Text Message Marketing Best Practices for Building Customer Loyalty Through Text Subscription
We are in an era where marketing campaigns are increasingly adding Text (SMS) Message Marketing as a channel to gain customers. However, its misuse is getting a lot of companies into legal trouble. Take the recent case of Papa John’s – The pizza chain is facing a $250 million class-action lawsuit for allegedly spamming customers with hundreds of thousands of illegal text messages. The lawsuit contends that Papa John’s violated state and federal law by sending out 500,000 unwanted text messages advertising the chain’s products. The messages, sent out to customers through mass texting service OnTime4U, offered deals on Papa John’s pizza without the customers’ consent!
1. The number 1 rule – Text Message (SMS) Marketing is permission based. Usually, customers join your text marketing list by texting in a keyword to a number, where their number is captured. By doing so they give you permission to send them messages. Sending unsolicited messages can land your business in hot water.
2. The first message you send out should be an acknowledgment that they have signed up. Which brings us to rule number 2 – Each outgoing message must contain instructions on how subscribers can opt-out. Example: Reply ‘STOP’ to unsubscribe. Example: Thank you for joining text VIP club. You will receive offers and information periodically. Msg&data rates may apply. To opt-out text STOP. Again, welcome!
3. Text Message Marketing is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There are some heavy penalties including hefty fines and getting banned for sending messages that are considered spam. Examples – sending too many messages, sending messages at odd hours, sending messages to people who have not given their consent, over aggressive tactics and harassment.
4. Vet your text message vendor/provider. Ask them what their best practices are. What is their customer service like? What steps do they take to ensure data security? How are you protected from them spamming your customers? Detail your expectations and message delivery policies.
5. Make it easy to join and stay in the text club. Don’t make customers jump through hoops to join. Make it free to join by simply texting in or scanning a barcode.
- To begin building your subscriber list: Add your “Text to Join” message on flyers, box toppers, combine with your other marketing efforts (e-newsletter, direct mail, radio, etc), post on website and social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), pass out business cards with Text to Join, add text tag to receipts, create a staff contest, etc. Later you can add a viral “Text to Join” campaign through your subscribers.
6. Offer clear benefits.
- Entice customers to join by offering exclusive offers to text subscribers only. This also way you can test and see which offers guests respond to as well as track the results of your text marketing efforts. Exclusivity is an incentive which makes people feel more special; otherwise why join if it’s available to everybody?
- Offer incentives that people value and feel encouraged to join and stay on the list. “Buy one, Get One,” “Dollar Amount Off,” “Free” are the three highest converting offers for mobile marketing.
- If customers are earning rewards, make it easy to reach the required points otherwise they give up.
7. Remember most cell phones have a character limit of 160 characters (spaces included) per message. Going over generates a second message – a sure way to upset your subscribers.
8. Set a limit on your offers. Rewarding your text subscribers with great offers is crucial to an effective text marketing campaign. Be careful, however, not to inundate your subscribers with too many offers. The highest redemption rates result from offers sent no more than 5 times a month. This way, when a subscriber misses an offer, they don’t assume that another offer is just around the corner. When businesses extend offers too often, the offers begin to lose their value and customers increasingly choose to opt out.
9. Plan ahead. The most efficient and effective messages and campaigns are well thought out and then pre-scheduled. Think about upcoming specials/events, holidays, slowest business days or hours, etc.
10. Besides being mindful of legal issues your customer service reputation is on the line. Communicate and keep your staff informed about your text message marketing campaigns. Let your employees know the specific terms of the offer and have a plan on how to handle complex queries. You don’t want them to be caught off guard when customers claim their offers.
11. 97% of phones in consumers’ hands are text capable, not just smart phones. Text messaging can be using for other purposes besides marketing. It is one of the fastest ways to broadcast important information – use it wisely!