Probably the last thing you want to hear about is yet another way you should be doing to market to your customers, clients, and potential targets. No doubt your hands are already rather full, watching over SEO, keeping track of your social media marketing plan, and making sure that your are keeping a website that is up to date and optimized according to all of the latest search engine requirements.
SMS marketing is targeting something of a different audience though, and a section of your consumer base that it is expanding every day, whatever type of business you run -whether you sell cupcakes in Cleveland or serve as a social security lawyer in Knoxville, -those who live by (and swear that would die without) their cell phone.
SMS – which is an acronym for Short Message Service – is based around a technology that is far from new, text messaging. People have been sending text messages since the days when most cell phones had tiny little screens, pixelated 8 bit graphics (if they had that capability at all) and just one game (usually Solitaire or Minesweeper).
However, even though the average smartphone is now more like a minicomputer/entertainment system that also happens to offer the ability to make a phone call, a great many people still text and text a lot. For some people it is simply more convenient than making a call and for a great many others it is a matter of saving the precious minute on their data plan.
The first people to have great success with SMS were the big Fortune 500 companies. Now, more and more small business owners are turning to SMS as well, as they realize that they really do need a way to market specifically to the mobile crowd, but a way that will not break the bank.
Using SMS Messages as a Promotional Tool
So how can a simple text message become a great marketing tool? To get started, a business can run a simple, free promotion, on Facebook or Twitter, or even offline. This promotion will encourage people to text a simple word or number to another number (in the same way as they might vote for their favorite contestant on a reality show) but in this case by doing so they receive a perk. What that might be is up to you of course.
The advantage to the consumer is, of course, is that they get something cool in return for just sending a simple text. The benefits for the business owner can be even greater though. In addition to drumming up a bit more business, when a person responds to the offer they will be automatically opting into a mobile mailing list, one that the business can then use over and over again.
Getting Started in SMS
SMS is not one of those forms of business marketing that you can do completely on your own. A business will need to work with a service who will handle the actual collection and transmission of data. There are a growing number of such services and many offer package deals that are very reasonably priced.
Why Not Just Use QR Codes?
Some of you might be wondering why SMS marketing is something they should consider when they can create a basic QR code for free, and market to mobile users in that way.
There are a few basic reasons why QR codes may not be quite so successful. A QR code simply leads users to a certain website. in order for the company who created the QR code to actually capture their personal info they will still have to rely on that person to take the time to fill in a form of some sort. And many people simply do not have the patience to do so. Using a SMS message that information is shared right away, with no need for any further action or effort on the receiver's part, beyond sending the first text.
The second consideration is simply that SMS messages can reach a wider range of devices. In order to use a QR code, a person must be own a smartphone equipped with a camera. More people than you might think people, especially older people, still do not have that kind of phone, but they can receive a text message with ease, so SMS messages can reach them as well.
Then there is the lazy factor. QR codes require a special app to function, and a smartphone owner actually has to download and install such a thing. Then learn how it works. Many people simply cannot be bothered to do so. On the other hand, texting a five letter word? That's easy.