When marketing your business, your goal is to reach and engage with the most people possible. While email, websites and blogs supply customers with information, there is another medium that has proven to be incredibly effective at engaging prospects: text messaging. With its concise nature, timely delivery and prominent position on a customer\u2019s phone, marketing via text (also known as SMS or SMS marketing) allows local businesses to engage directly with customers and prospects. At Vivial, a marketing technology company, we are pleased to announce the launch of text messaging, our newest mobile marketing service for local businesses. Unlike other\u00a0marketing platforms, we are one of the only providers to offer small and medium sized businesses a comprehensive solution for online, mobile and social marketing. Three Reasons You Should Consider Using Text Message Marketing: 1. Mass Consumer Appeal:\u00a0 Text messaging is a critical tool for businesses looking to build, grow and increase loyalty with customers. After all, these customers spend nearly 5 hours a day on their mobile device (Source: Flurry Analytics). And since texting is the most used mobile app it\u2019s no wonder 97% of people text at least once a day (Source: Pew Research). 2. Relevancy:\u00a0 Unlike an email newsletter that may get thrown into a spam folder, customers are more motivated to read text messages in a timely manner. In fact, 82% of people open every text they receive, usually within a few minutes. And most importantly, they read the text message content if it\u2019s short and sweet\u2014around five seconds of reading time. No wonder the open rate of text messages is 98%, versus 20% for email (Source: Adobe). 3. High Engagement:\u00a0 Text messages will not only reach customers but will drive engagement with them. In fact, 45% will complete the desired action of the text message (Source: Gallup). And 75% of consumers want to receive offers via text (Source: Digital Marketing Magazine). Why? Because most buyers consult their phone when making purchases. When product information, coupons and other relevant information is easily available, consumers save time (and money)! How to Leverage Text Message Marketing? Marketing Messages:\u00a0 Make the most of your text messages by highlighting exciting news and offers from your company. Your business can engage with your customers through bite-size promotions, event notifications, flash sales and special offers. You can even have offers exclusive to those customers who indicate they want to receive text messages, such as 15% off their next purchase or a free gift if they show the text at checkout. This targeted approach will not only bring in business but also entice others to opt-in to text messaging so they can access future deals. Customer Service:\u00a0 Text messaging allows you to communicate with your customers on a more personal level. You can remind the customer of an upcoming appointment or thank them after a visit with a specific offer just for them. Product/Service Oriented:\u00a0 Text messaging is a great way to keep customers updated on the latest news about your products and/or services. Announcing a new product line or introducing a new member of your staff via text SMS is a great way to keep your customers updated about your business. How Does Text Message Marketing for Small Business Work? 10-Digit Long Code:\u00a0 When you sign up for Vivial\u2019s text messaging services, your business will have a dedicated local 10-digit number (long code) assigned to your account. Ten-digit codes are more personal, easy to use, and more cost-effective for small businesses. Length of Message:\u00a0 Text messages have a 160-character limit. This includes characters, spaces and punctuation. To maximize your impact, always include one main, yet powerful message within your text. Opt-In: Before any messages are sent, a customer must give permission, known as \u201copting-in.\u201d To allow you to send texts, the customer will send a keyword, usually JOIN, to your company\u2019s 10-digit long code. Then, your services will auto-reply with a confirmation message. This message should contain terms and conditions, message frequency and opt-out instructions. It\u2019s also a best practice to offer the customer something in return for opting-in. A special offer, a free product or even a simple thank you will go a long way in helping to build your opt-in list. Types of Text Messaging Group Messages:\u00a0 Group Messages are an excellent way to promote your business and extend your reach. These text messages are sent to all opted-in customers and are a great way to communicate with a large group at once. The most common group message invites consumers to directly engage with your business. Direct Messages:\u00a0 Direct messages are one-on-one communication with your customers. You can send appointment reminders, purchase confirmations, receipts, order details, and surveys to gauge customer experience. This type of messaging is most useful when you need to contact an individual customer about your services. Direct messages allow you to create personal, timely and relevant messages that are designed to increase customer satisfaction and grow your revenue. Auto Reply Keywords:\u00a0 Customers can receive more information by sending a specific keyword in response to your 10-digit long code. An auto reply message can offer immediate answers to common questions such as directions to your location, store hours, and event details. Keywords should be short and ideally relate to what the customer receives in the response. For location details, for example, you could set the keyword \u201cDIRECTIONS,\u201d which would send the customer a link to maps or a Google My Business profile.\u00a0 Auto reply keywords also work for promotions and expanding social media reach. How to Promote Text Message Marketing for your Business Once you have your text messaging set up, you need your existing and potential customers to get on board. To get the word out, take advantage of your current marketing efforts. On your website, in your emails, on your social media, even on promotional materials like posters, vehicle signage, and billboards, add a simple line stating: \u201cText \u2018JOIN\u2019 to [your business\u2019s 10-digit code]\u201d A good rule of thumb is including this information anywhere you would put a URL or phone number. What You Should Look for in a Business SMS Platform/Service Integrated Marketing:\u00a0 Text messaging is an important complement to your other marketing efforts. Yet juggling multiple marketing efforts is a difficult task for even a skilled marketing professional. Fortunately, with Vivial, you can enlist the help of a service that will handle it all under one roof. Ease of Use:\u00a0 With a marketing strategy that is meant to be inherently simple, choose a company that makes the job uncomplicated. Since texts are so brief\u2014usually only a sentence\u2014it\u2019s simple to send them yourself if you\u2019re armed with a user-friendly platform and a list of best practices. At Vivial, our on-demand account coordinator team will walk you through our Dashboard, showing you how to deliver messages, set up keywords, and analyze data for texts you\u2019ve sent. For more information about text messaging and other online, mobile and social solutions, visit https://vivial.net.