5 Surefire Ways Local Businesses Use SMS to Drive New Biz

sms marketing tactics

One of the most popular misconceptions with SMS marketing involves the company’s size. Common sentiment holds that only corporations use text messages to advertise. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Visit your local restaurants and you’ll find many that use text messages. Some use them for confirming orders, others for customer feedback. Either way, SMS helps to reduce employee workloads while upping their efficiency.

Below we’ll cover a few ways text messages can bring more customers to your business.

1. Send exclusive promotions and offers

Sales, coupons, and exclusive offers have long helped boost sales during tough seasons. When competition is tough (during Thanksgiving, for example), deals make all the difference. The biggest challenge: finding a way to inform your customers.

Tradition says to use flyers and posters. Digital marketers will tell you the value in using email or social media. The truth is a combination of these tactics is effective. But SMS offers something different.

What could that be? SMS feels exclusive. Think about the feeling you get when you receive a text message compared to the feeling of getting an email. SMS is more direct, more personal. For example, a sporting goods store can blast out a code exclusive to customers. Customers feel special receiving a message, thinking it was designed specifically for them. You just don’t get that same effect through a Facebook post or a newsletter.

With consumers being 10x more likely to use mobile coupons than traditional ones, SMS offers become more than personal. They become profitable. Sending a pointed text promo for an item your customer has been eyeing online is just the reminder needed. It shows patrons you know them. And when buyers feel seen, they’re more likely to come back with phone and coupon in hand.

2. Collect user reviews

personalized sms messaging

User reviews can make the difference between a successful business and a failed one. Think about it: you’re more likely to trust a stranger’s opinion than a critic’s. But if you’re running a business, you want to make sure you get as many positive reviews as possible.

After the customer buys from your brand, follow up by asking for a review. You only need to ask politely for a few seconds of their time. A simple: “if you enjoyed your meal, please leave us a positive review on Yelp!”, should do the trick.

Reviews are an important way to gauge your business performance. Even if you end up getting a negative review, use text messages to reach out to the customer and make amends. Offer a discount. Replace the product for free. Create a relationship with the customer that drives them to change their review to a positive one.

Seeing as 97% of consumers read online reviews, swift response and recompense is necessary. Through the personalization of SMS, a jilted customer suddenly feels heard and taken care of. If your customer service is attentive, personal, and quick, customers are more willing to give second chances.

3. Send invitations to local events

Fundraisers, farmers markets, galas, and other local events can suffer from low attendance. Even with cold calls, flyers, and repeated emails, guests tend to forget about the event.

Send messages instead. With SMS having a response rate of 45% compared to email’s 6%, SMS marketing can ensure a greater turnout. Besides blasting an initial save the date, you can schedule follow-ups to go out before the start of the event through any number of calendar plugins. So if you were to have a fundraiser on a Thursday, you can schedule a message to go out Wednesday evening.

RSVP via email or web link can be cumbersome, but when you make it as easy as replying to a text message, people are more likely to come. On one hand, receiving a text message feels very personal. On the other hand, you’ll be facing far less “competition” with other event marketers by using SMS.

This is exactly what SAWA-Australia did for their events. The non-profit organization provides women in Afghanistan with education and health services. But achieving high event attendance was difficult with high overhead. With SMS, they were able to notify supporters and guarantee read receipts. Since SMS marketing, their attendance has increased, as well as online raffle sales.

4. Create polls

If you really want to learn about your business’ audience, conduct a poll. Visualizing the habits, personalities, and preferences of your customers can be invaluable. Just make sure you ask the right questions.

Ask about their buying habits. Ask about products or items they would like to see next. Over time, you can develop a profile of your audience from their responses.

SMS marketing isn’t what people thought of it ten, even five years ago. Today, SMS marketing represents the fundamental shift of people’s expectations in marketing communication. While in the past, mass advertising was the norm, these days, personalization is key. Which is why 31% of consumers will respond to an SMS survey within 5 minutes, on average. That’s something you just can’t achieve in an email or cold call.

Once you have the data from your customers, you can better understand how to meet their needs. Which is exactly what Amasty’s Customer Attributes in conjunction with other website analytics (like google analytics) aim to help with. In collecting and filing customer data, they are able to generate reports on consumers and guide you in their habits. Which allows you to focus on using that data to intentionally SMS customers with other products you know they’ll like.

5. Geofence updates

geofence sms messages

Ever notice how sometimes businesses will send you a notification when you walk past their store or restaurant? That’s geofencing, creating a radius on a GPS point and activating an alert or message when customers step inside.

For example, let’s say you run a bookstore. When your customers pass by your store, you can send them a notification to stop by and check out your latest sales offer, or remind them of some new arrivals. Since the customer is already within range, they’re more likely to respond to the notification than if they were back at home. That’s why geofencing is such an effective way to let your presence known to customers.

Of course, geofencing is an opt-in feature, meaning customers must agree to receive notifications based on their location. While not everyone will be comfortable with using geofences, you shouldn’t shy away from asking anyway. In one study, 47 percent said they wanted retailers to send coupons when they’re near a store.

Get creative with geofences— remind customers of previous purchases to suggest new products, or bring awareness to an upcoming event, or even offer a limited time geofence discount. Customers will appreciate the option… and the convenience.

Final Thoughts

Local businesses of all sizes can benefit from text messaging to drive growth. It’s proven to be one of the most effective ways of reaching customers and this fact won’t change any time soon. It’s also important to note that the strategies covered in this article are by no means the only ones available. A big part of driving growth to any business is adopting an experimentation mindset. Local businesses need to be open to testing new ideas regularly and getting feedback from their customers. In the long run, this will lead to a deeper understanding of their audience’s needs and wants. It will also help improve the results of each text message marketing campaign and help attract new customers.

Charles has been building and promoting websites and services in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and China for nearly 20 years.

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