August 22, 2014

Fanminder: Mobile Marketing Solution for SMBs

Mobile is all the rage, at least that what’s you hear from the media. The iPhone and the iPad are everywhere, and smart phones are changing the world. “Droid Does” but do you?

Keeping up with mobile devices is tough enough and keeping up with the mobile customer isn’t easy, either.  Fanminder is a service to make mobile marketing possible for small business.

When you hear about mobile marketing, most of the time it refers to sending a text message (also known as SMS, for “short message service”) to someone’s mobile phone. To many this is invasive, but keep in mind that almost all mobile marketing is permission-based or opt-in. A customer gives you his or her cell phone number and asks to be sent appointment reminders, special promotions or simply news (sports scores are common). It is easy to scrape a site and capture someone’s e-mail, but much harder to harvest cell phone numbers.

The challenge for many of us is how to send a message to all the people who want to receive a text message. You certainly don’t want to try to send dozens of customer texts from your phone directly. And you may also be wondering about what you should send.

Here’s where Fanminder comes in: They manage the send part (to as many cell phone numbers as you want) from the Web. They also help you create the content with a step-by-step process that walks you through writing the short, 122-character message (they reserve some characters for opt-outs).  You can add opt-in customers manually as well and manage your customer database from the Web.  In addition, Fanminder has a terrific learning center.  I signed up for the free 7-day trial for this review.  (I should also note that the founder, Paul Rosenfeld, is a FoSBT, or Friend of Small Business Trends, in that he has been a guest author on this site previously.)

What I liked:

  • It truly took less than five minutes to set up and send a simple promotional message out to a few customers (my test base was family).
  • Fans use their phones to sign up automatically.
  • Fanminder gives you ideas to create a marketing sign to encourage signups, but the best part is they offer to create one for you.  All you have to do is call in to the support line.
  • There is a nifty self-subscribe widget for your website.
  • They offer a great tracking tool for managing your texts and customers (and allow you to segment them into groups, too).

What could have been better:

Not much, frankly. The only small weak point I noticed was that it took me a while to find the customer testimonials that I wanted to read as a newcomer to mobile marketing.  I did finally find them under the Why Mobile? navigation tab under “Fanatics.”

The service seems to me to apply to many industries, but the site highlights six categories: health care, studios and classroom oriented businesses, retail stores, service businesses, bars and night clubs, and restaurants and cafes. The learning center offered sample texts in each of these business categories.

Overall, Fanminder is a great way to reach the mobile customer (and who isn’t a mobile customer, really?). Even though text messaging has been around for years, it is only recently that it has grown in the U.S.  I appreciated that Fanminder dedicates a page to give the skinny on what’s real in mobile marketing and to explain the difference between social media marketing and mobile marketing with a page entitled:  Mobile vs. Social “It’s time for results, not chit chat.”

Learn more about Fanminder.


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10 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue is the Product Editor for Small Business Trends and an entrepreneur who publishes Tech Biz Talk. TJ is a former Wall Street Journal columnist. He also writes for Forbes and American Express OPEN Forum. He loves learning about technology apps and software services - share yours with TJ.

10 Reactions

  1. TJ,

    Thank you very much for this thoughtful piece. We would like to share that we also just launched Fanminder Offers after you reviewed our service.

    Fanminder Offers is the newest way from us to create compelling offers, specials, and coupons that you share with your fanbase to drive more traffic and sales. You can create, blast, and manage one-time, trackable Offers with real expiration dates that are redeemed at your place of business.

    See it here, just scroll down a bit: http://fanminder.com/blog

    Regards,
    The Fanminder Team

  2. I’ll have to check it out, Paul. Thanks for the heads up. Sounds like a great addition.

  3. TJ,

    Great job! Your thorough review of Fanminder is spot on.

    Mobile marketing is still pretty new, for sure..and it’s catching on pretty quickly.

    I don’t understand mobile marketing all that well, yet, but I’m getting there!

    The Franchise King

  4. Nice write-up, TJ. While those of us in the early adopter set are raving about mobile and location-based marketing, many businesses are still working on the basics. Thanks for sharing this tool — I’ll be taking a deeper look at it thanks to your review.

  5. Hi Joel and Scott, thanks for the comments. I agree, even though it feels like its been around forever it really is a new concept. Small Biz owners don’t realize that you can get people to opt-in to a mobile message, on their regular, non-smart phones… I think this is ideal for retailers, online and traditional. Also, if I was an appointment-based provider of some type, this could save me time in letting customers know about new programs. It may even work to let people know one at a time, too. I didn’t look at that aspect of Fanminder. It is probably an option. So if an appointment changes, I can let a waiting list know, etc. Fanminder gets the mobile marketing space like few others I’ve seen. They keep it simple and are demystifying the space. I appreciate that.

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