If you want to reach local customers and keep them coming back to your business, text-message marketing is one of the most effective strategies for doing so: While email marketing messages are opened by less than 20 percent of recipients, text message ads are typically viewed by at least 95 percent of recipients,according to Mashable.
SMS messaging is also an ideal way for sending coupons that will get noticed and used, at a much lower cost than printing physical coupons. A report from Juniper Research found that customers are 10 times more likely to use coupons on their mobile phones than they are to cut coupons out of newspapers or circulars. Mobile marketing is affordable, effective, and easy to implement.
Many small businesses aren’t incorporating text message marketing into their marketing campaigns—likely because they don’t understand how to get a campaign up and running.
So how do you get started using text messages to market your restaurant or other local business? Here are a few tips:
Find the right mobile marketing partner
It would be extremely inefficient to text each of your customers individually—instead, use a vendor specializing in text message marketing to batch-send your messages.A helpful comparison chart can be found here.
Get your customers on board
There are strict laws against unauthorized text message marketing, so you can only send messages to customers who’ve given you consent to market to them in this way. How can you get their approval? Send out an email to your existing newsletter subscribers, encouraging them to sign up for SMS messaging to receive a special discount on their next purchase. You can also promote your SMS marketing campaign in your store and on your social media accounts, using discounts or raffles to encourage new sign-ups.
Send messages that will incentivize customers to action
Customers will unsubscribe if you send messages that they don’t see as valuable. Rather than texting them about your daily menu options, reserve the text for times when you want to share a special promotion, such as a “buy one, get one free” sandwich deal.
Sure, you’d like to send messages to your customers every day, but SMS marketing is too intrusive to use it on such a frequent basis. The mobile marketing site SnapGiant recommends that businesses take it easy, and text their customers no more than four or five times each month.
Time your messages appropriately
Make sure that you time your texts for maximum impact and minimum annoyance: Your customers won’t be too pleased about being woken up by a message about your new coffee special at 3 AM, but they’d probably be much happier to hear about it when they’re ready for a caffeine fix just before work.
Keep your messages short and sweet
You’re limited to 160 characters in your text messages, and that doesn’t even mean that you need to use all of them. Remember that your marketing message must be far more concise than an email marketing campaign: Stick with one specific call to action and keep your focus clear.
Kathryn Hawkins is senior content editor for the iPad point of sale solution Instore, and a principal of the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media LLC. She has written about small business-related issues for publications including Portfolio.com, Family Business Magazine, BNET, and many others. Image courtesy Jhaymesisviphotography