5 Things You Need to Know About Text (SMS) Marketing

In the fall of 2012, my Mt. Shasta marketing agency added text message marketing to its list of services. Also referred to as SMS, which stands for Short Message Service, text marketing is just one facet of the red-hot mobile marketing category.

Since it’s a pretty new player in the game as far as marketing tools go, many clients aren’t quite ready to buy into text marketing yet. However, those who have added it to their marketing mix are enjoying notable results in their foot traffic and their bottom line. My clients are even having lots of fun with it, which is a big bonus in my opinion. After all, marketing shouldn’t be a chore – it should be fun!

If you are a business owner considering adding text messaging to your marketing mix, the following tips gleaned from first-hand experience may be helpful when making your decision:

1) It’s Not Right for Every Business

I would be lying if I said that text marketing is a grand-slam solution for every small biz. In fact, just like ANY marketing tool you’re considering, the very best reason to choose something is because it puts your business exactly where your audience is. In the case of text message marketing, this means your audience has to already be using text as a form of communication. Hard as it may be to believe, there are still some people who don’t text! I know, OMG! right?

What I’ve seen so far is that text marketing works really well for restaurants, coffee shops, and general retail stores. It gets a little trickier as you get into upscale stores offering big-ticket items, service-based companies, or non-profit organizations. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for these types of companies to effectively employ text marketing, but you do have to be a little more creative with how it is used.

2) You Have to Give in Order to Get

The campaigns that have proven most successful for my clients have been of the Weekly Deals variety. The bottom line is that if you want your customers to give you permission to send them texts, your communications need to provide value for them. In order to build an audience of engaged, responsive consumers, you need to employ the following:

Carrot Offer

Building your text message list is similar to building your email marketing list in that you need to offer something valuable (i.e. dangle a carrot) to get people to opt-in. Some examples are “Sign Up and Take $2 Off Today’s Order,” “Enter to Win $25 Gift Certificate,” or “Join Today & Get Free Dessert.” It needs to be special enough to get people to give you their cell phone number, without you losing your shirt in the process.

Exclusive Deals

Once people are on your list, you need to create text content to send them. However, you can’t just send promotional texts of no value; they have to be unique, fun, and special enough to make the recipient feel like they are part of a secret club getting an exclusive deal. Deals can be Buy-One-Get-One-Free, a coupon-style discount, or even a Flash-Sale style such as “$1 Lattes for the next hour only!”

As you can imagine, the deals that get the best response involve discounts. I’m not a fan of giving away the farm, but if done properly you will actually Get money, even as you Give discounts. If your company is allergic to discounts, refer back to Tip #1.


Whether a free espresso drink, micro-brew, or small gift item, awarding a freebie to a random member of your list every week is a great way to surprise and delight your customers while building loyalty and generating positive word-of-mouth buzz. One of my clients uses text message marketing as a customer rewards program and gives away a $25 Gift Certificate every week! Meanwhile, other clients choose not to give out weekly freebies at all, and just focus on providing good weekly deals. The choice is yours, and whatever choice your company makes should feel comfortable, not be a cause of anxiety and stress.

3) You Need to Respect Your Audience

The same SPAM laws that apply to email apply to text marketing. People need to feel trust if they are giving you their cell phone number. If that trust is abused, you will lose customers and damage your hard-earned brand reputation as well. When crafting your deals, ask yourself, “Is this deal awesome enough to get ME off the couch and into the store if I received it?” If not, keep crafting.

As for frequency, you can send weekly deals, bi-weekly deals, or monthly deals. Ultimately, you’re trying to find the sweet spot between engaging your audience enough so they don’t forget about you, but not so much that they get irritated and opt out.

4) Text Messages Are Personal & Fun

People have special connections with their cell phones, and they rarely go anywhere without them. One of my clients held a reception during an art walk and sent out a special limited-time offer via text. During the reception, I overheard a customer say she got the text while she was out hiking and got excited to come to the art walk. I can’t think of any other marketing tool that would excite a customer while she was out enjoying nature.

Another client runs a brew pub restaurant, for which we’ve created “Sunday Fundays.” On designated Sundays, customers can do crazy things to get a 50-cent beer, such as dance an Irish jig on St. Patty’s day, sing a line from a Broadway musical, or act out a movie title with charades. Only the people on the text marketing list are in the know, so the other patrons are wondering what the heck is going on. When they finally find out why these people are singing and dancing, you better believe they are eager to sign up!

5) Text Marketing Works

In the six months that I’ve been selling text marketing services to my clients, they have all enjoyed noticeable results. The patrons who enjoy their 50-cent beers during the brewery’s Sunday Fundays always buy additional beers and food at full price. The local gift shop clocks 7 – 12 sales during their art walk events that are directly related to the text deals. A pizza parlor client tracks 15 – 30 customers redeeming their text deals with each offer. As for the coffee shack owner, her list is pushing 300 and continues to grow every week. Do you think your business would benefit from placing secret, exclusive deals in the pockets of 300 customers every week? You won’t know unless you try.

If I add up the text marketing lists from all my clients, we are collectively reaching over 3,000 people with custom, value-oriented text messages. While this number may not seem staggering by big-city standards, Mt. Shasta is a small NorCal mountain town of around 10,000 people, where the typical local business owner’s marketing strategy consists of opening her doors and waiting for the tourists to stumble in.

Taking all that into account

I am not only quite pleased with the results my clients have been experiencing, but I’m also quite proud of these business owners for having the courage to step out of their comfort zones and give new marketing techniques a try.

Posted in Marketing by Bam. Comments Off on 5 Things You Need to Know About Text (SMS) Marketing

5 Website Tips To Attract New Customers and Retain Old Ones

As technology becomes more and more important for businesses these days, it also becomes essential for a business to have a company website. This is especially true if you’re targeting customers from all over the world. Now, if you already have a company website, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much for your business, then you may need to rebuild or at least redesign it.

Here are the most important considerations you need to take note of to make sure your website will reach its optimum potential:

Set Realistic Goals

It is one thing to set goals for your website and another thing to set goals you can realistically achieve. Setting unrealistic goals is setting yourself up for disappointment. To make sure your goals are realistically achievable, it is best to ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the possible reasons for people to visit my site?
  • What are the specific ways in which I can serve my site visitors?
  • Why are these services important to my business?

The answers to these questions should serve as a guide as regards to your goals for the website. Bear in mind as well that a website is comprised of several pages. You need to make sure that each of your web pages has a specific purpose.

Each of your web pages should also connect to the other pages so as to give your website a sense of cohesiveness. More importantly, your goals for your website should have a clear and direct connection to your goals for the business itself. The success of your website should directly contribute to the success of your business.

Make sure there’s a direct connection between your website and your social media pages. This will help you achieve better engagement. Some of the most recommended ways of doing the same are:

  1. If you have a WordPress site, there are several plugins that you can use to let visitors access your social media profiles, or even follow you directly through the site.
  2. Pulling your social feed on your website is also a good method of engagement. It lets visitors see that you are active on social media and encourages them to connect with you on social platforms.
  3. Make it easy for your visitors to share your blog content on their preferred social media platforms. There are several social sharing widgets like, Sharethis, Addthis, etc, that you may find useful.

Determine What Needs Fixing

If you already have a website that doesn’t seem to be working as well as you originally expected, then you need to know for sure what has gone wrong. After all, you can’t realistically find a workable solution when you don’t really know what the problem is.

A tip we gained from London based SEO consulting company, Womix Digital is that Broken links and 404 error pages are among the most common problems that drive visitors away from otherwise good websites. How can you engage site visitors effectively when they can’t even link successfully to your web pages?

Ideally your website should answer the following questions for your target market at the first glance:

  • What does it offer for visitors?
  • How can visitors access the services offered?
  • The pricing details
  • How can you be contacted in case they have any queries and questions?
  • Features that establish your business’ credibility, such as well-known clients you have worked with, testimonials, etc.

In addition to that you must ensure that your website offers easy navigation, has a simple un-complicated structure, and that you have a responsive help-desk.

Identify Pages That Work Well

Your existing website can’t be all that bad, right? There has to be at least a page or two that’s still contributing to the achievement of your goals. Find out what these pages are and then make sure they’re well taken care of.

You website analytics can give you detailed insight into what pages get the maximum number of visits, and for how long visitors stay on those pages. If your bounce rate is high, then it means that the pages need more engaging content or that you are not offering content to match the keyword query that brings visitors to that particular page.

Another technique to analyze your website’s performance is to look at the referral section in analytics to understand which pages are sending you the maximum traffic. So, for instance if your Facebook page sends maximum traffic to your website, then you should try and duplicate your FB strategy on other social media networks as well. Or, if you find that most of your Facebook audience checks out your Home Page and About Page, you could try creating teaser posts with URLs to your sales pages.

Educate Your Customers

Videos are excellent tools for educating customers about your business. You can create videos about various aspects of your business to help your customers understand your services and features better.

For instance, let’s say you run a fitness institute; you could create videos to educate potential customers about your fitness programs, and weave in testimonials from satisfied customers to showcase the effectiveness of your programs. Videos about general weight loss and fitness tips could also be great customer engagement tools.

Introduce a Referral Program

Nothing works like word-of-mouth publicity and one of the most effective ways to ensure that your own clients/customers become your publicity agents is to offer them incentives to refer you to their friends. Integrating your social media platforms with your website will only make it easier for them to share information about your business with their friends. You may either offer discounts on your products, freebies, or gift coupons, etc, to customers who get you new business.

For example, a lot of e-commerce websites do this by giving you store-credit when you refer a friend to them and often add extra credit to your account when people referred by you make their first purchases.

In this day and age, it’s no longer wise to concentrate exclusively on making your company website rank well on search engine results pages. It has become equally important, if not more so, to design your website such that it caters directly to what your target market wants to see. You shouldn’t treat your site simply as an online version of your sales counter. Rather, you should treat it as the online version of your entire store of office, where you greet every customer who enters, make them feel welcome, and try to address their every need.

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Marketing Your Business Is Like Joining a Gym

I was a chubby kid. In fact, all the way into my early teens, I was overweight. Eventually, I slimmed down, but those early years instilled me with an awareness of health and diet that has stuck with me throughout my life. In the 80′s, I bought my first gym membership, and I loved it. Over the years, I’ve belonged to several gyms and, while I’ve been more diligent some years than I have others, I’ve always enjoyed the physical and mental benefits of a consistent fitness routine,

Recently, a friend of mine joined the gym I belong to and I was super excited to encourage him on his awesome journey to improved health. I probably sounded like an irritating know-it-all as I grilled him about his goals and explained which routines, weights and machines he should try, but I truly wanted to inspire him with knowledge and experience that I’ve gleaned over the years.

Of course, if there’s anything I enjoy more than my Friday night workouts, it’s the world of marketing. So, as I was chatting my friend’s ear off about the best ways to achieve his workout goals, I started to noticed some similarities between the advice I was sharing with him, and the advice I share with my marketing clients.

So, how is marketing similar to working out?

It Pays to Have a Plan

You can always spot the newbies at the gym: They’re the ones doing the No-Plan Shuffle. They ping-pong from machine to machine without rhyme or reason hoping they don’t look too out of place. Their reps lack form, their sets are inconsistent and it seems they’re making up their routine as they go. After an indeterminate amount of time–usually when they run out of things to do–they pack it in and head on home.

Business owners do the No-Plan Shuffle with their marketing. They ping-pong between tools and tactics without clearly defining their objectives. They do just enough to feel like they’re covering the bases, yet they neglect to adequately track outcomes or measure results. It’s no surprise that this is ineffective. It’s not that they are planning to fail, it’s just that they are failing to plan.

Determining your objectives, knowing your goals, understanding your audience, planning your strategy and choosing the appropriate messaging and tools of delivery will require extra thought and effort up front, but will pay off in the long run. We’re almost through the 1st Quarter of 2013. Do you have a detailed marketing plan in place for the year, or are you making it up as you go?

It’s Better With a Buddy

Luckily, my partner enjoys working out as much as I do, so we keep each other inspired and motivated. We have standing workout dates three times a week, to which we hold each other accountable. If I know she’s coming to pick me up for a workout, it’s a lot harder to slack off than if I were simply planning on heading to the gym myself. During the workout, the presence of a buddy drives you to push a bit harder and longer than if you were there on your own. It’s also fun to have a workout buddy so you can compare notes on technique and form, share new routines, and encourage each other as you progress.

While I don’t have a lot of buddies who are as interested in marketing as I am, I do have a couple, which keeps me from operating in a vacuum. Getting together with peers, fellow entrepreneurs, and other marketers allows business owners to share ideas and experiences, commiserate, learn about new tools and technologies, troubleshoot problems and discuss industry news. This pushes action, innovation, and even may inspire a little healthy competition, which ensures that everyone’s business continues to evolve.

It’s Frustrating Not To See Results

It takes time to lose weight and it takes time to build muscle. When people join a gym, they’re hoping to see results. Immediate results, preferably. When they don’t see results, they get frustrated and lose their momentum. They start to lose faith in the idea of getting in shape, and eventually they quit. Before long, they’re back on the couch in their pajamas watching Downtown Abbey and licking Cheetos dust from their fingers.

The same thing happens to those business owners doing the No-Plan Shuffle. They try a few marketing methods hoping for a quick-fix, an immediate boost in customers, or a spike in revenue. When they don’t see the results they hoped for (which were not clearly defined to begin with), they get frustrated and adopt a negative opinion about marketing. They say things like, “Marketing doesn’t work,” or “We don’t need to advertise.”

It IS frustrating not to see results, but business owners need to approach marketing as a marathon rather than a sprint. Define short-term and long-term goals and acknowledge that achieving them will take time. Track response to your efforts, fine-tune your regimen as needed, and celebrate the victories along the way. Oh, and stay away from the Cheetos.

Consistency Is Key

The only way to achieve those elusive results is through consistency. If you pop into the gym at random intervals, workout only when you feel like it, or slack off until just before swimsuit weather hits, you will have a hard time reaching your goals. Only through regular, consistent, ongoing dedication will your efforts pay off. When you see the physique you’ve been striving for start to emerge over time, it’s exciting! It motivates you to stay the course, and helps you to understand that optimal fitness is not a New Year’s resolution, but rather a lifetime commitment.

Marketing is also a commitment to be implemented throughout the life of your business. Give your chosen tools and tactics enough time to determine whether or not they are successful, and focus your efforts on the ones that are. That could mean placing regular ads, promoting frequent sales and events, keeping your website fresh, actively engaging your social media following, and keeping up with new consumer trends or technologies that you may wish to try. Whether building a buff brand or a buff bod, consistency will get you there.

Time will tell if my friend sticks with his new workout routine. However, as long as he develops a plan, stays consistent, works through his frustrating plateaus, and connects with others who share his passions, he will do just fine. And the same goes for business owners hoping to achieve success with their marketing.

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The Role of Smartphones in Customer Engagement

Being online isn’t good enough anymore – a company’s information has to be easily accessible on the go, and that includes having smartphone apps and tablet-friendly interfaces. Stopping there won’t cut it either. In order to keep consumers loyal and coming back for more, companies need to keep them constantly engaged. Have a campaign strategy that has purpose, a quality product or service worth promoting and a simple platform in which to get users involved. Here’s how:

Appeal to Each Audience

Though they both may be interested in the same product, a teenage boy and a middle-aged mom shouldn’t be grouped together in the same campaign audience. Likewise, a 20-something professional woman is going to behave differently online than a retired man. When designing campaign strategies, segment by behavior and tailor your approach to each group. Appealing to each audience is one thing but making it easy for each niche to be engaged is another. Easily sharable information is great for the younger generation while customer service software, such as live chat technologies or always available customer service representatives, might be a better fit for the less tech-savvy.

Establish Your Brand

You set the standard but your customers are the ones to determine if you live by it. Be the first to talk about your product and let users spread the word. Establish a brand by deciding what the company wants to be known for and associated with. With a motto in place and purpose in mind, keep the end goal in sight but be willing to be flexible along the way. A good example? Apple Maps. It had to do maps; it really had no choice. Maps and mobile logically go together, and Apple being a trusted company knew it had to deliver. [BAM! Note: Unfortunately, Apple’s first attempt at Maps fell far short of consumer expectations and led to CEO Tim Cook issuing a public apology.]

Engage the Second Screen

No longer does the term “couch potato” fit – thanks to the growing trend of always having to be connected, about half of U.S. mobile phone users are now multi-tasking while watching TV. According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project report, 52 percent of cell phone users are on their phones and in front of their TVs at the same time. From sending text messages to others who are watching the same show in a different location to looking up information mentioned in commercials, users aren’t wasting any time. Don’t miss out on that market. Create cross-platform social campaigns that engage the second screen audience.

Be Ready and Keep Up

In August, Instagram beat out Twitter in daily mobile use from U.S. smartphone owners for the first time since its 2010 conception. According to a report by ComScore, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, the photo-sharing app had an average of 7.3 million daily active users topping Twitter’s 6.9 million over the same period of time. Why does this matter? Because the “daily user” metric measures how many users visit the app everyday, which affects advertisement sales strategy and sales. Your take away should be not to feel overwhelmed at the task of getting millions of daily users, but instead to make sure they are actively engaged. The more engaged a user is, the more likely he or she is to click on an ad, buy a product or tweet about a service.

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