We just came across a great infographic at Intuit’s Small Business blog:
As adoption of mobile smart devices (smartphones, tablets, and so on) has accelerated with consumers, so has it among small businesses. More and more small businesses are now choosing to liberate their operations from the office desk and take advantage of the anytime, anywhere power of mobile. Today we take a look at how small businesses are relying on mobile technology. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.
We think they’ve overlooked text messaging, but still, it’s a neat graphic:
If you haven’t checked your Group Texting account in the last week login now to try out our newest feature – Sub-Keywords.
What’s a Sub-Keyword?
A Sub-Keyword is a second word that can be texted to our long code in addition to your Keyword in the format “Keyword Sub-Keyword.” You can create as many Sub-Keywords as you like per Keyword…and they’re absolutely free.
What Can I Do With Sub-Keywords?
Running voting and polling campaigns is easy with Sub-Keywords as each Sub-Keyword you create can have its own auto-response and can be be connected to different groups than its parent Keyword. If you have multiple locations, or are a real estate agency with multiple properties you can setup Sub-Keywords on your primary Keyword(s) for them.
Sending text message campaigns and building your list of contacts is the first step of any successful text message marketing campaign. What’s next? Analyzing and optimizing. We’re excited to announce a new set of tools that should help you do just that. Our new Reports module offers a number of stats that allow you to chart your messaging flows and contact growth.
The chart above is an example of incoming and outgoing messaging over a six month time period. It’s one of the five new reports available. Log in to your Group Texting account and check out the Reports tab under Advanced Features to see all of our charts. If you’ve been using Group Texting we’ve already charted all of your existing account data so you can dig right in.
As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, just get in touch with our support team.
Text message marketing is effective on its own; combine it with your social media marketing efforts and you can really take things to the next level. There are three great ways to integrate text messaging into your social media marketing campaigns. Let’s list them and then explore them in detail:
- Promote your text message marketing campaign’s ‘call-to-action’ via tweets and Facebook status updates.
- Add a signup form to your business’ Facebook page.
- Send text messages to your marketing list to promote your Facebook page and Twitter account.
Promoting Your Call-To-Action On Twitter And Facebook
The bigger your texting list, the more people you can market to. There are lots of great ways to build your list – and we cover them vertical by vertical in this series – and Facebook and Twitter are definitely on the list. Texting your Keyword to our long code is the easiest way for your customers to join your text message marketing list. We’ve created a fictional clothing store for this blog post called City Threads. You can try joining their list right now – here’s our call-to-action:
Text Threads to 760 670-3130 to join the Insider Savings Club. 15% off next order when you join!
Once you text the Keyword Threads to our long code you’ll be added to the Insider Savings Club (don’t worry – there is no actual Insider Savings Club) and you’ll receive a mobile coupon confirming your registration:
Thanks for joining the City Threads Insider Savings Club. Show this text to get 15% off your next purchase. Reply STOP Threads 2 Optout
Promoting your call-to-action on Twitter and Facebook is pretty straightforward – just tweet it or update your Facebook status.
Add A Signup Form To Your Facebook Page
In addition to our regular signup widgets for your website we have a custom tab that you can add to your Facebook page. When people fill out the form we’ll automatically add them to the Groups in your Group Texting account of your choosing. Groups allow you to segment your text message marketing list. You can add contacts to multiple groups or not use Groups at all. Check out the signup tab:
Use Your Text Message Marketing List To Promote Your Facebook & Twitter Accounts
Text message marketing is extremely effective because every mobile phone supports text messaging – and because Americans love to text. But smartphones have gotten really popular in the last couple of years thanks to iPhones and Android phones. We’re getting close to the day when a majority of Americans own a smartphone. Using Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular activities among smartphone owners (right up there with local searches). Facebook and Twitter have spent time to build really useful mobile versions of their services. The upshot of all of this? If you want to promote your Twitter account or Facebook page via a shortened link (eg using bit.ly) added to a text message you send to your list, a good percentage of your recipients will be able to browse over to a mobile-optimized version of your social presence.
Here’s how it works – invite your friends to join Group Texting & earn message credits when they join. For every person you refer to Group Texting who joins and makes a single purchase we’ll add 200 Additional Credits to your account. Any purchase qualifies – signing up for a plan, renting a Keyword, or even a $5 credit purchase.
Inviting Your Friends
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to invite your friends. If you use AOL, Gmail, Hotmail/Live Mail or Yahoo you can automatically import your contacts. Automatic imports require you to enter your email address and password – we will never store your email account info; as soon as we import your contacts we discard your email address and password.
You also can paste your friends’ email addresses into the refer-a-friend form.
Facebook & Twitter
We also have short links that you can automatically Tweet, post to your Facebook wall or just share with your friends on your blog or website.
The Mobile Marketing Association and ‘CTIA-The Wireless Association®’ issued a joint press release this morning to announce the creation of a joint task force for text-based mobile marketing programs. If you’re not familiar with the two aforementioned groups you can check the bottom of the press release, but in short CTIA represents the wireless carriers among other telecommunications industry participants and the MMA chiefly represents mobile marketers.
Here’s this morning’s announcement:
CTIA-The Wireless Association® and the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) announced today the creation of a joint task force that will streamline the process for Common Short Code (CSC)-based mobile marketing programs in the U.S. Led by executives from the two organizations and from the mobile marketing program ecosystem, this new group will focus on two areas: shortening time-to-market for mobile marketing programs and supporting those mobile marketers who best adhere to consumer protection guidelines.
We’ve argued on this blog that one of the disadvantages of short codes is the lengthy approval process — so we’re glad to hear that the carriers have recognized this problem. We provide services via long codes, but are happy to see progress on the short code side of the industry. The rest of the announcement has left us scratching our heads:
The joint task force will work to create uniform guidelines across carrier networks. It will also carefully balance monitoring of the CSC-based mobile marketing programs to ensure consumers are protected and campaigns are appropriately functioning. Finally, the group will recommend mechanisms to reward consistently trustworthy performers and explore potential enforcement mechanisms to drive greater compliance.
None of this is new, so we’re confused as to what this task force is supposed to do. Further, we’re not sure what problem this is supposed to solve. The MMA ‘Best Practices’ already reiterate the largely harmonized carrier guidelines. There are already laws like the T.C.P.A. in place to protect consumers. As to ‘rewarding trustworthy performers’ we’re not sure what this could realistically mean in practice. On that note, what sort of ‘potential enforcement mechanisms’ could be implemented? We assume they would be used to punish those who are not deemed ‘trustworthy performers,’ whatever that means.
Protecting consumers, making mobile marketing easier for businesses and clarifying the carrier regulations are all admirable goals; we wonder how this task force will accomplish any of them. How does a telecom trade group and a voluntary trade group of marketers propose to recognize some ‘performers’ as ‘trustworthy,’ reward them and implement mechanisms to enforce adherence to an unnamed list of regulations? On what basis would such a ‘joint task force’ even operate?
Read the entire press release here. Leave a comment if you’d like to add to the discussion.
Text messaging is an easy, affordable way to drive new customers to your restaurant and reward existing patrons. There are a number of different ways that a restaurant can uses text messaging to compliment (and even replace!) their existing marketing efforts. Want to get started now? Head over to the text message marketing for restaurants solution center.
Before we continue we’ll quickly note two points we always like to mention: First: text message marketing is permission based. Second: you’re throwing away money if you send messages to people who don’t want to hear from you. So what does that mean in practice? There are three ways for your patrons to ‘opt in’ to receive messages from you:
- Text your Keyword to our long code. Two things happen when your patrons do this – we add them to your text messaging list and send them an automatic response that you’ve specified. You can try this right now by texting JOES to 760-670-3130.
- Import existing opted-in contacts using our contact uploader. If you’ve been manually collecting phone numbers from your patrons you can upload a spreadsheet or just paste those numbers into our form. We’ll automatically weed out duplicates.
- Entering a phone number into a web widget. Every Group Texting customer can generate custom widgets to add to their website, email blasts and Facebook Page. All a patron (or potential patron!) needs to do is enter their phone number and we’ll automatically add them to your text messaging list.
So how do you get people to join your list? If you already collect your patrons phone numbers, and you have permission to text them, you can upload their phone numbers in seconds. If you have a website or Facebook page, Group Texting offers embeddable signup widgets so people can themselves up.
What about Keywords? There are a number of different effective ways to encourage patrons to text your keyword to join your texting program. The key is to incentivize.
Offer 20% off a bill to patrons who text your Keyword. When patrons text in the Keyword we’ll automatically text them back your mobile coupon. Come up with a short, sweet call-to-action such as ‘Text JOES to 760-670-3130 for 20% Off Your Next Order!’ and print it on table tents. If you place the call-to-action in your print/web ads or in your window you can use it to draw in new patrons.
Draw in patrons when you want them. Rainy day? Offer everyone on your texting list a free bowl of soup with any purchase. All your patrons have to do is show the SMS coupon you text them before close and you’re done.
What else: Text out daily food or drink specials, allow customers to text their orders to you, update customers when their delivery is about to go out, run a once-a-week contest to give away a free dinner. Just like everything else you do to market your bar restaurant your imagination is the limit. Hopefully this post has gotten you thinking about what you can do with text message marketing and how Group Texting allows you to do it. Want to learn more? It’s free to sign up and there are no credit cards or obligations needed to give Group Texting a spin. Check out Group Texting now.
So far we’ve we discussed the lengthy process of obtaining a dedicated short code and the high costs involved. Now let’s take a look at how long codes can send and receive text messages with some popular ‘carriers’ that short codes cannot reach.
Just yesterday Google Voice announced that you can now port your mobile phone number into their system. As you no longer need a new phone number to use the full set of features that Google Voice offers we can only expect Google Voice to grow in popularity. Google Voice, popular VOIP providers and many pre-paid cellular carriers are unreachable via short code. Customers who use these services cannot send text messages to short codes and you cannot receive the text messages you send them. Simply put, millions of Americans are cut off from short codes. If you want to reach them you need to send and receive your text messages using long codes.
Rural Americans are another group of people who are unreachable via short codes, as many of the smaller ‘Tier 3’ carriers still do not support short codes. Finally, some major carriers are increasingly disabling short code access on new phones by default. If you’re trying to disseminate emergency text messages the last thing you want to worry about is explaining (by some other means) that your recipients might need to text HELP to your short code or call their carrier to enable short code access.
To review: Customers using Google Voice, VOIP providers, rural carriers, and some of the largest prepaid carriers are largely unreachable using short codes. Text messages delivered via long code can reach any mobile phone, anywhere, anytime.
You’ve built the next great mobile app or web service. Awesome. Now what? Iterate! Drive incremental revenue. Drive freemium to paid conversions. How? Integrate text messaging for alerts and more.
We’ll get into details in a minute but first let’s quickly explore the Group Texting APIs. Using our SMS gateway you can easily and affordably integrate text messaging into your existing product. Already have an implementation in mind? Check out the SMS Gateway page for documentation and code samples.
The essentials: Our APIs allow you to send and receive text messages in over 160 countries. Unlike other providers we don’t charge for incoming messages. We also can deliver your message – as we just mentioned – around the world. If you’d like to build a full-fledged application on top of our SMS platform you can do that as well; our API exposes all of the core functions of our platform, from Keyword configuration to credit purchases.
So how does it work? If you’d like to hook up to our API you have two options. You can use our pool of shared long codes or you can lease your own dedicated long code. If you lease your own dedicated code you can setup as many Keywords as you like on your own end. If you go with our shared code you’ll have to rent Keywords on a monthly basis. The route you choose really depends on your needs. Contact our team for advice.
So how can you drive incremental revenue by adding text messaging to your web/mobile app?
- Reminders & Alerts: If your app provides time-sensitive information you can add SMS notifications to a paid tier or as an add-on service. SMS alerts are a great way to reach out to your users if you want to upsell in-app content.
- Contests & Polling: Whether you’re running a promotion or if you just want to collect user feedback SMS is fast, fun way to do so.
- User Verification: OK, this isn’t really a marketing use case but it can be an important addition to your app. If you want to connect phone numbers to a user account, sending verifications codes via SMS is a fast, affordable way to do this.
- Download Links: This really applies to Android App developers. Until Google gets around to upgrading the App Marketplace, an easy way to allow potential app users with a convenient install link is to send them a text message.
Hopefully this post has gotten you thinking about what you can do with text message marketing and how Group Texting allows you to do it. Want to learn more? It’s free to sign up and there are no credit cards or obligations needed to give Group Texting a spin. Visit The Developer Center Now!
Last week we discussed the lengthy process of obtaining a dedicated short code. Provisioning a short code isn’t just a lengthy process; it’s also an expensive one. Leasing a short code has a number of costs. If you want a vanity code – any code that Neustar hasn’t randomly assigned you – it will cost you $1,000/month to simply lease the code. If you go with a random code the cost is $500/month. So, you’re looking at leasing costs of either $6,000/year or $12,000/year. At a minimum you have to pay for three months at a time. If you choose to pay for longer periods of time at once you won’t receive a discount.
You’ll also need to connect to a text messaging gateway, on top of your leasing fee to Neustar. You can work directly with an aggregator or work through a reseller. Either way you’re looking at additional monthly fees and messaging minimums.
Now let’s look at long codes. Costs range from a dollar or two a month to around $50/month, depending on the level of support you’re looking for and whether or not you’re using an API or a point-and-click application. Gateway and aggregation fees don’t exist with long codes. Messaging rates are comparable to short code rates and are often substantially lower. The math is clear; the difference is dramatic. Unless you have the budget and the need for a shorter number long codes are the way to go.
Want to learn more about text message marketing using long codes? Check out Group Texting’s long code service.