This article, written by SimpleTexting, was originally published at Content Marketing Institute.
Your customers are finding you faster than you can find them.
It’s what content marketing is all about: giving consumers reason to find you and reason to stay with you; accumulating useful content upon which to build a partnership of trust.
But in today’s attention-deficient world, you can’t count on consumers to engage with your content for more than a moment (and that’s if you’re lucky). They forget. They get distracted. They find a competitor’s site instead.
No longer can you afford to rely solely on passive content, content that just sits on your site waiting to be discovered.
Your content needs to also be active, it needs to reach out to the consumer and truly engage them. (Yes, social media pages are a step in the right direction, but Facebook is the last place you’re going to capture undivided attention.)
You need to shock customers out of their computer screen slumber. You need to generate a buzz… literally (in their pocket). You need to start sending texts.
I’m talking, of course, about text message marketing.
Text Marketing Basics
Text messaging isn’t just another distribution channel in your content marketing arsenal—though it is one, and a powerful one at that. Texting is a way to actively engage your audience, mobilize your content, and develop a personal relationship with the next generation of consumers by delivering content via their communication channel of choice!
Perhaps you have some reservation about text marketing—and why not? No good marketer should embrace a new approach before learning more about it.
So let’s assuage your skepticism and tackle some common misconceptions about text marketing:
Text messaging is obsolete, while mobile marketing technology is way ahead.
Really? When was the last time you scanned a QR code—one that wasn’t your own?
If you’re like most people, you’ve never scanned a QR code impulsively, yet you check your text messages compulsively.
Texting has never been more relevant and popular. In 2011, Americans alone sent over 2.3 trillion text messages—that’s 6.3 billion a day! Research shows that people are so attached to texting that they’ll often feel “phantom texts” (spooky).
Text marketing is just for spammers.
Tell that to Google, The New York Times, and Starbucks.
In reality, SMS campaigns require consumers to opt in before receiving any texts. This means consumers want your messages and are extremely receptive to them.
Text marketing is ineffective.
Ineffective, eh? Just take a look at these quick stats:
- 90% of all texts are read within 3 minutes (almost 100% are read eventually).
- Marketing texts have an open rate of 97%, while email is around 10%.
- Texting is the most frequently used channel for personal communications among adults under age 35 (email is second, and Facebook third).
Okay, text messaging is powerful… but what can it do for my content?
It can distribute content better, stronger, faster. Texting is an innovative way to supercharge your content distribution.
Think of it as steroids for your content: It uses the content you already have and makes it more dynamic, engaging, and immediate.
OK, 160 characters might seem like a tight fit. In the age of Twitter, however, it’s just the right amount to pique the interest of your audience and entice them to engage with your more in-depth content.
It can be integrated with existing content. Content marketers love to get the maximum mileage from their great content. Texting allows you to take your best content and put it right in the consumer’s hand. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Text direct links to videos and mobile apps
- Keep truly interested parties updated about new articles, e-books, and reports
- Send weekly links to your most popular blog posts
Tip: Use bit.ly to shrink URLs and link all your content via text!
Texting offers an immediacy that appeals to the instant-gratification generation. Don’t make clients wait for a monthly or quarterly newsletter: Text advance copies of your material to jumpstart your distribution in minutes.
Texting takes the content you already have and delivers it in a more effective, engaging, and inexpensive way.
Texting Tips & Tricks
Texts are perfect for tidbits of bite-size content. Distributing pithy pearls of wisdom marketed as “tips & tricks” is an attractive and effective way to engage your audience and establish yourself as an authoritative advisor.
Consumers love these quick quips that are both fun and informative.
Almost any industry can concentrate its content down to catchy tips that are easy to read and easy to share. For example:
- Healthcare companies can share tips for healthy living
- A gardening supply company might offer tricks to beautify a lawn
- Investment firms and banks can text simple money-saving strategies
These tips and tricks are also an extremely powerful branding tool. Your tips need not relate directly to your product; they can instead project lifestyles and values that your consumers can identify with:
- Brand yourself as a greener company with eco-friendly tips
- Connect with consumers with inspirational quotes
- Be a family-friendly business with fun activity ideas
Consumers will soon see you as more than some cold-hearted company: With helpful texts, you’ll be a real and valuable part of their lives. (Which brings us to our next section… )
Foster a Relationship
Content marketing pivots on a new dynamic between businesses and consumers: No longer do companies pitch and peddle their goods at consumers. Today, forward-thinking companies seek to work with consumers, positioning themselves as trusted advisors, educators, and partners in business.
Text marketing, too, is all about relationships.
Sustaining relationships. You can’t depend on consumers coming back to you, you need to bring them back. Even with the best content in the world, you may be forgotten in a week’s time.
Just one friendly and discreet message a week is all it takes to keep consumers involved with your content and eager for the next text.
No need to wonder whether your message is wanted: Consumers opt in to receive new content at regular intervals. This means you’re reaching a targeted audience that wants to hear from you.
Intimacy. Ever wonder why 90% of texts are read in 3 minutes, or why virtually every message is opened? It’s because nearly all texts are sent from close friends, colleagues, and family members.
When a consumer accepts you into their SMS inbox, you gain access to a space infinitely more intimate than the internet, email, or snail mail. Separating yourself from other companies, you enter the customer’s inner circle of real relations.
Dialog. Marketing used to be a one-way street, with ads flowing from businesses to consumers. Today, it’s a conversation: Companies are expected to be readily responsive and reactive to the concerns and comments of consumers.
Let their voices be heard and initiate an ongoing dialog:
- Conduct polls and votes via text for instant feedback
- Field questions and comments in your messages, and respond with timely texts
- Ask consumers to share and submit their own content by text for a chance to be featured in your publications
By engaging your audience in dialog, you invite them into a deeper experience.
Generate Buzz with a Text-to-Win Sweepstakes
Any content marketer can create content. A great content marketer creates an experience.
Not all content is written; it’s more than articles, blog posts, newsletters and white papers. The best content isn’t read… it’s lived.
An engaging experience built around a brand is a powerful way to generate brand recognition and loyalty. And what better way to create such an experience than with an exciting contest, sweepstakes, or giveaway?
Contests are content. They invite the consumer to play, wish, dream… When was the last time a white paper inspired you to dream?
Sweepstakes are also a spectacular way to align your brand with certain values and lifestyles—think of the difference between a brand that offers free Super Bowl tickets vs. free opera tickets vs. free Justin Bieber tickets… what a difference the prize can make. A well-chosen prize can endear you to an entire segment of the market.
Text messaging is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to run such a sweepstakes: Consumers simply text a keyword to a 5- or 6-digit short code to enter to win.
You’ve probably seen these promotions before:
“Text TRAVELCO to 555888 for a chance to WIN a FREE TROPICAL VACATION!”
Why are SMS sweepstakes so popular?
- Ease: No complicated entry forms, a simple text is all it takes
- Impulse: On a whim, anyone can enter in seconds
- Contacts: If you inform entrants beforehand, you can send more promotional texts long after the contest has concluded
There’s one more reason text-to-win contests are popular: They’re incredibly successful.
Check out these case studies to see how SMS sweepstakes have driven up brand awareness, consumer engagement and, ultimately, revenue:
- Skinny Water (2,100 entrants, 1,300 Facebook fans)
- Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (10,000 site visits, 825 entrants)
- Southwest Airlines & WEEI Sports Radio (10,154 entries)