Text message marketing: the next frontier

July 29, 2011

You may already be involved in mobile or text message marketing, but I doubt it. If you are, congratulations, you are ahead of the curve! More likely you haven’t heard of this type of marketing yet. It doesn’t matter where you are on the spectrum. This article will help you learn what this new marketing phenomenon is, how to take advantage of it, and what positive impact it can have on your business.

This may be a new concept for you, but mobile or text message marketing (TMM) has been around for nearly five years. However, it’s still at the pioneer stage. Like most emerging technologies, it will grow in popularity and use very quickly. Now is the time to hitch your wagon to this star and get a jump on the competition.

What is TMM? I am certain you have heard about, and probably use, text messaging on your cell phone. You probably know some teenagers who live and die by text messaging 24/7 and send and receive hundreds of texts per day. Well, TMM takes advantage of that text message technology to put you instantly in touch with your customers to promote products, provide information and announce specials and promotional events.

In 2010, 1.6 billion mobile devices were sold. Interestingly, only 20% of them were smart phones. What exactly is a smart phone? Smart phones have many features that cell phones do not. Think of them as devices that, unlike a cell phone, can not only read e-mails, they can surf the Internet. Smart phones can receive video and audio messages. Yet both smart and “not-so-smart” phones can send and receive plain old text messages.

Several of the marketing predecessors to TMM are still being used today. While they have their place, their ROI is incredibly low and they can become very costly marketing tactics. Some of TMM’s ancestors are radio and TV advertising, print ads in newspapers, Yellow Page listings, mailers or flyers sent via snail-mail and the infamous “fax blast” campaigns. Today, more modern concepts in social media marketing include the likes of Web sites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Groupons, Yelp listings and the like. These methods put your marketing efforts online and give your customers and prospects direct access to your promotions and campaigns. Many dealers have even ventured into e-mail marketing.

But beware; entire businesses have been created to combat these marketing campaigns. Today, companies develop SPAM filters or blockers to prevent the over-abundance of SPAM e-mails being sent every day. And, guess who filters all of that junk snail-mail? You do. Statistics indicate most of the marketing snail-mail ends up in the “round file” before ever being opened. It’s time to think smarter, try new things and stay ahead of the curve. Text message marketing can help you do just that.

Did you know experts say that only 10% of direct mail advertising is even read? And, only 19% of e-mail marketing pieces are opened. But, check this out, 95% of all text messages are read. And, even more exciting, 90% of all text messages are read within three minutes of receipt. Advertising pundits state that a successful response rate for traditional marketing activities is typically 1% or 2%. That’s it, and as marketers we have come to accept that. But, what do you think the average response rate is to TMM? It’s a staggering 20%.

Let’s think about those statistics: 95% of all text messages are read and 90% are read within three minutes of receiving them. The average response rate to text message marketing is an impressive 15% to 25%. Imagine the ROI you will see on your marketing investment when you are getting a 15% to 25% close rate on your promotional materials. With close rates that high, why wouldn’t you try it?


Let’s do the math. If you sent out a promotional mailing that had a conservative gross profit of $20 to 1,000 customers, and if 20% of the recipients took advantage of your promotion, it would yield $4,000 in gross profits. Now ask yourself: How much would you be willing to pay for that promotion? You will be amazed how little that promotion can cost you in the TMM world. Would you be willing to pay $100, $200 or even $500? How about as little as $69? That’s right; you can spend as little as $69, including the cost of sending the actual text message. That’s definitely a bang for your buck.

It’s very easy to get started. But, don’t try and go it alone. You will end up with arrows in your back, just like the pioneers of old. Find some pioneers in this market; they are easy to spot. They are the ones with arrows sticking out of their backs; they have done the dirty work for you. The pioneer you pick should have made everything easy for you. They should have an easy-to-use Web site where you can build your campaigns, including links to sites, documents and even videos. They will take care of all the technical stuff. All you should have to do is dream up the promotions, enter them into the Web site, and leave the rest to the experts.

Once you have chosen a TMM provider, your first task will be to develop some key words, also known as “affinity words.” These are your special codes that when texted to a certain number, trigger that the owner of that mobile phone has just responded to your message and wants to do business with you.

You might be saying that all of this is well and good, but how do I use this concept effectively in my tire dealership?

Once you have established your TMM service with a provider, you will need to begin advertising it. You will want this to be an “opt-in” service. In other words, you want your participants to want to participate. If you think people get ugly over SPAM e-mails, just watch them react to SPAM text messages. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this process. A good TMM partner will show you the right way.

You will need to grow your TMM membership by having people willingly sign up for your service. And, you need to promote your new service via means other than text messaging. For example, you can put a “how to sign up” sign in your showroom, add a message to your invoices, list it in your print ads, include it on your Facebook site, or Tweet about it on Twitter. It’s as simple as telling your prospective members to text your affinity word to a certain number; the rest is history. Your membership list will start to grow.

You should give them something special for signing up like a discount or a coupon. With this, people will sign up willingly and your exclusive club will be born. They should be allowed to opt out anytime, it should be free for them and you should let them know that membership has its privileges; by joining they will be treated special.

Get creative and have no fear. Throw caution to the wind and try something new! Remember the definition of insanity according to Einstein? “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s time to try something new. Go for it! People want to belong to the exclusive “free” clubs, especially when they are going to get “special” treatment and cool free stuff. What are you waiting for? It’s time to enter the next level of promotional marketing — text message marketing. There is so much that you can do with this new medium.

Now’s the time to find out more about TMM and how you can take advantage of it now in your business. There’s a ton of fresh ideas on the proper use of this technology which will help you increase your profits and grow loyal customers. Some successful pioneers have blazed this trail for you already. 

Wayne Croswell is CEO and president of WECnology LLC (www.wecnology.com) and is a “complimentary technology advisor” for independent tire dealers. He can be reached at (603) 249-5530 or [email protected].