A Quick Guide on Text Message Marketing

When it comes to mobile marketing, one of the most understood and available mobile technologies is text messaging. It reaches iPhones, Android phones, Blackberries, Windows phones, and Palm phones (unlike an iPhone app that only works on an iPhone). New York Times says it's the closest thing to a guaranteed read. It's instant, and it's great for your loyal audiences. With nearly 200,000 text messages sent every second, you bet there is some opportunity in there for you.

So, how does it work?

I've seen text message marketing work as a loyalty rewards program. Your loyal guests are able to text your restaurant name to a 5 digit number (a short code) and be put on your restaurant's list (like an e-mail list). You can also have a subkeyword, so someone can text this:

yourrestaurant events to 39970

Then, you can send certain text messages for the events subkeyword. 

Concerned about customers who think you're spamming them? 

The most important part about all of this is educating your loyal audience on what they should expect. Keep in mind, this is all opt-in only and users can unsubscribe at any time. After someone signs up with your list, they must reply with "yes" to confirm (carriers are very strict about this). Spamming is taken very seriously and businesses who abuse the system will be shut down very quickly. So, be sure and let your audiences know that they will receive, say, no more than 10 text messages a month from you. 

What can you do with text messaging?

The possibilities are endless. For starters, you can update people on upcoming events, discounts, specials of the day, or maybe you just want to send out a text message on a slow night and offer 20% discount on everything. Think about that last one for a minute. Text messaging is instant, and if you have the ability to pack your doors on a slow night than why not embrace mobile marketing? I've heard this works well with a few restaurants.

Ok, this all sounds great, but what are the disadvantages?

The biggest disadvantage in all of this is that consumers must embrace this form of marketing. While it has a lot of potential, there are definitely some people who don't want any form of advertisement coming to them on their phone. Other disdvantages include the text messaging character limit, which varies between 140 and 160 characters. Another issue is reliability. Although it doesn't happen too often, there are times when networks get congested and text messages are delayed.

Concerned about the cost?

I know one company, Duffled, that allows you to pay $35/month for 250 outgoing text messages. Note that I am not affiliated with the company, but I have used their service and for that price, I think it's worth experimenting with. I read that Duffled recently integrated personalization, Facebook and Twitter sharing, and bulk import of numbers.

At the end of the day, guests want a good experience. They want to tell others about these experiences and share stories. Give your loyal customers the convenience on their mobile device where they are. This will not only differentiate yourself, but it will put you ahead of your competitors. If you don't embrace new technologies, your competitors will.
Are you already using text message marketing for your restaurant? What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section, or tweet me @notixtech.

Matthew Gallizzi, CEO of notixtech, helps businesses take advantage ofcutting edge mobile technologies. This includes mobile websites, mobile feedback solutions, mobile video, and QR code technology. notixtech
builds solutions on their content management system that puts the end-user in control.
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