SMB Marketing Tips

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July 19, 2016

Recent EZ Texting Enhancements...and More to Come

EZ Texting is dedicated to ensuring that our industry leading text communications platform remains at the top of its game.  To that end, we’re always releasing updates, enhancements, and other improvements.  Check out some of the items we’ve released over the past six months!

 

Virtual Phone Numbers

Virtual phone numbers allow you to conduct one-on-one correspondence — such as for customer support or appointment scheduling and reminders.

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Zendesk Integration

Zendesk is one of the world’s most widely used customer support platforms. EZ Texting’s Zendesk integration allows you to receive and reply to support tickets via text, and gives end customers an easy and convenient way to get help when and how they want.

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Data Uploading

EZ Texting’s redesigned data uploading tool makes adding new contacts to your account a snap.

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Advanced Search and Filtering

Reporting on sent messages just got easier with advanced search and filtering enhancements.  Search by group, contact name, and number, and filter by date range, message type, recipients, date range, and more.  Once you’ve filtered your data, export it with ease!

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In addition, we’ve implemented some changes that, while not readily visible, are no less important.  These infrastructure upgrades allow your largest campaigns to go out without a hitch.

Stay tuned for more!  The second half of 2016 will see several new features, including:

  • Additional reporting enhancements will enable you to slice, dice, filter, and export the specific data you need.  Use message tagging to identify different types of messages and group them for intuitive analysis and reporting.
  • A handy reminder wizard will allow you to proactively manage time-dependent messaging:  payment reminders, birthday messages, appointment reminders, and more.
  • With an upcoming data capture add-on tool, you’ll be able to capture more than your contacts’ phone numbers when they opt in to your lists.

July 01, 2016

84 Percent of Millennials Act on Mobile Push Notifications

 

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If you’re a business owner, the fact that 84 percent of millennials act on mobile push notifications is something to definitely capitalize on...and quick. The location-based mobile platform Retale commissioned a study on the subject in September of 2015, which polled 500 millennial adult men and women age 18-34 years old all over the United States. 

The study found that 94 percent of the millennial generation use location-based services, or apps that identify a person’s location. Retail establishments and brands frequently use such apps to send consumers information about products and services at stores near their locations. These services are a bit more popular among millennial iPhone users at 97 percent than they are among millennial Android users at 93 percent. 

 

Acting On Push Notifications

Some 84 percent of millennials respond to push notifications. Engagement following push notifications from brands is high at 83 percent, with men more likely to follow through on push notifications than women at 86 percent and 79 percent, respectively. Some 89 percent of millennials will act on push notifications from favorite brands, with men again more likely to act than women at 91 percent and 85 percent. As previously mentioned, iPhone users are more active on mobile devices in terms of push notifications than their Android counterparts at 92 percent and 86 percent. 

 

Preferred Info

In terms of the types of information millennials like to receive when push notifications pop up, most want deals and discounts (shocking!). Coupons, “instant” deals, customer rewards, sales, and new product information are among the favorite push notification topics, as are store locations, hours, and in-store guidance as to where products are located. Receipts following purchase completion are also among preferred push notification information. 

 

Reasons for No Response

When asked about reasons for not responding to push notifications, millennials cited lack of relevance, intrusion/too many notifications, poor timing, and lack of deals. Considering that 80 percent of millennials look at their devices first thing in the morning and 78 percent spend two or more hours on their devices each day, businesses having issues engaging consumers with push notifications should revamp their mobile marketing strategies.

 

Mobile Marketing Campaign Tips

Whether you are looking to revitalize your push notification strategy or are otherwise working on a new mobile marketing campaign, consider the following tips to help you get the most from your efforts: 

 

  • Text Instead of Call: Millennials might spend half their lives on their phones, but that doesn’t mean they want you to call them and interrupt their days. Opt for SMS messaging instead and go the non-invasive route. 
  • Get Personal: The millennial generation is used to brand customization and essentially getting what it wants when it wants it. Personalize your campaigns based on demographics and buying interests to pique millennial interest. 
  • Think About Security: Security is a constant mobile technology issue, and millennials are very protective of their personal information. Keep this in mind at all times and ensure your mobile options are safe and secure. 

 

Make push notifications work for you…. and enjoy the results.

June 16, 2016

Why Millennials Are So Keen on Text

 

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Today’s young adults aren’t letting go of their phones so much as letting go of the idea of talking on their phones. That’s the growing takeaway from many recent reports that suggest millennials believe texting is more efficient than talking.

 

Multiple Studies Show Gen Y Prefers Texts

New data from the OpenMarket revealed that 76 percent of millennials would rather lose calling options than texting, and that texts are “more convenient” to their lifestyles. 

When it comes to business purposes, most millennials find that receiving texted reminder for payments, appointments, and special promotions is “helpful.”

A poll by Gallup also confirmed that text messaging outranks phone calls as the dominant form of communication among millennials, with 68 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds saying they texted “a lot” the previous day. In the last couple of years, monthly texting among this age group has more than doubled.

 

Why Millennials Are Choosing Texts

So, why are millennials so keen on text messaging? Here are six reasons why millennials won’t pick up the phone.

 

Call Are Presumptuous

One reason is that many see phone calls as overly intrusive or even presumptuous. Phone calls presume that a person needs to drop everything to adhere to another’s agenda. Texting, like email, is a passive form of communication that doesn’t require real-time interaction.

 

Situation Dictates Communication Style

Young adults choose texting as their everyday form of communication. If something exciting happens, such as a wedding or vacation, millennials decide to share that special occasion via Snap Chat or Instagram. But if the subject is serious enough, they will surely pick up the phone.

 

Text Threads Are Like Conversation

Today’s smartphones utilize a system of texts that plays out like normal face-to-face conversations. The folks who talk a lot also text in longer threads. The people who are succinct don’t. If you’re a chatterbox in real life, your phone doesn’t have to slow you down.

 

No Need for Privacy

With social media being such a huge aspect of their world, millennials don’t really care about privacy. In fact, many of them will take part in large group texts to get more input, so even the idea of 1:1 privacy has become an archaic concept. 

 

Planning

While on the topic of group texts, note that millennials use group texting to make plans with friends. It’s convenient and also quick.

 

Superfluous

Phone calls require a lot of airtime and beating around the bush to get to the point of the message. Texting requires individuals to put thoughts into words, enabling them to share only the essential details and get straight to the point.

 

Reaching Millennials With Text Marketing

If you want to tap into the major market of millennials, you’re going to have to utilize text marketing. Thankfully, our professional marketing team at EZ Texting can provide you with the necessary tools and tips to properly engage these young consumers.

Contact us today by calling (800) 753-5732 to learn more.

June 15, 2016

The Mobile Wallet Is More Critical to the Future of Retail Than Apps

 

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In recent years and months, mobile payment systems such as Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, have been ramping up, giving merchants ample choices. The consumer demand for mobile wallets is on the rise, and for good reason.

For merchants of all types, from small mom-and-pop stores to Fortune 500 companies, mobile wallets can boost revenue and reduce operating costs substantially. 

Here are five reasons why the mobile wallet is more crucial to the future of retail than apps.

Ability to Reduce Costs

Retailers and food service operators can enjoy the benefit of reduced costs by using mobile wallets. This is because they can drastically lower fraud loss and/or payment processing fees, the latter of which merchants often cite as one of the largest expenses after labor.

With apps, there is still a huge risk to hackers getting into the system and obtaining critical customer info, such as their addresses, bank accounts, and credit card numbers.

More Sales and Increased Revenues

Mobile wallets have the ability to move more consumers through the line quicker, driving up revenues for merchants. If a business has the ability to leverage a mobile wallet to engage and connect with costumers, it can sell more products and services during slower periods by enabling customers to check out anywhere at anytime, or enticing them with exclusive discounts and coupons.

While apps allow retailers to connect with consumers and offer them promos, buyers do not have the ability to purchase items as easily as they would if they were using a mobile wallet.

Catering to the Anywhere, Anytime Customer

More people are performing their daily errands online, creating significant opportunities for retailers to be invited into a consumer’s mobile world. If a retailer creates a rich interactive experience for the mobile-enabled consumer, it allows customers to purchase items both in store and via internet-based mobile purchasing opportunities.

Simplification

With mobile wallets, users enter their information once and then receive PIN numbers through text messages, which are used to complete the purchase. Shoppers only need to enter their PINs to complete the transaction, saving them the time and hassle of re-entering all of their information again for future transactions, as some apps require.

Rich Marketing Platforms

A report recently released by Forrester Research suggested that mobile wallets are set to become an essential marketing platform within the next five years. Mobile loyalty is important for connecting with consumers, and brands should mobilize their loyalty programs and branded content to offer promos to consumers in real time.

Mobile wallets are imperative for brands hoping to use mobile technology to reach consumers. If your retail business wants to enjoy the many benefits of mobile wallets and text messages, contact EZ Texting today. We look forward to hearing from you.

June 01, 2016

Most Brands Not Ready to Meet Mobile Challenges

 

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These days, everyone is talking about mobile strategy. However, according to a new survey published by Sitecore and Vanson Bourne, most brands don’t think they’re prepared to effectively market via mobile. So what, then, is everyone really talking about? 

 

Missing the Mobile Mark

The mobile conversation lit up back when mobile usage surpassed that of desktop computers. Suddenly, everyone was paying attention to what people were doing on their phones. 

For some businesses, this meant making sure their website was mobile responsive, at the very least. And if they were really thinking ahead, marketers reimagined the mobile experience with branded apps. Unfortunately, too many apps weigh down users’ smartphones, and today chat and social apps seem to get the largest slice of the mobile pie. 

In hindsight, people have been talking about mobile for a long time; marketers saw this shift coming early, and yet now, in 2016, of the 450 brand marketers that participated in this global survey, 41 percent of the respondents said they have no mobile strategy in place, or have yet to execute the one they have. 

To drive this point home, in the same survey, 97 percent of respondents said, “they believe a good mobile experience impacts customer loyalty.” In other words, most marketers know mobile is important, but more than half aren’t ready to mobilize their brand experiences.  

To be fair, the mobile landscape is somewhat uncharted territory. For executive level marketers unfamiliar with the terrain, the refocus on mobile can be a bit intimidating, if not altogether outside comfort zones.

Plus, mobile today is different from mobile five minutes ago. Take those branded apps for instance. Having an app for every store proved to be a misstep. Instead, we’re seeing more collaboration between third-party apps that unify products and services into a single experience. 

So, what are these marketers to do? Forbes says they need to define objectives carefully

At the very least, you have to know what you want your mobile plan to do, or it won’t be effective. You should also look for ways to integrate it with social media, one of the best places to find new or current consumers online. 

And finally, marketers should be proactive about the mobile experience. According to the PEW Research Center, 67 percent of people check their phone for messages, alerts, and calls. Be proactive about understanding this behavior and send relevant information to users who are already looking for new messages. 

It’s time for marketers to start realizing their mobile goals and not just talking about mobile strategy in a nebulous cloud of buzzwords and phrases. 

For small businesses looking for an edge, mastering mobile is a good place to beat out the bigger competition. According to the new survey, lots of brands are still twiddling their thumbs over mobile, so you have a great opportunity to get ahead.

May 27, 2016

Using SMS Messaging as Customer Service Tool

 

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It’s only when you stop to reflect what life was like ten years ago that you realize just how far SMS messaging has come. Back then, text messages were still primarily used for interpersonal communication between friends and family. Now, all kinds of businesses use SMS for all kinds of reasons, all of which enhance the customer experience and just make life easier for everyone. 

Think about the text messages you receive that aren’t from people you know personally. Banks send statements and fraud alerts; taxi drivers and ride-sharing services let you know they’ve arrived via text; healthcare providers send appointment reminders and everyone from airlines and travel companies to concert promoters and delivery services send confirmations by SMS.

The reason all these organizations are using text messaging over other forms of communication is very simple: people actually read their texts. Further, most people actually read ALL of their texts - and they usually do it within a few minutes of receipt. That fact is music to the ears of marketers in any industry, when you consider how routinely commercial emails are trashed, ignored, or junk filtered before they even had a chance. With SMS, around 90% of all messages are opened and read within three minutes. And since a similar percentage of the population owns a cellphone, using it as an effective way to reach people is a no-brainer. 

And yet, one-to-one customer support is one area where SMS messaging has been slow to take off - thought that’s beginning to change. So it should, because the potential is considerable.

 

SMS Customer Service is Win-Win

Firstly, every consumer out there is a candidate for SMS communication. It doesn’t require a smartphone, so even the most committed feature phone acolyte can be reached, and 2G networks are still the most reliable. Because of the 160 character restriction, a text message doesn’t demand too much of the recipient. There’s no action required - the recipient can consider the information and make their choice as to whether it’s relevant. If not, they can opt out of receiving future messages from the brand. 

Businesses love SMS because of the aforementioned high read rate, and the personal, informal tone generally expected of the information contained therein. A mobile marketing campaign centered around text messages is also incredibly cheap compared with more traditional mass media strategies. 

But while the benefits of SMS as a marketing strategy are well understood, we’re only just beginning to see customer service-based applications of the technology. Airlines have rightly spotted the aptness of text messaging for letting passengers know about delays and cancellations. Some have started using text messaging to help reduce wait times at check in, and provide passengers with a way of interacting with the airline that doesn’t require a tedious phone call.

May 24, 2016

Building a Personal Connection with B2B Buyers

 

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People running businesses know that successfully selling products or services to consumers means making personal connections with those consumer. Buyers typically want to fill an emotional need with a purchase, so companies and brands need to set out to be the perfect entity to fill that need. A consumer’s desire to be prettier, skinnier, and happier fuels sales in the B2C market, but does that same desire translate to the B2B industry? Not exactly, but we can look to personal connection as a way to drive sales in B2B niches when we consider that business buyers too want to feel emotionally and personally satisfied. Therefore, to successfully sell to B2B buyers, you must focus your marketing efforts on creating personal value for a human, emotional B2B buyer. You can do this through many channels, including SMS marketing.

 

What Drives the B2B Buyer

 

B2B buyers often have a lot at stake when it comes to making the right decisions for their companies. They feel pressured to purchase products that will represent their businesses in the right ways, give their customers a consistent image of their brand, and show their higher-ups that they have a solid grasp of their company’s vision and values. This means that B2B buyers consider emotional needs, such as their reputation and their capability for adding value, when they look for products to purchase.

 

Call it emotional buying, ego purchasing, or making choices based on intuition. Just don’t ignore it. B2B buyers are human beings that can be influenced in many ways similar to B2C buyers. They might have facts, figures, and a company’s bottom line in mind when they make a purchasing decision, but they’re also looking for perceived value when they buy and you should be trying to give them that value. You can offer value by positioning your company as a business that’s trustworthy and reputable to work with, a creator of products that have integrity, and an organization that efficiently delivers exactly what you say you will, when you say it.

 

The Data Supports Emotion Driving B2B Buyers

 

Google and the CEB Marketing Leadership Council surveyed about 3,000 B2B buyers a few years ago in hopes of finding out what drives their purchasing decisions. The results of the market research showed that 50 percent of B2B buyers will probably buy from a company that they feel emotionally tied to. Compare this data to a study done by market research firm Motista, which organized baseline data from B2C purchasers, and you’ll see similar findings. 

 

The Google and CEB survey surprised many in the B2B industry because it indicated that more than 50 percent of B2B buyers approach making purchasing decisions the same way that regular consumers do, which means they look for personal value. What was even more shocking to some B2B business owners is that the research showed buyers were eight times more likely to pay a premium price for a product or service if they felt they were receiving greater personal value.

 

How to Build a Personal Connection with a B2B Customer

 

When you realize that a real person is somewhere behind every buying decision a company makes, you can set yourself up to best meet those buyers’ needs. To be the business that makes the sale, it’s important to be friendly, easy-to-work-with, and likeable. Do this, of course, by offering honest and sincere phone and in-person communication, as well as outstanding products and services. However, you should also use your SMS marketing tactics to build personal connections with B2B buyers and let them know that communication that meets their needs is important to you. 

 

You can use text marketing to stay in touch with buyers and let them know about new inventory. Follow up on purchases with personal texts that ask for product or service feedback, and inquire via text about any future purchase needs a B2B buyer might have. Let your B2B buyers know that you are respectful of their time and don’t want to send out excessive email or text blasts, but that you’re ready to serve should they have needs or problems.

Use SMS technology to meet B2B buyers where they are, which often means recognizing that they’re human beings who constantly want to stay informed and create value for their companies, and themselves. Take advantage of the opportunity to make any genuine personal connection you can with your B2B buyers, via text messaging and other means, and they’ll likely become long-time, loyal purchasers.

May 11, 2016

The Hottest New Trends in Mobile Marketing

 

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The mobile revolution has taken serious root, with marketers scrambling to make their websites mobile-friendly, create new and exciting apps, and otherwise drive traffic and increase revenue through mobile means. This is the mobile age, and with that in mind let’s check out some of the hottest new trends taking over mobile marketing: 

 

“Smarter” Social Messaging Apps

There’s greater selection regarding social messaging apps than ever before, with options now including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Kik, Peach, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger. People chat anytime, anywhere in today’s world, and about half of mobile phone users in the United States are predicted to rely on mobile messaging by the end of the year. The evolution of social media apps is already evident in China, where 91% of Internet users favor instant messaging over search. 

Platforms allow users to send multimedia messages, make payments, or use video call. They’re even used as interfaces for bot-driven interactions. 

 

Blurring Lines Among Apps, Social Media, And E-Commerce

Integration among apps and their social media and e-commerce outlets is a hot new mobile trend this year. Many social platforms are linking e-commerce features into their social media networks, such as Instagram’s “Shop Now” feature and Pinterest’s “Buyable Pins.” People didn’t used to shop on social media platforms, but the more seamless the integration, the more likely shopping on such platforms will become the norm. 

 

Branded Keyboards

A wide variety of branded keyboards are available through a mobile device’s app store, and function as ideal branding options. They allow companies to remain where they want, i.e. in consumers’ faces, without being a source of interruption or annoyance. App use equals keyboard use, meaning this type of branded engagement is far-reaching. Recent research indicates the average mobile device user works on the keyboard over 100 times per day, with branded keyboard leader Kibo seeing millions of downloads a month. And that was just in the company’s first year of operation. 

 

Apps=Lifestyle Reflections

In 2016 apps are expected to become integral parts of consumer lives as opposed to individual features that people turn to on occasion. Examples of apps as “lifestyle reflections” include fitness apps that offer weather alerts before a run and remind the person it’s time to pick up the dry cleaning. 

Lifestyle apps also increasingly indicate values. Think of consumers saying “I’m a proud fan or supporter of [x and y], which is why I use these [branded] apps.” 

 

More From Search Engine Results

Videos are already cropping up in Google’s search results, but the media giant is going a step further by experimenting with video ads. Should consumers take to video ads appearing in their search results, apps may also make appearances in SERPs. App directories and recommendations are already there, however apps as part of search engine results is a whole other thing. Such implementation will provide stores and directories with an exciting new set of opportunities. 

These and other trends are changing the marketing landscape, and mean marketers must remain that much more aware of current and future mobile trends. 

 

May 04, 2016

Technologies That Changed Retail

 

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In 2016, global business to consumer e-commerce sales is expected to reach $1.92 trillion. As impressive as this figure from Statista is, that’s millions of lost in-store experiences and missed customer service conversations. In an age of convenience, it can be easy to forget about what you might be missing.

Many shoppers enjoy walking down the aisles of large retail stores, checking prices and talking to people. They also like to touch the things they plan on buying. For every gained purchase online, a material purchase is lost, which has raised the stakes considerably for brick-and-mortar retail locations. If ever these stores needed a hero, it would be now. 

Who would have guessed that mobile technology could be that hero? The use of mobile technology in retail stores could save many from going out of business and help them keep pace with online shopping trends. Here’s how mobile technology is changing the retail game in a world full of online shoppers.

 

Saving Time with Retail Mobile Technology

Often, it’s faster to ask someone a question, make a suggestion, or compare two products than it is to find credible answers online. In fact, digging around on the Internet is almost more time-consuming than driving to the store in the first place.

Now, imagine all sales associates have smartphones or tablets that can locate what you want anywhere in the store. They can give you a price check, compare prices, and tell you where else you might find what you’re looking for. This is the direction mobile technology is heading, as physical retailers scramble to catch up on the super-highway. By empowering employees to help customers, mobile saves time while providing people with truly authentic service. Plus, shoppers get to walk out of the store with their merchandise in tow—no delivery time needed. 

 

Increase Productivity Among Retail Employees

Additionally, mobile technology will help retail owners save money by increasing the overall productivity of employees. In addition to customer service, mobile technology allows sales associates to manage inventories, place orders, receive shipments, take phone calls, and more. This also eliminates a mountain of paperwork and makes organizing data much less complicated. More people can do more work in a shorter amount of time.

Creating a network of employees working on mobile devices can also cut down on long checkout lines (especially during the holidays). The mobile Point of Sale (mPoS) is all about being ready the moment a customer agrees to make an in-store purchase and having an associate there to swipe the credit card. If that same customer walks to a long checkout line, they may decide not to wait. That’s a lost opportunity that’s likely to wind up somewhere online.

Shop owners can take some of those lost sales back by using mobile to capitalize on every possible sale.

The good old days we remember, when the Internet had yet become an e-commerce mecca and flashing banner ads were so bad they were good, are gone. To keep pace with all the sophisticated technology that keeps online shoppers coming back for more, brick-and-mortar retailers have no choice but to fire back with mobile.

May 03, 2016

Staying on the Right Side of the Law with Mass Texting Service

 

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Own a business and think you might want to add text ads to your marketing campaign? Make sure you know the rules before you play the game, or you may land yourself in court.

Retailers from clothing stores to vitamin companies are figuring out that the best way to reach consumers is through their mobile devices. So, they’re putting ad campaigns together that will land their companies’ names, and their messages, directly in the public’s text message applications. 

Whether these companies have read TechCrunch’s report that stated consumers spent more time on their phones than watching TV in the second quarter of 2015, or they did their own research to show society’s reliance on mobile devices, these businesses want to cash in on behavior that doesn't seem to be changing.

However, in order to stay lawsuit free, companies need to approach text advertising in the right way. 

 

Mobile Advertising and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 states that anyone dialing a person’s mobile phone or sending a text message must have consent. This federal law prohibits unsolicited mass calls and text advertisements, and it gives recipients of those unsolicited calls the right to collect up to $1,500 in statutory damages for each violation (or each phone call or text message). Individuals who receive unsolicited messages to their cell phones do not have to prove any harm was done when they seek damages, either.  

 

Don't Take a Chance – Get Permission for Text Advertisements

Imagine the potential damage to a business from one unsolicited text message sent out to thousands of customers or potential customers. A single mass text could ruin a small company financially, and it could have owners or executives of the company slapped with a lawsuit that they’ll need to spend time and PR resources fighting.

If you’re considering a mass texting service for your business, stop and make sure you’re clear on the laws pertaining to text messaging before you press that send button. If you don’t, you might be setting yourself up for a multi-million dollar settlement to avoid litigation, when you could have simply asked for consent. If you remember one thing when it comes to a mobile marketing campaign, it’s that consent matters.

 

What Does the Law Say?

It’s critical with any text messaging campaign to get consent to send messages to an individual’s cell phone. InfoLawGroup LLC, a boutique law group focusing on data security and media matters, emphasizes that the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) Telephone Consumer Protection Act reigns supreme in matters of mobile phone mass advertising, and it specifically spells out what rules must be followed if any company uses what’s considered to be an autodialer (automatic dialing system) to reach out to multiple consumers.

The law is specific, but lengthy, and it’s a must-read if you’re thinking about adding mass text service to your marketing campaign. It describes exactly what the law considers to be an autodialer, and it offers clarity in terms of procedures and penalties involved in sending text messages to multiple individuals at once.

To protect your business, familiarize yourself with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act before you send any text messages as part of your company’s marketing campaign.