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What Is SMS?
Simply put, SMS, or Short Message Service, is a text communication of a maximum 160 characters blasted out to your clients’ cell phones making an announcement, offering a special discount, or communicating to your clients anything you would like. While some might consider this to be similar to spam or junk mail, a recipient of your message must opt-in. This means the customer must text a unique word such as “limo” or “ABC-Limo” to a unique “shortcode”, a five-digit number. This would be similar to a phone number although it is not associated with a phone.
Because clients give permission to receive your messages when they send the code word to your SMS number, they are more likely to read your message and hopefully act upon any offer. Direct mail pieces and unsolicited email blasts have about a 3% read rate while SMS messages have a 99% read rate, according to BulkSMS. Clients also can reply to a message with the word, “STOP,” and opt-out if they don’t find the messages fitting their needs. The instructions offering to opt-out are included in every message giving your clients total control.
Getting Started With Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing means connecting with clients and advertising to potential new ones. Starting a mobile marketing campaign is easy. Once you have signed up and chosen your keyword, such as LIMO, you will need to advertise the keyword and shortcode to gather opt-ins. Your keyword is critical because it facilitates your opt-ins. The opt-in is required before you can send a message to anyone. You cannot take a list of phone numbers and start sending messages, even if they are current clients. You can contact clients by email or social media and invite them to opt-in by texting your selected keyword to the shortcode. For example, if your keyword is LIMO you would say “Text LIMO to 77947” for special offers. Once the initial message is received, the system automatically captures the phone number and adds the number to your contact list. An easy way to boost your opt-ins is to offer a special discount just for opting-in.
Sending SMS Messages
Make sure you don’t bombard your clients with messages. Most people will appreciate a confirmation of upcoming service, a discount offer, or a message about a new service you are offering. Be sensitive to the number of messages you are sending and the time of day you are sending. Make your messages more personal by creating groups, such as previous wine tour clients who may receive targeted promotions. You also might blast out about events coming up such as a major concert or community event that may require limo service. All messages should be engaging and useful to your clients.
What Is The Cost?
There are many different SMS providers with plans starting as low as $9.95 per month from txt180.com for 500 messages a month or buy blocks of 2000 messages from Bulksms.com and use them over a period of time. If you want to get started for free, Eztexting.com offers up to 500 messages a month for free. You can search the Internet to find the right SMS provider for you. Some services will even send a text to all past due clients to remind them their bill is due. The bells and whistles vary among companies.