When people talk about SMS marketing they usually refer to the one-way message with coupon codes for a sale. Or potentially a two-way message requiring the customer to respond with a keyword in order to get a deal.
And that is customer communication for sure. It’s also marketing. But it’s just the very basics of what SMS messaging can do for your business when it comes to engaging and sharing information with your customers. If you plan ahead, you can become something more than just a business that sends coupons. You could become a life saver (in the “You reminded me before it was too late” sense!), a partner, or that reliable friend for each of your customers – without too much work on your part. Below are three stories, examples really, of how businesses can take their text messaging with customers to the next level.
The helpful florist
One morning you kiss your sweetie goodbye and head off to work. There was something in the way she looked at you, and in how she pulled away sooner than usual. You feel like you’ve done something wrong, but you have no idea what. Just before lunch you get a text message from your local florist: “Congrats on your anniversary. Forget the flowers? Reply YES to order, or use the link to order online, deliver or pick up today [link]”
Now you know why she looked at you that way! But the florist’s message means you can make it up and get an arrangement to help make her think you didn’t forget after all. See, a life saver.
Florists can make themselves indispensable to their customers by sending these just-in-time messages. Even the best of us can forget a birthday or anniversary so providing text reminders to your customers is a great extra service you can provide that is also very personal. They can come to rely on you so they never forget (for long) again.
A partner in fitness
It’s been about seven months since Noah signed up for the gym. He’s been coming regularly three times a week until about a month ago. Knowing how hard it is to get back to the gym once you stop, his gym texts him a personal message: “Rory here from the gym. We haven’t seen you in a while. Is everything OK? Do you need help getting back into your routine? Reply YES to let us help you”.
Meanwhile Noah’s been feeling bad about getting out of his routine. The gym calls him after he replies YES and finds out he pulled a muscle playing cricket and didn’t think he could workout. But the gym lets him know about the personal trainers who can help create a routine to make him strong again. He gratefully accepts the new program and gets back to the gym every week.
This is one example of a personal message that can help gyms partner with members. It’s possible to automate the process of contacting members who break their routines or stop coming altogether. But even so, this type of text message is more like something you’d get from a friend than a business, which is why it can work so well.
When you absolutely need the salon today
Sally is almost always in a rush. She likes to visit the salon as close as possible to her events, dates, and travels. But she doesn’t always know when that will be. When the need arises, she’ll swing by the salon to see if there are any openings. It’s a great salon so they are almost always booked up solid, but she goes anyway. Tina, her stylist, knows how last minute Sally is. And she’d like to help, but she can’t create time out of nowhere. Unless someone cancels. Or she has a no show. Either way she needs to let Sally know in real time. Now.
Tina can send Sally a message saying, “I have a cancellation at 3. Reply YES in the next 15 minutes to book the spot.”
If Sally replies then she’s a happy woman. If she doesn’t see the message in time, she can always call and check to see if the time is open. Or if she replies YES too late then she can get a reply back letting her know the spot is gone.
The salon here is providing a service to its customers beyond the normal appointment reminders. It’s working hard to actually help customers they know need special arrangements. They could even set up a special list for cancellation notifications that customers can sign up for in order to fill spots that would otherwise be empty. After all, Sally probably isn’t the only one with an unpredictable and rushed schedule.
Keep these things in mind
In all these cases, and many more you or I could brainstorm, the business needs to know something about the customer. More than just their mobile number. They need to have their special dates, records of attendance, a personal knowledge of their situation, or other data. Chances are you may already have some or all of that information, you just need their permission to send them text messages. At the very least you’ll want to let them know you will be using SMS to communicate with them, but make it clear not all of it is marketing. Present what you’re doing as a service to the customers, which it is, and you’re more likely to get people to agree to it.
Why go through that extra work? It’s all about getting customers to agree to your text messaging program. And then effectively and personally communicating with them in a world full of distractions. Staying out of the doghouse, or off the couch, means a lot to some husbands. Looking their best is most important to others. Whatever the motivation, they’ll find it’s worth signing up and giving a little information. And you’ll find you have a customer that wouldn’t ever go anywhere else.