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How To Use SMS To Promote Your Local Business


95% of all text messages get opened within 5 minutes of receiving them. SMS marketing especially for local businesses if extremely effective. Imagine you own a restaurant and you are having a free margherita night. Do you think your customers would like to know about this? Well. if you have done your homework and you have been collecting the mobile phone numbers of your customers you should have a large list of customers to send you SMS message to.

Imagine you send out 1000 SMS messages to people who already frequent your restaurant letting them know that tonight is “free margherita night.” Everybody opens their SMS messages, unlike email which have miserable 1% open rates. Do you think this restaurant owner might get a few people into his doors tonight? You bet!

So where do you start if you want to do SMS marketing for your local business? First you will need a reputable SMS service provider. Here is a partial list:
Club Texting
Mobile Storm
Smart Reply

Having a reputable SMS service will allow you to have your own mobile short code and keyword.

“A Mobile Keyword is a one-word phrase that identifies a product, service, action, or business. People text a mobile keyword to a pre-publicized 4, 5 or 6-digit short code number to receive additional information and to join your mobile distribution list. For example, if a customer texts “SNEAKER or TRUMPIA” to 69302, the customer will immediately receive an automated text response (that you can setup and change at anytime). The text response can be more information about your product or service tied to that specific keyword. You can also setup a different automated response with each mobile keyword that you setup. In our example, the keyword “SNEAKER or TRUMPIA” is owned by Trumpia’s demo account, and you will receive a sample automated response text ‘sneaker’ to 69302from Trumpia.

“Short Codes are special telephone numbers that are typically 4 to 6 digits long. Unlike regular 10-digit phone numbers, you cannot call a short code number. They are used for texting purposes only. Short codes act just like any other regular 10-digit phone numbers that you can send text messages to. Typically they are used for business purposes for consumers to purchase products or to request additional information about a product, service, or business.”

If you own a pizza shop you could set up the keyword “bestpizzanewyork” with you short code and you could tell your customers to send the text “bestpizzanewyork” to “122334” to get a 10% discount on a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza. Your customers will then be sent a text message confirmation. They simply show that message confirmation when they come in and they get their discount.

The real idea behind SMS marketing is to collect the confirmed opt in cell phone numbers of your clients or potential clients so you can market to them over and over. If you have a large targeted list of clients whenever you have a special you can send out an SMS blast using your SMS service to keep in touch with your customers. This is extremely effective since 90% of all SMS messages are opened. SMS marketing is way more immediate and effective than email marketing.

So once you have set up your keyword promotion and short code you need to let everyone know about your new mobile promotion. You should put your invitation to text to your keyword and shortcode everwhere. Here are just some ideas where you can put your advertising for your new campaign:

Business cards
loyalty cards
door hangers
promotional items
sports equipment
car magnets and wraps
tv and radio
print ads
digital signage
mobile apps
dvds cds
web sites

Keep in mind that with most SMS services you can create multiple keyword campaigns with just one short code.
So if you want to try to text different offers you can.

Having a large list of your customer’s cell numbers and using SMS marketing is very powerful so you do not want to abuse this new medium. The idea is to get customers to like you and your business not to alienate them. Here is a funny article on Tech Crunch where they show you how you can lose all your friends and customers in real time using this technology.

There are not just etiquette issues with SMS but legal issues as well. You want to stay within the guidelines. Here they are:

1. There must be a way for your users to opt in and confirm that they want to opt into your SMS list. Once they text your keyword to your short code they should be sent a confirmation from the SMS provider notifying them that they are subscribing to your list and to confirm. This is very similar to the confirmed opt in method used with email.

2. Your subscribers must have an easy way to opt out of your list. Usually texting “stop” is the method most providers use.

3. Your subscribers must know that standard text charges apply. People hate getting text messages that they don’t want especially when they have to pay for them! Be up front and honest in all your communications. The idea again is to create a good relationship with your customer so he comes back over and over not to alienate him.

4. Stay on topic. If they opted in to learn about pizza do not send them info on Transendental meditation.

You can be very creative with SMS marketing. You can create polls, surveys, discount coupons. Remember these are all incentives for people to opt in to your SMS list so you can keep in touch with your customers over and over. I would love to hear about your experiences with local SMS marketing. If you found this article helpful please share it on Facebook. Thank you, Matthew Meyer.