My name is Ben Bakhshi, I am one of the founders of Coordinato, a platform for sending phone/text/email messages and reminders for small businesses (eCommerce and physical). I have learned a lot about the Text Message marketing industry while building this business, I’d like to share a tidbit to help small businesses grow.
If healthcare companies send text messages to provide better healthcare (proving that in fact, people read text messages from their service providers), shouldn’t you consider using the same channel to help grow your business? The healthcare industry has been effectively using text messaging to communicate with patients for years now. Hospitals have successfully increased patient health measurably by decreasing no-shows due to appointment reminders sent by SMS. Retails have been doing the same. Today, it doesn’t take big budgets or systems, and in fact, it can all be done for free.
People read text messages (and they are cheap to send)
Traditional retailers use text messages to market products to their customers all the time. Online businesses, who have a good mobile website, can use texting to drive new sales from old customers. If you sign up for a retail credit card, or join a membership to get a discount, chances are that the retailer will be keeping tabs on your shopping, and sending you text messages to remind you to shop more (and buy more of what you want). But sending mass text messages is no longer only for large companies with big budgets. If you are a small business has or is able to collect your customers’ phone numbers, you should start to consider periodically sending messages to your customers.
Thanks to Twilio, and other SMS technology companies, the cost to build software that utilizes texting has gone down dramatically. These days, the smallest of businesses can use a flurry of web tools to send texts and grow your business.
We will briefly cover the goals of text message marketing, and then I will provide you with free & paid tools to get you on your way.
Goals of Text Message Marketing
Increase incoming business immediately, without annoying your customers.
Your messages should be on point and should highlight something that is immediately available. Your customer will read the message, but they probably won’t remember it. If they can’t act now (get in the car, go to a website, make a phone call, or respond by text) then they will forget about the message, delete it, and go on with their lives.
For example, you can send message 1 week before a customer’s birthday, offering them discounted services. Or, might have received new merchandise, you can include a URL in your message, letting your customers visit your mobile website and make a purchase.
Do not be annoying. You should think twice about sending a text message more than once a month. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, would YOU want to get a message once a week advertising to you?
You may want to track the performance of texting as a channel. If your customers are not responding, they may be getting upset, or your messaging is not relevant. Feel free to follow up. If you notice that an SMS marketing campaign was unsuccessful, pick up the phone and call a few customers to find out why they were not interested in the offering.
Ask for a referral. If a customer had a great experience with you, feel comfortable sending a text asking for a referral. You don’t have to offer a referral bonus, but you can if you think it will help you and the customer.
Discuss these and more issues with your team, and figure out the right way to balance effectiveness and courtesy with your customers. Your previous customers are one of your most important assets. Leveraging them will help you grow your sales, and also help you grow your referrals.
How to send text messages online?
You can send messages one at a time, very easily, using Google Hangouts, which Google has migrated features into from Google Voice, is available standalone or via Gmail. Just enter the phone number, enter the message, and boom, your customer receives it. Google offers this totally for free, and you can receive incoming messages as well.
If you want to send group messages, or schedule text messages into the future, check out some of the more advanced platforms. There are a number of services out there, here are two of our favorite, feel free to Google around for more, I have seen dozens of them. AppointmentReminder.org, focuses on appointment based businesses who want to send reminders to their customers. SignalEngage.com which offers text, email and online marketing tools help you grow your customer base.
Go ahead and start texting your customers, you won’t be disappointed.