“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
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New things scare people…they just do. In 1997 I sold the first dial up internet business account for Telco Communications out of the Rosslyn, Virginia sales office. The disks needed to be loaded on a computer and a LAN Line connection snapped into the computer itself in order to have the modem dial out for a connection. Anyone old enough to remember can close their eyes and hear the screeching and uneven sounds of a "dial up" internet connection. If you haven’t heard the sound a dial up connection makes, the closest you can come in 2015 is listening to “Skrillex” (a dubstep DJ for those who are asking “who?”).
I remember sales calls for internet connectivity like they were yesterday, and the absolute fear business owners had about the internet and what that meant to their companies. The fear of the "unknown" is a very real, and very powerful human emotion.
Text message marketing for businesses is a relatively new phenomenon. Because it’s new, many businesses have sat on the sidelines in fear wondering if it’s going to bite them if they reach out to pet the beast. The advantages of text message marketing over email, telecommunications and direct mail are becoming more quantitatively defined with each passing study. You can see more about ”comparing marketing solutions” here. Because text marketing is relatively new, the fear of the unknown is still very much in play.
Here are just a few of the statistics:
• 91% of people have a cellular phone within reach at any given time.
• 98% of text messages are read.
• People respond to texts 60 times faster than emails on average.
• People text 4.5 times more than they call.
• Coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed over texts than through paper.
The numbers are staggering. Never before, in the history of marketing, have businesses been able to reach such a high percentage of people with such ease.
Is text marketing too good to be true? Why isn’t every business using it?
The truth is there are things that businesses absolutely need to be aware of before diving into the realm of text message communication. The reward is there for the taking but the risks need to be understood and accounted for before reaching for the pot of gold. If you go scrambling for the gold before planning, you may end up feeling like Indiana Jones did in the original opening scene running through all the booby traps. There is an easier way, and that’s what we are here to discuss. (Indiana Jones is a movie with Harrison Ford for those who knew who Skrillex was, but have no clue what I just referenced).
In many ways the risks of text message marketing are similar to telemarketing and emailing, but not identical.
If done properly, the risk can be very low and the reward extremely high. In 2015, if your business does not have any plan for using text messages than it’s time to start putting one together or risk falling behind (or worse).
So what does your business need to do? Here are five things that need to happen to prepare your business for putting together a successful text message strategy.
1) GET COMPLIANCE IN ORDER There are specific laws and regulations that govern communication, including text messaging. Specifically, text messages are regulated under the TCPA and governed by the FCC. While there is currently a lot of legislation going on that will hopefully clear up what can or cannot be done with text messaging, it is crucial to remain in compliance. You may need to rewrite your contracts to account for the ability to contact people via text. This is often referred to an “opt in” service and it allows you to gain consent from anyone you intend to contact. Contact a ”contract attorney familiar with texting laws” to review or rewrite your contracts (online and other) to include your ability to text your customers. This project may also require your IT staff to build a simple opt-in on your website. For more information on ” mitigating texting risks” click on the previous link.
2) ORGANIZE YOUR DATA This is by far your biggest pain in the rump. All texting software requires a minimum of an accurate cellular number. Some texting software will allow you to add a first name to your messages. You will need a .CSV or Excel file that is accurate. All software is “garbage in, garbage out.” If you do not manage your data correctly, it could cause issues with the same people you are trying to build relationships with.
3) BUILD YOUR DATABASE Start collecting customer numbers and any other information you want to get as often as you can that have “opted in.” Birthdays are a great thing to ask for so you can send special text messages and/or special offers on their special day. Incorporate an active plan to acquire customer data that you can use to build your business. This should be ongoing…meaning something that happens as long as you are in business.
4) GET YOUR MOBILE SITE IN ORDER No matter what type of texting campaign you have, your mobile site will be crucial. Not only will Google start punishing companies and websites that are not “mobile ready,” you need to be aware that texting people inherently means they are receiving your information on mobile phones. Talk to your web staff and build a responsive mobile website to make sure you are representing yourself well to anyone you are texting.
5) DEFINE YOUR CAMPAIGN. Are you texting in order to raise funds? Are you polling for information? Are you reminding people to do something? Are you directing them to a mobile site? Is your message different for customers and clients? The best campaigns are often not campaigns at all. Look at this as a way to efficiently and effectively reach out to customers, employees and clients to build a relationship and trust over time.
No one likes to be sold, but everyone likes to hear from an old friend.
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 was a partner in Premier Mortgage Capital, Inc., a nationwide state charted Mortgage Company that grew to over 1B/Year in originations. Eric is an inventor, investor, and entrepreneur. Eric has a experience in writing, radio, TV and entertainment.