Thursday, March 25, 2010

Q. Can text messaging help me drive sales?

A. Yes, text message (SMS) marketing can provide a new customer touchpoint at a surprisingly low cost with impressive results. But like with any marketing tactic, the way you approach your audience will determine your success.

According to the "2008 Mobile Advertising Report," text messaging remains the dominant data service on cell phones and is used by more than 160 million U.S. consumers. Text message campaigns average a 98% open rate vs. the 2% to 10% average for an e-mail, and even better, 80% of text messages are read by the recipient within one hour of delivery.

Text messaging costs slightly more than e-mail campaigns, but because the read rate for a text message is so much higher than e-mail, the ROI for your text can be significantly better and more immediate. Texters are leading online spenders, too, with 20% spending more than $1,000 online annually.

Text message campaign tips:

4    Collect customer/caregiver cell phone numbers through reminder cards, patient records and other contact forms. Cover your bases with an opt-in question: "Want to receive special offers by text, e-mail or voicemail?" And always opt-out anyone who requests it.

4    Store your customer information in a database that allows you to search their demographics and purchased products. This will help you craft a unique message for a target group, giving the impression that you understand and cater to their personal needs. Your message should be compelling enough to warrant the text while remaining HIPAA-compliant.

4    Choose a reputable SMS software or service provider to conduct your campaign.

4    Integrate your texts with other marketing channels, such as your Web site or in-store signage.

4    Avoid slang, abbreviations and emoticons. Stick to the facts, in plain English.

When not obsessively texting, Lisa Wells is an Atlanta-based marketing consultant for the medical industry. Reach her at or 404-944-0081.