3. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
SMS, short message service or, as it’s become more commonly
known, text message marketing, has become so huge today that many
customers don’t even realize that they’re part of a text message
Do you receive texts from your cell phone company telling you about a new
product or service? Or does your gym text you telling you when there’s a new
class or promotion available?
If you get a text message from any business, or from someone you don’t
know, the chances are good that you’re part of a text message marketing
More companies today are jumping onto the text message train and with so
many benefits; it’s not hard to see why.
Still, so many small businesses can’t see those benefits because they’re so
overwhelmed at the thought of this kind of marketing.
Doesn’t it cost a lot of money? And how is a business to
build a list of numbers for the text message campaign? When
are you supposed to even have the time to text all of those
hundreds, or even thousands, of numbers?
4. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
It’s no wonder small business owners quickly give up even the thought of
text message marketing.
But there is an answer for each of those questions, and they’re all within this
guide. This report will walk you through, step-by-step, on how to create a
text message marketing campaign from beginning to end.
Within you’ll find out what you’ll need to begin, how to find a short message
service company that works for you, how to set these campaigns up to run
automatically, and tips on what texts work the best, and how often you should be
So go on! Start reading and finding out everything you need to know about
text message marketing for your small business!
5. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Text Message Marketing for Your
Text Message marketing Challenges
Text message marketing doesn’t pose many challenges to the small business
owner; that is, once they’ve already embarked on creating a campaign.
Getting to that point where it’s no longer overwhelming and starts to
become profitable though, can be a bit of a challenge in and of itself.
Here are the biggest obstacles faced by small business owners when they
first start considering text message marketing for their business.
Challenge #1: Not knowing the benefits
Some business owners know the benefits that come with text message
marketing. Others have heard of it, but don’t really see how sending out a few
texts can translate into bigger profits.
For this latter group, here are just a few of the biggest benefits that can be
derived from text message marketing.
It’s incredibly fast.
With other types of marketing campaigns, it could take weeks or months
before your campaign is even off the ground; and it could be even longer
before you start seeing any results from that marketing.
6. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Text message marketing on the other hand, can be done within a second,
and customers can respond right away.
It allows you to target certain audiences more effectively.
With billboards, newspaper ads, flyers, pamphlets, and radio ads, you either
need to blanket all of your customers with the same advertisement, or you
need to spend a huge amount of time sorting them out into different target
groups and then marketing only to them.
However with text message marketing you can automatically target certain
people and certain groups, or you can send the text to every customer –
both will take the same amount of time.
It garners more results than email marketing.
Email is still king when it comes to many online and digital forms of
marketing; but not text messaging. Studies have shown that while
customers are more likely to ignore or block marketing email addresses,
they’re much more likely to open – and be open to – marketing and
promotional material sent via text message.
Everyone’s concerned about “going green” these days, including your
7. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Text message marketing includes paperless campaigns; something that’s
more budget-friendly for you, and more enticing for your customers!
Challenge #2: Having no time
Business owners already find that they have no time in the day. So how are
they supposed to find time to create a campaign, gather numbers, and then send
the marketing material to all those people?
Creating the campaign and sending text messages isn’t difficult and
can be done by the small business owner if they’re interested in doing
For those who aren’t, a marketing consultant is a valuable resource that
will be able to do both for them.
Whether you’re looking for a step-by-step guide, or just need to know how
to hire the right marketing consultant to do it all for you, this guide will show you
how to do both.
But what about the time involved?
Short messaging service companies can set you up so that everything,
all of your campaigns, run automatically – to only the people that you want it sent
to. How do you find that short messaging service company? It’s further on in this
8. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Challenge #3: Having no numbers
Too many business owners think that just because they don’t have
any numbers to send their text messages to, they shouldn’t even bother
with this type of marketing.
However, those same business owners are currently sitting on a vast
amount of numbers and don’t even know it. And for those that aren’t, or that need
more numbers to add to their pile, this report will show you how.
9. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Before You Create a Text Message
Before you start creating your own text message marketing campaign, you’ll
need to know about a few things.
These are listed below.
Know the rules
Each state has different rules when it comes to text message
marketing and because this type of marketing is still quite new, the laws
are very vague.
You need to thoroughly do your research on the laws pertaining to your
state and area to ensure that you’re staying within them.
Spam is not as common in texts as it is in email, but spammers and
hackers are still out there, and you don’t want to be labeled as one of them. To
keep yourself completely protected, it’s best to also stay within the email
marketing laws, which are a bit clearer and easily found.
If you find that you don’t have the time to research the laws yourself, it’s
best to speak to a marketing consultant; they’ll know exactly what the laws are in
10. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Text message marketing is a very lucrative form of marketing, but it
was never meant to replace other types of marketing.
While this is true with many of the new forms of marketing, it’s especially
relevant with text message marketing.
This is because this form of marketing typically points back to a blog, a
website, a phone number, or some other type of marketing – direct or indirect.
11. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Types of Text Messaging Marketing
Once you’re armed and ready with the few things you need, it’s then
time to start deciding on which type of campaign you want to run.
You can rely strictly on one, or use different methods depending on the
You can also use the trial-and-error method, although a good marketing
consultant will be able to advise you on which campaigns work best, and when.
Text blasting or bulk messaging
With this type of messaging one message is sent to a mass group of
clients, much like you would send a group message within email.
Providers that offer this type of SMS marketing will typically have an
address book feature. Here you can import all of your numbers, and continually
add to them and store them. This list can typically be broken down into smaller
groups, allowing you to create better-targeted campaigns.
With this type of marketing campaign you have to be extremely careful; you
can’t just save every number you ever get and continue to text them messages.
Instead, you must give your customers the option to both opt in to the
campaign, and opt out. While they may be interested in your product or service
12. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
for a little while, it might not be forever; and they might not appreciate receiving
texts two years after they gave you their number.
Most states and other regions are also very particular in their laws regarding
unsolicited emails and text messages – another reason to be extremely careful.
So how can you get phone numbers when using this type of
Here are a few ways:
Existing customer database (you can email them an invite, don’t
just add their number)
Place a request in your monthly/weekly newsletter or magazine.
Include a request in all offline marketing material.
Place a request on the company’s website.
When asking people for their phone numbers, always stress that privacy is of
your utmost concern; and explain the benefits they’ll receive just by being part of
the program (special discounts, coupons, etc.)
With a keyword response marketing campaign, customers will
contact you first before you send a text message back to them.
This type of marketing campaign is usually designed to increase direct
interaction between the company and the customer.
13. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
A real estate agent may include on their business cards, “Text
LISTINGS to find out what I have in the area!” When a homebuyer
texts the number, an automated response is set up to immediately
text the buyer back. In this case it would read something like,
“Thanks for the interest in my listings! I’ll contact you within
the next hour!”
While keyword response can be a highly effective form of marketing
and really get customers involved, the downside is that you, or someone
at your company, must be available at all times specifically to return
An ignored call is a failed campaign; and that’s worse than no campaign at
This kind of campaign is highly complex, and not even all providers offer it.
This is a type of keyword response campaign, but it begins a
complete interaction that can involve calling other people or contacting
14. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
In the case of the real estate agent or firm, the buyer could
text the word “LISTINGS” to the specified number. A few seconds
later they’d get a text back asking, “Which price range were you
looking for?” to which they’d reply, and so on.
These can be as long or short as the business owner wants; but the more
complex they are, the more targeted the marketing can be, and the more
knowledgeable the salesperson can go into the call.
These are the biggest benefits that come with smart texting.
These campaigns are available only if you are using a commercial provider
(the preferred method) and not setting up your own desktop server; and only
certain commercial service providers offer them.
With these campaigns customers text in, but they are charged a
higher-than-usual rate for doing so.
The difference is then split between you and the service provider.
When using this type of campaign, it’s important to consider the average
income of the group you’re targeting. Those with lower incomes likely won’t be
able to afford the higher rates. However, this can be a good way for companies to
make more than they would with a typical campaign.
15. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
SMS-to-email and email-to-SMS
Most providers will allow a certain amount of these kinds of text
messages free every day; and they can be another terrific opportunity on
how to best capitalize on your text message marketing campaign.
However, you’ll need to know what providers your customers are using for
their cell service.
This is much like bulk messaging except that one message is sent
out to every single cellular phone number within a certain area.
It’s been found useful for things like emergency and disaster situations (such
as Bangladesh recently announced it would use it for,) but it could very easily
violate privacy and security terms.
This type of service also requires the consent of every cell phone provider in
16. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
SMS Server, Desktop Server, or
Commercial Service Provider?
Once you’ve decided on which type of text message marketing
campaign, or campaigns, you want to use, you’ll then need to decide on
whether you’re going to use a desktop server, or a commercial service
With an SMS server you’ll most likely need a marketing consultant, or a
team of them, to maintain and update.
Desktop servers, while easier to start up and maintain, are much more
limited. Commercial service providers are the more popular choice, although
both have their benefits, and their place.
Desktop servers can be a great way to find a marketing campaign
that really works.
However, those that use a desktop server find that at some point when their
marketing needs grow, they’ll need to switch to a commercial provider anyway.
A desktop server consists of two things: the actual SMS software, and a
mobile phone or GSM modem that will be used to both send and receive text
17. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Modems are the preferred choice, as mobile phones can be much more
limiting when used as server; but even when using the proper modem, you still
won’t be able to send and receive as many texts as you may like.
In addition, if you happen to exceed the number of messages allowed, the
provider may stop services on your phone’s SIM card when using a cell phone.
The biggest benefit that desktop servers have is that companies can
try out different marketing techniques and campaigns to find which one
works best, without paying a great deal for it.
RapidAndroid and Frontline SMS are two of the most popular companies
offering desktop servers.
Starting up and running an SMS server is the only way to truly get a
fully customized text message marketing campaign, or campaigns, that
allows you to do whatever you want (while staying within the law,) gives
you much better performance, and will be able to both send and receive
many more messages.
The downside to this server? The cost.
18. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
These servers can be extremely costly just to purchase, and then maintain.
Additionally, there’s no question – any business owner is going to need at least
one marketing consultant to help them work with the server, no matter what
work is being done.
Kannel, Gammu, RapidSMS, and PlaySMS are some of the most popular
companies that offer SMS servers.
Commercial service providers
Do a quick search in any search engine for “SMS providers” and you’ll be
returned with a list of hundreds of companies.
Commercial providers have become so popular today because set up
can be very simple and they sometimes come with features such as webbased or desktop management at no additional cost.
Speaking of cost though, every provider is going to have their own fees and
monthly costs, and they’re as varied as the text messages they send themselves.
Because of this, you’ll need to seriously consider the cost of any provider,
and if it’s worth the value of what they’re offering.
That being said, the cheapest provider isn’t always the best deal; and the
most expensive isn’t always the best.
19. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Finding an SMS Provider
Your SMS provider could be your best friend, or your worst enemy;
so it’s best to choose wisely.
This is the company that will be providing you with all of your SMS needs,
including setting up the automatic texts; gathering your numbers from you
and in many cases, supplying you with a list of numbers; and just about
anything else that you want to do in order to move forward with your marketing
Bear in mind that an SMS provider is not the same thing as a marketing
While an SMS provider will set you up and give you the ability to text
thousands of people at a time, they often won’t do more than that. A marketing
consultant is the one that will need to create the actual texts, and set up the
automatic systems that your SMS provider offers.
There are many things that you’ll want to look for in an SMS provider; and
if you are working with a marketing consultant, they’ll be able to take over this job
for you as well if you’d like.
20. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
If you’re going it on your own, here are a few things to look for:
They deliver messages using a shortcode.
Shortcodes are typically keywords that a customer can enter in order to be
taken to your marketing campaign, collect or redeem coupons, or answer
surveys and polls. It’s generally understood that only the best SMS providers
They have Mobile Marketing Experts on staff.
These are marketing professionals that have studied in the specific field of
technical requirements. They are all members of the Mobile Marketing
Association and have specialized knowledge about SMS. Still, they will not
usually create content for you or set up any systems to send out messages.
They are there strictly to work for the SMS provider and advise them on the
best services to offer their customers with today’s SMS needs, and help with
a few technical aspects on the provider’s end.
They have a phone number.
This one may sound a little crazy, but it’s true. Providing SMS is one of those
industries that is fraught with scammers; and those scammers typically rely
solely on online communication since it’s less traceable and they don’t
actually have to deal with any customers. Make sure that yours has one and
that when you call it, you get another person on the other end.
21. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
They are strictly focused on text message marketing.
While it’s fine for your marketing consultant to dabble in other forms of
marketing as well (and preferred, since they can tie it all together,) this is
not what you want from your SMS provider. As their name suggests, they
provide a specific service – and that service should be all they’re thinking
They have a website that’s easy to navigate.
This one also may sound like you’re just being difficult but if an SMS
provider doesn’t have a website that uploads quickly and is easy to get
around, it could indicate that they don’t have a good grip on how to best
utilize the digital and online world. You may want to find a provider that
Their customers are raving about their customer service.
This is an obvious one. There’s still nothing that can be guaranteed quite like
word of mouth can, and it holds so true when looking for an SMS provider.
Look at testimonials and reviews not located on the provider’s site (thirdparty) and see who is saying the best things about which company. This will
probably be the biggest help when narrowing your list down.
22. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Three Most Popular SMS Providers
EZ Texting allows you to send anywhere from 10 to 10,000 messages in
just minutes, and with just a few clicks.
This company uses keywords that customers can text in to receive coupons,
schedule appointments, and more. They’ll also allow you to segment and sort your
contacts into groups – as many groups as you want – so that you can have more
effective, better-targeted marketing strategies.
Here are some of the features you’ll receive when using EZ Texting:
Web-based service, so the amount of information you store is practically
Can take polls, and display results on the screen
Uses, and provides, shortcodes
Compatible with PowerPoint
Can create reports
Can create as many groups as you’d like, with as many numbers in each
group as you’d like
Does not allow repetitive voting in polls
Results can be downloaded in Excel format
Importing and adding contacts is easy
Multiple choice polls
23. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Provides keywords for polls with ability to buy additional keywords
Photo and YouTube attachments allowed
Customer support is available through toll-free number; email; FAQs; and a
Product demo available
Plans start as low as $10/month for 400 messages and go as high as
$149/month for 6,600 messages; additional messages are available for
purchase at the cost of $24 for 1,000 messages.
Ahoy Messaging is actually much more than simply an SMS provider.
With this company you’ll be able to import contacts easily for SMS purposes;
as well as send out campaigns that include audio files, mobile e-cards, and a
shuffle responder that will place all of your text messages into a “scrambler” and
send them out randomly.
Also from right within Ahoy, you’ll be able to create QR codes, and update
your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
In addition to all of these features, these are the text messaging features
24. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
On-screen poll results
Uses, and provides, shortcodes
Creates reports and groups
Prevents repetitive votes
Results can be downloaded as an Excel file
Free trial offered
Contacts can easily be imported and added onto
Multiple choice polls available
Automatic reply messages sent
Will accept votes made through a mobile browser
Keywords for polls are provided
Facebook widget provided
Photo and YouTube attachments allowed
Customer support available through email and FAQs
Product demo available
Plans available from $28/month for 200 messages to $800/month for
10,000 messages; additional messages can be purchased for $110 per
25. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Trumpia is another very popular SMS provider that allows many of the same
features as Ahoy.
These include text-to-screen services, shuffle responders, and picture and video
In addition, Trumpia also comes with these features:
Online set-up available
Poll results displayed on screen
Uses, and provides, shortcodes
Creates reports and groups
Prevents repetitive voting
Free trial available
Can import, as well as add onto, contacts
Multiple choice polls
Automatic message replies sent
Votes can be made via mobile browser
Uses, and provides, keywords
Facebook widget available
Photos and YouTube attachments allowed
Customer support available through toll-free phone, email, FAQs, and blog
Product demo available
26. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Packages available from $50 a month for 1,000 messages to $1200 a
month for 30,000 messages; additional messages are available at $50
for 1,000 messages.
Once you’ve decided what type of campaign you want to run, and
you’ve chosen the service provider that’s going to help you do it, its then
time to move on in the text message marketing plan.
What are you going to say, and what are you going to use it for?
That’s what will be discussed in the next section.
27. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
How to Most Effectively Use Text
There are a number of different ways you can not only use text message
marketing, but use it to its fullest advantage.
The chances are, once you’ve completed your first couple of campaigns,
you’ll be filled with tons of ideas on how you can most effectively use text
Here are a few to get you started:
It’s incredibly frustrating, and incredibly profit-eating, to make appointments
with customers only to have them cancel at the last second. Sending
appointment reminders via text a few days, or the day before, can help cut
down on the number of those appointment cancelations.
Appointment availability announcements.
Even with the best campaign running appointment reminders, you’re not
going to be able to eliminate cancelled appointments altogether. So when it
happens as it’s bound to, you can instead send out announcements to
customers on the waiting list that one’s become available.
You can fill the spot, customers will be happy you fit them in, and other
customers won’t walk away angry with the cancellation fees you’ve charged
28. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
It can be incredibly disappointing when you take weeks or months to plan a
company barbecue, a customer appreciation event, or any other event, and
have a poor turnout simply because people didn’t know about it. Text
message marketing can send announcements about the event months
before, and then several times leading up to the event.
Having a slow business day? Need to drum up some business to balance the
month’s books? Messaging your customers that you’re having a sale for that
day only can do the trick.
This form of marketing works best when using keyword response campaigns.
Place a keyword on your website, slides during presentations, business
cards, and anywhere else you can think of. When customers text in, they’ll
sign up for the newsletter.
Share your presentations.
This particular use has revolutionized the way people speak and present at
conferences and seminars. Gone are the days of copying agendas, notes,
schedules, and other handouts. Now when you get up to speak you can
simply give the attendees a code that they can text. This code will allow
them to download all of the data – to their phone, email, or laptop.
29. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Polls are everywhere today, and they’re a great way to obtain direct, and
quick, customer feedback. Want to know what product your customers are
looking for? Want to know whether or not they’re enjoying a particular
feature of your website or service? Polls will answer all of these questions
Also one of the biggest uses of text message marketing, sending your
customers a coupon via text message is a huge way to increase profits and
increase customer interaction. Coupons, gift certificates, special previews,
insider info on sales and promotions – it’s all up for grabs with text message
30. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Tips for Writing Marketing Texts
While no one except a good marketing consultant can tell you word for word
what to write in your text message marketing campaigns, here are some ways to
form and create your text messages that will help:
Keep it simple.
With text messages, just like Twitter, you’re forced to keep it simple
because you’re typically limited to about 160 characters. However, you can
still become very confusing within those few characters, and you have to
make sure that that doesn’t happen. Stay focused, offer no more than
one thing in your message, and then get out.
Include a call to action.
The last thing you want is a great message that gets customers excited, and
then leaves them feeling confused as to what to do next. Make a call to
action and be very specific about what they need to do. Remember,
some people could be receiving a text message for the first time when they
receive yours, so walk them through it – exactly.
Include a sense of urgency.
You also don’t want people putting off action on your offer, as that leads to it
eventually being forgotten. Include an expiration date, a “limited time
offer” announcement, or a deadline. It will make it stick in people’s
heads better, and make them take action right away.
31. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Millions of companies and businesses are already using text message
marketing, and millions more are about to start. Because of this, as you
continue to send text messages, they have a better chance of getting lost in
the crowd. Help customers remember your messages further by
branding yourself within them. Place the same tag line, logo, or slogan
at the top of every single message that you send – every single time.
Make it personable.
Every company has their own tone they like to use in their marketing
campaigns, whether it’s professional or casual. But even the most
professional corporations need to learn to keep it casual in their text
messages. Texts by their very nature are casual, and people are used
to being casual in them. While you don’t have to use slang and be supercasual, you can’t be super-corporate, either.
In addition to the things you should do, there are also a number of things
that you should not do. The last section will cover what those are.
32. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
What to Avoid in Text Message Marketing
When text message marketing doesn’t work, it’s usually because
business owners have inadvertently used it incorrectly, or made mistakes
when creating and following through with their campaign.
Below are the biggest mistakes to avoid in text message marketing:
Ineffective promotion of the campaign.
Text message marketing is just one approach, and you’ll need your other
forms of marketing to keep generating profits. But you’ll also need them to
promote your text messaging campaign; it’s the only way to keep getting
numbers and to make the campaign as effective as it can really be. Promote
your campaign on social media, business cards, radio broadcasts, newspaper
adverts, and leaflets.
Not using collected data.
While you can’t keep messaging people years, or maybe even months, after
one campaign, you should keep the numbers you get on-hand and ask them
to opt in to further campaigns. Furthermore, any results from polls that you
take through a campaign should also be recorded and retained. These can
prove to be valuable resources later on when you’re searching for the same
kind of information.
Leaving inquiries unanswered.
How turned off would a customer be if they asked you a question when
standing right in front of you and you didn’t reply? It’s the same thing that
33. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
happens with unanswered text messages. When people text in, they are
showing a genuine interest in what you do and what you’re offering. The
worst thing you could do would be to turn them away.
Buying lists of numbers.
The numbers that you get from your SMS provider you can be fairly certain
are legitimate and legally obtained. However, those that are for purchase
from random individuals or companies are typically not legitimate, and
messages will be identified as spam. Prevent this from happening, and don’t
buy lists from people you don’t know.
Text too often and you’ll soon have people opting out of your campaign like
wildfire. This one’s really simple: don’t text the same customer any more
than twice a month, unless you’re responding to a question or comment of
34. Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business
Text message marketing has so many benefits that are all too often
untapped by business owners, if only because they’re too overwhelmed by
But there’s no reason to be intimidated, or to think that you can’t do it.
Anyone can really, but not everyone has the time. If that’s the case for you,
call a marketing consultant that can explain all of the benefits, help you find the
right service provider for you, and even write all of your text messages for you.
If you do want to do it all yourself, what are you waiting for?
Start researching the different SMS companies, find one you like, and get
writing your very first text message campaign!