How to be great at targeted messaging for your members

Most fitness businesses are feeling the pinch of higher cost and lower conversions with Facebook ads and YouTube videos. Its been 7 years since Facebook launched custom audiences – The targeting tool that helps you target people based on interests. But organic reach has dropped drastically in the last few years and fewer people are logging into Facebook these days. There has also been a growing distrust with online advertising among users. Brands and businesses have been addicted to social media growth and now its time to break this addiction.

The way to break this addiction is to offer better CX – customer experience, and shift your thinking from advertising to marketing to customer experience.

Customer experience for small business has an online component and offline component. I’m assuming that you have been running a small business for some time and hence you can speak to the offline component of customer experience better than me.

The online component of customer experience requires a commitment to more personalized interactions and messaging. More than selling to a user, you will need to engage with the user in a two-way conversation and provide them value through your marketing content.

How do you do this?

More than a single marketing tool, you need a system where you’re using your customer data to target your members at right moments in their customer journey. You are already collecting all the data you need on the customer on your POS system. What is missing right now is a system to use that data, engage users and reduce your churn.

So how can you drive consistent personalization in an age where you have all the customer data that you need?

Timing is everything

Whether you’re retargeting a member who has not visited the gym in a while or sending someone an upsell message, it’s widely understood that customer data that’s been sitting for too long unattended goes stale. (In fact, a distinguished direct marketer once told me the highest-yielding ROI tactic he’d ever implemented was removing dead people from his company’s mailing list!)

Conversely, while not universally true, it’s very often the case that, the sooner you’re able to act on customer data, the better. Your current problem is that all the customer data sits in your POS or ERP without being touched until you decide to start a marketing campaign manually.

The Gleantap solution

Gleantap integrates with your POS and ERP system and the data on Gleantap gets updated every day. So you can set up an automated campaign on Gleantap and it would get executed when a customer meets the specific conditions that you have set.

For example, if you want to send an up sell message to a member who has checked in for two weeks consistently, you can create an automated campaign that sends your custom message to every member who has checked in for 14 days in a month or 14 days straight.

This way you don’t have to wait for man hours to be freed up to run critical marketing campaigns. You can set it up, automate it and then analyze how your campaign is doing on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

How do I measure the value of automation and integrations?

You can measure the value of these automated campaigns and the integration with your existing systems in two ways:

  1. The response rates and conversion rate of the campaigns that you are running
  2. The value of running campaigns that would not have been possible with such an automated system

The second part is really important because an automated customer engagement platform gives you the power to run interesting campaigns that would not be possible without it. We’ve seen our customers engage with people using fitness tips and suggestions that keep them highly engaged and keeps the brand on top of mind


Top 5 Easy Ways To Be The Best At Automated Text Message Marketing

A lot has been written about the importance of general marketing automation in 2019 but not enough has been written about a marketing channel that is enjoying a revival – Automated text message marketing. When customer attention is short and more personalized messaging is the order of the day, text message marketing has proved to be a reliable channel for many small businesses.

How To Be The Best At Automated Text Message Marketing

These are a few principles to get the best out of text message marketing in 2019.

1. Be compliant to increase conversion rates

It is quite rare that regulations around marketing favour businesses, but this is what has happened in the case of text message marketing.

Text message marketing is a form of permission marketing. The people you are texting are already interested in your business in some way – They may be loyal customers, they may be interested in your content, etc. Permission marketing is more persuasive than most outbound marketing because of the principle of consistency that Robert Cialdini writes in his seminal work that has become the bible for many marketers:

“People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.

Consistency is activated by looking for, and asking for, small initial commitments that can be made. In one famous set of studies, researchers found rather unsurprisingly that very few people would be willing to erect an unsightly wooden board on their front lawn to support a Drive Safely campaign in their neighborhood.

However in a similar neighborhood close by, four times as many homeowners indicated that they would be willing to erect this unsightly billboard. Why? Because ten days previously, they had agreed to place a small postcard in the front window of their homes that signaled their support for a Drive Safely campaign. That small card was the initial commitment that led to a 400% increase in a much bigger but still consistent change.”

By getting permission from users to text them, you are getting a small commitment from them and you can build on this commitment by providing them useful information and tips at the right moment in their customer journey

You must have the permission of users to run a successful text message marketing campaign, apart from being in compliance with local laws and CTIA recommendations. Twilio has an excellent short SMS compliance blog that will help you be on the right side of the law.

2. Understand customer journey and automate text marketing

Understanding the journey of your customer can make your text message marketing more efficient and hands-off. The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.

If you’re in the fitness business, your customer journey would look something like this – A potential member visits your facility, and they leave without making up their mind on joining (ping. At this moment you could use the big TVs at the reception to give them a number to text to if they want to join, along with a clear shortcode to use). Once the member joins you can use text message marketing to prompt them to leave reviews for your business if they have visited for 30 consecutive days. You could automate a text message to send to them if they have not visited for a long time.

If you are a business looking to scale or become sustainable, you want to do text message marketing efficiently – without using a lot of man hours that are better used elsewhere. It is also the kind of job that automation can do better than people. A person would have to sort through different scenarios and shortlist customers while you could just automate that process when you set up text message marketing.

Here’s an excellent blog from SurveyMonkey about how to build a customer journey

Gleeantap makes it easy for you to automate text message marketing and you also get the added advantage of our experience working with 1000s of similar companies. We know what works and what doesn’t, so you can spend less time reinventing the wheel and more time focussing on running your business

automate text message marketing  automate text messages

3. Promote at the right places, in the right moments

“How much should I promote my text message marketing service and the options that my customers have?” is a question that we get a lot, and the answer is that it depends on your customer journey and the type of outbound marketing that you do.

If you have a TV inside a store, it would be a good idea to promote the number to text you on and shortcodes to use for various purposes. For example, if you are a gym you can use it to promote premium plans or limited offers that you are running for which people can sign up for by just texting a shortcode. If you are a restaurant, you can use it to promote remote reservations.

Text Messaging - Referrals Text Messaging - Referrals

In the above use cases, it would also be advantageous for you to have two-way texting. It helps you interact with your customers and provide a better user experience than a bot. It also allows you great flexibility in your responses. Gartner says that about 89% of companies believe that customer experience is as important as other factors in choosing a business

Learn more about how you can take advantage of two-way texting and get more users to visit your store

 

 Two-way texting - Text Automation

4. Use segmentation to your advantage

Text message marketing has been revived in the last couple of years due to a number of little automation that have made things easier for a business to get started and use it effectively. Segmentation is one of the most important automation in text message marketing.

Imagine being a small business and spending precious man hours segmenting users and figuring out what text messages to send to them. That would be quite a nightmare.

Instead of this, you can segment users based on what part of the customer journey that they are on. If you’re a shoe store, you can segment all users who purchased a pair of shoes from you 12 months ago and target them with a specific message on an offer you’re running. If a customer checked out a specific shoe and left without purchasing, you can send a list of customers an offer on the high demand shoe that they checked out.

In an era where competition from big online retailers are stiff, you can use your smallness to your advantage to be more personal and more targeted with your marketing. It’s not just fancy mobile apps or offers that will bring in customers, text message marketing is also an effective channel in your omnichannel strategy

5. A/B test your campaigns (but be judicious)

A/B testing has been a buzzword in marketing for some time but are you using it properly?

With the availability of better technology and automation, it has become way easier to A/B test your text marketing strategy. This means that you could test a number of different campaigns side to side, but question is, should you be doing that?

A good model to go by when deciding the frequency of text messages is – Will I personally like it if these messages sent to me? Remember all the times you were solicited with offers you had already refused or the time that brand sent you 2 emails per day.

The best way to not bombard your users with text message marketing is to use segment them into as many small units as possible, and run A/B tests on these segments. This way you will be able to run A/B tests concurrently without sending too many messages to the same person.

Automated text message marketing


Text Message Marketing For Small Business - Why Is It Important Today?

For years, businesses have searched for ways to inculcate their brand, products or services into the personal lives of their customers, and to create touch points wherever those customers are.

Billions of dollars are spent every year on print advertising, billboards, radio, television, and the Internet. Marketers practically shout at the corner of every street in the hope a potential customer walks or drives by, but never know for certain if their message is heard—or more importantly—acted upon.

Believe it or not, the first text message was sent out more than 20 years ago, its originator unaware how this simple text message system would forever change the way we personalize and target customers. As businesses attempt to make more money while spending less, text message marketing for small business or large may be better suited than other forms of advertising to achieve this goal.

The Personalized Channel

The figure below presents the average cost per thousand (CPM) numbers for a few different media types.

Text Message Marketing For Small Business- CPM

At first glance it would appear that billboards, radio spots and magazines present better value than text message marketing; however, the calculations of CPM can be misleading. CPM is based on how much advertising costs to reach 1,000 people. Let’s look at billboards.

The value of billboards is calculated by multiplying the daily traffic volume by the number of days the billboard will be posted, divided by 1,000, divided by the cost of the monthly rent. Magazines and newspapers, on the other hand, are calculated by the cost of the ad, divided by the circulation, times 1,000.

But neither of these calculations—billboard or magazines and newspapers— take into account how many drivers or newspaper subscribers actually viewed the ad. Since the dawn of smartphones, most people today are looking at their phones while driving. Forget the billboard; we just hope the drivers see us ahead of them. Forget actually watching the commercials.  

Unless it’s the Super Bowl, most people are looking at their mobile devices, not your three-million-dollar-plus spot. Here’s where personalized engagement comes into play. Traditional media, as calculated above, can’t provide the opportunity for direct, individual, two-way communication with the consumer.

But text messaging, also known as SMS, can. The direct, individual nature of business sms platform makes it innately personal, even intimate. Our phones are so personal, in fact, that studies show the number one item husbands and wives refuse to share is their mobile phone.

SMS Marketing For Small Business – Easy and Quick Way to Communicate

According to a November 2017 Pew Report, 81% use SMS (97% of 18-29 year-olds and 92% of 30-49-year-olds). These numbers blow away every other form of marketing or advertising available today. Americans prefer coupons via text. In a study conducted by the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA), one-third of Americans would rather receive offers via text.

Text Message Marketing For Small Business

Receiving offers by way of email came in at 21%. Approximately 11% preferred mobile apps. In addition, 63% of marketers cite “immediacy” as the number one benefit of using SMS campaigns, followed by high open rates and low cost.  You can see why I believe consumer attitudes are not only changing but evolving with technology

Outbound or Inbound

Some marketers may put social media and text message marketing in the outbound marketing category. And, sometimes, they would be correct.  For example, there are companies that use text message marketing exclusively to push deals and offers. The problem is they don’t allow for communication.

This is homogenous to getting an email from “do-not-reply@xyz.com.” Everyone receives the same offer, the same deal, and no one is made to feel special. Text message marketing, at its core, is about more than shot-gunned deals and offers. Why?  Your offers are personalized and your deals are based on targeted demographics.

Texting customer surveys and polls convert the marketing channel from outbound to inbound. The opportunity for two-way communication with your customers can make the outbound-to-inbound switch happen in your business.

Immune to stricter regulation

When Facebook changed its algorithm in 2015 to favor more video content, a lot of new media creators such as Buzzfeeed and BusinessInsider switched to creating more video content to share on Facebook. What they did not realize was that Facebook never reported the actual engagements on video.

Facebook faked certain metrics so as to attract more advertisers to the platform. Eventually, by the time this news leaked, it was too late and most of these companies had invested a lot in the video.

Over the next year or so, the Facebook algorithm would change again and leave thousands of employees in these new media organizations jobless, simply because they were overly dependent on one platform – Facebook

Text message marketing is not controlled by a single platform, just like email, it has retained its independence for a long time. This makes it a reliable, long term investment you can bank on without worrying whether a sudden change in regulation will affect you

In an age where even social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter are struggling to retain users, Text message marketing for small business may be one of the most reliable channels available


Customer Engagement Vs Text Message Marketing | Is There A Link?

People are too inundated with their social media feeds to care about the advertising within them. Add the growing number of privacy concerns and restrictions and we can see the reason why marketers are focussing on channels where users have more control – such as Text message marketing and email marketing 

Existing in Different Silos

Text and email marketing have existed in different silos until now. You have specific tools and formatting that you use for text messages such as EZtexting and Simpletexting. They do the job of helping you getting text message marketing done.
sms advertising
You also have software that you use for email marketing such as MailChimp or Klaviyo. They give you well-designed templates and the ability to do email marketing much more easily. 

The reason they have not co-existed

The primary reason that they have not co-existed is that they have not shared the same timeline and the same paradigm as marketing channels that people should focus on.
Pre smartphone(before2007 and the iPhone) was the era of era sms marketing. Everyone read and cleared their inbox and companies inundated and over exploited the channel with marketing messaging
This was also the time when people were doing their email marketing primarily for the desktop.
The advent of iMessage and other messaging apps such as Facebook messenger meant that fewer people checked their phone inbox
The radical shift in email came with the coming of Web 2.0 in 2010-2013. People started using their phones much more during this period and email marketing started to focus on being optimized for mobile. Tools such as MailChimp managed this transition quite well and have done well with web 2.0
The next shift in email and sms marketing has been happening since 2017. 

A new kind of permission marketing

As I wrote in an earlier article, customers are more responsive to marketing that fits either or both of the following conditions
  1. Marketing that is done with their permission – they have expressed an interest in your product and given you information to contact them 
  2. Marketing that adds value: Your users or potential users would be interested in content that either entertains or gives them information – which is why every small business has an active presence on YouTube and produces interesting content on Instagram, Pinterest etc 
 Email marketing and SMS marketing can do that for you now. 
With Email marketing, you can engage users with long-form newsletters, occasional seasonal offers etc 
Customer Engagement Platform Vs Text Message Marketing
With SMS marketing you can engage users with shorter content that can be interactive, informative or both
           Text Message Marketing  Text Message MarketingSMS Marketing Platform
And there has been no better time to utilize the power of these platforms 

Customer Engagement Platform Brings You Email Text marketing 

It’s 2019 and you should not have to go through the trouble of managing different tools to manage your email and sms marketing. By having both of those in the same platform, you can seamlessly switch between marketing channels. After all, it is the ease of consumption of information that generates new ideas and messaging that you had not thought of before. 
customer engagement strategy
You also want a tool that integrates well with your current suite of software and marketing tools that you use. A customer engagement platform can integrate with your current POS systems such as Mindbody and Centeredge. It can also integrate with tools that you use for marketing such as MailChimp or a rewards management system such as Perkville.
So a customer engagement platform is an all in one tool that takes care of customer retention for you. 2019 seems like the moment for customer engagement platforms – Small businesses have access to software that is high tech but affordable and are also increasingly facing the tune from big players such as Amazon, Netflix where people spend a lot of their time and attention
At Gleantap we have been quite happy to work with smart business owners at PlanetFitness, F45, Anytime Fitness who have been capitalizing on the advantages of having a customer engagement platform


Text Message Marketing - Still A Reliable Marketing Channel In 2019?

5 years ago, most marketers decided that text message marketing and email marketing are dead. Social media was the new twinkle in every marketer’s eye and we put all the effort into growing our Facebook audience and building followers on Pinterest and Instagram.  In the years that passed by a couple of things have happened that has changed the online marketing landscape.

  1. Organic reach on Facebook has consistently gone down. Gone are the days when you could build a million followers and reach them through quirky FB posts
  2. People are slowly getting tired of online ads. Scams, potential election interference and the sheer creepiness of targeted ads have made people wary of them. 
  3. And most importantly, your customers and potential users don’t have the option to opt out of this barrage of online targeting. Its inescapable and does not provide a good experience for the customer.

Text Message Marketing  – Opt-in and Opt-out anytime

Text message marketing software gives people the power to opt in and opt out of the messages that they get from advertising. The same goes for email marketing. The unsubscribe button is the most powerful tool for the customer right now.

Text message marketing - sms opt-in

The last couple of years have seen the fast growth of email newsletters like Skimm for this reason. People can choose what they want to see and it is easy to opt out of the messages they don’t want to see.

The same thing is happening in Text message marketing. By the law of the land, you are required to ask permission from users before sending them opt-in marketing messages, and you also give users an easy option to opt out of text message marketing. 

With the power of text message marketing comes….

Responsibility of-course.

If you spam users with too many messages, they would unsubscribe. If your messages are not interesting, they would probably unsubscribe. So it’s on you to make sure that you define the right moments to reach out to the user and it is critical that you reach out with the right kind of text messaging. 

These are a couple of things to keep in mind when you invest in text message marketing:

  • Become mindful of the customer journey

All businesses have a different customer journey, For a gym, this would basically entail

The customer joining → the number of times he visits the gym in a week → the customer cancelling / the customer renewing membership.

Text Message Marketing

These are some of the touch points around which you could do text message marketing for small business. Most gyms would do 1 and 3 quite well but miss out on two. Asking the customer for feedback or nudging him to visit the gym if he has missed it for a couple of days are things that may help you avoid cancellation and increase customer retention.

What are the different stages of the customer journey in your business? What are some stages for which most people in your industry don’t do any marketing? Find it and use it to increase growth and retention of your customers

  • Push limited offers for a limited time

Most businesses make the mistake of pushing too many offers or pushing too few offers. If you push too many text message marketing offers, chances are that the customer will get fatigued and stop paying attention to the messages.

The right strategy would be to run limited-time offers 2-3 times in a year or depending on the customer journey in your industry.

For a gym, this would be – Beginning and end of the year where people are motivated to stick to their goals, summertime when customers who have kids have some time for themselves etc. Again, identifying different points in your customer journey becomes the core.Text message marketing has been around for a long time and it feels like it is a getting a new resurgence with better technology that helps you do it faster, cheaper and more efficiently. 


"What is Churn?" and other SMS Marketing FAQs, Answered

For any business owner trying to effectively serve their clients in 2018, digital marketing channels and mobile technology can seem daunting if you aren’t sure where to begin. As an SMS marketing platform, we understand the informational barriers of entry that prevent these owners from getting involved and taking their retention to new levels. Even simple questions like “what is churn?” can be difficult to answer unless you know where to look.

In the interest of helping bring more owners and marketers into the future and help them reduce churn for their own business, we have put together a list of FAQs or frequently asked questions about SMS. Our hope is that with these questions out of the way, you can begin to focus your energy on using these tools to improve your customer journey instead of trying to understand how to use them. Without further ado, let’s look at the first question.

what is churn

1. What is churn?

The first FAQ that we often receive is “What is churn?” Customer churn is when, for a variety of different reasons, a customer stops using your services and buying your products. Although this is a natural part of the business process, many companies are seeing higher churn rates as consumers today have more options and companies are seeing an increase in competition.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to reduce churn, which is the basis of most customer retention and SMS marketing plans. In the case of text marketing, delivering your customers personalized content that adds value to their experience directly to their phones is the best way to show your customers that you care. If you can consistently do this, you can lower your churn rate and provide better customer engagement for your audience.

For more, check out these 6 powerful strategies for battling churn.  

2. What’s the difference between MMS and SMS marketing?

Another common Q we received along with “What is Churn?” is “What is the difference between MMS and SMS marketing? First, let’s break down MMS, which means Multimedia Messaging Service and SMS, which means Short Messaging Service. While SMS is limited to 160 characters, MMS has no character limit and can include a subject line as well as attached media like images and videos.

However, when it comes to the marketing purposes of MMS vs. SMS, they are often similar, with MMS simply allowing for more customization. That being said, now that big names like Apple are seeing the use cases of marketing through messaging, we may see a revitalization of MMS as it is used to enhance the user experience.

For more, check out this article “What is MMS?”

3. Why is an opt-in required for SMS marketing?

Moving on to slightly more in-depth SMS questions that we receive, often business owners are curious as to why an opt-in is required when launching a text marketing campaign. Simply put, it’s the law, however there are other reasons why you should seek an opt-in from your audience. By asking your customers to confirm that they want to receive messages from you, they are showing you that they are interest in customer engagement.

If you’re wondering why this is so important, consider that loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 7x as likely to try a new offering, and 4x as likely to refer. Although asking for that initial opt-in may seem like a risk, the rewards that come from a dedicated customer base are more than worth it.

For further reading, you may be interested in SMS Best Practices for Optimal Results.

4. Is text marketing as effective as everyone says?

When business owners first hear about mass text marketing, they often believe that it is too good to be true. We can’t blame them. Statistics like SMS’s 98% open rate do sound like they are unrealistic, but as a platform that helps small businesses with SMS, we can confirm that the rumors are true. SMS is far and away the most effective mobile marketing solution out there and brands that aren’t taking advantage of it are missing out.

Want to improve customer retention? See how SMS can help.

5. How can I track conversions with SMS?

As we continue looking at more questions like “What is churn?” and the intricacies of SMS marketing, you may already have a good understanding of these things and be more interested in improving your campaign. “How can I track conversions?” and the following three questions should help you out in this regard.

Now, we can’t speak for all text marketing platforms, but Gleantap allows business owners and marketers to track their conversion rates for every message they send. Along with this, we provide you with various tools like marketing automation and touchpoints to optimize conversion rates for you campaign. If you are working with an SMS platform that doesn’t provide these basic insights, we recommend finding one that does.

For more, check out the Holy Grail of Conversion Rate Optimization.

6. Does SMS marketing allow for one-on-one messaging?

Another FAQ that we receive stems from a common misunderstanding about how SMS marketing works, which asks if SMS allows one-on-one messaging. The simple answer to this question is yes, it does. However, to further clarify, SMS marketing is more than bulk SMS messages sent to your audience.

Mass text marketing campaigns can be customized and personalized down to one-on-one interactions if you find that is the best way to reach your customers. Others will simply use customer segmentation to reach different groups of customers. The most important thing is that you are meeting your customers where they are and providing value to their experience. If you can do this, the rest will fall into place.

7. What is marketing automation?

If you have been trying to get involved in digital marketing over the last few years, you may have heard the term ‘marketing automation’ and wondered what it means. Marketing automation is the process of automating various marketing activities for a more efficient and improved customer experience. Due to the nature of most marketing activities in 2018, you can automate most of a customer’s journey.

For instance, with SMS, marketers can use SMS keywords like STOP, HELP, and INFO with automatic responses to help their customers understand their business processes. Similar to chatbots, these responses can be written in advance and help with everything from support to purchase decisions. In order to keep up with the fast-paced digital world we live in, marketing automation will only continue to be a powerful tactic for many companies in the future.

See why Marketing Automation should be part of your 2018 strategy.

8. How can I improve my campaign?

Finally, the last FAQ we will look at is “How can I improve my campaign?” Although this is fairly open-ended and there is a large amount of tools and tactics that can be used, we will simply recommend that you check out our free eBook with 30 different techniques. Hopefully, this will help you go from “what is churn?” to never having to worry about your churn rate again. With this, we wish you happy hunting and best luck on your own SMS marketing campaign!


open rate

5 Strategies to Improve the Open Rate of Email and SMS Campaigns

For any organization hoping to get involved with customer retention marketing, there are a few different tools that you will need to familiarize yourself with. Two tools that can be incredible powerful when it comes to reducing churn are email and SMS marketing. However, according to Mailchimp, with low open rate statistics and an oversaturation of digital marketing channels, creating a powerful campaign can be difficult.

This is why we have put together 5 strategies designed to help you improve the open rate of both email and SMS campaigns. Although open rates are historically high for SMS, these tactics can still be used to improve both of these tools for greater success. On top of that, when combined, they are far more potent than when they are done separately. Let’s begin by taking a look at the state of email and SMS in 2018.

The state of email and SMS in 2018

The first thing that you should know about both email and SMS is that they have been around for a while, both for personal and professional use. This familiarity can be huge when it comes to reach customers, as they already understand the platform and how to communicate. In fact, the 98% open rate of SMS often comes from users always being near their phones. Whereas, the ubiquitous nature of email has led to a steady decline of open rate stats over time.

Now, in 2018, with a variety of new and innovative communication platforms, most customers still prefer the tried and true methods of email and SMS. That being said, customers are also much more interested in receiving a good customer experience when they are interacting with a company. This is why best practices must be put into place in order to get the most out of these tools.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at these 5 strategies to help you increase the open rate of your messages and better serve your audience.

1. Boring subject lines

Yep, that’s right. Our first strategy is going to sound ludicrous, but according to a report based on over 200 million emails, Mailchimp discovered that boring, straight-to-the-point email subject lines are actually better than showy or flashy alternatives. In order for customers to want to click through to read your email (and hopefully convert), they need to know what they are going to be reading.

A good best practice here is to state the title of the article you are sharing or pretend you are writing a title if the email doesn’t include a link. Something that informs users without telling the whole story is the balance you will be looking for.

SMS subject lines

You might be thinking, “Wait, SMS doesn’t have subject lines,” which is accurate. However, with more smartphones on the market than ever before, MMS or Multimedia Messaging is becoming more popular and allows for marketers to include a subject line. Although this may not be necessary for every message, there will be times where an extra flair will go a long way, in which case MMS is recommended.

2. 80/20

The next strategy for optimizing your open rate and getting the most out of your campaign is known as the rule of 80/20. Under this rule, you want to dedicate about 80% or 4 out of 5 messages to being insightful and helpful to your customers, while only actually selling the other 20% of the time. Along with providing a better experience to your customers, it will also make your emails and SMS messages with sales content more powerful.

Now, even though you won’t be selling with each message, another way to increase open rate and conversion rate is by including a call-to-action with each SMS or email. Especially with the immediacy of text marketing, having a clear next step for customers to take will make them look forward to your messaging and help your open rate.

3. Optimize, optimize, optimize

As you start to build out your campaigns, you will start to see areas that can be improved along the way. Our advice is to optimize everywhere you can along the way, whether it is optimizing emails for mobile devices or maximizing your SMS, making these subtle changes will only further improve your open rate.

Although this doesn’t seem that revolutionary of a strategy, as customers begin to become familiar with marketing automation and other techniques for increase customer engagement they will want a better experience. Automating and optimizing wherever possible in the process will help you continuously improve your performance.

4. Understand the delivery method

We mentioned earlier that both SMS and email work best, both in regards to the power of the campaign and open rate, when working together. However, there will be times when you will need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both avenues along with which is best used to meet your goals.

For example, there are plenty of occasions where an SMS message should be used, due to the speed and ease of use. That being said, the same efficiency can work against you in other scenarios with less timely info, in which case an email will be more appropriate. As you plan out your campaigns, make sure you understand the delivery methods you will be using and that they are the best option for what you hope to accomplish.

5. Track, tweak, repeat.

The last strategy for improving the open rate of your email and SMS campaigns is to track everything, tweak what needs fixing, and do it all over again. Again, this may seem simple, and we recommend doing this with all of your marketing, but it will greatly improve the performance of your campaign if you are always performing maintenance and making sure you are putting your best foot forward.

In the case of email and SMS, this looks like changing subject lines, trying new formats and keywords, as well as asking your audience for feedback on how you can improve. Each time you approach the campaign, you should be considering how it will improve your customer’s experience and do whatever you can to help it. As long as you keep this in mind, you will have nothing to worry about in regard to retention or open rates!


Upgrading your Bulk SMS Messaging Campaign in 6 Painless Steps

As the amount of digital marketing channels continues to expand, mobile marketers are trying their best to upgrade their campaigns to ensure an optimized experience at every turn. One way they are doing this is through bulk SMS messaging, an increasingly popular and powerful tool for customer engagement. In fact, according to a recent report, bulk SMS engagement rates are 6-8 times higher than email marketing.

That being said, it’s one thing to set up a bulk SMS campaign, it’s something else entirely to upgrade your campaign and take your customer engagement to an even higher level. With this article, we hope to help you achieve this ascension with 6 painless steps for upgrading your SMS marketing campaign. Once you complete these steps, you will be well on your way to a better process and a more satisfied customer base. Let’s get started.

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Bulk SMS Best Practices

Before we get into the actual steps you will need to take to upgrade your campaign, let’s look at a few bulk SMS best practices. Each of these practices should be employed throughout the entirety of your campaign and are what will separate a good campaign from a great one. These best practices include:

Create a sense of urgency: Bulk SMS messages are almost instantaneous, with over 95% of customers receiving them within 2 minutes. Make sure that your messages match this sense of urgency as much as possible.

Find the right frequency: When it comes to mass text marketing, timing is everything. Try your best to keep timing in mind while making decisions about how best to approach your audience.

Provide value at every turn: Due to the intimate nature of SMS, you should always be providing value to your customers. Before each bulk SMS message, think to yourself “Does this provide immediate value to the customer?” If it doesn’t, it’s not worth sending.

As we now take a look at these 6 steps you will need to take to upgrade your campaign, remember each of these best practices. If nothing else, they will put you on the right track and frame of mind for creating an exceptional customer experience.

How to improve your campaign

Now that you have those best practices in mind, let’s take a look at how best to improve your campaign. As with any sound customer retention marketing plan, each of these steps works best in combination with the others, so keep this in mind as we review them. Without further ado, let’s start with step one.

1. Track everything

The first step in improving your bulk SMS campaign is to track everything you do from day one. Typically, analyzing data is seen as something that comes later, but unless you set up the proper mechanisms for capturing user engagement metrics from the beginning you may get to the end of your first campaign and realize the data you need is missing. Instead, set up adequate feedback tools from the start so you can always be tweaking and upgrading your campaign.

2. Plan out the customer journey

The next part of setting up your campaign is to plan out the customer journey. Depending on the marketing automation capabilities of your bulk SMS platform, you should be able to set up just about everything at the beginning in regards to touchpoints and scheduled messaging. Use SMS short codes to allow customers to trigger different optional campaigns and plan out your automated responses to make sure you are ready for everything.  

You may notice that these first 2 steps don’t even involve sending out a bulk SMS message, and for good reason. The planning stage of the campaign needs to address these issues in order to have a more successful campaign. By setting up a flow for your customers will follow as well as metrics to capture their journey, you will continuously improve your performance and the engagement levels of your campaign.

3. Include a call to action, always

Speaking of customer engagement levels, let’s talk about the actual messages of your campaign. Our third step is to include a call to action in every single bulk SMS message you send. Although this might seem excessive, it goes back to our best practices, specifically to provide value at every point. Unless your message can include a clear call to action with a next step customers can take, it probably could work just as well as an email.  

4. Segment your audience

Next up on our list of steps: customer segmentation. While you may be able to have one target audience when you first start off your SMS campaign, once you reach a certain level of subscribers you will need to start dividing them into groups. For instance, if you are a fitness club, you wouldn’t want to send the same message to someone who just joined as someone that hasn’t been to the gym in a few weeks.

By segmenting your audience, you are able to send tailored messages that can truly resonate and provide value to your audience. The better that you can reach them with the right messaging in the right place at the right time, the less you will need to worry about customer churn and satisfaction.

5. Be concise

Along with the high-speed nature of SMS messaging, it is also very concise and you would do well to remember this. First of all, bulk SMS messages are limited to only 160 characters, so you need to stay within this character limit to avoid splitting the message in two.

Additionally, we mentioning thinking about timing earlier, and your customers don’t want to receive a ton of text. They want concise, simple updates and calls-to-action, so do your best to provide this for them.

6. Make your intentions clear

Finally, the last step in our painless 6-step guide is make your intentions clear to your audience throughout the process. Customers now care more about their experience engaging with a company than they do the actual products or services provided, so maintaining an open and honest dialogue is key to showing them you care.

This also refers to opt-in best practices, since this is not only a good practice to have in place, but it is actually required by law. Make sure that you are submitting to the correct rules and regulations while always offering subscribers a way out should they need one. By being open about your intentions, how often they will be receiving messages, and how they can opt-in and out of your messages, they will actually be more inclined to engage with you and your brand.

Final thoughts

As we mentioned at the beginning, the best way to approach improving your bulk SMS campaign is by walking through each of these steps and then using them in collaboration with each other and SMS best practices. Now that you have the tools that you need, now comes the time to put them into place. So what are you waiting for? Upgrade your own SMS campaign today!


Short Message Service Marketing: The Key to Customer Retention

In the digital world that we now find ourselves in, mobile marketing channels are sprouting up all around us. With close to 5 billion mobile users globally, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but to the savvy marketer it should be seen as an opportunity. Some have tried to establish themselves in these new channels, but many are finding success with the tried and true approach of using short message service (or SMS) marketing.

When you consider the fact that, on average, mobile users spend around 87 hours per month on their mobile devices, you can begin to understand this shift. Along with that, reports claim that over 95% of text messages are read within 2 minutes, leading to sky-high mobile engagement levels.

With this article, we hope to state our case for using short message service marketing to increase customer retention. Additionally, we will review some best practices for meeting your customers where they are and how to better serve them in the long run. Let’s take a look.

SMS and customer retention

As we have mentioned previously, customers have far more competition both in terms of price and offerings in today’s market than ever before. For this reason, customer retention and engagement is becoming a valuable strategy for many businesses to not only drive new customers coming in, but keep them around for the long haul. Short message service marketing is a key aspect of this.

When you consider that 64% of consumers are more likely to perceive a company positively when they are contacted through text message marketing, you begin to see the power of SMS. On top of that, if you are able to provide helpful information and tailored content, SMS marketing can help you establish relationships with your customers that are strong enough to survive even when a new competitor enters the market.

The power of SMS

This is the power of SMS on display and unless you are using texting as part of your mobile strategy, you could very well be missing out. According to Mobilexco, response rates from SMS are 209% higher than from phone calls, text, or Facebook. Imagine the kind of engagement you can have with your customers when you utilize these marketing tools to the best of your abilities.

However, it is one thing to highlight these statistics, it is another to put a plan into place. Next, we are going to review some best practices when conducting short message service marketing. Through this, we hope to aid you in establishing yourself with your SMS campaign and better serve your customers, leading to reduced churn rate and increased engagement.

Short message service marketing best practices

In today’s day and age, consumers are more concerned with having a great customer experience than products or services. Short message service marketing is one of the most powerful ways to deliver this experience, but in order for it to truly be memorable, there are a few best practices you need to put in place. What follows are some staples of a great SMS campaign:

Offer a value proposition

Right off the bat, when you get the SMS opt-in from your customers, you need to establish that your texting campaign will offer value to them. There are a few ways in which you can do this, but the important part is that from the first message they receive they know exactly what to expect from your program.

Some do this by presenting an offer or discount just for signing up with their program. Others include exactly how many messages they should expect to receive as well as a way to manage how often you are reached. Again, this will often depend on the type of customers you are targeting, but being straightforward, upfront, and honest will always go a long way to showing how valuable your short message service marketing campaign will be to your audience.

Automate your messaging

As AI and machine learning technologies become more advanced, marketing automation will become a powerful force in customer engagement. In fact, marketers using short message service campaigns can already automate their messaging to a certain extent in order to provide better interactions with their customers.

Similar to how chatbots go off a set flow and script, you can automate certain messages and have your audience use SMS keywords like HELP, INFO, or MORE to engage in a conversation that can be automated well in advance. This sort of automation not only provides a better experience for your customers, but it saves you time as well. Just make sure to continue updating these messages in order to stay relevant with your messaging.

Run support through SMS

Another area where marketers have seen success with automation is when running support through SMS. Due to the almost instantaneous nature of SMS, support queries can be answered and resolved in a matter of minutes. Even Facebook understands the relevance of a quick turnaround with messaging, now offering a direct conversation with brands about customer service issues.

This kind of mobile user engagement shows your audience that you are there to help them at every turn. Although you don’t want to be oppressive with your marketing efforts, finding the balance of always being within arm’s reach of your customers allows you to serve them better. Then, when they need something, they know you are always there to help, positioning you exactly where you want to be.

Test content and timing

With any mobile marketing campaign, you need to have adequate facilities in place for both measurement and the ability to test out new procedures. For instance, finding the right timing for your messages might take some time, but it will be well worth it. Make sure that your short message service marketing has these practices in place in order to continuously improve your campaign.

Even if you think that you have found the best way to do things, we urge you to not become complacent. When this happens, customers will slowly drift away unless you are careful. Make it a focus to analyze user engagement metrics and run regular tests to make sure your campaign is fully optimized at every step in the process.

Customer retention and you

As you begin your short message service marketing, we urge you to take these best practices to heart and understand how powerful customer retention truly can be. In today’s market, businesses and customers no longer have time to set on their thumbs. You have to take action and make an effort to stay relevant.

Our final word to you is to start now. Whether you have tried SMS before or not doesn’t matter, but now is a unique time when it comes to mobile marketing. We recommend taking advantage of this position and using the tools you have available to create an exceptional experience for your customers.


How To Increase Opt-ins And Properly Promote SMS Marketing Campaign

For any company that wants to get involved in SMS marketing, there are a few different questions that quickly come to mind. For example, “Where do I start?” “Who should I be texting?” “What should I be sending?” Each of these questions needs to be taken on in order to get your SMS campaign off the ground. However, the most important question you should be asking is actually “How do I increase opt-ins?”

Since getting users to opt in to an SMS campaign is often the most difficult part of the process, we have put together a guide on how to promote and increase opt-ins. While we have looked at text opt-in best practices before, in this article we will focus less on the messages themselves, and more on how to promote your campaign outside of your current customer base. With that said, let’s get started.

Create an opt-in web form

The first step for any campaign is to create an online form of some kind that users can submit in order to join your text marketing list. Since text messages are heavily regulated and consent must be received before any messaging can be sent, web forms are one of the easiest ways to increase opt-ins right off the bat. You can even use Odoo’s approach in the below example and simply have your customers fill out this short form to begin their campaign.

That being said, even if users are the first to sign up online, you should still confirm that they are consenting to opt-in. This is what is known as the double-opt-in approach and it ensures that you are getting off on the right foot and avoiding breaking any rules covered under the TCPA.

Begin with email contact list

Once you have created a web form, one of the fastest ways to increase opt-ins next is to let your email contact list know about your SMS campaign. This list is typically your largest reach for existing customers and by letting them know about your new SMS channel, you can establish a solid foundation for your SMS campaign.

However, not all of your email contacts will want to join your SMS campaign. This is why sometimes you will need to include an incentive to help make taking that next step even easier. Above, we see that Home Depot entices their current customers to join the SMS list with a $5 coupon, helping them to increase their text marketing audience while offering their members value straight from the start. 

Include full legal terms on all advertising

Now that you have reached out to your current customer base, now comes the time to start promoting your SMS campaign across other channels. While you are doing this, we recommend that you include the full legal terms of your campaign right within the advertising. Look at the bottom of this ad to see what we mean.

By including not only the standard “Msg & data rates may apply,” but how often you should expect to receive text messages, you are able to set the proper expectations for your customers. If they know that they will only be getting less than 4 messages per month, you are eliminating questions that might hold them back. This will also save both of you time as you won’t need to send the entire terms of service every single time someone signs up, just the standard opt-in message.

Integrate SMS across all channels

So far, we have mainly talked about how to increase opt-ins through better calls to action and targeted campaigns. However, another best practice for increasing opt-ins is to integrate SMS across all channels. By making SMS a focal point of your mobile marketing campaign, you will make it harder for customers to go without SMS messages.

For instance, you can start sending thank you messages via text blast along with email. Once customers start to use the much more efficient texting system compared to email, they will see the value in your campaign and be far more interested in remaining subscribed.

Run banner ads

In the same way that your email contact list can be a good starting point for increasing opt-ins, running banner ads on your social profiles with a clear call-to-action is another way to capitalize on your current marketing efforts. Since most social users are on their mobile devices in the first place, this can be a breakthrough when trying to increase opt-ins.

You can even look at user engagement metrics to find the best way of targeting users from other channels like social. This can give you a better idea of how your customers operate and how you might better reach them with future messaging.

Place SMS info on product packaging

The final way to increase opt-ins through outside advertising that we will look at is by including a call-to-action right on your product’s packaging. So far, not many businesses have been doing this, so not only is it a good way to reach customers right after purchase, but it will make your campaign stand out from others. Simple tricks like this can make your SMS campaign that much more

Make your texts valuable

Now, as we mentioned at the beginning, most of this blog post has been about increasing opt-ins through traditional advertising means. This is important especially at the beginning, however, there will come a time where you will need to focus less on the SMS opt-in and more on retaining subscribers. The best way to do this is to make your texts valuable to your consumers.

Whether you are running support, sending out offers and coupons, or simply using SMS to guide your customers through their journey, each message you send needs to provide value to your audience. In fact, the best way to increase opt-ins after your initial launch is by making your texts so valuable that customers will wonder what they are missing. If you can consistently deliver the value that they are already looking for, you will have customers for life.