5 Tips for Using Text Message Marketing in Your Business

Are you still relying on traditional marketing channels to reach your customers and, more importantly, your potential customers? Have dismal email open rates got you down? It’s time to update your marketing strategy with a tool that can grow customer loyalty and brand awareness, increase sales, and take your business to the next level.

Mass text messaging has 98 percent open rates, and 90 percent of people open new text messages within three minutes of receipt, so you’d be foolish to ignore the potential this medium has to deliver marketing messages, news, surveys, and more to your customers’ fingertips. As long as you follow federal regulations and best practices, you can use text message marketing to tap your company’s full potential.

1) Know the Law

These days, you can’t just buy a list of phone numbers from a shady website and send them whatever text messages you please. According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM), you have to get permission from customers before sending them marketing text messages — they have to opt in. Each message needs to have opt-out instructions, too, usually something like “Text ‘STOP’ to 553887 to stop getting messages.”

You also can’t text at odd hours — text messages must be sent between 8:00 a.m and 9:00 p.m. in your recipient’s time zone. There are limits on how often you can send marketing texts, too, although non-marketing communications, like news and industry updates, may not be included in those limits.

2) Don’t Overdo It

Even if there weren’t legal limits on how frequently you can send marketing texts, you wouldn’t want to do it too frequently. Yes, customers sign up for your marketing texts because they want to receive them, but you shouldn’t be bombarding people with multiple texts a day. For many customers and many businesses, even one text a day would be too many — it might make sense to receive a daily text from your favorite restaurant, but not as much sense to receive one from your favorite yarn store. If customers start to feel like they’re getting overwhelmed by your messages, they’ll opt out of marketing texts and you’ll lose a valuable means of contacting them.

3) Keep It Concise

While most carriers have long since abandoned the 160-character limit, it’s best to assume that some recipients might be using antiquated phone plans. In any case, customers won’t read a wordy message — at best, they’ll get bored and close the message without taking any action, and at worst, they’ll opt out of future messages altogether. A short, snappy, straightforward text message that adheres to the 160-character limit will be most effective.

4) Create Value

Every single text message you send to your customers has to be relevant and create some value for them, so they’ll continue engaging with your text messaging program and bringing your company their business. Irrelevant messages will make customers opt out of the program. But you do want to branch out somewhat from strictly marketing communications — non-marketing messages can do a lot to build rapport and loyalty and can give you valuable information that will help you improve your customer service.

Messages can contain business news and industry announcements, reminders, and surveys. If you know your customer would be interested in a specific subset of your products or services, use marketing messages to promote those specific items to that person. A mix of message types gives customers the sense that you respect their opinions and want to cater to their interests. Choose a text message service for business that gives you a wide range of options for engaging with your customers via text.

5) Text During Reasonable Hours

Again, even if it weren’t illegal to text your customers in the middle of the night, you wouldn’t want to do it. It will annoy the customers, of course, and make them opt out of future texts. But it also ignores the primary benefit of using text message marketing in the first place — the sense of urgency it can create through immediacy. You can use text message marketing to entice customers into your business soon after they receive the text — but not if they receive the text while they’re asleep in bed. Time your messages to bring in customers during peak hours or at specific times, such as during a lunch rush or a flash sale.

Text message marketing can have a huge return on investment for small business owners, because it opens up a new, intimate avenue through which to reach out to customers. Start your own text marketing program today, and be amazed at how much your customers will love it.

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