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161 posts categorized "SMB Marketing Tips"

May 07, 2014

5 Ways the Recruitment Industry Uses SMS Texting

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As professionals in the recruitment industry know, the best employment candidates are often extremely busy, as they are frequently sought after by numerous employers and headhunters who are in direct competition with one another. Being able to successfully compete for a candidate's time and attention can mean the difference between matching companies with the right applicants and having a deal fall through. Luckily, more and more recruiters are learning that SMS text message marketing is a highly effective way to communicate quickly and efficiently with candidates. SMS texting is also an invaluable tool for communicating with B2B clients and internal administrative staff.

Here are 5 ways the recruitment industry is finding SMS to be an invaluable tool:

1. Costs

SMS messaging saves recruiters a fortune because SMS texts cost just a fraction of what phone calls do. With automation and mass texting, SMS also saves money by keeping time and productivity at an ultra-efficient level.


2. Communication
SMS is an efficient and simple means of communicating with clients, candidates, and staff. With a single text, communicate with all employees or candidates, and control just how often to reach out to specific contact groups while avoiding unnecessary repetition.

3.Relationships
Job application follow-up clearly improves applicant and client relations, and there’s no easier or more intimate way of communicating than SMS. While consultant communication with clients and candidates has traditionally been done face-to-face, or at least voice-to-voice, a shortage of time and other resources can limit the capacity for such interaction. However, we live in an age when clients and candidates may even prefer SMS texts, as they are less intrusive than phone calls or in-person meetings. Plus, integrated SMS allows recruiters to effortlessly merge personal data into messages to tailor them for specific recipients, making personalized communication easy and fostering better relationships with candidates, clients, and staff members.

4. Productivity

Integrating SMS into recruitment workflow saves administrative overhead costs by improving productivity. Instead of spending the time it takes to make numerous phone calls or send messages from mobile devices, staff resources can instead be spent in more productive ways. It is simple to upload a list of applicants from existing databases and then send automated mass messages. These messages can always be customized later if desired.

5. Attendance
By making SMS reminders part of standard procedure, candidate no-shows and staffing problems can be dramatically reduced. As a result, brand reputation is better protected, and applicant reliability increases.Integrated SMS text messaging also allows important job assignment details from existing software systems to be easily incorporated into customized, detailed messages. Therefore, with SMS text messaging, there's no need to worry about whether staff, clients, and candidates know exactly where to report, when to report, and how to prepare.

For those in the recruitment industry, keeping track of the many different players and moving parts that are involved in a typical hiring opportunity may require a vast amount of work. Thanks to SMS text messaging, however, a quick, effective, and cost-saving way of coordinating logistics and staying in touch is always within reach.

May 06, 2014

How SMS Sweepstakes Campaigns Are Helping Boost Business


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Sweepstakes campaigns can be an excellent means of promoting brand recognition and awareness, thus bringing customers through your door. Traditionally, these sweepstakes marketing campaigns have been carried out through print media, but technology makes it possible to reach a much wider audience today.

While email marketing may have initially been considered a solution to the unfortunate “junk mail” reputation that has traditionally plagued sweepstakes campaigns, it's a sad fact that we need look no farther than our inboxes today to understand that email is suffering the same fate. While search engine marketing may be the hi-tech answer to some quandaries that traditional marketing cannot solve, sweepstake campaigns, by contrast, may be unique in that most potential customers do not typically seek them out.

SMS Sweepstakes Campaigns Give Consumers Just the Nudge they Need

This is where SMS text messaging sweepstakes campaigns come in, especially for industries like fast food and retail clothing, which draw customers in to their chain of stores on a fairly frequent basis. While customers do not necessarily need to eat their meals at fast food chains or to purchase a new shirt every several weeks, the cost of these small luxuries is not perceived as prohibitively high for most consumers. Hence, it only takes a small amount of brand suggestion to get customers through the door.

One thing that has become a constant necessity in the eyes of most consumers today, on the other hand, is mobile phone access. People carry their mobile devices with them at all times, which is why almost 100% of the text messages people receive are opened and read. That fact makes SMS texting an invaluable strategy when it comes to a successful sweepstakes campaign, especially for industries like casual restaurants and retail shopping that so heavily rely on consumer suggestibility.

Recent Successful SMS Sweepstakes Campaigns

Among the companies recognized as carrying out the top SMS sweepstakes campaigns recently are Hooters, JCPenney, and popular bourbon whiskey manufacturer Jim Beam. Hooters' campaign offered consumers the opportunity to win a trip to a destination of their choice. Jim Beam, as part of its nationwide Live Music Series, ran a campaign urging users to enter to win a VIP trip to the last summer concert by opting-in to its SMS program with a special keyword texted to a shortcode.

Sweepstakes winnings need not be extravagant or expensive, however. JCPenney won its place in the spotlight for its own sweepstakes campaign merely by running an Easter promotion encouraging customers to attend a one-day in-store event to receive a free pair of children's bunny ears. At the end of the day, what it comes down to is that consumers, when left to their own devices, will spend their time and money where and how it needs to be spent; however, they are open to suggestion when it comes to having the opportunity for a pleasurable experience.  That pleasurable experience may come in the form of a delicious side of french fries, a new outfit, a free trip, or a festive pair of bunny ears for Easter.

Consumers won't necessarily have time to seek out comfort and fun twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, but when a simple text message can remind potential customers just how easy it can be to partake in such pleasures, they are certainly open to suggestion. SMS text message sweepstakes campaigns, therefore, are a great way for companies to put their brands, as well as what those brands can do for consumers, front and center in potential customers' minds. 

May 05, 2014

When to Use 'Textese' in SMS Marketing

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Text messages have certainly changed the way we communicate. Rather they've changed the way many of us communicate much of the time, but not always. “Textese” may be convenient and even fun some of the time, but in most cases it should not be used in SMS text marketing.

“Textese” Eliminates Extra Words at the Risk of Also Eliminating Customers

Unfortunately, while it is true that SMS texts are short and it may therefore be tempting to use abbreviations like “R U” in text marketing messages, if you end up losing business as a result then the last “LOL” may be on your company. After all, an opted-in SMS text message audience can be a hard-earned goldmine when one considers that almost one hundred percent of material sent via SMS text messaging gets opened, read, and, in many cases, acted upon.

For most businesses, however, so-called “textese” acronyms, such as the ever-popular “OMG,” are probably completely outside the normal tone  used to communicate with clients. Trying to sound “cool” or “hip” is not worth the feeling of dissonance that you may create for many of your otherwise longstanding and loyal customers. If you feel tempted to use “textese” merely in order to save space, on the other hand, you should consider writing a shorter text message that will instead lead customers to a landing page that gives more detail about your product or service.

Making What “U R” Saying Perfectly Clear

In addition to the risk of alienating recipients by using a tone that sounds out of character for your brand, there's also a high risk that the consumer who receives the message will literally have no idea what your message even means. While SMS text messaging has gained great popularity, with almost one hundred million people now using text messages, the fact is that half of those users are above the age of twenty-five and are therefore not necessarily up on the latest in textese. In fact, more than half of these users fully acknowledge their utter lack of fluency in textese. That's why the rule of thumb is, for most SMS text message marketing campaigns, when in doubt, leave the textese out.

A Few Exceptions

There are some exceptions, however. For marketing campaigns that are based around the concept or practice of texting itself, there are many clever ways to employ “textese” with an audience that you can be sure will follow what you're trying to communicate and will be on the same page with you as far as the tone is concerned. And, of course, when your target audience is that under-twenty-five demographic, textese can be a perfect way of communicating the feeling of young, irreverent fun and energy. For instance, textese may hit just the right note for the clubbing industry, events, parties, etc.

In all cases, keep in mind just how casual the tone of “textese” – curse words and all – really is. Be certain that you, yourself, know what all of those letters in that acronym actually stand for; if you're not a hundred percent certain that your audience will be okay with all of those words, then don't take the risk.

April 27, 2014

New Payment Platform Could Revolutionize Mobile Marketing

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As businesses shift focus towards the mobile wallet, developers have raced to meet their needs, but there hasn’t been a truly comprehensive payment system that also tackles customer service issues before, during and after purchase. Until now.

This week saw the launch of Retailer iQ, an analytics and targeting platform developed by Coupons.com. According to the press release, it aims to change the shopping experience for consumers and retailers by making it ‘digital, mobile and personalized.’

Retailer iQ combines a number of innovations in one:

  • Personalized recommendations for products
  • Personalized coupons
  • Integrated shopping lists
  • Targeting capabilities
  • Real time analytics
  • Digital receipt via SMS messaging

None of these capabilities are new in themselves, but this is the first time they’ve been successfully combined – and the implications for mobile marketing campaigns are significant. Retailers can use the platform to reach consumers when they’re about to head out, during their shopping experience, and after they’ve gone home. The analytics capabilities allow brands to identify relevant, personalized offers which they can issue to consumers on the move via mobile marketing coupons.

Retailer iQ has already been used to great effect by Walgreens, who trialed the platform in more than 8,000 stores nationwide. Users can redeem mobile marketing coupons at point-of-sale, and receive follow-up offers according to their tastes and preferences.

But Retailer iQ’s star player (from most retailers’ perspective) is the paperless receipt and promotion function that keeps brand and buyer connected well beyond the cash register in store. At checkout, consumers have the option of receiving an e-receipt, delivered via text message or email.

For consumers, one of the key attractions is the shopping list capability. As well as storing and managing items, it incorporates personalized offers based on purchasing history. All managed via a dashboard, the experience is digitized from start to finish.

As more consumers switch to the convenience of online purchasing, mobile marketing tactics like geo-targeting and coupons are meeting their needs, and platforms like Retailer iQ are helping drive a new type of shopping experience.

April 18, 2014

How to Create an Intuitive Interface

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When someone refers to an ‘intuitive interface’ they really mean a program that they intuit easily. Computer programs can’t intuit anything. The widespread use of the term reflects an appropriately anthropocentric view of the technology that we did, after all, design and build in the first place. So now we’ve thrown some grist into the pedants’ mill, let’s concede that ‘intuitive interface’ is the commonly understood expression. But what does it refer to, exactly? How can we measure which interfaces feel intuitive to users and which don’t?

The key questions to ask of the people using your interface are:

 

  • What do they already know?
  • What do they need to know?

Imagine someone comes to use your interface for the very first time. If what they already know is all they need to know – job done, your interface is intuitive. If a user doesn’t know all they need to know, but the design helps them without them being aware of receiving any guidance – congratulations, you too have an intuitive interface.

How to Do It

Developing your understanding of what users generally find most intuitive takes a methodical approach to testing. The easier an interface is to use, the more people will use it.

A good example of a popular intuitive interface is Ez Texting’s SMS marketing service. Ez operates on the notion that a mobile marketing campaign should not be difficult. The clue’s in the name, kids. Ez Texting’s software is incredibly simple to use, and avoids any industry jargon or technical language. The choices available will be familiar to anyone who’s ever had an email account; choices like ‘send text message’ and ‘scheduled and sent texts’. 

What Ez Texting have done right is foster a sense of knowing what you need to do as soon as you see the screen. Want to add a new group? Guess what – click the link that says ‘add a new group.’ That’s intuition. It works wonders in terms of keeping people on your site.

How Not to Do It

There are plenty of examples online of decidedly unintuitive interfaces. You’ve probably used one – or at least started to use one before giving up. For an all-time classic intuition fail, we must turn to one of the oldest electronic communication tools there is: the hotel phone.

I’m sure you’ve been there. Sitting in a hotel room, you go to make an outside call and hit ‘9’. Only this hotel felt that ‘5’ would be a much better choice. More original, perhaps, but not the intuitive choice.

The most intuitive interfaces favor familiarity over originality. Just because you have discovered an impeccable logic in doing things in a new way doesn’t mean your users will prefer it. Intuition doesn’t work that way. Improve your understanding of what the majority of people prefer and you are close to creating a truly intuitive interface.

April 17, 2014

Mobile Keywords: How They Work and When To Use Them

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In the context of mobile marketing, a “keyword” is not merely a search term, as it is when one thinks of Google and how potential customers find a commercial website on the internet. Rather, the use of  mobile keywords, by contrast, is a simple and highly effective strategy for engaging with consumers who have mobile phone access – by persuading such consumers to “opt in” to your consumer database (for future marketing), while simultaneously allowing consumers to take the lead in a conversation with you about your products or services.

Texting Keywords to Shortcodes

Here's how mobile keywords work: A company specializing in hair care products, for example, runs an advertisement for a product that aims at making hair more shiny and bouncy. One thing that this particular advertisement does is to invite consumers to text the keyword “shiny” to what is called a “shortcode” phone number, using their mobile phones (texting the keyword to, say, the phone number 12345). In return, the customer is told that she will receive a mobile coupon, which she may redeem simply by showing the message she's received to the cashier at the point of purchase. Thus, thanks to the mobile keyword campaign, not only has the consumer made a purchase; by initiating the text exchange, she's also agreed to “opt in” to the database of customers who have given permission to receive future promotions from the company. 

What the Consumer Gets

When employing a mobile keyword campaign, the text response that the customer receives can be a coupon, as in the previous example. However, it could also simply be a message that gives more information about some aspect of the company's services or products that connects to the chosen keyword – which should be a maximum of 25 alphanumeric, non-case-sensitive characters.

For instance, some colleges and technical schools have found it useful to get the attention of interested individuals by running ad campaigns asking prospective applicants to text a word like “info” or perhaps even just the name of the school to a shortcode. In return, potential applicants may receive information about a location-specific recruiting event—since automated responses may be customized by geography, for example, using GPS—or a link to a website that contains information about programs of study and how to apply.

The Return on Investment for Companies

One of the greatest things about mobile keyword marketing campaigns is the long-term return on investment that such campaigns offer. By waiting for consumers to respond to a specific invitation to initiate dialogue, businesses eliminate the risk of offending potential customers through more intrusive techniques, such as telemarketing, and thus lay the foundation for a positive rapport.

Once a consumer has “opted in,” his or her phone number is available not only for future marketing campaigns but also for ongoing follow-up, which may, for instance, involve sending the same customer a series of related messages after a certain number of days or months have passed. In much the same way that people today keep their mobile phones always nearby, thanks to mobile keyword marketing campaigns, your business need not ever be far from a customer's mind, either.

April 14, 2014

Text Marketing: Short Codes Vs. Long Codes

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When employing mobile marketing tactics, one must choose between using long codes and short codes. There are “pro”s and “con”s for each, regardless of which you use for your mobile marketing campaign:

Benefits of Long Codes (Some Questionable)

While long code per message fees are higher, the set-up and monthly costs make them ultimately more affordable. Messages can be sent internationally, and messages and calls can come from the same number. Their most appealing features, though, are also their biggest downfall: because no customer opt-in is required and set-up is quick and easy (due to the lack of a vetting process), abuse of long codes for spamming purposes runs rampant. Long code use over a U.S. carrier network is actually considered stealing because carriers are paid for the right to send texts via their networks.

Drawbacks of Long Codes

In addition to the problems already named above, long codes are hard to remember, don't support video or picture messaging, can't be used for billing, and are limited in speed to the number of messages per second that can be sent. There's also no option to make these free to end users. While short codes include an option to pay the cost up front instead of charging the consumer for use, this is yet another thorny issue that makes long codes problematic. 

However …

What it comes down to it, any message sent to a U.S. long code requires that the parties must be actual people. In theory, therefore, it's conceivable how, in an age when mobile devices are employed in ways once seemingly unimaginable, long codes could be used legitimately for applications involving more personal business exchanges, such as for financial, gaming and dating sites.

Short Code Drawbacks

This is not to say that short codes don't carry their own sets of problems. First, short codes, for some companies, are prohibitively expensive, with set monthly costs hovering around $500. Short codes must be individually activated for each country, as well as approved by each carrier. Short codes also cannot be called.

Short Code Advantages

Just as the assets making long codes convenient also make them problematic, the features making short codes a hassle are simultaneously what they have going for them. First, they require a vetting process that can take weeks – which also means they are less susceptible to spam and thus offer consumers better protection. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and other regulatory bodies have put consumer protection rules into place requiring companies using short codes to ask permission before making contact. They must provide, in exchange, a certain amount of value. This benefits not only consumers but also businesses, since it establishes a much better rapport with consumers. It also doesn't hurt that businesses can – and do – make this exchange free to end users. Short codes are also more memorable, allow for thousands of messages to be sent per second, and can be used for billing.

The full advantages and disadvantages of short and long codes is a complicated issue, further complicated by the fact that carriers often change their capabilities and rules (as well as the fact that companies lack resources to keep track of – and test – each update).  Short codes, with a few noted exceptions, are the way to go in the U.S., however; and the very miniscule amount of text spam that most of us receive is a true testament to their efficacy.

April 11, 2014

Client Retention Through Text Marketing

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Mobile marketing strategies that include SMS messaging are a great way for spas, hair salons, doctors' offices and other enterprises that rely on a steady stream of appointments to retain clients between visits. As many professionals who have embraced the practice can already tell you, despite the fact that SMS text messaging can be fully automated, the truth is that patients, guests, and clients will still walk away with the feeling that you personally took the time to reach out to them. Therefore, automated texts are an effortless way to generate great feelings of customer loyalty (and to help keep that feeling alive).

Boosting Appointments

One of the most obvious types of automated text messages to send to clients in order to keep them thinking about your brand outside of time spent in store or office is the reminder or appointment confirmation text. The added bonus is that this thoughtful correspondence will also lead to fewer missed appointments. Twelve weeks, for instance, is an awfully long time for a loyal customer not to visit her hair salon; therefore, an automated text reminder (perhaps with a special promotion attached to it) sent to someone you haven't seen for a few weeks could be just exactly the nudge such a client needs. Such a moment is also the perfect opportunity to offer your guest the option of texting or emailing an appointment request, further boosting the efficiency of how your company runs and potentially filling up your calendar with profitable business. 

Other Occasions for SMS Texting

Additional reasons and occasions to send out promotional texts are all around, if you just pay attention. SMS messaging can be used for special holiday promotions (Mother's Day, Valentines Day, etc.) In addition, they can be used to remind customers how much they love your business, while also extracting key information from them through customer surveys that give you insight into ways to improve service (and also give you some buzz-generating rave reviews to re-post on Facebook – with customer permission, of course!)

You don't need a holiday in order to celebrate a special event. If your staff members have created their own walking team, for instance, for an upcoming fundraiser, then automated text messages to your customer base are the perfect way to solicit donations and put your small business in a really positive light among members of the local community. You can also keep things light by engaging customers with fun survey questions.

A Few “Don't”s

With all of that said, what you want to avoid doing is overwhelming clients by sending automated texts to the same individuals too often (i.e., more than twice a month at the very most). Also, be certain that those receiving the texts have opted in; never spam, hack, or buy phone numbers. All you'll get in return is a some terrible publicity and potential legal ramifications.

Also, keep messages short. Remember: these are text messages, not the great American novel. Last but not least, do respond to direct questions that your texts generate from those clients receiving the message. After all, hearing back from clients is great because it means they're engaged; you've reached them! Don't go to all of that trouble just to turn right around now and ignore them.

Use SMS texting to engage with and retain customers in an appropriate way that creates value for your clients.

April 08, 2014

Neglect Text, Neglect Success: The Benefits of Mobile Marketing

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If you keep your eye on the latest mobile marketing solutions and SMS messaging strategies, you’ll be familiar with the statistic that’s often bandied around, but for the benefit of the uninitiated: 95% of all mobile users open and read SMS messages within three minutes of the text being sent.

It’s certainly a compelling piece of data. And yet, so many businesses are still failing to employ SMS marketing as part of their overall strategy. Some are afraid of anything relatively new and stick to what they know, others have never bothered to give it a good go. But the advantages of text marketing are manifold, and you ignore them at the peril of your business. Here are a few of the key benefits to creating a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy:

  • Speed. At 160 characters or less, your average text doesn’t take long to create (or to read). Use this fact to your advantage by turning your mobile marketing campaign into a masterclass in brevity.
  • Directness. Most email inboxes are checked once or twice a day, and commercial messages are filtered out automatically, manually or just mentally. Compare that to an SMS inbox, which is frequently checked multiple times in a single day – often as and when each message is received.
  • Affordability. For small businesses, the sheer affordability of text marketing is one of its key assets. Far cheaper than real-world billboards or television ads, you can usually buy in bulk to get an even better deal on an SMS package.
  • Eco-friendliness. More and more businesses are adopting greener practices. Apart from being ethical, it makes good business sense – most customers want to know the brand they’re dealing with has at least some environmentally-friendly credentials. In the world of advertising, SMS marketing is as green as it gets.
  • Interactivity. Engaging with your customer base is easy with SMS. Issue polls, surveys and questionnaires. Not only will they encourage consumers to visit your social media pages and website, they can provide invaluable data on personal preferences and buying habits.
  • Trackability. Monitoring metrics is crucial to understanding the success of any advertising campaign. With text, it’s a lot easier to track these metrics. Some companies offer a tracking service as part of their SMS messaging package. Use such services to review a detailed analysis of each text and you will start to understand more about how your business is functioning as a user experience.

As you can see, there are huge potential sources of untapped business out there, just waiting at the end of a cellphone to receive your latest offer – so climb on board with the text revolution!

 

 

 

March 25, 2014

HTC One M8 Goes on Sale in UK

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HTC’s new smartphone went on sale today at several stores in London, ahead of a general release on March 27. International consumers will have to wait until April 11 to get their hands on the device.

The HTC One M8 was officially unveiled just one hour before it became available to shoppers at six Carphone Warehouse and three Phones 4U stores. A few handsets were also released at a press conference in New York.

The HTC One is being heralded as one of the best designs to hit the smartphone market to date. According to a press release published on the T-Mobile website, the HTC One has “the brainpower of a true superphone… [and] stunning hardware design.”

The device has two cameras on the back, allowing photographers to take shots capable of mimicking the depth-of-field control that was once the sole preserve of DSLR machines. Another winning feature is Motion Launch, which lets users quickly deploy their device without having to first unlock it. A phone call can be taken by putting the device to your ear; the camera can be activated simply by upending the phone and hitting the volume button. 

Despite all the bells and whistles, HTC’s new offering faces an uphill battle in terms of marketing. The company aims to make high end products capable of competing with iPhones. To a certain extent, they’ve achieved that with the HTC One, but they lack two key things that Apple has in spades: a fanatic, loyal customer base, and an app store that rules the roost.

That’s not to say HTC doesn’t have potential. For every hardcore Apple fanboy, there’s an open-source devotee who wouldn’t go near an iPhone if their house was burning down. And they’re precisely the same people who care more about design than market ubiquity. In that context, HTC has a place in the hearts of the anti-Apple brigade who don’t want to slum it with a Samsung device.

Whether there are enough of those people out there remains to be seen. In marketing terms, probably not. Few mobile marketing tactics include a pressing urge to reach out to HTC users – and their SMS messaging glitches are documented across the web. But for individual users with a taste for good design, and an antipathy towards good marketing, the HTC One could be the answer.