By Heather Blessington
My 70-year-old mother started texting before I did. This probably sounds strange given that I’m the tech geek in the family and "Web" is my middle name.
I just never got that hyped about texting. I think it was because I am always being pinged by someone or something (e-mail, phone, kids, doorbell, and so on). Did I really need “instant” messages tapping me on the shoulder all day? Not really, but I caved.
Truth be told, now I love it! Texting (aka SMS) allows me to quickly and easily get informed about what matters to me, from a person or company that matters to me. Plus, I carry my Blackberry everywhere I go, so I never skip a beat on what’s happening in the world I care about.
As it turns out, I am just like 90% of the U.S. population who have welcomed SMS messaging into their lives by opting in to receive messages morning, noon and night. The reach achieved in mobile messaging is amazing, which presents a serious opportunity for you to grow your customer base and increase sales.
Text Marketing Pros and Cons
High conversion rates: An average SMS marketing campaign reaches conversion rates of 20%. Compare this figure to direct mail and newspapers, which rarely reach over 2% to 3%, and the ROI of text message marketing cannot be matched.
Instant gratification: Within just 15 minutes of sending out a text message to your list, 95% of your subscribers will read your message. That’s five times more than e-mail and nine times more than direct mail.
Customers have their smartphones glued to their palms: No matter where your customers are, your text message will reach them. More than 90% of your customers already use their mobile phones for text messages, and your SMS campaign is a natural extension of their daily lives.
Cheap marketing that delivers: No other marketing medium can match the ROI and customer acquisition price of mobile marketing. The larger your mobile marketing campaign gets, the lower the costs become on a per customer basis.
Ease of use: New marketing campaigns and text messages are set up in minutes. When you send out a new text message, it reaches your customer in seconds and is read right away. If you want to drive same-day traffic, no other marketing has the power of text message marketing.
Now those are some impressive statistics, no doubt about it. But there has to be a downside, right? Making mistakes with text marketing can cost you customers.
Don’t be a stalker: Do not, under any circumstances, bombard people with text messages. Text marketing can get annoying fast, so do not break this cardinal rule. Every one of your customers may really, really be looking forward to your annual customer appreciation event, but they don’t need to be reminded about it every day.
“You’ll know quickly if you are sending text messages too often because customers will tell you through the opt-out rate,” says Ron Cariker, president of 7 Media Group, a text message marketing firm.
Texting Best Practices
Call to action: Make your text message subtle, quick and to the point. Your call to action should be blatantly obvious and encourage two-way interactions. “You need to make your messages unique to your dealership,” says Cariker.
Timing is everything: It is important to understand your target audience and know what they will find valuable and when the timing is right to send your campaign. For example, it would not be wise to send a text about your phenomenal sale on a Saturday night when your dealership is closed on Sunday.
Respect customer privacy: Customers must “opt-in” to receive text messages from your dealership. This means that as a dealer you need to document that a cell phone number was provided to you for the purpose of marketing. Many marketers choose to not adhere to this rule and end up with angry messages from customers asking, “Who gave you permission to contact me on my cell phone?” Ignoring the “opt-in” rule is a great way to lose customers.
Build your subscriber list: “Short codes” are a way for you to build your subscriber list. A “short code” is a company’s five- or six-digit number to which a consumer sends a text message in order to sign up for marketing and promotional messages or to get more information about an offer.
Let me know if you venture into the world of mobile marketing. I would like to hear your success stories!
Want to learn more about text message marketing? Visit 7 Media at 7mediagroup.com.
Award-winning blogger and CEO of Duo Web Solutions, Heather Blessington is a web technology veteran and a certified project management professional with the Project Management Institute. Her company provides monthly columns focused on best practices in web marketing for powersports dealers.