscribers. 
  5. Join Other Groups LinkedIn groups are a great resource for learning new tricks and ideas. By joining a handful of small business groups, or groups related to your industry, you'll be exposed to a few. You can translate any number of these directly to a great SMS broadcast -- which you'll turn right around and share with the group. 

Any other success stories about combining your LinkedIn or other social media account with your SMS efforts? Tell us about it in the comments.

Have you seen our previous posts on integrating SMS and Social Media? Check them out: Facebook & Twitter.

December 04, 2012

Supporting SMS Marketing with Twitter

Entry By Jason Brick

Twitter-and-smsIn many ways, Twitter and SMS marketing are the closest of media cousins. Both engage instantly using short blurbs rather than long-form content. Both rely on links and responses to deliver your full marketing message. Both provide instant feedback that lets you adjust your plan in real time. If your small business runs SMS marketing campaigns and maintains a Twitter account, consider taking on one or more of the habits below. If you use text messaging but don’t have a Twitter account, go get a Twitter account (it's free) and start following these instructions.

  1. Use a scheduling program like HootSuite or TweetDeck to broadcast most of your SMS messages on Twitter as well, timed so they come in at close to the same time.
  2. Only Tweet some of the deals you offer on a text broadcast. When you offer text-exclusive deals, Tweet with an announcement and an invitation to join your SMS subscriber list. Do the opposite as well, making Twitter-exclusive offers with a text invitation to follow your tweets.
  3. Make people famous by tweeting photos and other key responses to your SMS contests or polls. Get permission first, but most people will love seeing themselves "in print."
  4. Share the love. If you see a particularly awesome tweet from somebody you follow, tell about it in your next SMS message.
  5. Use those hashtags. The symbol # before a word tells Twitter to file that tweet under the heading after the #. Thus #StarWarsBuyout will create a category about the recent George Lucas sale and include all tweets with that tag within the category. Whether you name it after your business or a specific product, own a hashtag and use it in both your tweets and your SMS messages that refer to Twitter.
  6. Hold a Twitter challenge by sending an SMS broadcast offering fabulous prizes to the Twitter follower who gets the most retweets of your material over the next 24 hours.
  7. Brainstorm tweet and text ideas in the same session, then link both channels thematically. This works especially well when calendar events put the same topics on everybody's minds...such as summer heat or holiday shopping.
  8. Compile and analyze statistics for both forms of media. If one thing is working well on one, try it out on the other. If something seems to work on only one channel, look into why and make the best adjustments you can.

What about you, readers? What have you done to combine the forces of your Twitter and SMS campaigns? Tell us your success -- or horror -- stories below. When everybody shares, everybody wins.

December 03, 2012

Update Your iPad's Ez Texting Signup App For Dropbox Support

Dropbox-supportOver the weekend we released the latest version of our iPad signup app. The big upgrade? We've integrated Dropbox into the background/logo selection feature in order to make it even easier for you to customize the app. Forget about saving/copying logos & brackgrounds to your iPad. Instead, with a few taps you can access all images you've stored in your Dropbox.

Haven't heard about our app yet? Here's what we had to say when we released it back in September:

Over the past few months, in conversations with you (our awesome clients!), again and again we were asked for an iPad App that would allow you to collect phone numbers. We heard from so many of you - from retailers who wanted to place the iPad at the Point-Of-Sale (POS) to event organizers who wanted their staff to roam around events and encourage people to join their list. Today, we're excited to announce that the FREE Ez Texting Signup iPad App is here. You can get it at the App Store right now, within iTunes or on your iPad.

Ez-texting-signup-appstoreThe App requires an Ez Texting account - and it should work with any iPad. We've tested it on all three generations of iPads, on iOS 4, 5 and 6!

Our Top Business Podcasts of 2012

Entry By Jason Brick

As a small business owner, if you're not listening to business podcasts, you're missing a top opportunity for keeping your mental tools sharp. They let you learn new skills, keep up on events, and challenge yourself -- all while you're driving your commute, running errands or working out. The biggest problem with this form of media is finding the quality 'casts in the flood of available options. Do yourself a favor by checking out these six top business podcasts broadcasting this year:

Headphones
  1. Manager Tools It's been operating since 2006, but remains one of the top podcasts for managers and business owners. Each cast addresses a specific skill ranging from greeting team members each morning to handling succession of a new manager. Runtime is about 30 minutes.
  2. Quick-and-Dirty Tips Not one cast, but a whole network of 5-to-10-minute programs on a wide range of topics. Business owners will get the most out of "Get It Done Guy," "Sales Guy" and "Grammar Girl." These little bites of information are great for short runs to the store and similar brief tasks.
  3. EntreLeadership A newer project by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, in which he applies his "Dr. Phil of Money" personality and approach to management and leadership in small businesses. Some sample topics include using influence instead of authority, and basic time management. Runtime is 20 to 45 minutes.
  4. The Startup Success Podcast Focuses on skills, news and practices for startups and microbusinesses, but most of the information is broadly applicable to small and medium companies. Also includes frequent interviews with authors and thought leaders. Each episode runs about 40 minutes.
  5. Work-At-Home SuccessThis 45-minute podcast bills itself as one-stop-listening for work from home business owners. Topics range from work habits to interviews to product reviews. Mostly focused on microbusiness success, it still has a thing or three you can apply to your team in a larger context.
  6. Social Media Today Podcast Less of a "traditional" podcast than it is the broadcast of a several Social Media Customer workshops and webinars, this is the next best thing to a college class on emerging and hot business technology, especially what's up with internet and social media marketing. Run times vary according to the topic and style of presentation.

Naturally, 2012 saw more than 6 excellent podcasts go out into the world. Tell us about your favorites -- or a new one to include in our 2013 roundup -- in the comments below.