Small Business Ideas

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SMS Messaging

by Morgan Tate

Several people have asked us recently about using text messaging as a way to reach customers. There are many types of retail and service businesses that could benefit from SMS marketing. Restaurants could have their clients sign up to receive daily or weekly specials. Retail outlets could let clients know about sales. Fitness clubs, day care centers, sports teams, and many others can send out notices to members about closings or schedule changes.

There are numerous companies offering this service. Just Google SMS marketing. We compared several of the leading SMS marketing services. Most have similar features and similar prices but pricing is based on different set numbers of text messages you plan to send out per month, so getting the best pricing may be confusing, but it’s worth it to take the time to do the math.

Look for a service that allows you to easily upload your existing list of contacts to start out. I also recommend one that allows you to place a form on your Web site that clients can fill out to start receiving your text messages. It’s a great way to spread the word about the service and allows your customers to easily add and remove themselves from your list without manual input from you.

A scheduling feature is almost a necessity – it allows you to set up text messages to send out weeks or months in advance so you can take care of your upcoming sales announcements in one sitting rather than having to remember to do it the day of the sale.

Look for an SMS marketing service that allows you to have multiple keyword groups. This allows you to have different groups of customers or members that might be interested in different promotions. For example, some customers may want daily updates from you and some may want only occasional updates for really big promotions. Having different keyword groups allows you to keep them all happy.

Keywords are the short phrases that your customers enter in their text messaging program on their phone to start receiving your messages. For example you might advertise, “Text IDEAS4 to 12345 to receive our daily specials.”

Another feature you may want to consider is 2-Way messaging that allows your customers to respond to your texts, so you can get feedback, respond to concerns, and answer questions.

Finally, I would look for one that offers a 30 day free trial. If you’re not happy with the service, you can download all your subscribers and move them to another service pretty easily.

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