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How to Set Up Your Text Messaging Marketing Program

Your Customers are Mobile – So Use Text Messaging!

text messaging marketingText messaging is fast, productive, and cheap. AND it reaches your customers where they are now: on their mobile phones. AND it’s not that hard to do!

Text messages have a 97% read rate and an average 10% response with many campaigns reaching 40%-50% or higher. Right now, half your clients (or more) may be reading your emails and websites via their cellphone, so if you haven’t used text messaging to make contact, you have a wonderful new method staring you in the face!  

What is Text Messaging?

You’ve been exchanging text messages with friends for a long time, but now businesses are discovering how effective texting special offers to their customers’ mobile phones can be. By contacting your customers with specific offers that they have said they would be interested in (opting in), you can make sales and build loyalty.

Text messaging (SMS) is one of the most efficient marketing channels available to reach your customers — text messages are short and simple; 160 characters (at most). Being to the point is essential.

What are SMS and MMS?

SMS stands for Short Message Service and is another of saying “Text Messaging.” SMS uses long codes (regular phone numbers) that are easy to get and very inexpensive.

MMS stands for Multi Media System and you can send photos, video, and audio, but here in the US MMS can only be sent using a short code (a 5 or 6 digit number).  Short codes are very expensive, $1500/mo, and may take 2 to 3 months to get.  MMS is available on long codes in Canada but not yet in US. It’s being run up the bureaucratic flagpole, and you know how long that takes. 

(Info you may or may not need:  A number of companies offer shared short codes, but depending on the package you purchase you could be very limited in the number of keywords, and they may not be what you want (example: if “pizza” is taken you are out of luck). Also there is a chance that one of the users will misuse the system by spamming. Then the carriers will black list the number, and everyone on it is out of luck. With a dedicated long code or short code you don’t run that risk.)

How does Text Message Marketing work?

text messaging opt in

HOW TO DO IT: I was given a telephone number and a keyword. I tapped the TEXT icon on my phone. Where it says “enter recipient” I typed in the 10-digit phone number (no country code), and where it says “compose message” I typed the keyword “ljt”.

First, your customer has to see or hear your invitation to opt in, so you are going to come up with an enticing offer. For example, your call to action could be:  “25% off your next purchase! Text MYOFFER to 555-555-5555 to receive coupon.” (see how to do this via the photo on the right)


  • Print your call-to-action on everything – flyers, menus, posters, table tents, and postcards. You can add a QR that points directly to the opt-in so people don’t even have to dial.
  • Use social media – post the notice on your website, Facebook, Google+, etc., and tweet about the offer.
  • If you have a location, have your opt-in invitation right by the cash register and have your salespeople talk about it.
  • Encourage your email list to switch to text messages…they are more direct and shorter.
  • Include it in your radio and TV advertising and create excitement with shout outs at live events.
  • Give your customers every available media avenue to opt-in, and make sure that they can share it. Make your message enticing enough and it will go viral!

And then, your customers dial you or scan your QR (quick response code) and opt in. (I love scanning QR’s – they make it SO easy!) Their phone number is captured (without their having to enter it) for your future use. In return, they get whatever you were offering, and of course you encourage them to share the offer with friends. It works so beautifully, and here’s how to do it:

How to Set Up Your Text Messaging Marketing Campaign

1.Do some preliminary thinking about how you will use text messaging. This will help you when you’re picking a provider. Are you sending coupons for burgers, or real estate tips, golf specials, a charity event? About how many people do you anticipate will be on your list, and how often might you send something?  

2. Choose a text messaging provider, and pick a plan that works for you.  There are many companies listed. Dave Ish of Club Lemono gave me so much help in writing this post so I recommend him — he has a number of unusual specialties like nightclubs, restaurants, and and bands, hotels, non-profits…even newspapers.

3. Choose a keyword for your company. This is a special word or phrase that your customers will text to a particular number to sign up for your text marketing list. Keep it short and easy to type. (Don’t you hate typing it when they use numbers and letters and exclamation points?) Each company has their own lists of keywords, and they will reserve yours for you. Some will generate your QR’s for you.

text messaging opt in response

I received this autoresponder message from La Jolla Today news, and they were smart and sent me an offer, too.

4. Choose a response message, called an auto-responder, that is sent to anyone who opts in to your system. This should also include your next enticing offer. It’s a strong call to action — see the photo on the right.

5. Market it like crazy! Get your opt-in call to action out there everywhere. (see above for methods)

6. When you hit your goal of a certain number of people on the list (like 20?), plan your first campaign. Come up with another really attractive offer, make sure it fits the people to whom you’re sending it (or segment your list), and make sure it goes out at an appropriate time/date.  Sending a coupon for  a margaritas happy hour? I don’t want to see it at 9am.

7. Watch your numbers on each offer and test to see what works best, and when.

I don’t have any ads on this blog site or make any money with ads, but I do believe in sharing good information sources, so when you are looking for more information and/or a provider, for sure visit the Club Lemeno website. Dave Ish, the owner, and his website had more information on it than anywhere else I could find.

Dave says if you stick with these 6 things, you’ll get the best results:

1) Your current customers first

People who are already familiar with your goods and services are your best prospects. If they are in your store, restaurant, nightclub or event, NOW is the best time to grab them. Show them how to opt in while they’re standing there — have them enter the keyword to your SMS number or scan your QR, etc.

Use your current methods of advertising to build your exclusive ‘opt-in’ list: print ads, in-store posters, shout-outs…anything you can think of.

Reach out on all your social media channels and let them know about your great offer, and that you will continue to send offers if they opt in. This will help you turn that once a month visitor into a twice a month dedicated customer.

2) “Narrowcast” to make them feel special


This is my QR – if you scan it, it brings you to this blog

By ‘opting in’ your customers have agreed to be contacted by you, but don’t send them widget specials if all they are interested in is do-dads. ASK what your customer finds valuable and when they want to hear about it. Narrowcast instead of broadcast. Work towards segmenting your database. You can always join groups together if there is a deal with broader appeal.

Get their personal attention with incentives, special deals or VIP treatment – keep them coming back with special offers targeted to them.

3) Value and timing are everything

ALWAYS include a call to action for a special deal or request a response.

Time your messages when your customers are most likely to read them.  93% of text messages are read in the first three minutes.

Don’t burn out your customers by overdoing it. You want them to be hungry to hear from you. You will get much more response because they trust your offer is something they are looking for.

4) Protect your business and brand

Text Messaging Example

Text Messaging Example

Don’t spam. Be selective with your messages and the audience you send them to. Learn from email blasts – they have been so overused that their read rate has dropped to around 10% with a 5% response if you are lucky.

Don’t buy lists of cell numbers from a third party or be drawn in by an offer to send your message out to a gazillion people. You will be throwing away your money, aggravating people (who will tell others), and you could jeopardize your ability to send out future messages.

5) Opting in and Opting out

Make it easy for your customers to opt-in and opt-out. Use simple keywords that identify your business or a quick response (QR) code that your customers can scan with their Smartphone.

Make it just as easy for your customers to opt-out and no longer receive your offers. Inform them in the very beginning; simply texting “stop” will remove them from your database. Please note that if you happen to use one of the unscrupulous spam text message service providers your customer’s number could be captured as a ‘live’ number  even if you text “stop”.  If you get a spam text it is a good idea to just ignore it and delete it from your phone. Hopefully it gets the message across to the spammer that it is an inactive number.

6) Common sense is key

When selecting a company to provide text marketing services know what you are getting and pick one that will help you integrate your texting campaigns into your overall advertising and promotion efforts.

Depending on your business, realize that it takes awhile to build up your text opt-in databases. It also requires an effort on your part to let your customers know that this is a great option for them. Once they realize they truly are your VIC’s (Very Important Customers) their loyalty to your business will be a given.

While it may be easy to draft a message and send it to a list of individuals, knowing your audience and their likes is key to their loyalty. Use common sense – if it would be annoying to you, it will be annoying to them.

Many thanks to Dave Ish of Club Lemeno, whom I met on LinkedIn, for his help and input – he wrote at least 1/2 of this article and was so generous with his time in helping me to understand how everything works.

If you found this valuable, please share with your friends, and thanks for reading!

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  2. ananthalakshmi269 says:

    This information is very usefull… and thanks for sharing…

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