February 2013

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February 27, 2013

The iContact Email Marketing Integration Has Landed!

Icontact-integration

When we debuted our first integrations (MailChimp & Highrise), we promised to keep adding new web apps to the list...and today we've got another one for you. You can now sync your iContact lists directly into your Ez Texting account.

The options for iContact are similar to the other email marketing integrations:

  • Connect list(s) to Group(s)
  • Perform manual or automatic syncs

Setup is quick, but it does require a bit of copying and pasting, so we put together a step-by-step guide. Once the initial setup is complete we'll handle the rest!

February 25, 2013

5 Quick Ways To Improve Your SMS Marketing Campaign

Turning out 160 characters over and over again seems easy, but after a while you find yourself running out of ideas (Looking for ideas? We’ve got lots of SMS Marketing Ideas). Worse, you might find that your SMS Marketing efforts aren't reaping the benefits you want because of some specific problems in how you write them. If your campaign results lack a little luster, check your records for these five all-too-common wording problems.

It's all uphill from now

  1. Weak Call to Action
    The power of SMS marketing comes from its interactivity. You text somebody an opportunity, and that somebody takes advantage of it. If your call to action boils down to "well, you might want to think about it...you know...someday...maybe," spice it up with a directly stated deal with a limited time and specific action.
  2. Using TxtTlk ("Text Talk")
    Yes, people read SMS advertising on their phones. No, it's not a reason for your marketing material to read like you hired a 14-year-old to write it for you. Keep messages professional and easily readable. If you must cut down on characters, drop words like "the" or "and" instead of truncating content. That said, there are times when ‘text talk’ is appropriate. Only you know who is on your list, so the answer to what it is appropriate to use ‘text talk’ is a subjective one.
  3. Generic Content
    Your subscribers want intimate details, actionable advice and insider information. Never broadcast something people could look up on your website. Keep it focused on your specific company and the specific interests of your subscriber list.
  4. It's All Adspeak
    In print and on the Internet, phrases like "Act Now!" and "Satisfaction Guaranteed!" are invisible to the consumer. They're so common we don't even notice them anymore. On a text message that just interrupted your Temple Run ;game, they're downright offensive. Stay personal, realistic and genuine at all times.
  5. Generic Time Frame
    If the SMS broadcast you're about to send today can easily wait for tomorrow or next month, don't send the broadcast. Instead, do something to link it solidly with something going on in the area, with your business, or on the calendar. This keeps the content as relevant as possible, and syncs with what's already on the minds of your subscribers.

While these quick fixes can make a big difference in any campaign, it never hurts to review our complete guide to SMS Marketing best practices.

February 19, 2013

7 Inexpensive Benefits to Reward Your Employees

Here's one of the problems with running a small business during difficult economic times. You need the best possible people if you want to survive the tough economy, but money to keep them is scarce. One all-too-common solution is to beg your people to stay even though you can't compete with the compensation offered by larger companies. A better one is to find low-cost benefits to demonstrate how much you appreciate their contribution.

Sha Wellness Clinic

Here are seven of our favorite ideas:

  1. Flextime
    Nine-to-five is traditional, but one of the most inconvenient schedules to work because of rush hour. Unless your business is entirely appointment-based, when your team works is often unimportant so long as the work gets done. Offering flextime gives them more power over their lives.
  2. A Sincere Thank You
    This isn't a general announcement, feedback sandwich, or off-the-cuff "hey, thanks." This is making eye contact, taking a moment, and giving a team member your undivided attention while you specifically mention a good job and what it meant for the company. It's free, and does more to build loyalty than anything else on this list.
  3. Local Discounts
    If you have a workforce, other businesses will offer them a discount simply for the free advertising that comes with the lower price. Take an afternoon to talk with decision-makers at local gyms, restaurants, beauty parlors, day cares and other shops that your employees are most likely to use. You'll be surprised how many are willing to play ball.
  4. Dog Days
    House-trained, well-behaved dogs in the workplace improve productivity and decrease absenteeism. Though this isn't appropriate for all environments -- it would be a disaster at most day cares, for example -- in places where it works, it can work wonderfully.
  5. Eating In
    Lunch for your entire team costs very little compared to most traditional benefits packages, but makes a huge difference in morale and camaraderie. This benefit works equally well as a surprise, or as a regular weekly event. Buying dinner on nights you expect your team to work late is especially important.
  6. Wellness Lunches
    Wellness programs reduce absenteeism, improve productivity and make a positive difference in the lives of employees who use them. One inexpensive wellness benefit is to extend lunch breaks by 30 minutes, provided the employee uses that time to attend a wellness event like a gym workout or group fitness class. The "lost" time pays itself back in renewed energy and focus.
  7. On-Site Services
    You can buy ten-minute chair massages for a medium-sized staff for less than $200. Shoe shines and dry-cleaning services are similar services you can bring in to show your team how much you care.

What kinds of benefits does your team say they appreciate the most? Tell us about them in the comments.

February 07, 2013

Non-Valentine's Day SMS Marketing Ideas To Get Through February

Valentine's Day SMS Marketing campaigns seem like a no-brainer for February content, because almost everybody is thinking about Valentine's Day....and that's the problem. It takes a lot for a Valentine-related marketing message to get any kind of attention. Instead, try cycling in content about other lesser-known holidays and events.

Not-valentines-day-marketing

The reason Valentine themes rule February marketing is because it's the most famous holiday of the month, but consider some other holidays. Some people know about, while others are obscure enough that you get to inform as well as entertain and sell.

  • February 12 -- Abraham Lincoln's Birthday
  • February 14 -- National Organ Donor Day
  • February 14 -- National Condom Awareness Day
  • February 16 -- Do a Grouch a Favor Day
  • February 18 -- President's Day
  • February 20 -- George Washington's Birthday
  • February 20 -- Love Your Pet Day
  • February 26 -- National Pistachio Day

The month also has its fair share of observance and awareness markers. February is.....

  • American Heart Month
  • Black History Month
  • Canned Food Month
  • Heart and Stroke Month
  • National Wise Health Consumer Month
  • National Senior Independence Month
  • National Children's Dental Health Month
  • National Weddings Month (despite June being the busiest month for weddings)
  • National Grapefruit Month

The first week of February is World Salt Awareness Week and National Consumer Protection Week. The second commemorates Burn Awareness and Congenital Heart Defect Awareness. Week three of February includes Children of Alcoholics Week, National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week and Random Acts of Kindness Week. The fourth week of the month encompasses both Trails Advocacy Week, Freedom to Read Week and National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

If there's nothing in all of those days you can use to engage with your subscriber list, you're probably better off sticking to basics (we've got some ideas for you there too). Whether you celebrate these observances humorously or seriously, with a sale or a trivia contest, you'll get the attention you deserve by standing out. Don't forget to look into local festivals and events for additional opportunities. Basketball, wrestling, volleyball and swimming seasons are still running strong at your local high school, and the weather may just be starting to change.

February 05, 2013

5 SMS Marketing Ideas For A Cold Winter

Talking about the weather might be cliché, but it's something everybody has in common. You can use this commonality to engage with your subscriber list using some or all of these cold-weather themed SMS marketing ideas.

Cold-weather-sms-ideas

  1. Record Lows Mean Record Lows Announce early in the season that you'll be offering a ridiculously big discount coupon on the first day of the season that breaks a cold-temperature record. Send weather updates from time to time to keep people interested and engaged. When the day comes -- you may have to dig into some obscure temperature records to make sure it does ("coldest Thursday of the decade," for example) -- drop your coupon with a one-day time limit.
  2. Weather Advisory Services Since you're already tracking the weather for your record lows campaign, start updating subscribers to any heavy weather advisories you hear about. Offer suggestions about traffic safety, saving on heating bills and other tips related to the chilly weather. If your business has goods or services that can help your subscribers manage the cold, include some coupons.
  3. It's So Cold Contest Do this once a week, offering a simple discount to all participants and a larger deal to the winner. The rules are simple. Each participant finished the sentence "It's so cold...." in the funniest way possible. Share winners on your website and Facebook pages for cross-platform success. Offer bonus points to people who can come up with an answer that matches your business.
  4. Awesome Hat Ambush Use this to generate instant business on a slow afternoon. Send out a buy-one/get-one coupon with a two-hour time limit just before the lunch break or evening shopping rush. Offer an even bigger BOGO to anybody who shows up wearing an awesome winter hat. The definition of "awesome" is up to you and your staff.
  5. Winter Sports Events Winter has great opportunities to sit down in front of the tube with friends, such as the Superbowl and the NCAA March Madness basketball playoffs. As these events approach, broadcast trivia and other notes celebrating the season -- and announcing related specials your business will offer. During the game, hold a trivia contest or similar even to hold engagement ant interest.

Have you dropped any particularly interesting or effective SMS campaigns during the cold-weather months? Tell us about them, or your best ideas, in the comments below.