Reaching Customers Through Text Messaging
There’s something about a text message that commands our immediate attention. From the moment the phone buzzes or vibrates, we want to know who is texting us and what they have to say. And that is the selling point behind direct mobile marketing campaigns.
“Ninety-seven percent of text messages are read within six minutes,” says Brooks Lambert, founder and CEO of Qwikon, a mobile messaging platform. “We all have our phones handy and stop to read a text.”
What’s more, customers don’t necessarily need a smartphone to read text messages, because every cell phone on the market is capable of receiving texts. In contrast, emails from businesses often languish unread in people’s in-boxes, he says.
With Lambert’s system, small-business owners can use any mobile device to send a text message to customers. The text might be about a sale or special pricing or an offer good for the next 10 customers who walk through the door. He says Qwikon’s clients get better responses to campaigns with immediacy.
“We’ve done a lot of testing with our customers, and an offer that is good for a day has the highest response rate,” Lambert says.
Lambert says that’s because text messages have immediacy. “Customers see it in real time, so you can reach them when they are making a purchasing decision,” Lambert says. “If they are wondering what to do about dinner tonight and you send a special message at 4:30 or 5 p.m., then suddenly you have answered their question.”
Let Customers Opt-In
One important thing to remember about direct mobile marketing campaigns is that customers must opt-in and give you their mobile phone numbers. The Mobile Marketing Association has created these guidelines for best practices. To compile your contact list, Lambert suggests reaching out to current customers via email, your website, and any social media sites you use. Have employees in your store ask customers to subscribe, too.
The opt-in process also helps small-business owners drill down and target specific customers who may be more interested than others in some promotions. The hallmark of a successful texting relationship is carefully chosen messages. Customers can be turned off by a large volume of messages that feel more like spam than special offers, Lambert notes.
Choose Your Solution
Lambert says texting itself has been around for 20 years, but it’s only recently become a viable and affordable advertising tool for small businesses.
Numerous software solutions and providers can assist small-business owners in setting up and executing text marketing campaigns. Qwikon offers various pricing options, with an entry-level plan of 500 email messages per month for $49.
“A key benefit to mobile or text marketing is that the business owner is in control over what, when, who, how many, and for how long — instead of more passive advertising or social media, which is ‘spray and pray’ or ‘post and hope,’” Lambert says.
Carla Turchetti is a veteran broadcast, print and digital journalist who is passionate about small businesses and the stories behind them. Carla is a small-business columnist at the News & Observer, the regional daily newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina.