April 3rd, 2015

Rules for Text Messaging

While text messaging seems like a casual medium, there are very serious consequences if you don’t follow the rules. In fact, you can be sued for up to $1,500 per text!

Who has the power to govern your program and what are the rules for compliance? Read on for a breakdown.

Governance, Guidance and Best Practices

Overall, there are 3 industry groups involved:

  • The FCC regulates SMS programs under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) which limits solicitations by phone. Text message marketers can be sued (and have been) under the TCPA. In fact, big companies like Facebook, American Eagle and eBay are currently facing lawsuits.
  • The CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) is a trade association of wireless carriers, including AT&T, Sprint and others. It publishes guidelines for SMS and while it doesn’t have legal authority, it can report your program to the carriers, which can, in turn, suspend your account.
  • The MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) is also a trade association. It offers marketing best practices for SMS and publishes documents to help marketers optimize their mobile programs.

Rules for Communicating by Text

There are some very strict guidelines you must follow when sending marketing messages by text. Here are some simple tips to help you avoid any violations:

Make the consumer opt in
Whether they sign up by text or web form, consumers must opt in. If you’re using a web form, follow it up with text asking the customer to confirm their opt in. This ensures the consumer does in fact want to receive your messages and that someone else didn’t enter their number by mistake.

Include required disclosures
There are some key pieces of information you need to include when you advertise the program and BEFORE a consumer opts in. They are:

  • Business name
  • Program name (or the keyword for the program)
  • Frequency of messages (Ex: “up to 4 messages a month”)
  • A disclosure that “data and messaging rates may apply.”
  • A notice of written consent: “By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an auto phone dialing system.”
  • Confirmation that “no purchase is necessary.”

Tell them how to opt out
You must also tell the consumer how to opt out. Ex: “Text STOP to stop.”

Link to your terms and conditions, privacy policy and/or rules.

An example message could look like this…

Get $5 off your next purchase at Acme Sporting Goods!
To sign up for this and other discounts and alerts, text ACME to 65047.

Message & data rates may apply. Up to 4 messages a month. Text STOP to stop. No purchase necessary. You consent to receive autodialed text messages from Acme Sporting Goods. See privacy/rules at www.acme.com/mobilerules

Keep in mind also that text messages are not allowed to be sent outside the hours of 8 am and 9 pm—in the consumer’s time zone, not yours.

Following these rules is a small price to pay to reach your customers on a powerful platform and the device they attend to the most… their mobile phones!

Contact us for help with your text message marketing compliance.






March 9th, 2015

Best Practices

Text message marketing can be extremely effective. However, there are a few guidelines that must be followed. They help you get the most return and make sure your program follows federal rules. When done well, a text message marketing campaign can yield fantastic results. To make the most of your text message campaign, here are best practices.

  1. Stay professional
    While it may be tempting to use texting shorthand or abbreviations it’s best to avoid them (think ‘u’ instead of ‘you’) and  only use regular abbreviations when necessary to save space (“exp.” instead of “expire,” for example). Your brand’s message should still be a professionally crafted message. Also, brevity is key – do not try to fill all 160 characters if you don’t need to.
  2. Make it easy
    Opting in (or out) of any text message campaign should be easy for the user. Keeping codes short, or asking the user to text a number should be something short. Pro tip: the best way to get a large number of entries on your list is to host a sweepstakes. Keep it short and easy to get the biggest number of entries!
  3. Plan what, then when
    It’s important for these text messages to come at a time that will not seem intrusive to the client. Acceptable hours for your text to go out should be business hours, around 9 am – 6 pm. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a client’s personal phone and to be respectful of it.
  4. Comply with the TCPA
    The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was made to protect the very people you are trying to market to. To avoid any legal issues, make sure that everyone on your mobile list has opted into receiving messages from you. There are also certain messages that should be included in your opt-in language (“Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to stop. You provide consent to receive autodialed text messages.”)

These tips will  help improve customer response and ensure a successful campaign.






February 23rd, 2015

Mobile coupons from top retailers

Have you used mobile coupons for your business? Top retailers are sending them as often as once a week.

Whether you offer discounts weekly or monthly, there are plenty of opportunities to get your customers in the door. Best of all, these opportunities are only a click or text away.

All a consumer needs to do to sign up is text a word to a short code (a 5 or 6-digit number) and they’ll opt in for coupon updates sent directly to their phones. To quit, they simply text “STOP” to the same number.

Here are mobile coupon examples from top retailers:

1. Old Navy

Mobile coupon offer:  “Top off your long weekend with up to 50% off the entire store thru Mon., plus 50% off all fleece tops on Sat. only. Select styles, limit 5/person.”

 

2. Pet Supermarket

Text PETS to 65047 for pet deals and enter for a chance to win free pet food for a year!  Example coupon:  “We have treats, toys and gifts for furry family members. Plus get $5 off $25 or more w/ coupon 12420. Exp 12/21/14.”

Pets retailer text message coupon

3. Bed, Bath & Beyond

“Your mobile offer for 20% off 1 item in-store or online is here! [Link]”

 

4. Macy’s

Earn an extra 15% off by texting COUPON to 62297.

 

5. Target

Sign up online for mobile alerts such as this one: “Stock up for the Big Game with these Mobile Coupons! Click xxxx… Exp 2/4”

 

6. Family Dollar

Tell the cashier to use code 59409 and save $.50 on select Tylenol cold products.

 

7. Payless Shoe Store

Payless offers a 20% off coupon for texting PAYLESS to 747474.

 

8. Kohl’s

Enjoy 20% off at Kohls.com by texting SAVE02 to 56457.

 

9. Avenue Women’s Fashion

“Take $5 off any purchase of $20 or more in store or online. Use coupon code xxxxx in store or code xxxxx at avenue.com.  Expires in 10 days.” To sign up, text AVENUE to 40679.  (Also a Valentine’s Day coupon below.)

Mobile coupon

10. JoAnn Fabrics

Text BEADS to 56266 (JOANN) to receive 20% off a purchase, plus five more coupons a month.

 






February 10th, 2015

Amazon Giveaway: Good or bad tool for marketers?

One of the biggest online retailers just got into the sweepstakes game today with Amazon Giveaway. And it looks like an attractive option. Running a sweepstakes involves a bit of work after all. There are entry forms to create, rules to write, prizes to ship out and even tax issues to handle.

Amazon handles most of that. So we can see why a self-service tool like this will appeal to “everyone from authors, aspiring artists, non-profits, brands, bloggers, social media gurus and more.”

But if you’re a brand marketer or have your own business, there are a few cons to consider as well. First, let’s go over how it works…

How it Works

  1. Select a prize on Amazon and pay for it.
  2. Use the wizard to set up the sweepstakes.
  3. Get a link you can share by email or on social media.
  4. Entrants click and log in to Amazon to enter (they must have an account).
  5. Entry is an easy instant-win process.
  6. Amazon notifies the winner, ships the prize & handles tax reporting.

A look at how it works

Sounds easy right? But there’s more to consider. Here are the pros and cons to using Amazon Giveaways for your sweepstakes:

PROS

  • Easy to set up
    You can leave most of the work up to Amazon, including entry setup, (some) rule requirements, winner notification, prize fulfillment and tax reporting.
  • Easy to enter
    It’s as easy as logging in and clicking two times to find out if you’re an instant winner.
  • More than a million prizes to choose from
    Electronics, books, home appliances… you name it, Amazon probably has it.
  • Option to build your Twitter following
    You can build in an option asking entrants to follow your Twitter account. This could help you grow your Twitter following obviously (a tweet doesn’t seem required though).

 

CONS

  • Who entered? You won’t know
    This is the biggest drawback of using the tool: you won’t know who entered. Sure, you’ll find out who won and may get a boost in Twitter followers, but that’s about it. As marketers, we all want to gather information from entrants (email or perhaps other details), but with Amazon Giveaway this is not an option. Per our contact with the company, all you’ll get is the winner’s name and address.
  • Website traffic? Yes, to Amazon
    Having the entry on Amazon means your prospects or customers will be visiting the big A’s site, not yours. Remember, all you’re getting is a link to the giveaway. We suppose you could set up a landing page or blog post to post the link on your site, but all your traffic will leave and will surely get hooked into wandering around this behemoth’s site, rather than your own. (The thank you page doesn’t link back to your site, in case you’re wondering.)
  • Official Rules are still your responsibility
    Some of the legal aspects are handled in the setup. For example, the overall prize value can’t exceed $5,000 (otherwise, you’d have to file a surety bond in certain states). This is helpful, but you’ll still need to create Official Rules for your sweepstakes and host them on your site.
  • Brand-centric or high end prizes are ruled out
    Yes, there are more than a million products to choose from, but there are still limits. You won’t be able to offer your own merchandise (unless it’s available on Amazon), gift cards to your store/site or items excluded by Amazon such as digital songs, movies or apps, along with Marketplace items (sold by third party vendors). Trips, cars and other luxury goods are also ruled out.

 

Longer-term benefits are missing

This tool will be great for Amazon’s business, but won’t give you all of the benefits of a good sweepstakes—especially, the ability to contact entrants after the promotion. You’ll get a temporary buzz boost, extra Twitter fans and the goodwill of offering a free prize, but the longer term benefits are missing.

Overall, Amazon Giveaway is a great option if you’re not worried about building your email (or mobile) list or don’t want the means to further contact entrants . But, for us as marketers, we consider that a primary goal.

Visit the site to try the tool for yourself.






February 2nd, 2015

Mobile coupons beat paper in redemption

The days of clipping coupons from the weekly ad will soon be coming to a close. More than 75% of shoppers have redeemed a mobile coupon from their smartphones and that number is expected to rise.

Our clients have seen an increase in mobile coupon redemption of 7% to 12%. Compare that to the average 1% to 2% redemption for paper coupons. Since mobile coupons are so easy to sign up for and use, it’s plain to see how they’ve become so popular.

Another reason for its adoption is smartphone use. Smartphone users are typically highly engaged users, used to having a wealth of information at their fingertips. For a whopping 59% of these consumers, digital coupons influence their purchasing decisions.

What does this mean for you?

Not only does a mobile coupon increase the likelihood a user will buy your product, it also lets you continue to market to repeat buyers. You have the potential to increase the number of visits and the average sale as well.

Even for products consumers haven’t tried, mobile coupons are effective. As reported by Forrester Consulting, 47% of consumers are likely to try a new brand when receiving a coupon on their smartphone while shopping in-store.

While traditional forms of marketing, such as print and mass mailers, do have their place, mobile coupons will play a key role. Many large retailers have already introduced digital coupons as part of their promotional campaigns.

This trend won’t be slowing anytime soon, either. Per Juniper Research, mobile coupon users are expected to top 1 billion by 2019.

With more consumers using coupons than ever, it only makes sense to go mobile with your coupons. They allow you to connect directly with the consumer in a way that’s immediate and personal—you’re communicating on their mobile phones, after all.






January 13th, 2015

As industry insiders, we’ve been immersed in predictions of mobile marketing’s rise to prominence for years. If you’re a marketer, you might even be tired of hearing them. But they’re no longer foresights of the future. They’re the insights of today.

Take a look at these mobile marketing quotes from experts and ask yourself if you’re ready to make your move in mobile.

Mobile Marketing Quotes for 2015

“If your plans don’t include mobile, your plans are not finished.” - Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola

Mobile quote by Wendy Clark

 

“The trend has been mobile was winning. It’s now won.” Eric Schmidt, Google (2014)

Mobile quote by Eric Schmidt, Google

 

“Mobile is a lot closer to TV than it is to desktop.” - Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Mobile marketing quote by Mark Zuckerberg

 

“Mobile is not the future, it is the now. Meet your customers in the environment of their choice, not where it’s convenient for you.” - Cyndie Shaffstall, Spider Trainers

Marketing quote on mobile environment

 

“The future of mobile is the future of online. It is how people access online content now.” - David Murphy, Mobile Marketing Magazine

The future of mobile

 

For a little humor…  ”I want to be buried with a mobile phone, just in case I’m not dead.” - Amanda Holden

A little mobile humor

 

“2015 will be the year of “mobile-first.” Get it to work on mobile first and let all other platforms follow. We’ll all be sick of hearing it by the end of the year.” - John Fox, Venture Marketing

2015: The year of mobile first

 

“SMS text messaging has proven its marketing value in reaching consumers at scale.” – Marcos Menendez, Momares Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing quote by Marcos Menendez

 

“We still see most of our clients cramming PC experiences onto phones when they should be thinking in terms of mobile moments instead.” - Julie A. Ask, Forrester Research

Mobile moments by Forrester Research

 

Forrester estimates that less than 4% of businesses are ready to take advantage of opportunities presented by mobile. Julie Ask, an analyst, outlines a few good strategies to get started in this article in Media Post.

Beside Julie Ask’s quote, most of these statements were made during the Mobile Retail Summit.






December 19th, 2014

Comparing Email to Text Message Marketing

Some say email is dead. We don’t agree. It’s still an effective channel, but high growth is happening in text message marketing. Consider that text messaging has advanced at a rate of more than 25 times the advancement rate of email.

If you want to appeal to millennials and stay on top of current strategies, text message marketing is worth a try. Here’s a look at how it compares to email marketing and why it’s something you need to consider if you want to grow your business.

 

Text Messaging vs Email

  • On average, an email is not read until approximately 6 hours after it’s sent. In contrast, a text message is typically read within 14 minutes of being sent. That’s a pretty big difference.
  • The average person spends only about 20 minutes a day checking their emails. Compare that to the 16 hours a day the average person spends on his or her mobile phone.
  • Consumers are far more likely to redeem coupons they receive via text messages than those they receive via email. In fact, it’s estimated that about 1% of consumers redeem email coupons, while 15-30% redeem text coupons.

These statistics are pretty clear, but we’re not suggesting you write off email marketing all together. In fact, using them together can create a powerful combination.

 

Text Messaging and Email: A Powerful Marketing Combination

Text messaging and email marketing can provide a 1-2 punch. In fact, if you use them side-by-side, you’ll reach your targeted audience in a truly meaningful and highly effective way.

Here are some tips that can help you use the two together:

  • Send coupons or discount codes by email AND text. Customers can choose their preferred method and you’ll get a higher redemption rate.
  • Create instant redemption opportunities in store. (“Text CUPOFJOE to get a discount for signing up”)
  • Use text message to build both your mobile and email lists. With the use of smartphones, it’s easy to text a link to a web form to get emails as well.
  • Use email for longer messages to build branding or promote products or services.
  • Opt for text to send short messages about sales, promotions, events and timely information.

The long-and-short of it is this: If you want to get the most out of your marketing efforts, synching email and text message marketing is a must. 






December 9th, 2014

Build customer retention and loyalty with text message marketing.

Building a loyal customer base is a top priority. After all, it is these loyal customers who are going to keep bringing in business.

While there are tons of ways to increase customer loyalty, one is proving to be extremely effective: text message marketing.

If you aren’t yet taking advantage of this, it’s time to start using it to build a repeat customer base. Here’s a look at why it’s so effective.

90% of Text Messages are Read Within Minutes

It’s estimated that nearly half of all American adults have a smartphone and 90% of the text messages that are sent to those phones are read within three minutes of delivery.

Think about it… when you get a text, you usually read it soon after, right? With text messaging, not only can you stay in constant contact with your customers, you can also offer on-the-spot promotions that are good that day or within the next few days.

Promotions “On the Fly” or On Schedule

Is traffic at your store slower than expected ? We can send a text offering a special deal that day. Were you left with excess inventory on a specific item?  Offer a discount to boost sales and help clear it off the shelves. With text, you have immediacy and “on-the-fly” scheduling options.

While we usually set clients up with a consistent schedule of text messages, there’s also an advantage to being able to respond to events or situations with immediate messages. And your customers will love the extra deals and promotions.

Learn More About Your Customer

Get answers to surveys and on forms that will tell you more about your customers. You can ask for their date of birth, location, email and any other information that will help you serve them better.

High Conversions

Customers sign up because they want to hear from your business. When they hear from you consistently, whether it’s with discounts, information or contests, they’ll usually act on it. It’s been our experience that text messages generate a higher conversion rate than email, advertising and other forms of communication. In fact, one of our retail clients counts on getting thousands of dollars in sales after each text.

It Works in Conjunction with Your Email Marketing Campaign

Text messaging and email marketing are like a one-two marketing punch for your business.

Given the fact that an estimated 43% of consumers access their emails from their mobile, adding text messaging to the mix can really step up your marketing strategy. It can increase your reach, while boosting customer loyalty.

Things to Remember

There are a few things to remember when adding text messaging to your marketing mix. These include:

  • Text messaging is permission-based. Like email, subscribers must opt-in and give you permission to text them. The best way to do this is to have them subscribe themselves by texting a keyword to your personalized short code.
  • You have a limited amount of characters to work with; 160 characters, to be exact. This forces you to get right to the point!
  • Use a very clear call to action. The easier it is for your audience to understand what they will gain, the better. A great example is “Text PETS to 65047 to get special deals and a chance to win free pet food!”

With this info in mind, what are you waiting for? Add text messaging to your marketing campaign and watch your loyal customer base grow!

 






December 2nd, 2014

SMS-text-message-marketing

If you haven’t jumped on SMS marketing opportunities, you’re likely to miss out on a lot of business. Seriously.

Here’s a look at why SMS marketing is worth including in your marketing budget for 2015.

SMS Texts are Read at the Speed of Light

Well, maybe not THAT fast, but pretty darn fast. In fact, 90% of all SMS text messages are read within 3 minutes of being sent. Emails? They’re usually opened within 2 DAYS. So, yeah, if you’re sending SMS texts, you can be sure your customers will be reading them pretty quickly. In fact, there is no other channel that is as fast for connecting and converting customers as this one.

SMS is Read WAY More Than Email

People are far more likely to open and read the SMS text messages they receive than they are to open emails. Actually, SMS has an open rate of 98%, compared to email, which has an open rate of just 22%. A pretty big difference, don’t you think?

More Mobile Offers Redeemed

Offers that are made via mobile devices are redeemed much more than print offers; an astounding 10 times more. The simple fact is it’s much easier for someone to pull up a coupon on their phone. There are no worries about printing the coupon or bringing it with them.

Consumers Shop More as a Result of SMS Marketing

It’s estimated that 2/3, or 60%, of all consumers who have subscribed to mobile marketing have purchased something because of a mobile message they’ve received. That’s no small potatoes in terms of conversions.

You Own Your List… Not Facebook

The beauty of SMS marketing is that you own your customer database and have full access to it. You’re not restricted by Facebook algorithms or filters and you’re not one of a thousand messages in a Twitter stream. It’s like email only better.

Did this light enough of a fire under you to try SMS marketing? If you’re still not convinced, call 305-505-5393 or contact us to find out how it can bring in sales for you specifically.






November 21st, 2014

Mobile Text SMS Marketing for  Retail ShoppingHalloween is behind us, and it’s just about time to put the turkey and all the trimmings on the table – which means that the biggest shopping season of the year is upon us. Once that turkey is cleared from the table, shoppers are going to start pulling out the circulars that advertise those tempting deep Black Friday discounts, and they’re going to start gearing up for shopping.

Customers  will want to see your offers on their mobile phone… as long as it’s visible and easy to find. Customers aren’t going to spend time searching for your circular. You have to send it and make it easy for them to read it on their phone. The best way to do so is create a mobile-friendly version of your sales flyers and deliver it to them via text message. As soon as your new sales flyer is published, it’s delivered directly to their mobile by (SMS) text. Ask us how.

Not all shoppers are keen on the idea of standing on long lines and being involved in a stampede of shoppers; and thanks to their ever-convenient mobile devices, they don’t have to.

If you’re a retail owner, it’s a sure bet that you want to do all that you can to increase your sales this holiday season, which means you’re going to want to take appeal to those mobile shoppers. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, if you haven’t already done so, you’re going to want to focus a lot of your energy on your mobile marketing.

Adweek recently published an analysis of the mobile shopping trends for 2014 holiday shopping season. Here’s a look at some of the startling statistics that prove you need to focus on your customers mobile shopping experience.

HUGE Mobile Shopping Month

It’s estimated that 27 percent of the total retail sales that are made via mobile devices will be done during the months of November and December.

Black Friday Boost

Black Friday is expected to be an ever-growing mobile shopping day. In fact, it is predicted that in 2014, this will be the biggest mobile shopping day of the year, with an estimated $2.48 billion spent on digital purchases. That’s a 28 percent increase over last year’s digital sales.

Super Cyber Monday

In 2014, digital sales made on Cyber Monday are also going to increase. In fact, it is expected that they will increase by 15 percent over last year, with a $2.48 billion increase.

More Shopping on Thanksgiving

With the convenience of mobile devices, shoppers don’t have to leave their homes to shop – they can start shopping right at their Thanksgiving dinner table. In fact, in 2014, an estimated $1.35 billion will be spent on digital shopping. These are record numbers for Thanksgiving shopping, with a 27 percent increase over last year.

While not all consumers shop from their mobile devices, and there are still those who prefer to hit the stores, with predicted statistics like the ones above, you simply have to make every effort to make your customers mobile shopping experience a positive one if you want to get the most out of this holiday shopping season.