Marketing

283 posts categorized

September 19, 2014

Five of the Best: Strategies for SMS Marketing

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As we move through this ever-changing era of new media marketing, many businesses are innovating with the latest and greatest of tech strategies to reach their customer bases. Certainly geo-targeting and push notifications are significant mobile marketing tactics. Smart business owners, however, maintain that SMS marketing is still at the top when it comes to affordability and ubiquity. Here are five of the best techniques for maximizing your returns with mobile text marketing.

1)     Create Timely Content

Reach your customers when they’re open to hearing from you, and hence more likely to respond. Find out what your clients value at any given time, and deliver offers to them that are relevant and time-sensitive. Existing campaigns that work should not be halted, but it’s always important to find new opportunities to grab hold of both potential and loyal customers based on current trends.

2)     Invest in Loyalty

Business owners that provide loyalty programs for long-term customers augment customer relationships while targeting a group that values the company’s products. Not only do companies increase repeat customer sales, they’re also able to analyze repeat customers’ buying habits, making it easier to create targeted product promotions. Create exclusive VIP clubs and promotions to make loyal customers feel special. Loyalty lists don’t have to be that large to be profitable either: many businesses make their bread and butter off of a relatively small group of people. Recent studies show that twenty percent of customers drive eighty percent of sales. Target your repeat and long-time customers to make sure they feel appreciated and valued.

3)     Contests & Sweepstakes

Make it simple for customers to enter into contests and sweepstakes through a text message. These days no one wants to hassle with filling out a form when a simple message will suffice. SMS accessed contests make the process easier on your clientele, while offering potentially valuable opportunities for customers to engage with your brand. Contests and sweepstakes are great incentives for opting in to a marketing list.

4)     SMS in Multi-Channel Campaign

Multi-channel campaigns often overlook the opportunities available through the SMS channel. Mobile marketers know the truth: since SMS is a built-in feature of every mobile device, and everyone has cellphones nowadays, why not take advantage of this channel? User data can be accessed seamlessly, and 95% of text messages are opened by mobile users. Include a call-to-action in the SMS-arm of your campaign, and provide ways for users to sign up for other offers to maximize the value of your advertising. Offer text messaging opt-in opportunities through other platforms, with special incentives for opting-in.

5)     Foster Interaction

If consumers agree to allow texts and calls to their personal phone, they expect something valuable in return. Think of exclusive offers, easy ways to purchase or ask questions, customer surveys to improve overall products and services, and other valuable information relevant to the consumers. The more positive interaction with customers, the more brand loyalty and potential sales your company will foster.

Follow these five strategies in your next text marketing campaign, and discover which work best for your consumer base. And remember, setting up a text message campaign is extremely easy, but reaching customers via text messaging is even easier.

 

September 17, 2014

(More Than) Texting From Your Computer

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As many iPhone users know, it can be a breeze to respond to iMessages whether you have your phone or not. Due to the fact that Apple has designed the iMessage platform to run on Mac, tablet, and smartphones alike, users have the benefit of sending and receiving messages from a computer if they want to. But what if you don’t have this luxury? Perhaps you are using another type of smartphone or you prefer PCs. Well, now you have an answer.

A new platform called Pushbullet serves to mirror all of the content on your android device, sending it to the computer of your choice. And yes, this includes text messages.

Many will argue that they don’t need to send or receive texts from their computer, but note all of the powerful benefits. First of all, mobile phones have much smaller interfaces with tiny on-screen keyboards that can be difficult to navigate. When you attempt to type on them, they autocorrect your every word. Were you to type the text message from your computer, you could type the whole text message on your regular keyboard – some without even looking at the screen.

When you work on a computer all day long (as most people do these days), isn’t it easier to send and receive text messages without having to look down at your phone every few seconds. Sending and receiving SMS messages from your computer is easier on the eyes and the neck. Also, you can turn off the loud text alert in the office without worrying about missing texts due to silent mode.

The Pushbullet platform also provides messaging history. If you have more than one mobile device, you can review all of your messages at once, along with any documents currently on the mobile device.

Pushbullet technology allows users to send a variety of items from their computers to their phones, save SMS attachments on a computer’s hard drive, and seamlessly transfer links between computer and phone. Essentially, Pushbullet has a variety of options for Android/PC users that can increase productivity immensely, which is arguably even more significant than sending a text messages from a computer.

September 16, 2014

Touchpoint Device Incentivizes Brick and Mortar Customer Tap Ins

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Getting push notifications in front of customers is one of the primary concerns of the modern mobile marketing campaign, but it’s important to remember that sending your message to smartphone screens is a highly personal – invasive, even – activity. That’s why any mobile marketing campaign must be conducted with care and sensitivity.

Enter Tapcentive. The San Francisco-based firm recently launched an automated platform that allows customers to earn coupons, points and other rewards by tapping their phone to a $35 ‘Touchpoint’ device. The small device contains a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon and a near field communications radio (NFC), both of which detect the tap of a customers phone. Android phones already carry NFC chips, and Apple is expected to follow suit with its latest iteration of the iPhone. Here’s how it works: 

  • A customer taps the Touchpoint device when they enter a retail store
  • The store’s app launches automatically or, if the customer does not have the app, can be downloaded via the Touchpoint platform (along with an instant reward)
  • A mobile marketing communication channel is now opened between customer and brand – all instigated by the consumer

This last point is crucial. The thinking behind Tapcentive is that greater engagement with the opt-in process translates to greater long-term engagement with the brand. It’s a cocktail of pull notifications, push notifications and straight up incentives. 

And, according to the brains behind the innovation, there’s a lot more to come. Tapcentive plans to add more features capable of reaching the customer via social media, website, email and text messaging.

The notifications themselves are also breaking new ground, representing part of the ‘gamification’ of mobile marketing. For example, a store might set up a game in which the customer wins a coupon for going around the store and tapping Touchpoints in four different departments. Another game might reward every 25th customer who taps a Touchpoint, or register them in a sweepstakes.

It’s all centrally managed via a web portal which plans the types of content available at each Touchpoint, and the triggers by which the platform will start communication with customers. There’s also the standard built-in analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of each mobile marketing campaign. If you’re interested in mobile marketing innovations, keep an eye out for the telltale Tapcentive Touchpoints in stores near you!

September 11, 2014

Apple Tightens Consumer Privacy Regulations

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Much has been made in the media of consumer data gathered by search engines, and the potential breaches of privacy such activity entails. Less frequently discussed is the issue of what app developers should and shouldn’t do with users personal information, but Apple has preempted concerns by tightening its privacy rules regarding health apps. 

The new rules were announced ahead of the iOS 6 launch this month. Apple has told app developers using their new HealthKit software that they must not sell any personal data to advertisers. Apple hopes the move will keep concerns surrounding privacy at bay, as the tech giant moves into the health data industry.

Health data is not fully regulated by the law, which makes Apple’s unilateral decision to crack down on privacy breaches all the more interesting. Their revised iOS developer license agreement tells developers using the HealthKit interface that they “must not sell an end-user’s health information collected through the HealthKit APIs to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers”.

In addition, the agreement states:

“Your application must not access the HealthKit APIs unless it is primarily designed to provide health and/or fitness services, and this usage is clearly evident in your marketing text and user interface.”

The launch of HealthKit was announced in June. The software, which gathers data on health metrics such as blood pressure and heart rate, reflects a growing market for health tech tools like wearables. Consumers can choose from a plethora of apps to track their vital signs, calorie intake and burn, diet and exercise, but despite the large amounts of biological and personal data collected by such tools, many users aren’t cognizant of how much information they are giving up.

Apple’s tightened regulations go as far as barring developers who violate the terms by selling health related consumer information to advertisers. The rules state that developers using HealthKit can collect data, but can’t sell it to “advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers.’ If user consent is obtained, developers are allowed to share data with third parties for medical research purposes only. 

The health industry has been trying all manner of ways to use mobile technology to the benefit of patients. In Scotland, SMS messaging is being used to help smokers quit and drinkers cut down, and app developers have flooded the market with variations of fitness trackers and calorie counters.

 

 

September 09, 2014

Texting at the Movies

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Smartphones may have made our lives easier, but for screenwriters, the proliferation of mobile devices has made compelling, modern-day storytelling that little bit harder. Look around most public places in 2014 and a fair percentage of the ‘characters’ are completely immersed in their phone, heads bowed, the faint glow of the screen barely illuminating their frowning concentration. They’re getting a lot of work done, but it’s not exactly the stuff of nail-biting drama for anyone watching. 

This mass migration of human interaction from lips to touchscreens has thrown up some significant challenges for Hollywood. To gauge the impact this has on our daily lives, one only has to think about how many movies set before the 21st Century would be ruined by modern technology. It’s for precisely this reason that many filmmakers have turned their attentions to historical dramas, in which characters have to carry parchments on long, arduous journeys in order to get a message through. The dramatic possibilities are inherent. Will the letter make it? Will it be intercepted? Is it really from whom it purports to be from? None of these questions are an issue with SMS messaging.

Not that Hollywood hasn’t done it’s best to meet the challenge head on. For much of the noughties, movies took a literal approach to depicting SMS, opting for close ups of phone screens, often with comically large text, and cut with equally laughable reaction shots.

More recently, the modern revamp of Sherlock made some improvements to the depiction of SMS, with the content of text messages hovering around the senders and/or recipients. The typography bears no relation to any smartphone font we know of. By using this technique, the film has future-proofed itself, and will not date as badly as those mid-noughties, pre-smartphone movies filled with antiquated cell phones that tend to compromise the suspension of disbelief. 

Certainly, it's a lot better than most ceulloloid depictions of the internet. Copyright issues mean few movies can use Google (The Internship excepted), which leads to absurd inventions like 'Finder'Spyder', a made-up search engine used in lots of tv and big screen production. 

September 02, 2014

What to Do with Your Data: Analytics, Insights, and the Ez Texting Edge

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Remember the days when market research announced its presence? Whether it was asking questions on the street, organizing focus groups, or taking surveys by mail or in-store, mining consumer information used to be an explicit activity. It was an industry all of its own; it had to be – commercial transactions used to take place between two people, and there was scant record of the purchase, other than the bare minimum of information contained in a receipt.

One of the best things about SMS messaging as a marketing tool is that it functions as its own research center. Not only is it highly effective at engaging consumer spending power, it allows businesses to harvest crucial data on personal preference, location, demographic, and all sorts of other useful metrics. If you’re conducting a mobile marketing campaign, don’t make the mistake of thinking your job is done once your SMS blasts have been scheduled. This is only the beginning.

Analytics help you make sense of all that written data. A recent Wharton School Customer Analytics Initiative claims American companies spend $10 billion dollars annually just to find out what consumers think of their products. And yet, access to public attitudes has never been easier, with scores of user reviews and consumer blogs available online, for free.

Between web content and data mined via SMS messaging, you can practically eliminate whatever ‘market research’ budget you once had. Ez Texting’s reports and analytics features are a good example of a text service with built-in research tools. It gives you the ability to:

  • Track incoming and outgoing messages
  • Track how and when new contacts join your list
  • See opt-in spikes to ascertain which campaigns are the most effective
  • Track reasons for opting out
  • Gather detailed information on the status of messages sent

Of course, it’s not simply a numbers game. Having automated data collection capabilities is pretty exciting stuff (at least for number-crunching geeks) but understanding what to do with the information is less intuitive. With that in mind, Ez Texting gives you three top tips for making the most out of your analytics:

1) Identify Actionable Insights

The flipside of all this easily available data is that you end up with a lot of information that’s of no real value to your business. Developing a knack for separating actionable insights from white noise is one of the marks of a good business head. What is ‘useful’ will differ from industry to industry. Decide what information you are looking for before you even examine your raw data, and ruthlessly discard everything else.

2) Assume Mobile

Always assume the customer is going to engage with your business on a mobile device. You’ll have a desktop site with analytics anyway, so there’s no downside to focusing on measuring what the mobile audience is saying.

3) Embrace the Negative

Too often, businesses regard customer complaints as a crisis management situation. A situation that you hope goes away as quietly as possible. But ignoring the negative conversation surrounding your brand is a missed opportunity. Study complaint data closely and find out what the common thread is – there’s bound to be one, and understanding properly it will improve future retention rates.

August 31, 2014

Building an Effective Drip Campaign

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Connecting with customers can be difficult in an age of technology, when consumers are being bombarded by advertising from all directions. Due to such high spam rates, the effectiveness of email marketing and snail mail advertising has dropped significantly. That’s why marketing these days takes repetition, repetition, repetition. By creating a good drip campaign, you can raise the chances that a prospect will not only open your marketing message but ultimately invest in an ongoing relationship with the brand.

A drip campaign is a time-released set of automated messages via either email or text marketing. These messages are cued by certain triggers, from click-throughs and sign-ups, to a series of messages sent out according to a scheduled calendar. Drip campaigns are designed with one purpose in mind – to pique the interest of potential customers over continued engagement. Here are some great ideas when it comes to an effective drip campaign:

  • Be Clear on the Conversion

When setting up a drip campaign, always be clear on exactly what you would like from the customer. Is the end goal to receive a purchase, a sign-up, or a referral? Create a clear conversion goal for the campaign and an extremely coherent pathway for the customer to get there. Make sure the call-to-action is concise and simple, and the conversion process is as easy as can be. If customers don’t quickly understand what to do next and how to do it…they probably won’t do anything!

  • Strengthen the relationship

Think about how to build better relationships with customers. Personalized messages can go a long way when it comes to strengthening customer relations. Address clients by name, and send messages from a personal account whenever possible (rather than from an obviously automated one). In addition, be sure to send customer greetings on special holidays and birthdays. Consumers appreciate attention to detail and feel connected to brands that address them personally.

  • Provide value

Customers must see the benefit in engaging with a brand. Every email or text message should contain content that clients find useful. Include links to engaging articles and blogs, announce exciting events, comment on current trends, or offer them participation at upcoming webinars. Sending customers special or exclusive offers is perhaps the best way to provide value in a drip campaign.

  • Automate with excellence

Be choosy when it comes to message automation. Make sure the email or text marketing service you choose meets all of your brand’s needs. The auto-responder should have follow-up capabilities, exhaustive analysis of metrics, and matchless reliability. Don’t waste your time with second-rate services, as there are several reliable and affordable marketing companies to choose from.

With drip campaign best practices in your marketing arsenal, you are bound to gain some traction with current and prospective clients. Start planning and testing a drip campaign for your business to stand out above the milieu of advertising spam.

August 30, 2014

Are You Talking to Me? Tailoring Messages to Different Customers

 

When creating text messages for customer engagement, it is essential to create messages that will resonate with clients not just financially but emotionally. This can be a difficult task: nearly every customer wants something different, and they all want to feel special. By tailoring text messages to individuals, however, businesses have a better shot at attracting new customers while keeping existing clients satisfied.

The process of tailoring messages is called list segmentation. Basically, list segmentation entails dividing clients into separate groups based on any number of factors. Each group should will common elements by which they’re filtered, such as: age, location, behavior, or history with the company. All of these commonalities give companies an idea of how to market to these groups, thereby allowing marketers to create unique messages for each group in order to hit home with customers.

Here are a few ideas as to how to properly segment lists for more personalized engagement:

1)     Separate prospects from current customers

Current customers do not want to be treated as prospects, and with good reason. Existing customers may be upset if they see an introductory deal that is better than the one they were originally offered. The two groups should be addressed and rewarded differently. First-time offer deals go to new clients, while special VIP loyalty discounts go to existing customers.

2)     Cater to your biggest clients

Create a segment for the big spenders, particularly if they are purchasing ten times more than the average customer. Decide on particular metrics to determine at which point a customer becomes a “big spender” and be sure to add them to this segment. Develop messages that will reciprocate their loyalty: give them platinum status that includes perks like gifts or free shipping. Listen carefully to the needs of these clients, and show them special appreciation.

3)     Resurrect relationships with inactive clients

Be aware of which Customers have fallen off the grid and haven’t engaged with or purchased from the brand for at least 6 months. In this segment, create a special message to lure these one-time clients into a brand-new relationship. Invent a reactivation campaign that will incentivize these specific clients to reactivate their relationship with the company.

4)     Pay attention to demographics

Analyze zip codes, gender, age, occupation, and other important demographic factors. With this information, segment clients into specific groups (i.e. old versus young; high-income versus low-income; etc.). Utilize programs that can help to insert the right information into text messages, which adhere to the demographics of each segment. This is very important: a business who addresses a text to the wrong demographic could quickly start to lose some customers; while companies who target particular demographics with extremely relevant offers and information will increase engagement.

5)     Pay attention to habits and behavior

Segment clients by spending habits, and continue to offer them relevant follow-up deals or upsell items. Also, segment lists according to click-through habits, separating out clients by the particular messages and links that appeal to them. By segmenting customers according to purchasing and traffic data, businesses can convert sales more often and continue to track their successes.

Update your segments frequently, as user data continuously changes and brand messaging is always evolving. Consider which campaigns are superior to others, and track new ones to make sure your segmenting is valid and effective. In the end, list segmentation is critical for successful advertising through text or any other form of mass communication, and marketers can expect great returns from a well-segmented mass marketing strategy.

August 29, 2014

SMS Marketing for Web-Only Businesses

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The most traditional way to interact with customers is of course to talk with them face-to-face. Second is to communicate with them via voice phone calls. But what if you don’t maintain these capacities due to the nature of your business? Many online brands today simply don’t have the infrastructure for live agents, or a brick-and-mortar location where they can foster live customer engagement. Luckily, this age of technology has opened a lot of doors for small businesses in the form of SMS marketing.

By engaging customers over their text messaging apps, customers have absolute freedom. They aren’t bothered by telesales reps, nor do they have to visit a store to learn about the latest deal. They can choose to open and read text message at their leisure. And with more than a 97% open rate, smart business owners are taking advantage of text marketing—the simplest and most effective form of mobile communication for customer interaction.

Call-to-Action

When connecting with customers through SMS, remember to always emphasize a concise and appealing call-to-action. Letting them know who you are, why you’re contacting them, and what’s in it for the customer is tough to do in such a short message…and that’s why text message marketing is a bit of an art form. A/B test your messages; discover which words and phrases hit home and which ones don’t create traction.

VIP Treatment

Another critical piece is to make customers feel as though they are part of a special club or VIP group. Receiving exclusive offers will develop brand loyalty, as well as continued excitement around opting in to your text marketing list. Offering promotional codes and coupons can be very effective in converting mobile users into new and repeat customers, and loyalty programs are a good follow up to such promotions. Think of some free or discounted items loyal customers might enjoy as a reward for their participation.

Event Marketing

Reminding customers about upcoming events also works well via SMS messages. Oftentimes, readers will overlook an email with the exact same content as a text message. Due to the exorbitant amount of spam that customers find in their inboxes, they are less likely to open many of their emails. So next time, text them event invites, and you just might find turnout numbers increasing dramatically.

Surveys and Feedback

Finally, offering your customers a way to provide feedback is very effective in text messages. Surveys these days need to be kept short, and a text message survey is the perfect feedback tool. It’s cheaper and more effective than other forms of survey solicitation, as brands will often receive an immediate response to the message. Simply ask a couple question via text (instead of in a lofty email or phone call), and your customers may be happy to oblige. Surveys are especially effective when offering a reward for participation.

In utilizing these simple techniques for your web-based business, you’re likely to see the benefits of SMS marketing campaigns immediately. Everyone is using their phone to text these days – shouldn’t your business be taking advantage of a well-executed SMS campaign? Once you implement text message marketing into your overall customer engagement strategy, customers will be able to communicate more seamlessly with your company, and for a fraction of the cost of other marketing programs.

August 28, 2014

Appeals Court: Mobile Agency Served-up Taco Bell Spam

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Recently a federal appellate court ruled that Taco Bell isn’t responsible for the text messages that a marketing agency blasted out to consumers. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California trial judge’s ruling that the company shouldn’t be responsible for the marketing campaign of an outside agency. In other words, consumers will have a difficult time suing advertisers in the future (as opposed to the agencies that handle their marketing).

The agency in question, called ESW Partners, was hired by a dozen Taco Bell franchise owners in the greater Chicago area. A branch of ESW Partners, called Ipsh (now known as The Marketing Arm), was slated to handle a mobile advertising campaign for the franchise owners. The text message campaign, executed back in 2005, consisted of a promotion of new products including Chicken and Steak Nachos Bell Grande. The text asked for local residents to vote on which variety they preferred.

Because the recipients of the texts did not opt-in to receive these text messages, such an act could be considered illegal under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiff Tracie Thomas sued to that effect: she stated that this campaign violated the text-spam law, further claiming that Taco Bell used automatic telephone dialing systems to send messages to mobiles without the consent of the consumer.

The truth of the matter: the judge and the appellate court ruled that Taco Bell Corporation had nothing to do with the affair.  In a statement during the appellate court case, Taco Bell’s representatives argued that it “had no role in the decision to distribute the message by way of a blast text or that it ever reviewed any proposed text message, or even knew about the outgoing text message component of the local promotion.”

There is no word on whether the agency was sued by Thomas, but all marketers should consider this a wake-up call.

Mobile marketers must carefully examine their campaigns. Give attention to the laws regarding text message marketing campaigns. Make certain that every consumer has opted-in, providing permission for text ads (through a web form, for example). Exacting language must be provided for the consumer, outlining precisely what they are signing up for. Aid should be provided regarding the terms and privacy. And, as always, consumers must be allowed to opt-out at any time.

Be a smart mobile marketer: always follow the best practices for text message and SMS marketing, and protect yourself from future lawsuits. For more information on regulations and best practices, visit http://www.fcc.gov