Short Code vs. Toll-Free: Which Is Best?

A person texting on a smartphone

When it comes to text marketing, both short codes and toll-free numbers are considered to be highly effective. As a marketer, with both of these options available, you might find yourself wondering which is better—shortcode vs. toll-free?

In this article, we will discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of both communication methods and show which best adheres to SMS marketing best practices.      

Short Code vs. Toll-Free Texting: The Basics

When deciding whether to use a short code vs. toll-free number for your text marketing campaigns, it is important to understand the key differences between these two channels.

What Is a Short Code?

A shortcode is a 5-6 digit number used to communicate with your audience through SMS and MMS messages. As a business, you can either choose a specific shortcode (vanity shortcode) or get assigned a random one (random shortcode). When customers send a specific keyword to your business’s shortcode, they opt-in to receive brand communications such as marketing messages, time-sensitive alerts, one-to-one verification messages, and transactional messages.   

Short Codes have a high SMS throughput, which historically means that messages sent through registered shortcodes are not filtered by telecom carriers as these shortcodes are approved by the carriers themselves.

The higher SMS throughput of shortcodes requires strict compliance with the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) standards. As a result, shortcodes are often subjected to random audits by the CTIA and telecom carriers to check the intended purposes of their registration by businesses.      

What Is a Toll-Free SMS Number? 

10-digit toll-free numbers are often used as dedicated communication lines for a business’s customer support or sales departments. Basically, your standard phone line. These numbers can prove to be a powerful alternative to shortcodes as they can be used for customer support calls and enabled to send and receive SMS messages. Toll-free numbers are ideal for customer interaction since they can accommodate conversational text and voice calls.  

Unlike traditional 10-digit phone numbers, toll-free numbers support a higher throughput of text messages because they are whitelisted and, therefore, deemed “good”—not spam—until proven otherwise.

Benefits and Drawbacks to Short Code vs. Toll-Free SMS

The table below shows the benefits and drawbacks of these text communication channels, based on certain key features:   

Short CodeToll-Free SMS
Voice capabilityNoYes
Conversational textingNoYes
Carrier filteringNoYes
Shared usageRestricted by carriersYes
Provisioning time8-12 weeksInstant
PriceHighLow

Comparing these features makes it quite obvious that getting a dedicated short code approved for your business is both a time-intensive and expensive process. It also needs to be mentioned that it is not possible to text conversationally or let customers call your business with a short code and you are not able to create and send text surveys either.

Utilizing a toll-free number for both conversational and mass texting is definitely an easier, cost-effective business solution.

Enabling a Toll-Free Number for Text with an SMS Delivery Platform

If your business already has an existing toll-free number, you can easily text-enable it with the help of the right SMS delivery platform. By deploying the same number for both voice calls and messaging, you can offer a better user experience to your customers and leverage the familiarity and trust of your primary phone number. 

When considering an SMS marketing platform, the following are key aspects you want to look for:

  • Whitelisted toll-free numbers: Toll-free numbers are virtual and can be programmed to block callers from certain area codes. The right text delivery platform should provide you with whitelisted toll-free numbers for voice calls and messages to let your audience connect with you from anywhere in the US, regardless of their area codes.   
  • Text-enabled business landline: By enabling texts on your existing landline, a text delivery platform helps you offer a true omnichannel experience to your customers through the same number. It also saves you from investing in a new number for text communications.     
  • Affordable: Pricing is one major aspect where toll-free numbers trump dedicated shortcodes, as they come without extra carrier surcharges. As a marketer, you need to ensure that an SMS marketing platform offers an affordable pricing model to help you enjoy the benefits of this effective marketing strategy without using your entire marketing budget.   
  • Technical support: You need dedicated backend technical support from an SMS marketing platform for API integration to enable text messaging for your existing toll-free numbers. The right SMS delivery platform should have US-based customer service always ready to help you.  

Leveraging these impressive features from the right SMS delivery platform can allow you to not only add text messaging capabilities to your business’s existing toll-free number but improve the overall reach and marketing success of your business at a price you can afford.        

With NorthText’s robust SMS delivery platform, you can use your current business phone number to receive and send text messages. Learn more about our affordable pricing for landline texting and text-enabling your existing toll-free number, contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070

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Video Marketing Statistics for 2021 and Beyond

User with tablet computer displaying video marketing icons on virtual screen

As a marketer, you are in a constant struggle to capture the attention of your audience, and we are going to show you how video marketing is one of the most effective ways to do so. Looking at some of the video marketing statistics for 2020 will make it clear what this technology has to offer and how to best use it. 

Compelling Video Marketing Statistics for 2021

It has been fifteen years since YouTube came into existence and redefined the way users interact with video. In recent years, the popularity of video has soared further with new platforms such as Vine, Snapchat, TikTok as well as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It is no secret that visual content drives high engagement and with video content accounting for 60% of downstream traffic, you can’t afford to miss your opportunity to connect to your audience via video marketing. 

The following video marketing statistics will give you an even better idea of the reach and effectiveness of video content, both in and out of the marketing context. Then, we are going to show you how to capitalize on that information to improve engagement with your audience. Let’s start by breaking these statistics down into three categories:      

Viewership

When we talk about video content for marketing, it primarily refers to video ads, tutorial videos, interviews, presentations, product demos, reviews, testimonials, and live streaming. Regardless of the type of video content, here are a few numbers that reflect the rise in viewership and the growing demand for video marketing:

  • Around 14.9% of millennials (aged between 26-35 years) watched 10-20 hours of online video per week across the globe.
  • In the U.S., the number of online users accessing digital video content was projected to reach 83.3 percent in 2020.  
  • Smartphones are the primary device used by viewers worldwide to access online videos, followed by computers, smart TVs, and other internet-connected devices. 

Engagement

Engagement, in terms of comments, shares, etc., on social media platforms reflects how well a video resonates with its target audience. Completion rate and view duration are among other powerful video marketing metrics to gauge an audience’s interest in the content.

  • In the first quarter of 2020, the completion rate for video ads in North America was reported to be 85%.
  • 30-second ads account for more impressions than 15-second ads and remain the preferred ad length for many advertisers.
  • The engagement rate for video posts on Facebook is the highest at 6.09%, compared to engagement with any other type of content on the platform.   

Effectiveness

With high viewership and engagement, it is quite clear that the sentiment towards video content and marketing is favorable. Video ads are instrumental in driving consumers to discover new brands and make purchasing decisions. As a result, video marketing is comfortably positioned as a key digital marketing strategy for modern business success.  

So, What Type of Video Marketing Should You Use? 

With the total number of smartphone users in the U.S. having been estimated to reach 275.66 million by 2020, and a significant percentage of these users preferring communication with businesses via text messages, multimedia messaging service (MMS) marketing has proven to be a very effective way to reach your audience with video. And, when you consider that no special app or even an internet connection is required to receive text messages, it speaks volumes about the success and reach that text marketing campaigns can have. 

Unlike standard SMS that only supports plain text, MMS can be considered to be an improved version of that traditional text message, in that it lets you include rich media like videos, audio clips, and images. Interestingly, MMS offers an increased character limit over SMS (500 to 5,000 depending on the platform), way over the typical 160 to 240 character limit for SMS messages. 

With the features offered by MMS, you can leverage the statistics shown above and create engaging marketing messages containing text as well as high-interest visual content. These potential benefits of MMS marketing help you successfully reach subscribers, and since these recipients have already opted-in as subscribers, you know that you are reaching an audience that is interested in the content you will be delivering. 

All you need is the right text marketing platform to take advantage of MMS marketing for your business and include it in your overall marketing strategy. 

Choosing the Right MMS Delivery Platform for Your Marketing Goals

Choosing the right text marketing platform for your text marketing campaigns can have a significant impact on the success of those campaigns. The right text marketing platform should offer a robust suite of features that make things easy for you and valuable for your audience. 

Some features you will definitely want to have are unlimited keywords, which let you connect with different audience segments, and the option to create multiple user groups to help you send targeted MMS texts that your recipients will find valuable and relevant. Additionally, auto-responders in a text delivery platform can improve real-time engagement with your subscribers, and choosing a text marketing platform with a full audit trail helps your business avoid legal liabilities and find peace of mind. 

Last but not the least, you need affordable pricing so that you can capitalize on the clear value shown in these statistics without breaking the bank or spending your entire marketing budget in one place.    

Are you wondering how to further leverage these video marketing statistics for 2021 to boost the success of your business NorthText’s robust platform with innovative features offers you one-stop solutions for SMS and MMS marketing campaigns. Contact us today by phone or text at (312) 869-9070 to get started. We can have you up and running within minutes.

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5 Key SMS Opt-In Best Practices for Marketing and Outreach

SMS opt-in best practices

For any business, an increase in the number of opt-in subscribers is a healthy sign that reflects a growing interest in its product or service. A clean list of opt-in subscribers is a valuable asset for a brand but requires consistent effort to grow and maintain. After all, you are not only competing with other businesses to grab the attention of your audience—while complying with legal guidelines—but also trying to convince customers to receive your text marketing messages. The trick is to incentivize your potential customers to subscribe to your text messages without appearing pushy or “spammy.” 

If this sounds difficult, or you are having trouble growing your list of opt-in subscribers, here are 5 SMS opt-in best practices that you can implement today.

5 SMS Opt-In Best Practices

When you are looking for ways to increase your number of SMS opt-in subscribers, there are a few key strategies and best practices that you need to consider. Let’s dive a little deeper and show how these best practices can improve the performance of your text marketing campaigns and the size of your opt-in subscriber lists.

Incentivize Your Audience

It is estimated that around 75% of customers are comfortable receiving text messages from businesses after opting-in. Such customers redeem SMS-delivered coupons 10 times more than those received through other marketing channels. Your potential audience is more likely to subscribe to your text messages when the call-to-action is supported by a clear incentive. By offering valuable incentives such as discounts or coupons, you can be sure to increase your opt-in subscriber conversion rates.  

Follow TCPA Guidelines

This is one of the most important considerations when growing your list of SMS opt-in subscribers. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) guidelines make it outright illegal to purchase lists of phone numbers for text marketing campaigns. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act prohibit businesses from sending unsolicited commercial text messages without the explicit consent of the recipients. 

These guidelines also ensure that a recipient can opt-out of a subscriber’s list at any point. Disregarding these regulations can lead to heavy penalties as well as a loss of trust with customers. If the nuances of these rules are not known to you, be sure to consult the linked resources to be sure you are compliant with these laws. However, partnering with the right SMS marketing platform can save you the hassle of learning all of this information and give you peace of mind that your messages are fully compliant with all laws, as we will discuss later in this article.   

Use Brand-Specific SMS Keywords

As a marketer, you may want to uniquely target every segment of your audience demographics via text marketing. One of the best ways to do so, aside from keeping correspondence targeted and valuable for the recipient, is by using SMS keywords that potential subscribers can easily relate to your brand or product and that evoke something they may want. 

For example, a skincare company looking for new customers might encourage the audience to subscribe to its text messages by typing SMS keywords such as “Radiant” or “Glow”. By texting these on-brand keywords to the shortcode used by the company, customers can often redeem a specific offer while consenting to receive future text marketing messages. Don’t be afraid to get creative here!   

Provide Real-Time Responses

The faster you act as a business, the higher your chances are of converting potential customers into customers and opted-in subscribers. Since customers hold the power of purchase, it is important to value their time with immediate responses. With the help of an auto-responder feature, you can act quickly and efficiently so your customers feel that their time and effort is being valued and respected.              

Offer Relevant Information 

Opt-in subscribers are likely only going to stay if the information they receive is clear, concise, and relevant to their interests. We live in an era of spam messages, so peoples’ tolerance for irrelevant marketing material is low. Using innovative survey tools to collect information about your subscribers and segment your list is a great way to make sure they only receive the information that they want to receive and, therefore, remain subscribers for as long as possible.          

These opt-in best practices can help you grow your lists, maintain the subscribers you already have, and keep your recipients happy. However, just following these best practices is not always enough. You need the right SMS marketing platform to help you easily implement them into your text marketing campaign(s).     

Implementing SMS Opt-In Best Practices with an Innovative SMS Marketing Platform

SMS opt-in best practices, when implemented through the right SMS delivery platform, can help you grow and maintain your subscriber list(s). An innovative SMS marketing platform will be built with these best practices in mind, which means that properly implementing them is more about choosing the right tool and less about you having to do more work. Here are some essential features you will definitely want to look for:

  • Unlimited keywords: Unlimited keywords give you the flexibility to respond to a large variety of customer requests with relevant responses, immediately. This flexibility can let automated features like auto-responders provide helpful and relevant information to any customers that use your supplied keywords. 
  • Auto-responders: Targeted keywords are most effective when combined with real-time responses. An auto-response feature can help you connect instantly with your subscribers, allowing you to quickly capitalize on the short attention spans of most customers. 
  • Increased character limit: Creating marketing messages with relevant information about your business requires optimal usage of the standard, but oftentimes limited, 160 characters. A platform offering an increased limit of up to 240 characters can help you create better and more effective marketing messages. 
  • Audit trail: When it comes to SMS marketing, your platform should maintain a full audit trail of messages sent and received to protect you from legal liability. There are a lot of laws around marketing, making this feature a must-have.

The right SMS delivery platform will offer all of these features and at an affordable cost. Collecting new subscribers with the help of these SMS opt-in best practices will not be a struggle when you’re supported by an intuitive and innovative SMS marketing platform with great, prompt customer service.

NorthText easy-to-use platform implements these SMS opt-in best practices, allowing you to maintain and grow your opt-in subscriber list with ease and peace of mind. To learn more about how our affordable platform can benefit your business, contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070 and we can get you started in minutes.

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Example Marketing Text Messages for Takeaways and Restaurants

Restaurateur packs a takeaway order

As Guy Fieri once put it, “Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together.” Whether you’re a restaurateur or running a takeaway service, you want your food to do just that—bring people together. The more, of course, the merrier.

But, with so much competition out there these days, even the most delicious dishes and swiftest service won’t draw enough customers to last you a season if no one ever hears about your establishment. And in a mobile world, where as many as 96 percent of Americans own cell phones, one of the best ways to get the word out is through the use of text messaging.

Chances are you’ve written a text before, but maybe you don’t know how mass texting works. Or, perhaps you’re just not sure how to translate your brand personality and messaging into brief, character-limited messages. Whatever the case, don’t worry—this guide will go over how to use text marketing for your business, as well as some example marketing text messages for takeaways and restaurants that you can feel free to use or adapt as you see fit.

How to Use Text Marketing in the Food Industry

If you already have some experience using SMS and MMS marketing and are familiar with the basics of how it works, feel free to skip straight to the next section. If, however, this is your first time tinkering with text marketing, or if you need a refresher, you’ll likely want to know how it works before you worry about what to write.

The process is surprisingly simple:

  1. Give your customers a keyword they can use to opt-in with.

It is illegal to send any marketing messages before a user has opted in, so be sure not to skip this step. Your keyword can be anything you like, but it should be short, simple, and relevant. For example, you might hang a sign in your sushi bar that reads something like, “Want 10% off your next order? Text SUSHIFORME to 11123 to sign up for our mobile VIP program.” This is a common way to get new users to opt-in to your text marketing campaign.

  1. Follow up with a “thank you.”

Once a user opts-in, you should have an automatic response set up that will thank them for doing so—a little appreciation goes a long way. If you advertise an incentive for opting in, like the discount in the example above, be sure to include that here as well.

  1. Text subscribers regularly (but not too regularly) with valuable offers and info.

This is the meat of your SMS marketing entree; when customers opt-in, they expect value in return for their support. We’ll get into more specific examples below, but in general, your customers will be hoping to be the first to hear about things like limited-time deals, new menu items, seasonal specials, and more. Just don’t go overboard—a few messages per month is enough for most subscribers.

That’s all you’ll need to do to run a text marketing campaign for your takeaway or restaurant—but of course, running a successful campaign is sometimes easier said than done.

Examples of Marketing Text Messages for Takeaways and Restaurants

In the world of text message marketing, it’s not just what you say that matters but how you say it. Ideally, your messages should feel personal, but not invasive, and relevant. Subscribers should feel like they’re part of an exclusive group privy to the best deals and “inside” information. This not only motivates new users to sign up but also keeps current subscribers from opting out due to boredom or a lack of perceived value.

What you say depends on your goal—that is, the results you hope to get from sending this or that message. For example, if you want to promote a new menu item, the what of your message should include what the item is, when it will be available (and for how long, if it’s a limited-time offer), and some hint as to why customers should be excited to try it.

How you phrase your message depends on your desired effect—how you want your customers to feel, both about the text itself and your business in general. You might want to take a more serious tone if you own an elegant fine dining establishment, leaning more to full sentences with periods and a calmer presentation. A hip new takeaway catering largely to college-age students, on the other hand, might take a more informal approach, emojis and exclamation points optional.

Below is a list of example marketing text messages for takeaways and restaurants. They are organized by purpose and written in a straightforward, casual tone to help give you a clear template to start with—and they’re all 160 characters or less. However, keep in mind that some innovative SMS marketing platforms allow up to 240 characters. 

As you get more comfortable with text marketing, tweak the tone of your messages as necessary to better fit your business’s unique brand image.

(Another tip to keep in mind: when including a link to your app or website, be sure to use a link shortener to keep your message short and sweet.)

Type Purpose Example Marketing Text Messages
Sales and Promotions Promote a new item or service Tired of ordering the same old apps? Check out our chef’s latest creation—loaded baked sweet potatoes! Order now at [link].
Notify customers about a limited-time deal Ready for the weekend? Kick it off the right way with 20% off all drinks—today only! Come hang out with us or place your order now at [link].
Promote a seasonal item What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a mint chocolate chip or sugar cookie shake? Available now through January 1.
Offer subscribers an exclusive discount Here’s a little something special for our VIP mobile users—your next drink is on us! Order online now with promo code THANKSVMUCH
Notifications and Reminders Confirm an order or booking Thank you, James! Your order [confirmation code] has been confirmed for delivery at 7:00 PM. We hope you enjoy your dinner and hope to hear from you soon.
Update customer on delivery status Good news, Sandra. Your takeaway is on its way! Expect your food to arrive at 12:15 PM.
Notify customer a pickup order is ready Time to ring the dinner bell—your pickup order [confirmation number] is ready for collection. Enjoy!
Remind a customer about a reservation Max, we’re looking forward to seeing you at 6:30 PM tonight. (If you need to update or cancel your reservation, please call us at [phone number].)
Notify customer of an unexpected delay We are operating at max capacity tonight and won’t be able to fulfill your order for another 60 min. Is this OK? Text Y/N to confirm or cancel.
Event Announce an upcoming event Food fair is next weekend—we hope to see you there! Visit [link] to get your tickets now, before they run out.
Follow up after the event Thank you again to everyone who came out for Trivia Tuesday last night! Share your pics and ideas for next time using [unique hashtag]
Personalized Messaging Celebrate a customer’s birthday Happy birthday, Jacob! We got you a little something—enjoy a free dessert using the promo code HAPPYBDAY
Reach out to a customer who has been inactive Hey Sarah, are you hungry? Our menu has changed since the last time we heard from you—check out what’s new here: [link]
Reward a customer for a high level of activity Gary, did you know you’re our favorite? 🙂 Use promo code BFFS on your next order for free delivery—just because.
Offer a personalized recommendation Hey Shantel—did you know your favorite combo is on sale this weekend? Go ahead, treat yourself: [link]

Even something as short and simple as a quick text has almost limitless potential once you know how to put it to good use. What you say, and how you say it, can make all the difference between a happy repeat customer and an opt-out.

Tips for Implementing SMS and MMS Marketing Effectively

Beyond the text itself, there are other considerations you’ll need to keep in mind to craft truly successful marketing text messages for your takeaway or restaurant.

Timing, for example, is everything in the food industry. You don’t want anybody opting out just because you accidentally woke them at 3 AM with a text about a new side dish. But more than that, timing your messages just right—when customers are most likely to be hungry and thinking about their next meal—can play a significant role in boosting engagement and sales.

Another major differentiator between a moderately successful campaign and a truly great one is Multimedia (MMS) messages. Pictures and especially videos elevate your texts to a whole other level by playing to your customers’ appetites in a direct, mouthwatering way. After all, who among us hasn’t salivated over a photo of a juicy burger or a quick clip of a sizzling steak on the grill? Almost any one of the example texts above could be easily improved with the addition of a picture or short video clip to emphasize your point. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is worth 1,000 pictures. 

But using MMS isn’t just about whetting your users’ appetites, it’s also about standing out. As SMS texting becomes more prevalent in the marketing world, MMS will become more and more valuable as a means of setting your texts apart from the 40 others your average customer might be reading on any given day. Be sure to utilize MMS messaging to embed your photos and videos directly into your texts for the highest boost to engagement; every time you ask a recipient to follow a link you are guaranteed to lose engagement. 

This, of course, leads to one final tip for success: choose your text marketing service provider with care. Look for a service that includes shortcode verification and unlimited keywords, and a platform that will allow you to use both SMS and MMS messaging to reach your customers. The easier it is to use, the better, as you’ll spend less time trying to figure out how to hit “send” and more time bringing people together around the foods they love most.

Before you put these example marketing text messages for takeaways and restaurants to good use, you need a solid text marketing platform to build your campaign on. NorthText’s solutions include both SMS and MMS support and a user-friendly platform—our proprietary tech can even resize overlarge images and videos for MMS automatically so you won’t have to. Call or text us anytime at (312) 869-9070, or contact us online today to get started. We’ll have you up and running in minutes.

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SMS Notifications vs. Push Notifications: Which Is More Reliable?

SMS notification received on a smartphone

For every company, it is an ongoing struggle to choose the best method(s) for reaching out to your target audience. SMS notifications vs. push notifications is one common comparison being made, and discussing the pros and cons of these two notification types will be the focus of this piece. 

With an estimated 275.66 million smartphone users in the U.S. alone, both SMS notifications and push notifications seem like obvious ways to engage with your audience. But when it comes to effectiveness, which of these two methods is going to work best for you? Let’s look at some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of SMS notifications vs. push notifications to help you decide which you should be using.       

Using SMS Notifications vs. Push Notifications

With 95 percent of text messages being read within three minutes of being delivered, SMS notifications (text messages) are an excellent way to reliably reach your subscribers. Text messaging is a default feature in even the most basic mobile phones and does not require an internet connection to send or receive messages. Those two facts alone open up a huge amount of people that can be reached by text, vs. other means that may require more sophisticated devices and/or internet connections. 

This accessibility is clearly reflected in recent SMS marketing statistics which show that around 98% of total text messages are read, compared to only 20% of emails. And, texts have an average click-through rate (CTR) of 9.18% vs. only about 4% for emails. 

These robust numbers prove the potential of SMS notifications for reliably reaching out to future and existing customers. Here are a few other major advantages of SMS notifications: 

Benefits of SMS Notifications

  • There is no need for recipients to download any particular application for receiving SMS notifications.
  • SMS notifications facilitate two-way communication and allow the user to reply to your messages and get responses in real-time.
  • Once a recipient receives an SMS notification, the text message remains stored on the user’s device and can be read again until it is manually deleted from the inbox.   

With such clear benefits for SMS notifications, it may not be surprising that around 50% of U.S. consumers make direct purchases after receiving text messages from businesses that contain discount coupons or QR codes. 

Despite the clear and numerous advantages, SMS notifications do have their downsides too.  

Drawbacks of SMS Notifications

  • Legally, businesses need opt-in consent from recipients before sending them marketing messages via texts. 
  • SMS notifications do not provide any direct interface to view products during mobile shopping. Users need to click on the hyperlinks embedded in the messages to take them to the respective web pages. In other words, there is no real app interface.
  • Text messages are usually restricted to 160 characters, including spaces, leaving marketers with limited opportunity to describe their products or services. However, as we will discuss later, some innovative text marketing solutions offer up to 240 characters.     

In contrast, push notifications are the popup messages that smartphone users can receive once they download your business’s app. These notifications can include offers, greetings, or other account notices. Since push notifications do not interrupt a user’s current activity on the smartphone, some consider these notifications to be less intrusive than SMS notifications. Let’s see how push notifications might support your strategy for audience engagement: 

Benefits of Push Notifications

  • A user is already consenting to receive push notifications upon downloading the app. So, marketers need not worry about building opt-in subscribers lists for sending notifications over the app. However, you will typically need to advertise to get users to download your app. 
  • Around 46 percent of mobile device owners in the U.S. reported using mobile retail apps for shopping activities in December 2019. Push notifications are instrumental in influencing purchasing decisions for many smartphone users.   
  • The appearance of push notifications is dependent on the features of browsers and devices. Browsers such as Chrome and Firefox support unlimited character length for push notifications on Android devices. For iOS devices, app push notifications are limited to 4 lines and 178 characters that can include hyperlinks as well as rich media. 

Though push notifications are known for their ability to drive up app engagement by reminding users about special offers, discounts, etc., there are clear drawbacks as well. 

Drawbacks of Push Notifications       

  • Push notifications are solely dependent on app installation by users and offer only one-way communication—from business to audience. Additionally, users may need to manually enable or adjust these notifications depending on the device they are using. 
  • When unread app notifications appearing as badge counts are clicked upon and read, that badge counter is removed, unlike text messages that remain in the inbox until deleted.    
  • An increased volume of push notifications—6 to 10 notifications a week—can cause app fatigue, prompting users to stop using an app or worse, uninstall the app altogether from their devices.   

Choosing A Good SMS Notification Platform

When it comes to SMS notifications vs. push notifications, they both have their strengths and weaknesses. However, one of the most significant factors determining the success of SMS notifications, or a whole text marketing campaign, is the quality and feature set of the SMS marketing platform you use. 

The right platform can help you create engaging text messages with an increased character limit of up to 240 characters—above the character limit of many push notifications. The auto-response feature of an advanced SMS delivery platform lets you send real-time personalized responses to your subscribers, something that is difficult to accomplish through push notifications. With additional features, including unlimited keywords to target different demographics and a full audit trail to keep a track of all the messages sent to subscribers, you can further strengthen your text marketing strategy. 

An innovative, cost-effective, and user-friendly SMS delivery platform ensures that your audience receives quality text messages with information that is valuable to them. And most importantly, it ensures that this process is as simple as possible for you.      

With NorthText, you can create affordable and appealing text messages for your audience with unlimited keywords and an increased character limit over other services. For more information, contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070.

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Using SMS Disaster Alert System Programming for Your Organization

A mobile phone showing an SMS disaster alert

When disaster strikes, time is of the essence. Reaching as many people as you can, as quickly as you can, is about something more important than a typical mass-marketing message—it’s about saving lives.

SMS disaster alert system programming offers the fastest, most reliable, and efficient option to date for getting the word out about an emergency situation. Not only are you more likely to be able to reach people on their cell phones via text than any other device or method of communication, but 98% of text messages are read within the first three minutes, ensuring you get eyes on your alerts—quickly.  

How SMS Disaster Alert System Programming Works

SMS disaster alert programming allows your organization to send mass texts to people who have opted-in to receive emergency notifications. When a critical situation arises, a system administrator can quickly compose a single message and send it to thousands, even millions, of users with the press of a button. You can also pre-compose messages that can be quickly reviewed and sent in the same manner. This can be especially useful if, for instance, your local area is prone to frequent flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.

SMS disaster alerts can be used effectively:

  • As part of an early warning system to let users know as soon as possible when a situation might become critical—i.e., when meteorologists predict a tornado will imminently pass through the area.
  • During emergencies to keep your audience updated on important developments as the situation unfolds—i.e., reporting when a school lockdown has ended.
  • Immediately after disasters, to share vital information regarding the aftermath of a situation and where to get help if needed—i.e., sharing the locations of local relief centers once they are open.

SMS emergency alerts disseminate vital information quickly, concisely, and effectively, giving users as much time as possible to prepare or react as necessary.

Setting up an SMS Disaster Alert System

Implementing an SMS disaster alert system is not as complicated as it might sound.

First, if you haven’t already, you need to find an SMS messaging platform that will enable you to quickly and easily reach as many people as you need to. Look for features such as auto-responders to ensure no reply is left unanswered—even under overwhelming circumstances—and user groups so that your alerts are only ever sent to those users who would find them relevant. 

The ideal platform will be intuitively designed and easily set up, typically within a matter of minutes. If it’s not, this might be the first red flag that you’ll want to consider other options. Once your SMS disaster alert system programming is in place, you need to build a list of subscribers. Import any existing contacts and use webforms, advertisements, and more to invite new users to opt-in automatically by texting a keyword to a shortcode. This is as simple as asking people to “text ‘ALERTS’ to 12345” to opt-in. Be clear in your invitation about exactly what types of messages people can expect to receive, and how often, to help avoid any frustration and confusion later on.

Once you have your subscriber list and have separated users into different segments if necessary, all you have to do is type a single message and send it to whoever needs to receive it. Be sure to test your system from time to time and be clear about when you are running a test versus when you are sending an actual alert.

Reliable SMS Disaster Alert Systems Put Safety First

When someone signs up for SMS emergency alerts, they are trusting you to help them and their loved ones stay safe. They need to know they can rely on you to give them the information they need, when they need it, to allow them to take appropriate action. And, in order to do that, you need to know that you can rely on your SMS delivery platform to deliver that information promptly and reliably, every time.

That’s why the most critical piece of the SMS disaster alert system programming puzzle is choosing a quality, innovative SMS delivery platform and a provider you can trust to be there when you need them, just as you will be for your audience.

NorthText provides SMS disaster alert system programming and other text marketing solutions to organizations in a wide range of industries. To learn more about our platform, services, or how we can support your business or agency, call or text us anytime at (312) 869-9070.

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How to Use Videos in Text Message Marketing Campaigns

A couple enjoys a video sent as part of a text message marketing campaign

When television took the world by storm in the 1950s, people were enthralled. Almost as soon as video was introduced, it became the preferred method by which people got their news as well as their entertainment.

Today, a similar revolution is already well underway. Instead of a “magic box” in the living room, this time the magic is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Mobile viewing is already the most popular method by which most people (62 percent, to be precise) consume video content, and YouTube reports a massive 126 million unique viewers each month. As phones get smarter and mobile video continues to grow in popularity, it’s clear where marketers need to turn their attention.

If you want to keep your audience engaged, using videos in your text message marketing campaigns is perhaps the most vital tool you can have in your company’s toolbox.

Using Videos in Text Message Marketing: SMS vs. MMS

There are two ways to include videos in text messages:

With an SMS (plain-text) message, you can include a link to a video. This can be useful if you have a video you’d like to share that is longer than 30 seconds, or one that is built into a larger page design/motif. However, keep in mind that while SMS messages have a 98 percent open rate (within minutes!), not everyone who opens your message will be willing to click on a link to watch a video. You’ll also want to make sure to use a URL shortener to avoid saturating the typical 160-character limit of SMS with unnecessary text.

With an MMS (multimedia) text, you can embed a short video directly into your text. This saves your subscribers the extra step of clicking through to a new web page or app to watch your video, meaning more people will be willing and able to watch it. However, videos must be kept concise due to file size limitations—ideally around 15 seconds, and no longer than 30 seconds. Additionally, you’ll need to be sure to use the right file type—MOV files are acceptable, but MP4 videos are preferred since they send and load much faster.

Both options can be suitable for certain situations. Longer videos that still contain useful and timely information (such as big product or service updates that require a bit of explanation) can be easily shared via SMS, with the text message itself emphasizing the importance and relevance of the video’s content to your users’ experiences. However, because short clips are more convenient, both to access and to watch, MMS is often the more efficient and effective option for including videos in text message marketing campaigns. 

Keep in mind that every time you ask people to leave the conversation to follow a link, you will lose engagement. 

When to Implement Videos in Text Marketing Campaigns

Multimedia messages (MMS) offer an excellent way to keep text marketing content fresh and exciting for your subscribers, but it’s important to know how to maximize the efficacy of this approach. Here are a few examples of the best times to include video in a text marketing campaign:

Brand Awareness

Video content primarily geared toward building a bigger audience and strengthening connections with your current subscribers.

  • Behind-the-scenes clips showing how a product was made or the planning behind an upcoming or recent event.
  • Customer reviews and testimonials. Consumers are more likely to trust peer recommendations than take your company’s word for it, and that trust is exponentially increased by being able to see the reviewer’s face on-screen.
  • Entertaining videos such as a silly skit about a new offer or a dramatic product reveal—the key ingredient of any viral video is that it evokes a strong reaction, whether it’s laughter or anticipation.

Customer Education

Videos that share relevant, helpful information and position your company as an authority on a subject.

  • Instructional videos, such as how-to videos explaining how to use a new product or how to troubleshoot certain issues.
  • Product demos that show off how new products or services work and share insider tips for getting the most value out of them. 64 percent of viewers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
  • Updates concerning new and upcoming products, services, or changes to your company.

Customer Engagement

Videos that directly encourage a desired response on the part of the consumer.

  • Promo videos for flash sales, seasonal products, or other limited-time offers.
  • Narrative videos to raise awareness around an issue. Because of the increased empathy video content can generate, even a 30-second clip can be an ideal way to raise funds for a cause or encourage users to take action.
  • Video contests: ask customers to create and send in short clips talking about your product or service or showing it in action. Share the winner’s video with your full list, and offer a small gift or special promo code as a prize.

As with any good text marketing campaign, the key considerations here are relevance and timeliness. Your audience doesn’t want updates about offers that ended last week or after-the-fact product announcements. Your subscribers opted in because they care about what your company has to offer and they want to be the first to know about whatever you come up with next. Be sure to reward their loyalty and trust with value—as much as possible, and in as few characters (and seconds) as possible.

Reaping the Benefits of Using Video in Texting Campaigns

SMS and MMS messages are by far the quickest and most efficient way to reach your audience to date. And, because most texts are opened and read within a matter of minutes, your message will not only be sent but—far more importantly—received while the information is still fresh and relevant. Even better, you already know that you’ll be focused on your target audience, as only interested parties will have opted-in to receive your texts in the first place, meaning you’ll always be getting the right messaging to the right people at the right time.

Utilizing video in your text message marketing campaigns not only caters to your customers’ preferences, but it also helps you connect with your audience on a deeper, more personal level. Plain-text messages are limited to a handful of characters and perhaps an emoji or two, but with a video, you’re sending your message out not just with words but with facial expressions, physical gestures, and tone of voice—all of which can generate stronger emotions and motivation to take action than a brief text can typically achieve.

And, as mobile video viewing continues to rise in popularity, companies are starting to catch on. The prevalence of video as a marketing tool rose as much as 18 percent in 2019 alone, with no signs of slowing down. Including video in your text campaigns sooner rather than later, will set your company apart as one that keeps in touch with its audience and stays ahead of the curve.

Ready to start implementing video in your text message marketing campaigns? NorthText offers an easy-to-use, innovative text marketing platform that makes creating and sending SMS and MMS text blasts a breeze. Call or text us anytime at (312) 869-9070 and we can get you set up in a matter of minutes.

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SMS Alert Advantages and Disadvantages You Need to Know

A young man considers the advantages and disadvantages of opting in to an SMS alert system for public health updates

By definition, an alert is important and, more often than not, urgent. We may wish to be alerted to opportunities, such as a flash sale or pop-up event, or to significant changes in circumstances, such as a business opening new locations or closing down old ones. In emergency situations, being promptly alerted to danger helps us stay safe.

To be effective, an alert needs to be fast and to the point, and it needs to be reliable. This is why SMS alerts have become increasingly relied upon over the years—few other options can rival the efficiency and reach of a straightforward text blast.

Of course, no method of communication is completely perfect. Being aware of the various SMS alert advantages and disadvantages can help you make the best choices regarding when and how to effectively implement text alerts into your marketing and communications.

SMS Alert Advantages

SMS alerts offer several impressive advantages over other means of reaching a large audience:

  • Speed. An SMS alert takes seconds to send, and will typically be read by most of your audience within three minutes or less. 
  • Price. SMS alerts cost only pennies per message, making them one of the most cost-effective options for reaching out to large groups of people at once.
  • Wide reach. As many as 96% of Americans own cell phones of some kind, but about 15% of the population are still using older phones without internet access. SMS texts, which do not require an internet connection to send or receive, allow you to reliably reach both smartphone and flip phone users alike and with ease.
  • Reliability. People are far more likely to miss radio or television announcements or misplace print materials, such as flyers or brochures, than lose or forget to check their cell phones. Even emails only get opened by about two out of ten recipients, whereas SMS alerts have a 98% chance of being read.
  • Efficiency. Compared to a phone call—even an automated one—an SMS alert uses far less of a phone’s battery life, which can be a critical consideration during a crisis.

A text may not be the ideal method to get every kind of message across. However, if you need to make a point, and you need to make it now, an SMS alert is almost always your best option.

SMS Alert Disadvantages

Despite the many benefits of SMS alerts, here are a few potential disadvantages to be taken into consideration, as well as how to overcome them:

  • Authentication. Anyone can send a text, which means that readers may have reason to doubt the veracity of your messages if, for example, they forget to save your number after opting-in to text alerts. This can be easily avoided by always including an indication of your company’s identity when sending an alert.
  • Cell tower congestion. During an emergency, cell towers can sometimes become overwhelmed by the sheer number of messages being sent back and forth as people try to contact loved ones and sources of support. To minimize delays, try to send crisis alerts as early as possible. If you need to send multiple alerts, make sure all of the most important information is included in the very first one.
  • Character limit. While you can break an SMS alert into multiple texts, it’s not ideal—especially not during emergencies. To avoid annoying customers with multiple notifications or confusing them with multi-part texts received out of order, keep SMS alerts as concise as possible and save lengthier explanations for later. It is also worth mentioning that some innovative SMS platforms allow for increased character limits over the standard 160. That extra space could be crucial in times of emergency. 

In comparing these SMS alert advantages and disadvantages, it becomes clear that the benefits far outweigh the potential problems—most of which can be avoided or mitigated by following a few simple best practices.

SMS Alert Advantages and Disadvantages: Optimizing Your Approach

When weighing SMS alert advantages and disadvantages, it is important to keep in mind that texting is never your only option for reaching people. Knowing which kinds of messages are best suited to this format is key to optimizing your strategy.

Newsletters, staff letters, and other lengthier communications are all still best sent by email or other long-form methods. Personal, individual conversations may warrant 1:1 online chats or phone calls. SMS alerts, on the other hand, are best used when you need to share straightforward, time-sensitive information quickly with many people at once. New products, limited-time offers, and emergency updates are all ideal examples.

Another important consideration is the platform you use to send your SMS alerts. Look for one that offers useful features like auto-responders, user group segmentation, and unlimited sending. The more user-friendly, flexible, and reliable your text marketing service is, the simpler it will be to reach who you need to when you need to, every time.

NorthText is a seasoned and innovative provider of text marketing solutions. Our robust, intuitive platform can help you easily navigate the advantages and disadvantages of SMS alerts to optimize customer and employee engagement. To learn more, call or text us at (312) 869-9070 today!

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How to Improve Email Marketing Conversion Rates

email marketing conversion rate

When we talk about your email marketing conversion rate, we are referring to the percentage of subscribers who have interacted with the call-to-action in the message. Depending upon what your conversion goal is—generating a lead, newsletter signups, or prompting a purchase—the conversion rate for your email marketing campaigns can vary. A few relevant statistics show us that:

  • The average click-through-rate (CTR) for newsletters is 17.8% with only 1 out of every 100 email newsletters sent generating a purchase.   
  • The conversion rate for order follow-up emails such as reward campaigns, review requests, and feedback campaigns stands at 5%. 
  • The CTR for shopping cart abandonment emails is interestingly higher at 28.7% with a conversion rate of 5%. 

If you are hoping to get more out of your email marketing campaigns to increase your ROI and help stretch your marketing budget a little further, you are not alone! We have curated a list of five tips to help you achieve this goal.     

5 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Conversion Rate 

An email campaign has some specific elements that we are all familiar with such as the subject line, overall design, subscriber lists, and engaging, valuable content to encourage your recipients to open, read, and interact with it. To improve your email marketing conversion rate, make sure you are focused on optimizing these five key aspects.

Concise, Engaging Subject Lines

The subject line of an email is the first, and sometimes the only thing that a reader sees in their inbox. Whether the subject line of an email appeals to and grabs the attention of a reader ultimately decides the open rate of the campaign. 

Is the subject line relevant to the reader and does it generate curiosity about the email content? Is it too long and unclear? These are a few things that you need to consider while creating captivating subject lines to reach your audience. 

To make great subject lines, be clear and focus on what is in it for the reader, and make sure that your subject isn’t truncated for exceeding the character limit of an email inbox. Additionally, using Emojis can be a fun way to set yourself apart and grab the attention of your readers.      

Segmentation of Email Lists 

The health and organization of your email list will influence your email conversion rates to a great extent. Segmenting and maintaining your subscriber list is a critical ongoing process as you gain new subscribers, lose old subscribers, and learn more about existing ones. The segmentation of your lists can be based on attributes such as demographics, behavior, interests, preferences, and more. 

With the right segmentation, you can create carefully customized emails for your audience and connect with them better, in the ways they prefer, which can yield higher conversion rates. Additionally, the more clever you can be with your segmentation the more you can avoid sending messages that certain segments of your audience do not want to receive, which can help minimize the opt-out rate. To get started, try sending out a poll to learn more about your subscribers and their preferences. 

Mobile Optimization

With 46% of all emails opened on mobile devices, you need to optimize your email campaigns for mobile platforms. Mobile-friendly email marketing messages ensure the proper display and formatting of text and images on smartphone email apps. Creating mobile-optimized campaigns also reduces the size of the images used in the body of the email, thereby speeding up load times and improving the overall experience. If you want to look professional, you need to optimize your messages for mobile users. 

Great Visuals

It is no secret that visuals often appeal to readers more than plain text. Visuals add nuance to your brand image and help the audience better identify with it. Emails are no different, and to grab the attention of your subscribers, you need eye-catching graphics, illustrations, photos, and other engaging visual elements. Look for examples of striking emails in your own inbox and try to learn from what other companies have created that you resonate with. 

An Effective Call-to-Action

Though it sounds obvious, the importance of an effective call-to-action (CTA) can not be emphasized enough. A call-to-action is the thing you want the reader to do in the context of the message so you can move them further down the sales funnel. Personalized CTAs that appeal to a reader’s interests, location, demographics, and other key characteristics have a whopping 202% higher conversion rate than basic CTAs that are not uniquely based on your readers. So, get to know your subscribers and start using that information to send them content that will love. 

Though these suggestions can help you improve your email marketing conversion rates, there will always be limitations to email marketing and a certain portion of your subscriber list will always fall through the cracks. As a marketer, you want to make sure you are reliably reaching the greatest amount of your subscribers as often as possible. 

So, how can you capitalize on the shortcomings of email marketing while increasing your overall marketing ROI?       

Complement Email Marketing with SMS Marketing

The shortcomings of email marketing do not necessarily call for completely revamping your marketing strategy. Email marketing is here to stay even with slower responses and lesser engagement rates, compared to text marketing. 

But, as a marketer, you can address the flaws of email marketing by complementing it with SMS marketing or text marketing—a more powerful and personalized channel to reach out to your audience. The statistics for SMS marketing speak for themselves:

  • 98% of all text messages get read in minutes, and on average 45% generate a response from subscribers. 
  • A typical person takes 90 seconds to reply to a text, compared to more than an hour for email.
  • The CTR for texts with special offers is higher than other well-regarded digital channels including Facebook and Google Adwords. 
  • More than 50% of subscribers make purchasing decisions based on coupons and QR codes received through texts. 

With SMS marketing, there is a higher chance for you to reach more of your audience, faster and more often. So how do you take advantage of what is shown in these clearly compelling statistics? You need is the right innovative SMS delivery platform that makes text marketing easy, fast, and successful. With a user-friendly platform offering features like auto-responders, an intuitive incoming message dashboard, increased character limits over other SMS marketing providers, and a full audit trail, you can reliably connect with your subscribers in the method that most recipients prefer—text messages. 

Receiving these benefits from an affordable and cost-effective SMS marketing platform can let you worry a little less about trying to squeeze every drop out of your email marketing conversion rates. Adding SMS marketing to your overall marketing strategy will improve your marketing ROI, and the right company can have you up and running in minutes. 

With NorthText, you can complement your marketing plan with affordable text messages and surveys and connect with your audience faster and more reliably than via email alone. For quick and easy answers to any questions you have, contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070

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Key Email Marketing Statistic for 2021 and Beyond

Email marketing messages being sent and received on a laptop

Since 1978 when Gary Thuerk sent the first commercial emails in bulk, email marketing has significantly evolved. The turn of the millennium saw email marketing become a primary tool for businesses to better reach their customers. Even after all these years—and with as much as most of us hate spam emails—marketers still trust email marketing to be one of the most cost-effective and conversion-rich forms of digital marketing. But is it?

Going by the current email marketing statistics, the trend of reaching out to potential and existing customers through their inbox is here to stay. However, as we will see, email is not the only way, or necessarily the best way, of accomplishing this. 

Email Marketing Statistics for 2021

The success of email marketing can be largely attributed to the ever-growing number of email users across the globe. To more clearly understand the reach of email marketing among your customers and target audience, let’s look at the actual numbers regarding email usage, the return on investment (ROI) on email marketing, and the preference among marketers to use emails as a primary marketing channel.     

Email Usage

Email is an integral part of our online communication and digital connectivity. In the U.S., over 90% of internet users have email accounts used for business or private communications. This widespread usage is clearly shown in the following statistics:

Return on Investment (ROI)

The reason why marketers prefer email marketing over other marketing channels is its cost-effectiveness. Statistics show that email is a more effective way to acquire customers than social media. Therefore, it is no surprise that the ROI of email marketing is significantly higher than social media marketing. 

Preference by Marketers

A marketing campaign is deemed effective when it reaches the right audience and promotes a suitable level of interaction with the call-to-action (CTA). Key performance indicators (KPIs) of email marketing provide visibility for marketers to analyze the effectiveness of the campaigns, which is reflected in their preference to use emails for marketing.

Even with such robust numbers, businesses often find it a challenge to reliably reach their customers as much as they would like to through email marketing. Marketing emails arriving too frequently, and the consistent flow of other spam emails, can make subscribers just ignore the majority of email messages. Because we are all inundated with emails, we have been conditioned to turn a blind eye to most of them. 

On average, an email marketing campaign report reveals that only 5-15% of emails get opened and the rest head straight to the spam folder or the trash. Out of the limited number of opened emails, only 7.8% get clicked, which shows poor audience engagement. However, we have seen that the ROI for email marketing is still quite high compared to other forms of marketing. 

So, imagine what kind of ROI you could be seeing if you added an additional marketing method with a higher typical read rate and click-through rate (CTR) than email can offer.

While email marketing is an essential constituent of advertising and branding strategy, the communication gap left by email marketing can be successfully bridged through text marketing or SMS marketing, which is a cost-effective, reliable, and more direct marketing channel to complement your overall marketing efforts.      

How Text Marketing Can Complement Your Overall Marketing Strategy

When it comes to quickly and reliably conveying information and gathering real-time responses from your target audience, text marketing or SMS marketing is simply more effective than email marketing. Key SMS marketing statistics reveal that 95% of text messages are read and responded to within the first 3 minutes of being delivered with a click-through rate of 9.18% for text messages with special offers. Texts have an engagement rate six times higher than emails, making text marketing the ideal fit for bolstering your marketing strategy.

Now that you know that text marketing has the potential to boost your marketing ROI and marketing success, let’s look at what the right SMS marketing tool should offer you. 

Innovative SMS marketing platforms can provide increased character counts (240 vs. the standard 160) to give you enough space to design intriguing SMS and MMS marketing texts for your recipients. Robust features such as autoresponders, survey creation tools, an intuitive incoming message board, and unlimited user groups and keywords can give you everything you need for successful text marketing campaigns. 

Additionally, you will want to make sure you are partnering with a company that can offer you real-time, US-based customer support with real humans—not more chatbots. 

Email marketing is here to stay, but partnering with an innovative SMS marketing platform can be sure to see your marketing ROI reach new heights as you interact with customers in a way that most customers prefer—text. 

Text marketing proves to be the most effective way to overcome the challenges inherent in email marketing. With NorthText you can complement your marketing strategy with text marketing through an affordable, simple, and user-friendly SMS delivery platform. Plus, the setup could not be simpler. To get started, or for any additional questions, contact us by phone or text anytime at (312) 869-9070

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