Are you familiar with what a text blast is? If not, no need to worry because it simply refers to mass texting or what we know as SMS Marketing. All these terms mean the same thing: using text messaging for business purposes in order to send out promotional text messages to customers. This article is a basic step by step guide on how to send text blasts.
The first step is to dig into some research and find out which platform is best suited for you. Fortunately, we’ve saved you time by doing that research and summarizing it all up. A few of the best-rated SMS platforms in the US include:
- EZ Texting
- Slick Text
While all 3 platforms provide similar basic functions, there are a few features that give them an edge over one another. If your business is highly focused on the integration of SMS with other apps such as Facebook and Shopify, SlickText is the answer for you. However, if you’re focusing on personalisation, EZ Texting offers long codes for a one-on-one conversation. ExpressText, on the other hand, seems to offer the most amount of advantages. It has a text messaging app which saves business employees an immense amount of time by providing convenience. Moreover, out of all the three, it is the least expensive. At the end of the day, businesses want maximum quality at the lowest possible price so pricing is a deal breaker!
Once you’ve chosen an SMS platform, visit its website or download the application to create an account. This is a 2-minute process which will require your basic information and credit card details for payment (the process slightly varies for each platform). Also, If you sign up with ExpressText, you get a whole month free without having to pay or be liable to any contract.
The last step of setting up involves your contact list. Already have one? Just upload it onto the account and make life easier! You can also manually add contacts in case you don’t have prior contacts or want to add new ones. Platforms like ExpressText come with a tool called Web Widget. This tool is coded by a web developer and is integrated with a user’s account. In simple English, it means that if suppose a customer fills out a form on a company’s website giving his/her phone number among other basic details, this information is automatically saved in the company’s SMS platform account. This makes life substantially easier for companies as new contacts are automatically added and the need for manual addition of contacts is reduced.
How to send text blasts
The process isn’t as simple as typing in a text message and hitting send. The first rule of SMS Marketing is that it is permission based. Without the consent of customers, you cannot send them any promotional or business-related texts. So how do you gain this information? You conduct an SMS campaign! The following are the components of an SMS Campaign:
Ever see a promotional text message from a 5-6 digit number on your phone? That number is called a shortcode. Shortcodes are issued primarily for one reason: they are easy to remember. Every business is issued a unique shortcode from their SMS provider so that customers can easily identify the business through their number.
- Long codes
A long code is the regular, 11 digit number which an individual is issued. The purpose of long code is the same as a shortcode i.e. to use as a number to converse with customers. However, the downside to using long codes for business purposes is that they are longer than shortcodes so they are harder to remember. Some SMS platforms still offer long codes because they are considered more personal than shortcodes. Usually, shortcodes send automated and scheduled texts so there is a lower level of personalisation between a business and its customers. With a long code, however, customers feel a sense of intimacy especially if customer representatives are assigned for a one-on-one conversation to deal with each customer.
- Mobile keywords
A keyword is a word or phrase that customers are required to send to the designated shortcode/long code in order to opt into the SMS campaign. Keywords are not unique to each business and a business can issue one or more keywords depending on the size of the business. With bigger packages come more keywords. An example of an SMS campaign text would be ‘Reply with YES to receive amazing discounts and details!’ Only if the customer does reply with YES to the number they received the text from, the business can send them promotional texts. The business is also liable for giving clear instructions to customers on how to unsubscribe e.g. ‘Reply with STOP if you wish to no longer receive texts from this number’. This entire process is called an SMS campaign in which customers may opt in or opt out.
Features of text blasts
This section talks about a few of the basic features that most SMS platforms provide, including:
Hyperlinks are probably one of the most useful features of text blasts. They ensure that the text remains engaging and short, yet contains all relevant details. Suppose a new clothing brand in the market sends out a text informing customers of their new outlet in the area and an opening sale. While this text contains the gist of what the brand is offering, how do customers know the exact location of the outlet? Or the website URL? To sum it all up, a hyperlink directing the customers to the business’s Facebook or Instagram page can be added in the text. In its bio, the location of the business as well as contact number, website and all other relevant details will be available. Thus, the text may be of barely 150 characters but it contains all the information the customers may require!
ExpressText is one of those platforms which puts its users’ minds at ease by giving them detailed invoices of where their money was spent. It contains all the minute details i.e. extra credits purchased, which cards were used to make purchases and much more. In fact, this helps companies to keep a tab on employees and know where their money is being spent.
Ah, graphed reports! They are a real time saver. Not only do SMS platforms track the performance of your SMS campaigns, but many of them also provide real-time reporting in the form of graphs. This means that not only do they tell a user how many messages are opened, read and delivered, but they also display this information on graphs. So instead of going through all the information to make a conclusion, one can just take a quick look at the graphs and asses if the campaign is doing well or not. This not only saves time but also the effort of conducting an analysis.
2 way messaging
You must be familiar with the promotional messages that you receive on your phone. Many times, they are automated messages which you cannot reply to. But what if you have any questions regarding the message? Or any general queries? For this reason, platforms either provide 2-way messaging through long codes or directly through the shortcode. With communication from both sides, consumers feel more involved and thus, are more likely to trust the brand.
What if there’s a flash sale that only lasts a few hours and all customer queries need to be handled urgently. In this case, if you’re a user of ExpressText or any other SMS platform, you can just have messages forwarded to your email address or your mobile phone. Personally, for me, a mobile phone is the preferred choice because it is faster and delivers messages instantly!
I’m not sure about other platforms, but ExpressText offers unlimited groups with any payment option that you chose! Pretty organised, right? Especially for those of us who are control freaks. Anyhow, groups are convenient for everybody. If you are using text blasts for employee communication, you could make groups based on each department. Similarly, if you are selling different product categories such as home appliances and furniture (such as Walmart) you could divide your customers based on product categories and send them offers accordingly. Groups make life easier for the business as each group can be treated as a market segment that is targeted directly. This significantly improves effectiveness.
Templates & Calendar
Last but not least, another time-saving feature is templates, as well as calendars. Templates are pre-written messages that you can send without having to construct a message of your own. You can even tweak templates to your liking before sending them out, just to add a personal touch. This saves time for the company. Moreover, you can also mark important dates on your platform’s calendar e.g. public holidays, client birthdays, company anniversaries etc. Scheduled messages can be written beforehand (suppose when an employee has the time to construct them). After selecting the time and date, just leave everything to the software as these will be automatically sent out to the customers on the selected day.
What does it cost?
Did I mention that text blasts cost way lower than any other marketing channel? And yet, they bring in the highest Return on Investment! It’s quite amazing, really. One text will cost you a bare minimum of $0.01-$0.05. When you sign up with SMS platforms, you can either select a Pay as you go option (which is more expensive) or a monthly package. The bigger the package you use, the lower the cost of each text drops. That’s just the advantage of bulk buying. Email and social media also have a very low cost, but their ROI is just not as high as SMS.
I hope I’ve done a decent job of teaching you how to send text blasts. If you’re still not convinced why you should use SMS as a marketing channel, I will give you one simple reason. People are completely addicted to their phones. Did you know that most millennials open texts within 90 SECONDS of receiving them? Moreover, if you’re based in the US, you should know that the USA is responsible for 45% of the whole world’s SMS volume! You won’t get such positive statistics for any other channel because yes, as hard as it may seem to believe, there are people out there who don’t use social media. Email doesn’t have the same hype that it used to before and don’t even get me started on how far behind the conventional methods of advertising are. That is why text blasts are essential for the success of your business marketing!