As a small business owner, it’s important to seek new ways to engage and convert customers continually. That’s why your marketing strategy is so critical. It leads the way in your efforts to engage with current customers and convert potential customers.
There are a lot of ways you can reach customers. That’s why having various marketing tools available to you really matters. One of the more “modern” ways to reach customers is text marketing.
What is Text Marketing?
Text marketing is a relatively new marketing technique. However, its efficacy is proven. Most small business owners probably already know what text marketing is. If not, though, it’s simply marketing to customers using text messages.
The cool thing about text marketing is its versatility. It can be used to improve a small business’ bottom line, customer service, communication, and marketing. The way it does this is with various text marketing tools.
These tools include keyword campaigns, drip campaigns, and broadcasting, otherwise known as mass text messaging. Of course, there are other tools, but these are the most common ones that most text marketing platforms offer.
5 Text Marketing Tools for Small Business
1. Keyword Campaigns
In all likelihood, you’ve seen these around. You know, the marketing pieces that say, ‘Text MENU to 702-718-6606 to see our full menu of items.’ These are simple to create and disseminate.
All you need to do is choose a relevant keyword and phone number for customers to text. Then, set up the automated message flow; however, you see fit. It’s that simple!
These are typically the bedrock of your text marketing. They can be used in an infinite number of ways. Customers can contact your customer service this way (details in inbox), get a direct link to your website, reserve a product or service, or even access rewards points.
Keyword campaigns can even be used internally. For example, you can use text marketing as a mobile recruitment tool or as a way to sign employees up for a blood drive. The possibilities are endless. Whatever you can imagine, keyword campaigns help make it a reality for your small business. So dream big!
2. Mass Text Message, or Broadcasting
This is one of the more unique text marketing tools and has the potential to benefit your small business the most. A mass text message is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the ability to text a huge group of people at the same time. However, unlike group messaging, it’s private.
Each person texted receives the text message individually, as if it was only sent to them. And any replies are sent directly to the sender, you in this case. Therefore, you save customers’ privacy and time. Neither you nor they have to worry about being endlessly annoyed with messages blowing up their phone all day.
One of the best parts of mass text messaging is that you can schedule them! This is perfect for planning out your marketing messages. And the great thing is it doesn’t matter how far in advance you plan a message. Decide what you want your messages to say and when you want them to send. It’s totally up to you.
3. Drip Campaigns
These are exactly what you think they are. The only difference is that instead of email, they are text messages. You decide how many messages make up a series, when they are sent, etc. It’s really a pivotal way to gain customers’ trust while piquing their interest slowly. And, of course, hopefully, it pays off with a sale or two.
4. Federal Regulations
All of the tools listed above are simple ways to reach and convert customers, but, as always, there are a couple of caveats. Because you are dealing with the public and their information, namely phone numbers, there are a few federal rules and regulations you must comply with.
The first rule you must follow is letting customers, or even potential customers, know what they are getting themselves into. They must know who you are and what you’re going to send them – in a general sense, of course.
Most text marketing platforms, the reputable ones at least, already have an automatic way for you to do this. It’s part of setting up your automated text messages to customers.
However, if you choose to do text marketing and the platform you choose doesn’t take care of it, it’s up to you. You are still held accountable to the federal laws no matter how you send text messages to customers. So be wise in your choice.
The federal law that governs text message communication between customers and businesses is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA. Because this law regulates almost all telecommunications activities, it is enforced by two major federal entities – namely the Federal Communications Commission, FCC, and the Federal Trade Commission, FTC.
These entities are charged with acting in the best interest of consumers. Therefore, if a business is willfully ignoring the law, either federal agency can levy heavy fines against them.
Opt-in and Opt-out
One of the most important parts of the TCPA is consent. For text marketing, customers need to understand what they are getting themselves into before they are opt-in to receive text messages from a business. And, at any time, be able to revoke their consent or opt-out.
As stated previously, most text marketing platforms help you do this or do it automatically; however, not all do. Therefore, it’s up to you to ensure that customers have both the ability to opt-in and opt-out.
5. Other Text Marketing Tools
The following tools are not so ubiquitous among text marketing platforms but are worth consideration. Some of them will be extremely useful for some small businesses, while others simply won’t. That’s why they aren’t universally offered on every text marketing platform.
The best advice is to learn about each tool so that when you start your text marketing journey, you find a text marketing platform with all the tools you want and need. Otherwise, text marketing won’t help your small business as much as it could.
The first tool is the contact list. This is a rather basic tool. It simply lists all the contacts you’re able to text message using any number of tools above. However, it is up to the specific platform on the “extras” of the contact list.
Some platforms offer a contact list that tells you if a contact’s opt-in status, name, email, tags, and other important identifying information. Additionally, the ability to upload and download CSV files of contacts is a useful tool, especially if you already interact with customers via text message.
Additionally, your existing POS system customer data is useful for text marketing purposes. Some text marketing platforms offer an integration that connects your POS system data with your text marketing platform contact list.
If you already have a large group of customers that are willing to receive text messages from you, it just makes sense. Once the POS system customers are on your contact list, you have to ask for their opt-in via an opt-in message, which most platforms auto-generate for you.
A rather important part of text marketing is the ability to differentiate between different groups of customers. An easy way to do this is with tags. Tags are fully customizable based on any number of criteria you choose.
And they become increasingly important when you want to decide who to send mass text messages or drip campaigns to. Obviously, you don’t want everyone on these text messages, so it’s important to be able to choose a group of people rather than have to go through your entire contact list and individually add people one-by-one.
The inbox is unique to a small number of text marketing platforms but is worth mentioning since it offers small businesses an advantage. With inbox, you can see each message sent and replied to for each contact on your contact list.
Plus, you can send an individual text message in the inbox too. In fact, this is a low-cost way for small businesses to handle their customer service. Set up a keyword campaign that directs them to you and chats with them via text message on their end and a computer on your end.
Think of it as a computer messenger application, but instead of IMs, they’re text messages. This personal interaction with customers and the ability to see all messages sent and received are pretty great!
Contact Details Page
Another tool that may be useful for your small business is a contact details page. This page is generated for each person in your contact list. It basically serves to hold all the other relevant information for each contact that isn’t listed in the contact list.
It not only holds a contacts’ name, number, opt-in status, and tags, as the contact list does, but holds other relevant information such as birthday, email, any specific notes about the contact, as well as a snapshot of what broadcasts are scheduled to be sent to the contact and a snapshot of the inbox messages.
This makes it extremely easy for you to update contact details without deleting a contact and then re-enter their information. Instead, you update the information on the contact details page.
Webforms are an interesting text marketing tool. Most of the time, they are fully customizable to your small business’s needs. They are a stand-alone page that you link to on your small businesses’ website or social media channels. It basically opens a page where people can sign up to receive your text messages.
Only a few select text marketing platforms offer this feature as part of your text marketing account. However, it can come in handy, especially if your small business works with older clients that have access to the internet and a mobile phone, but not a smartphone.
Choosing the Right Text Marketing Platform
Each text marketing platform has pros and cons. So the first thing you need to do is make a list of what tools are important for you as a small business owner. What are the things that matter to you? What will help your business thrive?
It’s also essential to note that not all text marketing platforms are made equal. Some platforms offer basic text marketing services, and others offer the full lineup of tools. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense for your business.
Plus, let’s not forget about the price. As a small business, you don’t have unlimited resources, like some chain-businesses seem to. Therefore, you need to choose a text marketing platform based not simply on tools but also on the amount it costs each month.
Armed with the list of text marketing tools you need (and want) as well as your price range for a text marketing platform, it’s time to do some research. A simple Google search will suffice. As stated earlier, there are tons of text marketing platforms out there. It’s up to you to decide which one is right for you.
Even though it may take some time and effort to find the one that’s right for you, it’ll be worth it. Like all good things, it takes a bit of work. In the end, as long as you know which tools you need and the price range you’re looking for, you’ll find it.
Text Marketing Improves the Long and Short Game
In marketing, there is always this sense of long and short term goals. You want to increase your bottom line, but you also want to build relationships with customers that last. In other words, you want things to pay off now and in the future.
Text marketing helps your small business do just that. Using text marketing’s variety of tools, you can reach customers now and make a sale while also building your relationship with them for the long term. There’s no better marketing strategy than that!
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