|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
While social media and pay-per-click generate most of the small business marketing attention, a growing number of companies are also finding success engaging customers with permission-based SMS, or text message, marketing efforts.
The nearly ubiquitous use of mobile devices and text messaging as primary forms of communication are contributing to a growing acceptance of SMS as a marketing vehicle for small businesses. With virtually all of your customers carrying a mobile device and reading text messages shortly after they arrive, SMS marketing can provide an effective vehicle for reaching customers who have agreed to receive promotional texts.
The short, immediate nature of an SMS message makes it particularly suited for specific types of small businesses or offers.
For example, a restaurant or deli can use SMS marketing to promote daily or weekend specials, or a coffee shop can reward loyal customers by distributing a discount coupon via SMS. Businesses can also use SMS marketing to promote limited-duration sales events. Restaurants, cafes or entertainment venues can also use SMS discounts or incentives to attract customers during otherwise slow periods.
Similarly, SMS marketing can be an effective way to distribute appointment reminders that help reduce the risk of expensive no-shows, or can be helpful and promoting marketing or community events your company is involved with.
Depending on the offer, the SMS could include a link that directs recipients to a mobile-specific landing page, or may include a click-to-call icon so they can reach your business directly on their mobile handset.
Permission Is Critical
As with email marketing, it is critical to make sure you are only distributing SMS messages to customers who have agreed to receive them. SMS marketing regulations mandate prior permission, as well as an easy way for customers to opt out of receiving further SMS messages they may no longer be interested in.
To obtain permission, and inspire customers to agree to join your SMS distribution list, it can be helpful to provide a discount or other special offer exclusively to SMS subscribers. You should also promote your SMS messages, and invite people to subscribe, on your company homepage and through your other social media channels.
Similarly, it’s also important to establish a routine that strikes a balance between contacting customers often enough to be effective, but not so often that they are upset and unsubscribe. SMS service providers can help you with established guidelines that are suited for your industry and promotional messages.
By publishing consistent reminders that clearly spell out the benefits of subscribing your SMS messages, you can help generate the benefits available through SMS marketing wow reducing the risk that you will upset or alienate customers.
Most small businesses that are using SMS successfully enlist support from a dedicated SMS marketing provider. Providers typically offer access to web-based software for maintaining your list and composing messages, with the SMS provider taking care of the actual distribution.
SMS services are typically offered on a subscription or per use basis, with most plans including different tiers with varying numbers of monthly messages. Popular SMS providers include CallFire, Fanminder, TellMyCell, Signal and other choices.