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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How Collecting Surveys by Text Message Can Improve Your Response Rates

Two mobile phone users submitting survey responses to a survey by text

When was the last time you filled out a traditional in-person survey? Though in-person and mail surveys are considered one of the most relevant, accurate, and personalized techniques to gather responses, the resources needed for in-person or mail surveys are often expensive and time-intensive. As a result, marketers have switched to survey methods such as email, text, social media, and websites because they can offer a better ROI and a quick turnaround response time. But the question remains about the effectiveness of these alternate survey methods in reaching the target audience and generating better, more frequent responses. 

When we talk about survey response rate, we are talking about the total number of people answering the survey compared to the total number of people receiving the survey. On average, survey response rates are around 33%. For marketers, the challenge is to increase this rate by reaching people more reliably with a method of communication they prefer, and this is where text messages can play a pivotal role. 

How Surveys by Text Message Offer Better Response Rates

To clarify this, let’s look at a few widely used digital channels including email, social media, and websites, and how they can influence the survey response rate.

Emails

Only about 20% of emails get read and the rest of them either get stuck in the spam folder or are ignored by the recipients. So, even if a survey is being sent to a larger audience group, the chances of those emails getting opened and read are too low to offer a strong ROI. And, most of us get so much junk email that it has become a reflex to discard the bulk of what we receive.       

Social Media

Social media is an important component of your brand marketing strategy and can serve as both an active and passive channel for polls, surveys, and other data. However, sharing questionnaires on Facebook or Twitter—two of the most popular social media platforms—does not necessarily mean getting a higher response rate as relevant content can go unnoticed in a sea of posts or tweets.       

Websites

Many websites install survey widgets requesting visitors to complete a survey form in exchange for a discount or coupon code. Though incentivizing the audience is a good way to motivate them to take a survey, it can reduce the sample size of the survey, as only a certain percentage of the people visiting the website are typically offered the survey.   

Texts

Based on SMS marketing statistics, text messages have a 209% higher response rate compared to phone calls, email, or Facebook. Any marketer looking for a higher number of respondents for surveys can’t ignore this fact. With 95% of texts being read within the first 3 minutes of being sent and responded to, on average, within 90 seconds, there is a high chance that a survey by text will receive a better response rate than other digital channels.  

Surveys, when done through third-party tools, only provide aggregated data with a minimum turnaround time of twenty-four hours. And, once you receive this data, you need to analyze it in order to create your retargeting plan. To put it bluntly, this requires a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, surveys done by text messages let marketers gather customer responses in real-time and immediately begin retargeting. With the right SMS delivery platform, the data you gain from your surveys will be immediately more valuable than that gathered from third-party survey tools.

Choosing the Right Platform for Surveys by Text Message

With a more personalized approach, similar to in-person surveys, a survey by text message can more reliably connect with your audience and likely increase their willingness to respond. You can also incentivize survey completion by offering coupons, discounts, or QR codes. The trick is to find the right secured platform that offers the following essential features:

  • Auto-responders: Your audience expects a real-time, personalized response from you as soon as they send a message or complete a survey. With an advanced text marketing platform, the auto-responding feature facilitates one-on-one conversations with the survey respondents, making it quick for them to provide the information and quick for you to collect it. You should be striving to make the process as easy as possible. 
  • Increased character limit: It is considered a best practice to limit the number of questions in a survey to keep your audience focused and likely to complete it. However, most SMS delivery platforms are already limited to only 160 characters. 

    Choosing an innovative SMS delivery platform with an increased character limit lets you include the survey in the text itself rather than putting a third-party link to a survey in the message. Providing the survey right in the text is a guaranteed way to yield higher response rates, as each time you link somewhere else you lose engagement. 
  • Incoming message dashboard: The real-time responses to the survey need to be organized in an intuitive dashboard to allow you to easily work with the valuable data you obtain.  

With these essential features, the right text delivery platform can effectively improve the response rates of your surveys. And, the advantages of these features will win you some loyal subscribers who are happy to not only fill out the questionnaires but also convert into customers. 

NorthText’s user-friendly and affordable text marketing platform can help you collect and improve responses to surveys by text message. To learn more about how our platform can benefit your business, contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070.

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What the Best Text Message Marketing Campaigns All Have in Common

A man excited to see a text marketing campaign on his cellphone

Did you know that an SMS marketing campaign once upped Ford’s conversion rate to 15.4%—one of the highest recorded conversion rates of marketing channels up until that point? Or did you know that Disney’s clever text-to-wait option allows park guests to claim a virtual place in line for food? The latter allowing them to wander the park at their leisure until a text lets them know their table is ready, thus avoiding the distinct frustrating of waiting in long amusement park queues.

Whether you knew about these SMS campaigns or not, if you’re looking to mirror the success of the best text marketing campaigns for your own business, it’s vital to understand exactly what it is that makes these campaigns successful in the first place. This article will walk you through 5 key considerations for creating the best text message marketing campaigns.

Why Text Message Marketing Works

Texting is taking over the marketing world, and while other advertising mediums certainly haven’t disappeared (yet), SMS (plain text) and MMS (multimedia text) marketing have become perhaps the most powerful tools currently available for getting a message out quickly and reliably to many customers at once. While roughly 75% of Americans own laptops or other desktop devices, as many as 96% own a cellphone—and the majority of these own smartphones.

It’s estimated that one in five Americans uses their smartphone exclusively to communicate as well as to access the internet. This is the reason why mobile-friendly websites have become so imperative to building an online presence, and it’s also one reason why text campaigns have begun to overtake email and other methods in recent years, both in terms of efficacy and popularity. Emails only get opened about 20% of the time, whereas a massive 98% of texts get read within minutes and almost half generate a direct response.

Learning from the Best Text Message Marketing Campaigns

The details of every SMS marketing campaign are as unique as the businesses that implement them. It will be up to you and your team to determine exactly what types of text messages and offers will best suit your purposes. However, the best text message marketing campaigns all have the following in common, regardless of industry:

1. They Cater to Their Customers’ Needs

Customers demand—and deserve—value in return for their time and attention as well as their money. The most cleverly-worded text campaign in the world won’t keep your customers interested if it doesn’t offer any new information or opportunities they can take advantage of. The more texts a customer receives that they find irrelevant or uninteresting, the more likely they will be to opt-out of texting with your business, and the chances of getting them to opt back in after that are slim to none.

2. They Prioritize Convenience for Their Customers

Every message you send should be as easy to read and respond to as possible. This is one of the reasons why so many companies utilize shortcodes and keywords in SMS campaigns—it doesn’t get much simpler than typing a simple “yes” or “no” to accept or reject an offer.

However, the best campaigns also take into account factors such as timing and frequency. No one wants to be woken up by a text at 4 AM to let them know about a flash sale that will be over before they even get up for work, and no one wants to hear from their favorite restaurant every single day of the week just because there’s a new item on the menu they haven’t tried yet.

3. They Are Personal but Not Too Personal

Most people find texting far more personal than more obviously mass-produced missives like email or snail mail newsletters. It feels like a 1:1 conversation, even when it’s not, and the best campaigns take full advantage of this angle to deepen the relationship between company and consumer. 

Using a customer’s preferred name in the initial greeting of a text, using location and purchase history to send uniquely relevant offers, and having staff or an innovative auto-responder at the ready to engage in an actual conversation if a customer initiates one can all further contribute to positive customer relations.

However, it is precisely because texting is so personal that businesses also have to be careful not to overstep certain boundaries when communicating with customers this way. Texts can be casual but should always be professional. Slang should be kept to a minimum, as it can be difficult for customers who do not share your native language or generation to understand. Use customer names sparingly and never ask for more personal information than is necessary—card numbers, for instance, are better requested via web form than a text.

4. They Give Their Customers Options

The ability to opt-out is a legal requirement for any text message marketing campaign, but a truly great campaign will offer a few other options besides this as well. Allowing customers to choose what type of texts they receive and when can make it easier to ensure you’re getting the right messages across to the right people at the right time, which can help keep your subscribers opted in.

Some campaigns have found success by simply allowing customers to opt-in to special birthday discounts. Others may do well to use automated cart abandonment texts as an opportunity to offer a special incentive, such as a limited-time discount, to prompt shoppers to finally hit the “checkout” button.

5. They Have a Clear Call-to-Action

This may seem obvious, but it can be all too easy to put the emphasis of a text message in the wrong place or forget to include the most important information entirely. However, the goal of every text messaging campaign should be to incite some sort of action on the customer’s part, whether it’s to motivate them to investigate (and ultimately purchase) a new product, opt-in to a new service, or provide feedback.

What you ask them to do will depend on what you are trying to achieve. The important thing is making sure that you ask them clearly. If your customers don’t have a clear next step laid out for them, including what they need to do as well as when they need to do it, they are more likely to move on than to waste time and energy trying to puzzle it out on their own.

Using the Right Text Marketing Service for Your Campaign

To do a job right, you need the right tools. It’s as true of text message marketing as it is of carpentry or medicine. A successful text message marketing campaign requires the use of a text marketing service that offers both the ease-of-use and flexibility necessary to get your message out as quickly and effectively as possible.

The ideal platform will offer swift setup and an intuitive interface to minimize unnecessary hangups and let you focus on what matters—the campaign itself, not how to set it up. You should look for multiple features, including text blast capabilities and MMS options (in addition to SMS), and make sure your provider of choice is fully compliant with all regulations and offers a full audit trail to avoid legal issues down the road. Finally, make sure they offer quality customer service; if you have a question, they should be available and happy to answer it, just as you and your team should always be ready to help out your own customers.

Ultimately, the right text marketing service will be one that will help you to amplify your brand voice to effectively reach as many customers as possible without ever losing that special personal touch.

NorthText is a trusted provider of SMS and MMS marketing solutions. Ready to jump on the road to creating your best text message marketing campaigns? Contact us today by phone or text at (312) 869-9070 to get started. We’ll have you and up running in minutes.

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SMS & MMS Marketing: Image Use Best Practices

A man looking at an SMS marketing image on his cellphone

Simple images can convey powerful messages—a fact that SMS and MMS marketing techniques leverage to create captivating images that encourage recipients to engage with a brand. However, there might be times when the typical 160 SMS character limit is not enough to build an accurate representation of an idea in the mind of a recipient. SMS marketing images can solve that dilemma by helping to create a specific picture of the desired message.

SMS marketing images may seem easy to use, but they can add a layer of complexity to your marketing campaign. The image you choose for each text instantly becomes the center of attention and can mean the difference between a recipient moving on from your message or being engaged and inspired by it. In order to optimize the use of SMS marketing images as part of your text marketing campaign, it is important to become familiar with the following 7 best practices.

1. Choose Simple and Powerful Images

If there is one piece of advice to follow when selecting your image, it is this: simple images can put forward a powerful message. Using simple images in MMS marketing messages builds a vibrant representation of your brand which will immediately capture the recipient’s attention. To-the-point content helps build better conversion rates and reserves valuable characters for the name of the establishment and contact information. Just remember, what looks good on a computer screen might not translate well to a phone screen, so choose your images carefully.

2. Add Attention to MMS Messages With a Subject Line

MMS messaging allows you to include an eye-catching subject line that adds power to the image in your message. This subject line can further enhance a customer’s experience and encourage greater customer engagement. The subject line should feel personalized and give the reader a sense of urgency to act on the offer in the message, potentially swaying more customers towards your brand.

3. Use the Text Body to Compliment the Image

The body of the marketing message should be short and directly support the strong heading and photo you have selected. If something is of vital importance, include it in the text. Redirecting potential customers might cause them to lose interest in your message. Simply worded messaging that surrounds the selected image is best—remember, the primary focus of an MMS text is always the image. 

4. Integrate Incentives Into Your Texts

Including clearly visible incentives in MMS texts have been proven to improve marketing text response rates. Here are three common areas to place these valuable incentives:

  • Add a text-back code to the offer you are promoting. For example, send a photo of your daily special with the following message attached: Text “Lunch” to receive a 20% discount from 11-1.
  • Include MMS coupons that make special offers easy to redeem and understand. 
  • Add a scannable barcode or scannable QR code for easy mobile coupon redemption.

Supporting images with incentives can boost response rates and MMS promotion engagement numbers.

5. Create Focused Audience Groups

Sending out MMS marketing texts does not necessarily mean sending them out to every person on your contact list, nor does it mean that the same image will be attractive to all of your customers. By creating distinct groups to account for your different audiences, you open the door to increased promotion engagements while lowering the risk of recipients tapping the unsubscribe link. 

6. Become Familiar With Fair-Use Requirements

Before using images in your marketing texts, you must have permission to use or own the image you are about to send. While there is no shortage of free-use images on the internet, some of these come with fine print that prohibits their use in business media. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the basics of image copyright will save you potential copyright issues later.

7. Ensure Proper Image Viewing on Mobile Devices

In order to ensure that images appear correctly on a recipient’s device, it is important to consider the overall quality of the image during the selection process. Keep in mind that smartphones default to an image size of 600px, although in some cases 320px may be ideal. The file size of the image should ideally be kept to a size less than 600KB, although some older phones may still be limited to a 300KB size for MMS images. 

Introduce SMS Marketing Images Into Your Text Campaign

Today’s typical customer has a short attention and is not loyal to any particular brand. Using SMS marketing images helps you capture this type of customer’s attention, ensuring they are quickly and easily engaged with your product. 

Take the guesswork out of using SMS marketing images by working with the tools from NorthText to establish your next successful campaign. Contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070.

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Does Text Marketing Work? Here’s What You Need to Know

A man in a suit receiving text marketing messages on a smartphone

As a marketer, you might wonder if text marketing works for your brand and how effective it is at reaching your target audience. In recent years, businesses have tried to become more interactive with their customers and track their real-time responses, so text marketing has gained preference over email marketing for these purposes. Personalized messages are fast becoming a way to create brand awareness among audiences, and SMS marketing, or text marketing, is now considered a respected and proven way to complement a business communication strategy. 

Yet, there are some lingering doubts about text marketing campaigns. Does text marketing work or is it just another advertising fad? What if your customers find text marketing messages too intrusive and opt-out of your subscriber’s list? What is the ROI of text marketing campaigns and is it better than other forms of marketing? Let us look at some of the text marketing statistics and how they translate into an effective way to connect with your audience.

How Does Text Marketing Work Effectively?

The extent and reach of text messages can not be ignored in a marketing landscape with an expected 275.66 million smartphone users. Interestingly, it is not just the millennials who are checking their phones several times a day—the smartphone ownership rate among Americans aged 50 years and above has increased significantly over the past few years. Marketers can leverage text messages to tap into different demographics, increase traffic, and drive purchase decisions.

Texts Increase Engagement

Text messages have a higher read rate, with an average response time of 90 seconds. Around 95% of text messages are read, compared to only 15-20% of email marketing messages. Emails often end up in spam folders or are ignored by subscribers, contributing to the stark contrast we see in the statistic above. Though aggressive SMS campaigns are at risk of appearing invasive, your customers would rather unsubscribe from the opt-in list rather than just plainly ignore the message. Text marketing offers an improved engagement rate and helps you better connect with your audience.

Texts Increase Interactions

Nothing excites a marketer more than receiving real-time responses from the audience. SMS marketing makes it possible to understand your audience’s reaction to a particular marketing message, record their responses to the calls-to-action, and continue the conversation one-on-one. Nowadays, customers prefer receiving coupons, QR codes, and special offers through text messages to make purchasing decisions. Research shows that the click-through rate (CTR) of text messages is 9.18% as compared to an average of 4% for emails. This increased audience interaction through texts makes SMS marketing more effective than other marketing channels, including Facebook and Google Adwords.

Texts Increase Transactions 

Text marketing is not only for sending promotional messages to your subscribers. The text-to-pay feature allows customers to enjoy a seamless shopping experience—receiving a coupon through text, redeeming it, and making a purchase without even leaving the conversation initiated by the merchant’s side. As a marketer, this means you can drive your prospects down the sales funnel and convert them into loyal customers. With retail e-commerce gaining more popularity among millennials, the effectiveness of text marketing and SMS payments are hard to ignore. 

Based on the robust statistics of text marketing, it definitely can not be considered an advertising fad. But to make text marketing work for your business, you need more than just numbers that prove its effectiveness. The right SMS delivery platform, with advanced features, can help you send messages to the audience through a secured channel while improving the overall performance of your text marketing campaign.  

Optimize Text Marketing With The Right SMS Delivery Platform

How does text marketing work for your business? The answer lies in an integrated SMS delivery platform that ensures you enjoy all the potential benefits of text marketing while following the SMS marketing best practices. Here are a few much-needed features of an SMS delivery platform that can increase the effectiveness of your text campaigns:

  • Auto-response: Real-time personalized responses make text marketing stand apart from other marketing channels. An SMS delivery platform with auto-responders facilitates one-on-one conversations with your customers.
  • Increased character count: Most marketers worry about not being able to convey their marketing messages within the restricted limit of 160 characters. With an advanced SMS delivery platform, you get the advantage of increased character limits, allowing you to provide all the relevant information in your text message. 
  • Unlimited keywords: Different demographics identify with your brand through specific keywords. An intuitive text marketing platform can help you create unlimited keywords that the audience can text to opt-in for your messages.
  • Audit trail: As a marketer, you need to be aware of any unsolicited, overpromising texts reaching your audience. This will save your business from the legalities of the CAN-SPAM Act. An SMS delivery platform can keep track of all the messages reaching your subscribers.   
  • Affordable pricing: At the end of the day, ROI is the key factor that backs your decision to choose text marketing over other marketing methods. With an SMS delivery platform that offers affordable pricing for bulk messages, you can optimize your marketing budget.  

With the features of a user-friendly SMS delivery platform, you can focus on delivering quality to your audience. The right delivery platform will help you implement text marketing best practices while increasing the effectiveness of your overall marketing campaign.

Does text marketing work? With NorthText, it does. Create affordable text messages with unlimited keywords and an increased character limit to connect with your audience. For more information, contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070.

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How to Build Opt-in Subscriber Lists for Text Marketing

An opt-in subscriber receiving marketing texts on a smartphone

For any marketer, a clean list of opt-in subscribers is one of the most valuable assets. When it comes to SMS or text marketing, the increased engagement and higher response over email will play a key role in determining the success of your text marketing campaign. As opt-in subscribers are the only recipients of your text messages, they are the center of your campaign. For this reason, you need to put continued effort toward building your opt-in subscriber list, and this article will tell you how. 

3 Ways to Increase Opt-in Subscribers for Text Marketing

Before taking the necessary steps towards building an opt-in subscriber list for text marketing, it is important to remember that the CAN-SPAM Act prevents you from sending any unsolicited marketing messages to customers who have not subscribed to them. Ignoring this rule can end with your business paying heavy penalties or getting blacklisted. Therefore, you can’t just buy a list of cellphone numbers and start sending random text marketing messages, but following these tips will get you well on your way. 

Building a subscriber list can be a time-intensive process and to comply with the law, you have to allow your customers to opt-out anytime they want. Though this means you are always at a risk of losing a few of your valued subscribers, it builds credibility and trust for your brand. Also, seeking to minimize the rate of opting out ensures that you send only relevant, valuable text messages to your audience.

The following are a few ways to build your opt-in subscriber lists for text marketing campaigns:

Incentives

People need a reason to opt-in as subscribers to your marketing texts. Giveaways and sweepstakes are a good way to incentivize your audience and convert them to subscribers. By creating enticing promotions, you can tempt prospective customers to text the keyword you provide in exchange for a discount code towards their next purchase, or some other reward. 

After all, customers typically do not mind giving away their phone numbers if there is a reward associated with the action.    

Web Widgets

The consistent traffic to your website needs to be effectively utilized to help build your opt-in subscriber list. By installing signup widgets on your website, you can prompt the audience to receive push notifications from you and eventually ask them to subscribe to your marketing texts. You can also catch their attention with creative banner ads on the website, announcing any giveaways or events to help them register as opt-in subscribers.

Some text marketing platforms will even provide the code for you, which we will talk about shortly.  

Sign-up Forms

In the past, pen-and-paper signups at retail store checkouts could provide you with valuable contact information for your customers including their emails and phone numbers. These days, you can utilize your email marketing subscribers and ask them to signup for texts by sending them emails with the link to the online form or embedding the form in the email itself. 

Organizing brand events such as webinars, conferences, and trade shows is also a great way to initiate a conversation with your audience and request they signup with their contact details to register their feedback.

Though these methods can significantly increase your opt-in subscribers, you need the right marketing platform to most effectively execute these methods and connect with your potential audience. An SMS delivery platform can transform the way you interact with your prospective customers and help you win them over as your loyal subscribers.

Using the Right SMS Delivery Platform

SMS delivery platforms are not only meant for providing a secure channel to send your texts to your audience. With an advanced and innovative text messaging platform, you can understand your audience better and achieve your marketing goals more effectively. Before committing to an SMS delivery platform for your text marketing campaigns, it is important to consider certain key features that can assist you, such as:

  • Unlimited keywords: Your marketing efforts are targeted towards different demographics and user groups. To better connect with them, you need different keywords that they can relate to your brand. A good text delivery platform can provide you with unlimited keywords that your audience can text to subscribe to your messages.   
  • Expanded character limit: Whether it is sending a promo code to your subscribers, or providing them valuable information about your product or service, you typically need to create a clear text message within the limit of 160 characters. However, there are more innovative text marketing platforms that can allow up to 240 characters. 
  • Code snippets: By adding signup fields or other promotional elements, your existing website can be a great resource for building your opt-in subscriber list. However, depending on your level of technical expertise you might not be able to handle this task by yourself. This is where choosing a text marketing platform with great customer service can be a big help, as they can provide you with these snippets of code.
  • Auto-responders: When a customer is sending you a keyword to subscribe to your texts, you need to have a robust platform for auto-responding. An SMS delivery platform can create real-time responses, based on various keywords, to initiate communication with your subscribers and keep everything organized and easy to understand.   
  • Affordable pricing: When it comes to bulk texting, affordable pricing is a key consideration for marketers. Text marketing offers an incredible ROI when compared to email but you will still want to make sure to choose a text marketing platform with affordable pricing.    

Lastly, a user-friendly interface along with developer support can improve your experience with the technology while creating and maintaining your subscriber lists and overall marketing efforts. Finding these features in a powerful text marketing platform can transform the way you approach and benefit from text marketing.

With NorthText, you can enjoy an increased limit of 240 characters per message along with unlimited keywords, auto-responders, and customized code snippets—all at affordable pricing. Additionally, our SMS marketing professionals are available to help you build a robust and fruitful opt-in subscriber list. For quick and easy answers to any questions you have, contact us by phone or text at (312) 869-9070.

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