How to Run a Smart and Savvy Text Campaign that Gets Results
Text or die. OK, that may be a wee bit dramatic, but in case you haven’t noticed, the text messaging communication revolution is afoot. And if you’re not connecting with your customers with this quick and easy method, well, you better get started because chances are your competition probably already is.
But don’t think you can just send out a couple of text messages here and there and expect a second-coming-style miracle. You’ve got to be a lot smarter than that. Generating business through short bursts of 160 characters or less means you’ve got to be creative and reach the right people at exactly the right time. Before you completely panic, the good news is it’s not as tough as you think.
There are two proven ways to create a successful text messaging campaign: Speaking directly to your customers and having your biggest fans do it for you. With a smart combination of both strategies, you’ll be texting your way to higher profits in no time.
According to Andrew Inomata, marketing director with the high-end nightclub Pacha NYC, texting is at the core of the club’s digital marketing strategy, and the club’s marketing team uses it in a variety of ways. Of course, they do the basics, such as sending out information on the upcoming weekend’s events and promotions for slower nights (an interesting twist: to receive comp entry, guests may have to show a specific text message at the door). But Inomata takes it to the next level by using targeted texts and creating a dialogue.
Inomata said the success of a text campaign is a matter of building trust, so messages must not only be relevant to the customer but also must be received at the opportune time.
“You shouldn’t send messages that are not relevant to that specific customer. It’s a waste of money, resources and you’re wasting their time. When that happens, you lose their trust and they’ll stop reading your messages,” says Inomata.
To avoid this issue, Inomata has multiple databases segmented into geographical areas and events patrons signed up for, such as a specific DJ. He has segmented out people who have only come to the club for a very particular event, those who are just occasional club-goers and the most loyal ones who come weekly. It’s that last group that craves regular updates on what’s going on the upcoming weekend. “If you have 100,000 numbers and indiscriminately send texts to everyone, it just doesn’t work the more and more you do it. When you apply a promotion to a specific customer, the more effective it is,” Inomata adds, noting the biggest failures occur when marketers forget to treat the customer as an individual.
To further this treatment of the customer as an individual, it is vital to create a dialogue when texting. You must respond to customers who reply to texts you send out. At Pacha NYC, the receptionist handling the phone also replies to texts, which helps guests feel they are a part of something.
Influence the Influencers
Texting guru Ted Wright is managing partner with Fizz, a word of mouth marketing firm based in Atlanta, and he is all about getting your customers to do the work for you. It’s a method he finds boosts loyalty among your best customers, also known as influencers, by making them feel like insiders.
Influencers by nature are intrinsically motivated to promote the things they like, Wright explains, adding that they don’t expect or even desire to be compensated for it.
“Your fans treat your nightclub like their clubhouse. They want it to be the coolest place in town and they have exact same desires as you. You just have to harness that passion in them,” says Wright. “They are the one in 10 that tells the other nine what to do and they [base] their lives on having conversations with people. Text messaging works most effectively when coming from a person that the receiver knows.
“Chances are you already know your best customers, and if you have their numbers it’s up to you to deliver information to them that is interesting, relevant and authentic to them,” Wright adds.
Be warned, the true influencer is repelled by the notion of free entry or discounted drinks, he cautions. They hunger for access because they want experiences they can then share with their friends. One way to give them access, Wright says, is to offer them a chance to hang out for a cocktail with the owner for an hour one night. That’s something not everyone can get and fosters the sense they’re someone special.
He also says owners need to relate good stories to their clients through text messages. Wright says texting something like “Ladies night at 11” isn’t a story, but mentioning a certain celebrity is in the venue is something that will truly drive business.
At MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Michael Perhaes, assistant vice president of marketing, says most of the resort’s print advertising has a keyword and short code listed on it. People then send a text to the number, and they get a response asking them to opt in and say they are 21 years of age or older. After that, they’re sent special offers not available elsewhere, such as two-for-one drinks at the casino’s bars or discounts on entrees at one of its dining outlets. For guests staying on property, the resort can even tie the stay dates to the guest’s reservation and send them frequent texts during that time. The messages then taper off after they’ve gone home.
“We’ll typically send out four offers a month. We want to make it frequent enough so you know there is activity. You also have to create a sense of urgency by referring to a specific event or DJ or concert promotion. These things continue the conversation with that customer keeping them engaged in that brand,” Perhaes says.
Finally, be sure to word your text messages properly. Only a few characters can be seen before the receiver must click through to read a message, so your leading words have to contain a call to action such as “Tonight” or the name of a DJ that person is a fan of, Inomata says. Capturing today’s fast-moving patron’s attention and prompting him or her to act is no easy task in so few characters, so use them wisely. NCB
Fun for All
Text messaging isn’t all about getting patrons in the door — it also can be used to increase revenue and engage your customers on site, thereby keeping them in the club longer.
Some systems allow everyone in the club to get in on the fun. Using systems such as Firetext, customers can text each other via screens throughout a venue to chat each other up, all without giving away personal information.
“We bring value to the screen,” says Raoul Bhatt, owner of Firetext. “Nightclubs are smartly using this for an evening event.” Patrons log in upon arrival and get a special user number for the night. Then people communicate through text saying things like, “Meet me at the bar for a drink.”
What’s more, there’s a revenue stream here: Venues using Firetext also are selling sponsorships in which brand names appear on the screen, with companies such as Pepsi, Smirnoff and Budweiser participating so far.
And the best part: The bar captures all the text numbers to use for future text-based promotions. “Clubs can capture thousands of numbers in a single night. These are guaranteed unique phone numbers of people who are already your customers,” says Bhatt.