How to Use SMS Messaging to Engage With Your Customers

08/16/2017 08:59 am ET

By Kalin Kassabov

As mobile devices become ever more popular, it makes sense for businesses to think of mobile marketing as a way to engage with customers. If you have a small business, you may have wondered how you can best take advantage of the mobile revolution. As someone who's been in the business of SMS marketing since its early days, I know from experience that it's one of the best opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers. I work with clients in many different industries, including restaurants, salons, retail stores, nonprofits and many others. I teach them how to incorporate SMS seamlessly into all of their marketing efforts. 

While many digital marketing agencies focus on areas such as SEO, social media and email marketing, text messaging is much more immediate. It's a technology that almost everyone uses today and it's completely integrated into our everyday lives.  People today are tethered to their phones. Pew Research Center reports that 95 percent of Americans now own cell phones and many take them everywhere. You can no longer go anywhere where people aren't compulsively checking their phones and texting.

One of the main benefits of SMS is that your messages are actually opened and read. If you post something on Facebook or Twitter, there's a good chance your followers will miss it among all the other posts. Marketing emails are rarely opened. Text messages, on the other hand, are in most cases read, making it the most reliable and direct way to reach your audience. Here are some of the ways that SMS messaging can be used to engage with your customers.

  • Tell customers about sales, products and special offers. For example, some of my clients are restaurants that use text messaging to send customers coupons and tell them about the latest menu items and specials. Retails stores such as boutiques inform customers about sales. Salons and spas promote packages and special offers via text. Offers can also be segmented so that people learn about just the type of service they're most interested in. 
  • Remind customers of appointments. Another important service my clients provide via SMS is sending out appointment reminders. This is used by all kinds of medical offices (doctors, dentists, veterinarians, etc.) as well as salons, auto mechanics and many other businesses where customers book appointments. This isn't only convenient for customers; it helps to cut down on missed appointments. 
  • Increase attendance for events. When you're promoting an event, it's important that people get the information in a timely manner. The vast majority of recipients open text messages within three minutes of receiving them. This makes it ideal for promoting events that are time-sensitive. Some of my clients that do this include comedy clubs, event venues and nonprofit organizations setting up fundraisers.
  • Make SMS part of your multi-channel marketing. People today communicate on many channels and platforms. That's why I always advise my clients not to view text messaging as an alternative to other promotional efforts, but as an integral part of a multi-channel marketing approach. With text messages, you can send people to your website, social media pages or opt-in page for your email list.
  • Learn more about your customers. Collecting data and learning all about your customers' needs and preferences helps you become more successful. Text messages are one of the most effective ways to gather information. It's easy to send out polls, surveys and random questions to people. Ask them which style, flavor, service or product they prefer. My clients that use SMS for data-gathering purposes, aside from many types of businesses, include political organizations that thrive on accurate data.

These are some of the ways that SMS or text message marketing can be such an effective way to engage with your customers. It's a method you can customize to your own needs -- it's just a matter of identifying how text messaging helps you to fulfill the unique needs of your customers or members.

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Kalin Kassabov is a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise level text message suite of services.

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