As a business owner, it’s little surprise that repeat customers are your biggest asset. If you promote your business using some type of loyalty program, your chances of bringing them back into your business again and again can rise by as much as 75 percent.
But how do you bring them back? What’s the best method? How do you initiate a powerful program that’s easy to operate, engages your customers every step of the way?
For many, the answer has always involved an email address sign-up. Once you have that in place, you can follow up with emailed newsletters, coupons and promotions whenever you desire. And while that method has worked well in the past, you may be losing out on valuable repeat visitors.
SMS marketing – or text message marketing – is a relatively new entry into the marketing world. But it’s already gaining traction as a more effective way to connect with potential customers and get them to engage with your brand.
Let’s start with the initial opt-in. Your first goal with any loyalty program is to bring the customer on board. You have to give them a reason to want to connect with you. Depending on your business model, email can often be a difficult process, especially for brick and mortar businesses where face to face contact is involved. It’s not practical to ask for an email, enter it later into a system, or request your customer login at a later date to sign up for themselves.
SMS opt-in is an easier process. It requires minimal effort on your customers’ part, and it’s a simple task they can do immediately any time, anywhere. Simply ask them to text a keyword to your short 5 digit code (i.e. text REWARDS to 55555).
SMS is not just limited to mobile number databases, however. SMS can also be an easy way to drive app downloads too.
Email tends to be old-school. And as such, has a low open rate, with studies showing only 22 percent of all emails sent are ever opened. For SMS marketing, however, the rates are much higher, with open rates moving high into the 90 percent range and above for content that is both opened and read.
It’s not hard to see why. Every day our email boxes are flooded with all kinds os spam and unimportant information. Chances are you have more than one email account, which means your emails can quickly grow into the hundreds every day. And most people sign up for a variety of newsletters and coupons for their favorite brands, so you’re in competition with many different competitors every day.
Furthermore, these emails are sorted into spam or promotions folders, away from the inbox. Which means a person has to head to another place even to see your content.
With SMS marketing, the campaign goes straight to your recipient’s device. In most cases, the user is going to be notified by a vibration or sound that lets them know a message has arrived. The messages are more direct and less likely to be lost in a flood of media. This means every message has a better chance of being seen and being acted upon.
After building your list with potential customers, getting them to respond is your final goal. You need to give people a reason to come back a second/third and so-on time.
We already know that SMS subscribers tend to engage with SMS marketing on a much more frequent basis than email subscribers engage with email campaigns. But there’s more. Not only are SMS messages more likely to be read, but people are also more likely to read them within seconds of receiving them. That means it’s a perfect way to bring your message to potential customers at very specific times of the day.
Restaurants, for example, don’t have to rely on customers opening up emails at their desks, they can utilize SMS marketing campaigns at specific times of the day – a little before lunch or dinner rush hours – to tempt their customers with special incentives. If you’re having a particularly slow day, a quick incentive for specials on drinks and entrees can entice people to choose you over your competition.
People are also more likely to keep their phones within arms reach and have the potential to receive offers almost all hours of the day. Email requires them to be on their computers, or login to a special app on their phone. It takes conscious effort. SMS marketing gets the message through without all the red tape.
Because they work different, email and SMS marketing work best using different campaign strategies.
With email marketing, open rates mostly increase with the more emails you send. Because people use the delete key with frequency, timing is everything. They can delete when they’re busy, when they have too many emails in the inbox, or because they’re getting ready to close down for the day. In short, they delete “just because” in many cases. Sending more emails is the only way to gain leverage, and therefore email messages are often sent again and again. Sometimes one a day. Sometimes more. Sending more emails helps to build a sense of brand familiarity and to get your messages noticed as they come through with a crowd of emails.
With SMS marketing, a smaller, more carefully crafted group of messages is generally better. Overwhelm is never practiced because most campaigns get through to the intended viewer. And because they open them almost immediately, carefully sending them can have the greatest impact.
Have you thought about switching from email marketing to SMS marketing? Want to know the best way to proceed? We can help.