"Pearls don't lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it." - Chinese Proverb
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The numbers are staggering:
1.4 times as many mobile devices as people by 2018.
6-8 times the response rates of emails.
98% of texts are read compared to 22% of emails.
91% of adults have a mobile phone within arms reach.
19% of mobile users click on URL's through text compared to 4.2% of emails.
90% of all text messages are opened within 3 minutes. Emails are read within 2.5 days.
SMS Coupons are 10X more likely to be redeemed than mail or print coupons.
90% of people report favorably on receiving offers from vendors.
64% of people would rather text a business than call the business.
9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action. More than half leads to sales. These are staggering numbers.
Texting is so powerful, "Coca Cola" just allocated 70% of ITS ENTIRE MARKETING BUDGET to mobile marketing. Unreal!
It is hard not to agree that texting is the most powerful marketing tool today, especially when costs are factored in. Sending a text is very inexpensive.
Let's look at the growth.
These are the worldwide texts sent by year:
2007: 1.7 Trillion
2010: 6.1 Trillion
2015 (est): 18.25 Trillion+
A "leads360" study across more than 400 companies and over 3.5 million records across all verticals found that if a sales person sent 3 or more texts after initial contact, conversion rates were 328% over the ones who did not text.
So we have a perfect storm of explosive growth and untapped power.
Now the question becomes, why aren't more businesses using text messages?
The challenge is managing the risk associated with violating federal law with the rewards of reaching potential new and existing customers. There is definitely a “right way” and a “wrong way” to do it. The wrong way can get expensive in a hurry.
There are numerous cases moving forward in courts that will provide a lot of insight into where this terrific marketing tool will end up, but until that is settled here are a few things you can do to significantly lower your risk.
I wrote this piece from the perspective of Texting Base, but the principles apply no matter who you use for texting.
1) Text who you know: This one is simple; if you are texting people you actually know and have dealt with before that is a big way to reduce risk. Do not ever load a random list up to Texting Base and start texting people. Not only will you be risking government fines, we will have no choice but to terminate your account.
2) Don’t assume they know you: This tip requires a little more thought. Maybe it’s been a few years since you spoke? Maybe they forgot you all have a relationship? In this case it’s often best to re-introduce yourself and start off sending a birthday (if you have it), Thanksgiving or New Years message to wish them a nice Holiday. One of the best ways to build a relationship is slowly over time- be patient.
3) Make sure you have an “opt-out”: When re-introducing yourself it’s important to have an opt-out for that first message. If the recipient does not want to interact with you, they need a way to remove their name/number without having to tell you directly. This is Federal Law- always have an opt-out for first messages- even if you know them. We require an opt out on all first messages. It helps to protect everyone.
4) Do not sell: This is important- look at using Texting Base as a relationship builder. Relationships and trust are built over time. Keeping in touch for special events is crucial to building trust. Do not sell or solicit over the phone- save that for “live” or over the phone and you will keep off the FCC’s radar.
5) Don’t SPAM people: The point of Texting Base is to build relationships over time, not to SPAM them incessantly…that won’t make you very popular and might get you reported.
6) Build the relationship over time: People do not tend to report someone who has been consistent in reaching out. One of the ways a consumer can file a complaint is if they receive an “unwanted commercial message." Let them know subtly what it is you do so if it comes up, you can get a referral. Your customers/potential customers know what you do. Nagging a SPAMMING does not help. Building the relationship and building a trust does help.
7) Keep it personal: The FCC does not regulate personal messages (or non profit/political messages). Keep your messages simple and with the purpose of building a relationship and you will significantly reduce your risk of using text messaging for marketing purposes.
8) Get a Short Code number: If texting is a staple of your business and you want to take it up a notch, as us about getting a 5-digit “short code” number. Short codes are still regulated but offer more flexibility to business market without written opt-in. Texting Base does offer Short Code programs.
9) Err on the side of caution: When in doubt always take the safe way. Commercial messages get into a dicey area for the FCC. If you are writing a message and not sure if it’s OK or not, it’s probably not.
10) This one is obvious, don't text at hours likely to make someone angry. This means you will want to watch your time zones and text during hours that are appropriate. You can make a friend mad if they are receiving a text at 4AM in Hawaii because you scheduled it for 1PM on the East Coast and forgot.
11) Have your customers "Opt In" to receive information. This can be done in your store or on your website.
12) Change your contracts. Make sure all your documents that would need to be agreed to online or in person include that you can use their cellular phones to market and contact them. The opt out will still go out, but by having a record that you were given permission, your risk is significantly reduced!
For more on what the FCC says about this issue, check here: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/spam-unwanted-text-messages-and-email
Managing this process and staying in compliance is not difficult, but it must be done to keep your business safe and still take advantage of the power of text messages. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know- we are happy to help (but cannot offer legal advice).
Please text responsibly!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Beans is CEO of Texting Base, Inc., out of Orlando, Florida. Texting Base is a cloud-based software that adds efficiency and power to business texting communications. Combining the efficiency of a “mass text” and the effectiveness of a personal text message, Texting Base uses patent pending software to allow businesses to build relationships with their customers like never before. Prior to Texting Base, Eric Beans owned Premier Mortgage Capital, Inc., a nationwide state charted mortgage company and helped to start TechSpan, a global IT consulting company.