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Getting the message across with text marketing

SMS marketingSMS marketing has been around for over 20 years and yet many businesses have failed to grasp its potential. It’s direct, personal and, if it’s properly targeted, can be a great way for small firms to communicate with customers. Kay Phillips of SMS specialists 24X highlights ways that texting can help you spread the word about your products and services

More and more companies are looking at their marketing strategies, budget and target market and are reassessing how to reach that market in the most cost and time effective way.

Consumers are a difficult bunch to reach — our lives are so busy that we don’t always have time to sit and read articles, emails or newsletters on a company’s offerings.

What the majority of us do have though are mobile phones (94% of all adults according to Ofcom statistics) — which we keep with us day and night. SMS marketing, or text marketing, is a personal, direct and cost effective way to reach your target market.

Opportunities to text your customers

Take a restaurant that has a quiet evening coming up and wants to run a promotion to attract more diners. They have a database of all their clients’ numbers that they have collected from previous bookings. They go out with a single message to that database with a compelling offer. For instance: “Buy one meal get one free at The Bull on Tuesday please call Helen on 01222 123456 to book.”

Or take a plumber that wants to drum up trade before the winter rush with boiler services in the summer to spread his workload. He texts a message to his customer base offering 10% off if they have their boiler serviced before September. This way he can take on new clients as well as spread his work throughout the year.

SMS best practice

Building a database is simple but you have to be disciplined about asking for contact details including mobile phone numbers. So make sure you ask for contact details on the telephone, in person and on your website. Make sure you get permission from customers to use their details for marketing purposes when you collect them. You must also give them a simple way to unsubscribe from your marketing messages to ensure you do not fall foul of the Data Protection Act.

The key to a successful SMS campaign is simple:

  • know who you are trying to reach
  • think about what you want to tell them
  • be clear what you want them to do and give them a call to action
  • prepare the content of your text carefully
  • if you want them to contact you, tell them how (include your URL or telephone number)
  • if you want to give them an offer, explain it in the message

You can also brand your SMS messages (so they come from your company name, not just your number) or include colour, images, video or sound in an MMS (multi media message). This is a personal touch that can really impress your customers and can generate impressive conversion rates.

SMS is now being widely used and offers real opportunities for small businesses. Statistics suggest that engagement rates are more than six times higher for SMS than for email marketing messages. They also show that 98% of SMS is read compared to just 22% of email messages. With figures that impressive, you would be mad not to give SMS a try.

Kay Phillips is a sales manager at 24x, offering specialist mobile messaging solutions.

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