marketing automation

Why Marketing Automation Should Be Part of Your 2018 Strategy

Over the last few years, the term ‘Marketing automation’ has been thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to inbound marketing strategy. While this once meant using simple tools to perform tasks like scheduling emails, automation has evolved and now encompasses areas like Chatbots and AI customer support.

In this article, we are going to make our case for why marketing automation should be part of your 2018 strategy. First, we will take a look at why we automate, followed by the where and how of automation. It is our hope that with these different retention tips and techniques you will be able to better serve your customers in the new year and beyond. Let’s get started.

marketing automation

Why do we automate?

When marketing automation first came into the zeitgeist, many marketing professionals didn’t see the need for it. Or worse, they thought that automation would take their job from them. Both of these lines of through are misleading, since true marketing automation seeks to make the lives of both the marketers and the customers better.

So, why do we automate? First, speed. In 2018, technology has made everything more efficient, and automation is simply a way to keep up with the world around us. Second of all, according to Emailmonday, 49 percent of companies regularly use marketing automation. This number is only going to continue to grow, so unless you are automating, you may be soon left in the dust.

Marketing automation helps small businesses stay up with the times and stay competitive in their markets. For larger businesses, automation provides a way to keep up with the marketing demands of the industry. Now that you understand why we automate, let’s talk about where we automate.

Where do we automate?

As we mentioned, over the last few years automation has gone from a marketing gimmick to a necessity. More tools have come into the market that make this process easier, more efficient, and more effective. The question has become less “Where do we automate?” and “Where should we automate?” as new platforms pop up everywhere, not all of them being worth the time.

Next, we will take a look at three of the areas you can automate that have shown to increase engagement and company success. Let’s take a look.

Social

Having a good online presence today requires a firm placement in social media. One of the most effective ways to ensure a good mobile marketing strategy here is to automate, automate, automate. As a marketing professional or business owner, you don’t have time to spend hours each day combing social media for articles to post or tips to share. Instead, you can automate almost everything and then respond as interactions come in.

It’s important to remember when you are automating your social media that there will be times when you need to take the wheel and change things up to avoid a PR blunder. For example, companies that forgot to turn off their automations in the wake of a tragedy are seen as crass or uncaring, not a good look. Make sure to keep a close eye out to avoid this sort of problem.

marketing automation strategy

SMS

Another area that has recently grown in the area of marketing automation is SMS marketing. One of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal, SMS becomes even more effective when automated. Businesses can schedule messages weeks in advance, set up SMS keywords to run support without lifting a finger, and much more.

Part of the reason why SMS is such a popular choice for marketing automation is how efficient the service is for communicating with customers. If you can automate most of the SMS process, customers can go from upset to finding a solution in just a few minutes. Like social media, a human touch is required to make these sort of campaigns successful, but marketing automation gives you all the tools you need for success.

Read also: How to Boost Customer Engagement with SMS

Email

One of the oldest marketing automation tools, email automation has evolved into a beast of its own, with companies like MailChimp growing from just focusing on automation. Some of the hallmarks of a successful email automation campaign include segmentation, allowing customers to choose their own campaigns, and using text marketing to ensure your audience receives your message.

Although email is not as powerful of a marketing automation tool as something like SMS, it can be incredibly effective when used in combination with other tools. Email is also a more comfortable solution for many customers that are still making their way into the digital age. If you hope to be successful in marketing automation, each of these tools will need to be in your arsenal.

How do we automate?

Now that we have covered the different areas where marketing automation can flourish, you might be wondering “How do we actually do it?” This is a good question, as simply having a phone or email address doesn’t mean you can set up a marketing automation platform. Thankfully, there are plenty of platforms already out there with a wide selection of features.

For instance,  a platform like Hubspot has all of your marketing automations in one place, whereas a platform like Hatchbuck focuses on just one solution. We mentioned marketing automation giant Emailchimp earlier, but there are plenty of other similar solutions in the space. No matter what you choose, you want to make sure that they have the features you need to meet your goals.

Start an SMS campaign with Gleantap!

Marketing automation and you

Finally, let’s talk about marketing automation and you. Obviously, if you have your own business or are looking to get involved with marketing automation, all of the information in this article might seem like a lot to take in. However, the most important part of marketing automation is simply starting.

Far too often, companies spend too much time putting their automations in place before actually pulling the trigger and starting their campaign. Part of the automation process is tweaking things as you go, trying different things to see what works. Unless you allow yourself to fail a little, nothing will get done.

So this is what we leave you with: a call to action. Go out there and no matter what skill set you have, start your marketing automations today. There’s no time like the present, so get after it!


customer attrition

How to Reduce Customer Attrition without Breaking the Bank

One of the most common struggles for small business owners, or any company for that matter, is trying to avoid losing customers. Like death and taxes, customer attrition is just one of those things you can’t avoid. While it’s possible to reduce churn rate, no matter what you do, some customers will always leave. This is a simply the truth of customer retention.

However, while you might not be able to stop every customer from leaving, you can do your part keep customers around. There are plenty of different strategies for doing this, but they can often drive up your customer acquisition costs and leave you worse off than you started.

In this article, we are going to walk you through how to reduce customer attrition. Not only that, but we will show you how to do so without breaking the bank. Let’s get started.

customer attrition

The slow drain of customer attrition

When you first start to notice customer attrition and churn with your audience, it can feel like you are doing something wrong. However, the faults or decisions that lead you to this point are often hard to understand and some customers will never tell you why they left.

In this scenario, it’s important to remember that close to 70% of the reasons customers leave has nothing to do with the product, but instead poor quality of service. You can have the best product in the world, but without customer service, you will never be able to beat customer attrition.

So, what can be done to fight the slow drain of customer attrition? The first step is to never give up. If you have the wrong mindset, none of the rest of this will matter. Once you are ready to start taking customer retention seriously, the next step is to start monitoring customer activity.

Monitor customers closely

In the world of big data, there are more ways than ever before to monitor your customer’s activity. What they buy, how they buy, and what they do with your products are no reduce to engagement metrics that tell the story of your customer relationship. Not only will this data offer better insights into the minds of your customers, but how to keep them satisfied.

Customer attrition most commonly breeds from lack of activity. Whether this is because customers are distracted by new offerings or simply due to boredom, we may never know. However, it is your job to study their behavior, find weak points, and do your best to fight against them.

Read also: 7 Best Practices for Collecting Customer Feedback

Pinpoint reasons why customers leave

Once you begin monitoring your customer’s behavior you will soon start to see trends that lead up to their eventual churning. This sort of insight is invaluable to your business as you can use it to know when your customers are most vulnerable. Instead of simply allowing customer attrition to take place, this is the perfect time to engage with them and bring them back into the fold.

There are many different customer retention strategies that can be used here to help fight off churn. For instance, sending targeted messages through SMS to customers that are on the verge of leaving might be just the sign they are looking for to stay with your company. It doesn’t always have to be a huge deal, sometimes simply letting them know you still care is enough.

customer relationships

Engage customers through preferred channels

Although we just mentioned SMS marketing, there are many different channels with which you should communicate with your customers. One advantage of SMS that should be applied to other channels is segmentation. By delivering more tailored messaging to your customers based on their habits, you are more likely to have a successful program.

Going back to the customer data we mentioned earlier, that information can often tell you the best way to reach your customers. Some will prefer email, some will appreciate the speed of SMS, but no matter what it is, by engaging with them in the proper ways, you can do wonders to reduce customer attrition.

Make customer service a hallmark of your business

As we mentioned earlier, customer service is vital to the success of any business, especially when it comes to reducing customer attrition. In 2018, this has never been more true. Look at e-commerce giant Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies built on the idea of exceptional customer service.

Thankfully, there are plenty of mobile marketing tools that can aid any business in improving their overall customer service. For instance, companies have begun running support for their customers through text message marketing. This allows for the company to automate almost the entire process and then simply let it run, improving their lives and those of their customers.

Help them remember why they signed up in the first place

Along with customer service, another key to reducing customer attrition is reminder them why the signed up in the first place. Every one of your customers made the choice at one point to use your business for one reason or another. When they are about to churn, it can be powerful to remind them why they should stay instead.

Customer loyalty programs can be a great way to keep customers interested while highlighting different benefits of your company. For instance, you can reward your customers for staying with you by offering discounts on commonly used services or products. Like we said, boredom is often the hardest hurdle to get over, so keep things interesting for your customers whenever possible.

reduce customer attrition

Talk to your customers

Finally, our last and simplest advice for reducing customer attrition is to talk to your customers and actually treat them like humans. Most companies out there that fail do so because they view their customers as cogs in a machine. Instead, think of your customer relationships as just that, relationships.

If you are able to treat your customers with dignity and respect while adding value to their lives, you will have customers for life.


customer feedback

7 Best Practices for Collecting Customer Feedback

In today’s marketplace, collecting customer feedback has never been more important. With the rise of custom-centric marketing and designing programs to optimize the customer experience, listening to what your customers have to say about your business is vital to the success of your company.

In this article, we are try and help you along this journey by providing 7 best practices for collecting customer feedback. It is our hope that with this information, you will not only learn how to better provide value to your customers, but fully understand who they are and how to improve the customer experience. Let’s get started.

customer feedback

Why are you collecting customer feedback?

Before we take a look at how best to collect feedback from your customers, let’s first think about why you are collecting feedback. Feedback on its own might be informative, but without the proper context surrounding it, you will never know how to use it for further customer success.

Before you jump in, consider:

  • What part of the customer experience you want to improve?
  • What will you do with the feedback when you receive it?
  • How can you reach your customers in ways they will respond to?

While some customer retention techniques might shy away from asking these questions ahead of time to avoid biased surveying, it is important to the success of your program that you review them. Without it, you will be shooting in the dark with no way of knowing if you are being successful. Once you have asked these questions, now you can get started on actually collecting customer feedback.

1. Keep it simple

Our first best practice for collecting customer feedback is easy: keep it simple. Far too often, companies will roll out elaborate campaigns that do more to confused their customer base than learn from it. By keeping it simple, you are able to get right to the point and avoid wasting both their time and yours.

We recommend using something such as an SMS marketing service here to help not get overwhelmed. SMS has the benefit of limiting you to 160 characters, keeping things simple and easy to process. Not only that, but most customers have their phone by them almost all the time, allowing you to reach them with ease.

Start your SMS campaign today!

2. Reach out directly

In doing your part to keep it simple, our next recommendation is to reach out directly to your customers. Sometimes businesses will go for an indirect approach, be it having a survey on their website or surveying a random selection of people. While this can be effective for general comments and feedback, it will not help collecting customer feedback.

Instead, reach out directly to your customers and ask them what they do or don’t like about your services. You’ll be surprised by how little this happens to customers and how refreshing you will come across.

customer feedback survey

3. Surveys

When you reach out directly to your audience, make sure that you are ready to provide them with the tools they need to provide the proper customer feedback. One way to do this that has been successful for other businesses is customer feedback surveys. Not only can these give you an in-depth look at the minds of your customers, but they are easy to put together and distribute.

This idea of paying close attention to your customers has only recently been seen in a positive light. However, with the knowledge we now have on the effectiveness of these programs, we know that it can both reduce churn rate at your business and increase customer engagement.

4. Always open

Even though it can be effective to reach out to customers directly, it’s not always convenient for them to complete a survey or fill out a form when they receive it. This is why it is also important to include a feedback channel, preferably on your website, that is always open.

This way, when customers want to engage with you on their own terms, they have the opportunity to do so. Our recommendation here is that, when your receive customer feedback through this channel, respond quickly. In fact, many answers to FAQs can be answered with automations, so set this up ahead of time and watch it work itself out.

5. Create an online community

Another way in which you can harness the power of different customer retention strategies in one place is by creating an online community. In these spaces, most often seen on Facebook or LinkedIn, your customers can share common experiences and talk through best practices.

This a great way to not only connect customers to one another, but provide support and an outlet for feedback that doesn’t feel as formal as completing a survey. Additionally, loyal customers may be able to answer questions from your customers without you intervening, leading to a more trusting and growth-center environment, one that many are looking for.

Read also: Relationship marketing and SMS: A Match Made in Heaven

6. Monitor social channels

So far, we have mainly talked about direct ways of receiving customer feedback. However, there are a few ways to indirectly receive and understand customer feedback. One of these methods is to monitor social channels for mention of your brand, both directly and indirectly.

According to a recent report, 96% of unhappy customers won’t complain to you, but will tell 15 friends, and the often do so on social media. These kind of conversations can be vital to better understanding your customers, since they often are more truthful in these spaces than through traditional channels.

customer survey

7. User activity

The next indirect way of receiving customer feedback and our last best practice is again simple, but highly effective. Monitoring user activity and user engagement metrics is one of the best ways to see cold, hard data that tells you everything from how your customers behave to their favorite ways to interact with your company.

This kind of informative customer feedback simply can’t be found through sending out a survey, and yet both kinds of feedback are essential to creating a good customer experience. Start tracking user activity today to uncover new ways to treat your customers well.

And that about does it. We hope that each of these best practices will better aide you in your quest to optimize your customer’s experience and overall satisfaction with your business. As we like to say, the best time to start is now, so get after it!


relationship marketing

Relationship Marketing and SMS: A Match Made in Heaven

As we begin the new year, business owners and customers alike are re-evaluating their business relationships and partnerships. Often, if they are unhappy, they will assess what they need from their partners if they are to continue the relationship and if those needs are not met, they will look elsewhere. However, if they have a good relationship with the company, they will be excited about the prospect of working together more in the future.

This is a paraphrased definition of what we like to call relationship marketing, also sometimes referred to as customer retention marketing. The basic concept of this marketing strategy is that if you and your customers have a mutually beneficially relationship built on providing value, your customers will have no problem staying around. Sometimes, they are even more likely to spend money with you if trust has been established in the relationship.

In this article, we are going to walk you through the basics of relationship marketing. Along with this, we will make our case for why SMS and relationship marketing are a match made in heaven, one that we believe you should be taking advantage of in the new year. Without further ado, let’s get started.

relationship marketing

What is relationship marketing?

First, let’s start with a definition. What is relationship marketing? According to Steve Olenski of Forbes, it can be described as follows:

“Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with customers by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interests and by promoting open communication.”

While we will explore each of the components of this definition in more depth in just a minute, we also want you to know that relationship marketing has never been more important than right now. In today’s market, where customers are flooded with choices, brand loyalty is becoming an increasingly rare customer concern.

However, customer retention strategies all seek to build up the relationship between you and your customers. By proving to them again and again that you have their best interests in mind, you are showing them why they should stay with you in the long haul.

Where does SMS come in?

Now, so far we have mainly been talking about relationship marketing, which might have you wondering, “Where does SMS come in?” After all, having a good relationship with your customers doesn’t require a mass text marketing campaign. While it is true that you can don’t necessarily need SMS to practice relationship marketing, it can drastically improve the performance of your strategy.

In order to further prove our point, we are going to review each of the different attributes of relationship marketing and how they can be improved with SMS. As you read through this list, think to yourself how these different strategies can be implemented for your own customers. You never know, this could be the difference between being good and being great.

Start your SMS campaign today!

customer relationship marketing

Customer loyalty

The first goal of relationship marketing is to facilitate and increase customer loyalty. Not only can customer loyalty increase referral business, but it can lead to a multitude of repeat purchases and increased engagement. Additionally, customer loyalty programs are growing in popularity and have proven to be a powerful retention tool for many companies.

When you running a customer loyalty program, one of the best ways to make sure you are optimizing your chances of keeping customers around with SMS marketing. You can send reminders straight to your customer’s phone about promotions, coupons, and recent news on your company. By reaching more customers with SMS, you can increase engagement in your loyalty program and keep around more customers. Win-win.

Interaction and long-term engagement

Along with customer loyalty, the other goal of relationship marketing is to improve interaction (or engagement) with customers for the long-term. As we mentioned earlier, there are many different ways that you can do this such as email marketing or even hiring a push notification service. However, the best way to increase long-term interaction and engagement is by combining multiple channels of communication, including SMS.

By meeting your customers where they are, whether that is on their phones, computers, or both, you are able to maintain a constant relationship. Not only will customers never have to look far when they want to work with you, but they will be far more likely to interact with your business. SMS can highlight each of these channels (as well as providing a channel in and of itself), allowing you to continue engaging customers with ease.

customer retention sms

Meeting customer needs

Like any good mobile marketing strategy, relationship marketing is designed around meeting customer needs and providing them with information that further pushes this agenda. In 2018, it is no longer acceptable to simply hope you are helping your customers. You need to learn from them and use that knowledge to improve their interactions with your company.

SMS marketing is one of the best ways to do exactly this. First of all, SMS makes segmenting your audience easy, allowing you to be more specific with which members of your audience receive what messaging. For example, you would not want to send the same message to customers you are trying to win-back as those you just added to your registry.

The other benefit of working with SMS here is that most of your customers are always by their phones, allowing you to deliver these targeted messages directly to them. Just think about how much value you can add to your customer’s lives by delivering them tailored information that suits their needs directly to their phones. It’s no wonder SMS is so effective.

Creating an open dialogue

The last component of relationship marketing is creating a dialogue for open communication between you and your customers. This is important for a couple of reasons, but most importantly is that 96% of unhappy customers won’t complain to you, but will tell 15 friends. Unless you have established an open dialogue with your customers, not only will you have no idea why you are losing them, but you might be losing their friends too.

One of the most popular and relevant uses of SMS when it comes to open communication is running support through texting. SMS is fast, almost instantaneous in fact, which shows your customers that you really care about their concerns. Not only that, but most support messages can be written beforehand, allowing you to automate the first steps of the process.

By harnessing the different strengths of business text messaging to meet the goals of relationship marketing, your company will be well on its way to retaining more customers, increasing the lifetime value of those customers, and building a relationship with them all along the way. With benefits like this, our only question is, what are you waiting for?


sms advertising

How to Boost Customer Engagement with SMS Advertising

For every business owner, finding the right avenue for communicating with your customers is an essential step on the road to success. Some businesses work best by communicating through email, while those with mobile apps will often opt for using a push notification service. However, the most powerful way to reach customers and boost engagement is SMS advertising.

Despite the fact that SMS has been around for decades, mobile marketers are just now fully realizing the power of the platform. In this article, we are going to show exactly why SMS advertising is the best choice for increasing customer engagement. Along with this, we are also going to review a few strategies for using SMS for success. Let’s get started.

sms advertising

Relationship between engagement and SMS

If you are just entering the world of SMS advertising, you may not be aware of exactly how powerful this marketing tool can be, especially when it comes to engagement. While email marketing open rates usually hover around 20-30% (on a good day), 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being received.

Not only does this show how powerful SMS can be, but it also shows how often your audience is near their phones. Along with these statistics, text messages are now such a common form of communication, customers are more willing to engage with brands through SMS advertising than almost any other method.

In customer retention marketing, we like to say “Go where your customers are.” In 2018, customers are on their phones, and you should be too.

Start your SMS advertising campaign today!

SMS best practices

So, now that you have more background on engagement and SMS advertising, let’s talk about best practices for making sure that your campaign lives up to these expectations. After all, it’s not enough to simply send out messages, you need to have purpose and direction for them to make an impact.

Here are a few best practices for crafting a text blast that’s sure to boost customer engagement:

  • Secure the opt-in: Not only is making sure your customers opt-in a best practice for SMS, it’s the law. Make sure you have the SMS opt-in before sending any marketing messages.
  • Include a call-to-action every time: SMS advertising is immediate, personal, and customers expect your messages to have a purpose. Include a call-to-action in every message, but only send messages when you have a call-to-action.
  • Keep timing in mind: Since your messages should have an immediate call to action, be aware of when you are sending messages. A good rule of thumb is to stay within business hours unless your company works outside of normal business hours.

By using each of these best practices, not only can your improve engagement, but your overall relationship with the customer.  

Strategies for increased engagement

With a few general best practices under your belt, let’s take a look at some specific SMS marketing strategies designed to increase engagement. While not all of these will apply to every company, the ideas behind them will work across every industry.

Surveys and polls

One of the best ways to engage customers with SMS advertising is through surveys and polls. These can be done a few ways, by either sending individual questions in a message or sending a link to fill out the survey online. Either way, this will show that you care about your customer’s feedback and will offer valuable user engagement metrics for your own uses.

When you are running this sort of campaign, it’s important to remember the best practices above and avoid being pushy. A very quick way to lose subscribers from your SMS messaging list is through pushy tactics and annoying messages. Instead of hounding your audience for answers, simply send the messages and collect results. Otherwise this strategy can do more harm than good.

Exclusive deals

Another way to engage customers in a unique way that offers benefits to both you and them is through exclusive deals. With the SMS opt-in, your audience for mass text messages will already be more limited than with something like email or social media. Reward these loyal customers that have taken the time to sign up by offering deals exclusive to your SMS list.

However, it doesn’t always have to be so segmented. Some marketers have seen success from using SMS advertising to highlight an offer in the store or an email. Not only does this kind of multichannel marketing ensure that your customers won’t miss an offer, but it leads to a more holistic marketing plan.

Loyalty programs

Over the last few years, many different companies across multiple industries have employed the customer retention technique of using a loyalty program. Customer loyalty programs reward consumers for sticking with one brand instead of shopping around. A great way to both increase engagement and highlight your customer loyalty program is through SMS marketing.

By sending updates on rewards points and redeemable items, marketers can keep their customers interested in the program. You can also increase engagement in the program by telling customers that may not be aware that you even have a loyalty program.

sms

Support

More companies than ever are using SMS as a way to run support for their customers. Since customers can become easily frustrated when they need support, being able to immediately respond to their requests is vital to improving the customer experience. SMS advertising allows for quick back and forth messaging, which is perfect for running support.

Another benefit of using SMS for support is that most of the messages can be automated ahead of time, leading to almost instant help for your customers. The more than you can automate in this regard, the better.

Final thoughts

Whether you are using SMS advertising to increase engagement, add more members to your loyalty program, or run support through marketing automation, each of the best practices and strategies we just reviewed can help you gain an advantage and provide the best service for your customers.

We hope that now that you have this knowledge under your belt, you are ready to take on the world, so get out there and get after it!


customer loyalty program

5 Tactics for Maximizing Your Customer Loyalty Program

Over the last few years, marketers have seen a rise in the popularity of customer loyalty programs as a tool for increased customer engagement. For some, this customer retention strategy has led to great success, while the other 77% of transaction-based programs fail in the first year. Obviously, there is some serious room for improvement when it comes to running a customer loyalty program.

Hoping to make your life easier and make sure you aren’t a part of that 77%, we have put together 5 tactics to help you get the most out of your customer loyalty program. In this article we will explore both the need for a customer loyalty program and best practices for maximizing its impact on your audience. Let’s take a look.

customer loyalty program

The need for a customer loyalty program

While you may have heard of businesses using a custom loyalty program, if you haven’t attempted to utilize one already, you may not see the necessity for one. For one, there is the commonly cited customer retention statistic that it costs anywhere from 5-7x more to attract a new customer than retain an existing one, meaning it is in your budget’s best interest to invest in attracting loyal customers.

However, a much more interesting statistic for those thinking about starting a customer loyalty program is that loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones. Not only do customers that are loyal cost you less money, but over time they will provide a higher ROI as well.

I’m not sure about you, but any program that has the potential to increase profits this way is worth getting involved with. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply have a customer loyalty program, you also need to run it well. Fortunately, we have 5 tactics for doing exactly that.

(1)  Reward referrals

One of the key goals of any customer loyalty program is to increase word of mouth referrals and create a community around your brand. An easy and effective way to get the word out and encourage this is by rewarding referrals. For instance, you can offer a free item or session every time someone invites a friend that becomes a customer.

According to Forrester Research, 70% of U.S. consumers say they trust brand and product recommends from friends and family. Not only that, but customers are 4x more likely to buy when recommended by a friend. So not only do your customers have a powerful voice when it comes to their friends, but if those friends become customers, they will likely be loyal customers too.

Each of these statistics provides evidence why you should reward your customers for bringing in referral business. This can both help you reduce churn rate and increase customer retention across the board, so make it a priority.

customer loyalty

(2)  Mix up the rewards to keep things fresh

The second tactic or technique for maximizing your customer loyalty program is to mix up the rewards your customers receive in order to keep things fresh. For example, while something like a free Starbucks gift card after 5 visits might be appealing to some people, other offerings might do a better job with other parts of your audience.

By keeping different rewards available to use when the situation calls, you are able to tailor the customer’s experience to their needs. When your audience feels that you care enough about them to give them exactly what they are looking for, they are far more likely to stay with you down the road.

(3)  Create engaging messaging

The next tactic we have for keeping around customers with a loyalty program is by creating engaging messaging. Customers are only going to engage with you and get involved in a program if they really feel as though they are a part of your brand’s community. By creating messaging that is engaging and relevant to them, you are much more likely to have a successful program.

Now, whether this messaging is sent through SMS, push notifications, email, or some other channel isn’t important. What is important is customers not only feel as if you care about them, but that they get the feeling you want them to be more engaged. As far as which channels to use, let’s take a look at #4.

Launch your SMS marketing campaign today!

(4)  Promote the program through all possible channels

Another fatal flaw of customer loyalty programs that we see again and again is the lack of promotion around them. After all, how are your customers going to get involved with a loyalty program that they don’t even know exists? The way to maximize your program here is by promoting it through all possible channels.

We already mentioned channels like SMS and email, but places like social media and at your physical location can be just as important. Each of these different mobile marketing tools can increase engagement and make sure your audience knows about your program. While you don’t want to be annoying, your customers shouldn’t have to look far to find it.

loyalty program

(5)  Solicit feedback

The last tactic we have for improving and getting the most out of a customer loyalty program is to solicit feedback from your audience. Not only is this vital to determining the success of your program, but loyal customers will tend to be more honest about what they need from your company.

In the same way that you should use multiple channels to promote your customer loyalty program, you should do the same for getting feedback. Since this isn’t something customers will usually seek out on their own, it’s up to you to bring it to them in order to capture those user engagement metrics.  

Conclusion

At this point, we hope that you have a better understand of customer loyalty programs, the need for one in our present market, and how to maximize your own program to the best of your ability. All that is left is for you to get involved with a program and start making a difference in the lives of your customers. Why wait? Start today!


group texting service

The Pros and Cons of Using a Group Texting Service

As many businesses begin to use a group texting service in order to engage their customers, more and more people are starting to wonder about best practices for utilizing the platform. After all, the most important part of mobile marketing is choosing the right tools to accomplish your goals, so understand those tools is vital to success.

In this article, we are going to review the pros and cons of using a group texting service. It is our hope that through this exploration we will be able to provide a cohesive guide to group texting services so that when the time comes, you will be set up for success. Let’s get started.

group texting service

Group texting service vs. SMS marketing

Before we get into the different uses of a group texting service, we first want to make sure that we are on the same page when it comes to definitions. SMS marketing goes by quite a few different names, such as mass text marketing or business text messaging, so the question becomes: does group texting service fall into this category?

By definition, a group texting service is seen as a platform that allows two-way communication through messaging to a specific group of people. This is, more or less, the same definition as SMS marketing. Where the confusion comes from is apps like GroupMe that are not used for marketing purposes, but for group chats, where everyone can see everyone else’s’ messages.

Group messaging services, on the other hand, essential are a different way of saying SMS marketing, and these apps like GroupMe would be known as a group texting platform. It’s a slight difference, but it is worth explaining before we get into the pros and cons of the service. Now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at pros of group texting services.

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Pros of a group texting service

The first thing you should know about group texting services is that they have been around for as long as SMS has been around. It’s just that until recently, no one had understood the powerful nature of a group texting service for engaging customers and spreading marketing messages.

Below are a few of the pros of using a group texting service and why it has become such a popular solution for many businesses.

The opt-in

While some view this as a con of using a group texting service, the SMS opt-in that limits who you can send messages to is actually what makes the service so effective. Although it can be difficult to add subscribers to the opt-in list, having to receiving consent from your audience before communication means that only the most dedicated customers will join.

Now, picture what you can do with an engaged audience like that. Actually, you don’t have to, as research from Rosetta found that customers that are actively engaged with brands make 90% more frequent purchases, spend 60% more in each transaction and are five times more likely to choose the brand in the future. Not too shabby if you ask us.

Speed

Another reason why group texting services have become so popular is due to the speed in which you can reach your audience. In fact, according to a recent report, close to 98% of SMS messages are read within 2 minutes of being sent.

This kind of efficient messaging simply can’t be found with other channels. By being able to notify your audience of updates in minutes, it’s important that you only reach out to them when you can add value to their experience right away. Otherwise it’s probably best to use other channels of communication.

Highly interactive

Along with both its speed and highly targeted audience, using a group texting service allows you to build a highly interactive audience. Most consumers today are used to sending and receiving text messages, so by meeting them where they already are, you are much more likely to engage with them well.

One way to get the most out of this aspect of mass text marketing is by running support through SMS. Customers can solve problems quickly by texting a response to your message and you can save time by automating common responses. Little tricks like this are what can take your group texting service from good to great.

Cons of a group texting service

Now that we have reviewed the pros of working with a group texting service, it’s time to take a look at the cons. Like any retention strategy or approach, there are flaws to SMS marketing. However, for those who can take these cons in stride and learn to work with them instead of against them, you can still run a successful campaign. Let’s take a look.

Character limit

When you compare the 160-character limit of a group texting service with those of other channels, one can soon see how limited SMS really is. Even Twitter now allows users up to 280 characters! Unfortunately, many mobile marketers don’t realize this before signing up for a group texting service.

Thankfully, there are a few different work arounds for this. One way to get the most out of your messages is by using MMS marketing, which is just like SMS, only you can have up to 500 characters. The other solution is to just go with it. By having to keep your messages short and sweet, you are forced to think about every word, often leading to better crafted messages than if there was no limit at all.

Read also: 8 Best Practices for Crafting the Perfect Text Blast

Best used in combination with other channels

Another flaw of group texting services is that while they can be used exclusively, they work best when used in combination with other channels. For instance, according to SmartInsights, a simple message asking “Have you read our email?” can improve email marketing open rates by anywhere from 20-30%.

Again, while many view this as a con, due to the fact that a group texting service doesn’t work as well in a vacuum, we see as a helpful guideline. Mobile marketers should be using all of the tools at their disposal regardless, but by incorporating SMS marketing, you can make all of them more powerful.

marketing via sms

Conclusion

We hope that this article has been eye-opening for anyone that is interested in starting a with a group texting service. As you begin to plan out your 2018 strategy, remember what you have learned about business text messaging and how you can turn even the flaws of a service to your advantage.


short code

How Using an SMS Short Code Can Improve Customer Engagement

Whether you have been using SMS marketing for a while or are just getting started, you are likely interesting in improving customer engagement through your campaign. After all, SMS is one of the best ways to get in touch with more customers at a quicker rate than any other mobile marketing tool. However, there is a way to improve engagement even more: using an SMS short code.

By utilizing an SMS short code and making the most out of your SMS campaign, you can not only generate better customer interactions, but increase customer retention as well. In this article, we are going to show you exactly how to do that. Let’s get into it.

short code

What is a short code?

First, let’s define what exactly we mean we talk about using an SMS short code. Short codes are 5-6 character codes that can be sent in response to a marketing text message for a variety of reasons. Popular uses of short codes include opting-in to SMS campaigns, getting additional information, receiving a discount code, and many others.

Even though short codes have been around for over a decade, mobile marketing professionals are just now understanding the power of using them to engage customers. Most of the drive behind the success of mass text marketing has come from the fact that it is so convenient. By using an SMS short code in your messages, you are making things even simpler for customers.

However, simply putting an SMS short code in your marketing messages is not enough to ensure improved customer engagement. Like any tool, it only works when used correctly. Next, we are going to show you exactly how to get the most out of short codes and the correct way to use them.

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SMS compliance

The first and most important part of using SMS short codes well is to be compliant with the rules surrounding SMS. Compliance here is not only a best practice, but it’s actually the law. The main thing that you need to know is that without consent, you should never send a customer a marketing message.

Thankfully, short codes actually make this process simpler than ever before. By sending a text asking customers to join your campaign with a short code that they can respond with, your first big hurdle will be behind you and you can focus on improving customer engagement.

Even though this can seem like a hassle, having these rules in place is what makes mass text marketing so powerful. For a full list of SMS compliance best practices, check out this article from SimplyCast.

Keeping customers up-to-date

Now that you have started to add new subscribers through opt-in campaigns, which we should mention should be an ongoing thing, the time has come to actually engage with them. There are a few ways you can do this, and almost all of them can be improved by using an SMS short code. For instance, keeping customers up-to-date on new products or services.

An SMS message like this can bring attention to the new offering, then request a short code to gain more information. Not only is this a convenient way to show customers your products, but when they send back a short code, you know they are interested. User engagement metrics like this are invaluable to you and your company, so take note.

sms short code

Running support

Another great way to improving your relationships with customers using short codes is by running support with them. An increasing number of companies are now doing this and finding it to be successful as it allows customers to get their questions answered in a timely manner. Compared with older technologies, SMS blows it out of the water.

Not only that, but by using an SMS short code in your support messages, you can automate almost the entire process. Let me explain: by linking up each of your short codes to the proper informational response, you can set up the support network for your business and then let it run automatically.

While there may be times when a customer needs a custom, non-automated response, most frequently asked questions are simple enough that they can be fully automated. This will save both you and your customers time, as well as show to your audience that you are on the ball.

Read also: 8 Best Practices for Writing the Perfect Text Blast

Special offers and promotions

One of the most common and effective ways to use SMS short codes is for running special offers and promotions. If you have interacted with a company lately through SMS, you likely are familiar with what I am referring to. For example, last week I received an offer from my gym about a savings deal for the holidays where I simply had to reply OFFER to take advantage of it.

Although this is just one example of a short code can be used, there are plenty of others. The best part about this sort of campaign is again, seeing what your customers are interested in, but also keeping your brand on their mind. While this tool has been shown to convert more customers, it might also simply be the reminder they need to make a purchase from you another time.

This sort of constant communication is what you should aim for with your SMS campaign. By making it easy for customers to find you and know about your company, the more likely they are to stick with you for the long haul.

text message short code

Improving mobile engagement overall

So, what happens when you combine each of these SMS short code best practices? Your mobile engagement will improve across the board. Customers in today’s digital world are looking for a company that will make their lives easier with less work on their part and using an SMS short code in your campaigns is one of the best ways to show them that that is the kind of company you are.

As always, we hope that you found this article helpful for running your own business text messaging campaign. However, this article will only be helpful if you apply what you have learned, so why wait? Get started today!


customer retention idea

5 Customer Retention Ideas to Implement in the New Year

Although we are still currently in the hubbub of the holiday season, business owners are already beginning to plan for the upcoming new year. In the interest of providing guidance for those planning out their 2018 marketing strategy, we have put together 5 customer retention ideas worth implementing in the year to come.

As the world continues to grow more digital every day, customer retention marketing is only going to become more important. Instead of waiting until it becomes a problem, each of these solutions is designed to be put into place as soon as possible. It is our hope that by reading this now, you will be more than prepared on January 1st to hit the ground running. Let’s get started.

customer retention idea

(1)  Focus on experience above all else

In today’s interconnected world, the power of the consumer has never been more apparent. This is why the overall customer experience has become one of the best ways to increase customer retention and reduce churn rate. In fact, in the same way that software development has begun to embrace user experience or UX, marketers need to embrace customer experience or CX.

This brings us to our first customer retention idea: make customer experience a focus above all else. This means that wherever and whenever possible, it is your job to make sure that customers are having a good experience with your company and that you are providing them value at every turn.

But why is this so important? Well, according to Bain and Company, “a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.” This is a pretty clear indication of the power of customer retention. However, it doesn’t stop there. In fact, research has found that a focus on the customer experience is enough to separate your brand from others, even if they have lower prices!

(2)  Proactively engage your audience

Gone are the days when simply responding to customers when they call was consider good enough. With this customer retention idea, you can take the customer experience to a whole new level. By proactively engaging your audience, you are able to preemptively solve customer problems and blow them away with your customer service.

One example of how you can do this is with customer feedback. The old methodology for this would include waiting to receive a comment, either positive or negative, and then addressing it from there. Instead, by utilizing user engagement metrics and understanding your audience, you can reach out to them soon after an interaction while your company is fresh on their mind.

While it is not a foregone conclusion that the freshness of their interaction will lead to more favorable feedback, it will likely lead to more accurate feedback, which is far more important. That being said, we don’t understand that while running a business it can be difficult to be this on top of the ball. After all, you’re not a robot, but that does give us a good idea.

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chatbot

(3)  Outsource to AI

As we move into 2018, artificial intelligence is only going to become more widespread and commonplace, so why not make the best of it? This is why we recommend outsourcing basic business functions to AI as a way to get the jump on this latest technology. Although this customer retention idea might sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, the impact it can have on your business is anything but fiction.

Whether it is automated emails, a chat-bot, or something else, AI is making it simple to be in constant connection with your audience (see #4) allowing you to note miss a beat. Now, we will say that this solution is often more expensive than others, but when it comes to the customers you are retaining and customer acquisition costs you are battling, it is well worth it.

(4)  Constant connectivity

Another retention strategy that customers are beginning to expect is constant connectivity. The internet never stops, so why should your business? Other than outsourcing to AI, there quite a few ways to connect with your audience. Some brands use social media, others use SMS marketing, but this customer retention idea includes a little bit of everything.

By combining each of the available tools at your disposal, you are able to present a constant and consistent brand image to your customers. Think about it this way, if a customer has to wonder how to get in contact with you regardless of the reasons, you have failed. Customers should always know how to contact you. If you can master this, customer retention won’t be a problem.

Next read: How to use mobile marketing tools to gain an advantage.

(5)  Educate customers throughout

Our final customer retention idea is aimed at aiding customers on their journey with your brand. In the end, if a customer doesn’t understand your product or design, it’s not on them, it’s on you. Thankfully, with how connected brands now are to their customers, getting them the education materials they need has never been easier.

As you onboard new customers and try to keep existing customers interested, try creating content around each stage of the journey. In the same way that constant connectivity ensures that customers never have to look far to find a way to talk to you, by giving them the information they need before they need it, customers will come to trust your business.

How you choose to use this trust is completed up to you, but having an educated and trusted base of customers is a great stride toward making it in the fight for customer retention.

customer interaction

Ultimate goal: A seamless customer journey

The final words we will leave you with are what should be your ultimate goal in your customer retention marketing endeavors: a seamless customer journey. From the moment they enter the funnel to the time they either churn or convert, your customers are in your hands. By creating a seamless journey that provides customers with everything they need, they are more equipped and inclined to continue working with your business.

As you review these 5 customer retention ideas and begin to plan out your 2018, keep this goal in mind. Although it may seem like your customers aren’t responding to your hard work, the end result will be more than worth it. So, what are you waiting for? Get to the drawing board!


text blast

Text Blast: 8 Best Practices For Crafting The Perfect SMS Blast

Once you have gotten your SMS marketing campaign, you may think that you are ready to hit the ground running and start converting more customers. However, simply setting up a campaign is only half the battle. The next part will be crafting the perfect message (or text blast) to reach your customers and engage them well.

Fortunately, as mobile marketing experts, we have what you need to help get started. In this article, we are going to review 8 best practices for creating the perfect text blast. With this knowledge, you will be one step closer to achieving the goals of your SMS and overall marketing campaign. Let’s get started.

text blast

Offer incentives for signing up

The first challenge of mass text marketing is building up an active and engaged following. A quick remedy to this is to offer incentives for signing up and opting in to your SMS campaign. Simply by offering something such as a coupon or special offer, you will be able to increase your SMS following and begin to pick up steam.

Read also: SMS Opt-in Best Practices for Increased Engagement

Once you have the kind of following you are looking for with your campaign, now is when the text blast will come into play. However, it should be said that adding new customers to your SMS list should be a focus throughout the campaign. Be sure to run a monthly campaign for the express purpose of adding new subscribers.

Make it easy

Now that you have begun your SMS campaign in earnest, the next step is to create a text blast to send out to your customers. At this point, due to the opt-in system, your customers will already have agreed to accept your messages, so the first one you send is vital to solidifying your place on their screens.

Our first piece of advice is pretty straightforward: make it easy. The reason customers love business text messaging is due to the simplicity of the channel. As marketers, you need to meet their expectations in this area, if not exceed them. If you have ever heard the expression K.I.S.S. (keep it short and simple), remember it when crafting your text blast.

Offer a clear, valuable solution

Part of keeping it simple is our next best practice: offer a clear, valuable solution. Due to the immediacy of SMS, unless you want your customers to take action within minutes of receiving your blast, you may want to wait before sending it. That being said, when you do include a call-to-action (CTA) in a text blast, which you always should, make it clear what you are asking for.

One good aspect of SMS marketing in a situation like this is being restricted to using only 160 characters. With such little wiggle room, business text messages have to get to the point as fast as possible, then offer a solution with an action that customers can take. If you use this formula for crafting your text blasts, you will be on your way to increased mobile user engagement.

text blast sms

Create a sense of urgency

There are times, however, when being clear and concise won’t be enough to earn a customer’s click or conversion. In these scenarios, it is up to you to create a sense of urgency with your text blast. Phrases such as ‘limited offer’ or ‘before Dec 31st’ are examples of using the right language to get your point across. That point being: act now before it’s too late.

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Even though this may seem difficult to do, remember that 98% of customers read SMS messages within 2 minutes of receiving them. This offers SMS an advantage that other channels just simply don’t have when it comes to building urgency, so don’t worry too much about it. As long as you are sticking to these best practices and not boring your customers, you will be fine.

Segment for success

Not everything is about the actual message when it comes to crafting a text blast. In fact, segmentation has nothing to do with the actual wording of your message, but everything to do with the success of your campaign. For example, if you were a gym owner, it would not make sense to send the same message to all of your active members as former members.

In order to do this well, create a few segments based on user engagement metrics to get the right message to the right people. For those who want to get even more detailed, you can create templates with personalized names and information to populate your SMS, giving customers the personal touch.

We don’t, however, recommend writing individual messages to customers. Not only would this be inefficient and time-consuming, but it would not present a good ROI either. Instead, create a few distinct customer segments and personalize when appropriate.

Support other channels

Another use of SMS marketing text blast is to support other channels. While there are times when it is appropriate to highlight the exclusivity of SMS (see next best practice), there are other times when you can support your other marketing channels with SMS.

In fact, according to Smart Insights, when customers received an SMS message after receiving an email, email open rates increased by 20-30%. Although this stat shows that SMS text blasts work to highlight email, you can use it to show off your social media channels or website as well. The channels you support with SMS aren’t important, what is important is that customers know where to find you when they need to, and using SMS here can do that better than most.

sms text blast

Be exclusive

Now, while we just said to support other channels, there are times when it pays to be exclusive with SMS. Going back to best practice one, having exclusive offers and incentives only available to your SMS subscribers now only rewards customers for being a part of your audience, but it can grow that audience at the same time.

Something that will be important to remember here is that SMS is not the end-all-be-all of marketing tools. Instead, it is simply a powerful tool that should be used when necessary to get a message to your customers. Avoid bashing other channels for the sake of highlighting SMS when running exclusive campaigns, simply show what you are doing with SMS and move on.

Automate support

The final best practice for crafting the perfect text blast is to automate support through SMS whenever possible. Most of the first steps in providing support to customers looking for help will be more or less the same, but by setting up each of the options with automatic responses. For instance, including a message that says ‘reply INFO’ to receive more on your services.

The key to SMS marketing and text blasts lies within being simple, but effective. If you can achieve this with your messages, you will no doubt find success in your SMS marketing endeavors. Now, with the right tools at your disposal, what are you waiting for?