Did you know that every business has quick and easy access to a powerful communications channel that can reach almost all of its customers? Mobile marketing and specifically SMS is still one of the most effective ways that small companies can use to grow their businesses.
Here are some guidelines for setting up an effective mobile communication programme for your business:
1. Keep it in the family
Outgoing SMS is better for communicating with your existing clients, so don’t try to use it to ‘cold call’. This is not effective and creates a negative perception with your potential clients. People have learnt to live with email spam, but SMS spam is very badly received.
Use SMS to share news of special offers, and new products and services with your existing customers. Get permission to SMS them and find out what they are interested in hearing about or what information they need from you.
2. Keep it short
You can use SMS to convert pretty much anything – packaging, billboards, fliers, TV and radio ads – into an interactive communication tool. Using a shortcode and a range of keywords is more practical than a regular length number, but too many small companies think shortcodes are complicated, expensive and only for big companies.
Using a bulk SMS aggregator will take care of all these complexities, is affordable, and should include a management tool for you to easily manage your databases and communications.
This management tool will allow you set up your keywords, and even double keywords to route messages correctly. You can also setup auto-responses and confirmation messages as appropriate. To use this tool, you don’t need to be a programmer, but a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) will allow customers to design their own campaigns and add additional interactivity.
3. Reach more people
South Africa has more than 100% cell phone penetration. While this doesn’t mean that every man, woman and child owns a cell phone, it does make it likely that most of your customers have access to SMS as opposed to email or even a fixed address. This makes SMS the best way to reach as many of your customers as possible, in the most affordable and effective way.
4. Don’t interrupt
Like with any conversation, an ongoing chat allows you to build a relationship and add value, while rudely interrupting someone is seldom well received. So don’t just SMS special offers and other promos to your database out of the blue, rather develop an ongoing conversation with them by sharing useful – and requested – information by SMS, and interspersing this with special offers.
Everyone is different, of course, and with SMS you can personalise your communication according to your customers’ preferences. As well as being more effective, you will also be rewarding your most loyal customers, rather than one-off visitors.
5. Be invited
As mentioned, SMS is far more effective when communicating with existing customers, so make sure you set up a system where you capture customers’ details to build your database.
At the point of capturing the cell phone number – whether in-store, via shortcode, or any other way – make it clear to the customer how you will use their number and how they can opt out of the SMS communications. Checking your customer’s preferences makes it more likely that they will sign up and stay signed up, and also means you don’t send SMSs unnecessarily.
Respect privacy and avoid the temptation of jumpstarting your database with a bought list – it is highly unlikely that the seller will have permission to pass on the details, resulting in your communications being wasted at best, and annoying and illegal at worst.